Premier League young players: Is Bailly the best new boy on the block?
Holly Thackeray | August 27, 2016
Who is best new boy among Premier League young players?
The summer transfer window is still open for business, but there have already been world record-breaking bids, superstar arrivals and much more in the Premier League off-season.
Now with the 2016/17 campaign firmly underway, Coral writers take a look at some of the younger fresh faces to have already arrived in England or stepped up to top-flight level.
Who’s settled quickest? And who has so far been the best new boy on the block? Here are six of the best new Premier League young players to have already impressed for their respective clubs…
Lewis Cook (Bournemouth)
Position: Central midfield
Story so far: Leeds United fans were far from pleased when the West Yorkshire club flogged brightest young talent Cook to south coast side Bournemouth for the reported relatively small sum of around £6m with add-ons.
And, so far, it looks as though the Elland Road outfit’s support were right to have their feathers ruffled, as the reigning Championship Young Player of the Year has taken to life at Dean Court seamlessly.
Slotting into Eddie Howe’s possession play, tenacious but technically excellent Cook enjoyed a diligent debut against Manchester United, slipping seamlessly into the starting XI and looking unfazed by the big names on show.
The Cherries are still without a Premier League victory but can build a side around York-born Cook, if the elite do not start sniffing around already come the end of the season.
He says: “They are all technically great [at Bournemouth] so first-team football is something I will have to fight for and I’m looking forward to it,” said Cook.
“Every game I’m learning. Manchester United was a hard game but it was a good one to improve on and I can’t wait to carry on.
“We were up against one of the top teams and I felt we held our own. We dominated periods of possession. From that, I feel we can do things in this league.”
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Southampton)
Position: Central midfield
Story so far: From one fledgling south coast schemer to another. Over at Bournemouth’s rivals Southampton, Hojbjerg has arrived as a promising pass-master from Bayern Munich, where the Dane was shipped off on loan across his last two seasons.
Could he be Bayern’s one that got away? It takes a lot more than poise and pinpoint passing to break into the XI at the Allianz Arena, but the midfield plotter has done his reputation no harm in his Saints cameos so far.
As a second-half substitute against Watford, Hojbjerg had a 100 per cent pass completion rate (from 45 attempted), earning him a start against Man Utd where he made the most passes for Claude Puel’s guys with accuracy of 92.9 per cent – even surpassing the opposition’s star turn Paul Pogba.
Despite being deployed deep and to the right in a midfield diamond, Hojbjerg wasn’t just about pretty passes and got stuck in for his side, winning back possession and registering for joint-most Saints tackles on the night. Not bad.
He says: “Southampton have made some huge steps in last four or five years. And, of course, last season they had the best season in the club’s history. They want to get better every year even if of course it’s a smaller club.
“I knew of course they had Gareth Bale, [Alex-Oxlade] Chamberlain. Luke Shaw was bought from here. Morgan Schneiderlin came from here, so big players who have made a big step from here,” added the ambitious Dane.
Rob Holding (Arsenal)
Position: Centre back
Story so far: With Arsene Wenger having been criticised earlier in the summer for prudently plucking a young player from the Championship for a pittance instead of immediately splashing the cash on a star new centre half, young Holding has had it all to contend with.
Thrown into the deep end against Liverpool at the Emirates due to injuries, where the Gunners conceded four goals and slumped to defeat, Holding had a real baptism of fire.
Yet Wenger kept the faith against Premier League champions Leicester City, where Englishman Holding repaid with a mature and promising performance next to Laurent Koscielny to help keep a crucial clean sheet.
Even the France international was impressed, stating: “He is still young but you can see during the game he was focused on his job and technically he is good with the ball and defensively he is strong.
“It was easy for me to play with him on the pitch…sometimes you need to be calmer, be focused on you position and on the pitch with your team-mates. Maybe I can give him this experience during the season.”
He says: “Obviously it’s more difficult, it’s a lot faster around your feet, the balls are on the floor all of the time and in the Championship it is more like a 90-minute fight, with balls coming in at all heights.
“It’s a lot faster, they’re thinking faster, and that’s the key,” the young Gunner told press.
“[My life] has changed massively, I’m living on my own now for the first time, learning how to cook, giving it a go and not just getting a takeaway every day!”
Eric Bailly (Manchester United)
Position: Centre back
Story so far: Many pundits expected new Man Utd manager Jose Mourinho to continue his chase of John Stones this transfer window, but the Portuguese instead pulled an early signing out of his sleeve in Bailly.
Mateo Musacchio and Victor Ruiz were the big centre back names at Spanish upstarts Villarreal, but then adaptable and powerful Ivory Coast international Bailly emerged and it’s easy to see why he caught the Red Devils coach’s eye.
Strong, bullish, bold and good on the ball, the Espanyol youth product has already become a fan favourite with dominating defensive performances beyond his years at Man Utd (7/1 with Coral to win the FA Cup).
It speaks volumes to become the first Mourinho signing, and potential best new boy Bailly has already scooped several Man of the Match awards to boot on his way to becoming a fixture. As elite clubs like Chelsea and Arsenal have been left rummaging around for top quality central defenders, that apparent £30m fee may just make Bailly a bargain.
He says: “Personally I want to make the most of the opportunity that has been given to me and to make the most of the manager Mourinho’s, great experience and professionalism,” stated the Ivorian.
“The object is to win the league.”
Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea)
Position: Centre forward
Story so far: Having been scoring for fun in Ligue 1 for Marseille, plenty of Premier League club’s were tipped to snare the latest big thing out of Belgium.
After raising his profile further at Euro 2016, particularly as an impact sub, Batshuayi soon found himself a Blues (6/1 to lift the FA Cup) target.
Supposedly one for the future at Stamford Bridge, Batshuayi has instead made a brilliant start to his career on English shores. Able to challenge Diego Costa for a spot, or play alongside him, the Belgian is going to give plenty of Premier League defences problems.
A mooted £33m fee looks like money well spent after a goal and assist in just two PL games, plus a pass accuracy stat of 80 per cent showing he’s no simple battering ram. With much more to come, Chelsea fans may forget Romelu Lukaku return rumours very quickly as Batshuayi certainly ranks among top Premier League young players.
He says: “There’s a lot of big players and that’s the difference from when I was in Marseille, and I have to try and learn from them.
“I need to work at that, adapting my style of football to the style here. In the teams I’ve been at, I’ve been really well received.
“Here I’ve had a good reception but I think there’s a lot of listening involved, you really do have to listen,” said Batshuayi.
Vincent Janssen (Tottenham)
Position: Centre forward
Story so far: A reported £17m price could again be a snip for this latest Spurs striker signing. Brought in to take the scoring burden solely off Harry Kane, Janssen’s integration into the XI has already seen the England international pushed further back to accommodate him.
Yet to open his Premier League account, the dangerous Dutchman who scored 27 in the Eredivisie last term gives the sense that he is just waiting for the floodgates to open.
Still bedding into his surroundings, the sharpshooter has become a hit with White Hart Lane fans for his ferocious workrate, running and link-up play. A first goal is all that is lacking, but so far so good for the youngster from AZ Alkmaar, who has shown he has the promise to play in Mauricio Pochettino’s demanding system.
Even new clubmate Christian Eriksen thinks he is ideally suited to England: “Vincent took some big hits for the team with all the hustle and bustle up front which I think made it a bit easier for Harry because normally it’s him that’s doing all the battling.
“I think there was a good connection between them and especially with Vincent, he’s something different – even though he’s from Holland, he’s proper English!”
He says: “I like to work because it’s one of my powers,” said Janssen.
“It helps me into the game and I think if you can do the run you have to do it. So that’s what I did the whole game [against Palace].
“It was very frustrating for me because the fans were so good and I want to give something back. I will promise the next time I get this chance I will score for sure.”
Football fans, we want to hear from you. Which of the Premier League young players we’ve highlighted do you think has been the best new boy this season so far? Have your say in the comments below.