This time last year, Premier League clubs were beginning their hunt for new signings which would take them to the next level.
Not all of them found that special player, but there were plenty of outstanding deals and a significant number of debutants who made their teams, and the league, a better place.
Here’s each team’s best signing from the 2021/22 season.
Stats: 7 goals, 5 assists
Aaron Ramsdale was excellent in his debut season, as were Takehiro Tomiyasu and Ben White, but it’s Martin Odegaard who gets the nod.
The Norwegian impressed on loan last season but returned to Real Madrid last summer and wasn’t expected to be signed permanently, but Arsenal pushed and pushed to get a deal done, and it’s not hard to see why.
Odegaard, whose stats don’t tell the whole story, brought some much-needed creativity to Arsenal’s midfield and led by example with his energy and enthusiasm.
Fee: Loan, £17m purchase
Stats: 5 goals, 3 assists
Aston Villa‘s use of their Jack Grealish money didn’t go to plan. Emiliano Buendia wasn’t always great and Leon Bailey struggled for minutes, but Philippe Coutinho’s January arrival proved to be the answer.
Coutinho, whose loan from Barcelona was later made permanent, enjoyed a red-hot start to life back in England, and although his impact faded as the season progressed, he showed enough to keep Villa fans excited for the future.
Lucas Digne had a nice year at left-back and Danny Ings put up some good numbers in attack, but Coutinho just edges this one.
Stats: 7 clean sheets
There are a lot of candidates for this award for Brentford. Christian Eriksen’s January arrival was massive, while Yoane Wissa exceeded expectations with ten goals in all competitions, but Kristoffer Ajer’s impact all season long makes him stand out.
The defender dealt with an injury issue midway through the campaign but was an ever-present when fit, impressing both centrally and as a right-back as Brentford comfortably cemented their spot in the Premier League.
Ajer even chipped in with one goal and two assists for good measure, capping off an excellent debut season in England.
Stats: 1 goal, 2 assists, 10 clean sheets
Signing Marc Cucurella for £15m was an absolutely genius move from Brighton, there’s no better way to put it.
The Barcelona academy graduate was sensation at left wing-back, left-back and even as a third centre-back, contributing all over the pitch and looking right at home in English football.
Some giants of the game are now looking at Cucurella, and that interest is the least he deserves for a fantastic debut campaign.
Stats: 9 goals, 2 assists
Maxwel Cornet was a surprising, yet much-needed signing for Burnley. He added both a goal threat and some excitement in a team whose play style hasn’t always satisfied the masses.
He played left-back in the previous season but spent most of this past year as a striker, leading the club’s scoring charts as one of just two players to score more than three goals in all competitions.
It wasn’t enough to keep Burnley in the Premier League, unfortunately, and it looks like Cornet’s time at Turf Moor could be short and sweet.
Stats: 1 goal
Since Trevoh Chalobah doesn’t count, the bar to be Chelsea‘s signing of the season isn’t high. Romelu Lukaku’s return went disastrously and third-choice goalkeeper Marcus Betinelli played just 90 minutes, so Saul wins this one by default.
Saul’s start to life at Stamford Bridge was awful and it soon became clear that his loan signing was somewhat of a mistake, but to the Spaniard’s credit, he became a serviceable squad player for the remainder of the season.
It wasn’t what anyone had in mind, but it looked like this deal was going to be a lot worse than it ended up being. He’s returning to Atletico Madrid this summer, and Chelsea can move on.
Stats: 11 clean sheets, 4 goals
Another team with plenty of contenders. Conor Gallagher’s loan was sensational and he’d probably win this in other circumstances, but with so many permanent signings turning into stars, they have to get the nod.
Marc Guehi’s winning this one ahead of unfortunate duo Joachim Andersen and Michael Olise. All three were fabulous but it’s Guehi who made the biggest splash in his debut season.
The centre-back immediately became an integral fixture of Palace‘s defence and is now a regular part of the England squad. He’ll be worth a whole lot more than the £18m he signed for, that’s for sure.
Stats: 6 goals, 5 assists
For the first few months, Demarai Gray looked like he was going to be the signing of the season. He cost so little money but had three goals in his first four games. Value.
Gray, like the rest of his Everton teammates, couldn’t maintain that hot form and the relegation battle soon began, with the winger’s only goal in 2022 coming in an FA Cup clash with Brentford.
It wasn’t the ending that most expected, but Gray still gets the prize.
Stats: 4 goals, 5 assists
After a nervy relegation battle, there aren’t too many positives to sing about for Leeds.
With Jack Harrison not counting, we’ve gone for Dan James as Leeds’ top signing. The Whites spent big money on him, and his return of four goals and five assists isn’t awful.
Hopefully he can take another step next season.
Stats: 8 goals, 5 assists
Leicester spent the best part of £60m this season and their top signing was one who came on loan.
Ademola Lookman proved himself to be a reliable squad option for Leicester, playing significant minutes in the Premier League and Europa Conference League as Leicester saved what was threatening to be a bad season.
Brendan Rodgers is reportedly keen to bring Lookman back permanently but no official decision has been made.
Stats: 6 goals, 5 assists
Luis Diaz shone immediately following his January move to Liverpool, and now fans aren’t as terrified about a future without Sadio Mane as they were six months ago.
Signed for big money from Porto, Diaz needed no time to adjust to life in the Premier League as he terrorised defences with his electric dribbling down the left wing.
Ibrahima Konate had a solid debut year in England, but Diaz’s impact was on a different level.
Stats: 6 goals, 4 assists
Had Manchester City signed more than one first-team player this past season, the chances are that Jack Grealish wouldn’t be winning this one.
The £100m man was by no means bad – his dribbling and chance creation stats are still impressive – but fans are entitled to demand a little more from the most expensive player in the history of English football.
Still, he comes ahead of third-choice goalkeeper Scott Carson and his 17 minutes.
Stats: 24 goals, 3 assists
Despite concerns over his fit in this Manchester United side, there’s no denying that Cristiano Ronaldo did his thing.
18 goals in 30 Premier League games is a great return and one which United desperately needed to salvage something from this otherwise abysmal campaign.
Neither Jadon Sancho nor Raphael Varane hit the heights expected of them, but they would have needed to be very impressive if they were to beat Ronaldo to this prize.
Stats: 5 goals, 1 assist
Dan Burn nearly got this one, but once Bruno Guimaraes figured out how to shine in English football, it was game over.
It took him a while to make his first start, but the Brazilian eventually began racking up the goals and looking every bit like the £40m player Newcastle have been missing for years.
He has already scored more goals than he managed in 71 games with Lyon.
Stats: 2 goals, 2 assists
It doesn’t really feel like a win, but here we are.
While Milot Rashica’s goal numbers weren’t great, he did at least prove to be a reliable player who could start every week, which is more than can be said for a lot of Norwich‘s other signings.
Whether he’ll still be around next season is a different question, however.
Stats: 1 goal, 2 assists, 8 clean sheets
Perhaps the best value signing in the entire division, young Tino Livramento’s market value has blown through the roof.
The Chelsea academy graduate was unbelievable in his first season in men’s football, holding his own (and beating) players far more experienced than him before a nasty injury brought his season to an abrupt end.
He’s probably a £30m player now, and that number is only going to rise. What a signing from Southampton.
Fee: Loan with £30m obligation
Stats: 5 goals, 8 assists
This is a tough one. Cristian Romero was a star at the back, but it feels like Tottenham’s resurgence towards the top four came after the January arrival of Dejan Kulusevski.
The Juventus loanee wasted little time in racking up goals and assists and it became clear within about two weeks that Tottenham had found somebody who could star in their team for years to come.
Kulusevski’s loan deal runs for one more season, after which he will almost certainly remain at the club permanently.
Stats: 10 goals, 6 assists
Watford couldn’t avoid the drop either but the Hornets did have several impressive newcomers this year.
Hassane Kamara did well at left-back and Moussa Sissoko had a solid season in midfield, but the value for money offered by Emmanuel Dennis is unrivalled.
The Nigeria international may have slowed down for the second half of the season but, heading into 2022, he sat on eight goals in 16 games. Not bad at all.
Stats: 1 goal, 1 assist, 7 clean sheets
Kurt Zouma’s off-field behaviour brought around a level of attention that West Ham really didn’t need, but on the pitch, there’s no denying his impact.
The centre-back was impressive as ever and he played a major role in steering the Hammers up the table and deep into the Europa League, leading the side well in the absence of the injured Angelo Obgonna.
While his debut season will always be remembered for the wrong reasons, Zouma can be happy about what he accomplished at the London Stadium this year.
Stats: 11 clean sheets
Wolves finished the Premier League season with the fifth best defensive record in the division, and a lot of that is down to the impact of new goalkeeper Jose Sa.
Memories of Rui Patricio were quickly extinguished as Sa posted the kind of stats that saw him quietly enter the debate for the league’s best goalkeeper, with his 75.1% save percentage higher than anyone in the English top flight could offer.
Not only was Sa Wolves’ best signing, but he may well have been the best in the Premier League.