Andrew Slevison examines the best summer signings in the Premier League so far ...
Recently we gave you our thoughts on the top five young players who have performed well whilst out on loan from Premier League clubs in the first half of the season.
Now we have tackled the top five purchases of the most recent summers transfer window.
It will be no surprise to anyone reading that Robin van Persie’s move from Arsenal to Manchester United has been the biggest transfer story of the 2012/13 season thus far but we attempted to identify the remaining summer buys from all top flight English clubs.
van Persie’s much-talked-about shift to Old Trafford occurred in August last year with many questioning whether or not he could sustain his brilliant Arsenal form in a clogged attacking line consisting of Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck.
However, the Dutchman has been able to prove any doubters wrong whilst gaining a whole new fanbase in the process with the United faithful taking him on as one of their own due to his uncanny scoring capabilities.
van Persie has netted 16 Premier League goals in 21 appearances this term (and provided six assists) for a total of 19 since he arrived at United and has guided the club to top spot on the domestic table – seven points clear of Manchester City – and into the Champions League Round of 16.
“We knew we were getting a top player who would make a difference to the team,” said Ferguson after van Persie netted a double in Tuesday’s 4-0 win at Wigan Athletic.
“That is why we went for him.
“Robin is a completely rounded footballer. He has great international experience, he's played for Arsenal for seven years and he came to us at the very peak of his career.
“His ability to make and take goals is fantastic.
“His play for his first goal was absolutely magnificent, his turn, his balance, no drawback, just side footed it in. It was a really good goal.”
Miguel Perez Cuesta - Michu
In terms of relative unknowns immediately starring in the Premier League, Michu has to be up there with the best.
The 26-year old attacking midfielder-turned-striker has made a huge impact for Swansea with 13 goals in 20 Premier League appearances – just two less than he scored for Rayo in La Liga for all of last season.
The modest transfer fee of £2.3m would be seen as an absolute steal and shows that Swans boss Michael Laudrup has an eye for talented goalscorers as Michu was playing down in Spain’s Segunda Division with Celta Vigo as recently as 2011.
He has already scored against the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal (a brace) and has netted vital goals in wins over QPR, West Ham United, Wigan Athletic, Newcastle United and in draws with Sunderland and Reading prompting plenty of interest in his services from bigger clubs but Laudrup suggests it will take a huge offer to pry Michu away from the Liberty Stadium.
"I don't want to let him go, sometimes the offer can be so big you have to accept but I really don't think clubs are going to pay so much money for him," Laudrup said.
The Spanish attacking midfielder has been the lifeblood of most of Arsenals positive performances this season with his energy, pace and two-footed ability providing so much for Arsene Wenger’s team.
Not a great deal of fans outside of Spain would have heard of Cazorla prior to the 2012/13 season but he has quickly become a household name in England, particularly North London, with his form in the Premier League which has so far yielded seven goals and five assists in 20 outings.
Some Gunners fans believe Cazorla is a better player than both Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, who recently left the Emirates Stadium for Barcelona and Manchester City respectively, and the fact that four of five matches he has scored in have produced wins for his side suggests that could be the case.
Cazorla has flourished so much at Arsenal that he is planning to remain for a long time and help the club back to its former glory days.
"With Arsenal, I was offered an opportunity that I could not turn down," he said. "Being 27 years old, it was like a train that I had to take and I am very satisfied. I am learning a lot, I am adapting more and more as days go by, and my aim is to learn the English game, and hopefully I will spend some good years at this club.
"I have achieved great things, but I'm still growing as a football player. Next year I will aim for more of the same, to be successful with Arsenal and to continue learning and growing every day.
"I really enjoy the Premier League, the atmosphere at the stadiums, the respect of the people, their kindness, it is incredible and now we want to make progress. We have dropped some points, and we hope that from now on we can all improve. That is what we all want, to see Arsenal further up the table."
Genk to Aston Villa for £7m
Some may see this as a slight surprise but I feel Benteke’s age and the fact he has so much untapped potential gives him the nod ahead of some other candidates.
The 22-year old Belgian has seen his stock rise prominently since arriving in England and he will only get better and better with Villa boss Paul Lambert so very keen to hang onto him amid claims that other Premier League clubs are in pursuit.
“He’s been an absolute steal, for what he’s doing and the way he’s performing,” Lamberrt said.
“Somebody did say to me if you do get him it will be like a present and it’s true. The way the modern market is it’s incredible the way transfer fees are.
“You’re never quite sure. The inflation of it and transfer values are ridiculous, but I’m pretty sure he’s not worth £7million now.
“The potential there is incredible. He might well be a marked man now. If he is then it’s a compliment to himself and it’s something that he’ll have to combat. But he will because he seems to be a lad who’s got a lot of confidence in himself to perform.”
Congo-born Benteke has adapted well to English football as a centre-forward and his six goals and four assists in 18 top flight outings – alongside three Capital One Cup goals – has saved Villa on a number of occasions. The fact that he has contributed to more than half of his sides league goals this season must not be overlooked.
Racing Club to West Bromwich Albion for free
Yacob is another surprise in this list but it would be easy to simply look at those sitting atop the goalscoring charts to compile the names of the top five summer signings.
Sometimes the glitz and glamour needs to be bypassed for some substance and the 25-year old Argentine provides that in spades in the Baggies midfield, sitting in front of the back four with aplomb.
The former Racing Club man has formed a strong partnership with Youssuf Mulumbu in central midfield for Steve Clarke and has been one of the contributing factors as to why Albion have at one stage reached the lofty heights of third this season to currently sit seventh.
Yacob’s physical presence has not gone unnoticed by Baggies assistant Keith Downing and certainly has not escaped the eyes of us here at tribalfootball.com.
“The speed of the game is different to what he’s used to,” Downing recently told Albion’s official website.
“To play the number of games he has played is impressive and we think he’s coped really well with the physicality of Premier League football.
“He’s been a great influence in midfield and a great acquisition.
“Paul Scharner left in the summer and Claudio came in to replace him, and he’s been a real bonus for us this year.”
Steven Pienaar (Tottenham to Everton £4.5m)
Robert Snodgrass (Leeds United to Norwich City for £2.8m)
Mohamed Diame (Wigan Athletic to West Ham United for free)
Steven Fletcher (Wolves to Sunderland for £12m)
Dimitar Berbatov (Manchester United to Fulham for £5m)
Eden Hazard (Lille to Chelsea for £35m)
Jussi Jaaskelainen (Bolton to West Ham United for free)