With the Premier League beginning Friday and the transfer window closing on Thursday, things are heating up as coaches and club officials try to finalize their rosters until the transfer window opens up again in January. There’s been plenty of movement in the league, and of course the dollars have been flying. But who are the five transfers that could swing the Premier League title race?
Here they are, with an American making the list:
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1. Rodri – Manchester City from Atletico Madrid
With an aging central defense, Manchester City knew it needed some new blood to build toward the future. The club paid big for Rodri. The Spanish international joined Atleti from Villarreal two seasons ago, but he began his career as a youth player with Los Colchoneros. He’s been compared to Sergio Busquets and is the future No. 5 starter of the Spanish national team, without doubt. In him, Pep Guardiola has a player who can really bring some much-needed balance to City’s midfield, especially with Fernandinho entering the campaign at 34. Simply put, he makes last year’s top Premier League team that much better with his vision, quick passing and ability to find players in space.
2. Christian Pulisic – Chelsea from Dortmund
Though he officially joined Chelsea in January, U.S. men’s national team star Christian Pulisic is the big-name signing for Chelsea in an important year for the club. The Blues lost star Eden Hazard to Real Madrid, coach Maurizio Sarri to Juventus and have been dealing with a transfer ban. They’ll need Pulisic to step up big time if this team is to contend for anything this year. It’s a great opportunity for Pulisic though, playing for one of the bigger clubs in England. He’s the most expensive American transfer ever and has the chance to become a Chelsea legend if all goes well. So far, he’s looked the part after spending the second half of last season on loan at Dortmund.
3. Tanguy Ndombele – Tottenham from Lyon
This kid is something else. A star at Lyon who has already debuted with the France national team, he is a complete player at just 22 years of age. Ndombele is a central midfielder who can play on the right or deeper, and he is just so sharp on the ball. In his first match for the team in the International Champions Cup in the preseason, he came on and with his first real chance he stole the ball and delivered an assist. This is a team that really needs an engine in the middle of the field to help Christian Eriksen out. If a trophy comes for Spurs this season, it will because of him. He is enough of an addition for this team to truly push the top two if they stay healthy.
4. Nicolas Pepe – Arsenal from Lille
Pepe had 23 goals last season for Lille, and adding him to an attack that features Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette gives Arsenal as good of a front three as any other team in the league. Combined, they scored 73 goals last season and could exceed that number this season. Of course, Arsenal probably would have been better suited patching up a weak defense. If you can’t stop them, outscore them, I guess. Pepe has 37 goals over the last two seasons which is a ton for a winger. The Gunners will be more focused on getting back into the top four than winning the league, but Pepe is a player who can keep this team in the race early.
5. Harry Maguire – Manchester United from Leicester City
Maguire is a star defender for the England national team and has really had quite the meteoric rise. Four years ago he was playing for Wigan Athletic for heaven’s sake. But at Leicester City he became one of the better defenders in the Premier League and is an upgrade for a club in Manchester United that has made some awful signings on defense over the years. Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly have yet to prove worthy of their price tags, while Maguire enters as a surefire starter and somebody who can really help Ole Gunnar Solskjaer get this team where it belongs: in the Champions League every season. Though at times he may show some struggles when it comes to technique, he is physical, tough, good in the air and as hard of a worker as you’ll find. United likely won’t contend for the league this season, but Maguire is a guy who will make a difference quickly.