Zach (Kellz_86): Andre Ayew - Swansea City
We live in a era where big spending is now the norm when it comes to club football. Just this year alone we have seen Manchester City shell out £49m for Raheem Sterling, a reported £54m for Kevin de Bruyne, and Nicolas Otamendi for £32m. Not to mention the reported £36m Manchester United splashed for Anthony Martial, an unproven player in the Premier League who is just 19 years old. Far too young to carry United's attacking hopes on his shoulders.
Which brings me to the transfer dealings of a much more underrated Premier League club: Swansea City. Andre Ayew joined on a free transfer from Marseille at the beginning of the season. Yes you read that correctly, he joined for free. What has this got the Swans? 3 goals in 4 matches for a solid start to the season with 8 points. Not only has Ayew (and his strike partner Bafetimbi Gomis for that matter) scored goals in a quick start fashion, they have been important goals. Ayew helped get the draw against Chelsea, settled the nerves in their win over Newcastle, and started the fight back for the 2-1 win over Manchester United with a goal and assist.
The transfer market is ridiculously over inflated and Gary Monk should be applauded for navigating it with intelligence. Will the goals dry up for Andre Ayew? Only time will tell, but on the face of it, he's now a must in your fantasy squad and the front runner for signing of the season.
Roberto (Roberto Rojas): Matteo Darmian - Manchester United
Watching the former Torino right back's first matches as a Red Devil, he has been superb above all levels. Great thinker, great tackler, excellent vision, solid distributor of the ball, everything. His move will only help his status as an Italian international, and he will surely be an important player for Louis Van Gaal's men, as well as for our fantasy teams.
Gavin (Gavin Wright): Kevin De Bruyne - Manchester City
While we have yet to see City's latest signing in action (and on current evidence they don't appear to need much additional help), this signing for me is along the same lines of the Nemanja Matic signing at Chelsea last season. While De Bruyne is undoubtedly a fantastic player who will weigh in with goals and assists, the value he will bring to the rest of the squad is what makes him so important.
We saw with Matic that Chelsea's more attack-minded players had less work to do defensively, freeing them up to focus more on getting into the attack and creating chances (I firmly believe this is why Cesc Fabregas was such a success early last season, while John Terry's rapid decline has made things harder for Matic this season and consequently contributed to Chelsea's struggles, but that's another story for another time).
With De Bruyne, it's not his defensive qualities that will open up space for his teammates, but rather what he will bring to the attack. Jesus Navas, for all his pace, workrate and ability to get to the touchline to play a ball across the face of goal, is a bit one-dimensional, and his positional inflexibility makes it easier for opposition defenses to focus their energy on more dangerous attacking options. De Bruyne, by contrast, can fit in pretty much anywhere in the midfield. The attacking trio of De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and David Silva will now be an incredibly fluid unit, with each flexible enough to play centrally or on either flank. Their movement, coupled with that of Sergio Aguero, will give defenders nightmares.
De Bruyne can even drop deeper into central midfield to allow Yaya Toure to choose his moments to burst into the attack more regularly without worrying about tracking back on the counter. The possibilities for more attacking chances are exponentially higher with the Belgian in the starting lineup, and I think we'll see City's fantasy prospects improve even further as the season advances.
Simon (Stall express): Anthony Martial - Manchester United
Martial at 19 years of age brings the pace the side are clearly missing and is a true number 9. As always we have been given a comparison in style to a former Premier League great, this time Thierry Henry. When you consider Roy Hodgson referred to Tom Cleverley as "England's Iniesta" we can see these are comments to take with a big pinch of salt.
Martial has tended to see him start as a number 9 but he has a tendency to move into the channels. Perhaps LVG noticed this as already as there is a concern with comments that he could play a number of positions. With Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney, Angel Di Maria and Antonio Valencia we have seen the square peg in a round hole problem a number of times under the manager. Wayne Rooney is by far at his best facing the opponent's goal as a number 10 and surely the plan should be to get your best player in their best position? Should Martial play the striker role, Rooney will be allowed to go back to his best position. Should Martial take up a wide role, he effectively will be asking two players to play out of their comfort zone.
A point worth noting is his reported temperament. Previous teammate Zakarie Labadie referred to him never being a player who made it to training early and the young Frenchman has a reputation for looking nonchalant on the pitch. Those are traits that do not fit with Van Gaal's style of management, so it will be interesting to see if they are accurate. The player is 19 and even if he is as described, he can change. I think he'll be involved straight away and will help get United's best players into their best roles, so this has to be looked at as a vital signing.
Charles (the orphanage): David De Gea - Manchester United*
It's very tempting for me to go with what might be the obvious selection and say Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne, but I am going to go with an outside the box selection, someone who was really not even a signing, but a non-signing*. That would be David De Gea. By staying and starting for Manchester United, he has the quality to turn Manchester United's defense into the solid rock that they need this year to remain in contention for the trophies.
He is probably the best goalkeeper in the Premiership, if not the world and coming into his own as a game manager and field marshall. De Gea has always been a brilliant shot stopper and distributor. Real Madrid's loss is Manchester United's gain. Him staying at ManU will make the greatest difference of any decision on the table in this upcoming season, and will pay dividends from a fantasy perspective.
Chris (Chris_Manfredi): Andre Ayew - Swansea City
Over the summer, Garry Monk's group welcomed Ghana international Andre Ayew, who joined via free transfer from Olympique Marseille. With Ayew in the prime of his career at 25 years old and fresh off a 10 goal/6 assist Ligue 1 campaign, leaving him with a prolific total of 44 goals and 18 assists in 141 league games over the past five seasons with the French club, expectations were high for the change to the Premier League.
Impressively, he has exceeded them straight out of the chute. Operating as an attacking midfielder, Ayew looks like the missing piece of the puzzle (a jigsaw quite reminiscent of a Benetton ad), combining with Ecuador international Jefferson Montero, England international Jonjo Shelvey, Iceland international Gylfi Sigurdsson and South Korea international Ki Sung-Yeung to bedevil the opposition while offering sublime service to suddenly flourishing French international Gomis up front.
Ayew has demonstrated a remarkable nose for the net, having taken 13 shots (seven on target) already, resulting in three tallies along with one assist. We've seen the poise and touch in the lovely goal against Chelsea. We've enjoyed the aerial prowess with clinical header finishes against Newcastle and Manchester United. We've witnessed the deft left-footed passing with an assist to a cutting Gomis against United. As a result of those spoils, Ayew charts as the #2 midfield fantasy scorer in Fantrax with 43 points behind only Leicester City's Riyad Mahrez and he is tied with Manchester City's Yaya Toure for #2 in the official BPL format with 31 points (again behind Mahrez), while he ranks a less impressive but still none too shabby #11 with 62 points in Togga Perfect XI.
Sure, you can nitpick. There's no way he can keep up such a sizzling goal scoring pace. He doesn't take penalties (Gomis) or other set pieces (Siggy). He will miss some games when African Nations Championship competition comes around in the winter. He may not offer much in the way of phantom points in games where he's not scoring or assisting. You know what else you can grumble about? Cristiano Ronaldo doesn't play defense, Lionel Messi isn't much in the air and Neymar could use a new barber. Would you take 10-15 goals and 5-10 assists from Ayew this season? Of course you would, those are Eden Hazard/Alexis Sanchez/David Silva type numbers! And you're getting it at a discount.
Many of you wisely invested in Siggy, Michu and Bony in recent seasons before their prices shot up too far and were duly rewarded with fantasy glory. You know the bit about history repeating itself, right? If you haven't already, don't be shy to follow suit with Ayew, the latest in the line of impactful Swans transfers.
Who do you think is the best summer signing in real life, and also for fantasy? Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments!