Never more so has a Premier League club’s transfer team played such a key role in their progression (or lack of in some clubs’ cases).
England’s top-tier sides forked out a whopping £1.4billion in the 2019 summer transfer window, with a further £230m spent on January additions.
Of course, not every acquisition has gone to plan, with a number of high-profile arrivals seemingly destined for pastures new. However, a select few have hit the ground running and already represent quality pieces of business by their respective clubs.
With the curtain drawn on another franticly unpredictable Premier League campaign, let’s take a look back at signings of 2019/20, and pick out the greatest investments of the season.
10. Sander Berge
Chris Wilder opted not to make wholesale changes to his Sheffield United squad in the summer, sticking largely with the players who saw the club promoted.
However, January saw the arrival of club-record signing Sander Berge, and it hasn’t taken long for the Norway international to find his feet in English football.
Signed from Belgian club Genk for £22m, the midfielder has produced a number of top-class displays and has added quality to an industrious Blades midfield.
At just 22, Berge still has a lot to learn in the game, though the early signs suggest Wilder has found himself a gem.
9. James Justin
With just 11 starts to his name, you may be wondering how James Justin has made this list. However, the truth is the youngster has performed brilliantly under the circumstances.
Signed from Luton Town for around £8m in the summer, the 22-year-old was brought in as backup for Ricardo Pereira, making just three appearances in Leicester City’s first 28 league games.
However, after Pereira was ruled out for the rest of the season with knee ligament damage in the final game before lockdown, Justin was thrown into first-team action following the restart and he’s been arguably Leicester’s standout performer.
8. Ismaila Sarr
It’s ultimately been a season of disappointment for Watford, though their trigger-happy approach to manager dismissals is probably as culpable as the players.
Ismaila Sarr has been the Hornets’ best player this season having arrived from French side Rennes in the summer. With a lofty £30m price tag it’s not like the Senegal international was plucked from the bargain bucket, though his performances have warranted the fee.
Despite only notching five league goals, he’s constantly looked a threat and with better quality around him Watford may well have survived the drop.
7. Giovani Lo Celso
Giovani Lo Celso originally signed for Tottenham on loan in the summer, though the January transfer window saw him make the move permanent for a fee of around £27m.
One of Spurs’ biggest downfalls this season was a lack of creativity or drive in midfield, though the emergence of the Argentinian provided some much needed quality.
Solid on the ball and always looking to make forward passes between the lines, the 24-year-old has been vital in providing a link between midfield and attack and looks destined for a career at the top.
6. Aaron Wan-Bissaka
When Manchester United forked out £50m for a full-back with fewer than 50 Premier League appearances to his name, eyebrows were raised.
However, one year on and the Red Devils are beginning to look like they got the former Crystal Palace man on the ‘cheap’. Wan-Bissaka has been superb this campaign, showing no signs of nerves having moved to one of the biggest clubs in the world.
While the defensive side of his game has never been in question, one criticism often levelled at the 22-year-old is that he needs to become more adventurous if he’s to make it as a United right-back.
That aside, it’s been a quality first season for the England Under-21 star.
5. Neal Maupay
While ten league goals may not jump out as being a particularly extraordinary return, moving up from the second tier and notching double figures in a team struggling to score is a solid achievement.
Neal Maupay arrived at Brighton from Championship side Brentford with a goalscoring pedigree, having scored 25 the season prior.
Only four teams scored less than the Seagulls in the league last season, but £20m man Maupay bagged ten of their 39 goals – more than 25%.
Without his goals who knows how much closer to the relegation zone they would have ended up, meaning their summer signing represents good value for money.
4. Douglas Luiz
Having looked down and out prior to the three-month hiatus, Aston Villa somehow clawed themselves to safety following the restart, and they owe a lot to this man.
£15m summer signing Douglas Luiz was by far Villa’s best player in their final ten games, producing a number of brilliant performances to drag his side away from the drop zone.
Speculation surrounding the Brazilian’s future is rife, with previous employers Manchester City said to be keen on a reunion with the youngster, after insisting on the inclusion of a buy-back clause in their original deal with Villa.
On the basis of his recent displays, it’s not difficult to see why Pep Guardiola wants the 22-year-old back at the Etihad.
3. Gary Cahill
For all the multi-million pound deals that are thrown around these days, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good old free transfer (when it works out of course).
Gary Cahill was snapped up by Palace last summer having been released by Chelsea, and on the basis of his season’s performance there’ll be a few clubs regretting not snapping up the veteran.
With just 31 goals this campaign Palace are the second-lowest scorers in the league, so defensive solidarity is a must. Cahill has been a rock at the back for the Eagles and the 34-year-old seems to have plenty of life left in him yet.
2. Allan Saint-Maximin
Allan Saint -Maximin has been a revelation on Tyneside this season.
Signed from Nice for £16.5m, the enigmatic forward has provided the spark that Newcastle so desperately needed.
Admittedly he can be erratic and unpredictable, but that’s almost part of the brilliance of him – if even he doesn’t know what he’s going to do next then what chance do defenders have?!
Steve Bruce is often accused of being too rigid and not showing enough creativity, but the addition of the Frenchman has finally brought some joy back to a Magpies faithful desperate to rekindle the days of Kevin Keegan’s ‘Entertainers’.
1. Bruno Fernandes
Bruno Fernandes’ impact on United has undoubtedly been the biggest impact of a single player on any team this season.
Since arriving at Old Trafford in January in a deal worth around £67m, Fernandes has almost single-handedly dragged the Red Devils into the Champions League.
His eight goals and seven assists have already seen him twice named Premier League Player of the Month, and with the added revenue a top-four spot brings the Portugal midfielder is already well on his way to paying back his lofty fee.
Note: Raul Jimenez and Danny Ings have been omitted due to both players having had loan spells at Wolves and Southampton, before their moves were made permanent this season.
RELATED STORY: 90min’s 2019/20 Premier League Team of the Season
Edited by Tiyani wa ka Mabasa