Peter Crouch on what's exciting him as Premier League returns

Sancho can rip up the Premier League, Guardiola can take Grealish to a whole new level, returning Van Dijk is like a £100m signing and Brentford star Toney is the real deal… PETER CROUCH on what he’s looking forward to most as the new season starts

  • The hotly-anticipated new Premier League campaign kicks-off this weekend 
  • Sportsmail’s Peter Crouch takes us through what he is looking forward to
  • Man United new boy Jadon Sancho is a rare talent who can thrill crowds
  • Pep Guardiola will have a big masterplan for £100m man Jack Grealish at City
  • Virgil van Dijk’s return from injury is like a new big money signing for Liverpool
  • Harry Kane will become the league’s all-time top scorer if he joins Man City 

The Premier League makes its glorious return this weekend and there’s plenty to look forward to ahead of the new campaign. 

Jadon Sancho, Jack Grealish and Romelu Lukaku are among the big money movers during the summer as the title contenders strengthen. 

And that’s before we know the conclusion to the Harry Kane to Manchester City saga. 

As the new campaign gets underway, Sportsmail’s PETER CROUCH writes on what is exciting him the most. 

BEST NEWCOMER

JADON SANCHO (Manchester United)

The man I’m relishing watching for a full season above all else. Jadon Sancho in Manchester again. Big money. Exciting winger. It is all set for him to tear the division up.

There is always the sense that something is happening when Sancho has possession. Bums off the seats every time. It’s rare, it’s special. 

The key factor for him are the numbers. He left Borussia Dortmund with a combined 114 goals and assists in 137 games. Frightening, ridiculous figures.

Manchester United have class acts in attacking areas and the scary thing is there are things Sancho can still improve in his game.

A thrilled Ole Gunnar Solskjaer welcomes £73m signing Jadon Sancho to Old Trafford

TOP THREE SIGNINGS

JACK GREALISH (Manchester City)

Everything about this move makes you stand up. The price, the glitz, everything that comes with it. That £100million fee is not for everyone but Jack Grealish will enjoy being the man.

I love him as a fella, we’ve met a few times. He’s a maverick, a trailblazer. He makes things happen every single time he is on the ball — drawing a foul, taking it past people. He can slow games down and he knows when to pick a pass.

The most fascinating aspect of the transfer for me is that Grealish finds himself in the best possible environment to improve. We haven’t even scratched the surface with him yet. 

What is City manager Pep Guardiola going to do with him? I know he’s had his eye on him for 18 months at least. There is obviously an exciting plan.

Pep Guardiola will have a masterplan prepared for Manchester City’s £100m boy Grealish

DANNY INGS (Aston Villa)

The prevailing feeling around Liverpool is that if Danny Ings had not suffered that ACL injury in Jurgen Klopp’s first training session, he would still be there now. 

He’s good enough for that level and Aston Villa have a real coup. I initially saw him going to Arsenal or Tottenham and it shows the level of ambition Villa possess.

They’ve lost their best player in Grealish but they are having a go at replacing him with a number of signings. 

Ings has that movement, he’s one who integrates well into a dressing room. On the flip side, it is disastrous for Southampton to lose somebody so integral.

Aston Villa have signed Danny Ings from Southampton in order to bolster their strikeforce 

ROMELU LUKAKU (Chelsea)

We have to start talking about Romelu Lukaku in the same terms as Harry Kane, Robert Lewandowski and Karim Benzema. He is definitely in that conversation.

At Manchester United he was scoring goals regularly and that went up a couple of notches with Inter Milan.

Look at how much pace he has around him at Chelsea with Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech. 

Lukaku can play that lone role up on his own, and does so dangerously, but to have these players close to you, playing off you, offers such an injection. 

He can occupy two defenders, he opens up space for others. It’s some story that he is back at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea have splashed out £98m to bring Inter star Romelu Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge

SIGNING THAT NEEDED TO HAPPEN

CRISTIAN ROMERO (Tottenham)

At £42.5m, there is no escaping that this is a big fee for Cristian Romero from Atalanta. 

But Tottenham desperately needed a proper central defender. Their organisation at the back requires some sorting.

I like him as a player and he has Champions League experience. It shows intent by Spurs. 

Nobody could fault them going forward last year — players stepped up — but defensively they were all over the place. Individually, the players did not seem good enough. 

They have had some greats over the years — Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen both served the club well — but it needed addressing. Romero is a statement.

Cristian Romero will be a great signing for Nuno Espirito Santo (right) at Tottenham

COMEBACK KID

VIRGIL VAN DIJK (Liverpool)

How huge is this for Liverpool? Having Virgil van Dijk walk through the doors for pre-season is like welcoming a new £100m signing.

Everybody in that team will have been given a lift. Even the strikers, who know that they’ll only have to score once to win a game this year.

It’s about trust. The full backs can fly forward, the midfield too, because they trust what is behind them now. They were playing kids back there for a long time last year. 

Ibrahima Konate is a big signing for them too, a world-class centre half. Liverpool suddenly look a different proposition with these two.

Virgil van Dijk returning from his serious injury is like a new £100m signing for Liverpool

CHAMPIONSHIP UPSTART

IVAN TONEY (Brentford)

I’ve got a few mates who watch Brentford every week and they called it with Ivan Toney straight away: this guy is the real deal. 

Within a few games of him joining from Peterborough United this time last year, they had forgotten about Ollie Watkins, their former striker who had moved to Aston Villa.

Toney knows how good he is. You don’t score 31 goals in your debut Championship season without a bit of self-belief and there is absolutely no doubt that he can make the step up again. 

Toney looks like one of those players who can approach any scenario without feeling overawed. There might be one or two clubs sniffing around him in a few months.

Ivan Toney is the real deal and can keep Brentford in the top division in the season ahead

MOST VALUABLE TO THEIR CLUB

PEDRO NETO (Wolves)

There was a sense that he was carrying Wolves at times last season. 

Somebody had to after the shock of Raul Jimenez’s lengthy absence but for Pedro Neto to take that on before he had turned 21 was really impressive. He runs at a man, stretches the game and he became their chief creator.

At one stage last season, Neto had played only one fewer key passes than Lionel Messi. Not bad. He’ll be enthused by the fact he has become their main man. 

Neto is a top player and I think he is destined for that step towards the elite clubs eventually.

Pedro Neto is absolutely invaluable to Wolves and was their chief creator last season

YOUNGSTER TO WATCH

BUKAYO SAKA (Arsenal)

Forget about the penalty miss, it happens. Bukayo can use the criticism as fuel if he wants to but how he performed over the summer, at his first major international tournament, was exceptional and he can kick on from there. 

His performances for Arsenal had been fantastic. He was a standout player last year, and he gives them a vibrancy.

I don’t even know what the 19-year-old’s best position is, and many others will feel the same, because he applies himself so admirably anywhere. 

He’s an unbelievable full back, so unselfish, but can be so dangerous when he’s direct going forward. 

Arsenal and Mikel Arteta will give him the time to flourish further.

Bukayo Saka has the strength of character to recover from his Euro 2020 final penalty miss

THE BIG QUESTION

HARRY KANE (Tottenham)

Whatever happens with Harry Kane over the next two weeks, he is still scoring 25 goals this season. Of course he is. Whether that is at Tottenham, Manchester City or Dulwich Hamlet: he is scoring goals.

I don’t think anybody disagrees with Kane wanting to move on and win trophies elsewhere. Nobody can begrudge him that. But hopefully it can remain amicable.

City might have to go and pay that bit more for him because those goals are guaranteed. It’s 25 a season for the next five years and they are match-winning goals too.

The Harry Kane to Manchester City transfer saga could easily rumble on until September

To win the Golden Boot in the Premier League is a major achievement and to get the most assists is a good achievement too. 

To win both, as Kane did last season in a Tottenham side that could only finish seventh, is unbelievable. 

If he goes to City, he’s assured of another 100 league goals and then he’s up there with Alan Shearer’s all-time record. Phenomenal.




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