With trophies and league places at stake as the Barclays Premier League (BPL) approaches its climax, here’s a look at five recent transfer deadline signings who may be crucial to their new club’s chances of silverware or survival.
Mario Suarez, AFC Fiorentina to Watford FC
Signed for a reported fee of £4 million (S$7.75m), the 28-year- old defensive midfielder will be key as Watford looks to cement its place in the BPL as well as earn a place in the FA Cup Final. Suarez is no stranger to silverware having won the La Liga in the 2014, the Copa Del Rey in 2013 and the Europa League in 2012 during his time with Atletico Madrid. In the seven games he has played in the Premier League, the Spaniard has averaged 1.4 tackles, 1.6 interceptions and completed 75.2 per cent of his passes.
Steven Naismith, Everton FC to Norwich City FC
Norwich City have had a busy winter transfer window, with nine new players brought in to bolster their squad. The pick of the bunch has got to be 29-year-old attacking midfielder Steven Naismith who was signed from the Toffees for £8.5m on a three-and- a-half year deal. The Scottish international who scored 18 goals in 103 appearances for the Merseyside club was expected to be a vital part of Norwich City’s quest to avoid relegation. He has scored only just one goal in his seven games in a Norwich shirt and has averaged 1.1 shots on goal and 0.9 key passes. Naismith has got to start performing if Norwich are to stand a better chance of avoiding the drop.
Jonjo Shelvey, Swansea City AFC to Newcastle United FC
Facing the threat of relegation, Newcastle United needed that extra bit of quality to stay clear of the drop. In came midfielder Jonjo Shelvey from Swansea City for a reported fee of £12m on a five-and-a-half- year deal. The 23-year-old, capped four times by England, arrives at St James’ Park with prior Premier League experience, having played for Liverpool prior to joining Swansea. He made an immediate impact on his Newcastle United debut, getting involved in the build up to both of the Magpies’s goals en route to a 2-1 victory, their first in seven games. In the eight games since, he had three assists and averaged 1.7 key passes and a match rating of 7.04. With so little of the season left to play and with so much on the line, Shelvey has to up his productivity under new manager Rafael Benitez to help the Magpies avoid the drop.
Giannelli Imbula, FC Porto to Stoke City FC
A mere six months after signing former Bayern Munich and Inter Milan winger Xherdan Shaqiri for a club transfer record of £12 million, Stoke again broke their transfer record with the signing of Giannelli Imbula for £18.3 million. Much was expected of Imbula who has been compared to Premier League legend Patrick Viera due to similarities in their movement and body frame. The highly rated 23-year-old French-Belgian is seen as the long-term successor to Stoke’s former defensive midfielder Steven N’Zonzi, who left for La Liga side Sevilla FC earlier in the summer. Although his average of 1.1 tackles and 0.7 interceptions in seven games doesn’t make an immediate impression, his successful passing average of 88.4 per cent definitely stands out. Being new to the robust nature of the English game, Imbula has to adapt quickly to aid an ambitious Potters team looking to qualify for the Europa League next season.
Charlie Austin, QPR to Southampton FC
Austin scored 18 goals in 31 appearances for The Hoops in his maiden campaign in the Premier League last season. This makes the reported fee of £4 million (S$7.8 million) that Southampton paid for the 26-year-old striker seems like a bargain. With Graziano Pelle and Shane Long misfiring – the pair combined for just 16 league goals for The Saints so far this season – Austin’s arrival will definitely provide another striking option for manager Ronald Koeman. Austin’s arrival has had an impact on Pelle and Long. Since Austin’s winning goal on his Saints debut against Manchester United, Pelle’s and Long’s performances have picked up considerably and kept Austin out of the side.