Best of relegation XI: Players with a lot to offer next season

"Too good to go down"? Eleven players who should be playing Premier League football next season.


Reuters/REBECCA NADEN

With all three of the promoted clubs staying up this season, the clubs that went down were those who had solidified their status in the top division. 

All three of the relegated clubs had enjoyed stability in the Premier League’s mid-table in recent seasons. Each of West Brom, Swansea and Stoke had accumulated a mix of experienced players with some continental flair. 

As ever, Premier League clubs will look to do some plundering this summer as they look for players who have shown their ability at that level.

Here is a best XI of relegated players. The 5-3-1-1 formation might not work, but it reflects the number of good defenders that can be bought. It also shows the lack of goal-scoring quality of the three relegated teams:

Goalkeeper: Lukasz Fabianski

Reuters/PETER CZIBORRA

The Polish goalkeeper has put in some exceptional performances this season. With Swansea fighting until the final week of the season, had they stayed up, no-one would have been more responsible than their keeper.

He is 32 so is possibly not a long-term investment, but he’s proven he can be a key asset for at least a couple more years. Reports suggest that Swansea will not block their exit. 

TEAMS WHO SHOULD WANT HIM: Wolves, Watford, Huddersfield

Centre back: Jonny Evans

The Northern Irishman was a frequent fixture of the gossip columns last summer after his consistency at West Brom. Already a solid option for Manchester United, a return to a top-six club had been touted. In the end a move never materialised, but despite relegation, he will still be a wanted man, perhaps even more so given a reported £3m release clause. 

Most of the biggest clubs have moved on, but Arsenal are in demand for a central defender with Laurent Koscielny’s long-term injury and Per Mertesacker retiring. Shkodran Mustafi, too, has suffered a patchy season. Getting an experienced Premier League presence to aid their new manager should be a no-brainer.

TEAMS WHO SHOULD WANT HIM: Arsenal, West Ham, Everton

Centre back: Ahmed Hegazi

Reuters/JASON CAIRNDUFF

Another defender from West Brom, their organisation at the back largely wasn’t their problem: only Brighton and Crystal Palace conceded fewer goals in the bottom half of the table.

The Egyptian immediately looked comfortable in English football after his arrival from Al Ahly last summer. Scoring on his Premier League debut, he also is a handful from set-pieces. A good World Cup would confirm exactly what he can offer.

TEAMS WHO SHOULD WANT HIM: West Ham, Everton, Crystal Palace

Centre back: Alfie Mawson

Unfortunate to miss the World Cup with England after undergoing knee surgery, the Swansea defender would be a very sound investment for a number of teams. 

He has enjoyed a stratospheric rise since playing for Luton and Welling in the conference in 2014, he’s since played at every level of professional English football and has been well worth his England caps since he caught the eye at Swansea.

TEAMS WHO SHOULD WANT HIM: West Ham, Everton, Crystal Palace

Left-back: Kieran Gibbs

After leaving Arsenal, he said he would improve as a player and that’s not quite been proven right. He endured a difficult first season at West Brom since leaving the club he spent years at, but to be fair to him his manager for the majority of the season was Alan Pardew: surely the definition of extenuating circumstances. 

He may no longer be good enough for Arsenal, but he’s too gifted to be plying his trade in the Championship next season. 

TEAMS WHO SHOULD WANT HIM: Newcastle, West Ham, Brighton

Right-back: Kyle Naughton

Reuters/REBECCA NADEN

The Sheffield lad failed to live up to his promise since emerging at Tottenham, but he’s been a solid if unremarkable servant in his three and a half years at Swansea. 

If not to be brought in as a starter, he would be a reliable squad option for any mid-table team

TEAMS WHO SHOULD WANT HIM: Cardiff, Huddersfield, Watford

Midfield: Jake Livermore

It appears that the midfielder will be going to Russia, despite the growing number calling for Jonjo Shelvey. The player’s temperament and professionalism appears to be what has swung it for Gareth Southgate and they are qualities that several clubs could do with next season. 

There’s something of the humdrum him, but that shouldn’t put clubs off him.

TEAMS WHO SHOULD WANT HIM: Cardiff, Wolves, Southampton

Midfield: Joe Allen

Reuters/PETER POWELL

After his performances for Wales at Euro 2016 and his first season at Stoke, there was a time that Joe Allen was considered one of the best midfielders outside of the big six. 

His quality of distribution and defensive contributions are a mix that would make him an asset in midfield for most teams.

TEAMS WHO SHOULD WANT HIM: Wolves, West Ham, Crystal Palace

Midfield: Sam Clucas

Perhaps back-to-back relegations are a sign he’s not cut out for top-tier football. But he looked a good signing for Swansea after standing out for a threadbare Hull side that made a good fight of staying up. Yet again, you can make the argument he was not the problem.

TEAMS WHO SHOULD WANT HIM: Bournemouth, Southampton, Watford

Attacking midfield: Xherdan Shaqiri

From playing for Guardiola’s Bayern Munich to being relegated with Stoke, the stocky Swiss winger can blow hot and cold but he has a flair and unpredictability that has been desperately lacking by almost every team in the bottom half of the table. 

His reported £12 million release clause will mean several clubs will battle to get him, potentially even one of the established giants. 

After Remy Cabella and Florian Thauvin failed to light up Tyneside, Newcastle have lacked a player with his attributes since Hatem Ben Arfa left. He is exactly the kind of player they should show ambition to sign, and Rafael Benitez could be the perfect coach to get him playing with consistency.

TEAMS WHO SHOULD WANT HIM: Tottenham, Newcastle, Leicester

Striker: Jay Rodriguez

Reuters/HANNAH MCKAY

Stoke, Swansea and West Brom were all crying out for a consistent goalscorer this season. After such poor scoring records this season, it’s doubtful that Premier League clubs will look to sign any of their strikers this summer. If it would be anyone though, Jay Rodriguez might be worth looking at.

He scored the winner and was one of West Brom’s best players as Darren Moore masterminded a late escape plan. There are a dozen Premier League clubs who need a striker, and while with seven league goals he’s far from a guarantee, clubs will have to resort to taking risks in a stretched market.

TEAMS WHO SHOULD WANT HIM: Newcastle, Cardiff, Crystal Palace

Did we miss anyone? Let us know in the comments below.

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