From Liverpool’s Egyptian wizard, to an £8m left-back, via Brighton’s £3m player of the season, here are some choice buys
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Discarded by José Mourinho and revived by Jürgen Klopp, the little Egyptian wizard is an Anfield legend in the making. His impact since his return to England has been extraordinary and it is staggering to think that Roma only received £36.9m from Liverpool. Salah has torn defences to shreds, scoring over 40 goals in all competitions, and Real Madrid will not enjoy trying to contain the 25-year-old in the Champions League final. His speed is terrifying, his left foot is a wand and his end product has improved beyond belief. A fitting winner of the PFA and FWA Footballer of the Year awards.
Ederson (Manchester City)
Pep Guardiola caused plenty of consternation amongst English football’s commentariat when he discarded Joe Hart last season, especially when the replacement for England’s erstwhile No 1 turned out to be made out of sand. Yet those who argued that Hart had been treated unfairly just because of Claudio Bravo’s failings were looking at it the wrong way. Guardiola did not have to let go of his preference for a sweeper-keeper who was comfortable in possession. Instead he stuck to his guns and found an upgrade in Ederson, whose excellence has enhanced City’s defensive power and demonstrated that there is no need for Guardiola to compromise his ideals to suit the Premier League. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Andy Robertson (Liverpool)
This time last year the Scot had just been relegated with Hull City. Now he is preparing to face Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Isco and all the rest in the Champions League final. It has been quite the ride for the 24-year-old, who has been outstanding since cementing himself as Klopp’s favoured pick at left-back. Robertson was a snip at £8m and, while much of the focus has gone on Liverpool’s wondrous front three, he made himself a Kop cult hero with a demented surge in the 4-3 win over City in January. Some youngsters would have struggled to cope with the pressure of moving to such a big club, but Robertson has taken it all in his stride – and knocked a few opposition right-wingers over along the way.
Pascal Gross (Brighton & Hove Albion)
The German was the most creative player in the Bundesliga last season, laying on 95 chances for his Ingolstadt team-mates, and he has proved a canny purchase by Chris Hughton. Gross scored Brighton’s first ever goal in the Premier League, got his seventh of the season with the winner against Manchester United, contributed eight assists and won the club’s player of the season award. Not bad for a player who only cost £3m.
Chris Wood (Burnley)
Burnley certainly saw them coming when Watford came knocking for Andre Gray last summer. Gray has scored five goals since leaving for £18m, while Sean
Dyche was able to use the money to replace the striker with Chris Wood. The New Zealand international did not come cheap – Leeds United received £15m –
but Wood has had a fine season since arriving at Turf Moor. The burly forward marked his debut by scoring a late equaliser against Tottenham and his nine league goals have helped Burnley qualify for Europe for the first time since 1967, proving that there is value in targeting players in the lower leagues.