In the last installment of the ‘Rival Watch‘ feature this summer, it is astute signings which will be looked into.

People tend to be keen on new additions only when they come for big sums of money, but sometimes new faces who are worthy of attention are actually the ones who come for bargains.

So ahead of the season’s kick-off, let’s recognize some Premier League signings which may prove to be better moves than they seem. Fletcher

The Scotsman has a left-foot loaded with class and the former Hibernian striker was the occasional bright spot in Burnley’s relegation-bound side last season.

Fletcher is a somewhat dead-eye finisher in front of goal and most of his strikes at Turf Moor last year were a collector’s item. Indeed, eight goals in your debut season in the Premier League (with a lowly team) is not so bad. He ended the 2009/10 campaign as Burnley’s topscorer and was named the club’s ‘Players’ Player of the year’.

Now add the fact that Fletcher is only a 23-year-old and the Scotland international is looking quite a prospect.

Necessary signing?: Yes. Wolves were one of the top flight’s lowest scorers last term and the only answer to that problem was to get someone who knows where the back of the net is. There is nothing more Mick McCarthy could have done. Beckford

Everton have landed a cracking signing. Beckford could have ended up anywhere in the Premier League and the Merseysiders must count themselves very fortunate.

The former Leeds striker was the Thierry Henry of League One last season with 25 goals. Beckford, once rejected by Chelsea’s youth team, showcased his ability for all top flight suitors to see during Leeds’ inspirational FA Cup run last season, scoring famously at Old Trafford and White Hart Lane.

During when he was being courted by big clubs earlier this year, Leeds could have demanded a ridiculous amount of money for Beckford, so Everton bided their time and scooped all this talent at the heavy cost of a £0 transfer fee after the striker’s contract with United expired this summer.

His statistics speak for itself and Everton may be rewarded for sighting that players from the lower tiers are as good as anyone.

Necessary signing?: With the likes of Saha, Yakubu, Vaughan and Anichebe all available, Beckford was not a necessity, but letting good players pass by is a regretful act and David Moyes was right on the money there.

Marouane Chamakh

Some may assume that this is just being biased but declining the chance to snap up one of the quality French league’s star strikers would have been a rueful error.

Liverpool and Spurs were all in pursuit of Chamakh, so someone else was ready to pounce had Arsenal wavered in their bid. With his expert heading ability, the Moroccan was the spearhead of Bordeaux’s attack in their title-winning season of 2008/09 and his exciting form in last season’s Champions League made it clear that luring him would be no gamble.

At 26, the towering striker has time on his side and for a free transfer (apart from the sign-on fee),  getting Chamakh was money well spent…or brain well used perhaps?

Necessary signing?: Definitely yes!. One type of player Arsenal could have done much better with last season was a powerful striker upfront; someone good in the air and someone who was willing to deal with long balls if we attempted a plan B.

The effects of Adebayor’s exit, worsened by Bendtner and Van Persie’s injury woes, left Wenger with the not so physical likes of Eduardo and Arshavin as his only options. Had Chamakh not been added, you would have been calling for the signing of a striker as much as you beg for a new goalkeeper today. Žigić

The Serbian striker provides the formidable physical presence of Jan Koller upfront and even though Zigic is not the most prolific of scorers, his strength can help pave way for those playing behind him to have a sniff at goalscoring opportunities.

The 29-year-old can be a goal poacher at times and at 6′ 7″, one of football’s tallest players, the former Valencia man relishes the ball in the air.

England’s game demands physicality and gritty Birmingham will not be literally ‘short’ of firepower upfront.

Necessary signing?: Yes, because Birmingham City, like their West Midlands rivals Wolves, hardly score goal after goal in attack. In fact, Alex McLeish’s men could have achieved even greater things had they netted a few more to turn some draws into wins last season. Thus, adding Zigic will certainly not harm their chances.

Martin Petrov City’s reaction to the new 25-man rule is to relinquish some of their less recognized names.

But they are also neglecting the fact that the likes of Petrov, Wright-Phillips and Bellamy were amongst their best performers last season. New additions like David Silva and Yaya Toure are untried and untested stars, and more often than not, teamwork, which is so vital to success, is not about ‘big names’.

Bolton are benefiting in this case, and Owen Coyle has landed quite a decent talent in Martin Petrov. The Bulgarian has a left-foot nearly as sweet as Van Persie’s – especially on free-kicks. Petrov possesses bags of creativity and his height also provides a physical presence in midfield.

And on a free transfer, such a decent player will be welcomed with open arms.

Necessary signing?: Not really, because Bolton’s team was not in desperate need of strengthening in midfield as much as in defense – on evidence of their lack of clean-sheets last term.  But Petrov’s signing will help Coyle’s plans of adding flair to Bolton’s game and perhaps a match-winner has arrived at the Reebok Stadium.


Joe Cole – Liverpool, Dan Gosling – Newcastle, Philippe Senderos – Fulham, Ben Foster – Birmingham City, Jerome Boateng – Man. City and Javier Hernandez – Man. United.

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