Summer signings always bring a sense of intrigue as fans eagerly anticipate the first glimpses of their latest addition, a player they hope can take their side to the next level.
Whilst several of the Premier League’s marquee additions have enjoyed excellent starts after changing club colours during the close-season, there are many more struggling to find their feet following a summer switch.
We’ve decided to look at some of poorest performing signings during the opening months of the season, a group of players who will undoubtedly have a point to prove following the international break.
Here are five summer signings struggling to make an impact at their new clubs:
Willian’s free transfer move to Arsenal from London rivals Chelsea was largely seen as a coup for the Gunners, the signing of a proven Premier League performer bolstering Mikel Arteta’s squad.
The Brazil international had enjoyed seven successful seasons at Stamford Bridge and was amongst Chelsea’s better performers over the second half of last season, whilst the early indications were that he would prove sensible business for Arsenal after an encouraging debut display including two assists at Fulham.
Since then, however, Willian has struggled to make any form of impression and has failed to register a single goal or assist in nine fixtures in all competitions since that season opener, his performances not yet justifying the significant wages included in his three-year contract.
Arteta will have been hoping for much more from an experienced player who will have been expected to offer leadership to a developing side, his current role ahead of club-record signing Nicolas Pepe in the pecking order unlikely to last long without improvement.
Ziyech: 2 goals and 3 assists in his last 4 games for Chelsea
Willian: 0 goals and 0 assists in his last 9 games for Arsenal pic.twitter.com/6EQTPxfu2G
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) November 10, 2020
Willian may offer the work-ethic Arteta desires but his lack of attacking contributions is a concern, one that must be addressed in the coming weeks as an indifferent Arsenal look for consistency in both their results and performances.
Donny van de Beek
Amongst the most puzzling side-stories from the opening weeks of the season has been Manchester United’s use – or lack – of summer signing Donny van de Beek.
The midfielder arrived in a £35m deal from Ajax with a burgeoning reputation following his performances for the Amsterdam outfit, though he has failed to win favour under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Van de Beek has failed to start a single Premier League fixture and has featured for just 77 minutes across five substitute appearances, his continued omission all the more alarming given United’s woeful performances on occasion this season.
The Netherlands international’s inability to break into a side even during these dismal times at Old Trafford must surely be worrying for a player with both huge talent and potential, his signing again raising questions over the Red Devils’ recruitment policy given the presence of Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba as attacking midfield options.
Spending a significant fee on a player who has appeared unwanted thus far is baffling given the lack of balance in Solskjaer’s squad at present and it is time the Dutchman – who has shown glimpses of his talent – is handed his chance to impress.
Sheffield United enjoyed a dream return to the Premier League last season to secure a ninth-placed finish, their innovative system thriving in the top flight despite the presence of a recognised goalscorer.
Oli McBurnie and Lys Mousset finished tied as the Blades’ leading league scorers last season, though the duo managed just six goals apiece and the club’s lack of firepower led Chris Wilder to enter the transfer market for new additions.
Wilder decided to splash the cash and broke Sheffield United’s transfer record to sign Rhian Brewster from Liverpool, a move many viewed as a gamble given the youngster had yet to make a Premier League appearance for the Reds.
Brewster had starred during a loan spell in the Championship at Swansea over the second half of last season, but he has looked out of his depth at the highest level in his opening performances for the winless Blades.
The 20-year-old is an instinctive finisher and has showcased his goalscoring ability, though his all-round game needs much improvement following his ineffective showings so far.
Brewster has averaged just 0.3 shots-per-game and has won just 0.8 aerial duels per 90 minutes, his lack of contribution worrying for a Sheffield United side bottom of the division after eight fixtures.
It’s still early days for the youngster at Bramall Lane, but performances will need to improve and quickly if Wilder’s side are to escape their precarious situation in the bottom three.
Chelsea’s summer spending was headlined by the club-record signing of Kai Havertz from Bayer Leverkusen, the midfielder having been courted by almost every major club in Europe following his emergence in the Bundesliga.
Havertz is regarded as one of the world’s finest young players but his start at Stamford Bridge has been rather more solid than spectacular.
The Germany international has scored four goals and provided two assists in 10 appearances in all competitions, though three of those goals came as part of a League Cup hat-trick against second tier Barnsley.
Havertz’ creativity and versatility has seen him played in a variety of roles by Frank Lampard so far this season and that inconsistency may have played its part in his underwhelming start, Chelsea now close to a full complement as Lampard bids to find his best team and the best role for his record signing.
Much more will be expected of the Germany international who has largely been overshadowed by Chelsea’s other summer signings thus far, though it’s surely only a matter of time before a player of such precocious talent comes good.
The second Sheffield United signing to make our feature, Aaron Ramsdale is still waiting for his first clean sheet since returning to Bramall Lane in an £18.5m fee this summer.
That figure raised eyebrows given the Blades had allowed the goalkeeper to depart for just a fraction of that fee three years ago, though the shot-stopper’s form at Bournemouth had since seen him establish himself as an England U21 international.
Ramsdale’s return to Sheffield has been an unhappy one thus far and the shadow of Dean Henderson has loomed large over the goalkeeper’s performances this season, the latter having been so impressive during a two-year loan spell from Manchester United before returning to Old Trafford during the summer.
Ramsdale has failed to provide the assured presence Henderson so often did as the Blades over-achieved to finish ninth last season, his performance in last weekend’s defeat to Chelsea increasing the scrutiny on the 22-year-old who could have done better with each of the opening two goals.
Sheffield United’s struggles extend far beyond their young goalkeeper this season but they will need Ramsdale to find his feet over the coming weeks, an unconvincing number one far from ideal in the midst of a battle against relegation.