As the Premier League is back underway after the shortest preseason in modern times, there is a sense of continuity from the season just past. Indeed, the relatively muted transfer window so far, with a few exceptions like Arsenal and Chelsea, gives us a sense of ‘as you were’ for most teams, albeit there is still a couple of weeks in the transfer window to change that.
Nevertheless, there are still many things that excite us anew, some of which have become apparent in the opening games of the 2020/21 season. Particular players, too, are set to have interesting seasons that will perhaps be pivotal for their careers and the fortunes of their clubs. Below we pick out five players who intrigue us most this season:
Kai Havertz (Chelsea)
You would expect most fans to be patient with Havertz, even if some would expect instant brilliance for a £75 million fee. But there should be a note of caution sounding in Havertz’ ears: Not only must he settle into a new league and country; he must also settle into a team where it is not abundantly clear where he will play. Havertz was just about average in the season opener against Brighton, and that’s understandable for a youngster making his debut in a new country. However, we wonder whether the upheaval will weigh on him? If it doesn’t, then Havertz and Chelsea might be in for a very good season indeed.
Adama Traore (Wolves)
Adama Traore has spent a couple of seasons always looking like he is on the verge of becoming a great player, but never quite getting there. He is now 24, with over 200 leagues games for clubs in Spain and England. In short, it is time for Traore to stop teasing that he will become an excellent player. He needs to show it – consistently. He is part of a very good Wolves squad, one that, according to the latest odds, are priced at 9/4 for a Top 6 finish. That’s a decent shout, as we could see Wolves finish ahead of the likes of Tottenham. However, Traore is the sort of wildcard Nuno Espirito Santo needs to see progressing if his team are to continue flowering.
James Rodriguez (Everton)
You can take it to the bank that there will be no middle ground for James Rodriguez at Everton. He’s either going to get Goodison rocking, or he is going to stink the place out. The early signs point to the former, as he struts his stuff in front of Everton’s new-look midfield. The thing is, we really want to see the Colombian succeed in the Premier League. He is capable of those breath-taking moments of skill that we have seen from players like Paulo Di Canio, Dimitar Berbatov, Dennis Bergkamp or Gianfranco Zola down the years. The Premier League needs those types, and James can be that man.
Mason Greenwood (Manchester United)
We aren’t too fussed with the over-moralising in the tabloid press about Mason Greenwood. He is a kid who has made a few mistakes. But the holier-than-thou rubbish printed about the lad is overblown. Nevertheless, his judgement should be questioned, and we wonder if that bodes ill for his future. The 18-year-old has bags of talent, and anyone who watched Manchester United last season will attest to the fact that he could grow into a world-class player. Perhaps this season isn’t pivotal for him, given his age, but if he can become a regular in the United starting line-up, then we expect great things from the boy.
Adam Lallana (Brighton)
It’s easy to forget just how good a player Adam Lallana is when on the pitch. Unfortunately, time spent on the treatment table over the last few years has robbed us of seeing his talent in what would have been his peak years. True to form, then, the 32-year-old limped off with an injury after making his debut with Brighton. Hopefully, he can shrug off niggling injuries (he’s not clocked over 15 games in a season since 2016/17) to become a star performer for Brighton. He has the quality to deliver for the south-coast team, and it would be a shame to see his career peter out when he still has more to give.