It’s always an area of discussion and debate for football fans; the transfer market. 2020/2021 saw many players join or move around the Premier League, but which ones actually helped their teams? This article will name the 20 players who had the biggest impact on their clubs’ performances this season.
Arsenal didn’t make many major signings over the season, but the one who gave them more threat in attack was Martin Odegaard. The young Norway midfielder joined the Gunners on loan from Real Madrid in January, helping them to move the ball around with a more intensity, and he also acted as a link for his teammates in their opponents’ half.
Following their narrow escape from relegation in 2019/2020, Aston Villa did not hold back in last summer’s window, adding plenty of players to help them stay away from another battle at the bottom and hopefully climb the league. One thing the Villains needed to bring in was goals, with Wesley and Mbwana Samatta both struggling in front of goal last season and the arrival of Ollie Watkins from Brentford definitely gave them that. He is able to play as a winger or a striker, so gave them options in the final third, which was crucial.
Brighton and Hove Albion
Brighton have never sign big names from abroad, instead preferring to find hidden gems like versatile Poland mdifielder Jakub Moder and young English right-back Tariq Lamptey. However, last summer they signed Danny Welbeck from relegated Watford, giving them a goal threat at the top of pitch that the Seagulls had lacked consistently the season before. Neal Maupay signed from Brentford in 2018, but he has struggled to consistently score goals, so Welbeck could well be the goalscorer they have been looking for.
Burnley didn’t make many signings last summer, leading to them sitting around the relegation positions for the majority of the season. The one player they did add was experienced midfielder Dale Stephens from Brighton. Although he didn’t play many times, Stephens gave the Clarets extra experience in the centre of the field, and the fact that he can fit in wherever needed benefitted their style of play.
Frank Lampard spent copious amounts of money last summer to bring in talent from around the world, trying to fill the holes he had noticed and build a squad capable of challenging on four fronts. However, the player who added the most was goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, as he gave the Blues a reliable pair of hands between the posts, allowing them to build from the back with more success. Given the notice given to the likes of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech, Mendy’s performances perhaps went under the radar a little.
One player who brought a lot to Crystal Palace last season was Eberechi Eze, who is an attacking midfielder and can play on either wing or through the middle. He scored goals, passed well and created plenty of opportunities in the final third; everything that they hoped German midfielder Max Meyer would bring.
Everton brought in several players last summer that manager Carlo Ancelotti had previously worked with, but the one who gave them something they were missing was Allan, who joined from Napoli. He operates in a defensive role, allowing others to get further forward, and this led to their excellent early form. The Toffees did fail to keep that up as the season went on, but the Brazilian was a key part of their tactics throughout.
Fulham learnt plenty of lessons from the last time they came up, not overspending and instead looking for players who would add the necessary quality to their squad. Whilst they struggled for consistency throughout, one January signing who really stood out was loan striker Josh Maja, who gave them a bigger attacking threat in the second half of the season. He didn’t manage to save the Cottagers from the drop, but he certainly kept them in the fight for longer than they would have been otherwise.
It was a very good first season back in the Premier League for Leeds, due to their unique playing style under Marcelo Bielsa. The Whites brought in several players last summer, but the one who made the biggest impact was Brazilian winger Raphinha, who can play on either wing and was the one Leeds looked to when they needed a moment of magic.
It was a good season overall for Leicester, although they did miss out on the Champions League on the final day for the second season in a row, but an FA Cup win did give the Foxes something to celebrate. They didn’t spend a lot last summer, compared to other teams, but one who did come in was Wesley Fofana. With long-serving club captain Wes Morgan now retired, and Caglar Soyuncu continually linked with a move away from the club, the young French defender showed plenty of times that he can fill in when needed.
Liverpool fans will be happy to see this season go, struggling to defend their league title and only securing their top four place on the last day. One player who did add something to the team was Diogo Jota. Liverpool’s forward line is excellent, as everyone knows. However, when any of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino are taken out, they always looked like something was missing. Jota’s arrival ensured that there was adequate cover available for those games when they needed him.
Manchester City needed to add some big players last summer to help them regain their Premier League crown, and one of the areas they needed to improve was the defence. In 2019/2020, they made plenty of defensive mistakes, but Ruben Dias‘ arrival from Benfica has plugged the gaps and made the Citizens much harder to beat. It is no surprise that he picked up several awards for his performances throughout the season, with the PFA, FWA, Premier League and Manchester City all recognising his contribution to their success in 2020/2021.
A second-placed finish in the Premier League is a brilliant result for Manchester United, given where they have been finishing since Sir Alex Ferguson departed the club. One signing from last summer who made a difference to the Red Devils was striker Edinson Cavani, with his experience balancing out the youthfulness of Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood. He scored the goals that Manchester United would have missed previously, and that demonstrates the impact his arrival had and why it was a good decision to sign him when he was available.
It would be easy to name Callum Wilson as Newcastle United’s best signing last season, and, up until January, he was. However, everyone has been understandably talking about Joe Willock, who joined the Magpies on loan from Arsenal in the winter window. Able to play in multiple positions in attack, he gave them plenty of options tactically, as well as scoring the goals from midfield that they had lacked in the first half of the season. His arrival was one of the main reasons Newcastle managed to pull away from the relegation battle in the closing rounds of the season.
Given that the season was one to forget for Sheffield United, it was hard to find a signing that actually made an impact. However, one who looks like the right player for them now is right-back Jayden Bogle, who can get forwards and backwards with ease, therefore fitting into the Blades’ setup, and he can chip in with goals as well. This season, he didn’t have many opportunities to shine, but his experience of the Championship could be of huge benefit to the side next season.
Southampton had another season of really good moments and really bad moments; they are always at either end of the scale. They made some good signings last summer, but the re-signing of Theo Walcott on loan from Everton (now made permanent) gave them more experience in the final third, which is where the Saints have struggled at times. Having helped them to avoid being sucked into the relegation battle, even when they were struggling for consistency, Walcott’s presence in the team can only be a positive for Southampton next season.
It was a disappointing season for Tottenham overall, but one player they brought in last season, midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, was a big positive for Spurs, adding pace and energy to their play. It has often been the case that Tottenham have lacked a presence in midfield to help them play through the thirds, but Hojbjerg allowed them to do that much more last season. He will be a key part for Tottenham’s tactics going forward, and one they will come to rely on much more in transitional play.
West Bromwich Albion
West Brom were another team who struggled in 2020/2021, but one of their loan signings in January, striker M’baye Diagne, gave them a goal threat that they had been missing up until that point. He wasn’t able to save the Baggies from relegation, but definitely added a presence in the final third that some teams found difficult to deal with at times.
West Ham United
West Ham were definitely the biggest improver in 2020/2021, with many players having a big impact on their performance levels, such as Czech Republic right-back Vladimir Coufal and England’s Jesse Lingard, who was their best player in the second half of the season. However, when we look at someone who contributed to everything, we can’t see beyond Coufal’s international teammate Tomas Soucek. The midfielder got involved in everything, making defensive interceptions and tackles, scoring goals, creating chances for his teammates, and covering a lot of ground during games. It was noticeable when he wasn’t on the pitch, which showed how important he was to the Hammers.
The main talking point with Wolves has been their lack of striker options, and it was always felt that this would come back to bite them at some point. This season, it did just that, with Raul Jimenez injured in November and missing the rest of the season, and 18-year-old Fabio Silva was the only striker immediately available to fill the gap he left. There is no doubting the youngster has a lot to work on, but also has plenty of time to improve his individual game. He did alright when he came in, and deserves credit for always trying and working hard, but Wolves as a team were poorer as a whole without Jimenez on the pitch. Willian Jose came in on loan in January, but failed to have the desired impact, so this is an area Wolves need to strengthen in next season.