While the World Cup and more financial restraint have kept the English Premier League (EPL) from importing as much talent as it has in years' past, the draw of one of the world's top leagues can't help but pull-in a few eye-catching talents each summer. This year the league welcomes top goal scorers from North and South America, two of the best young players in Brazil and Germany, the premier target man in France, one of Africa's best talents, and a Spaniard who immediately becomes one of the league's most skilled players.
Here are ten new faces for the Premier League's 2010-11 campaign, order by interest more than effect:
#10. Jermaine Beckford, F, Everton via Leeds United (League One)
Over the last three years, Beckford scored 72 league goals for Leeds but did not truly cement his place in the Premier League consciousness until the Whites' FA Cup upset of rival Manchester United. His contract having expired at Elland Road, he was the perfect acquisition for resource-challenged David Moyes. Possessing Premier League-quality touch, finishing, and size, the 26-year-old striker could be derailed by the two-league jump. There's also the issue of Beckford's reported prima donna tendencies mixing with Moyes's style. Still, while Beckford's carries a number of questions into Goodison Park, eight-to-ten goals would be a great return from a free transfer.
I recommend playing this on mute:
#9. Jerome Boateng, D, Manchester City via Hamburg (Germany)
Boateng made his way onto radars while starting for Germany at the World Cup, but City had the versatile 21-year-old defender lined-up in late winter. Paying £10.4 million to Hamburg for the presumed right-back, the Citizens may not see a huge, immediate improvement on the play of under-appreciated Pablo Zabaleta. Zabaleta, however, is a player that's already reached his ceiling, and with Boateng, City's acquired a talent that could quickly become the best right back in the league.
#8. Mauro Boselli, F, Wigan Athletic via Estudiantes (Argentina)
This acquisition is interesting more for the circumstances than the results, as Boselli may struggle to make a major impact this season. However, Roberto Martínez has decided to take a chance on the Estudiantes man, one of the critical additions the La Plata club made in building a Copa Libertadores (and nearly, world) champion, leading the competition in scoring last year. After 22 goals for Estudiantes in the last Argentine season, Boselli is making his second foray into Europe, having failed to settle in Spain four years ago. Though there are questions about whether he possesses the strength or speed to be a number nine in England, Wigan's bet a franchise record fee (just under £6 million) that Boselli will produce.
#7. Sandro, M, Tottenham Hotspur via Internacional (Brazil)
Already with Tom Huddlestone and Wilson Palacios, you would think deep-sitting midfielders would be low on Spurs' list of priorities. A talent like Sandro, however? You can always find room for, even if it means waiting until after Copa Libertadores ends before he joins the team.
More Palacios than Huddlestone, Sandro will not physically dominate like the Honduran. But his on-the-ball skills are much better, and he could eventually develop into the perfect middle ground between Palacios and Huddlestone (though Palacistone sounds more Italian then a Brazilian). Only 21-years-old, the Brazilian will likely transcend both, becoming a world class anchor to Spurs' midfield. You never know how players will adjust to English football, but with Sandro looking to become a part of the Brazilian national team, the midfielder's set to take big steps forward over the next few years.
#6. Laurent Koscielny, D, Arsenal via Loreint (France)
Whatever proprietary formula Arsène Wenger and Arsenal used to identify Thomas Vermaelen seems to have picked-out a relatively similar player in Koscielny. Like Vermaelen, positioning tends to be a problem, with Koscielny often relying on great acceleration to help in the moments he's beaten. I suppose somebody could apply a similar description to William Gallas, the man Koscielny will help replace, though it's a comparison that will give Arsenal fans little comfort. Between goalkeeping and defending (particularly central defense), Gooners have been hoping for significant improvement. Whether Koscielny is depending on how you interpret significant. Regardless, the 24-year-old Frenchman, if for role and club alone, will be one of the most interesting additions to the league.
Though I don't think he'll be bringing John Stockton's shorts with him:
#5. Milan Jovanovic, W, Liverpool via Standard Liège (Belgium)
While people around Anfield have fixated on another acquisition, signing Jovanovic could prove as important - if he's given the time. Capable of playing up-top or out-wide, the 29-year-old Serbian was good for almost a goal every two games throughout his career with Standard Liège. Purchased before Roy Hodgson's arrival at Liverpool, he's fits nicely into a number of spots in Hodgson's preferred formation. The question is whether he will get playing time over more established options, but if he does, he likely out-performs the departed Yossi Benayoun (or the acquired Cole).
#4. Javier Hernández, F, Manchester United via Guadalajara (Mexico)
Hernández broke-out in January for Chivas, making his quick move to Manchester Untied a bit of a surprise. At the time the sale was confirmed, he was barely established in the Mexican Primera, let alone the Mexican national team. Since, he continued a torrid scoring rate with Chivas, made an impact at the World Cup, and even scored a goal for United against Chelsea. There is still a raw aspect to Hernández that hints he may get lost in the team once the season starts. However, with "Chicharito" having responded to every challenge presented to him in the last eight months, Hernández could end-up being more than just a North American interest.
#3. Marouane Chamakh, F, Arsenal via Bordeaux (France)
Deadly on the end of set-pieces and with a deft touch them makes him great at hold-up play, Chamakh could be the Emirates answer to Emile Heskey. I don't mean that in terms of past his prime, nostalgic fans living off eight year old memories Emile Heskey. I mean it in terms of the man who helped make Michael Owen one of Europe's best players. Chamakh was only good for a goal in three (at best) with Bordeaux, a rate that could fall to a goal in five for Arsenal, but if he can work is way into the team, free Robin van Persie for a most liberated role, and promote even more goalscoring from Cesc Fabregas he'll make up for all the goals that aren't going into his column.
#2. Yaya Touré, M, Manchester City via Barcelona (Spain)
One of two indisputably world class players coming to the Premier League, Touré joins brother Kolo at Eastlands for Manchester City's Champions League push. Unfortunately for City fans, the acquisition probably doesn't improve the team that much. Defensive midfielder was not an area of need, having Nigel de Jong and deep-sitting Gareth Barry already occupying similar positions. For fans of the Premier League though, having a player of Touré's caliber in the league's a boost. While he was out-of-favor at Barcelona come the end of his tenure, that was as more about Sergio Busquets' ascendancy, Touré's wages and transfer value, and the Spanish international's performance while Touré was injured. Brother Yaya is still quality.
#1. David Silva, W/F, Manchester City via Valencia (Spain)
Beyond being a world class talent - versatile enough to play three or four different places in Roberto Mancini's conceivable set-ups - Silva is the type of player that the Premier League's been lacking. All the ill-placed press about Joe Cole's skill, quality and influence more aptly describes Silva, whose arrival in Manchester makes him one of the most skilled players in the Premier League. Combining him with Carlos Tévez could give City an dynamism not often seen in Mancini's teams, but even if the manager just sticks Silva wide left, the Spanish international is a set-up in class for the Citizens.
Other notable arrivals: Nikola Zigic (Birmingham City), Aleksandr Kolarov (Manchester City), Ahmed Al-Mohammadi (Sunderland), Cristian Riveros (Sunderland), Winston Reid (West Ham United), Thomas Hitzlsperger (West Ham United), Paulo Barrera (West Ham United), Antolin Alcaraz (Wigan Athltic).