The craziness of this summer’s transfer window has been spoken about a thousand times.
It’s been bigger than ever, more expensive than ever, and even some of the Premier League’s minnows have been throwing their weight around.
However, for all the talk about the worst excesses of the market, there have also been some seriously good deals.
We take a look at five of the most astute buys, involving players who can make a huge difference to how the table turns out in May.
5 – Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Man United fans may have been more excited about Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but Mkhitaryan is exactly what Jose Mourinho needed to sweep away the cobwebs of the Louis van Gaal era. The former Bundesliga Player of the Year won’t allow the kind of pedestrian football that was commonplace at Old Trafford last season.
4 – Andros Townsend.
The former Spurs midfielder has joined Crystal Palace after just six months at Newcastle and although he couldn’t keep the Magpies up, he finally proved that he’s a Premier League, not a Championship player. Palace can sometimes be accused of being overly direct, lumping the ball too often to Connor Wickham. In Townsend, they finally have some width.
3 – Sadio Mane.
Mane may be carrying a knock, but in the pre-season victory over Barcelona, and again in the Arsenal game, he was the heart of Liverpool’s sensational front line. Despite not playing up front, the former Southampton man is a goalscorer and will take the pressure off Daniel Sturridge.
2 – N’Golo Kante.
Kante is going to be huge for Chelsea. Antonio Conte knows the system he likes to play, and the diminutive Frenchman fits into it perfectly, adding some steadiness to the midfield in a way that Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas just didn’t last season.
1 – Alvaro Negredo.
For sheer audacity, Middlesbrough win top points for securing the signing of the summer. No-one would have bet on the newly-promoted side securing a former Real Madrid and Manchester City striker, but here we are. Aitor Karanka is clearly using his connections at Real, so it’s no wonder ‘Boro are already being tipped as this season’s surprise package.