An XI of the Premier League’s best signings of 2023-24: Szoboszlai, Rice, Maddison…
A lot of attention is paid to the transfer market every summer – arguably too much, given how often much-hyped new signings take time to settle in or fail entirely.
But Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal have shown how adding the right players can make a massive difference. All three clubs have made major strides forward thanks to the impact made by the players they brought in over the summer.
We’ve put together a full XI of the best Premier League signings of the 2023-24 season.
GK: Guglielmo Vicario
Hugo Lloris was an excellent club servant to Tottenham over the years, having made well over 400 appearances across 11 years of service. But he became increasingly error-prone as time went on and left you feeling that it was one of the most glaring areas that needed upgrading.
The veteran France international has awkwardly hung around after failing to find a new club in the summer, but he appears to have been more than adequately replaced and has been relegated to watching on from the sidelines.
Vicario impressed at Empoli last season but was a relatively low-key signing. He’s been nothing short of outstanding. Maybe even the best goalkeeper in the Premier League in 2023-24 so far, full stop.
RB: Pedro Porro
Okay, we’re cheating a bit here on a bit of a technicality – but we’re including Porro through necessity because no other right-backs signed by Premier League clubs this summer have done anything of note just yet.
Porro joined Tottenham in January, initially on loan, although there was always an obligation to make it permanent in the summer. You imagine that the higher-ups at the club will have checked the fine print on that after a series of underwhelming and unconvincing performances in Spurs’ dire second half of the 2022-23 campaign.
But the Spaniard appears to have benefitted from that time to settle in, a full pre-season, and the tactical blueprint set out by Postecoglou. He’s largely been excellent for the surprise table-toppers.
CB: Micky van de Ven
“They bought Van de Ven who I find exceptional. I find him absolutely exceptional,” Arsene Wenger recently told beIN Sports.
“They had weaknesses there [at the back] and last year [Hugo] Lloris didn’t have the best of seasons as well.”
Van de Ven has slotted into Tottenham’s backline seamlessly. He looks the answer to the club’s long-running left-sided centre-back issue and his remarkable recovery pace looks like a cheat code. What an addition.
Supreme defending from Micky van de Ven 🧱
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) October 28, 2023
CB: Pau Torres
The Aston Villa defender might be the first name on our teamsheet were we compiling a handsome Premier League XI but he’s more than just a dreamboat.
Torres, who won a Europa League under Unai Emery at Villarreal, endured a baptism of fire on his Aston Villa bow – brought on following a serious injury suffered by Tyrone Mings, he looked out of sorts in a dysfunctional high line that was ripped apart by Newcastle in a 5-1 defeat on the opening weekend.
Mings’ long absence means that Torres will be a key player for Villa this season. He’s settled in well and never looked back since that inauspicious debut. Villa are flying high in the top four and their new centre-back has largely been very solid.
LB: Josko Gvardiol
He’s not strictly a left-back, but Pep Guardiola is slotting him in there so that’s good enough for us.
Man City boast the best defensive record in the Premier League, having conceded just seven goals in 10 games so far. Gvardiol looks like a classy addition to what was already a formidable backline.
DM: Declan Rice
Quite a few of the Premier League’s all-time most expensive signings have struggled to live up to their price tag, but Rice has settled in at Arsenal perfectly – and it already looks like he’s taking his game up another level.
“In the last four weeks, I’ve grown so much already and learned so much about football that I hadn’t seen before,” Rice told TNT Sports.
“I’m honestly seeing the game in a completely different way already. Tactically, on the ball, off the ball. I’m happy to know I’m learning so much because I’m trying to push myself to learn. Since the Community Shield, I feel I’ve taken a big step; everything is starting to click.
“I was blown away [by Arteta]; and working with him day-to-day, it’s just another level.
CM: Dominik Szoboszlai
Liverpool fans have already fallen in love with the Hungarian, who has made Jurgen Klopp’s great summer midfield rebuild look like child’s play.
The Reds look capable of challenging once again, and in Szoboszlai they’re blessed to have a player that possesses the right mentality.
“We are ready for [the challenge of] every team. As a group, we can do a lot this season,” he told Liverpool’s official website after the win over Nottingham Forest.
“How we started, we just have to continue like this. We just have to work, work, work, as much as we can, and at the end it will pay off.”
CM: James Maddison
The fourth Spurs player in this XI and probably the best of the lot – at just £40million, Maddison is surely – pound-for-pound – the signing of the summer.
Son Heung-min has found form again, having stepped into Harry Kane’s shoes at No.9, while Maddison has come in and adequately replaced the creative, No.10 aspects of Kane’s game.
Tottenham looked completely lost in the Spring, but after big improvements to key players and instant impacts made by the new faces, they suddenly look a force to be reckoned with under Postecoglou.
“For me, he’s been probably the most influential player in the Premier League. I think he has been that influential,” says Jamie Carragher. We can’t disagree.
FWR: Cole Palmer
Few of the players signed by Chelsea in the Todd Boehly era have pulled up any trees, but Palmer has already shown lots of promise in his early displays for the club.
The 21-year-old has already made more Premier League starts for the Blues than he ever did for his boyhood club Manchester City and he’s thriving with the regular minutes. Palmer has two goals and two assists for Mauricio Pochettino’s stuttering side and looks as though he’ll be a real asset.
ST: Moussa Diaby
Not strictly a striker, having played a more supporting role behind Ollie Watkins, but we’re putting him up top here as there’s been a lack of successful out-and-out No.9s signed elsewhere.
Aston Villa’s record signing looks like a quality addition to Unai Emery’s attack. They’re the top-scoring side in the Premier League with 26 goals from 10 games and Diaby has been a major factor in that, directly contributing three goals and three assists and generally keeping defenders on their toes by making a nuisance of himself.
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) October 29, 2023
FWL: Jeremy Doku
The Belgian has brought the fun factor to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City – it’s a breath of fresh air to see him making mincemeat out of opposition full-backs (sorry, James Milner), like Jack Grealish before he was reprogrammed into more of seamless fit into their expertly-crafted tactical approach.
And it’s not just for aesthetic or entertainment purposes that Doku has been a solid signing, either. His fearless running and expert dribbling ability have given the reigning champions another dimension.