On very few occasions have the advent of foreign players in the English Premier League created such a flutter. Combined sums to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds in buying players have made EPL the magnet of talent the world over.
In fact, someone like Zlatan Ibrahimmovic didn’t think twice before opting for Manchester United after his contract with Paris St.Germain expired. Millions of eyeballs will be focused on what these new foreign acquisitions have to offer on the field.
The big Swede lands in Manchester
Zlatan Ibrahimovic arriving to United on a free transfer, would like to put his dismal showing for his home country, Sweden, at the Euro 2016 firmly behind him. Rather, the imposing 34-year old 6ft 5in striker would like to draw upon his phenomenal track record at Paris St. Germain during his four-season stint where he notched up as many as 113 goals.
Manchester United fans would like Ibrahimovic to put in an encore when he starts his tenure at the Old Trafford very soon. It would be interesting to see how he combines with an equally egoistic and hot-tempered Wayne Rooney up-front.
Ibrahimovic scored 50 goals for PSG in the 2015-16 Ligue 1 season, but against relatively weak opposition. If he can score that many goals in the coming EPL season, United will walk away with the title for sure. The focus will be solely on “Ibra” at Old Trafford this year.
Arsenal splash out on Xhaka
Arsene Wenger had his eyes on this 23-year old midfielder from Borussia Mönchengladbach for over a year. Ultimately he signed Granit Xhaka for £30 million on a five-year contract with Arsenal, which is incidentally the the third-largest deal in the club’s historythird-largest deal in the club’s history. Small however, by other clubs standards in the modern game.
Liverpool, too, were ‘gunning’ for Xhaka but lost out on the mercurial winger. As a young turk he led Switzerland to the Under-17 World Cup title in 2009. He has become much sharper since then and fans will hope that his addition to an already strong Arsenal mid-field will bring similar results for the Gunners in the 2016-17 season.
Can the Champions realistically do it again?
Reigning Premier League champions Leicester City, in an endeavour to keep hold onto their title, have gone on a purchasing spree by their own puny standards.
The Thai owners of the club have splurged nearly £25 million pounds while grabbing new foreign talent in mid-fielder Nampalys Mendy from French club OGC Nice and prolific striker Ahmed Musa from CSKA Moscow for £12 million each.
Only time will tell if they will fill the void left by the departing N’Golo Kante to Chelsea and potential departure of Riyad Mahrez, which is still a distinct possibility.
Will this be City’s year?
This EPL season will see Pepe Guardiola starting his innings as coach-come-manager at the Etihad. The ex-Bayern Munich and Barca coach wasted no time in dipping into the bottoms of the Manchester City coffers in search of new foreign talent, setting in his sights on Leroy Sane who he poached from German Schalke 04 for no less than £37 million. Guardiola has designs for this extremely talented 20-year old German mid-fielder who he expects to take over from the ageing Yaya Toure.
Another acquisition for £27 million is Gabriel Jesus, the 19-year old forward from Brazilian club Palmeira, who many believe could become the next Neymar.
Ilkay Gundogan, is one more import for £25 million from Germany aimed at filling in a crucial midfield role in event of a Vincent Kompany injury.
With a new coach and some new high price tag faces at the Etihad Stadium, the battle in Manchester looks set to be an exciting one.
Can Spurs fulfil their role as dark horses?
Folks at White Hart Lane would very much like Tottenham Hotspur to hold on to their third spot in the EPL standings or even better it from last season.
Goals matter and Harry Kane got them a hat full last season. To add more, they have recruited a similar-minded player for £17 million on a 4-year deal. Prolific striker and scorer, Vincent Janssen, from Dutch club AZ Alkmaar will come in to fill that role. His 27 goals from just 34 appearances for AZ speaks volumes of his striking abilities and suggests that he will be someone to watch out for.
All eyes on The Special One
There will immense pressure on Jose Mourinho to elevate Manchester United to the Top 4 of the EPL table this season.
Aside from Ibrahimovic, one of United’s key acquisitions is the 27-year Henrikh Mkhitaryan for £25 million from Borussia Dortmund. Mkhitaryan will bring in a lot of pace and creativity to the midfield and create more openings for himself and the strikers.
For his true talents to blossom, Mourinho will probably have to cast the Armenian in a more central midfield role. Meanwhile, efforts to regain the services of French wonder of FC Juventus, Paul Pogba, continues. What a hype that would create if he were to don United colours once again!
Conté’s new look Chelsea could be ready to impress
Chelsea have kept their foreign acquisitions hype rather low by making just one high-cost overseas purchase. At £33 million it’s been a real quality acquisition.
Michy Batshuayi, the 22-year Belgian-Congolese striker from Olympique de Marseille, has already proved his metal on the international stage with three goals from just 7 appearances for Belgium.
His speed and opportunism upfront could provide an ideal foil for his compatriot Eden Hazard. Chelsea fans can hope for a revival in their fortunes this time around and Michy Batshuayi could be one of the vital instruments to change their fortunes.
Will you be watching?
No matter whom you support or which team you’re keeping a close eye on, most clubs this close season have dipped into the coffers. Undoubtedly, its going to be one of the most hotly contested seasons to date, with arguably six, perhaps even seven or eight teams in with a realistic shout of making the top four, let alone mounting a title challenge.
So no matter whether you’re heading to the games or will watch live Premier League matches on Skywatch live Premier League matches on Sky or BT Sport, it’s going to be an enthralling and unmissable year.