Premier League signing of the season so far: Our football writers pick their top summer buys

Who has been the Premier League signing of the season so far? The Sky Sports‘ football writers have their say…

Aaron Ramsdale, Arsenal

Who has been the Premier League signing of the season so far? The Sky Sports’ football writers have their say…

Aaron Ramsdale’s £30m arrival at Arsenal was met with widespread scepticism following back-to-back relegations with Sheffield United and Bournemouth but his doubters are quiet now.

The 23-year-old has been outstanding since ousting Bernd Leno as Mikel Arteta’s first-choice goalkeeper, helping the Gunners turn their season around following the three-game losing streak which threatened to plunge the club into crisis back in August.

Since his debut, in a 1-0 win over Norwich later that month, he has kept eight clean sheets in 15 Premier League appearances – a total second to only Manchester City’s Ederson in the division.

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Watch Aaron Ramsdale’s sublime save from James Maddison’s free-kick which will surely be a contender for save of the season

There have been sensational saves – such as his acrobatic stop from James Maddison against Leicester in October – and dazzling passes too. Indeed, as well as providing a formidable last line of defence, Ramsdale has transformed Arsenal’s build-up play.

Opta’s expected goals model shows he has prevented more goals than any other Premier League goalkeeper this season and then there are the intangibles of leadership and character.

In more ways than one, Ramsdale has given Arsenal exactly what they needed.
Nick Wright

Conor Gallagher, Crystal Palace

Conor Gallagher gets away from Kyle Walker-Peters

With the new year fast approaching, Conor Gallagher can look back on a breakout 2021.

His summer loan move to Crystal Palace has continued to bring out the best of the midfielder. Those who have followed his career at Chelsea or in temporary spells at Charlton Athletic, Swansea and then West Brom on loan will not be overly surprised.

The 21-year-old has shined in most games for Palace, and he tops the charts in most attacking areas. He ranks first in the squad for goals (six), assists (three), shots on target (14) and chances created (29).

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Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira says he has been impressed by Conor Gallagher’s ‘work ethic’ after scoring six times in 15 Premier League appearances so far this season on loan from Chelsea

While there is plenty of focus on his attacking play, he is not afraid to make those key tackles and contribute defensively. He is second in the Crystal Palace team for total tackles (44) and fifth for interceptions (13).

He is quite literally everywhere, all the time. It’s perfect for Crystal Palace, who have been crying out for youth and creativity in their midfield. He also seems to have that boundless 21-year-old energy, making him an overall nightmare for opponents.

Given that Patrick Vieira was one of the best midfielders of his generation, it only makes sense that Gallagher is consistently improving under his guidance. Much like his manager, Gallagher has all the makings to be the best midfielder of the current young generation of stars.
Charlotte Marsh

Takehiro Tomiyasu, Arsenal

Takehiro Tomiyasu jumps for the ball with Newcastle's Matt Ritchie (AP)

There was plenty of criticism of Arsenal’s summer business in the days and weeks after the transfer window closed, but the Gunners’ performances so far this season have shown it was a very good window for Mikel Arteta and his side.

And the signing that typifies that is Takehiro Tomiyasu.

Arsenal’s move for the Japan international, who moved to north London from Bologna for £19.8m on Deadline Day, was questioned, but he has hardly put a foot wrong since his arrival at the club.

The 23-year-old has made the right-back position his own with his physical, no-nonsense style, his decision making under pressure and his ability in the air, making 15 appearances in the Premier League.

His performances have stood out in an Arsenal side that have improved no end since losing their opening three games of the season to Brentford, Chelsea and Man City. The improvements in the Gunners defence is also clear for all to see with Tomiyasu impressing alongside goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale and defenders Ben White, Gabriel and either Kieran Tierney or Nuno Tavares.

His contribution was even pointed out by Sky Sports’ Gary Neville during Arsenal’s 4-1 win over Leeds, and the former Manchester United right-back mentioned the improvements in White’s game since Tomiyasu’s arrival. “I like him,” Neville said. “He has made a big difference to Ben White at right centre-back.”
Oliver Yew

Emmanuel Dennis, Watford

Watford's Emmanuel Dennis celebrates scoring the opening goal

It’s interesting that many of the most expensive or high-profile signings of the summer haven’t made it onto this list and Emmanuel Dennis at Watford is another example of a smart piece of scouting and a bargain buy that’s paying off.

The Nigerian only cost Watford £3.5m from Club Brugge, according to his agent, but with seven goals and five Premier League assists, only Mohamed Salah has more goal contributions so far this season. With key man Ismaila Sarr out injured, Dennis has stepped up.

His goals against Manchester United, Leicester and Chelsea underline his appetite for the big stage and, speaking to Sky Sports earlier this month, boss Claudio Ranieri tipped the pacey, direct 24-year-old forward – who has previously been linked with United and Arsenal – for the top.

A goal and an assist on the opening weekend against Aston Villa caught the eye but his emphatic form in recent weeks suggests Dennis is now fully up to speed.

With key, winnable fixtures coming up for Ranieri’s relegation-threatened Watford, the hope will be Dennis can prove to be an even better buy in the second half of the campaign to pull the Hornets away from danger. But his value is already on the rise.
Peter Smith

Tino Livramento, Southampton

Tino Livramento

Saints may not be enjoying the best form at the moment, but the signing of Tino Livramento was a coup.

At just £5m, the 19-year-old arrived from Chelsea in the summer and was thrown into the fold instantly, playing all but four minutes in Saints’ Premier League campaign.

The energetic right-back has been one of Southampton’s best players, mature beyond his years without the ball, and direct with it.

Among defenders in the Premier League, he ranks top for fouls won, third highest for duels won, second for dribbles attempted, second for recoveries and second for possession won.

Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl admitted to Sky Sports in November that they had to beat off competition from elsewhere to sign Livramento, but the promise of first-team football swayed it.

“He is a serious player,” Hasenhuttl said. “He’s well developed, I know his father and his mother are taking care of him, and we only got him because we told them what plans we have for him.”

On the surface, it may look like Chelsea have let a gem go cheap, but a reported buy-back clause of £38m is also looking good value.
Gerard Brand

Jose Sa, Wolves

Wolves goalkeeper Jose Sa

Jose Sa arrived as an uncapped 28-year-old signed from Olympiacos to replace his highly-regarded compatriot Rui Patricio at Wolves. But the Portuguese goalkeeper has been a revelation at Molineux and must be regarded as one of the signings of the season.

Wolves have conceded only two goals in their last seven Premier League games – and one of those was a controversial penalty against Manchester City. They have the third best defensive record in the competition and Sa deserves huge credit for his role in that.

Statistically, the expected-goals data suggests that he has prevented more goals than any other goalkeeper. Wolves have conceded only 14 but, on average, based on the type, location and direction of the shots faced, Sa should have let in 18.4 goals.

It is not just his shot-stopping that has been impressive. Sa’s distribution has been a huge asset, even providing an assist for Raul Jimenez’s winner against Southampton. No goalkeeper in the Premier League has created more chances than he has.

Sa also ranks joint-top alongside Hugo Lloris and Alisson for the most accurate keeper sweepings, his proactive style helping Wolves to play with a higher line. Not only one of the signings of the season, but a man who has had a transformative impact on his team.
Adam Bate

Follow the January transfer window with Sky Sports

Who will be on the move in January?

The January transfer window opens on Saturday January 1, 2022 and closes at 11pm on Monday January 31.

Keep up-to-date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports’ digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.

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