The new Premier League season is drawing closer and this week we are examining which players have a point to prove in 2017/18. In the fourth of our five-part series we pick out five men in the spotlight, from Raheem Sterling to Eden Hazard.
The Manchester City forward made a promising start to life under Pep Guardiola, scoring five goals before the end of September. Indeed, he was not on the losing side until the following month. But the goals dried up as City stuttered and his place in the team is under threat.
Will the £49m man kick on in 2017/18 or will Gabriel Jesus’s capacity to play wide, coupled with the arrival of Bernardo Silva from Monaco, curtail his opportunities to impress? Sterling will need to make the most of the chances he gets – adding more goals and assists – if he is to succeed.
For the second time in three seasons, Hazard’s genius was widely regarded as a key factor in Chelsea winning the Premier League title. The brilliant Belgian scored 16 goals under Antonio Conte, the best haul of his career, and has the capacity to score even more in 2017/18.
However, history is not on Hazard’s side. Last time that he was heralded as the league’s star man, he endured a miserable follow-up campaign – failing to find the net in the Premier League until late April. He will surely avoid a repeat of that this time around.
In the current climate, Rodriguez’s £12m move from Southampton to West Brom could be considered something of a bargain for a 27-year-old England international forward who once scored 15 goals in a Premier League season. But that was some time – and one major injury – ago.
There are still concerns whether Rodriguez is capable of recapturing his best form since that cruciate ligament injury of 2014. But there is no questioning his work rate and, with the ability to play in various forward positions, expect Tony Pulis to count on his new signing.
Leicester’s 2016 transfer work was largely disappointing but their activity this summer has been more encouraging and the arrival of Sevilla captain Vicente Iborra looks a positive move. The 29-year-old Spaniard adds experience and quality to the Foxes midfield.
His previous visit to the King Power Stadium was not a pleasant one – beaten 2-0 as Sevilla were knocked out of the Champions League – but he has at least had a taste of the unique atmosphere at the ground. Iborra will now be hoping he can be the catalyst for more nights like that one.
Gabbiadini certainly hit the ground running following his January move to Southampton, scoring six goals in his first four appearances for the club. That included two in the EFL Cup final defeat to Manchester United – only denied a third by a poor offside decision.
But the Italian failed to find the net in his eight subsequent appearances (albeit six of them coming against top-six opponents) and fans will be wondering whether he can recapture his initial form in 2017/18. Gabbiadini will need to start well if he is to answer those doubts.
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