A quality XI of relegated PL players available for a bargain: Sarr, Pope…
Relegation from the Premier League is catastrophic financially these days – meaning some players from Burnley, Watford and Norwich City may be available at bargain prices this summer.
Previous relegations from England’s top flight have been marked by extensive fire sales – West Ham and Leeds saw their squads decimated after the drop in the mid-2000s while the likes of Aaron Ramsdale and Matheus Pereira left their clubs last summer.
Here, we’ve pulled together an XI of relegated players from the 2021-22 season, lined up in a 4-4-2 formation, who we think Premier League clubs should be targeting for a bargain this summer.
GK: Nick Pope
Burnley were relegated on the final day after six seasons in the Premier League – and they may not be back any time soon.
The club are millions of pounds in debt and, with nine players out of contract, they need to sell some of their biggest assets to stay afloat.
One of these will surely be Pope. The England goalkeeper has slipped behind Ramsdale in the international pecking order and will want a Premier League move to cement his World Cup slot.
Fulham and West Ham have registered an interest in the 30-year-old, but Burnley may need to lower their £40million asking price.
RB: Max Aarons
Aarons performed credibly despite Norwich’s second relegation in three seasons and has attracted attention from across the Premier League.
Chelsea, Leeds and Tottenham have all been linked with the 22-year-old but Manchester United are rumoured to be favourites for his signature – and club legend Rio Ferdinand has endorsed the move.
“Someone like Max Aarons you could put him like a Chris Smalling-type signing where they come in and they have an impact,” Ferdinand said on his Vibe with FIVE YouTube show.
“They may not be straight starters immediately but they go and they stay there for 10 years and have a really good career and they impact the club at different levels.”
CB: Nathan Collins
With all the uncertainty surrounding Burnley, Collins is thought to be a top transfer target for both Leeds and Newcastle this summer.
The former Stoke defender took to the Premier League like a duck to water last year, impressing with his composed performances aged just 21.
After the 1-0 defeat at Spurs, in which Collins marshalled Harry Kane superbly, boss Mike Jackson told the Burnley Express: “That’s brilliant for him, he took on that challenge of playing against one of the best strikers around, which is great for a 21-year-old, but it doesn’t surprise me because I know what he’s like and what he’s capable of.
“I think he is improving all the time. He has this fearless thing as well, which I think all good players have. They have to have a belief, it is not arrogance, he wants to improve.
“I think he can still improve on a lot. But he has got a foundation to go on and play at this level for a long time.”
CB: James Tarkowski
Burnley rejected £30million offers from Leicester and West Ham for Tarkowski in 2020, believing £50million was closer to his value.
Now, along with eight of his team-mates, he will leave on a free transfer after his contract expired following relegation.
Aston Villa, Everton and West Ham have been strongly linked with the centre-back, who was in the England squad not so long ago. Failing that, Tarkowski can hop on a train and explore Europe once more…
Cheap hostels and backpacking around Europe with one pair of shorts? 🌍
James Tarkowski isn't your average footballer. pic.twitter.com/rDuZALqZog
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) April 6, 2018
LB: Hassane Kamara
Despite only joining in January, Kamara was named Watford’s Player of the Season for his assured performances at left-back.
Despite winning the award, the signing from Reims expressed his disappointment not to have achieved the objective of staying up.
“I think I must have done certain things wrong because we conceded many goals, but I know I produced some great performances,” Kamara told the club’s official website. “I am part of a team and sometimes I failed and wasn’t good enough.”
That hasn’t deterred West Ham, seemingly this year’s biggest predator, from registering an interest.
RM: Dwight McNeil
Identified by FBref as Burnley’s creator in chief, McNeil looks destined to leave Turf Moor in the near future.
According to reports, Burnley will demand £40m for McNeil and Everton, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa were all interested in his signature in January.
Former boss Sean Dyche was resigned to losing McNeil, even if Burnley had stayed up. Speaking to The Mirror, Dyche said: “The business comes first, of course, but there’s also a bit of moral fibre there and we can’t stop a player from having that opportunity.
“The numbers now in our world are high and we’re in a position to say no, we don’t need to sell anyone. So if anyone wants to come for any of our players, they had better have a war chest.”
CM: Todd Cantwell
Cantwell enjoyed superb seasons in 2019-20 and 2020-21 but a poor start to the last campaign saw him shipped out to Championship side Bournemouth on loan – who passed Norwich on their up to the top flight.
Despite winning promotion, Cantwell didn’t impress enough for the Cherries to activate the £11million option to purchase him.
But Norwich boss Dean Smith reportedly expects to sell or loan him out again rather than hope he recovers his form of previous years.
He might become the Norfolk Dele Alli unless somebody in the Premier League takes a punt on him. Crystal Palace, Brentford or Fulham could do worse.
CM: Josh Brownhill
Signed from Bristol City at the start of 2020, Brownhill’s assured performances have attracted attention from seven Premier League clubs and the chances of him staying at Burnley are slim.
A report from 90min suggests that West Ham are supposedly favourites ahead of Aston Villa, Leeds United, Everton, Wolves and promoted duo Fulham and Bournemouth.
He’d be a solid replacement for Mark Noble if nothing else.
LM: Ismalia Sarr
Sarr’s season was disrupted by injuries and AFCON, explaining his low tally of five goals. But he remains a serious talent and would be an excellent signing for a number of Premier League clubs.
Linked with Liverpool a few years back, Sarr won’t be moving to Anfield this summer. Even so, Crystal Palace, Everton and Newcastle are all keen to sign him and the 24-year-old has also been attracting the attention of AC Milan.
The Senegal international scored 13 goals during Watford’s last Championship campaign. We’d be very surprised if he stuck around to repeat that feat this time.
ST: Emmanuel Dennis
Dennis was a rare bright spot in Watford’s miserable season, contributing 16 goals and assists and becoming a Fantasy Football staple.
Just one year after paying £3million for the Nigeria international, Watford can expect to make a massive profit on the 24-year-old.
And West Ham, who desperately need back-up for Michail Antonio, appear favourites to sign him. Dennis has reportedly agreed personal terms with the Hammers and he would be another canny signing from David Moyes.
Composed in the snow ❄️
🇳🇬 Emmanuel Dennis with his fifth goal of the season… pic.twitter.com/2ofw0xylnB
— Watford Football Club (@WatfordFC) November 28, 2021
ST: Maxwel Cornet
Cornet, as one of the club’s few saleable assets, is very likely to leave Turf Moor this summer.
Signed from Lyon for £13million last summer, the Ivory Coast international scored an impressive nine league goals in 2021-22 and can be played as a striker, left midfielder or left-back.
No wonder he’s been the subject of interest from 10 Premier League clubs, including Arsenal, Everton, Leicester and Wolves.
Manager: Sean Dyche
A solid 4-4-2, hit the channels, and a worm chaser before kick-off; put money on him being appointed at Aston Villa or Everton before too long.