Every season there are stand-out players at relegated clubs who have performed impressively throughout the season despite their clubs facing the drop. In turn that leads those star players to depart for other Premier League teams that have stayed up. For instance, last summer Hull City lost Sam Clucas to Swansea, Harry Maguire to Leicester and Andy Robertson to Liverpool.
Targeting the relegated
This season West Brom, Stoke and Swansea faced relegation, so which of their players are most likely to move to a Premier League side this summer?
The majority of The Baggies’ squad was assembled to fit with Tony Pulis’ physical and direct approach, and Venezuelan striker Salomon Rondon perfectly fits this description. Rondon is a muscular 6’1″ target man. He is dominant in the air and also boasts impressive pace for a man of his size and build. He is not particularly prolific, managing nine, eight and seven league goals respectively in his three seasons at West Brom, but he offers an imposing physical presence up front and once scored a thirteen minute hat trick of headers against Swansea in 2016. He would be a good signing for a Premier League side looking for a target man this summer.
Centre back Jonny Evans is another player in the Pulis mould that would be a good signing. A solid and reliable defender, who is also calm and collected in possession, Evans has a wealth of experience having spent nine years at Manchester United and being brought through the ranks by Sir Alex Ferguson. He was linked with Arsenal and Manchester City in January, as a player that would add depth for a relatively cheap price. As a bonus, a clause in his contract allows him to move to another team for just £3 million now that West Brom have been relegated. He would be a bargain for any top tier team.
Another former United player at West Brom is Ben Foster, who would also be a fine signing. At 35, the English keeper may not have many more seasons left in him, but he has been a very consistent man throughout his career, making England’s 2014 World Cup squad, and narrowly missing out on the 2006 and 2010 tournaments.
Matt Phillips is another Baggies player that may be on the radar of Prem sides this summer. The winger enjoyed a fine first season at West Brom after signing from QPR in July 2016, registering four goals and eight assists. However, his form slightly dipped last season as he only managed two goals and two assists in a West Brom side that generally underperformed. Nevertheless, his lightning pace would be an asset to several mid-table and lower-table teams and his 2016/17 form demonstrates that he can contribute in the final third.
England Keeper Jack Butland is one of Stoke’s most desirable players. The stopper has been named in England’s 2018 World Cup squad and is still regarded a hot prospect at 25 years old despite suffering several injury setbacks throughout his career so far. Butland has been linked with Liverpool for a while now, although Roma’s Alisson has also been strongly linked with the Merseyside club. Whether it is Liverpool, or another club, it is very likely that a Prem side will recruit Butland this summer.
Xherdan Shaqiri is the Potters’ most high-profile player, and it is difficult to imagine him playing in the Championship next season. Shaqiri ended up at Stoke in 2015 after leaving Bayern Munich in search of more game time, and following a brief, unsuccessful stint at Inter Milan. His inconsistency has prevented him from going on to join a bigger Prem side, but his flair, skill and penchant for spectacular acrobatic and long-range goals could see him leaving the Britannia this summer: he is perhaps just as likely to move away from English football as he is to join a Prem side.
Joe Allen is another Stoke player likely to leave this summer. Once referred to – albeit rather optimistically – as “the Welsh Xavi” by Brendan Rodgers. Allen is a talented midfielder with a good passing range and the ability to make late runs into the box and find the net on occasion. He would probably have been strongly linked with Swansea, if the Welsh club had avoided the drop, having played for the club for five years. However, whichever club he joins, he can be expected to remain in the Premier League next season.
The bright spark of Swansea’s season was the impressive form of Alfie Mawson, the young English Centre back signed from Barnsley in 2016. The 24 year old was an outside contender to make Southgate’s England squad, but injury unfortunately ruled him out of contention. The defender was one of the first names on the team sheet at Swansea last season and would be a good signing for a team seeking to boost their defensive ranks.
Swansea’s keeper Lukasz Fabianski may also be targeted by Premier League clubs. The Polish keeper’s ability was questioned at Arsenal, but he proved a good signing for Swansea in 2014. And while his all-round game may be lacking, he is an effective shot-stopper who has been highly valued during his four years in South Wales. He won’t draw as much attention as Jack Butland but may still be in the Premier League next season.
Jordan Ayew is another Swans player that may depart this summer. The versatile Ghanaian is effective on the wing and up front, with his impressive pace and direct approach. Ayew was relegated with Aston Villa in 2016, and moved to Swansea – and back to Premier League – in January 2017 demonstrating his appeal to top tier clubs. He had a positive impact in 2017, helping the club avoid relegation, and was likewise impressive in the 2017/18 season.
Andre Ayew, the older brother of Jordan may also move back to the Premier League. Andre is a more skillful and creative player than his brother and is better deployed in the centre rather than out wide. Andre Ayew joined Swansea in August 2016, but left for West Ham the following summer after a stellar season for the Swans. He then re-joined in January 2018 but was unable to help the Swans avoid the drop. He made less of an impact at Swansea in 2018 and was out-performed by Jordan Ayew, moreover his failure to cement a place in West Ham’s team may prevent Prem clubs from pursuing him. However, he is generally more highly rated than his brother and has undeniable natural talent, which may convince clubs to make a move.