For whatever reason, we suddenly felt compelled to determine the best Premier League signing of the season.
Top-flight clubs were not deterred by the global pandemic when it came to financial outlay, with millions spent on dozens of new recruits across the league.
To devise a shortlist, we applied the following criteria:
- Since we always look at things from a Dream Team perspective we insisted players could only qualify if they currently reside in the top 20 of their respective position based on Dream Team points — this eliminated the likes of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (£1.3m) Wesley Fofana (£3.1m) and Diogo Jota (£2.9m)
- New permanent signings only, no loan players — though we wrote about Jesse Lingard’s (£2.7m) impressive form earlier this week
- Players are measured against expectations — for example, Timo Werner (£3.4m) has accumulated 127 points but has not produced the returns expected of him
We eventually arrived at a shortlist of seven players.
Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Tomas Soucek (£3.3m)
After a promising loan spell last season, West Ham secured the Czech midfielder’s services on a permanent basis in the summer.
Soucek has encapsulated the Hammers’ season in many ways, overperforming against expectations through determination and diligence.
He’s bagged 122 points – thanks to a flurry of headed goals – and is the tenth-best midfielder in Dream Team at the time of writing.
Edouard Mendy (£3.7m)
A vast improvement on Kepa Arrizabalaga (£2.7m) and a key contributor to two spells of defensive solidity at Chelsea — one under Frank Lampard and the current run under Thomas Tuchel.
The Senegalese keeper is the second-best player in his position right now.
So many headers
Ollie Watkins (£3.2m)
The only forward to make the shortlist and deservedly so after scoring 12 goals in all competitions since making the step up from the Championship.
Watkins has plundered 123 points this season having formed a profitable connection with Jack Grealish (£4.5m) that has inspired Aston Villa to an impressive campaign — the Villains narrowly avoided relegation last season but are closer to European qualification this term.
Ben Chilwell (£3.8m)
At one stage it looked as if the England left-back would be the runaway winner of this hypothetical award.
He was certainly one of the better players during Lampard’s tenure but Tuchel has often employed Marcos Alonso (£3.4m) in the wing-back role, leaving Chilwell on the bench.
Still, with 140 points he is one of the best defenders Dream Team has offered his this season and one of the most popular too — his ownership still sits at 26.3%.
We wrote a separate article about Leeds’ exciting Brazilian winger this week.
Essentially, he’s combined style and substance during his first season on English shores, averaging a goal or assist every 172 minutes in the Premier League.
Keep an eye on his returns in May when Marcelo Bielsa’s side have relatively favourable fixtures.
Player of the Year candidate
Ruben Dias (£4.3m)
The Portuguese centre-back has transformed Man City’s defence this season.
Fans haven’t seen defensive leadership like it since Vincent Kompany’s departure and while much of the focus has been on City’s attacking flair, the fact they’ve conceded 11 fewer goals than Man United has been a key factor in their parade towards the league title.
Joao Cancelo (£6.0m) is by far and away Dream Team’s best defender in 2020/21 but Dias is right up there with 163 points of his own.
Emiliano Martinez (£3.6m)
After so many years spent twiddling his thumbs at Arsenal, the Argentine keeper has flourished at Aston Villa.
His tally of 14 clean sheets in the league is only bettered by Ederson (£4.2m) at this stage but Martinez trumps the Brazilian in a number of other metrics: Star Man awards, 7+ ratings, penalty saves.
TOP THREE RANKING
- Ruben Dias
- Emiliano Martinez
- Tomas Soucek