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GAME RAISERS

7 players who have laughed in the face of big summer signings this season

Premier League clubs expectantly spent millions in the summer but some of their existing players have been shining the most

The making of any player is how they respond to competition.

Tottenham’s brave and bizarre decision not to add any summer signings will test their existing squad’s ambition to the max this season.

The rest of the Premier League, like sane normal clubs, forked out the millions they had at their disposal to strengthen ahead of the 2018/19 campaign.


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What £60m looks like

PA:Press Association
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What £60m looks like

But after five games some of the best individual performers have been those who were already part of the setup last season.

Let’s call it laughing in the face of the new acquisitions, but here are seven existing names who have really stepped their game up this season to make themselves almost undroppable.

James Milner > Naby Keita

Duracell bunny

Reuters
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Duracell bunny

The worrying aspect for the rest of the Premier League is Liverpool boast a 100% record without their fearsome attacking trio really hitting full stride.

Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah have still managed eight goals between them, but their standout performers have been behind them.

Milner has been a regular since he was 16 and 16 years later he’s just as exemplary, leading all the statistics categories in the win over Spurs at the weekend.

Naby Keita’s time will come, but at the moment Milner is outshining him and is undeniably one of the best free transfers in Premier League history.

Bernardo Silva > Riyad Mahrez

Bernardo Silva celebrates with opening scorer Raheem Sterling aftr he completed a 2-0 win for champions Manchester City at Arsenal over the weekend

AP:Associated Press
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City love their Silvas

The worst kept secret in football finally became public this summer after Riyad Mahrez switched Leicester for Man City.

But the Algerian is having to wait to make an impact due to the form of another diminutive left-footed attacker.

Bernardo Silva has taken centre stage for the league champions and looks the perfect fit to eventually replace David Silva as the side’s midfield metronome.

Marcus Bettinelli > Fabri and Sergio Rico

Bettinelli saves Pascal Gross’ penalty

Getty Images - Getty
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Bettinelli saves Pascal Gross’ penalty

Fulham went absolutely berserk in the summer, spending bigger than the likes of Barcelona as they brought in effectively a new team.

That included two new goalkeepers from the continent in Fabri and Sergio Rico, both with real pedigree and eyes for the number one shirt.

But Bettinelli has had other ideas, replacing Fabri after the opening game and keeping his place between the sticks ever since.

The 26-year-old has carried on his from from their Championship season, saving a penalty against Brighton and earning a first England call up.

Marouane Fellaini > Fred

Pretty in pink

Getty - Contributor
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Pretty in pink

Man United’s summer business pretty much started and ended with Fred’s £52m move from Shakhtar.

He’s shown flashes of what he can bring but also displayed a reckless side that suggests he’ll take time to adapt.

That’s where Fellaini comes in, using his years of s***housery and nous to bring a calmness to United’s midfield.

The Red Devils have looked far more astute against Burnley and Watford with the bruising Belgian in the side at Fred’s expense.

Jose Holebas > Adam Masina

Hornets buzzing

Getty Images - Getty
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Hornets buzzing

Watford are a bizarre side, aren’t they?

Change their manager every six to 12 months, sign a shed load of unproven players and somehow make it stick in one beautiful mess of diversity.

Holebas has actually been a mainstay of the Hornets defence for a couple of seasons and is crucial to their setup, providing width down the left to complement their narrow midfield diamond.

Watford signed Bologna left-back Masina in the summer but he’s barely had a sniff thanks to Holebas’ consistency.

Wayne Hennessey > Vicenta Guaita

Staking a claim

News Group Newspapers Ltd
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Staking a claim

Crystal Palace have desperately needed a goalkeeper for quite some time now so they turned to the experienced head of Guaita this summer.

Formerly of Valencia and Getafe, the Spaniard was expected to come straight in for Hennessey whose performances had left a little to be desired.

But the Welshman has risen to the challenge, maintaining his number one spot with a series of consistent displays.

Gini Wijnaldum > Fabinho

Fabinho might have to wait a little longer

AFP or licensors
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Fabinho might have to wait a little longer

It’s easy to forget that Liverpool forked out £40m to bring Fabinho to Anfield this summer in amongst the rest of their eye-catching business.

Jurgen Klopp has been patient with the Brazilian, giving him the same withheld treatment as he did with Andy Robertson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain last season.

But Wijnaldum’s form has been another factor in Fabinho’s absence altogether so far, with the Dutchman transformed as Liverpool’s holding midfielder.

He scored his first ever away goal in the Premier League against Spurs and has commanded every game alongside Milner.


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