As the end of an enthralling Premier League campaign approaches, we have put together our 2022/23 Signings of the Season XI.
We’ve seen a Norwegian superstar break numerous records, some shrewd signings guide Newcastle United to the brink of Champions League football and some much-needed quality added to the spine of Manchester United.
Not every signing has been a success, however, with Chelsea and Nottingham Forest’s owners opting for interesting approaches and a number of international stars such as Richarlison, Darwin Nunez and Antony failing to justify their hefty price tags.
Here are the 11 players who have made it into the team…
A number of goalkeepers have impressed in the Premier League this season, with Bernd Leno proving to be a bargain for Fulham and Neto producing a string of fantastic displays to help guide Bournemouth to safety.
But it’s England international Pope who takes the spot between the sticks following a sensational debut season on Tyneside.
The £10 million acquisition from Burnley has built on his growing reputation this season, with his tally of 13 clean sheets bettered only by Manchester United’s David de Gea (15).
He has also shipped just 29 goals this season as part of the meanest Premier League defence to help steer Newcastle towards the promised land of the Champions League.
Hickey’s debut season in England has led to the 20-year-old being linked with a move to champions Manchester City.
The Glaswegian is the latest on the product line of talented left-footed Scottish defenders, following the likes of Kieran Tierney and Andrew Robertson, but its his versatility that has won admirers during his time in England.
A number of impressive performances as a marauding left-back helped him to secure a club-record move from Serie A outfit Bologna to Brentford in the summer, however he has been utilised at right-back for the majority of the 2022/23 season.
The former Hearts academy product is comfortable on the ball and is a threat going forward, but he is also excellent defensively. With nine caps to his name already, Hickey looks certain to be part of the Scotland set-up for a number of years.
With a transfer fee of just £15 million from Borussia Dortmund, Akanji is one of the bargains of the season.
He has slotted seamlessly into both a back four and a back three on different occasions, with Pep Guardiola even leaning on Akanji’s versatility to deploy the classy defender as a makeshift left-back.
The signing came slightly out of the blue last summer, but Guardiola wanted another top-quality defender in his ranks, and he’s certainly got his money’s worth.
International honours are surely imminent for the 23-year-old Dutch centre-back who has become an instant hit with the St James’ Park faithful.
The £35 million summer acquisition has been an integral part of Newcastle’s backline this season, contributing to 10 clean sheets and 18 Premier League victories.
Formerly a Ligue 1 winner with surprise-package Lille, Botman will be keen to build on his performances next season as Newcastle hope to finally end their long wait for silverware.
Eyebrows were raised when Manchester United signed the Argentinian in the summer, with some pundits stating that he was simply too small to play in the Premier League.
After years of chopping and changing in the heart of defence, the Red Devils were desperate to find a regular partner for Raphael Varane, and they now have that partnership.
It’s certainly not Gary Pallister and Steve Bruce or Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic yet, but United now have the basis of a spine to build on following a tricky few years.
Few defenders love a battle more than Martinez, and his committed approach has helped his side keep the most Premier League clean sheets this season.
Mikel Arteta was keen to add players to his squad with experience of winning big trophies last summer, and in four-time Premier League champion Zinchenko they certainly have that.
The pair worked together at Manchester City, and it came as a surprise to many when Pep Guardiola did his old friend a favour by parting ways with the adaptable Ukrainian international.
Arsenal were not considered a title rival at the time, but Zinchenko has helped to install a winning mentality at the club, and he will be hopeful of joining the likes of N’Golo Kante, Nicolas Anelka and James Milner by winning the Premier league title at two different clubs.
If Roy Keane is singing your praises, then you know you have half a chance.
Like Martinez, his arrival came with some scepticism from pundits, with some believing that his role in Real Madrid’s recent Champions League haul was not as crucial as fellow midfielders Toni Kroos and Luka Modric.
But Casemiro is a serial winner, and like Keane, his ability as a footballer is perhaps underestimated.
In addition to a starring role in the Premier League, Casemiro played a key role in securing a first trophy for Erik ten Hag as he scored the opener in the 2-0 EFL Cup Final victory over Newcastle United.
No player has made more successful tackles than Palhinha’s tally of 139 this season, with Brighton’s Moises Caicedo a distant second with 93.
The combative midfielder has been an influential figure at Craven Cottage this season, with one of the league’s traditional yo-yo clubs not even close to flirting with relegation.
His performances with Fulham have meant that the Premier League’s big clubs have started circling, with Liverpool a possible destination for the Portugal star.
The 34-year old was signed as a free agent on a one-year-deal last summer, with many observers believing that his influence would be limited following underwhelming spells at Arsenal and Corinthians.
Some of Willian’s performances have been a throwback to his Chelsea days and he has proved to be a shrewd acquisition for Marco Silva.
His goal against Nottingham Forest in March was a thing of beauty and was subsequently voted goal of the month. It’s those moments of class that have helped Fulham impressively establish themselves safely in mid-table this campaign.
The fleet-footed Swedish striker has missed half of the season through injury, but he has shown enough in his time on the pitch to be worthy of his place in this team.
Since his return from injury, Newcastle’s club-record signing has breathed new life into his side’s Champions League bid, scoring late winners against Fulham and Nottingham Forest.
We’re likely to see the best of Isak next season, but based on the last few months he has the potential to lead Newcastle’s attack for a number of years.
Everyone is starting to run of superlatives for a man who has broken the record for the most Premier League goals in a season in his maiden year at the Etihad.
He can play with his back to goal and outmuscle defenders, he can play on the counter-attack and he is a poacher in the six-yard box. To think, there were even arguments earlier in the season that Manchester City were a weaker side with Haaland in it.
He became the first Premier League player to score three successive home hat-tricks earlier this season and he has recently been named as the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year.
No player has had the same impact on a Pep Guardiola team since Lionel Messi, and Haaland seems destined to join the great man as a Ballon d’Or winner in the future.
Ben Mee has had a fine season at the heart of the Brentford defence, while Pervis Estupinan and Alex Moreno have enjoyed fine starts to their careers at Brighton and Aston Villa respectively.
Moreno’s teammate Boubacar Kamara has impressed after joining from Marseille on a free transfer, while Nottingham Forest’s Morgan Gibbs-White also misses out despite some fine displays for Steve Cooper’s side.
Gabriel Jesus has scored 10 times for Arsenal this season to help the Gunners’ title charge, while Wilfried Gnonto’s £3.8 million fee during the summer looks a snip if he can build on his potential at Leeds United next season.