With the first international break of the season almost over, it is time to park the debates over Phil Foden’s absence at No 10, why Harry Maguire continues to be called up and whether it’s time Aaron Ramsdale took over from Jordan Pickford – and return our focus to the Premier League.
And we won’t be the only ones, either. Transfer deadline day may have been and gone, but although a number of clubs managed to get late deals over the line at the 11th hour, most of those players won’t have had a chance to make their top-flight bows.
FA rules stipulate that paperwork must have been submitted by 12pm the day before a game if a player is to have any chance of an immediate impact. That’s why Cole Palmer, signed by Chelsea for £45million on deadline day, was able to come off the bench against Nottingham Forest with his deal completed at 9.30AM on September 1.
As a result, fans and players alike will be rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of seeing some of the division’s latest acquisitions cut loose for the first time this weekend.
Here, Mail Sport takes you through 10 of the biggest names looking to right themselves into the folklore of their new clubs as the Premier League prepares to make its return.
England have provided football fans with much-needed debate over the international break
Chelsea’s Cole Palmer was registered in time to play against Nottingham Forest after his move
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1. Ryan Gravenberch – Liverpool (£35m)
The Dutch starlet has been a name on many a football fan’s lips – particularly those who played any Football Manager game in the last five years.
A move from boyhood club Ajax to Bayern Munich ultimately failed to bring the midfielder into the limelight where he rightly belongs, with Liverpool coming calling this summer to strengthen their midfield.
At 1.9metres he is no pushover, and despite his height he has quick feet and is both agile and graceful on the ball, ghosting past defenders through a combination of confidence and guile in possession. Only a single goal and an assist at Bayern do not represent his talents, but nonetheless Jurgen Klopp will be keen to help him work on decision-making and final-third actions to get the best out of his new star.
Capable in either a regulation central midfield role or as a slightly more progressive attacking outlet, Reds fans will be desperate to see Gravenberch in action alongside fellow summer signings Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai, both of whom seem to have made an immediate impact.
Although neither are necessarily natural defensive midfielders, Gravenberch will surely play higher up the pitch with at least one of the World Cup winner and his new Hungarian team-mate holding the fort down in central areas so that the Dutch international can show Thomas Tuchel what he was missing out on.
After penning a five-year contract at Anfield, the 21-year-old will be hoping to get his first minutes in his new No 38 shirt up against Wolves in Saturday’s early kick-off.
Liverpool signed Netherlands midfielder Ryan Gravenberch for £35m from Bayern Munich
The central midfielder struggled for minutes at Bayern but should feature heavily for the Reds
2. Ansu Fati – Brighton (on loan from Barcelona)
Once handed the perhaps damaging epithet of ‘the new Messi’, Fati exploded on the scene as the latest in Barcelona’s long line of world-beating superstars of the future after graduating from their La Masia academy.
Now, though, after some desperate luck with injuries – if you can call missing 104 games in just under three years and four knee surgeries luck – he has been given an opportunity to get regular minutes in one of the most hotly-contest divisions on the planet to rediscover what it was that made the world stop, look and listen.
It isn’t that Fati has been bad, but when you’re compared to the greatest player to ever look at a football, it is expected that a player might clock better numbers than 39 goal contributions in 110 games – an otherwise impressive tally for a player of just 20 years.
At Barcelona, the tricky, balletic attacker that emerged some four years ago has recently suffered something of a crisis of confidence, but make no mistake – he has the potential and ability to become a true world-beater.
Exceptional on the ball and running at pace at the defence, Fati also possesses a deadly eye for goal, cutting in off the left onto his favoured right foot. His long list of injuries paints him as something of a fragile winger, but he has chunks kicked out of him like Messi did at his age, with defenders at a loss for how to stop him.
Teaming him up with one of Europe’s most exciting young attacking managers in Roberto De Zerbi could prove to be a masterstroke from the Catalan giants to get the wonderkid back up and running, believing in his powers once more.
Ansu Fati is considered one of European football’s biggest talents but his career has been hampered by serious injuries
Brighton coach Roberto De Zerbi has a job on his hands with his new Spanish loan signing
3. Brennan Johnson – Tottenham (£47.5m)
Nottingham Forest’s former Welsh striker arrives at a Tottenham side that is filled with excitement – both from the fans and the players – for the first time in a long while, and looks a good match in north London.
Johnson might not be a like-for-like swap for Harry Kane, but there is plenty of optimism around the 22-year-old, who will likely feature through the middle for Ange Postecoglou, but he rose to prominence as one of the brightest attacking talents outside the so-called top six, able to play anywhere across the front three.
The forward is blessed with pace, technically astute and although only 1.79metres, he is still a physically robust outlet for Spurs to work around, with Son Heung-min, Dejan Kulusevski, Richarlison and Co operating in attack.
Part of his success at the City Ground arose from his great understanding with Morgan Gibbs-White, and he finds at Tottenham a No 10 at a level above in James Maddison, with Spurs fans surely keen to see the pair operating in tandem.
The only concern for supporters might be his goal tally last term of eight, although he was often not the main attacking focal point when playing in a two with Taiwo Awoniyi, or out wide in a three. At 22, though, he still possesses all the enviable time and elasticity to adapt to a central role and develop his attacking game even further.
Johnson will be match fit and raring to go on Saturday when Spurs take on Sheffield United having played twice for Wales in the international break and three times for Forest, and will only likely start on the bench for tactical reasons.
Brennan Johnson signed a five-year deal at Tottenham after his £47.5m deadline day switch
Johnson scored eight Premier League goals last season for Nottingham Forest and can play anywhere across the front three
4. Sofyan Amrabat – Man United (on loan from Fiorentina)
Manchester United have long been linked with a move for Sofyan Amrabat since his stellar performances for Morocco in their truly stunning run to the last-four in Qatar, but as the clock ticked closer to the 11PM deadline, Erik ten Hag’s side finally got their man.
Amrabat is costing them £8m for the season, but there is little doubt that it is a more than reasonable fee for a tireless defensive midfielder who relishes doing the dirty work for his side.
In many ways, the 27-year-old looks to be the perfect midfielder for United right now, with the Red Devils looking susceptible to attacks through the middle with Mason Mount not the most defensively-oriented midfielder.
Sofyan Amrabat shot to prominence after his stunning displays for Morroco at the World Cup
Amrabat’s defensive numbers from last term are staggering; 1.4 tackles, 3.42 duels, 5.6 ball recoveries and 63 touches per game, as well as a passing accuracy of over 91 per cent. The stats suggest he is more than just a player that had a good World Cup.
Alongside Casemiro there might be concerns that Ten Hag’s midfield could look too negative, too workmanlike. But according to Sofascore, only 11 per cent of all his passes went backwards last term, with 25 per cent of those going forwards, meaning there could be a fair few line-breaks and searching through balls coming from the Moroccan this season.
His arrival comes at just the right time, too. Having won just two and lost two, United seem out of touch, but come up against Brighton on Saturday without their £60m man Mount in the middle. Amrabat looks likely to step in and provide some much needed mettle to the side as they look to bounce back from a 3-1 loss to Arsenal in impressive fashion.
Amrabat (right) arrived at Manchester United on deadline day on loan from Fiorentina
5. Matheus Nunes – Man City (£53m)
There aren’t much higher compliments than Pep Guardiola calling you one of the best players in the world. Especially on the back of a humiliating and perhaps soul-destroying 5-0 defeat in the Champions League in front of your own fans.
But Nunes’ new boss saw fit to do exactly that back in 2022, ahead of the midfielder’s switch to Wolves last summer, where he continued his ever-impressive trajectory to catch the eye of the vast majority of Europe’s elite.
‘I would say that Matheus Nunes is one of the best players in the world today,’ he said back in 2022. ‘Despite the difficulties and some mistakes, I have to be very satisfied because we took a big step towards the next round.’
Matheus Nunes completed his £53m move from Wolves to Manchester City on deadline day
It takes something special to break into probably the strongest XI in the world, with the likes of Rodri, Kevin de Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Mateo Kovacic and now John Stones ahead of you in the pecking order – just ask Kalvin Phillips – but Nunes bears all the hallmarks of a player very much capable of doing just that.
Capable of lung-busting runs through the middle, winding dribbles and disrupting play with equal proficiency, Nunes will surely be a winner at City. There is even something of club legend Yaya Toure in the way that he runs with the ball at his feet – always a few steps ahead of him so that he can run at close to full pace, but never looking out of control.
He’s not quite as tall as Toure at 1.83metres, but he is remarkably durable with deceptive strength in possession and is very difficult to stop once he gets going, carving through the centre of the pitch to help his side transition from defence to attack.
In true Guardiola fashion he is more than happy picking up the ball on the edge of his own box, and although he is unlikely to replace Rodri any time soon, the prolonged absence of Stones will see him battle for that second defensive midfield slot with Kovacic to face West Ham on Saturday.
The Brazil-born Portuguese international has drawn widespread praise in recent seasons
6. Divock Origi – Nottingham Forest (on loan from AC Milan)
Liverpool’s cult hero is back in the Premier League, but this time Origi will be wearing the red of Nottingham Forest instead, coming in as a late replacement for Tottenham-bound Johnson.
Taiwo Awoniyi has proven a shrewd purchase from Steve Cooper’s big-spenders after returning 14 goals in 34 games, but Origi brings to the table something different to the Nigerian.
The Belgian striker has experience at the very highest level in the game, winning every single club competition available to him at Liverpool aside from the Europa League, and will be a welcome addition to the Forest ranks.
But although it wasn’t quite as prolific as it was in Milan, Origi brings a certain intangible quality to the attack that made him such a fan favourite at Anfield. He didn’t score the most goals, and nor were they screamers, but he had that nous to always turn up in the right place at the right time. It is a cliche, but is it true; he scored big goals when it mattered most.
Forest may be ninth with two wins and two defeats but they are one of the favourites to be drawn into a relegation battle. When your backs are against the wall, you need someone who comes up clutch in the 97th minute, away from home in a game that you have been dominated in.
The football gods didn’t quite see fit to tee him up with a return to Anfield this weekend, but against a Burnley side that have conceded 11 times already, we could see the Belgian back in the thick of some late drama, although it’s unlikely Vincent Kompany’s side will let him out of sight from corners.
Ex-Liverpool striker Divock Origi has joined Nottingham Forest for a Premier League return
Origi made 107 appearances in the Premier League for Liverpool and netted 22 goals
7. Sergio Reguilon – Man United (on loan from Tottenham)
Injuries to Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia necessitated a move for Tottenham’s out-of-favour Spanish left back Reguilon from Manchester United on deadline day as they sought emergency cover at the back.
Diogo Dalot had been drafted in temporarily on the left, featuring against Arsenal’s terrifyingly energetic Gabriel Martinelli, but is sure to make way on Saturday against Brighton, with Reguilon likely to be charged with keeping Solly March, Kauru Mitoma and Co quiet.
The Spaniard made 52 appearances across his first two seasons, before falling out of favour under Antonio Conte and losing his place in the side and moving on loan to Atletico Madrid last term, but he has a great chance of impressing both Ten Hag and Postecoglou at Old Trafford for the time being.
Reguilon is energetic, pugnacious, and comes with two seasons of top-flight experience – not to mention a brilliant left foot, adept at firing curling out-swingers into the box from close to the byline for the likes of Marcus Rashford and Rasmus Hojlund to feast on.
Perhaps equally important, he also has a helpful knack of picking up fouls in useful areas for his side – both while under the cosh themselves, and when threatening to trouble the opponent’s defence.
Fans have voiced their concerns about the calibre of the defender, given he struggled to get a game for their direct rivals last term, but Reguilon could be in line to immediately make his case in response. He assisted in two of his first three games for Spurs – could he do the same for United?
Manchester United have confirmed the loan signing of Sergio Reguilon from Tottenham
Reguilon struggled for gametime at Tottenham after falling out of favour last season
8. Carlos Baleba – Brighton (£23.2m)
Baleba’s arrival crept under the radar somewhat – perhaps unsurprising given the £115m the Seagulls received for the man he was brought in to replace in Moises Caicedo.
After a brilliant campaign for Lille in Ligue 1, the defensive midfielder comes in to provide a little more solidity in the absence of Caicedo, who provided the much-needed backbone that allowed Brighton’s attacking talents to flourish.
Baleba is only 19 years old, but already has 23 first-team games under his belt in northern France, and if there’s any club that can pick a young talent right now, it’s Brighton.
For a player of his age, there is not exactly a huge pool of evidence to draw from, but De Zerbi has already seen enough to back the new midfielder as the future of the club. Athletic, composed, excellent on the ball and breathtakingly confident – it’s hard to argue against the Italian.
One of his biggest strengths might be his tackling and break up the play like his predecessor, but there is also an elegance to his play. Much like a young Thiago Alcantara, Baleba often picks up possession with his back to the defender, feigning one way and rolling the other to outfox his opponent in one languid yet fluid motion.
Pascal Gross and Billy Gilmour impressed against Newcastle, and it would be harsh to drop either after a 3-1 win, but Baleba’s is a talent that any manager would find hard to repress, and the youngster is likely to appear in some capacity at Old Trafford on Saturday. Not a bad way to make your debut, all things considered.
Carlos Baleba (right) was signed by Brighton late in the window to replace Moises Caicedo
Baleba was promoted to the Lille senior team last season and helped them finish fifth in Ligue 1
9. Ibrahim Sangare – Nottingham Forest (£30m)
The former PSV Eindhoven midfielder comes with a hefty price tag for a side plagued by Financial Fair Play concerns, but Sangare is a player that had cropped up on some of Europe’s elite’s shopping lists.
Robust and relentless, the Ivorian international is never far from the action, and was at the heart of most of the work that has impressed from a young PSV outfit that is helping return the Dutch giants to the forefront of European competition in the last couple of years.
A strong and athletic ball carrier through the middle of the pitch, Sangare drives the play up the field and away from the danger area with impressive regularity, and yet has the flair and trickery up his sleeve to pull off Cruyff-turns in his own box.
It would be easy to paint Sangare with the brush of an industrious, box-to-box athlete with little else to their game but constant running, but the 25-year-old also has a good eye for a pass and a rocket of a left boot from the edge of the area.
Sangare is a well-rounded operator in the middle of the park, and alongside the impressive Danilo in midfield, is a real coup for Cooper’s side. There is enough quality in his 1.91metre frame for Forest to recoup close to double their money to one of the bigger fish in the division – or even further afield – a few years down the line if he decides not to see out the rest of his five-year deal.
Remo Freuler’s stay at the club did not deliver on the quality he had shown at Atalanta, but in Sangare the Tricky Trees have signed the midfielder capable of bossing the game that they so evidently lacked last term.
Nottingham Forest pulled off a real coup in signing Ibrahim Sangare from PSV for £30m
Steve Cooper’s side look to have signed a star capable of bossing their midfield this season
10. Callum Hudson-Odoi – Nottingham Forest (undisclosed)
At one point Hudson-Odoi looked the future of Chelsea, alongside the likes of Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori – now though all four have been moved on to pastures new.
The England international forward has fallen off in recent years after struggling to fight back from an achilles injury, spending time at Bayer Leverkusen last term where he struggled to impress, before the league appearances dried up.
But a switch to Nottingham Forest represents a fresh opportunity for the youngster, who has the chance to play under his former England U17 manager, with whom he lifted the World Cup in 2017.
Mail Sport understands that the former Chelsea star has been keen to move to Forest for some time, such is the strength of his relationship with Cooper, and now he will surely be afforded the minutes and space to get back to his prodigious best.
With Anthony Elanga already making a strong start to life at the City Ground, a front three of the Swedish international, Hudson-Odoi and either one of Awoniyi or Origi could make for a fearsome prospect for defences across the league.
Hudson-Odoi managed just over an hour in a recent EFL Trophy outing for the reserves against Harrogate Town, but is likely to make his Premier League debut against Burnley this weekend and stake a claim to a regular starting role that has evaded him for some time.
Manage that, and who knows what could happen with Euro 2024 just around the corner.
Callum Hudson-Odoi has joined Nottingham Forest from Chelsea on a three-year deal
The 22-year-old winger spent last season in Germany while on loan at Bayer Leverkusen