Eye-catching summer captures include Arsenal’s goalkeeper David Ospina and the Newcastle midfielder Rémy Cabella
Let go by Hamburg two years ago for being considered a difficult character, the Everton recruit needed a spell in Hungarian football and a few outstanding World Cup performances to complete his road to redemption. The 21-year-old had not featured for his country for over a year – after declining to play for the under-21 side – before being given a late call-up just in time for the last two friendlies, which booked him a place with the travelling party. The reinvented defensive midfielder, who broke through the ranks at Hamburg as a right-back or central defender, is best remembered for his marking of Lionel Messi in Bosnia’s opening game. Though the £4m fee for a player from the Hungarian league might seem steep, the dynamic, quick and competitive utility man could prove to be a useful addition to Roberto Martínez’s Everton squad.
At £12m the Ecuadorian represents a gamble. One of the revelations of the World Cup group stages, Valencia rose to prominence through scoring three goals in as many games but it was also his pace, athleticism and aerial ability for his relatively modest height that prompted several European clubs to inquire about the forward. Having just moved to Mexican football from his home club Emelec last summer, his rise over the past 12 months has been remarkable. Though the transition from Latin American football to the Premier League is never a formality it is reassuring for West Ham that Valencia enjoyed an excellent debut season in Mexico before the World Cup. Equally comfortable on either wing or as a roaming forward, he comes across as a hybrid between countryman and namesake Antonio Valencia, and the former Newcastle forward Faustino Asprilla.
In a summer of hectic transfer activity at St James’ Park, Cabella looks the pick of a bunch of impressive new recruits. He is not quite a direct replacement for the all-round midfield playmaker Yohan Cabaye; Cabella’s talent mainly comes into evidence in the final third of the pitch. In addition to being a prolific finisher (14 goals last season), the 24-year-old has the technique and vision to set up others with weighted passes. Two-footed and excellent one on one, Cabella could become a fans’ favourite. The capture of the French midfielder, who was expected to join a Champions League-level side, is somewhat of a coup for Newcastle. While they may seem overly reliant on the French market, this is one player definitely worth taking and £9m for a top Ligue 1 midfielder can be seen only as good business.
With Ospina widely considered among the best goalkeepers in France over the past few seasons, Arsenal have pulled off a massive coup in landing someone who is already worthy of a Premier League No1 shirt for £4m. With nearly 200 league matches for Nice and 50 caps for his country, the 25-year-old already has a wealth of experience. Albeit not among the tallest of goalkeepers, the 6ft Colombian makes up for a lack of size – a factor that some say tends to be given too much emphasis in the Premier League anyway – with a powerful frame and a brave style of goalkeeping. Arguably one of the standout shot-stoppers of the World Cup, Ospina should not only provide Arsène Wenger with a quality back-up in goal but also a ready challenger to Wojciech Szczesny.
While not the most structured club in the transfer market, with a seemingly eternally revolving door in and out of Loftus Road, QPR’s scattergun approach is bound to hit the mark eventually – with Isla looking like a bullseye. With his profile it is surprising bigger clubs did not snap him up. It is a loan deal and perhaps Isla wants somewhere less pressured to establish himself in the Premier League – which he is well equipped to do, having been a key member of Chile’s team for several years now and so accustomed to the high intensity and off-the-ball running necessary to succeed here. Bought by the Serie A champions from Udinese for £12m in 2012, the 26-year-old is equally comfortable as a right wing-back or central or defensive midfielder. Energetic and a good athlete, he is excellent going forward and, like most Chileans, possesses a great temperament and a passionate approach that should endear him to the QPR faithful.