Now that Hull City, Middlesbrough and Sunderland have all confirmed their places in the Championship for next season, the Premier League clubs they’ll be leaving behind will be eyeing up potential transfer targets from their ranks.
Despite not being able to keep their respective sides in the top tier, several players proved themselves to be able performers at this level, and all should feature on many a shopping list this summer.
Here are eleven of the best that could end up playing in the Premier League once again come August.
GK – Jordan Pickford – Sunderland
It didn’t take long for people to start taking notice of Jordan Pickford.
A plethora of impressive performances from the 23-year-old goalkeeper has put him firmly on the radar of several Premier League clubs, and it’s highly unlikely he’ll still be at Sunderland come the start of next season.
After representing England at every level from U16 to U21, last October saw him called up to the senior squad for the first time, firmly establishing him as one of the country’s most promising young talents.
RB – Fábio – Middlesbrough
Back in the Premier League for the first time since 2014, Fábio enjoyed a string of impressive performances as part of a solid Middlesbrough defence.
The pacey Brazilian was somewhat more subdued than usual under Aitor Karanka due to the Spaniard’s overly defensive mindset, denying him the opportunity to bomb forward as much as he may have liked, but at both ends of the pitch he nonetheless showed that he can still do a decent job in the top flight.
CB – Harry Maguire – Hull City
One of Hull’s standout performers this season, Harry Maguire has proven himself to be another English youngster with a bright future ahead of him.
After only sporadically featuring for the club in the first few months of the campaign, the centre-back started against Crystal Palace on December 10th and has been a first-team regular ever since.
A physically imposing, old-fashioned defender with impressive aerial abilities, the 24-year-old is one of several Hull players who should leave the KCOM Stadium this summer.
CB – Ben Gibson – Middlesbrough
It takes a lot for a defender to impress at a relegated club, but that’s exactly what Ben Gibson has managed to do this season. A mainstay in the Middlesbrough starting eleven all through the campaign, the young centre-back has been a rock in the middle of a very strong back four, and, unsurprisingly, he now has the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool desperate to secure his signature.
England boss Gareth Southgate is clearly a fan, and, despite his close connection to the club, it’s unlikely he’ll stay at Middlesbrough next season.
LB – Andrew Robertson – Hull City
Andrew Robertson was unfortunate not to be snapped up by a Premier League side when Hull were last relegated at the end of the 2014-15 season, and this summer could prove to be his last at the Humberside club.
Clearly a gifted and exciting talent, the Scotland international has also proven to be a versatile performer.
Comfortable as both a full-back and wing-back, the 23-year-old not only boasts impressive positional awareness but has also often been one of his side’s main attacking outlets out wide.
RW – Adama Traoré – Middlesbrough
The former Barcelona player is as exciting as he is infuriating.
The young Spaniard dazzled in an otherwise reserved Middlesbrough side with his blistering pace and penchant for showboating, but a decent final touch still seems to be missing from his game and limited him to 16 Premier League starts this season.
At only 21 years of age, he clearly still has a lot to learn, but with the right coaching in a stable and supportive atmosphere, he could prove to be a real gem.
CM – Marten de Roon – Middlesbrough
Whilst they struggled going forward for large parts of the campaign, Middlesbrough rarely failed to impress defensively, and Marten de Roon played a significant role in helping to create a solid and formidable unit.
Alongside Adam Clayton and Adam Forshaw, the Dutchman represented a well-organised and resolute midfield three, with his well-timed interceptions and tackles helping to protect Boro’s back line.
He even managed to help out offensively, resulting in him bagging four league goals.
CM – Sam Clucas -Hull City
Featuring in the Premier League for the first time in his career, the versatile midfielder has enjoyed a remarkable rise through the leagues in recent years. From playing in the Conference as recently as 2013 to now impressing in the top flight, it looks highly unlikely that the 26-year-old will remain with Hull for much longer.
Initially a left-winger, Clucas has been deployed in a multitude of positions this season, highlighting just how important his versatility has been to the club.
LW – Kamil Grosicki – Hull City
After looking dead and buried towards the end of 2016, Hull’s January signings gave them a chance of dragging themselves away from danger.
In the end, it wasn’t to be, but Kamil Grosicki was the standout performer from the group, offering the club the creativity and flair that they severely lacked during the first half of the campaign.
Always a threat out wide, the Polish international has bagged five assists in 15 appearances, the best record of any Hull player this season.
ST – Álvaro Negredo – Middlesbrough
It was a frustrating season for Álvaro Negredo, who struggled to assert himself in a defensive-minded and negative Middlesbrough team.
Back in the Premier League with a point to prove, he nonetheless managed to bag himself nine goals, a healthy return for a striker so starved of service.
The Spaniard will return to Valencia after his loan deal comes to an end but could prove to be a target for several English clubs, as his eye for goal remains a potent part of his impressive skillset.
ST – Jermain Defoe – Sunderland
If it weren’t for Jermain Defoe, Sunderland would have been dead and buried a lot sooner.
During what was a miserable campaign for the Black Cats, the striker proved to be a constant threat in front of goal, and despite his record drying up towards the end of the season, he has shown that he can still do an excellent job for both club and country.
With Sunderland down and the 34-year-old able to leave on a free transfer in the summer, a move to Bournemouth or return to former club West Ham United has been mooted, with the former looking like they may have a deal agreed in the coming days.