With 8 games left of this Premier League season, I look ahead to a few of the teams in the relegation mix that may go down and the players from those clubs that other mid-table clubs, or any other Premier League clubs, would be interested in ‘snapping up’.
As it stands, QPR sit at the bottom of the table and if Harry Redknapp’s ‘magic’ doesn’t quite keep QPR up, then here are the players that may catch the interest of other potential suitors:
Rob Green: The England keeper has a wealth of Premier League experience and has had to spend more time than he would like on the bench because of Julio Cesar. International experience despite some high profile mistakes in an England shirt makes him an attractive option for a club looking for such a keeper.
Park Ji Sung: The former Manchester United man is a managers’ dream. The South Korean does not stop running and he leads by example. He also has that extra bit of quality that caught the eye of Sir Alex Ferguson and saw him move from PSV to Old Trafford and I am sure there would be no shortage of Premier League clubs who would want him in their team from the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Newcastle and Everton. Park is a proven player who has played at the very highest level.
Shaun Wright-Phillips: The ‘baby faced’ winger, who despite being in his thirties, looks as young as he did in his early career, still has the pace and footwork to put opposition defenders on the back foot. He still has the ability to whip in a cross to the box and his attacking endeavour is still as strong as ever. An experienced professional who does his fair share of tracking back would still be an asset for a team looking to strengthen on the wing.
Jermain Jenas: Jenas is a player who I like a lot. He has that quality about him when in possession and he can play a pass. He is a player who works hard for the team and makes forward runs into the box and scores a few goals. He has international experience and has played in the Premier League for many years and is a player that would strengthen a mid-table club or a newly promoted club.
The Royals are hoping that newly appointed manager Nigel Adkins can inspire ‘the great escape’ and can steer the club out of the bottom three. Remaining fixtures include some tough games against Arsenal and Manchester City, and there are must win encounters against fellow relegation contenders QPR and Southampton.
Adam Le Fondre: This seasons ‘super sub’ has scored some vital goals for Reading coming off the bench against tired defences. He reminds me of West Brom’s Shane Long, small, quick, a poacher, and he is a very good finisher in front of goal. I can see a Norwich or a Stoke go for him perhaps. Both Norwich and Stoke have some big, strong lads up front and Le Fondre could provide them with an alternative attacking option.
Pavel Pogrebnyak: The big Russian has shown both at Fulham and Reading that he can find the net at Premier League level and his strength causes defenders problems. He makes intelligent runs and gets on the end of balls into the box.
Roberto Martinez’ men are no strangers to a relegation scrap and each time always seem to find a way to survive. Wigan have still got QPR and Villa to play. With an FA Cup final spot within touching distance, will the Lactics’ fantastic cup run be detrimental to their survival bid?
Gary Caldwell: The ex-Celtic and Scottish international is a very good defender. His leadership will be a key part to Wigan’s survival if they do stay up and he is a player that I feel would not be out of place at a club like Liverpool, especially with Jamie Carragher’s retirement at the end of the season. He is a no-nonsense player who is comfortable with the ball at his feet.
Shaun Maloney: Shaun Maloney is Wigan’s ‘mini-maestro’. He is a ‘Joe Cole of old’ type player who likes to take players on and score goals. A creative player that thrives on the counter attack, mid table clubs would certainly take him, and let him run riot at opposition defences.
Paul Lambert has his work cut out to keep Villa up. Tough games lie ahead against Manchester United and Chelsea. Recent wins against fellow relegation contenders Reading and QPR have given them a chance. You can be rest assured that Lambert will have his players ready for a dog fight.
Darren Bent: It has been a frustrating season for the striker with limited starts for Villa when fit and recent injuries and illness keeping him out. However, if Villa are to go down, surely the England man would be on a few clubs’ radar. He has scored goals at every club he has been at in the Premier League and goal scorers are in large demand.
Christian Benteke: The young Belgian has been a revelation at Villa Park. His goals will be the main reason why Villa stay up if they do. Big, strong, pacey, and a killer eye for goal, Benteke is most definitely wanted by Premier League teams. Reported interest has come from Chelsea and Manchester City and it is more than likely that a few others will be monitoring his activity.
Andreas Weimann: Austrian international Weimann is reportedly wanted by Brendan Rogers at Liverpool. The ‘industrious’ forward has scored some important goals for Villa this season and his contract is due to expire at the end of the season. This has already had some top European teams in Germany and Italy express interest in the forward, and here in the Premier League, Brendan Rodgers is reportedly interested in Weimann to strengthen his attacking options.
Mauricio Pochettino has done reasonably well after his appointment in controversial circumstances following Nigel Adkins sacking. Fantastic wins over Manchester City and Liverpool see them two places above the relegation zone but with still a lot of work to do to ensure survival.
Artur Boruc: The big Pole was excellent at Celtic and has put in some classy performances in goal for the Saints. A commanding presence and very vocal, a keeper of his calibre with international and Champions League experience would be a good signing for someone in the Premier League.
Adam Lallana: The club captain has been a consistent performer for the Saints before injury. His performances reportedly caught the eye of such clubs as Newcastle who were planning a bid for this summer. Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier has said that Lallana is good enough to play for a top four club. Lallana’s performances earned him an England call up in September, and if Saints go down clubs will be surely interested in him, and Lallana may have to move to fulfil international ambitions.
Rickie Lambert: The highest scoring Englishman in the Premier League this season with 13 goals has proven that he is a Premier League quality player. Goal scorers are always in demand and a few mid-table teams would welcome such a player at their club.
The Black Cat’s have a horrible end of season ‘run-in’ as they look to avoid the drop. Manchester United, Chelsea, Newcastle United, Everton and Tottenham all lay ahead – all very difficult fixtures. However, I do think that Martin O’Neill can galvanise his players to ‘nick’ surprise results against some of these teams, even with the loss of skipper Lee Cattermole and striker Steven Fletcher. Steven Fletcher’s injury makes Danny Graham’s signing from Swansea in January all the more justified and worthy.
Simon Mignolet: Mignolet is a fantastic keeper. I have no doubt that he is good enough to play for a top four club. Manchester United were reportedly interested in the Belgian when David De Gea was going through a rough patch and Liverpool are reportedly interested in him. An excellent shot stopper and good under the high ball, no question about it, if Sunderland go down, Mingolet will have no trouble in finding a club back in the Premier League.
Sebastian Larsson: The Swedish international is a very classy player who is a dead ball and free kick specialist. He is a very creative player who can play the perfect pass but he doesn’t neglect his defensive duties either, he does get ‘stuck in’. The likes of Everton, Newcastle, Liverpool, and Swansea would welcome such a player as Larsson in their team.
Craig Gardner: Gardner is similar to Larsson with regards to his tenacity and work rate for his team. He is a combative midfielder who is comfortable in possession and can pass the ball around. He has filled in at full back at Sunderland in a few games displaying his willingness to do a job for his team. There would be a few clubs who would like to have such a hard working player in their team.
Steven Fletcher: The recent injury to the Scot is a massive blow for Sunderland. He is a proven goal scorer, great in the air, and a deadly finisher. He makes great runs into the box and latches on to anything that gets crossed into the opposition box, an out and out striker. I’m surprised that a bigger club didn’t go for him before Sunderland did, but I am sure that if Sunderland go down, that clubs will not hesitate to enquire about him this time around.
So there you have it, these are the teams at the moment that lie in the 6 bottom positions of the Premier League and so who are involved in the ‘relegation battle’. However, until they get a few more points on the board I think West Ham, Newcastle, Norwich and Stoke will be looking over their shoulders.
If I had to choose the three teams I think will go down, I would pick QPR, Reading and Southampton.
Whoever does goes down, let the bidding wars begin. It is always the case that when a team gets relegated, teams in the league above will always be on the lookout to poach the relegated clubs best players.
Do you agree with the players mentioned above being wanted by other clubs if their club gets relegated? If your team isn’t involved in the relegation battle, which players from the teams in that battle to beat the drop would you take?
image: © little-pete