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THE LIST: Sportsmail's top 50 Premier and Football League signings of the season - Nos 50-41

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12 Apr 2010 16:01:25

THE LIST: Sportsmail's top 50 Premier and Football League signings of the season - Nos 50-41

HAVE YOUR SAY...     Who is your top signing this season? Amid the excitement of the football season's final furlong, Sportsmail pauses to reflect on the men who have made all the difference to their new clubs. We pick out our top 50 signings from this season in both the Premier and Football Leagues, but who would be your No 1? TELL US WHAT YOU THINK As the football season nears its climax, fans up and down the country will either be gunning for glory, praying for salvation or simply hatching plans for success next time round. But whatever the outcome of your team's season, thoughts will very soon turn towards next term and the summer transfer window. Just ask Rafa Benitez. The Liverpool boss has demanded £60million to spend on three world-class players. But before we get ahead of ourselves, Sportsmail have made a list of the top 50 players signed this season who have made all the difference to their new clubs. Whether it's Landon Donovan, who sparked Everton's bid for European football next year, Thomas Vermaelen, who provided the platform for Arsenal to push for the title or Sebastien Bassong's understated influence at Tottenham, stay tuned for the Premier League's most inspired signings this term. But the Football League's best buys are here too, from Darren Ambrose and his goal-scoring exploits at Crystal Palace to loan star Tom Cleverley's instant impact at Watford. We'recounting down 10 each day till our No 1 is revealed on Friday and, asever, let us know who you think was the top signing this season. 50 Gareth Barry (Aston Villa to Manchester City, £12m)Barry endured some fierce criticism - mainly from Liverpool fans - after choosing to join the Eastlands revolution last summer instead of holding out for a long-awaited switch to Anfield. But with City now looking favourites to claim fourth place in the Premier League and the Reds facing up to the prospect of no Champions League football next season, the midfielder's decision now looks a sound one. Barry, Mr Consistent in City's midfield, looks set to cap a fine debut year in the light blue by lining up as part of England's first choice XI at the World Cup. Mr Consistent: Gareth Barry Established: Stewart Downing 49 Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough to Aston Villa, £12m)Eyebrows were raised when Aston Villa shelled out for England wide-man Downing, with the winger hobbling in to complete his medical on crutches due to a foot injury. Indeed Downing's problem was so bad that he was unable to turn out for his new side until November 21. But since his debut Downing has not looked back, cementing a place in Villa's midfield and inspiring his club to the Carling Cup final and FA Cup semi-finals. Hotshot: Cardiff's Michael Chopra 48 Michael Chopra (Sunderland to Cardiff City, £4m)Newcastle-born Chopra failed to make the grade at Sunderland following his big money move in 2007, but Bluebirds fans won't mind a jot. Chopra completed his permanent return to Cardiff last July for a club-record £3m and immediately wrote himself into the history books by netting twice in an opening-day 4-0 win over Scunthorpe - the first goals scored at the new Cardiff City Stadium. Chopra has gone on to score 16 times so far this season, and with Dave Jones' side now looking well placed to clinch a play-off spot, the pint-sized forward could get his chance in the big time again very soon. 47 Dexter Blackstock (Queens Park Rangers to Nottingham Forest, undisclosed)A loan signing for Forest last season, Blackstock completed his move to the City Ground in July last year for a rumoured seven-figure fee. Since the striker's arrival, Forest's fortunes under boss Billy Davies have undergone a remarkable turnaround, with the club going from relegation candidates to promotion chasers. Blackstock's 12 league goals and blossoming partnership with Rob Earnshaw have fired them to third place in the Championship and potentially just three play-off games away from a dramatic return to the Premier League. Spot on: Dexter Blackstock has galvanised Forest's promotion push 46 Peter Crouch (Portsmouth to Tottenham Hostpur, £9m)Never one to settle too long, Crouch's latest move saw a return to his first club as a professional last summer. The White Hart Lane faithful welcomed him back with open arms and the England forward immediately forged an explosive goal-scoring partnership with former Portsmouth colleague Jermain Defoe as Spurs set their sights on Champions League qualification. Roman Pavlyuchenko's fine form has forced Crouch to fight for his place in recent weeks, but the beanpole striker is never far from boss Harry Redknapp's first team, and has netted 12 times this term. England star: Peter Crouch Midfield maestro: Tom Cleverley 45 Tom Cleverley (Manchester United to Watford, loan)The latest graduate from the Old Trafford academy, midfielder Cleverley has spent the past season on loan at Championship side Watford. And although the Hornets have endured a testing term battling the drop, Cleverley has managed to shine. The versatile 20-year-old's 11 goals for the Vicarage Road outfit have earned him England Under 21 honours and the admiration of many top-flight teams. But the bad news for potential suitors such as Birmingham and Bolton is that the starlet has targeted the first team at Old Trafford rather than a permanent move away in search of a guaranteed start. 44 Martyn Waghorn (Sunderland to Leicester City, loan)Another Premier League loanee lighting up the Championship, Waghorn has developed a handy habit of nicking important goals for Leicester, which has endeared him to his new fans. The striker grabbed the winner on his competitive debut for the Foxes against Swansea, a crucial equaliser in the East Midlands derby with Coventry and a deciding goal against Reading - now one of Leicester's principal rivals for a Championship play-off spot. Goal-scorer: Martyn Waghorn Hot prospect: Nikola Kalinic 43 Nikola Kalinic (Hadjuk Split to Blackburn Rovers, £6m)Croatia international Kalinic made his name for Blackburn in the club's run to the semi-finals of the Carling Cup, scoring a vital goal in the quarter-final against Chelsea, which Rovers won on a penalty shoot-out. Kalinic's introduction to the Premier League has been rather slower, with Ewood Park boss Sam Allardyce choosing to ease his £6m striker into English football. But Kalinic's height, eye for goal and technical skill mark him out as one to watch for the future and go some way to explain Slaven Bilic's claim that the forward is 'the future of Croatian football'. Feisty: Hull's Stephen Hunt 42 Stephen Hunt (Reading to Hull City, £2.5m)Hunt is infamous for his part in the clash that led to Chelsea keeper Petr Cech fracturing his skull in a match against Reading in 2006, but the Republic of Ireland international has long since established himself as a feisty Premier League performer. After the Royals' bid for promotion failed last summer, Hunt made the switch to the KC Stadium where he has shone on the flanks, scoring on his Hull debut on the opening day of the season, ironically against Cech and Chelsea. Hunt's present absence through injury is a cruel blow to Hull's dwindling survival hopes, as is the prospect that Wolves may choose to rekindle their failed £5m January bid for the player. 41 Lee Hughes (Oldham to Notts County, free)Hughes has salvaged his career at Meadow Lane after his imprisonment for causing death by dangerous driving in 2004, even emerging from Sven Goran Eriksson's doomed regime to rank among one of the country's form strikers. The forward has banged in an impressive 24 goals in 33 games for his new club after arriving on a two-year deal last July to lead County's charge towards the League Two title. Strike rate: Lee Hughes has scored an impressive 24 goals for Notts County The best of the rest of The ListSportsmail'stop 50 Premier League players of the decadeSportsmail'stop 50 last-gasp goals in British footballSportsmail'stop 50 footballers never to play at the World CupSportsmail's top 50 sporting feuds of all timeSportsmail's 50 great sports photographsSportsmail'stop 50 commentators of all timeSportsmail'stop 50 sporting venuesSportsmail'stop 50 performers of the season so farSportsmail'stop 50 all-time managers in BritainSportsmail'stop 50 goal poachersSportsmail'stop 50 footballing traitorsSportsmail'stop 50 FA Cup heroesSportsmail'sgreatest Wembley finals in historySportsmail'stop 50 biggest hitters in cricketSportsmail'stop 50 British & Irish LionsSportsmail'stop 50 Ashes heroes


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