Naby Keita and Fred feature in five worst Premier League transfers of season

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The Premier League is awash with cash – but by no means do teams get every signing right. Now, with the book closed on another season, it’s time to look back on which summer signings flopped or fired.

Decisions are based on relative cost, how important he proved to his side and individual quality. Below we’ve picked out the best five buys of the Premier League campaign – for the best five, click here.

5. Naby Keita (Liverpool) Signed from RB Leipzig, £53m

Full disclosure – this is a controversial pick. Keita has struggled through injuries this season and found a fair lick of form before a groin injury finally put paid to a disappointing year earlier this month.

However, for a man who arrived in Liverpool as a supposedly transformative figure for the Reds’ midfield, the Guinean has been seriously underwhelming. There was nothing he couldn’t do for former club RB Leipzig – a goalscoring, playmaking dynamo with a V8 engine. Even at £53m, some quarters viewed it as a snip.

NabyKeitaLiverpool (1)

In nearly 1,400 Premier League minutes the 24-year-old mustered two goals and one assist. In a dominant team who are nonetheless crying out for ingenuity from midfield, Keita has metaphorically missed an open goal.

He’s at a crossroads heading into season two – but no doubt the potential is there.

4. Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Brighton) Signed from AZ Alkmaar, £17m

An inability to extract almost anything from Brighton’s summer signings led to Chris Hughton’s sacking, and no one precipitated that downfall quite like the hapless Jahanbakhsh.

Signed to some fanfare after hitting 21 goals the previous season in the Eredivisie for Alkmaar, the Iranian’s Premier League statline reads as follows: 19 games, zero goals, zero assists.

Jahanbakhsh (1)

For a winger who’s supposed to be creative, he managed five key passes all season (according to whoscored.com). For a player who’s supposed to be pacy, he completed 11 successful dribbles, four of which came in the same game. The only reason he is not higher on the list is that the Seagulls didn’t quite break the bank for him, although £17m is still a big chunk of change for them.

3. Riyad Mahrez (Man City) Signed from Leicester, £60m

Manchester City are almost perfect. Almost. But their recruitment of Mahrez was a severe flaw in what had been a rather pristine recruitment policy on the way to Premier League dominance.

Mahrez’s ineffectivness this season hasn’t necessarily been the Algerian’s fault. Sure, his penalty against Liverpool in October is now orbiting Jupiter, but it shows how desperate he was to make his mark and establish himself as a first-choice.

There was never any chance of a consistent run of games, however. Not even Leroy Sane – who has scored 39 goals in three seasons for City – is a sure-fire starter.

It would have made far more sense to hand new Real Madrid teenager Brahim Diaz the tastes of the first-team that Mahrez has been left dissatisfied with, saving £60m in the process.

2. Jean Michael Seri (Fulham) Signed from Nice, £27m

It seems aeons ago now, but once upon a time Barcelona were keen admirers of Seri. Now Barca are plotting a route to an elusive Champions League trophy with Dutch wonderkid Frenkie de Jong and Seri is plotting a route out of relegated Fulham.

He may had other suitors, but you could see the allure of Fulham for Seri. London-based, ambitious club playing attractive football. Lots of cash for wages.

In the end, the Ivory Coast international barely earned a penny of it as he chipped in with a solitary goal and two assists in a season where he looked embarrassingly lightweight as a Premier League player.

The former Nice midfielder is reportedly shuffling back to Ligue 1 with Monaco. Still, he’ll always have that screamer against Burnley. It was looking so good back in August …

1. Fred (Man United) Signed from Shakhtar Donetsk, £53m

On to another midfielder emblematic of a failed campaign, multiplied by a million. Fred was the only signing Manchester United made last summer that was expected to slot straight into the first-team, yet he ended up being a square peg for a squad containing many, many holes.

The Brazilian is certainly not the cause of all of United’s ills, but he showed next-to-no improvement over the course of the season.

Indeed he was so poor that Scott McTominay, who at this point is nothing more than a solid young player, deservedly kept him out of the side.

Fred is a do-it-all midfielder with Shakhtar Donetsk turned Doctor Do-little at United. The 25-year-old struggles to retain possession, is constantly out of position, is liable to trip over his own feet and is a non-entity in attack.

FredUnited (1)

Paul Pogba has had his shambolic moments, but if this is the type of player he has to work with, how much can he be truly blamed?

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Transfer predictor: Leroy Sane to Bayern Munich is a 7, Youri Tielemans to Leicester a 6

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Leroy Sane

Struggling to pick out the facts from the figures? Reality from the rubbish? Sense from the silly season? We’ve got you sorted in our daily dose of the Transfer Predictorwhere we round up the latest rumours with an analytical spin.

We sort through the most eye-catching transfer reports of the past 24 hours and give a balanced judgment on whether the move really will happen – and why.

Today’s edition features potential signings for Bayern Munich, Leicester City and Borussia Dortmund.

LEROY SANE

Sane

RUMOUR: Manchester City -> €80m -> Bayern Munich

Bayern have opened discussions with the Premier League champions over the potential summer transfer of the Germany winger, according to the Daily Record.

WHY IT WILL HAPPEN: Bayern have held an interest in Sane since he burst through at Schalke in 2014, losing out against City two years later in the battle to sign him. The 23-year-old could now be available, for the right price, after rejecting a number of contract renewal offers on a deal that runs until June 2021 and disquiet with manager Pep Guardiola’s use of him. He was only granted 21 Premier League starts in 2018/19.

WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: A pursuit of Lille and Ivory Coast forward Nicolas Pepe is already under way, meaning they hold other options to replace outgoing veterans Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. City are also pragmatic about the situation, meaning they’ll only sell if the price is right.

TRANSFER PREDICTOR: 7/10

YOURI TIELEMANS

BeFunky-collage

RUMOUR: Monaco -> £40m -> Leicester City

Leicester are pushing hard to swiftly complete a permanent move for the Monaco loanee and head off competing interest from Manchester United and Tottenham, according to Sky Sports.

WHY IT WILL HAPPEN: After a difficult year and a half in the Principality, Tielemans has shone brightly at King Power Stadium. His four assists and three goals from midfield has made him a valuable addition. With Leicester-owned Andre Silva also doing well at Monaco, a reciprocal deal could be arranged.

WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: The Belgium midfielder has started to make good on the promise shown at Anderlecht. With United and Spurs keen on making midfield additions, his form hasn’t gone unnoticed. Monaco will want to sell to the highest bidder, whether they stay in Ligue 1 or get relegated. This could be bad news for the Foxes, who didn’t agree an option to buy Tielemans in January’s loan negotiations.

TRANSFER PREDICTOR: 6/10

NICO SCHULZ

BeFunky-collage (1)

RUMOUR: Hoffenheim -> €25m -> Borussia Dortmund

Dortmund are about to raid Bundesliga rivals Hoffenheim for Marcel Schmelzer’s replacement at left-back, according to kicker.

WHY IT WILL HAPPEN: Schulz has experienced a breakthrough campaign for club and country. The 26-yer-old has become part of Germany’s squad, plus struck two goals and nine assists in 36 Bundesliga run-outs. With Raphael Guerreiro pushed into midfield, Real Madrid loanee Achraf Hakimi a natural right footer and 31-year-old Schmelzer on the wane, another option is required. BVB boss Lucien Favre signed Schulz at Borussia Monchengladbach in August 2015 and a reunion is desired.

WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: There are conflicting reports in Germany about the existence of a release clause. This could yet cause difficulty, but an announcement is expected after the Bundesliga season ends this weekend.

TRANSFER PREDICTOR: 9/10

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Premier League best transfers of the season ranked with Alisson in top 5

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The Premier League  is awash with cash – but by no means do teams get every signing right. Now, with the book closed on another season, it’s time to look back on which summer signings flopped or fired.

Decisions are based on relative cost, how important he proved to his side and individual quality. Below we’ve picked out the best five buys of the Premier League campaign.

5. Lucas Digne (Everton) Signed from Barcelona, £18m

Who’d be a modern Premier League full-back? These days they’re auxiliary wingers with just about as much defensive responsibility as any player on the pitch. Finding a genuine all-rounder like Lucas Digne was nothing short of a masterstroke by Everton.

Having wasted away behind Jordi Alba at Barcelona for two seasons straight, Evertonians have taken the Frenchman to their bosoms thanks to his marriage of pluck and playmaking.

Only Wolves star Matt Doherty won more aerial duels per game of all Premier League full-backs, and his paintbrush of a left foot created four assists and four goals, including a stunning last-minute free-kick against Watford. Given the money thrown around by the likes of Man City for such players, £18m was a scandalously cheap price to pay.

4. Fabian Schar (Newcastle) Signed from Deportivo, £3m

Another ‘problem’ position for several elite clubs was solved for a mere £3m by Newcastle. Having activated a relegation release clause in his contract at Deportivo, it is a wonder that Rafa Benitez did not have more competition for Schar, who has long proved a fine centre-back for Switzerland.

The 27-year-old suffered a slow start to his career in the North East but started stuffing attackers down his stockings at Christmas time. The Magpies have only conceded two goals or more in a game three times since the start of December with Schar in the team (against Liverpool, Man United and Everton).

Schar has in fact become the de factor leader in the Newcastle defence, with skipper Jamaal Lascelles not quite hitting the heights of 2017/18. The most refined defender? Not at all. But just what an underfunded Premier League team need for survival.

3. David Brooks (Bournemouth) Signed from Sheffield United, £11.5m

David Brooks would have arrived in the Premier League sooner rather than later, with his former club Sheffield United having just secured promotion, but he could not have picked a more suitable top-tier side than Bournemouth to expedite his footballing education.

Eddie Howe nominally plays the Wales international on the right-side of midfield, but Brooks – who at his best is reminiscent of a (speedier) Juan Mata – relishes sewing together moves in the centre on his stronger left foot.

David Brooks

Together with a more traditional winger in Ryan Fraser and chief goal-getter Callum Wilson, Brooks has expressed himself spectacularly well for someone still just 21 and with zero prior Premier League experience. Seven goals, five assists, many more of both to come.

2. Alisson (Liverpool) Signed from Roma, £66.9m

The steep supposedly made this a ‘risky’ signing. Keeping the laughable Loris Karius or sub-par Simon Mignolet in between the sticks, however, would have been a certain disaster.

It’s not just about the number of shots he stops flying in (he saved 77 per cent that he faced in the Premier League last season, a division high). It’s that unflappable, unquantifiable poise he brings to proceedings. So cool under pressure are both he and Virgil van Dijk that the pair could solve global warming.

Yes, there was a mishap against Leicester, a sliced clearance against Fulham, but no player is infallible whatever the price. Instead focus on the attacks he starts, the opposition press he has relieved innumerable times with his feet. No team upgraded in a position so starkly quite like Liverpool did this season.

1. Raul Jimenez (Wolves) Signed from Benfica, £30m

The best signing of the Premier League season is a slightly lesser version of Roberto Firmino. A back-handed compliment that may seem, but given Raul Jimenez was snapped up by a promoted club – with nonetheless premier aspirations – it has proved a remarkable coup.

Jimenez had only scored 18 league goals in Europe since flying in from Mexico in 2014, but added 13 in a single season with Wolves as the spearhead of an attack that upset every top-six club one way or another.

Raul Jimenez

The 28-year-old, who was signed on a permanent basis from Benfica in April, will never top the goalscoring charts – but he is very much an ‘ask naught what your team can do for you, but what you can do for your team’ type of player. He’s dogged in his defensive work, dominant in the air and holds onto ball like it’s the last Rolo before he plays his team-mates in. One of the best in the very tough business of being a centre-forward.

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