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Six Premier League stars bouncing back after being written off

You can’t keep a good man – or Premier League footballer – down for long and this list of names have shown, to quote the great poet that is Iain Dowie, bouncebackability of the highest order this season.

Written off after struggling for form and/or favour last season, these six stars have worked hard to regain their place in the side and are rewarding their manager’s faith.

Here are six Premier League players bouncing back in 2023/24 after being written off last season.

Jamaal Lascelles

Jamaal Lascelles has spent almost a decade at Newcastle United, but the club captain’s career at St James’ appeared to be reaching its conclusion last season. Lascelles fell out of favour following Eddie Howe’s appointment as manager in 2021/22, before the signing of Sven Botman pushed him further out of the head coach’s plans.

Botman’s fine partnership with Fabian Schar was the bedrock for Newcastle’s top four finish last season and restricted Lascelles to just two Premier League starts. However, the 29-year-old turned down interest from both the Premier League and abroad in favour of remaining on Tyneside and has been rewarded with an opportunity this season.

Botman’s knee issue saw Lascelles brought back into the team in September and he has responded with arguably the most consistent form of his Newcastle career.

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Lascelles has helped Newcastle to four clean sheets in nine games, a run which includes big wins over Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal. The centre-back was outstanding in the win over the latter last weekend, with a captain’s performance as Lascelles made a number of vital defensive interventions to restrict the Gunners’ goal threat.

Such has been his form, Gareth Southgate name-checked Lascelles – much to the defender’s surprise – when discussing the English pool of talent available to him at St James’ Park.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallager’s return to Chelsea last season did not go according to plan. In-demand after a brilliant season on loan at Crystal Palace, the midfielder failed to find that form in a blue shirt, during a campaign that saw Chelsea limp to their lowest league finish since 1993/94.

Chelsea proceeded to spend more than £200m on central midfield talent during the summer, adding to the £106.1m capture of Enzo Fernandez in January, to cast serious doubt over Gallagher’s hopes of a regular role.

However, the Cobham graduate has impressed new manager Mauricio Pochettino and has fast become an integral part of his plan. Gallagher’s energy has superbly suited Pochettino’s pressing demands, with no player in Europe’s top five leagues having won possession in the attacking third more times (18) than the England international.

Gallagher has been unshackled in an advanced role and created five chances in last weekend’s win over Spurs, the most he has ever created in a Premier League game. Adorning the captain’s armband in Reece James’ absence this season, the 24-year-old has gone from disposable asset to one of the first names on the Chelsea team sheet.

Harry Maguire

Who would have thought it?

Yes, Harry Maguire is a far better player than he has shown for much of the past two campaigns. And, yes, the meme-generating caricature he had become in some sections of the media was quite ridiculous, but did anyone really see Maguire becoming key for Erik ten Hag?

Lisandro Martinez’s absence and Raphael Varane’s ongoing fitness issues have put Maguire back into the team (and firing line), but he has responded with his most consistent form since his impressive (and largely forgotten) debut campaign at Old Trafford.

After assisting Scott McTominay’s dramatic winner against Brentford last month, Maguire has been crucial to Premier League wins over Sheffield United and Fulham. Against the latter last weekend, he led his teammates for touches (75), clearances (8), duels won (10) and aerial duels won (8), while he ranks sixth in the Premier League this season for percentage of aerial duels won (79.2%).

Maguire also popped up with a crucial winner against Copenhagen to keep the club’s hopes of Champions League progress alive and has fought back valiantly from the most difficult period of his career. Only three months ago, he was removed as club captain and an offer was accepted from West Ham for his services.

Yves Bissouma

Tottenham’s capture of Yves Bissouma was considered a coup ahead of last season, with each of the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ having been linked with the in-demand Brighton midfielder. However, Bissouma failed to impress under Antonio Conte or interim successors Cristian Stellini and Ryan Mason, as the Mali midfielder made just ten league starts in a disappointing debut campaign.

Bissouma has already matched that total after being handed a central place in the plans of new manager Ange Postecoglou, who has centred his improving Spurs side around the industry and elegance of the 27-year-old.

Excellent in avoiding the press and tenacious in his work to regain possession, Bissouma is among the Premier League’s leading players for tackles won (5th), dribblers tackled (4th), interceptions (5th) and successful take-ons (10th) this season.

Vitaliy Mykolenko

Vitaliy Mykolenko has taken some time to convince the Everton fanbase. The Ukraine international was signed in the 2022 January transfer window as a replacement for the popular Lucas Digne, but struggled during his early performances in the Premier League.

Last season the left-back failed to produce a single goal involvement as Everton narrowly avoided the drop, but he has been a player reborn under Sean Dyche this season. Mykolenko’s tenacious work has been appreciated at Goodison Park and he scored his first goal of the season during the draw with Brighton last weekend.

That goal was the culmination of an improved run of performances from Mykolenko, who has worked tirelessly down the left flank for the Toffees. Only five players in the Premier League have made more tackles and defensively he has got better and better under Dyche. One of the unsung heroes in Everton’s improvement.

Lucas Digne

The man Mykolenko replaced at Everton, Lucas Digne’s transfer to Aston Villa had not panned out as hoped.

Digne struggled after a bright start at Aston Villa and last season lost his place in the team, as Alex Moreno shone after being made Unai Emery’s first signing at Villa Park. Moreno’s long-term absence has handed Digne a chance to impress this season however, and the Frenchman has responded.

The 30-year-old has a goal and five assists in 16 appearances in all competitions, while the numbers show his effectiveness at both ends of the pitch. Digne leads the Premier League for crosses (85), crosses into the penalty ares (12) and ranks third for both passes into the penalty area (24) and progressive passes received (124), having been a consistent outlet down the left flank.

Defensively Digne has been questioned, but he ranks seventh among all Premier League players for interceptions in 2023/24. Emery will have a tough decision to make when Moreno returns to full fitness.

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