Jean-Michael Seri, Richarlison, Danny Ings lead list of top summer Premier League signings
At this stage of the season, we're usually reflecting upon the last-minute deadline day signings, and speculating about how they might perform. With the Premier League's transfer window closing before the start of the campaign, however, we instead have an opportunity to assess the performances of summer captures. Here are five summer signings who have impressed so far.
Jean-Michael Seri, Fulham
Even in an age where we've become accustomed to bottom-half Premier League clubs punching above their weight and signing genuinely top-class players, Fulham's capture of Seri was particularly striking. The Ivorian spent the summer being linked with Barcelona, who seemingly declined to complete the transfer over a relatively small amount of money. The Premier League was Seri's natural alternative, although Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea seemed the obvious options, rather than Fulham.
But Craven Cottage was Seri's destination, and already he has demonstrated his quality. A complete midfielder capable of running games from deep before charging forward to provide decisive moments in the final third, Seri has been bright, positive and incisive.
He was Fulham's most impressive performer in a 3-1 defeat to Tottenham at Wembley, and in his subsequent two games has provided moments of outstanding quality to break the deadlock. His opener in the 4-2 victory over Burnley, a powerful long-range blast into the top corner, was later voted August's goal of the month, while in the 2-2 draw at Brighton on Saturday, Andre Schurrle's opener was assisted by Seri's perfectly weighted dink over the opposition's defensive line. A powerful goal and then a delicate assist: two moments that summarise Seri's all-round game.
James Maddison, Leicester City
It's incredible that Maddison, a promising attacking midfielder with only one full season of Championship experience, cost Leicester City around £20 million when he was signed from Norwich in the summer, but that underlines Maddison's level of performance last season. Immediately he was handed the central creative role in Leicester's 4-2-3-1, expected to dominate from the outset.
That's exactly what he did. In Leicester's 2-1 defeat to Manchester United on the opening day, he was the Foxes' brightest player, buzzing around between the lines and initiating passing triangles with in wider areas. He was unfortunate to be on the losing side.
He followed that starring performance with his debut goal in the 2-0 victory over Wolves the following weekend, sidefooting into the bottom corner from the edge of the box. He was bright in Leicester's 2-1 victory at Southampton in week three, and was unfortunate not to score in the weekend defeat at Anfield, denied only by Joe Gomez's heroic last-ditch block.
Maddison has become a regular for England's under-21s, but a call-up to the senior side appears likely if he maintains this form, especially with Gareth Southgate's determination to select youngsters as soon as possible, and England's lack of a creative number 10.
Many were surprised by Everton's determination to land Richarlison after a disappointing second half of 2017-18 with Watford, but the Brazilian's statistics pointed to an imminent improvement.
Yes, his goalscoring figures were disappointing by the end of the campaign -- he went 53 shots without a goal -- but consistently high shooting numbers without reward, in general, leads to an "explosion" in future games. Richarlison was also fouled more than anyone else last season, topping a list populated by the Premier League's trickiest, most dangerous opponents.
Richarlison debuted for Everton with two goals against Wolves, first a close-range poacher's effort in the aftermath of a free-kick, then a more aesthetically pleasing, Thierry Henry-esque sidefoot into the far corner. He scored his third the following weekend, a close-range header from a right-wing cross, showing determination to get into the box when the ball is on the opposite flank -- a simple concept that many young wide forwards struggle to grasp.
Richarlison somewhat ruined his promising start with a red card against Bournemouth for sticking his head into Adam Smith, which has also earned a three-game ban. But already Richarlison looks a fine capture, and rather than noting that his performances dipped dramatically for Watford last season, the more pertinent point is that his performances had been excellent under Marco Silva, his boss again now at Goodison Park.
Rui Patricio, Wolverhampton Wanderers
It's difficult to think of a newly promoted side boasting such a fine goalkeeper -- you have to go back to Fulham's capture of Edwin van der Sar in 2001 for something comparable. Even then, Van Der Sar was having something of a mid-career crisis, while Patricio is at his peak and has demonstrated his extraordinary shot-stopping ability already this season.
Two saves, in particular, stand out. In Wolves' commendable 1-1 draw against Manchester City, Raheem Sterling let fly with a stunning long-range half-volley, slightly off the outside of his boot and drifting towards the top corner. Patricio dived full-length, correctly choosing to go with his "wrong" hand because of the elevation of the shot, and turned it brilliantly onto the bar.
Last weekend came another remarkable save away at West Ham. With the score at 0-0, Andriy Yarmolenko raced to the byline down the left and chipped a perfect cross towards the far post. Patricio, having been at his near post for the cross, had to race across goal to shut down Michail Antonio, ready to pounce. But Antonio lofted his header back across goal, so Patricio suddenly had to change direction and backpedal -- and then, under pressure from Marko Arnautovic, produced a remarkable one-handed save that didn't merely prevent the ball from going over the goal line but also propelled it away from goal entirely. Adama Traore's late winner wouldn't have been possible without Patricio's heroics.
Wolves have been impressive thus far, but their points tally would be significantly less without their star goalkeeper.
Danny Ings, Southampton
It was always slightly difficult to judge Ings' true level of ability. He'd played up front in a defensive-minded Burnley side and recorded a respectable return of 11 goals in his debut Premier League campaign, but then made just six starts in an injury-plagued three-year spell at Liverpool. Ings needed regular first-team football.
That's what he's enjoyed since his move to Southampton, a return to familiar territory for the Hampshire-born striker. Ings' touch has been impeccable, his movement consistently dangerous, and he's scored two goals. The first was a consolation goal away at Everton, a close-range effort from a corner, and then came his excellent opener away at Crystal Palace last weekend, racing onto a lofted, curled Cedric Soares ball over the top before finishing calmly with the outside of his right foot.
Ings' speed has been particularly pleasing to witness. After a serious knee ligament injury, some players never recover their previous level of pace. Ings suffered two such injuries, and remains a threat in behind -- Jordan Pickford was lucky to get away with a crazily high challenge on Ings in Southampton's defeat at Everton.
Saints suffered desperately from a lack of firepower last season. Their top goalscorer, Charlie Austin, managed only seven goals having struggled with injury. Signing Ings on the back of his own fitness problems was something of a risk. So far, it's paying off.