PL Season Preview: Youth Abound

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Preseason is getting underway for squads and transfers have… slowed to a trickle. It makes me wonder how many moves we’ll end up within the pandemic-influenced market as even with rumors, most teams are targeting 1-2 key positions and a few depth signings. Chelsea is looking to sell off players to afford dangling an offer that Brourssia Dourtmand can’t refuse. Tottenham is talking to any defender who will listen. Crystal Palace is embracing the youth movement. Manchester United is looking to vault themselves into being title contenders but most of the league has crickets around their teams.

Almost the entire bottom half has depth issues but even with those glaring holes, you aren’t hearing a peep about movement unless the team has already had outgoings.

Marc Guehi Center Back Chelsea -> Crystal Palace

The Vieira effect is in full swing as Crystal Palace secures their second signature of a talented youngster this summer. Guehi is a talented center back from the Chelsea academy who spent last season on loan with a stout Swansea City side in the Championship. An active defender, Guehi isn’t afraid to step forward to make a tackle or interception to protect his own net.

Swansea kept the second most clean sheets in the Championship with 20. While it's tough to project how Guehi will perform in the Premier League, the hope is that Patrick Vieira and co will be able to get him acclimated well but not too well so that Chelsea doesn’t activate their buy-back clause making this a complicated loan deal.

Ryan Bertrand Left Back Southampton -> Leicester City

It's clear that Leicester had a depth problem last year especially in defense where fringe players had to make too many appearances, Wilfred Ndidi has to deputize at center back and so did Timothy Castagne. With the addition of Bertrand, Leicester can possibly send Luke Thomas on loan and there is a viable stand-in if Castagne or Ricardo Periera end up missing time before James Justin is fully back.

While Southampton has been on the wrong side of too many lopsided defeats in the past few years, that doesn’t mean that Bertrand isn’t a solid depth defender. He won’t be more than a streamer in fantasy formats but the Foxes having Bertrand does raise the floor of popular defenders like Wesley Fofana.

Pierre Lees-Melou Midfielder Nice -> Norwich City

Norwich needs midfield help in the worst way and Lees-Melou looks like a solid signing for them. Playing in deeper midfield positions for Nice, Lees-Melou was a bit of a do it all midfielder. He’ll be expected to partner with Billy Gilmour which means it will take some time for the two new signings to develop chemistry. With four goals and two assists, Lees-Melou will also make defenses pay if they forget about him too.

Fantasy-wise, there isn’t much to see here but the hope is that Lees-Melou will bring the best out of Gilmour and steady the team a little.

José Sá Goalkeeper Olympiacos -> Wolverhampton

Rating incoming keepers can be tough but Rui Patrício was hung out to dry a lot by the Wolves defense. Sa will be replacing an above average shot-stopper so it will remain to be seen how he will cope with a new manager and a new system at Wolves. He will be one to watch during the season if they are able to revert to being a stout defensive unit.

Albert Sambi Lokonga Midfielder Anderlecht -> Arsenal

With Dani Ceballos and Martin Odegaard back at Real Madrid and Granit Xhaka likely heading to Roma, Arsenal needs any midfielder that they can get their hands on. In Lokonga, they have secured a solid young midfielder that Vincent Kompany felt was fitting of the captains armband at Anderlecht. That’s some high praise and Lokonga repaid it by being the funnel for everything that Anderlecht did. While it didn’t always translate on the offensive end with Lokonga only netting three goals and two assists, don’t let that undersell his importance to the team.

Averaging 2 interceptions and one tackle won per 90 minutes, Lokonga also isn’t afraid to get involved on the defensive end. He may take some time to adjust in the move from Belgium but there’s no reason why Lokonga shouldn’t be a good long-term addition to Arsenal.

Frank Onyeka Midfielder FC Midtjylland -> Brentford

Brentford’s partnership with FC Midtjylland pays off again with them adding a defensive midfielder to the side. Onyeka has been a key part of their side for the past few years but it remains to be seen if he’ll go right into the first XI for Thomas Frank. It’s tough to do much translation from Denmark’s first division to the Premier League but Brentford knows what they’re getting into here.

Kristoffer Ajer Center Back Celtic -> Brentford

Ajer could slot right into the Brentford starting XI right from day one as a center back who can also deputize on the right if needed. Thomas Frank usually utilizes a 4-3-3 which would mean that Ajer is in direct competition with Pontius Jansson. But what’s more likely is seeing more three-man back lines where Jansson is in the center flanked by Ajer and Ethan Pinnock.

Ajer has been a starter with Celtic for three years now so he definitely has experience that will translate to the Premier League. The only question will be if his aggressive style of play will adjust to the Premier League where he won’t have as much room for error as he did in the Scottish Premiership. But if he adjusts, this is a massive get for a Brentford side that is making their ambitions known in the league.