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Six summer signings who have struggled this season

Saul Niguez has endured a tough time since signing for Chelsea last summer, the midfielder having made just two league starts for the campaign – and has been substituted at half-time on each occasion.

Saul’s arrival was greeted with excitement following his loan capture from Atletico Madrid, but that has been replaced with disappointment following his failure to make an impact so far.

Last summer once again saw Premier League sides lead Europe for spending, splashing out vast sums on new arrivals with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United all investing huge fees.

 

Not every signing proves a success, however, and following Saul Niguez’s latest poor performance we’ve decided to look at six summer arrivals who have struggled so far this season.

Saul Niguez

We’ll start with Saul following his latest sub-standard showing at Watford, the midfielder hauled off at half-time as the Hornets threatened to cause an upset against Chelsea.

Saul was viewed as a coup for the west Londoners following his loan signing from Atletico Madrid, but he has failed to make an impression and has looked a shadow of the player so highly-rated in the Spanish capital.

His first start proved a baptism of fire as the Spaniard struggled with an energetic Aston Villa midfield, with Thomas Tuchel substituting Saul at half-time after Villa created several first-half chances at Stamford Bridge.

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It’s been a largely watching brief for the 27-year-old since, though – after almost three months on the sidelines – he was given a recall as a rotated side travelled to Watford.

Saul once again struggled and looked well off the pace, hauled off at half-time after receiving a caution. Tuchel ominously admitted post-match that he is unsure where the midfielder ‘goes from this performance’

Jannick Vestergaard

Leicester moved to strengthen their defensive options with the signing of Jannick Vestergaard last summer, securing a £15m deal for the Southampton centre-back after an impressive season at St Mary’s.

It’s been a difficult start to the season for both Leicester and the Danish defender, however, with Vestergaard having struggled to command a role in a Foxes’ backline that has proven alarmingly suspect.

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Leicester have kept just one clean sheet this season – the 1-0 opening day win over Wolves – and Vestergaard has failed to win in any of his seven starting appearances since moving to the King Power Stadium.

Despite seeing his options stretched with injuries this season, Brendan Rodgers has often overlooked the 29-year-old who remained an unused substitute on his return to Southampton this week.

Viewed as a shrewd signing for Leicester with just one year remaining on his contract at St Mary’s, the deal in hindsight is beginning to increasingly favour the Saints.

Bryan Gil

Bryan Gil arrived at Tottenham during the summer with a burgeoning reputation, the north Londoners sealing the signing of the ‘old-school winger’ from Sevilla for a fee of £21.6m and Erik Lamela in part exchange.

It was a significant sum for a 20-year-old with limited senior experience and Gil has so far struggled to break into the Spurs side this season.

Gil has made just five league appearances, all of which have come as a substitute, with his starts having come across League Cup and Europa Conference League competition.

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Those appearances have failed to see the winger register a single goal or assist to date and the Spaniard must work hard to convince new manager Antonio Conte he can be a part of his plans.

Time remains on Gil’s side as a young player adapting to a new division, but it has been an underwhelming start for four-cap Spain international.

Emiliano Buendia

Emiliano Buendia’s club-record arrival at Aston Villa was greeted with widespread excitement, the Argentina having attracted attention from some leading clubs during his time at Norwich.

Last season’s Championship Player of the Season, he scored 15 goals and provided 16 assists as the Canaries were crowned second-tier champions to earn promotion to the Premier League.

That creative spark has yet to be replicated since his summer switch from Villa, with Buendia having looked short of confidence during the opening weeks of the campaign.

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The 24-year-old has shown he has the talent to flourish at this level, performing exceptionally during the 2019/20 season despite Norwich’s relegation, ranking as the only player in the division with 60+ chances created, 60+ take-ons completed and 60+ tackles made.

Just three players – Kevin De Bruyne, Jack Grealish and Trent Alexander-Arnold – created more chances than Buendia that season and unlocking the best from the midfielder will be high on Steven Gerrard’s to-do list following his arrival at Villa Park.

Buendia as just one goal and one assist from nine league starts, a disappointing return from Villa’s record investment.

Jadon Sancho

Manchester United’s lengthy pursuit of Jadon Sancho ended in the desired outcome, securing the signing of the Borussia Dortmund winger last summer.

Having made an approach for Sancho the previous summer, it was the result of a long chase for the Red Devils who invested £72.9m to sign one of Europe’s most promising talents.

Sancho had posted outrageous numbers during four seasons in the Bundesliga, providing 114 goal involvements in just 137 appearances for Dortmund, a phenomenal return for a player still just 21-years-old.

The England international struggled to showcase that forward threat during the season’s opening weeks, however, failing to score or provide an assist in 14 appearances under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Sancho (41) is one of just four players – alongside Thomas Muller (58), Lionel Messi (48), and Filip Kostic (40) – to have provided 40+ assists since the start of the 2018/19 season and it is surely a matter of time before he establishes himself as a key performer at Old Trafford.

Back-to-back goals against Villarreal and Chelsea in recent fixtures might just have lit the touch paper.

Junior Firpo

Featuring in a Marcelo Bielsa side is not easy, as Junior Firpo has discovered during a chastening first few months at Leeds.

Signed with a promising reputation from Barcelona, Firpo was designed to be the explosive front-footed full-back to take Leeds to a new level this season.

The £13m arrival has failed to hold down a regular role in a difficult start to the campaign for Bielsa’s side, who have struggled to replicate last season’s performances and hover just outside the Premier League’s bottom three.

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The defender was handed his first start since October during the goalless draw with Brighton on November 27, but was hauled off at half-time after being tormented by Tariq Lamptey across the opening 45 minutes.

Read – The longest waits for a win at the start of a Premier League season

Read Also – Remembering every Premier League player to finish on the Ballon d’Or podium

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