PREMIER LEAGUE 2018-19: 5 new signings to watch out for
By STEVE DOUGLAS, AP Sports Writer
The transfer window has been shortened in the Premier League and will close on Thursday, before the season starts.
Here is the pick of the signings so far:
RIYAD MAHREZ (Manchester City)
Whether City needed another attacking midfield to complement Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva, Leroy Sane, David Silva and rising star Phil Foden is open to question.
Not that Riyad Mahrez is concerned about that. The Algeria winger might have thought he had missed out on a dream move to the champions when City and Leicester failed to conclude a deal in January for English soccer’s Player of the Year in 2015-16. But City maintained its interest, and Mahrez sealed a club-record $80 million move that gives manager Pep Guardiola another attacking option and a player who can operate anywhere behind the striker.
Mahrez mostly played on the right wing, cutting in on his favored left foot, but Sterling and Bernardo Silva already feature there. City may opt to use Mahrez centrally as Guardiola looks to manage the 32-year-old David Silva’s game time.
FRED (Manchester United)
Brazil international Fred not only offers United more energy and solidity in central midfield, he also potentially gives a platform for fellow midfielder Paul Pogba to be more expansive and attacking this season.
Joining from Shakhtar Donetsk for $66 million, Fred likely will take up a position in midfield alongside anchorman Nemanja Matic and also Pogba, who should play in his preferred place on the left of a central three and have fewer defensive responsibilities.
Perhaps that’s what United manager Jose Mourinho meant when he talked about Fred giving the team “another dimension.”
The arrival of Brazil goalkeeper Alisson, who played in all of his team’s matches at the World Cup, provides a solution to Liverpool’s one obvious weakness, and should mean Juergen Klopp’s team is a genuine contender for the Premier League title this season.
Loris Karius never felt like he was the long-term answer in goal and his two huge mistakes in the Champions League final against Real Madrid in May proved his undoing.
Alisson — at around $85 million — is a definite upgrade, a strong all-around keeper who rarely makes an error leading to a goal. He also is good with his feet, something Klopp demands.
Liverpool now has the most expensive goalkeeper in history, along with the game’s most expensive defender in Virgil van Dijk and the explosive front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.
Seemingly destined for Manchester City, Jorginho instead ended up at Chelsea for $75 million and is set to be the fulcrum around which new manager Maurizio Sarri bases his high-pressing, high-energy style of play.
Jorginho, a Brazilian-born Italy international, is a deep-lying midfield playmaker who had more touches per minute for Napoli than any player in Europe’s top five leagues last season.
The 26-year-old Jorginho will instigate attacks with his snappy passing from the base of the midfield, allowing the marauding N’Golo Kante to play further forward alongside a more creative central midfielder like Cesc Fabregas or Ross Barkley.
A shrewd signing or another example of the madness of the Premier League?
Richarlison, a 21-year-old Brazilian, had played only one year in England’s top division — he faded badly after Christmas at Watford following a strong first half of the season — when he was signed by Everton last month for a fee that could rise to about $65 million.
Clearly, recently hired Everton manager Marco Silva, who coached Richarlison at Watford before getting fired in January, thinks highly of the tall midfielder whose pace and strength got him into promising positions but whose finishing often left him down.
Richarlison will compete with Theo Walcott, Yannick Bolasie and Kevin Mirallas but is set to be first choice.
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Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80