In Focus: Five Premier League stars with a point to prove
A new Premier League season is on the horizon and a handful of stars have more reason than most to impress.
Whether it be to restore their reputation, prove doubters wrong or justify a hefty price tag, they will see the coming campaign as an opportunity to right some wrongs.
We pick out five players out to prove a point in the top flight during 2022-23.
Jack Grealish (Manchester City)
While winning the Premier League in your first season could hardly be seen as a failure, Jack Grealish will know there is more to come from him at Manchester City.
The England forward became Britain’s most expensive player when City splashed out £100million to sign him from Aston Villa last summer.
With a price tag like that, his record of three goals and three assists in the league last term is a somewhat underwhelming return.
The 26-year-old started just 22 of his side's 38 Premier League games and was even left on the bench by Pep Guardiola for City’s title-deciding clash with boyhood club Villa on the final day.
There were plenty of glimpses of what the maverick attacker can offer though and with a year of the Catalan's coaching under his belt, Grealish will feel ready to make himself a key man for the champions next term.
Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal)
After years on the periphery at Man City, Gabriel Jesus has a chance to become the star of the show following his £45m move to Arsenal.
The four-time Premier League winner has modestly played down suggestions that was the motivation behind his switch, however.
He said: "I don’t want to be the main man here, I don’t want to be a superstar.
"I want to play and enjoy football, it’s what I love to do. I came to help the guys. They are amazing players as well. It’s a club that everyone wants to win together."
But Guardiola’s perceived sparing use of the former Palmeiras man at City has always left a question mark over his suitability as a team’s No9, despite his obvious talents.
With a record of 58 goals in 159 Premier League games, the 25-year-old may feel that is an unfair assessment and he will want to banish any doubt by firing at the Emirates.
Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)
It is sad to see how far Marcus Rashford’s stock has fallen in the last 12 months.
After missing a penalty during England’s heartbreaking Euro 2020 final shootout defeat to Italy last summer, the 24-year-old missed the start of the new club campaign for Manchester United after requiring surgery for a shoulder injury.
He then struggled to reach anywhere near top form during a troubled season overall for the Red Devils, scoring only five goals in 32 appearances in all competitions and losing his place in the Three Lions squad.
With a World Cup fast approaching, that is something he will want to change quickly.
Rashford said last week on the new campaign: "It is an opportunity to refresh. I am ready to go again.
"We can do a lot together. For me it is a fresh start, something I am looking forward to."
Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham)
After a recording-breaking 43 goals in the Championship for Fulham last season, it may seem strange to suggest Aleksandar Mitrovic has a point to prove.
But factor in the Serbian’s previous top-flight hauls and there is reason to suggest he will be a man on a mission on his latest return.
He managed just three league goals during 2020-21, starting only 13 games amid reports of a falling out with then Cottagers boss Scott Parker as they suffered a dismal relegation with just 28 points.
And with Mitrovic only once managing more than 10 goals in his four previous Premier League campaigns, there are still notions he is unable to produce at the top level.
Coming off the back of the most prolific season of his career, he will feel primed to put that talk to bed once and for all.
Dele Alli (Everton)
Dele Alli seems to be running out of chances to rebuild his reputation in the Premier League.
During the MK Dons academy graduate's first three seasons at Tottenham, he was regarded as one of England’s brightest talents.
But in the past four years, the midfielder’s lack of progress has been stark and a January switch to Everton has done little to improve that so far.
Things can change quickly in football though and with Everton surviving relegation under Frank Lampard last term, Alli may just view this season as one last opportunity to resurrect his career.
A recall to the international fold seems out of the question right now but a positive start to the campaign might just see him back in the conversation ahead of Qatar.