No other league on earth boasts as much as talent as the Premier League.
Sure, Cristiano Ronaldo made global headlines with his move to Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr for $200 million a year. And fellow legend Lionel Messi — coming off his Golden Ball performance in Argentina’s 2022 FIFA World Cup victory — will be scrutinized after leaving Paris St-Germain to sign a lucrative deal with MLS’s Inter Miami.
Yet as we head into the 2023-24 Premier League season, the plethora of stars in England — established, up-and-coming or looking for a bounce back — makes for an intriguing list of players to watch. With powerhouse Manchester City aiming for its sixth title in the last seven years, here are some names to keep tabs on.
What can Haaland possibly do for an encore? Manchester City’s towering 2000-born Norwegian striker set a new Premier League record with 36 goals. He topped the previous mark of 34 goals shared by Andy Cole (Newcastle United, 1994) and Alan Shearer (Blackburn Rovers, 1995). Haaland also finished with an unprecedented 52 goals across all competitions as City became the 10th club to complete the treble with June’s 1-0 Champions League final win over Inter Milan.
Hitting 40 goals is not out of the question for the former Borussia Dortmund ace. As opponents seek ways to slow him down, it will be worth monitoring how much he varies his offensive approach. Last season, 31 of his goals came from the penalty area and 20 came from the 6-yard box.
Arsenal set a British transfer record by paying West Ham £105 million for Rice. The previous record was the £100 million Manchester City paid Aston Villa for Jack Grealish in 2021. That’s a huge statement about the Gunners’ hopes for the 24-year-old star midfielder.
Durable and incredibly skilled as a ball winner, Rice must shine at Emirates Stadium if Arsenal seriously aspires to capture its first Premier League title since 2004.
Would Newcastle United have qualified for the Champions League (2023-24) for the first time in 20 years without Trippier’s contributions? Dubious. According to ESPN, the ex-Atlético Madrid defender was the lone Premier League player to record at least 100 chances created and 250 ball recoveries in 2022-23.
At age 32, Trippier doesn’t appear to be slowing down. That’s something the Magpies are counting on.
Saka made his Premier League debut for Arsenal in 2019, and the progress the 21-year-old Ealing native has made is breathtaking. He has increased his number of goals scored every season, potting 14 last year. The England regular also tied Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford with a team-high three goals at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
With his ability to make smart runs and his unreal dribbling skills, Saka signed a new four-year contract in May that’s worth more than £40 million. Expectations are justifiably high.
Besides capturing the EFL Cup with a 2-0 victory over Newcastle United, Manchester United had a largely disappointing 2022-23 season. Rashford was an exception to the rule.
The 25-year-old ace matched his single-season Premier League high from 2019-20 with 17 goals. Rashford set a new personal best with 30 goals in 56 games across all competitions. United last won the Premier League in 2013, and Rashford will need to attain new heights — with help from a more cohesive supporting cast — for this legendary franchise to return to glory.
Psychologically, there are few bigger boosts than the triumph of leading your nation to a FIFA World Cup. Martínez certainly stole the show in December’s final in Qatar when Argentina defeated France 4-2 on penalties. Aston Villa fans are keen to see what their top goalkeeper will do for an encore in Premier League play.
Making miraculous saves comes naturally for this brash 30-year-old. It’s no wonder he’s been linked to transfer rumors to Chelsea and Manchester United. Villa fans hope Martínez sticks around for a revival of the club’s early 1980’s glory years.
Kevin De Bruyne
De Bruyne’s championship-winning season with Manchester City included multiple personal landmarks. In March, the versatile, ultra-skilled midfielder was named Belgium’s new national team captain after Eden Hazard retired from international competition. In April, De Bruyne became the fastest player in history to record 100 Premier League assists.
Cerebral and dynamic, he looks poised to take his dazzling partnership with Haaland to another level in 2023-24. Singing his name to the guitar riff from the White Stripes’ Seven Nations Army is a tradition virtually certain to continue at Etihad Stadium.
Luton Town’s return to the top flight of English football for the first time since 1992 feels miraculous. It wouldn’t have happened without Morris. The 27-year-old striker potted 20 goals in his first go-round with the Hatters last year as they earned promotion. Morris signed a contract extension with the London-area club on June 30.
The big question is whether he will continue to produce offensively for manager Rob Edwards against stiffer competition.
Richarlison, who idolizes fellow Brazilians Ronaldo and Neymar, fell short of their golden touch in his inaugural Tottenham Hotspur campaign. The lightning-fast forward, who led Tokyo 2020 with five goals in Brazil’s gold medal repeat, had just one goal in 27 Premier League games in 2022-23.
He created controversy off the pitch with candid interviews. He beefed about a lack of playing time from Tottenham manager Antonio Conte and admitted he’d be interested in suiting up for Real Madrid. If the transfer buzz around Harry Kane culminates in the Spurs’ captain’s departure, Richarlison must find a way to excel again. Can he recapture the form he showed with consecutive 13-goal seasons for Everton in 2019 and 2020?
Ferguson, 18, made a big offensive impact with six goals in 19 Premier League games with Brighton. He’s already reaped comparisons to a young Wayne Rooney and has been touted as a potential £100-million player.
Ferguson inked a new five-year deal with the Seagulls in April. He’ll be expected to deliver when Brighton debuts in the Europa League in September, facing the likes of Liverpool and Villarreal.
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