Dominik Szoboszlai, James Maddison, Declan Rice and Andre Onana… the best and worst of the Premier League’s 2023 summer signings so far
- Some players look worth their high price tags whilst others have more to prove
- Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast ‘It’s All Kicking Off!’
With the second of the international breaks this season underway, Premier League watchers can pause and assess their club’s fortunes with just over a quarter of the season completed.
While some clubs, such as Tottenham and West Ham, could be seen to be overachieving after high-profile summer exits, others – like Chelsea and Manchester United – have made sluggish starts to the season, despite recruiting heavily over the summer.
But not all signings are created equal – and some have settled more quickly than others.
Here, Mail Sport runs the rule over which players have hit the ground running since their summer move, and which stars still have a lot to prove.
Tottenham sit top of the table after some shrewd recruiting on the pitch and in the dugout
Manchester United’s new goalkeeper Andre Onana has made a difficult start to the season
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Liverpool’s No 8 shirt already has one iconic wearer in recent memory but the Hungarian is fast making a case the club will have another one soon. The midfielder has hit the ground running since his arrival at Anfield, and almost entirely stolen the thunder from fellow midfield signing, World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister.
Already one of Klopp’s undroppables, Szoboszlai has looked impressive both on and off the ball and has covered nearly 90km during his eight Premier League appearances thus far.
With strong midfield performances have come goals, including a stunning strike in a 3-1 win over Leicester in the Carabao Cup.
It may be a little too early to overdo the comparisons to Steven Gerrard, but Szoboszlai has played an invaluable role in Liverpool’s stirring start to the season.
Dominik Szoboszlai has already garnered comparisons to Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard
After the news of Leicester’s relegation on the final day of last season was confirmed, it was assumed it was only a matter of time before Maddison was snapped up by a Premier League side.
A little more surprising has been his immediate impact at Tottenham, where the midfielder has had a starring role in Ange Postecoglou’s north London revolution.
Premier League Player of the Month in his first at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Maddison has been lightning-quick to form an impressive partnership with Son Heung-min and has looked every bit the playmaker Spurs had been crying out for.
James Maddison (centre) was outstanding in the north London derby for new club Tottenham
The 26-year-old has scored twice in the Premier League, assisting five more, but as impressively, he has looked commanding in midfield and played an assertive role in his first-ever north London derby, which saw Spurs leave the Emirates with a point for only the second time since 2016.
MICKY VAN DE VEN
The appointment of Postecoglou is far from the sole reason that Tottenham sit at the top of the table unbeaten. The club’s business over the summer window was impressive not just for tempting Maddison to north London, but in securing Micky Van de Ven from Wolfsburg in a £43m deal.
The defender scored his first goal in new colours during the club’s gritty win against Luton at Kenilworth Road on Saturday, but has previously been consistently recording eyecatching performances in a transformed Spurs backline.
The adjustment to life in north London has been a speedy one for the Dutch player, as showings against Arsenal away and Liverpool at home can attest, with Van de Ven gamely keeping Salah under wraps during the latter game that saw Tottenham – if not fortuitously – beat a top-four rival.
The 22-year-old has also quickly established a strong partnership with Cristian Romero, and with a new solidity at the back, Spurs dominance could stay the course.
Micky van de Ven has made an impressive start to life at Spurs following his £43m move
Few voices believed that Arsenal were truly overpaying for the England midfielder when they shattered their transfer record to bring him in from West Ham for £105m, but Rice has looked worth every penny in nearly every performance since he first pulled on the shirt.
The Gunners already have a strong captain in Martin Odegaard, but Rice’s leadership skills in the engine room have been invaluable, with the player’s latest appearance showing Manchester City exactly what they missed out on when Arsenal finally bested Pep Guardiola’s side at the 13th time of asking.
Even in difficult circumstances, Rice has shone – he was one of few players to produce a consistent performance during Arsenal’s defeat to Lens in their latest Champions League clash.
It was noticeable how the Gunners looked visibly weakened when the 24-year-old was substituted off during the north London derby, as one of the few able to contain an explosive Maddison.
Declan Rice made the £105million switch from West Ham to Arsenal over the summer
Gareth Southgate may have chosen to permanently overlook the former Southampton midfielder, but there is no doubt that West Ham have been cunning in their post-Rice era with the salvaging of Ward-Prowse from the relegated club.
The set-piece maestro has settled without complaint into life at the London Stadium, and already registered six assists and two goals since his move north.
‘He’s made big contributions in all the games,’ David Moyes said of Ward-Prowse after the Hammer’s opening Europa League tie against TSC Backa Topola. ‘It’s been an amazing start. He’s a team player all round. He’s fit as a fiddle, he runs, he does the work. He does several jobs.’
But without the distraction of international duty, perhaps Ward-Prowse can hunker down and give his all to his new club. West Ham have had a punchy start to the table, in no small part impacted by his arrival – Should they continue to keep up with the top-half, the player’s abilities are likely to give Southgate food for thought.
In his stead, the Hammers salvaged James Ward-Prowse from Luton and gained a set-piece ‘specialist’, in the words of David Moyes
And those who have struggled…
The former Inter Milan goalkeeper was one of Erik ten Hag’s top targets for a reason.
After working with him as he rose through the ranks of Ajax’s academy before ascendancy to the first team, the Dutch manager wasn’t the only admirer of the Champions League finalist, but the one who deemed him tailor-made to take over from David de Gea, who had endured a turbulent final season at Old Trafford.
But for those same fans who called for the Spaniard’s ousting, all is forgiven: Onana’s start to life in Manchester has been sobering, to say the least.
Critical errors have come against Galatasaray and Brenford – and the Cameroon international was lucky not to have been sent off against Wolves – and he deemed his efforts against Bayern Munich in the German side’s 4-3 victory over Ten Hag’s team so below standard that he fronted up and publicly apologised.
The former Inter Milan goalkeeper has struggled for form since his summer move from Serie A
‘It’s a difficult situation for me, I let the team down. It’s because of me we didn’t win this game,’ Onana shared after the final whistle.
Mail Sport columnist Chris Sutton went as far as to say that the Manchester club had made a mistake trading in De Gea for Onana but with the comparatively untested Turkish youngster Altay Bayindir the club’s back-up keeper in reserve, the No 1 will have to hope his form improves after the international break to turn around United’s fortunes.
The former Chelsea star had fans in both blue and red on tenterhooks as he waited to reveal where he would play when the next season started in June, before eventually announcing that he was going to swap London for Manchester to the tune of £60m.
But his landing at Old Trafford has been a bumpy one doused with missed opportunities and complications due to injury. The midfielder was unfortunate to spend a stint on the sidelines at the start of United’s campaign, missing five games after picking up a hamstring injury, but since his return, Mount has failed to make an impact under Ten Hag.
Mount has failed to register either a goal or an assist in his opening Premier League appearances, but created a chance for Casemiro during his side’s 3-0 defeat of Crystal Palace in their opening Carabao Cup tie, showing flashes of the promise that set up his manager to tempt him north.
Part of his uncertainty so far could in part be due to Ten Hag’s plans for the midfielder, with the Dutchman keen to play him in a deeper role than he held during his spell at Stamford Bridge. As with Onana, there could be a difficulty too in transitioning to a United in the grip of a turbulent season marked by issues both on and off the pitch. But the 24-year-old has much more to do in a bid to live up to his compelling price tag.
Mason Mount’s season so far was shortened by a hamstring injury, but his new club have only seen flashes of his undeniable talents at Old Trafford
£115m Moises Caicedo had a debut to forget but has been improving at Chelsea this season
There are reasons to be feeling more optimistic around SW6 these days, and Caicedo’s increasing confidence is certainly amongst them, but no one can dispute that Chelsea £115m man announced his arrival in blue in calamitous fashion.
Brought on against West Ham in the second-half, the Ecuadorian midfielder looked unnerved and overrun as the Blues lost their lead at the London Stadium and the 10-man Hammers tightened their grip on the tie. To cap the disastrous debut, Caicedo gave away the penalty that handed all three points to the home side with a messy challenge on former Blue Emerson.
Nor was his bounceback immediate. Caicedo was subdued against Nottingham Forest and unable to force Steve Cooper’s side off the ball en route to the solitary goal in their smash-and-grab win.
Needless to say, Chelsea (new) record signing has failed to hit the ground running as Rice has, also saddled with an astronomical price tag, or Jude Bellingham at Real Madrid, who looks increasingly like a bargain for Real Madrid.
Arsenal fans had long been tracking their club’s priority targets going into the summer window, and Jurrien Timber and Rice were duly secured and signed. But the arrival of Havertz came as a somewhat of a surprise, particularly due to the confusion over where he might fit in Arteta’s set-up.
Kai Havertz has struggled to impact proceedings at the Emirates since moving across London
Supporters may find themselves no clearer after Arsenal’s start to the season. Havertz has been variously played as attacking midfielder and more centrally, but he has struggled to assert himself in front of goal, registering neither a goal nor an assist in his first nine appearances until he struck from the spot in the Gunners’ 4-0 victory over Bournemouth.
During his runout in Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat against Lens, L’Equipe went as far as to hand the player a woeful four out of 10 rating for his unfocused play.
But as his Champions League-winning goal would attest, Havertz can be the man for the big occasion. Brushing off criticism, Havertz came off the bench to smartly assist Gabriel Martinelli in Arsenal’s seismic win over Manchester City at the Emirates.
It’s not that Jackson is without promise. The Senegal international had a strong pre-season campaign, and features regularly for Mauricio Pochettino, always looking lively. He’s even the Blues’ top scorer, level with Raheem Sterling.
Nicholas Jackson (kneeling) suffered a horror miss during Chelsea’s defeat to Nottingham Forest at close range
The striker will look to move on from a feisty start at Chelsea after picking up five yellow cards
However, the number of goals they have apiece is three, part of the endless contradiction Chelsea has become – the team worth billions that at times this season couldn’t have bought themselves a shot on target.
Jackson’s workrate is impressive, but the most damning statistic is his expected goal (xG) metric. By that marker, Jackson is the fourth-highest ranked player in the league, having played one game fewer than Erling Haaland and Mohamed Salah above him. But striker’s finishing has been letting him down and he already has a number of high-profile misses to his name, with one against Forest likely to loom large in his memory for some time.
As Chelsea go on seeking the clinical edge to haul themselves out of the bottom-half of the table, Pochettino will hope the striker finds a solution to the issue at pace.
The player’s rashness has also been a cause for concern. Jackson picked up a match ban after being handed a eyebrow-raising five yellow cards, suggesting a struggle acclimatising to both the league’s referees and cynical play deployed by its players. Jackson is likely to have learnt his lesson, but both he and his club were lucky that Armando Broja, newly returned from a long spell on the sidelines, was able to step into his shoes and feature in the Blues’ 2-0 win against Fulham.
IT’S ALL KICKING OFF!
It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football, launching with a preview show today and every week this season.
It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube , Apple Music and Spotify
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