5 Premier League debutants to watch in 2023-24

It is hard to argue with the reality that the Premier League is the place to be if you’re a top-level professional footballer.

While some will always be of the mind that money talks, and thus, players will go where the biggest wages are, you need only ask Kylian Mbappé why he turned down a summer move to Saudi Arabia despite the mass exodus to the Gulf Kingdom.

But when it comes to the top flight in England, the tapestry of talent that is perennially on display in many hallowed halls across the island nation is like no other. And 2023-24 appears to be no different.

And it has been yet another summer transfer period that has seen over £1bn (£1.503 to be exact) splashed on a swath of summer purchases (196), with many of the heralded summer moves coming by way of players that are set to get their first taste of life on Albion shores.

With that in mind, 101 Great Goals takes a look at five of those arrivals that are undoubtedly players to watch during the upcoming 2023-24 Premier League campaign.

Jurriën Timber (Arsenal)

Having already made his full debut for Arsenal in the Gunners’ Community Shield triumph over recent treble winners Manchester City, Dutch international start Jurriën Timber is already making waves in England in the wake of a fantastic first outing under Mikel Arteta.

Upon Arsenal securing the Ajax academy product in a deal that could see the Gunners pay up to £38m if add-ons are met, most postulated that Timber would be competing or usurping minutes at both right-back as well as right center-back as competition for both William Saliba and Benjamin White. Featuring at left-back was not a theory that cropped up, but as always, Arteta had an ace of his sleeve after the Dutchman was called upon in that role both in pre-season as well as on Sunday.

With Oleksandr Zinchenko’s ability to underlap at left-back missing from the tactical schematic, the physical and technical qualities of Timber were called into service to replicate the Ukrainian, and it is far to say he delivered. Not only is Timber guaranteed to improve Arsenak’s depth of quality, but there is a real chance he can pull ahead and secure a first-XI place by the end of the season.

Milos Kerkez (Bournemouth)

It is quite rare that Bournemouth would be the proud new owners of one of the potential Premier League signings of the season, but new Cherries boss Andoni Iraola has a real gem on his hands in the form of Hungarian international starlet Milos Kerkez.

Kerkez, who featured for us last season in our annual Ones to Watch series, had widely been touted as one of the top young full-backs anywhere on the continent in 2022-23, along with Chelsea’s Malo Gusto. After a move to AC Milan failed to net him a single senior appearance for the Italian juggernaut, a move to Dutch development house AZ Alkmaar rapidly bore fruit for the Hungarian after the club had lost academy product Owen Wijndal to Ajax.

A brilliant young attacking left-back who has pace to burn, technical quality, and a combination of creativity and a goal threat when he ventures into the final third, Kerkez could offer a real outlet for Iraola for a Bournemouth side who could look to considerably approve under the Basque headmaster after dodging relegation last term. With more attacking nous at Vitality Stadium now likely to be on display, Kerkez could continue to develop and impress in the run-up to Euro 2024 while also securing a move to an even bigger club in the near future.

Nicolas Jackson (Chelsea)

The arrival of French star Christopher Nkunku was heralded as a real key signing for Chelsea as the Blues look to set new boss Mauricio Pochettino for success after his return to the Premier League, but perhaps its Senegalese striker Nicolas Jacksn that has a chance to really steal the hearts and minds of the club’s fanbase in the coming weeks.

With Nkunku now set to be laid up in dry dock for a few months after surgery, all eyes will be on Jackson and his budding relationship with Ukrainian wonderkid Mykhailo Mudryk that has been brewing during Chelsea’s pre-season preparations.

As the club’s new leading number 9, Jackson has shown himself to be adept in both direct/transition football, while also being able to really impose himself in the build-up while operating in tight spaces. He seems to be lethal when given a chance as well, and though he may not be as polished as other more prominent names in the league at this juncture, he shows real promise and potential that he could be an x-factor in a campaign where Chelsea are bereft of European football and just domestic matters to focus on.

Dominik Szoboszlai (Liverpool)

The second Hungarian international to feature in this list, Magyar’s star man Dominik Szoboszlai has finally arrived in England after years of fans wanting to see his talents on display across the Premier League. And there are few better places to go to than Anfield to come under the command of Jürgen Klopp, especially in a season where the Reds are looking to redefine themselves in the center of the park.

After losing Fabinho, James Miler, and Jordan Henderson during the summer transfer window, the versatile and creative Szoboszlai gives Liverpool a real midfield dynamo in what will presumably be his central deployment behind a front three of Mohamed Salah, Darwin Núñez, and Luis Díaz.

Deadly on set pieces and technically sound, while boasting an ability to withstand the physical demands given his frame as well as being a goal threat during the run of play, Szoboszlai was a chief catalyst in Saxony for Bundesliga upstarts RB Leipzig while helping the club to back-to-back DFB-Pokal triumphs in 2021-22 and 2022-23 respectively. Residually, Szoboszlai wears the armband for his country and has proven himself to be able to lead by example both at the club and international level. Likely to be partnered alongside Alexis Mac Allister, and with possible support from Roméo Lavia (should Liverpool complete a move for the Belgian), the 22-year-old could be primed to shine on Merseyside.

Rasmus Højlund (Manchester United)

When Manchester United sign a center-forward, you stand up and take notice. For a club that has employed the likes of Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, and Ruud van Nistelrooij to lead the line at Old Trafford, there will inevitably be a myriad of expectations that come with the job of being the club’s goalscorer-in-chief. For Danish starlet Rasmus Højlund, it is a role that he could make his own if he settles.

With Red Devils boss Erik ten Hag backing the gifted Dane to repay the faith placed in him after the club shelled out over £70m to prize him away from Atalanta Bergamasca, some of the metrics behind Højlund’s brief spell in Serie A are indeed encouraging. However, many will look toward the fact that he only scored nine goals in an Atalanta side under Gian Piero Gasperini that are known for getting the maximum out of its forwards, there are quite a few who think United overspent on raw talent rather than polished final-third efficiency.

But given the fact that many in media have already begun to compare Højlund with potential rival goalscorer Erling Haaland who resides just on the other side of town at Manchester City, how the København-born striker gets on could genuinely make or break United’s fortunes this season given a severe lack of options to reliably lead the line.

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Andrew Thompson

US-based Football writer. German football guru with a wealth of experience in youth development and analysis. Data aficionado. Happily championing the notion that Americans have a knowledgeable voice in the beautiful game.

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