Premier League Summer Series: Key players to watch

Premier League Summer Series: Key players to watch
27 May 2023, Saxony, Leipzig: Soccer: Bundesliga, Matchday 34, RB Leipzig - FC Schalke 04 at the Red Bull Arena. Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku holds the goal-scoring crown in his hands. He became the top scorer. Photo: Jan Woitas/dpa - IMPORTANT NOTE: In accordance with the requirements of the DFL Deutsche Fuball Liga and the DFB Deutscher Fuball-Bund, it is prohibited to use or have used photographs taken in the stadium and/or of the match in the form of sequence pictures and/or video-like photo series. - Photo by Icon sport

The inaugural Premier League Summer Series is set to get underway this coming weekend with Aston Villa, Brentford, Brighton, Chelsea, Fulham, and Newcastle all heading stateside this week as preparations for the new Premier League season begin.

The tournament is designed to give players and coaches an opportunity to get a better idea of how they are shaping up next to teams from the same division, while it will also give Premier League fans in the US an opportunity to see some of the stars of the league up close and personal.

Ahead of the Summer Series, we’ve picked out a key player from each squad who is worth keeping a close eye on throughout the tournament.

Premier League Summer Series: Ones to watch

Aston Villa – Emi Martinez

As a World Cup winner, Emi Martinez heads to the USA with increased fanfare. The Argentina goalkeeper played a key role in his nation’s World Cup triumph last winter, saving a string of penalties in two different penalty shootouts, and then performed well for Unai Emery at Aston Villa.

Martinez has since flirted with a move away from Villa Park but as things stand he is still Villa’s number one and looks set to stay at the club for at least one more season.

Brentford – Kevin Schade

With Ivan Toney unavailable until the new year due to gambling offences, there is an opening at the top end of the pitch for the Bees. Schade joined Brentford on loan in January and has made his move permanent this summer, indicating he will lead the line next season for Thomas Frank’s team.

In the Summer Series, it will be intriguing to see how Schade fills the boots of Toney as Brentford’s number nine ahead of the new season.

Brighton & Hove Albion – Kaoru Mitoma

Kaoru Mitoma set the Premier League alight last season and whenever someone performs like that in their debut campaign, there is always a lot of pressure on them to match that level in their second season. The Japanese winger scored seven goals and provided four assists for the Seagulls last season but that doesn’t come close to telling the full picture.

The first look we’ll get of Mitoma ahead of the new season is in the Premier League Summer Series and it will be interesting to see how gets on. If Mitoma has a sluggish tournament, then even more pressure will be on him going into the 2023/24 campaign.

Chelsea – Christopher Nkunku

So far, there hasn’t been a bigger Premier League transfer from abroad this summer than Christopher Nkunku’s switch to Chelsea. As news of the deal broke during the 22/23 season, fans have had to wait an age to see the Frenchman in a Chelsea shirt which will make his debut for the club in the Premier League Summer Series even more special.

Nkunku has lit up the Bundesliga for RB Leipzig in recent years and has long been linked with a move to the Premier League. Given Chelsea haven’t had the greatest of success in the transfer market recently, Nkunku will be under intense scrutiny this season and that all starts this week in the USA.

Fulham – Aleksandar Mitrovic

Serbian striker, Aleksandar Mitrovic has been the star man for Fulham for five seasons as the club have yo-yoed between the Premier League and the Championship. While he always excelled in the Championship, there were doubts about his ability to play in the Premier League – until last season.

Mitrovic scored 14 league goals last season, despite missing eight matches due to suspension. That form has led to speculation about his future and Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia are pushing for his signature. If the 28-year-old plays in the Summer Series then that could be the biggest indication yet that he is set to continue in West London.

Newcastle United – Sandro Tonali

When Newcastle United announced the signing of Sandro Tonali earlier this month, many people saw it as a game-changer. Tonali was widely regarded as one of AC Milan’s best players and he will fit like a glove in the Newcastle United midfield alongside Bruno Guimarães.

The first glimpse we’ll get of the new midfield pairing is in the Summer Series and Tonali will be eager to hit the ground running to dispel the speculation that he never wanted to leave Italy.

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