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Transfer fee: £23.3m
After excelling at the 2014 World Cup for Colombia, Juan Cuadrado was highly regarded after in the summer transfer window. After attracting interest from big clubs like Manchester United and Barcelona, he stayed at Fiorentina until Chelsea activated his release clause this window, as a replacement for World Cup winner, Andre Schurrle. Barcelona and Manchester United reportedly looked to employ Cuadrado as either a right-back or a right-sided wing-back. This could bode well for Chelsea, as manager, Jose Mourinho, wishes for his players to abide by a defensively hard-working philosophy, with the sale of Kevin De Bruyne, showing that he is ruthless with players who do not work hard enough for him.
With his mix of attacking flair and dribbling with his stamina, Cuadrado could show his talent to Mourinho, in an attempt to rival current right-sided midfielder, Willian, who currently possesses these abilities for Chelsea. As a replacement for Schurrle, Mourinho has brought in a talented, hard-working winger in Cuadrado, who is also available to represent Chelsea in the Champions League. Schurrle seemed out of form since his return from the World Cup and by quickly investing his sell on value into another winger, Chelsea have remained strong in player depth and quality.
Transfer fee: £11.2m
Arsenal had a poor start to the 2014/15 Premier League season due to the disgraceful defensive displays shown by the club that kept 17 clean sheets in the league last season. Lack of natural centre-backs has led to full-backs, Nacho Monreal and Mathieu Debuchy, having to fill in within these positions. The only two senior recognised centre-backs have existed in Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, and with the latter suffering from an ongoing Achilles problem, it would be an understatement to call Wenger’s defence ‘makeshift’ at times.
However, Wenger has gone to Villarreal this January to prise away their powerful, Brazilian centre-back, Gabriel Paulista. Gabriel played in La Liga for 18 months, making 37 appearances in the league, while maturing as a centre-back in Europe. His pace, strength and confidence in himself attracted Wenger, as the manager admitted that he admired Gabriel’s statistics this season at Villarreal. Gabriel could be the answer to Arsenal’s defensive problems, as Mertesacker’s pace has been exposed at times, but also adds much-needed depth to the squad. Wenger has observed that his only disadvantage could be the lack of English he understands, but this is a problem that he will be able to overcome, as he looks to become an important part of Arsenal’s defence.
Transfer fee: £28m
It was an early, shock move in the January transfer window when Manchester City moved for Wilfried Bony. Both the price tag and player were a surprise, as Manchester City were fined by UEFA for breaching Financial Fair Play regulations and they already possessed the world-class striking talents of Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic. Therefore, when it was announced they were signing Bony for nearly £30 million, football fans were stunned, as the club showed the magnitude of their intent and desire to win the Premier League title.
Bony is currently taking part in the African Cup of Nations, so does not join up with the Manchester City squad until he returns. This means that he missed the key fixture at Stamford Bridge against table toppers, Chelsea. However, he is available for other important games in their season, including the Champions League ties against Barcelona. This is an important season for Manuel Pellegrini, where he is in danger of not winning a title, as he has already been knocked out of the Capital One Cup and the FA Cup. Bony adds to the attacking gems that City possesses, but could also be a confidence boost to the squad, as they play catch-up with Chelsea at the top of the table and attempt to finally turn up as a power in the Champions League.
Transfer fee: £9.7m
Arriving at the King Power stadium after rejecting the league leaders, Chelsea, Andrej Kramaric could be the solution to Leicester’s troubles in the Premier League. After scoring 37 goals in 42 games at his previous club, Rijeka, Kramaric attracted attention from the Premier League leaders, Chelsea, but decided to join league strugglers, Leicester, for first team football. With this brave decision, Kramaric could be vital in Leicester’s attempts to stay in the top division. With less than a goal a game this season in the league, Leicester are lacking a goal scorer, especially since Ulloa came off the boil, after his exhilarating start to his Premier League career.
The young striker, Kramaric, may be able to score some goals for a club who is lacking some, in order to lift them off the bottom of the table. He does not seem like a player short of confidence, but carries a club record transfer fee, which could weigh him down. A goal scorer is vital to a club that is looking to stay up in the league and Kramaric could fit this bill for Leicester, as he has been compared to ex-Real Madrid and Arsenal striker, Davor Suker, by his international Croatian coach, Niko Kovac.
Transfer fee: Undisclosed swap deal for Jozy Altidore
The return of a vastly experienced Premier League striker, who has 124 goals in the league at 3 previous clubs, could prove to be a great move from Gus Poyet. The 32 year-old ex-England international carries the greatest experience of these signings, and could inspire Sunderland to a superior second half to the season. Defoe is a natural finisher and always has an eye for goal, as he uses a combination of pace and pinpoint finishing, making him a successful striker. Poyet can play Defoe in a new-look Sunderland front line, containing a ‘little and large’ combination of Defoe and Conor Wickham or Steven Fletcher.
Defoe is a player that reportedly attracted interest from around half the Premier League clubs, before choosing Sunderland, and his goal-scoring record and experience speaks for itself when asking the question why. Playing over half a century of games for the England national team and nearly 400 appearances in the Premier League, Defoe offers Sunderland experience in the front line, which can change their luck from drawing games to winning them. Becoming the draw specialists of the Premier League, with 11 draws to their name, Defoe could be the difference between a draw and a win for the club, leading them to safety this season after being brought back to the league in January.