Coral’s Premier League awards 2014/15: Bargain Buy of the Season
It’s awards season, and we at Coral are holding our own as the Premier League campaign approaches the run-in.
We’ve seen superb signings shine and homegrown heroes hailed this term, and there will be several categories, though players can only be nominated in a maximum of two to ensure everyone a fair crack.
Next up is our Bargain Buy of the Season. Coral’s football experts have put their heads together and nominated the following freebies or cut-price signings that have shone brightest.
Highly-rated forward Bojan, now 24, was once lauded as a future star of the game, after breaking records in Barcelona’s senior team as a teenager.
However, it all went wrong for La Masia’s graduate, as lack of form mixed with injuries and quality talent in front of him at Barca meant he was pushed down in the pecking order and eventually sent out on loan to various clubs.
But the Spain cap has been a revelation for Stoke City, after being snapped up for a lowly fee of just over £1m, until his season was cruelly ended by a serious knee injury.
His highlights this term include scoring crucial goals in wins for the Potters (odds-on at 4/7 to finish in the top 10) against Tottenham, Arsenal, Everton and Leicester City.
Argentina and Inter Milan legend Cambiasso became a free agent last summer, and a whole host of top teams were linked with a move for the midfield maestro, but newly-promoted Leicester won the race, as they signed him for free.
While the Foxes are currently bottom of the table, their campaign is still alive, largely thanks to the genius of the 34-year-old, who makes everything look easy, despite his advancing age.
Cambiasso has featured heavily for Leicester this term and, although he has been used in a defensive midfield role, has also come up with crucial goals, including one in the famous 5-3 victory over Manchester United.
A flop at Arsenal, he was released from his former side at the end of last term and Garry Monk brought him in to replace the impressive Michel Vorm at Swansea City.
Fabianski would have been one of the last people to be placed on this list if you were to predict bargain buys before the season, but he has been a shining light for the Swans, who are high-flying in eighth so far.
The Pole has played in all but one Premier League game to date this season, he missed one through suspension, and has gained an impressive 11 clean sheets from 31 matches.
One of the most surprising and confusing transfers in the history of the game of football, Chelsea icon Lampard looked as if he was on his way to New York City on a permanent deal last summer and perhaps go abroad in the meantime until the MLS season started.
However, he instead joined one of the Blues’ main title rivals, Manchester City, after being released, which eventually turned out to be a permanent contract for the season.
The veteran, 36, has been used sparingly by Manuel Pellegrini, often coming off the bench, but he has managed a terrific seven goals and four assists in all competitions.
A highlight for Lampard is getting the equaliser against his former side earlier in the season, despite City being down to 10 men at the time.
Another Spaniard makes the list, and Ayoze made a cheap transfer of just under £2m to Newcastle United form Spanish second-tier team Tenerife.
The 21-year-old’s second half of the season form has dipped, but he was a revelation before the New Year, netting five goals.
Ayoze is still young and, as the Magpies are now renowned for doing, he could be sold for a big profit to a higher-profile club in future.