Five Relegated Players Who Should Be Playing Premier League Football Next Season
The Premier League season is done and dusted for another campaign and it's often said that you deserve to finish in the position that you end up in - whether that's as champions, in sixth place, the relegation zone or at the very foot of the table.
You can certainly apply that notion to the three sides who were condemned to Championship football next season: Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Hull.
Sunderland, under David Moyes, looked dead and buried from an early point in the season and it was just a matter of when their fate would be sealed.
Middlesbrough, on the other hand, were far more organised defensively for large parts of the season but couldn't buy a goal if they tried - in fact Harry Kane netted more than them on his own despite missing three months of the season through injury.
Hull gave a good fist of it under Marco Silva when he replaced Mike Phelan back in January, and in the table based on home form, were 13th having accrued 28 points at the KCOM.
But their wretched record away from home, which saw them pick up a mere six points, was the pivotal factor in their relegation to the second tier. Paul Clement working wonders at Swansea City, who finished in a fairly respectable 15th place in the end, didn't help their case at all.
And though all three of the aforementioned sides did not do enough to warrant playing in the promised land of the Premier League next term, several of their players have deserve to be playing in the top tier in the 2017/18 campaign.
With news that Jermain Defoe has agreed to join Bournemouth on a free transfer following Sunderland's relegation, here are some of the other relegated players who I believe should be playing Premier League football next season.
Starting off with one of the most obvious choices, Jordan Pickford was the real shining light in a dismal season at the Stadium of Light. The 23-year old quickly established himself as Sunderland's No.1, making 29 appearances in the Premier League and producing a series of strong goalkeeping displays over the course of the season.
A hugely promising goalkeeping prospect for England going forward, he is a man in demand and has been subject to interest from a number of big Premier League clubs. Prior to his resignation, David Moyes slapped a £30 million price tag on Pickford and it will be interesting to see which side secures his services in the summer.
Another North-East based player who looks set to move on in the summer is Middlesbrough centre-back Ben Gibson. The 24-year old, nephew of Boro owner Steve Gibson, was one of the most consistent performers at the Riverside and was a key figure in the backline that registered the ninth best clean sheet tally in the Premier League, with 11.
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The youth product has already stated his desire to play in the Premier League, and while he's not made a decision on his future, one would think that he will be leaving the club be joined as 10-year old, when the summer window rolls around. The likes of Chelsea, West Brom Leicester and Liverpool have all been linked.
Sticking with central defenders, Harry Maguire was comfortably Hull's best player in 2016/17, picking up the club's Fans' Player of the Season as well as the player-voted award.
His performances have indicated that he has enough about him to play at a higher level and he already has a whole host of potential suitors - Tottenham, Everton, West Brom, Southampton, West Ham and Newcastle are all believed to be monitoring his situation.
The former Sheffield United man was showered with praise by Marco Silva after a commanding performance in a 0-0 draw against Southampton in April and he'd be a good fit for a number of the aforementioned Premier League outfits showing interest in him.
Maguire's Hull teammate Andrew Robertson is another player I feel should get a move away to a Premier League side in the summer. The left-back is adept going forward as well as being defensively sound, and has been heavily linked with a move to Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp has had issues in the left-back berth since taking the Liverpool job and his distrust in Alberto Moreno as the regular choice has led to James Milner becoming the permanent fixture in the position.
The Mirror's Neil Moxley reports that Robertson will move to Anfield when the transfer window opens and give the Reds another option at left-back next season - with Moreno set to move on the summer.
Scottish international Robertson only has one year remaining on his deal at the KCOM stadium and so would arrive on the cheap. His former club Dundee United will certainly be hoping the 23-year old is on the move this summer as they are said to have a 10 percent sell on clause.
Two-time Champions League winner Victor Valdes playing in the Championship next season didn't seem like something that is going to happen, and it was confirmed by Middlesbrough today that the 35-year old will leave the club next month.
A return to La Liga has been rumoured, while a move to Manchester City, where Valdes would be reunited with Pep Guardiola, has been mentioned.
Valdes is well aware of exactly what Guardiola demands from his goalkeeper after excelling under the City boss at the Nou Camp, and winning multiple prizes and trophies.
If City are indeed on the look-out for a new goalkeeper in the summer, Valdes would be a safe bet - with it being a rather seamless transition into Pep's City side for Valdes, who has Premier League experience and the know-how of Guardiola's philosophy.
Which relegated players do you think should be playing in the Premier League next season?
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