21st March – Michu

Michu made such an impact in the Premier League that it is surprising that he is not still in England and it is unbelievable that Swansea City would loan him out.

He is now 29 and can do a number of jobs in the attacking areas of the pitch but for whatever reason it didn’t seem to click between him and Wilfried Bony whenever they did play together. His form during his first season at Swansea was exceptional and it earned him a call up to the Spanish team which at the time were the most dominant in international football.

The forward started his career at Oviedo and made his debut in the Tercera Division during the 2003-04 season and would go on to play 100 league games for the club, scoring 13 times and his form convinced Segunda Division side Celta Vigo to take a chance on him in 2007. He started out in the B team but after 10 goals in 28 games he was promoted to the first team. He would go on to spend four seasons at the club, once again not being a prolific scorer but putting in some good performances, as he ended his time there with 112 appearances.

Michu Oviedo

On the 27th July 2011 he signed for newly promoted La Liga side Rayo Vallecano and made his debut in a 1-1 draw against Athletic Bilbao. This would be a brilliant season for the player as he finished with 17 goals in all competitions, which was the same amount he scored in four seasons in Celta’s first team. He scored some notable braces against Real Sociedad, Racing Santander and Real Madrid. This meant that he was being linked with moves away from the club as he only had a year left on his contract.

Michu CV

For just £2 million Michu signed for Swansea City on the 20th July 2012 and on his debut he scored yet another brace in a 5-0 win over QPR and then continued his fantastic goalscoring form by finding the back of the net against West Ham and Sunderland. He would go on to be one of the best signings of the season and would score 22 goals in all competitions as he helped Swansea win the League Cup. At the end of the campaign he was named the team’s Player of the Year and the Supporters Player of the Year.

It looked as though the following season was going to follow a similar pattern as he scored the club’s first goal of the season in a Europa League game against Malmo but injuries restricted him to just 24 games over the course of the season, however he did still manage to score six goals, but only two of these were in the league.

Michu SC

It was still surprising though when he made the move to Napoli on a season long loan at the start of this season but it hasn’t been the greatest time for him as he has suffered with injuries and has barely been able to make an impact.

The final word can go to Rafael Benitez. “Michu is a player that can play in two positions. He is able to penetrate and score but also knows how to play with other strikers. I have told Michu that I expect a certain number of goals from him to just to motivate him.”

7th October – Diego Costa

Diego Costa has made a fantastic start to life as a Chelsea player and he singlehandedly could make the difference between them competing in competitions to winning the Premier League and the Champions League.

After a disappointing World Cup with Spain a lot of people were worried that he would struggle in England but that couldn’t be further from the truth as he has already proven that he is one of the best strikers in world football. Costa does have to pay tribute to his fellow countryman Cesc Fabregas for setting up a lot of chances for him, but he has still had to put them away which in a lot of Chelsea strikers have failed to do recently.

The 26 year old started his professional career at Portuguese club Braga. But he had to wait until a loan spell at Second Division club Penafiel to make his debut and after five goals in 13 appearances he had impressed enough to be bought by Atletico Madrid in December 2006. But he would remain at Braga until the end of the season. He would only score one goal for Braga but it was an important last minute winner against Parma in the UEFA Cup to give his side a 1-0 win.

In the following two years he had loan spells at Celta Vigo and Albacete, both in the Segunda Division in Spain. At Celta he struggled with only five goals in 31 games but at Albacete he had a better time, scoring 9 times in 35 games. With his parent club still not convinced by the striker they sold him to Valladolid on the 8th July 2009. He started off well, scoring six times in the first 12 games but then he only scored once in the next five months which was a reason why the club got relegated.
Costa Vallodolid
There was a buyback clause in his contract and in June 2010 Costa rejoined Atletico as backup to Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero. Despite limited playing time he still managed six goals in the league and scored his first hatrick on the 3rd April 2011 in a 3-2 win over Osasuna. At the end of the season it looked like he would be leaving again but a serious knee injury saw a move to Besiktas to collapse. When he recovered he was sent out on loan to Rayo Vallecano for the rest of the season on the 23rd January and got off to another fantastic start by scoring four goals in his first three appearances. This time he managed to keep up a good goalscoring record and ended the campaign with 10 in 16.
Costa Albacete
The 2012-13 season saw Costa become first choice at Atletico and he repaid manager Diego Simeone by scoring some crucial goals, particularly in the Copa Del Rey. Atletico went on to win the trophy and Costa finished the tournament as the top scorer but it was in the following season that he became well known outside of Spain.

Atletico surprised a lot of people by winning La Liga and reaching the final of the Champions League and this was largely down to a solid defence and the goals of Costa. His 36 goals in all competitions was a fantastic return for a striker that had been wrote off several times already in his career and convinced Chelsea to pay £32 million for his services.
Costa AM
He could not have got off to a better start with him winning the Player of the Month in August and hitting nine goals, including a hatrick against Swansea City, in the first seven Premier League games as Chelsea lead the table and look like the team to beat this season.

The final word can go to the Premier League’s highest ever scorer Alan Shearer. “Everything impressed me about Diego Costa, he is tailor made for the Premier League. The way he runs the line, in behind and can hold the ball up. He is going to love the Premier League and the Chelsea fans will love him. When it is not going for them they have a goalscorer who can get them out of it.”

20th August – Alvaro Negredo

Alvaro Negredo started last season fantastically at Manchester City and despite a difficult end to the campaign it seems strange that he is being linked with moves away from the club.

23 goals in 48 games is a phenomenal record for a player at a new club in a different country and this is also while competing with the talents of Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic for a starting place. A foot injury has stopped him being fit for the start of the season and it could be a blessing in disguise for both player and club because it means he is less likely to leave the club.

Negredo started his career at Rayo Vallecano and after impressing for the ‘B’ team (scoring 28 goals in 40 games) he made his professional debut in early 2005 in the second division of Spain. After scoring one goal in 12 games he moved to Real Madrid’s affiliate team Real Madrid Castilla and in his second season he scored 18 times which convinced first team manager Fabio Capello to put him in the Real Madrid squad for some Copa Del Rey games but he unfortunately did not make it onto the pitch.

In July 2007 he joined Almeria and the newly promoted side performed well above expectations and Negredo was a huge part of that. He ended the campaign as their top scorer with 13 goals, including strikes against Real Madrid in a 2-0 win and Sevilla in a 4-1 win. He followed this up with a brilliant start to the next season with five goals in the first six games and was a regular scorer right through the season and ended it with 19 goals in just 35 games.
Negredo Almeria
This form led to Real Madrid resigning the player due to a buyback clause in his contract but the manager at the time Manuel Pellegrini could not guarantee him first team football so he moved on almost straight away to Sevilla. Negredo later revealed that he admired Pellegrini’s honesty during the whole situation.

The 2009-10 season was interesting for the striker as he was first choice but he did go through some barren spells in front of goal and was also sent off three times over the course of the season, however he did still manage 14 goals in all competitions. 2010-11 was a much kinder season to Negredo as he continually scored goals and finished the season with braces against Villarreal, Deportivo, Real Madrid, Osasuna and Espanyol. He ended his second season with 27 goals in all competitions and was one of the most feared strikers in Spain.
Negredo Sevilla
His final season at the club ended with him finishing as the highest Spanish goalscorer in La Liga with 25 goals and was therefore awarded the Zarra Trophy. He was helped by scoring a hatrick in the victory over Celta Vigo and all four goals in a 4-3 win over Valencia on the last game of the season.

On the 19th July 2013 Negredo signed for Manchester City and helped the club win both the Premier League and the League Cup with 23 goals in his first season, including five in the Champions League.
Negredo MC
The final word can go to Tim Sherwood who compared him to Premier League record scorer Alan Shearer. “They both score goals. I haven’t studied Negredo as much as I knew Alan but they both score every type of goal, they hold the ball up well. He is probably the most similar to Shearer as there has been in recent years.”

14th June – Mohamed Diame

Mohamed Diame has been an important player for his clubs since joining the Premier League and will be hoping that he can help West Ham finish in the top half next season.

The midfielder is a powerful presence in the centre of the pitch but can also put in some good solid performances when used as a winger which he has done a lot of over the last few seasons. Diame has had a lot of health problems throughout his career but when he is on the pitch he never seems to struggle with the pace of any game and rarely picks up an injury.

He started his career at the Clairefontaine academy before joining Lens in 2003 where he stayed for a number of years but he faced a lot of health problems and he was restricted to just 28 league games for the ‘B’ team and after a full recovery he joined Spanish side CD Linares in 2007. He only stayed for one season but impressed enough to get a move to Spanish Segunda side Rayo Vallecano and was once again in great form that saw him linked with moves to Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona as well as Arsenal in England.
Diame RV
He did move to England in August 2009 when he signed for Wigan Athletic, however the move nearly fell through because of an alleged heart problem that was found during the medical. But the transfer did happen and he made his debut on the same day as the transfer but it did not go well as his team lost 5-0 against Manchester United. Diame scored his first goal for Sunderland on the 6th February 2010. Over the next few seasons he performed very well and was one of the main reasons why Wigan stayed in the Premier League for a number of years. But at the end of the 2011-12 season he decided after declining a new contract offer from the club.
Diame Wigan
On the 20th June 2012 he signed for West Ham on a three year deal and made his debut in a 1-0 win over Aston Villa. His first goal for the club came in a 3-1 defeat to Arsenal but he had already proven that he was going to be a reliable player in the squad and one that would cause the opposition problems with his powerful running. His second goal was also in a 3-1 game but this time his side were on the right side of the result against Chelsea.
Diame WH
An injury against Liverpool could have ruined his season but he recovered a lot quicker than expected and has barely missed a game in his two seasons with the Hammers. In January 2013 there were a lot of clubs linked with the midfielder but he stayed with West Ham and last season he scored four times in 35 league games.

The final word can go to Sam Allardyce. “His potential is really good and he’s ready to go and compete in the first team straight away. He can only get better and I hope he can go onto prove that to me and all of the West Ham United fans. He will be a very exciting addition to the squad.”

12th June – Philippe Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho had a very good season at Liverpool and in a lot of people’s opinions was very unlucky to have been left out of Brazil’s World Cup squad.

But the midfielder is only 22 and his time will surely come again and now he can concentrate fully on helping Liverpool challenge for the title again next season and show off his skills in the Champions League. He has always had a lot of potential and it is no wonder that there are a lot of people including Brendan Rodgers who believe that Coutinho will get better and become one of the best players in the world.

From an early age he impressed everyone and was signed by Inter Milan at the age of just 16, however he was allowed to stay at first club Vasco da Gama until his 18th birthday. While at the Brazilian club he played 26 times and scored two goals before he moved to Italy in July 2010 and in the same year he played for the Brazil national team so there was already a lot of spotlight on the playmaker.
Coutinho Vasco
On the 27th August he made his debut in the UEFA Super Cup as a substitute, unfortunately they lost the game 2-0 against Atletico Madrid. Although he did not play as many minutes as he would have liked, he did provide a moment of magic in the Champions League as he helped his team beat Bayern Munich 3-2 in the quarter finals. And then on the 8th May 2011 he scored his first goal for the club with a wonderful free kick against Fiorentina in a 3-1 win.

The 2011-12 season wasn’t as successful for the Brazilian as he only played 11 times for Inter but he was loaned out to Spanish side Espanyol where he showed his ability. Once he got going he was difficult to stop and he scored some brilliant goals in La Liga. He scored twice in a 5-1 win over Rayo Vallecano and then followed this up with a sublime volley against Racing Santander and then a great free kick against Malaga. In total he scored five times in just 16 appearances and this meant he was going back to Inter full of confidence.
Coutinho Inter
He did enjoy a little more success but he only lasted another half a season as he joined Liverpool for £8.5 million on the 26th January 2013. His debut was not a good one for the club once again though as he came on as a substitute in a 2-0 loss to West Brom. But less than a week later he scored on his full debut in a 5-0 win over Swansea City and then a few weeks later set up the first two goals in 4-0 win over Wigan Athletic. He continued to impress in his first half a season and finished it with three goals in 13 appearances.
Coutinho Liverpool
After a frustrating start to the next season due to injuries, he opened the scoring in the Merseyside derby on the 23rd November and then towards the end of the season he scored another crucial goal against Manchester City which put Liverpool seven points clear at the top of the table. However, his five goals and his brilliant performances were not enough to secure the title.

The final word can go to his manager at Espanyol Mauricio Pochettino. “As with most Brazilians, Philippe has a special magic in his feet. He also has amazing work rate and that makes us doubt whether he fits the mould of a typical Brazilian player. What is important about him is he is a good lad, a good kid – a great humble person.”