Considering a record £835m was spent by Premier League clubs in the summer transfer window alone, it’s no surprise that among the recruits will be a long, long list of failed acquisitions.
The danger of splashing the cash was more than evident in the 2014/15 season, not least by Liverpool, who spent more than £100m but had little in the way of success to show for it.
Manchester United’s moves for Angel Di Maria (£59.7m) and Radamel Falcao (bloody expensive loan) were also ill-fated, while Eliaquim Mangala (£32m), Emmanuel Riviere (£6m) and Abel Hernandez (£10m) all failed to hit the ground running to say the least.
But, of course, among the flops are the transfer success stories. ‘Who will join previous TT Soccers Signing of the Season award winners Wilfried Bony (2013/14), Michu (2012/13), Sergio Aguero (2011/12) and Javier Hernandez (2010/11)?’, we hear you ask.
Well, sit back as we take you through the top five signings and crown the best of the 2014/15 season.
5. Dusan Tadic
In truth, any of Southampton’s signings could have made their way onto the list. Premier League record-breaker Sadio Mane was an excellent acquisition, while Toby Alderweireld and Ryan Bertrand had breakthrough seasons at St Mary’s.
Graziano Pelle took the league by storm before tailing off towards the end, but it’s his partner in crime in that period before Christmas who gets the nod.
Ronald Koeman’s first signing, Tadic was a relative unknown before joining from FC Twente for just over £10m. Stepping into a club ravaged by player sales, the Serb wasn’t expected to have quite the impact he did in his first season in English football. He can boast goals against Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United in his first season on English soil as he led the Saints’ march towards European football.
His form did unfortunately suffer in the second half of the season as games caught up with him, but it was a thrilling debut campaign nonetheless, the highlight of which must be assisting four goals in the 8-0 win over Sunderland – becoming just the sixth player in Premier League history to lay on four or more in a single game.
4. Esteban Cambiasso
The clubs who face perhaps the biggest challenge in terms of transfers are those who earn promotion from the Championship. QPR spent £35.5m in preparation for their return, with Steven Caulker typifying the errors of their ways, while Burnley’s antithetical frugality may well have cost them eventually.
For Leicester, Leonardo Ulloa and Marc Albrighton impressed at times, but it was the performances of Esteban Cambiasso which stick in the memory.
The Argentina international was a free-transfer signing for Nigel Pearson’s men, but he represents the best value-for-money addition of the season. His experience and nous led Leicester from the brink of relegation to mid-table comfort, and the Foxes will do well to keep him heading into next season.
3. Diego Costa
The striker’s role at Chelsea has been somewhat of a poisoned chalice since Roman Abramovich entered the fray. Fernando Torres, Andriy Shevchenko and Mateja Kezman are counted among the numerous forward failures, but Diego Costa can be firmly placed into the ‘success’ bracket.
Signed from Atletico Madrid for £32m, the adopted Spaniard was tasked with leading a forward line featuring Eden Hazard, Willian and Oscar. Twenty goals in an injury-ravaged debut season confirms he did so more than admirably.
A dodgy hamstring restricted him to 26 Premier League appearances, but the 26-year-old played a key role in Chelsea’s league and Capital One Cup victories. The striker has definitely proved a nuisance for defenders throughout the country, with his strength, power and finishing meaning Chelsea have finally found the man to fire them to glory.
2. Cesc Fabregas
A player synonymous with Arsenal, Fabregas struggled to assert himself in his native Barcelona, with Jose Mourinho handing him the opportunity to return to the Premier League. Suffice to say, the Spaniard grabbed it with both hands.
Two assists in the opening win over Burnley should have acted as a warning as to just what Fabregas had up his locker alongside Nemanja Matic in the Blues midfield. Four more in the following three games meant he became the first man to assist a goal in six consecutive Premier League games, with the first two coming at bitter rivals Arsenal in 2011.
The 28-year-old eventually finished on 18 assists, seven clear of the nearest challenger and just two short of Thierry Henry’s seasonal record. He may have suffered a post-Christmas dip, but it was only made noticeable by his quite incredible opening half to the season.
1. Alexis Sanchez
Few players hit the ground running upon their first-ever season in English football, while it’s an even rarer trait in a player to raise the performances of those around him. In both regards, Alexis Sanchez stands among the very best.
Signed for around £35m from Barcelona, Arsenal would have known all too well the Chilean’s infectious hard-working nature and quite incredible talents after he starred in the World Cup. Very, very few would have expected it to translate to the Premier League in such a quick and dramatic fashion.
Sanchez was a force of nature as Arsenal finished third in the Premier League and added an FA Cup, with only Sergio Aguero (34: 26 goals, 8 assists) and Harry Kane (25: 21 goals, 4 assists) contributing to more strikes than the 26-year-old’s 24 (16 goals, 8 assists) this season. It’s remarkable when you consider that he rarely even played as a striker for Arsene Wenger’s men.
Having been courted by Liverpool in the summer, the Reds really did miss out on the closest replacement to Luis Suarez there is in the game currently. With the second most dribbles and the fourth most chances created in 2014/15, it’s truly quite worrying for opponents to contemplate just how good he might be next season.