There’s a number of Premier League players whose campaigns didn’t go to plan last time out, with injuries decimating their chance to make an impact.
The summer will provide a chance to work hard in pre-season and return to full fitness, as clubs prepare to welcome back those forced into long absences last season.
While much of the focus of the summer will be on transfers and new arrivals, these five names will be like new signings to their side after missing much of 2022/23.
Five Premier League players who will be ‘like a new signing’ for their sides next season.
Armando Broja’s return to Chelsea did not go to plan last season, with hopes having been high for the forward after an impressive loan spell at Southampton. Broja scored nine goals during an encouraging campaign at St Mary’s and had hoped to gain a regular role at Chelsea upon his return last summer.
The 21-year-old was a regular presence off the bench during the season’s opening weeks, but his campaign was curtailed after sustaining a knee injury in a friendly game against Aston Villa during the international break for the 2022 World Cup.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) October 8, 2022
Broja was forced to watch on as Chelsea struggled for both results and goals, with the west Londoners scoring just 38 goals in the Premier League – their second lowest return ever in a season and lowest since 1923/24 – to end the season 12th in the table.
The Albania international will no doubt have been frustrated watching on given the lack of a recognised centre-forward in the side, but has since returned to fitness and will be keen to impress new manager Mauricio Pochettino.
West Ham and Brighton have been linked with moves to sign Broja this summer, but Pochettino will be keen to run the rule over a forward who has the raw attributes to develop into a leading talent. Pochettino prides himself on developing young talent and Broja is a player whose potential could excite the incoming manager.
Sasa Kalajdzic’s debut season at Wolves could hardly have gone worse, with the summer signing ruled out for the campaign after sustaining an ACL tear 45 minutes into his first appearance against Southampton.
The Austria international has since undergone a lengthy period of rehabilitation as he looks to return next season and could offer Julen Lopetegui a much-needed option in the final third.
Kalajdzic is among the tallest players in the Premier League at a huge 200cm and can offer a dominant threat in the air, with the 25-year-old having been signed to help end Wolves’ long-held goalscoring issues.
Wolves were the lowest scorers in the Premier League last season with just 31 goals. Ruben Neves and Daniel Podence were the club’s joint-leading scorers on just six goals each, while Diego Costa – signed as a replacement after Kalajdzic’s injury – mustered just one goal in 23 league appearances.
Kalajdzic scored 23 goals in 57 league appearances for Stuttgart before his £15m move to Molineux and can offer a towering threat if Wolves can provide service to the striker.
Aston Villa spent £26m to sign Diego Carlos last summer, but the club’s fans got to see the new man in action just twice before disaster struck. The centre-back ruptured his Achilles tendon in only his second appearance for the club and made just one further substitute appearance before the end of the campaign.
Carlos had arrived with a fine reputation after three successful seasons at Sevilla, a period which saw the defender win the Europa League in 2021. He returned to fitness in March, but spent much of the remainder of the season on the sidelines as Unai Emery’s team impressed to secure Europa Conference League qualification.
Step-by-step, Diego. 💪 pic.twitter.com/a2e8TejbHB
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) December 9, 2022
The 30-year-old will now hope to regain a place in the side as Villa look to build on the momentum of last season, with Carlos keen to demonstrate the ability on the ball that made him sought after last summer. The defender made more passes (2181) than any other centre-back in La Liga in 2021/22.
Aston Villa this week appointed Sevilla sporting director Monchi as president of football operations, the man responsible for signing Carlos for the Spanish side.
David Brooks’ return was one of the feel-good stories of last season as the midfielder made his first appearance for Bournemouth since undergoing cancer treatment.
Brooks returned to the pitch against Liverpool in March for the first time since his diagnosis in October 2021, an absence of 525 days after undergoing chemotherapy treatment for stage two Hodgkin lymphoma.
🗣️ “It’s like I never left, to be honest!”
Bournemouth midfielder David Brooks reflects on his return to the Wales squad, nearly two years on from being diagnosed with stage-two Hodgkin lymphoma 🏴 pic.twitter.com/HvQKnY19bq
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) June 14, 2023
The diagnosis had derailed the career of the midfielder, who had been nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award after an excellent first season at Bournemouth in 2018/19. Brooks made a further five appearances during the season’s run-in as the Cherries avoided relegation and came off the bench to make his first international appearance in 720 days for Wales against Armenia last week.
The 25-year-old’s return is a welcome sight for football, but also a major boost to Gary O’Neil ahead of next season. Brook will add another quality option to the Cherries’ creative cast as the club look to consolidate in the Premier League next season.
Emile Smith Rowe
Emile Smith Rowe endured a frustrating campaign with the midfielder unable to build on a breakthrough 2021/22.
Smith Rowe failed to start a single game and made just 14 appearances in all competitions, having struggled with injuries before failing to break back into an Arsenal side challenging for the Premier League title.
The 22-year-old had scored 10 league goals to earn nomination for the PFA Young Player of the Year award the previous season, but has cut a frustrated figure in ‘the hardest season’ of his career to date.
📸| Emile Smith Rowe in training with the England U21 squad 🏴 pic.twitter.com/ZMhuO4ZzCE
— Arsenal Buzz (@ArsenalBuzzCom) June 8, 2023
“I just want to be on the pitch. This was the hardest season of my career,” Smith Rowe recently told the Times.
“It was tough [not playing], but we were in a title race and I understand the manager isn’t going to change the team if we’re winning every game.
“I just tried to stay positive and train as well as I could. The other players and Mikel [Arteta] were great with me, kept me feeling connected. But it was tough, a long season. I won’t lie.
“Arsenal are my club and I’m not going to give up until [Arteta] says he doesn’t want me.”
The midfielder will form part of the England u21 squad for this summer’s European Championship and will hope to use the tournament as a springboard back into form and favour.