Under the radar
Adam Bate picks a Premier League XI of summer signings from abroad that you might have missed.
By Adam Bate - Follow @GhostGoal
Last Updated: 06/08/13 2:50pm
While Wayne Rooney, Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale dominate the headlines and Manchester City pull off the big-money signings, other clubs have been quietly going about their business. Sky Sports picks an XI of summer signings from abroad you might have missed.
Maarten Stekelenburg - Fulham
The 30-year-old goalkeeper has pedigree having played for Ajax and Roma as well as earning more than 50 international caps with the Holland national team. Things turned sour in the Italian capital last season as the Dutchman endured a difficult relationship with then Giallorossi coach Zdenek Zeman and lost his place in the side, partially through injury. One of the criticisms of Stekelenburg was that he only communicated with his teammates in English - unlikely to be an issue at Fulham despite the multinational squad. "I am sure that he will do well here at Fulham in the Premier League," said Fulham boss Martin Jol. "He is a player of great quality and technical ability whose distribution and ability to react quickly and read the game is exceptional; he will be a fantastic addition to the talented team of keepers that we already have."
Jores Okore - Aston Villa
Although he fits into this line-up in the right-back slot, Okore is a natural centre-back who has enjoyed an impressive rise to prominence with Nordsjaelland and the Denmark national team. Born in 1992, he fits the young and hungry profile that Villa boss Paul Lambert favours but can also bring Champions League experience to the squad. Having previously turned down a move to Chelsea, his arrival represents something of a coup for the West Midlands club. "If I was to describe myself, I think I'm a big, strong defender with good pace," said Okore. "Obviously, my priority is to be a really good defensive player but I think I can bring something to our game offensively, too, and maybe start some attacks."
Dejan Lovren - Southampton
Lovren will be hoping to make an impact at Southampton in the centre of defence. The 24-year-old Croatia international is an aggressive character whose combative style could prove an asset in the Premier League, if he is able to rein in his instincts (three red cards in the space of seven Ligue 1 games indicates there are discipline issues). Lovren had his critics during a difficult campaign for Lyon last season so will be hoping for a fresh start in England. "After three and a half years in France, it was a dream to play in the Premier League," he said. "Now the dream has come true. This is a great project. I have it in my mind to do something big, and I see the same thing in the club. We are a young team, and I am a young player also so I hope I will stay here for a long time."
Fernando Amorebieta - Fulham
When Marcelo Bielsa's exciting Athletic Bilbao side eliminated Manchester United from the Europa League in the spring of 2012, many neutrals fell in love with the Basque side for their high tempo passing football. Amorebieta was in the line-up that finished the job in the San Mames but his style of play should be less alien to English supporters than the football on offer that day. The 28-year-old Venezuela international is an aggressive character who should relish the physical challenge. "The English style is a style of football that I have always loved, and I have followed it for a long time," said Amorebieta. "The main difference between La Liga and England is the rhythm. Here it is more direct than in Spain, but I think I will adapt very well to the Premier League. My style is beneficial for the English game, otherwise I wouldn't have made the move."
Razvan Rat - West Ham
Hammers boss Sam Allardyce wrapped this signing up early in the transfer window and it is easy to see why. The former Shakhtar Donetsk left-back was available on a free transfer and represents a solid acquisition in an area of the field that needed to be improved. "I'm hugely happy that we've got a player of his experience and his character," said Allardyce. "He's been playing Champions League football this year and at the highest level for many years. "We certainly know he's got the ability and he's at an age where he's still capable of producing at 31. He speaks perfect English, which he taught himself, and that shows the discipline and the character of the man. Discipline, character and ability are the three big things in the Premier League."
Leroy Fer - Norwich
Fer was on the brink of a move to Everton in January before issues in the medical persuaded the club that they needed to restructure the payments. But the Holland international midfielder has not had long to wait for his Premier League move with Norwich stepping in to secure a deal with Twente. The 23-year-old has shown an encouraging ability to improve his game and looks to be a goal threat too having reached double figures in each of his seasons with Twente. Canaries fans will be hopeful he can make the next step up with them. "I think the Premier League fits my qualities - I think they're good for this division," said Fer. "I want to help the club and I also want the club to help me become a better player."
Cabral - Sunderland
There have been a lot of new additions at Sunderland so far this summer as Paolo Di Canio overhauls the squad that disappointed last season. While Emanuele Giaccherini is perhaps the most high-profile signing, the acquisition of Cabral from Basel could be the most significant. The 24-year-old defensive midfielder can add steel to the team and has plenty of experience. "We won everything in Switzerland, and I played in the Champions League and Europa League," said Cabral. "Now I have a new challenge in England and, for me, it is the best league. The coach is outstanding. First he was a big player, now a great coach. He gives everything for the team. I like the coach. He is passionate and always wanting the team to do better."
Jose Campana - Crystal Palace
That first summer as a Premier League club is a big one for promoted clubs and Crystal Palace boss Ian Holloway knows he needs to get most of his signings right. He's likely to be optimistic about the purchase of Campana. The 20-year-old midfielder from Seville has undoubted potential having captained Spain U-20 side at this year's World Cup and could prove a shrewd buy for the Eagles. "What I like to think are my best qualities are to keep the ball and to have good distribution," said Campana. "I have always been a typical Spanish midfielder and I like to move forward and score goals. I scored a lot of goals when I was in the academy at Sevilla. That's what I want, but especially to keep the ball and to organise the team."
Alejandro Pozuelo - Swansea
The Spanish attacking midfielder looks to be another promising signing from Michael Laudrup, especially if he is able to fulfil his vast talent. The attacking midfielder arrives from Real Betis where his technical skills earned him a big reputation at youth team level, although he was restricted to just four La Liga starts last season. The transition to the Premier League will be a challenge for the 21-year-old but the passing approach at Swansea is likely to give him every chance of doing so seamlessly. "Since I've been a little boy it has been my dream to play in the Premier League," said Pozuelo. "The style of the team suits me, and so too does the style of the manager."
Andreas Cornelius - Cardiff
Cardiff boss Malky Mackay surprised a few people when he splashed out for Danish striker Cornelius, reportedly paying a fee in excess of £8million. But the 20-year-old is a promising talent, having scored 20 goals in his first full campaign with FC Copenhagen. At 6'4" it seems the Bluebirds will be looking to make the youngster the focal point of their attack. "Cornelius has great potential and is a very good capture for the club," said Mackay. "We tracked him all last year. But by Christmas, he was in such good form we really didn't think we had much chance because top clubs in Europe were watching. We were in competition internationally with another club and then three Premier League clubs moved in to try and take him as well."
Aleksandar Tonev - Aston Villa
The 23-year-old winger arrives from Polish club Lech Poznan and will boost Villa's options in the wide positions. The Bulgaria international has pace, trickery and a powerful shot in his armoury, impressing in his limited appearances in pre-season. If Tonev can make as big an impact as his countryman Stiliyan Petrov did at Villa Park then fans have cause for optimism and the man who is now a part of the coaching set-up at the club is backing his old international team-mate. "I played alongside Aleks, so I know a little bit about what kind of a player he is," said Petrov. "I think Villa fans have one exciting player on their hands. He doesn't have a dominant foot which is really interesting. He is the kind of player who can really make an impact in this young, exciting team."