By George Mitchell
Judging by the quiet January transfer window, most Premier League clubs clearly felt they did their key business in the summer. But which players have proven to be the best signings? Here’s our top four.
No.4 Jack Wilshere
Once hailed as England’s next midfield lynchpin, a series of injuries stalled Wilshire’s career at Arsenal.
Sent on a season-long loan to Bournemouth, he has slipped seamlessly into their playing style. Their fast-paced, high-pressing game isn’t too dissimilar to Arsenal’s.
Cherries boss Eddie Howe is full of praise for the 25-year-old who has been rejuvenated by his south-coast switch.
If he can stay injury-free and help Bournemouth finish mid-table, Wilshere will be back on track to achieving his potential.
No.3 Marcos Alonso
Chelsea have tapped into whatever it was that so appealed to Real Madrid when Alonso was a youngster.
He’s brought the balance Chelsea have been searching for on the left, allowing them to play Cesar Azpilicueta on his favoured right.
Alonso was already familiar with the English game thanks to his three-year spell at Bolton and 2014 loan stint with Sunderland.
At 26, the £23m signing from Fiorentina is in his prime. The Spaniard has become an integral part of Antonio Conte’s team as they race towards the title.
No.2 Zlatan Ibrahimovic
The mighty Swede is our runner-up. But he’s been a serial winner in a career that’s included spells at Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Barcelona, Milan and Paris St Germain.
A free agent after his contract at PSG expired, many wondered if the Premier League would prove a challenge too far for Manchester United’s new striker.
At the age of 35, he’s silenced the doubters with 15 goals in 23 games, becoming an Old Trafford idol in the process.
Ibrahomovic clearly remains an incredible athlete and consummate professional. His fiery nature is, though, never too far from the surface.
At times, he’s carried Jose Mourinho’s side this season, but has yet to decide whether to stay for another campaign. He would be missed massively by the United faithful should he move on.
No.1 N’golo Kante
As the joke on Twitter put it: “75% of the earth is covered with water, the rest is covered by Kante.”
Describing a defensive midfielder as a team’s ‘engine’ can often be overplayed. But has it ever been more appropriate than for the modest Frenchman?
Some people gave him the lion’s share of the credit for Leicester’s title success last season. I felt this was slightly disrespectful to the rest of the team.
But having seen the impact he’s made at Chelsea, maybe they were right. Kante, 25, has definitely taken the Blues to new heights.
Even at £32m, his signing was a solid bit of business. He now looks set to become the first player to win back-to-back Premier league titles with different clubs.
Champions League football beckons next season, and with it the chance for Kante to seal his place among the best in the world.