This summer has already seen over £500m spent by Premier League clubs and we’ve barely got into July 2022. Most of that money has been spent on the likes of Erling Haaland, Darwin Nunez, Richarlison and Fabio Viera, but there has been cute spending on young gems throughout Europe outside of the big five leagues.
Of course, with television coverage limited in the UK mainly to Ligue 1, Bundesliga and Serie A and detailed analytics on sites like FBREF unavailable for leagues like Liga BWIN or the Eredivisie, covering these new signings can be difficult.
Thankfully, BTL has partnered with Wyscout to utilise their deep scouting platform, and bring detailed exclusive analysis on the underrated players moving to England this year.
Brighton’s January signing returning from loan this summer, Kacper Kozłowski certainly has a lot of pedigree in the game for an 18-year-old, being the youngest player to ever play at a European Championship.
Coming through at Pogoń Szczecin and making over 40 appearances for their senior side before he turned 19 years old, the still 18-year-old moved to Brighton in January and was sent straight on loan to Belgian side Royale Union Saint Gilloise.
Having rebounded from a car accident in January 2020 which threatened to end his career, it’s certainly been a sharp rise to the top for the Polish star.
Wyscout data shows that across his time in the Polish Ekstraklasa this season, Kozlowski was averaging 0.28 goals per 90 and adding 0.19 assists. This totalled five goal contributions, up from four the season previous.
Brighton about to buy up more young stocks, this time in Pogon's 17 year-old midfielder Kacper Kozlowski pic.twitter.com/oV3dB2aLRW
— Gilles 🇳🇬🏴 (@_Grimanditweets) December 3, 2021
There, the midfielder was happy to move from his right-central midfield position out to the right wing, as on various occasions he would fire crosses into the box, often low accurate ones picking out an opponent.
Having only played 239 minutes worth of action in the Belgian First Division, there’s slightly less to go off in 2022. USG are a well automated side so it’s no surprise that manager Felipe Mazzu has limited his January recruit.
For Poland’s U21s though, Kozłowski has continued to impress. His passing and crossing from open play has been pinpoint, getting his head up consistently to pick out teammates.
Perhaps Brighton will send the midfielder on loan once more, but given his existing experience and the departure of Yves Bissouma, there may be a place in the side for Kozłowski in 22/23.
Leeds’ big-money transfer at £24m arrives from RB Salzburg with significant pressure on his shoulders. The 21-year-old American is the flagship signing for Jesse Marsch, who himself hasn’t convinced all fans at Elland Road that he’s the man for the job next season.
The midfielder is reminiscent of Bruno Fernandes for his willingness to play risky forward boxes, as last season he often played behind a pair of strikers. In that role, he notched up 4 assists there while putting up 6.95 in expected assists.
W. T. F.
Brenden Aaronson with a disgusting move and assist.
Get this kid on a plane to Europe. pic.twitter.com/8cRLivy45D
— MLS Buzz (@MLS_Buzz) July 31, 2020
That could be seen even in the dying embers of the 7-1 defeat to Bayern Munich, where Aaronson showed the vision and execution to weight balls in behind defences. He had already netted an assist in both legs.
What Leeds are also getting is a player who presses intensely and Wyscout data shows Aaronson to be winning 4.43 defensive duels p90, similar to that of Rodrigo Moreno at Leeds winning 4.33 p90.
US national team fans can attest to his quality too, as Aaronson recently scored and assisted in international games against Morocco and Grenada, adding to six goals in 21 games in the red and blue jersey.
The US coach, Gregg Berhalter, says that Aaronson fits in both as a winger and a central presence in the men’s side, and Leeds fans will be hoping that their new signing can physically and metaphorically cover for the departure of Raphinha.
Marcus Vinicius Oliveira Alencar, or Marquinhos, drew easy jokes towards Arsenal fans as rivals theorised Mikel Arteta had signed the ‘wrong’ Marquinhos for around £3m.
The 19-year-old Brazilian winger may not have scored a goal in Brazil’s Serie A last season for São Paulo, but he still left his mark on opposition teams.
When playing off the right, Marquinhos is able to cut inside and chip crosses into the box efficiently, completing 29% of his attempted crosses in his career so far. His upper body strength and balance also helps him hold off defenders attempting to put him off, seeing him complete 4.5 dribbles p90.
HIs limited experience means we can’t build a strong picture of his goal scoring ability, having only scored six across all competitions including U20s football since 2021, but those goals have impressed. The curling effort against Wilstermann in April of this year was the potential standout.
Com gols de Igor Gomes, Reinaldo e Marquinhos, o São Paulo derrotou o Jorge Wilstermann por 3 a 1
🎥 Conmebol TV pic.twitter.com/21dRl8iC7S
— Diário SPFC (@diario_spfc) April 29, 2022
What will matter most to Arsenal is his defensive workrate, and the 5ft9 forward averaged nearly six defensive duels won p90 last year in Brazil’s Serie A.
Fellow Brazilian Gabriel Martinell set the example for Arsenal youngsters that no matter your experience or platform, you can break into the starting XI if you are talented enough. Marquinhos still needs to prove himself, but the signs are promising.
Manchester City’s Romeo Lavia has become Southampton’s third signing of the summer already, after the 18-year-old Belgian midfielder moved to the south coast for around £10m.
Saints fans will be hoping this prodigy can assimilate into the league like Tino Livramento spectacularly did last season, especially since, like Livramento, he has minimal senior experience.
The midfielder certainly puts himself around, sometimes guilty of lunging too aggressively into challenges that could see him get frequently punished by yellows in the Premier League.
Where he has excelled with Manchester City’s U23 group is in his positional sense and intercepting the ball. The Belgian averaged 4.5 interceptions p90 across the Premier league 2 and the UEFA Youth League last season, showing a penchant for being in the right place at the right time.
With the ball, Lavia boasts some impressive dribbling skills. Currently completing over two p90 in aforementioned competitions, Lavia combines his upper body strength and intelligence to put himself between defenders and the ball to grind forward.
— Steven (@StevenMcinerney) December 10, 2020
He clearly has the vision to see progressive passes too, often bursting through midfield and getting his head up to look for forwards. The execution though is so far lacking, with just 60% of his long passes being accurate.
Though not quite as established as Livramento was when he joined the Saints, as the Chelsea defender had just claimed academy player of the year in London, Lavia could contribute to Hasenhuttl’s side quickly. His defensive workrate and awareness should prove solid depth at least for Southampton.
At 24 years of age, Lisandro Martinez finds himself in the middle of a transfer tug-of-war between Arsenal, Ajax and Manchester United. Moving to Ajax in 2019 from Defensa v Justicia after spending four years with Newell’s Old Boys, the 24-year-old has gained experience in the Netherlands as a defensive midfielder, a centre back and a left back.
One of the main concerns over his proposed move to the Premier League is his height as despite maintaining an aerial win rate above 60% last season in the league and Champions League, at 5ft9 critics say he won’t adjust well to English football.
On that front, watching every aerial duel Martinez has been involved in over the past season can provide some information. It’s rare that an opposition forward is smaller than the defender, meaning he can get out muscled quite easily.
He counters this by positioning himself and preparing for each duel, acting like a boxer by extending his arm into the back of the striker so he can always meet the ball, even if the striker towers over him.
It means that when there’s a loose ball Martinez can be caught off guard, but for goal kicks, long punts and crosses, he’s intelligent and aware of remaining in control of the situation.
A key, indisputable skill in the Argentine’s locker is his passing. He came second in the squad in the UCL last season for progressive passes p90, stemming from his pinpoint long passes that drift over opposition lines.
— Birdiefootball (@birdiefootball) November 26, 2021
Much has already been made of his versatility, his aggressiveness and his tackling, but with these layers uncovered by Wyscout, it helps reveal more about this promising defender.
Another Dutchman moving to the Premier League is Tyrell Malacia joining Manchester United for £13m. Feyenoord’s flying left back is moving from Rotterdam after spending 14 years there, but he might not be ready for the Premier League.
Averaging over a foul p90, the 22-year-old’s method of tackling appears to often be bulldozing into attackers as they’re about to receive the ball. It has served him well statistically in the Eredivisie, winning 66.5% of his defensive duels last season compared to Alex Telles’ 63.7%, but it may be punished more harshly in England.
However, on the attack, Malacia can offer something different to what any of Manchester United’s full backs can. Standing at 5ft 8 and weighing 67kg, Malacia is like a bullet charging forward. In Feyenoord’s run to the UEFA Conference League final, Malacia averaged 2.65 dribbles p90.
That was on top of a huge 42.5% cross completion in the competition, with his ability to whip balls in from slightly deeper positions helping him get 4 assists last season. There’s clearly strong potential in this defender, but Erik ten Hag will have to bed him in slowly.
By: Alex Barker / @EuroExpert_
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Soccrates Images / Getty Images