Players to Watch

We are right on the eve of the new EPL seasons kick-off and it can't come soon enough! As usual, the summer has been full of huge transfers and clubs are looking to stamp their autority on the early season. We love to watch preseason games and it helps build up the anticipation for the new season.

Here, we break down some of the top players that you need to look out for through the 2013/14 season. Rather than simply focusing on the top players, we look at some of those on the fringe and players that should make the step up to leaders for their team.

Bryan Byrne is the founder of SoccerCleats101. Got a question about boots? Hit up Bryan on Twitter.

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Philippe Couthinho

1 – Philippe Coutinho x Liverpool

Currently wearing Nike Vapor IX

Toward the end of last season, Coutinho really showed the EPL what potential he has to offer. He is the type of exciting winger that Liverpool have been missing for several seasons and it shows that progress is happening within the club. No longer will fans have to watch Stewart Downing toil on the outside. Instead, Couinho in his Nike Vapor IX will be the player to watch. The Vapor IX is all about explosive speed and we know that is something that the little Brazilian possesses. He is extremely tricky, super agile and he has a knack for creating opportunities. I expect to see him highlighted as one of the players of the season by May 2014.

Romelu Lukaku

2 – Romelu Lukaku x Chelsea

Currently wearing Nike Vapor IX

Hands up if you believe Chelsea were naïve to leave Lukaku on loan at West Brom all last season when all they had to show up top was Torres! I for one can’t believe he wasn’t brought back to help Chelsea out when they needed goals, but he certainly took advantage of his time at West Brom. Most of his goals came from off the bench and I anticipate we will see a lot more of that this season. But since the quality of players serving the ball in is vastly better than that at West Brom, I expect to see the big Belgian scoring a lot of late but very important goals. As a very strong, powerful forward, it is odd to see him wearing the Nike Vapor IX, but they seem to be doing the job for him and serve as an added dimension to his game. The concept of explosive speed ties in effectively with his powerful strides.

Wilfried Zaha

3 – Wilfried Zaha x Manchester United

Currently wearing Nike Vapor IX

With the lack of signings at Manchester United, there is going to be extra weight added on the shoulders of Zaha. He is a young player and many expected he would be loaned out to gain experience this season, but it seems like David Moyes sees more value in having him with his squad. In fact, he already seems to have won a starting spot for the early part of the season. A lot could change over the coming weeks, but for now he gets to shine in his Nike Vapor IX. Another player to choose explosive speed, Zaha fit the tyoe of mold I expect to see wearing the lightweight boots. He is very sharp, quick and full of tricks and he has the ability to get down the line. The Vapor IX offers a soft thin upper that provides excellent feel on the ball.

Dejan Lovrens

4 – Dejan Lovren x Southampton

Currently wearing Nike Tiempo Legend IV

Southampton’s signing of Lovren could very well turn out to be the signing of the summer. The Croatian centerback has a lot going for him and he will play an instrumental role in how Southampton do defensively this season. On his feet, Lovren currently wears the Nike Tiempo Legend IV. Unlike other players on this list, he seems to have jumped around over the past few seasons, wearing both the Vapor IX and adidas adiPure 11Pro in competitive games. But through this preseason, he has switched to the Legend and I expect to see him in them this season. The Tiempo legend is all about providing a consistent base and a clean touch on the ball. Right across the forefoot, Nike use a cross stitching to create a slightly more padded feel where players can nurture the ball.

Jozy Altidore

5 – Jozy Altidore x Sunderland

Currently wearing adidas F50 adiZero

Could Jozy be the player to spur Sunderland on this season? If his international performances are anything to go on, then he could play a role in the Wearside team hitting the top half of the table. He has scored in the last 5 USA internationals he has played in, which is a record for his country. As a fast, pacey and very powerful forward, Altidore chooses to wear the F50 adiZero. We are very familiar with Lionel Messi and he is the type of player adidas seem to associate with the boot. But Jozy proves that they are a very flexible shoe that will provide different style players with top level performance. Something to note is that Jozy chooses to wear a modified leather version of the boot, that is slightly different than the leather version sold to market.

Christian Benteke

6 – Christian Benteke x Aston Villa

Currently wearing Nike Tiempo Legend IV

In all honesty, Benteke was one of the sole reasons Aston Villa survived last season in the EPL. He was inspirational to their cause and bagged many important goals. Over the summer, he had the opportunity to move to a larger club and many anticipated he would end up in a Champions League squad, but instead he chose to sign a new contract with Villa and be part of Paul Lamberts revolution. It is for that reason I believe he is worth watching this season, to see if he can emulate his form from last season. On his feet, Benteke chooses comfort and consistency by wearing the Nike Tiempo legend IV. This latest version of the Legend is slightly different to past versions as it features a synthetic leather upper. This does provide a different type of performance, but to date that is something fans of the modern heritage boot have been complimentary about.

Roberto Soldado

7 – Roberto Soldado x Tottenham Hotspurs

Currently wearing adidas F50 adiZero

Spurs are a club that is very close to cracking the top 4 and consistent Champions League qualification. The one area where they have lacked in recent seasons is in firepower and an added natural goal scoring threat is only going to take them to the next level. Soldado comes to the club with a proven goal scoring record and it sure to be thrown into the line of fire immediately. He could be the spark to change Spurs fortune. On his feet, he goes for the proven goal scoring boot, the adidas F50 adiZero. If Lional Messi can score 80 goals in them, surely they will provide Soldado with the same comfort and performance benefits to ensure he has nothing left to worry about bar scoring goals.

Adel Taarabt

8 – Adel Taarabt x Fulham

Currently wearing Nike Tiempo Legend IV

Twelve months ago, Taarabt was talking about moving to PSG or AC Milan or some other high profile club like that. It never transpired and he endured a pretty miserable season at QPR, summed up by the clubs relegation from the top tier. There were moments of inspiration from Taarabt but the overall negative feel at the club quite evidently weighed him down. He now has another chance, except this time it is at a club with aspirations of simply finishing mid-table (QPR wanted to rule the world). A partnership with Berbatov at Craven Cottage sounds pretty attractive and I’m looking forward to seeing how they play together. It will either be a deadly duo or the laziest attacking combo you will ever see play. Another player to choose a consistent performing boot, Taarabt should hope that rubs off into his own personal performances. Being that he is such a dangerous threat going forward, I would expect him to be wearing something a little more flashy, but the simplicity of the Legend seems to be what keeps him level headed.

Gerard Deulofeu

9 – Gerard Deulofeu – Everton

Currently wearing Nike Vapor IX

This is a great signing for Everton, all be it Deulofeu is only on loan from Barcelona. He is a young player with plenty to learn, but given he will be working under Roberto Martinez, I think we will quickly see his game develop and translate into a spot in the first team. A tricky player with lots of flair, Deulofeu seems to be wearing the popular boot for flashy players and they definitely match his abilities. The Vapor IX is explosive speed but a dimple texture upper providing a soft and natural touch on the ball. It is one of the more advanced synthetic boots you will see on any boot.

Gary Hooper

10 – Gary Hooper – Norwich City

Currently wearing adidas F50 adiZero

Hooper just recently completed his transfer move from Celtic to Norwich and will swap Champions League soccer and a league medal for a survival battle in the EPL. Yes, Norwich were a big success last season, but this one will prove more challenging and there will be the weight of expectation on Hoopers head to score goals. While is Scotland, he banged in goals after goal while wearing the adidas F50 adiZero. The F50 series is all about attacking players and adding a lightweight, high performing boot on their feet. There are several options that would suit Hoopers goal scoring style, but he is sticking with the same boot that is worn by the greatest goalscorer currently in the game – Messi.