The list includes three players from the Champions League finalist Liverpool and two players from the surprise of the season Burnley.
On July 21 2017, Liverpool signed Hull City left back Andrew Robertson for less than €12 million. After receiving two starts in the first 15 matches for his new club, Moreno’s injury opened the door for the 24-year-old Scot and he never looked back. He has started and played 90 minutes in most of the games for Jurgen Klopp since then. Andy is exactly the type of full back (a-la Jamie Carragher) they adore at Anfield. I think it’s safe to say the fee paid was a bargain.
Last season it was Harry Maguire, this season it’s Ben Chilwell. Unlike Maguire, though, Chilwell is a product of the Leicester City academy. The 21-year-old Englishman has made 21 starts for The Foxes, effectively replacing the irreplaceable Christian Fuchs and making the German left back redundant, something that seemed impossible a year ago.
The Serbian international joined Crystal Palace from Olympiacos during the winter transfer window in January 2017. He was a non-factor that season, but he has made huge contributions in this one. The 27-year-old wasn’t a regular for Frank De Boer. After Crystal Palace’s awful start, the Dutchman was fired and Milivojevic has become the most consistent member of Roy Hodgson’s lineup. He has scored the most set piece goals out of any Premier League player, many of them key to Palace’s escape from relegation.
Rarely who knew who James Tarkowski was when the 2017/18 EPL campaign kicked off. The 25-year-old Burnley center back has been the pillar of one of the best defensive units in the league. Most thought that captain Ben Mee was responsible for The Clarets’ defensive impenetrability. Then, he got injured in Round 32. However, Burnley’s defense has not lost a step without its captain and a great deal of the merit goes to James Tarkowski’s stability at the back.
After converting Antonio Valencia from a right winger to a right back, Joe Mourinho did the same on the other side with Ashley Young. Manchester United paid a handsome fee to sign Luke Shaw a couple of years ago. After missing most of the previous season due to injury, it was widely expected that he’ll be starting left back in this one. However, Mourinho had other plans. He saw qualities in Ashley Young that managers before him didn’t. The former left winger has rewarded him with many fine performances that have shut the door on Luke Shaw and resurrected Young’s career in the process. Ashley could very well be the starter for England this summer in Russia.
Nathaniel Clyne’s injury before the beginning of the season forced Jurgen Klopp to adapt and make a choice from what he had. What he had was Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Both of them got their opportunities, but 19-year-old Alexander-Arnold was the one who surprisingly won the battle. The wing back is far more advanced than his age suggests and he also has a fantastic right foot. Liverpool can be happy that it has both sides of the defense covered for the foreseeable future.
28-year-old Ashley Barnes has been with Burnley since 2014. However, he was mostly used from the bench and was never the starter. Then, this season came around. Even though it didn’t appear anything will change after Burnley acquired Chris Wood to alternate with Sam Vokes as the lone striker in Sean Dyche’s system, injuries to both center forwards left the manager with no option but to play Barnes. The Englishman knew that it was a to-be-or-not-to-be type of situation and decided to be. He has scored 6 goals in the last 10 matches and has played a crucial role in his team’s Europa League qualification.
Lastly, Mr. Mo Salah. Many wonder what was Roma thinking when selling the Egyptian. You need to remember that Roma wasn’t the only club that sold him. So did Chelsea. The matter of fact is that Salah has developed better than anyone anticipated and was also brought into a system that ideally fits his best qualities. It was a match made in heaven, even if Liverpool knew nothing about it when it happened.