Five Premier League new signings to watch

Wednesday August 09 2023
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Arsenal's midfielder Declan Rice lifts the trophy after the English FA Community Shield football match between at Wembley Stadium, in London, UK August 6, 2023. PHOTO | AFP


English Premier League clubs have splashed out over £1 billion ($1.28 billion) on fresh faces ahead of the start of the new season on Friday.

Arsenal have led the way by spending more than £200 million ($255 million) on Declan Rice, Kai Havertz and Jurrien Timber as they aim to topple defending champions Manchester City.

Manchester United, Newcastle, Liverpool and Chelsea have also been busy with competition fierce just for a top-four finish.

But treble winners Manchester City remain the side to beat as they eye a historic fourth consecutive English top-flight title.

Read: Man City celebrate Premier League title glory

AFP Sport looks at five of the biggest transfers of the window so far:


Arsenal were City's surprise challengers for the title last season as the Gunners topped the table for most of the campaign before stumbling down the final straight.

Rice's determination to join Mikel Arteta's men despite reported interest from City was another indication that Arsenal is a team on the up.

Arsenal had to smash their transfer record with a bid that could rise to £105 million ($133.9 million) to prise the England international away from West Ham.

With that fee comes great expectations for Rice to prove the difference maker in ending a 20-year wait to bring the Premier League title back to North London.

The 24-year-old will be tasked with running the midfield at the Emirates and providing the platform for a talented array of young attackers to fire at the top end of the pitch.

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A pursuit to bring England captain Harry Kane to Old Trafford never materialised as United instead bet on the promise of 20-year-old Dane Hojlund to satisfy their need for a striker.

An initial £64 million ($81.62 million) fee for a player that cost Atalanta just £17 million ($21.68 million) a year ago has raised eyebrows.

Hojlund scored nine goals in his only season in Serie A.

But his six goals in six caps for his country have shown a glimpse of his potential.

An imposing physique, blistering pace and Scandinavian roots have seen Hojlund compared to Manchester City superstar Erling Haaland.

City's major move has been for Croatian centre back Gvardiol in a deal from RB Leipzig worth £78 million ($99.48 million).

The giant 21-year-old starred in his country's run to the World Cup semi-finals last year.

However, he faces stiff competition at the Etihad with Pep Guardiola now having six international centre-backs to choose from.

Guardiola has insisted that is "absolutely not too many" as he often played a back four entirely of natural central defenders towards the end of last season.

Liverpool's disappointing fifth-placed finish last season exposed the need for an overhaul of an ageing midfield.

Szoboszlai and Argentine World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister bring the promise of more dynamism and a goal threat, but further reinforcements are needed to cover the departures of captain Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita and James Milner.

Hungarian international Szoboszlai also arrives in England from Leipzig in a £60 million ($76.52 million) deal.

The 22-year-old scored 20 goals and provided 22 assists in 91 games for the German side.

The riches on offer to players in the Saudi Pro League has emerged as a threat to even some of the Premier League's giants in recent months.

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However, the gulf state's direct interest in the English top-flight has been more constrained than expected.

Backed by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, Newcastle have again resisted the temptation to mark their return to the Champions League with an influx of star names.

But they did splash out a record £60 million for an Italian player on Tonali from AC Milan.

The tenacious 23-year-old midfielder helped his boyhood heroes to a first Serie A title for 11 years in 2022 before playing a key role in a run to the Champions League semi-finals last season.