With parachute payments, it is becoming easer for relegated clubs to hang onto their superstars. Examples include Watford’s Ismaïla Sarr, Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovi?, and Norwich’s Teemu Pukki – all of whom showcased Premier League quality and stayed on in the Championship to fire their respected clubs to promotion at the first time of asking.
Despite this, there are always some that don’t hang around when an offer of and immediate return to the Premier League is on the table; the Premier League vultures will be looking to pry players away from their clubs. With that in mind, here are three players who have impressed enough to interest Premier League clubs this summer.
André-Frank Zambo Anguissa
André-Frank Zambo Anguissa has had a mixed season but he’s still shown more than enough quality to suggest he will be of interest to Premier League teams next summer, The Fulham man is a box-to-box midfielder as shown by his heatmap. He has roughly half his touches in the opposition half this season (1,044/1,904) and has ore penalty area touches (40) than both Mario Lemina (14) and Harrison Reed (11) combined.
He has been linked to moves to Arsenal and Everton in the Premier League with the Gunners probably in need of his services more. They have also been linked to Brighton’s Yves Bissouma and will look to sign a midfielder capable of pressing well and carrying the ball between the lines. Everton’s three man midfield of Allan, Gomes, and Doucouré has been pretty good when they’ve all been fit and Anguissa would fit into any of the positions easier than their current back-up which requires a shift in system.
Style of play
Anguissa is comfortable on the ball. He averages 2.6 dribbles per game which puts him in third on the list for successful dribbles in the entire Premier League this season. What’s impressive is that, with half a season gone, this figure was around 3.2 per game. And despite the drop off, he’s shown he can still play at that level with an impressive 5/5 dribbles completed against Manchester United.
Anguissa is also a tough tackler. He completes 2.2 tackles per game and achieves 1.6 interceptions. There are only five Premier League midfielders who have betterd both of those statistics this season – Wilfred Ndidi, N’Golo Kante, Ruben Neves, Yves Bissouma, and Isaac Hayden. Anguissa covers ground as well as any of them and it’s no coincidence that his top performances coincide with Fulham’s.
He does have a weakness, however, and it’s a pretty big one for someone who has been used as a box-to-box midfielder: goal scoring. The Cameroonian averages only 0.9 shots per game and is yet to score from any of them. In fact, he has only two league goals to his name in his entre career. He isn’t terrible at creating chances – his total of four big chances created is good enough to put him joint second this season for the Cottagers – but he’s not shown enough to suggest that he could be consistent for a better team.
Matheus Pereira has had a great season. He looks certain to win West Brom’s player of the season for a second time in a row after proving he is more than a match for Premier League defences. Pereira is capable of playing anywhere across the forward line, or as an attacking midfielder; he is capable of delivering a wicked dead ball with roughly one in five of his corners finding a WBA head; he has a free-kick conversion rate of around 11.5% during his time in England.
Despite hitting the heights this season, the teams with the strongest link to a Pereira transfer this summer have been Leeds and Aston Villa. Both are solid mid-table teams looking to build on solid seasons, but Pereira has been excellent and would perhaps be hoping for a more high-profile move. For that reason, a move abroad might interest him. RB Leipzig are reportedly interested and, with no one in their team registering more than 14 goal involvements, Pereira may see them as the perfect club to showcase his talent.
Style of Play
At the beginning of the season, Matheus Pereira was the hook West Brom hung their hopes upon. Lacking a natural goal-scorer, Pereira’s creativity was going to be key in generating the chances required to score the goals needed. He has created as many big chances as Everton’s James Rodriguez (9) and sits joint ninth for Premier League goal involvements this season with 17 (11 goals).
Pereira is one of the most consistent playmakers in the Premier League; he creates a chance every 44 minutes. It’s not near the standards of the leagues top playmakers like Grealish and KDB who average one every 26 minute, but it is the same as Riyad Mahrez. Mahrez is good players to compare Pereira to as he has a goal conversion rate of between 16-17% and plays in a similar position – as a wide forward.
Pereira is the main man at West Brom; his average of 52 touches per game is second only to right-back Conor Townsend. If Pereira moves, he’ll have to make do with perhaps not being the main man. At West Brom, everything goes through him. The biggest question isn’t whether he has the ability to succeed, rather, does he have the attitude to adapt his game to fit his new team.
Berge has only played 11 times this season but his reputation has increased nonetheless. The 23 year old Norweigan international has been a Sheffield United player since the end of the 2020 January transfer window and has impressed with his battling displays. An all-action midfielder, Berge is capabe of breaking up play and setting his team on a counter-attack. Berge’s numbers haven’t been overly impressive in his 29 games for the Yorkshire club but nevertheless, he looks destined for a move.
Arsenal are alleged to have put a bid in for Berge but they may have competition from Spurs or Liverpool. The Gunners are clearly in the market for a central midfielder and Berge fits their bill. Thomas Partey has had a decent first season – he leads them for tackles per game with 1.8 – but they are lacking a consistent presence beside him who can carry the ball through midfield.
Style of Play
Sheffield United have had an abject season and it has been difficult for anyone to really shine. Berge has been out injured for a long time so would be a gamble for any club. At the right price, however, he could be a good signing for someone. His average of 1.2 dribbles per game may not be great in the scheme of things but it is top of the Sheffield United list since arriving.
In winning 74% of his tackles since his arrival, is a better success rate than other Arsenal targets Anguissa and Bissouma but he’s only averaged 1.35 tackles per game in that time. However, it should be said, that teams that lie to control possession more and the fact that both Fulham and Brighton average over 9% more than Sheffield United could be a factor in why the Norweigan is missing out in these areas.
In fits and bursts, he has proven that he is a decent performer. The numbers may seem low but his key passes per game (0.9), successful dribbles per game (1.3), and total duels won per game (3.7) are all in the top three for midfielders this season; his completed dribbles stat is the best for the entire club. This is better when you consider the fact that he has only played two games since 17th December. Berge has been good in patches but will need to show he can adapt to a different style if he is to succeed at a higher level.
The Best of the Rest
West Brom’s Sam Johnstone has proven himself as a top quality Premier League goalkeeper and with only a year to run on his contract, there may well be teams looking at him; he has 4.4 saves per game (a league high) and may interest Tottenham as they look to transition into replacing Hugo Lloris.
Aleksander Mitrovic may have had a poor season but he has a Championship and international goalscoring record that suggests there is more to come from him at the top level. The Serb has a goal for Fulham every 126.5 minutes at Championship level and, seeing how Watkins and Bamford have done this season, a better-organised top-flight team may feel they can get the best out of him.
Two Fulham players sit in the top five for clearances per game; Joachim Andersen is highly unlikely to sign permanently for the Cottagers whish would make a deal for his centre-back partner, Tosin, very difficult. His performances have interested the likes of Newcastle and Arsenal but he is likely to be more valuable to Fulham than he is for interested parties.