While it’s Euro 2016 stealing the headlines this summer, managers across the Ladbrokes Premiership have been bringing in some intriguing new names, some of which may have gone under the radar.
There’s a former England international midfielder at Rangers, a hugely talented French teen at Celtic and a Moroccan magician pitching up in Edinburgh. Here are the five best signings of the summer so far…
Faycal Rherras – Sint-Truiden to Heart of Midlothian
Fans of Belgian outfit Sint-Truiden will be devastated to lose the talismanic 23-year-old, who helped the side win promotion to the top-flight in his first year, and whose excellent displays enabled De Kanaries to avoid the drop last season. But their loss is Hearts’ gain.
An imposing yet cultured left-back, the Moroccan also provided his fair share of assists last season – a fact which will be music to the ears of Juanma and fellow newboy Conor Sammon. Expect him to cause problems for defences across the land in the coming months.
Jayden Stockley – AFC Bournemouth to Aberdeen
Dons supporters will be hoping Stockley has the same impact as fan favourite Adam Rooney – with both men having arrived on the back of impressive displays in the English lower leagues.
The 22-year-old has struggled to break into the side at boyhood club AFC Bournemouth – a victim of the Cherries’ continued rise. But he’s impressed elsewhere down south, scoring 10 games in 22 games on loan at Exeter City last season, not least with his trademark bullet headers.
Bossing games against Celtic and Rangers will be tougher than doing so against Morecambe and Stevenage, but with his pace, aerial threat and growing maturity, chances are he’ll be a big success at Pittodrie.
Joey Barton – Burnley to Rangers
The Gers are back in the big time, and Mark Warburton unveiled a signing whose arrival sounded that message loud and clear. A former England international with Premier League pedigree, 33-year-old Barton is enjoying an Indian summer, and the Ibrox faithful are set to profit from his fine form.
Voted Burnley’s player of the year last season, as the Clarets lifted the Championship title, the experienced midfielder left on a real high, with his winner away at bitter rivals Preston North End essentially confirming the club’s promotion.
Skilful, versatile and a truly tough tackler, Barton’s arrival will have struck fear into opponents across the land – and he’s sure to impart plenty of no-nonsense wisdom to the younger players around him.
Moussa Dembele – Fulham to Celtic
One of the summer’s most eye-catching coups, new Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers appears to have struck gold by snapping up the 19-year-old Frenchman, who netted 15 times in the Championship last season, to help former club Fulham avoid the drop.
Blessed with great movement, an outstanding range of passing and a knack for getting on the end of chances, Dembele possesses a maturity and completeness in his game which is rare for such a young player.
The Cottagers had been keen to retain their young star, but the lure of Parkhead means that he’ll be providing those immaculate slide-rule passes to Leigh Griffiths – instead of fellow Scot Ross McCormack – next season. No wonder Bhoys fans are excited.
Erik Cikos – Slovan Bratislava to Ross County
If you’re getting a sense of déjà-vu reading this, don’t worry. Cikos did indeed join the Staggies in 2014, though it was just for a brief loan spell. Still, he impressed enough in Dingwall for the club to bring him in on a permanent basis – and Jim McIntyre has a truly excellent player on his hands.
Though the 27-year-old has had tough competition for places at Slovan, he featured 16 times last season as the side secured second spot in the Slovakian top-flight. The County faithful will be hoping he can lead his new (or should that be old?) side to similar heights.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.