Premier League 2022/23 best signings of the season XI

A few weeks ago, we gave a brief review of the standout player performances in the 2022/23 Premier League season, as we created a team of the season, with the caveat of allowing just one player per club. Now, with the official opening of the summer transfer window just weeks away, we feel it’s time to reflect on last years transfers and credit best debutants of the year by creating a best signing of the season XI. 

Much like our TOTS, it’s important to note that the aim of this is not to just select the 11 best performers in their debut seasons at their respective clubs, but rather will look to choose the best players in their respective positions.

We will include both summer and winter transfers and/or loans, whilst also taking into account the transfer fees (if applicable) and the impact each player had on their respective sides. Additionally, All transfer fees we have referenced below are according to Transfermarkt.

So, with that being said, you may not agree with our decisions, and you may feel aggrieved or satisfied that your club’s best acquisition did/didn’t make the cut, but we’ve tried to be as fair as possible.

Goalkeeper- Bernd Leno (Fulham)

Starting in between the sticks and there are two main candidates, namely Nick Pope and Bernd Leno. It may seem like he’s been there for a while, but somehow this was Pope’s first season on Tyneside, and, although he undoubtedly performed fantastically, we feel as though Newcastle’s impressive defensive record (the joint least goals against in the league) was more of a team effort, whilst Leno had more of an individual impact on his side.

The German, who also made our TOTS, signed from London rivals Arsenal for just £3.1m and has had a remarkable debut year at Craven Cottage, where he has saved exactly nine more goals than an average goalkeeper would have been expected to, according to FBref’s post-shot xG model. For reference, this is the second best in the League. This is especially impressive in comparison to the  aforementioned English international, who typically concedes the normal number of goals he is expected to.

Left-back- Pervis Estupiñán (Brighton & Hove Albion)

As for our left-back spot, this was an extremely tough choice between Brighton’s Pervis Estupiñán and Aston Villa’s Alex Moreno, whilst Arsenal’s Ukranian Oleksandr Zinchenko was also considered. Despite the exceptional impact Moreno has had so far in his six-months in Birmingham, we already credited him in our TOTS, so we thought we’d acknowledge the work of the Ecuadorian international.

The 25-year-old has been one of many stand-out performers in Roberto De Zerbi’s side, contributing in every area of the pitch and each phase of play- showing his wide-ranging abilities both on and off the ball. Whether he be tucking inside to help link play with midfielders, standing his ground against opposing wingers, or displaying his almost telepathic understanding of Kaoru Mitoma by over or underlapping the Japanese on the left-flank, Estupiñán has proved to be an excellent replacement for club-record sale Marc Cucurella, who left The Seagulls for over four-times the fee that the 2020/21 Europa League winner arrived for; a competition which, thanks in part to his performances this season, will be played at the Amex Stadium next year.   

Left centre-back- Sven Botman (Newcastle United)

Given we didn’t select his teammate Nick Pope earlier on, it’s only right that we give Newcastle’s Sven Botman a spot in our starting XI for the significant part he played in his sides outstanding defensive displays this season. Signed from French side Lille for a reported €37m fee, the Ajax academy graduate attracted substantial interest from many top European sides before moving to the North of England last summer, and hasn’t looked back ever since- putting in solid displays consistently throughout the season, helping Eddie Howe’s side keep 14 clean sheets and concede just 33 goals as they ensured Champions League football would be played at St James’s Park next year.

An honourable mention must also go to the World Cup winner Lisandro Martinez, who has silenced the critics in his first Premier League season with his tenacity and anticipation off-the-ball and ball progression on it overshadowing the perceived weakness of his height.

Right centre-back- William Saliba (Arsenal)

In our right centre back slot, we have slightly twisted the rule book, but it’s only fair that we include William Saliba in our lineup.

The Frenchman hasn’t exactly been a new signing for the Gunners, but has been a new arrival, having moved as a 19-year old from Saint ettiene for €30m in 2019, before being loaned back three separate times to his home nation, firstly back to Saint ettiene, then to OGC Nice and Marseille respectively. He particularity impressed at the latter, earning the title of Ligue 1’s 2021/22 young player of the season, an impressive feat given it brands itself as ‘the league of talents’. The speedy defender continued this fine form in his debut season in North London, proving, invaluable to Arteta’s side with his composure in possession and ability to defend one v one’s; traits which were heavily missed by the eventual runners runners-up as they failed to hold onto first place in their final 11 games of the season- all of which the 22-year-old missed through injury.

Right-back- Manuel Akanji (Manchester City)

We’re sorry, but at right-back we had to slightly break the rules yet again. Partly due to a lack of standout candidates, but mainly due to the excellent performances of Manuel Akanji for treble winners Manchester City this season. Although nominally a central defender, the Swiss international could practically play in any of the three positions in our defence, as he has done on countless occasions under Pep Guardiola over the past 12 months. In fact, the former Borussia Dortmund player has played in more Premier League minutes than any of his positional peers at the Etihad, displacing the likes of Aymeric Laporte and Kyle Walker at times, an achievement which few would have seen coming after his somewhat under the radar €17.5m move to Manchester last September.

Defensive midfielders- João Palhinha (Fulham) and Casemiro (Manchester United)

Amongst the debutants of the 2022/23 season, defensive midfield is perhaps the most saturated position, so we’ve decided to put two in our starting XI. Whilst mentions do have to go to Aston Villa’s free pickup of Boubacar Kamara and Crystal Palace’s €22m purchase of Cheick Doucouré, both of whom have been outstanding anchors for their respective sides, we feel as though Fulham’s João Palhinha and Manchester United’s Casemiro have had more of an impact this season. 

As for Palhinha, the Portuguese international has proved to be one of the best overall signings of the season, arriving from Sporting CP for just €20m. The 26-year-old has amazed the Craven Cottage faithful with his ability to consistently cover ground, read play, and break up opposition attacks. FBref statistics show that he has made over 5.5 tackles and interceptions per 90 minutes, which, when tallied up, equal the highest total in all of Europe’s top 5 divisions. 

Partnering him in our midfield, the five-time Champions League winner has shown his experience and leadership on countless occasions this season, becoming an invaluable presence for The Red Devils, who look like a completely different side in his been absence. Ensuring the defence is protected and enabling the likes of Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes to push forwards and create chances, the ex-Real Madrid stalwart has proved himself to be worth the €70m Erik ten Hag’s side paid for him last summer- a fee which was doubted by many.  

Attacking midfield- Morgan Gibbs-White (Nottingham Forest)

If they didn’t have Morgan Gibbs white, it’s difficult to know for certain which league Nottingham Forest would be residing in next season. The Wolves academy Graduate arrived for a club record €29m fee (which could rise subject to add-ons) and although eyebrows were initially raised, he has repaid the faith Steve Cooper showed in him consistently throughout the season. As per FBref, The 23-year-old, who won the u-17 World Cup with England under his current boss in 2017, leads The Reds in minutes played, touches, goal contributions, and has over double the number of shot creating actions (the two offensive actions leading directly to a shot) than next best Brennan Johnson. These figures go to show how valuable his endless endeavour and creativity has been during the battle for survival at the City Ground this season.

Left-wing- Willian (Fulham)

Providing creativity from the left will be Brazilian veteran Willian, who is the third Fulham player in our team, exemplifying what a fantastic job Marco silva has done at transitioning last summers signings into a side that were already EFL championship winners. Signing on a free contract from boyhood side Corinthians, just two years on from his disappointing spell at Arsenal Following his disappointing spell at Arsenal, you’d be forgiven for thinking we’d seen the last of Willian in the Premier League, yet the Ex-Chelsea man has proved his doubters wrong in each of his 27 appearances for The Whites this season. As well as compatriot Andreas Pereira (who was another summer signing) the 34-year-old has been the leading creator for the London club, making more key passes per 90 and creating more big chances than any other of his teammates, whilst his 10 goals and assists are only topped by Serbian talisman Alexander Mitrovic, as per Sofascore.

Right-wing- Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal)

In the right-wing spot it was slightly difficult to find a natural fit for our XI, so we encourage you to think of it more as a forward, rather than an out-an-out winger. 

In that case, we had two standout players to choose from- Alexander Isak or Gabriel Jesus. Although we opted for the latter, it must be said that Isak has been sensational in the second half of the season, with his technical prowess and rangy athleticism making him a nightmare to defend against. At just 23-years old, the Magpies record signing has only shown a glimpse of his talent, showing has shown how he could a key figure in what could soon be a title challenging side. 

Jesus on the other hand, was far from an unknown quantity when he signed for The Gunners for €44m last summer, taking a big risk to leave the Premier League champions and join the revolution his ex-assistant manager was building in North London. The Brazilian has been a transformative addition to the runners-up, epitomizing their style of play and the progress they have made over the past year. His link up with the likes of Martin Ødegaard and Bukayo Saka has left opposition defences floundering, whilst his excellent ball retention, balance, and off ball work has proved vital in empowering the side to put their opponents under the relentless pressure Artetas philosophy requires. Although still fantastic, The 26-year-old’s 10 goals and 6 assists in 26 appearances only go so far in demonstrating the monumental impact he has had in making Arsenal one of the most surprising performers in the League this year. 

Striker- Erling Haaland (Manchester City)

The easiest decision we’ve had to make in this XI by a distance, Erling Haaland will be leading the line in our team. Possibly one of the greatest signings in Premier League history, the Norweigian goal machine signed for just €60m this time last year, and has failed to disappoint since. You have probably heard enough about him already, so we won’t go into too much detail- but as just a small reminder, the former Borrussia Dortmund man has broken countless Premier League records, scored 36 league goals, and won a treble all in his first season at The Etihad Stadium. Oh, and he’s just 22-years-old…

So, there it is, our lineup of the best signings of the 2022/23 Premier League season, despite our potentially controversial choices and slight manipulation of rules, we hope you enjoyed reading.

Be sure to either comment or contact us GetFootballEU on Twitter to let us know your opinions on our team or even create your own XI and send it over! You’d be surprised, it’s harder than it looks!

Travis Levison | Get Football

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