The whole concept of an 'under-the-radar signing' these days in the Premier League is a bit of a weird one.
In terms of revenue and eyeballs the Premier League is by some distance the biggest league in the world; the days of teams being frugal are long gone. Whether by foreign investment or obscene TV deals teams in the bottom half of the Premier League can spend far more than most of the top-half clubs in the rest of Europe’s top five leagues. Some clubs (hello Brentford and Brighton) are still trying to exploit the market but a lot of clubs are just throwing money at their problems.
So we’ve gone through all the business the league has done so far and tried to pick out a handful of signings that we think are flying under the radar a bit. For some of these we’ve doubled - or tripled - up when it comes to clubs and their signings. Let’s get started.
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Boubacar Kamara/Diego Carlos (Aston Villa)

Let’s start with Kamara because this was absolutely wild. Under Jorge Sampaoli, Kamara had established himself as one of the best young defensive midfielders in Europe whilst also being capable of filling in at centre-back. With his contract at Marseille expiring, clubs such as Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United were all linked. Instead he moved to Villa and it seems as if he will start at the base of Steven Gerrard’s 4-3-3. Incredibly given how good the Brazilian has been, there’s a chance Douglas Luiz now won’t be a regular starter, although that hasn’t really been confirmed yet.

Boubacar Kamara of Aston Villa in action during the 2022 Queensland Champions Cup match between Aston Villa and Brisbane Roar at Queensland Country Bank Stadium on July 20, 2022 in Townsville, Australia

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With Carlos, it speaks volumes that he already has been named as a vice-captain. Not only does the Brazilian centre-half bring leadership he, like Kamara, offers a range of passing and ability on the ball that Villa didn’t previously have. With the signings Villa have made you can see the way Gerrard wants the team to evolve. The aim is to push into Europe, these two players have given them a great chance to do that.

Aaron Hickey (Brentford)

Like other British youngsters before him, Aaron Hickey bet on himself by making the move abroad - to Bologna - and after just one season in Italy Brentford have moved to bring him to the Premier League.
Scotland continues its weird trend of being able to produce excellent full-backs, but unlike Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney, Hickey is actually naturally right-footed despite playing on the left - his left foot is just that good.
The youngster will quickly be one of the most ambidextrous players in the league. Hickey is the perfect Brentford signing; tactically smart, a model professional and a relentless work-rate - Thomas Frank and the fans are going to love him. As an aside, keep an eye out for Sampdoria’s Mikkel Damsgaard. The Danish international was one of the revelations of Euro 2020 and is reportedly close to a move, that could round off a complete change for Brentford in the wide area.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30: Aaron Hickey of Brentford during the pre-season friendly match between Brentford and Real Betis at Brentford Community Stadium on July 30, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

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Chris Richards (Crystal Palace)

Chris Richards’ story is a really interesting one. He was told he wasn’t good enough for FC Dallas, one of the best academies in the US, but didn’t give up and ended up playing for Bayern Munich (you can read the excellent profile of him by Sam Stejskal here).
After impressing at Hoffenheim, Richards has made the move to South London and - assuming he isn’t sold - should form an excellent partnership with Marc Guehi, or if Patrick Vieira wants a back three alongside Joachim Andersen.
We know we mentioned Brighton and Brentford earlier, but Dougie Freedman really deserves a lot of praise for the signings he has made. Some haven’t worked out but he is clearly targeting a young, exciting profile and that’s great for Palace and for the league. Midfielder Cheick Doucoure, a summer arrival from Lens, is another that fits that bill.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30: Chris Richards of Crystal Palace during friendly match between Crystal Palace and Montpellier at Selhurst Park on July 30, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)

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Manor Solomon/Andreas Pereira (Fulham)

Two moves that both seemed extremely unlikely at various stages of the summer, only to finally get over the line. Both players are technically gifted and they are going to be firm favourites at Craven Cottage, they are exactly the sort of players who get fans out of their seats.
Pereira, once nicknamed “the pre-season Pirlo” is a particularly interesting case after rebuilding his career in his native Brazil with Flamengo. Keep an eye on Joao Palhinha as well, a vastly experienced defensive midfielder who will offer protection for these two attackers. We’re not quite sure what to make of Fulham in their Premier League return, but we’re pretty sure they’re going to be fun.

FARO, PORTUGAL - JULY 17: Andreas Pereira of Fulham looks on during the Trofeu do Algarve match between Fulham and SL Benfica at Estadio Algarve on July 17, 2022 in Faro, Portugal. (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images)

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Editor’s note: the last three sections get a little frisky. With each of these teams we found it very hard to narrow down to one or two players, or we thought there were some interesting similarities between the signings that allowed them to be put together as a group. We could have put the Fulham duo in here but decided against it.

Leeds’s trio of toys

We begin with Jesse Marsch’s revolution at Leeds United. Unsurprisingly pretty much as soon as survival was confirmed, the arrival of Brenden Aaronson from RB Salzburg was also sewn up. Aaronson has recently been lighting up social media with an outrageous assist during pre-season and he’s the perfect player for what Marsch wants. Marsch comes from the Red Bull system and whilst he will adjust slightly - but, as we saw at the end of the season, there won't be too many tweaks from the high-intensity style of Marcelo Bielsa. Aaronson lives for that and he will thrive.
So too will Tyler Adams (another American) and Luis Sinisterra. The former worked with Marsch in New York and he is the most experienced of the three, he’s played regularly in the Champions League. He will be an absolute destroyer in the Leeds midfield and will make them a nightmare to play against. We’re still waiting for Sinisterra to get back to full fitness, but if he can get back to where he was in his last season with Feyenoord he’s going to be an absolute handful when Leeds are countering with his movement and pace.

LEEDS, ENGLAND - JULY 31: Tyler Adams of Leeds United applauds the supporters after the Pre-Season friendly match between Leeds United and Cagliari at Elland Road on July 31, 2022 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Ashley Allen/Getty Images)

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Southampton’s rebuild

There was no team we had a harder time with than Southampton. There’s so many signings that we ended up just taking them all. It feels as if Southampton’s window has gone completely under the radar. The Saints were at such a weird inflexion point at the end of last season. No one would deny that manager Ralph Hasenhuttl is a great coach but at the same time consecutive 15th-place finishes constitute massive disappointments. Now this is not all Hasenhuttl’s fault, the investment in the squad in recent years has been lacking, and even when it comes it’s often misguided.
This summer though, this summer has been very interesting with the new owners opening the chequebook. Building on the success of Tino Livramento and Adam Armstrong, Southampton are targeting two key player demographics; young players on the rise (often from big clubs) and undervalued players playing outside the Premier League. This summer they have brought in Gavin Bazunu and Romeo Lavia (both Manchester City’s reserves), Sekou Mara (Bordeaux), Armel Bella-Kotchap (VFL Bochum) and Joe Aribo (Rangers) as their major signings.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JUNE 16: Southampton FC complete the signing of goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu on a permanent deal from Manchester City, pictured at the Staplewood Campus on June 16, 2022 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via G

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More so than pretty much every club in the league Southampton are making a bet on youth. You factor in the likes of Livramento, Mohammed Salisu and Romain Perraud from last year and this is a very young team. There’s a great chance it might not work but if you were ever going to put Hasenhuttl in a position to succeed it would be this window with the business done. They’re going to be fascinating to watch.

Tottenham’s new wing-backs

We’re not sure if you’ve seen it or not but there are rumours going around that Antonio Conte wants to bring Nicolo Zaniolo to Tottenham Hotspur. On the face of it not a bad idea. Whilst injured a lot, Zaniolo is undeniably talented and Roma have signed Paulo Dybala. But then you read that Conte sees Zaniolo as a wing-back and all of a sudden there’s smoke coming out of your ears after your brain short-circuited. As Eurosport alumni Grace Robertson and Greg Johnson speculated on Twitter, does Conte just go around telling people they’re wing-backs?
But Conte has already made moves at wing-back, bringing in Djed Spence and Ivan Perisic from Nottingham Forest and Inter Milan respectively. Clearly Conte has spent seven months watching Emerson Royal, Matt Doherty and Sergio Reguilon and has decided he doesn’t want any of that. Perisic, who seems to be able to run forever, shone as a left wing-back at Inter last season under Simone Inzaghi and will be perfect for Conte’s system.
Spence is a little more inexperienced and during pre-season Conte has at times used the likes of Emerson, Lucas Moura and Dejan Kulusevski (seriously Antonio what the hell?) as a way to push competition.
Wing-backs are the heartbeat of Conte’s system, and if he’s found the ones for this Spurs team, they are going to be very dangerous.

Tottenham Hotspur's Croatian midfielder Ivan Perisic heads the ball during the friendly football match between Rangers and Tottenham Hotspur at the Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow on July 23, 2022.

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