After long stays in the top flight of English football, Stoke, Swansea and West Brom fans will naturally be feeling apprehensive ahead of life in the Championship. Tough decisions will need to be made, sadly meaning that key figures are likely to move on to pastures new. Here is a run-down of the players who seem certain to receive Premier League interest over the summer.
Joe Allen (Stoke)
Key stat: Allen made 96 successful tackles this season, more than any other player from the three relegated sides.
Some may have predicted that Allen’s disappointing experience at Liverpool would scar him, but the Wales international has emerged as a vital player for Stoke since joining in the summer of 2016. He combines effective tackling with excellent distribution, while his late runs from deep lead to him scoring the occasional goal.
Suggested Premier League club: Bournemouth
Jack Butland (Stoke)
Key stat: Butland made more saves than any other keeper in the Premier League this season (142).
Despite the Potters’ dismal campaign, Jack Butland’s place on the plane to the World Cup was never in doubt. He may have made high-profile errors against Leicester and Everton, but the 25-year-old has enjoyed a largely solid season and is one Stoke player who can hold his head high. Butland’s reflexes and ability to command his box would be an asset to any side.
Suggested Premier League club: Liverpool
Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke)
Key stat: Shaqiri made 77 key passes in the league this season, 31 more than any other player from the three relegated teams.
Shaqiri may not have hit the heights in England many would have expected following his move from Bayern Munich in the summer of 2015, but the Swiss magician has still been the team’s most influential attacking threat during that period and has scored several memorable free-kicks. His ability to create something from nothing will have top-flight clubs on red alert.
Suggested Premier League club: Southampton
Jordan Ayew (Swansea)
Key stat: Ayew completed 124 dribbles, the ninth-highest figure in the division.
The Ghana international got off to somewhat of a slow start on the goals front after joining from Marseille, but he was Swansea’s top scorer in 2017/18. Despite possessing considerable flair, he also has the capacity to do the dirty work that others might shirk, illustrated by the fact that only Kyle Naughton made more tackles for the Jacks during the campaign. At 26, he still has a lot of time on his side.
Suggested Premier League club: Huddersfield
Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea)
Key stat: Fabianski made 136 saves in the 2017/18 Premier League season. Only Butland made more.
The Pole was one of the leading lights in a season of woe. Without him, the team would certainly have gone down earlier. The 33-year-old has played virtually every game since joining the South Wales outfit four years ago, is extremely agile and possesses a monstrous kick. He has more Premier League experience than Butland and is a cheaper option too.
Suggested Premier League club: Crystal Palace
Alfie Mawson (Swansea)
Key stat: Mawson completed more passes than anyone from the three relegated sides (1744).
His impressive range of passing has had fans drooling, but his bravery and superb positional sense are just as notable. His breakthrough season came at then League Two outfit Wycombe Wanderers in 2014/15, before progressing rapidly with Barnsley prior to his South Wales move. The 24-year-old received his first England call-up in March and it won’t belong before he gets some minutes on the board for the Three Lions.
Suggested Premier League club: Tottenham
Jonny Evans (West Brom)
Key stat: Evans had a passing success rate of 80% for the 2017/18 Premier League season, better than any other player for Darren Moore’s men.
Hegazi’s central defensive partner may not be performing at the levels which saw him heavily touted with a switch to Arsenal. However, his composure on the ball and ability to spot danger have seen fans at the Hawthorns take the 30-year-old to their hearts. With 68 caps for Northern Ireland and three Premier League titles under his belt, he could certainly bolster many top-flight teams.
Suggested Premier League club: Fulham
Ahmed Hegazi (West Brom)
Key stat: Hegazi made 272 clearances in the 2017/18 Premier League season, the second-highest figure in the league behind Shane Duffy.
The Egyptian only arrived in the West Midlands from Al Ahly last summer, but quickly won over the Baggies’ faithful with his combative style of play and outstanding aerial prowess. A couple of goals also demonstrated that he can be a threat at the other end. He could be expensive though; his contract expires in 2022.
Suggested Premier League club: West Ham
Salomon Rondon (West Brom)
Key stat: Rondon won 162 aerial duels, the fourth-highest figure in the league during 2017/18.
The Venezuelan’s performances during three seasons at West Brom have been solid, yet unspectacular. Despite not being the most prolific, his ability to hold the ball up brings others into the action and his incredible aerial strength ensures opposition defenders never get a moment’s rest. Also not afraid to try his luck from distance.
Suggested Premier League club: Cardiff