With the Premier League season winding up to a dramatic conclusion it’s the ideal opportunity to look back and pick out the top five signings of 2015-16.
Where else to start than surprise title contenders Leicester City? Their rise to prominence has shocked the sporting world and the 25 year-old Frenchman N’golo Kante is the glue that holds together the Premier League leaders.
Kante arrived in low key fashion but has improved with every passing game. So much so, the Leicester midfielder looks nailed on for a place in the French squad for the upcoming Euros. He is an all action player that covers more ground than most of the Aston Villa team have combined.
Kante is quick, skilful, can pass, can tackle and he cajoles extra effort from all those around him. Vardy and Mahrez score the goals for Leicester but Kante’s influence shouldn’t be under estimated.
The versatile Spurs defender arrived in North London from Atletico Madrid via Southampton where he impressed in a loan spell last season. And the 27 year-old Belgian has improved again at Spurs. He has been an ever-present for Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur and, according to his boss, was “very unlucky” to miss out on the PFA shortlist for the Players Player of the year.
Nevertheless, his contribution to the Spurs has been immense and looks like one of the deals of the season for just £11m.
Last season Spurs conceded 53 goals (which was more than Hull City who were relegated), but the arrival of Alderweireld has seen Spurs tighten up at the back and they now boost the best defence (and attack) in the Premier League.
And Alderweireld has been integral at both ends of the pitch having seen 13 clean sheets in 34 matches and scoring four goals in the process.
Not many outside of the Premier League had heard of the £8m man from Bordeaux but Wahbi Khazri immediately hit the ground running when joining Big Sam’s Sunderland side.
The 25 year-old Tunisian midfielder was one of the top performers in Ligue 1 over the last 18 months with 14 goals in 51 league games for Bordeaux from midfield and he made a seamless transition to the Premier League in January.
Khazri looked full of confidence on his debut against Manchester City and followed that up with a superb free kick against Manchester United. While he may not have added to his tally of goals, he has attracted the attention of the opposition defence and that has allowed Fabio Borini and Jermaine Defoe to exploit the space.
If Sunderland survive then the £8m paid for Kharzri will go down as one of the best pieces of business by Sam Allardyce.
The young Spurs midfielder epitomises this current Spurs side and looks to be head and shoulders above his peers this season. Kane, Alli and Eriksen have formed a lethal trident that is threatening to derail Leicester’s fairy-tale title triumph.
Alli was actually signed from MK Dons last January for a bargain £5m where he scored 16 goals in 39 games for the then League one side – but few would have thought this form would have translated to the Premier League.
The 20 year-old attacking midfielder has notched 10 goals this season and already looks key to England’s plans this summer in France. The youngster appears to have it all. Pace, power, stamina and the eye for a spectacular goal. His link-up play with Harry Kane this season has been a joy to watch and he can only get better with experience.
Spurs have a real gem on their hands – one who looks set to become a Premier League and England legend in the making.
West Ham’s penchant for a maverick player is well-known. And it appears they have another in the shape of Dimitri Payet. The 29 year-old French attacking midfielder may not possess the attitude of a Paulo Di Canio but he is just as explosive on the pitch.
Payet is a master of free kicks and has already racked up eight assists and nine goals for the Hammers this season – not bad for a player making his debut in the Premier League.
At the beginning of the season, West Ham fans were concerned with the prospect of a relegation battle looming but it was clear from the outset that the arrival of Payet would ensure that West Ham would be scrapping it out at the top end of the table.
And, much like N’golo Kante, his form in his debut Premier League season has forced Didier Deschamps to include him in the French national team.