6 relegated players who could make an instant return to Premier League
Now that the Premier League has come to a head for another season, the gossip pages will be adorned with players linked with moves across the continent until the summer transfer window slams shut at the end of August. However, while the likes of Paul Pogba, David de Gea and Nicolás Otamendi are linked with big money transfers in and out of the Premier League, there are those who dropped out of England’s top tier who are worthy of a swift return to the country's top division.
QPR, Burnley and Hull, respectively, footed the Premier League this season, but a number of their players proved their credentials during their stint among England’s best. Using WhoScored’s unique rating system, we look at the six players who performed most admirably for their teams and who are perhaps good enough to ply their trade in the Premier League next term.
Curtis Davies (7.32)
Injury at the turn of the year curtailed Curtis Davies’ season and there is an argument to be made that the Tigers would have stood a much stronger chance of remaining in the Premier League had the 30-year-old been available for the entire campaign. Despite being sidelined from January onwards, Davies was still Hull’s best-rated player (7.32) having churned out a number of commendable defensive displays for Steve Bruce’s side.
Davies won more aerial duels (4.5) and made more interceptions (3.1) per game than any other Tigers player this season and it's reasonable to suggest he was in the minority of Hull performers who did not deserve relegation this season. Bruce’s team will look to bounce back to the top-flight of English football at the first possible opportunity, with a fully fit Davies solidifying the backline.
However, Bruce may find it difficult to retain the services of Hull’s strongest centre-back. With a taste for Premier League football, and at his age, Davies will not want to be plying his trade in the Championship. Any of the three promoted sides or one who managed to stave off relegation would be wise to take an interest in Davies, who has proven how capable a defender he is when given the opportunity to do so.
Leroy Fer (7.27)
Unfortunately on the receiving end of back-to-back relegations with Norwich and QPR, Leroy Fer is certainly good enough to be classed a Premier League player. Charlie Austin’s 18 league goals this season may have been the silver lining in a dreary season for the Hoops, but Fer regularly gave a good account of himself when called on.
The Dutchman won more WhoScored man of the match awards (5) than any other QPR player, with his WhoScored rating (7.27) the best of all players for the West London side. An average of 2 successful dribbles per game was better than any teammate this season, with Fer proving he is able to cut it among England’s best footballers.
Premier League sides looking to swell their midfield ranks or those hoping to make the leap from mid-table to Europa League contenders would do well to move for Fer, who is unlikely to hang around Loftus Road for too long. 6 goals and 2 assists was a decent return for the midfielder in a team that scored just 42 league goals this season, with the 25-year-old expected to attract plenty of interest this summer.
Jason Shackell (7.27)
Burnley put in a good account of themselves upon their return to the top-flight of English football, with the 1-0 win over Manchester City at Turf Moor perhaps a highlight of their time in the Premier League. Nonetheless, it was not enough to stave off relegation, with the club dropping out of England’s top tier at the beginning of May, despite a 1-0 win at Hull.
The Clarets impressed in the final three games of the season, keeping clean sheets in meetings with Hull, Stoke and Aston Villa, with Jason Shackell, in particular, excellent at the heart of the Burnley backline. The 31-year-old was enjoying only his second spell in the Premier League, yet looked every bit the seasoned professional in England’s top tier as the Clarets gained a number of admirers this term.
Shackell made more clearances (436), headed clearances (320) and blocked more shots (52) than any other player in English top-flight football this season. If a team is looking to secure the services of a no-nonsense, Premier League experienced centre-back this summer, they could do a lot worse than the Burnley defender.