Signing new players is an important, but difficult task for newly-promoted teams. Given the attraction of playing in the Premier League, promoted sides are often able to lure high profile players from abroad, but these players are not always successful in England. For instance, ahead of the 2014/15 season, QPR brought in Eduardo Vargas on loan from Napoli and Mauricio Isla on loan from Juventus, but neither player made a significant impact. Given Isla’s average performances, many fans were disappointed that the club had allowed Danny Simpson to leave for Leicester soon after signing the high profile Chilean. On the other hand, there is also the danger of not signing enough players. Partially due to their financial difficulties, Hull City failed to add enough quality to their squad before the 2016/17 season and had a difficult campaign, prompting them to bring in seven new players in the January transfer window in an attempt to avoid the drop.
Keeping the promotion squad
One option that newly-promoted sides can take is to primarily stick with the squad that got them promoted. Bournemouth were promoted ahead of the 2015/16 season and have impressively avoided the drop ever since. Incredibly, twelve of the players that were integral to their promotion—Steve Cook, Adam Smith, Charlie Daniels, Simon Francis, Harry Arter, Dan Gosling, Andrew Surman, Callum Wilson, Marc Pugh, Junior Stanislas, Ryan Fraser and Artur Boruc—remain important players for them now. Similarly, eight of Burnley’s squad that played a part in their promotion prior to the 2016/17 season are still important to the club as Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Matthew Lowton, Stephen Ward, Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes and Ashley Barnes remain. Clearly, therefore, it is possible to be successful in the Premier League without breaking the bank and replacing the core of the team with more high profile players. However, this of course requires the promoted team to possess enough quality in the first place, and it is not a method that will work for all promoted teams.
Last season’s example
All three of last season’s promoted teams avoided relegation, which is a very impressive feat given that it has only ever happened twice before in Premier League history. The three sides set an excellent example regarding signings, bringing in a mix of high profile signings from abroad, players who impressed in the championship and relatively cheap, shrewd signings. Brighton signed the highly-rated Dutch midfielder Davy Propper from PSV and the Colombian winger Jose Izquierdo from Club Brugge, with both high profile signings making a positive impact and proving to be money well spent. Likewise, Huddersfield brought in the promising young forward Steve Mounié from Montpellier and he similarly impressed and scored seven important goals in the Premier League. Aside from high profile signings, Huddersfield signed Aaron Mooy permanently, whilst Newcastle signed Christian Atsu, both of whom had been key players for the clubs on loan the previous season. Similarly, wingers Jacob Murphy and Tom Ince were signed by Newcastle and Huddersfield respectively after impressing for Norwich and Derby in the championship. All four proved to be good signings, and demonstrated that picking up players that performed well in the Championship can also be a good tactic for promoted teams. Perhaps the bargain of the season was Pascal Gross, who was signed by Brighton from Ingolstadt, and moved for only £2.7 million. He enjoyed an excellent season, recording seven goals and eight assists. Another shrewd signing was the goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, who was loaned by Newcastle from Sparta Prague in January and put in several excellent performances.
This summer’s signings
So far this summer, Wolves have continued their trend of signing high profile players by bringing in Raul Jimenez from Benfica and Rui Patricio from Sporting Lisbon, in addition to permanently signing Willy Boly from Porto and Diogo Jota from Atletico, both of whom spent the 2017/18 season on loan at the club. In stark contrast, Cardiff have thus far opted to sign players that have impressed in the Championship, signing Josh Murphy from Norwich, Greg Cunningham from Preston, Alex Smithies from QPR, and, controversially, Bobby Reid from Bristol City. Meanwhile, Fulham are yet to make a signing but are being primarily linked with Tomas Kalas and Lucas Piazon from Chelsea, who were on loan at Fulham last season, in addition to being linked to relegated Swansea’s Jordan Ayew. The three clubs appear to each be pursuing differing tactics, and time will only tell which tactic will prove to be the best, although Wolves’ considerable financial advantage will surely give them the best chance of avoiding relegation. Clearly, following the example of last season’s promoted teams and balancing high profile signings with cheaper savvy additions, would be a worthwhile method. Moreover, imitating Bournemouth and Burnley and putting faith in the core of the team that gained promotion is an option, but it carries a risk if the quality of the squad is below the level of the Premier League.
All transfer information and stats obtained from transfermarkt.com.