Most Improved EPL Players so far in 2019/20
Players who make clear progressions in their game tend to automatically become fan-favorites. Supporters appreciate it when a player has the right attitude and work ethic to elevate his play to the next level and are the first to recognize his new-found success. Here are ten players who have silenced their doubters and have made notable improvements to their game in the Premier League this season.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin was given a lot of match time throughout the 2017/18 and 2018/19 campaigns for Everton. Most analysts deemed he had loads of potential but desperately needed to improve on his conversion rate. In the previous two seasons, DCL scored 8 goals each year in 44 and 38 matches in all competitions. This season was following a similar narrative until Carlo Ancelotti was hired as the Toffees’ boss. Since then, Calvert-Lewin has been able to find the back of the net on a consistent basis. He attacks crosses in the box and can head the ball as well as anyone. Calvert-Lewin’s breakthrough has been great to see and Everton supporters will be happy that he has committed his future to the club with a new five-year contract.
This season for the Saints, Danny Ings has returned to the top form that he displayed in the early parts of his career for Burnley. His 2015 move to Liverpool was overshadowed by injuries and he struggled to break through to the first team, so the Reds loaned him out to Southampton for the 2018/19 season where he had a bit more success. However, Ings has been twice as good this year after making his move to Southampton permanent. He’s scored the fifth-most goals in the Premier League to this point in the season. Ings’ play is a huge part of why Southampton currently hold a seven-point cushion above the relegation zone.
D. Midfielder, Nigeria
Wilfred Ndidi was intended to be N’Golo Kante’s longterm replacement at Leicester City when he was signed by the club in the summer of 2016. The appointment of Brendan Rogers as manager has helped raise Ndidi’s play to the next level. He has become one of the best defensive midfielders in the league and gained the interest of top clubs all across Europe. Ndidi is great at tackling and intercepting and he credits Rogers’ arrival as crucial to helping both his progression and the success of Leicester’s season as a whole.
Some Chelsea supporters questioned whether it was a wise decision to make Kovačić’s loan move from Real Madrid permanent, but in his second year with the club, Kovačić has consistently silenced his doubters. His good form has been vital to Chelsea’s domestic success in Frank Lampard’s first season in charge. Lampard’s tactics allow Kovačić to move further up the pitch and assert himself in Chelsea’s attacks while maintaining his defensive responsibilities. Kovačić still has not reached his ceiling — he has room to improve his goalscoring and assists numbers. Even though these statistics are lower than expected, they do not reflect his importance in holding possession and feeding key passes to teammates to ignite Chelsea’s attacks.
Marcus Rashford made an early impression as a Manchester United player by firing 8 goals in 18 matches in the 2015/16 campaign. But since then, the young Englishman has struggled to produce goals on a consistent basis, despite being a regular presence in the Red Devils’ starting XI. Nobody denied his talent and potential, but his production was sometimes lacking. Rashford has now established himself as the focal point of United’s attack. He is their top goalscorer and is tied with Daniel James for most assists in all competitions. The Englishman is blossoming into a leader on and off the pitch and United supporters will be hoping that Rashford will continue his good form and help the club finish the season in the top four.
Fred’s first year at Old Trafford was a major disappointment and many supporters were livid that the club paid Shakhtar Donetsk £52 million for his signature. He struggled to hold possession and lacked the basic skills expected of a Manchester United midfielder. This season, Fred has been described as a new player. He has become a regular in Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s starting XI and has had some standout performances, including in the Manchester Derby. The Brazilian has adapted to the physicality of the Premier League and has proved himself not to be a complete flop.
Left Midfielder, England
22-year-old Todd Cantwell has been regarded as one of Norwich’s best players in this campaign and he is an exciting young English talent. Last year in the Championship, Cantwell played in 27 matches and produced only 1 goal and 2 assists — this year he has improved to 6 goals and 2 assists in 31 appearances against much better competition. He has gone from a fringe starter to an un-droppable player in Norwich’s starting XI. He is fun to watch and a player other Premier League clubs should be eyeing to sign if Norwich does in fact get relegated this season.
Çağlar Söyüncü only played eight matches for Leicester during the 2018/19 campaign, serving primarily as Harry McGuire’s understudy. Besides McGuire, Wes Morgan and Jonny Evans were also preferred to him in Leicester’s back-line. McGuire’s departure to Manchester United for a world-record fee for a defender left a clear hole in the defense, but Söyüncü has stepped up and has been arguably one of the best center-backs in the Premier League. He has formed a dynamic partnership with veteran Jonny Evans and their dominance in defense has been a key to Leicester’s success this season. His emergence has been a pleasant surprise, and Söyüncü has the potential to one day break McGuire’s world-record transfer fee for a defender himself.
While in the Championship last season, John Lundstram only made 12 appearances for Sheffield United. Many who follow the club closely believed there was a good chance Lundstram would be offloaded before the season’s start. This campaign, however, Lundstram has been one of Sheffield United’s best players and his play in the midfield is a huge reason for the newly-promoted side’s success in the Premier League. Lundstram’s journey in itself has been impressive as he has scored a goal in each of England’s top four flights through his career. He is not a name that makes headlines but is certainly one to watch for when the season resumes.
Right Winger, Spain
Adama Traore is one of the most unique players in the Premier League. Just look at him. He is the strongest player on any pitch and it’s not even close. During his first season with Wolves in 2018/19, supporters could tell that Traore was a special player but he had clear holes in his game. Often he would just use his strength and pace to take on defenders but lacked the ability to link up with teammates and turn any attack into something productive. This season, Traore has added that missing piece to his game and has become one of the most feared players in the Premier League. His play has contributed to Wolves’ success in both the Premier League and Europa League and has made Wolves an intimidating team to play against.