The Championship season is officially over following Nottingham Forest’s victory over Huddersfield Town. Nottingham are back in the Premier League for the first time since 1999, and will join Bournemouth and Fulham in promotion.
The fact is, the Premier League is a very difficult league to stay in. Two of the three clubs relegated this season, Norwich and Watford, were promoted from the Championship the season before. Clubs from the Championship tend to have less money, which prevents them from signing top players. However, the amount of money available is becoming less important in the survival fight.
Brentford, for instance, had the smallest budget in the Premier League but still stayed up. The Bees brought in bargain players from all over Europe, with signings from Denmark, France, Scotland, and Spain. With the Brentford mold in mind, promoted teams will likely focus on searching for bargains rather than big-name signings.
Fulham: CB Konstantinos Mavropanos, Stuttgart
Fulham will need a center-back this summer, as the Cottagers will lose two rotation defenders this season in Alfie Mawson and Michael Hector. Stalwart Tim Ream turns 35 in October, and Terence Kongolo continues to deal with injuries. It’s definitely a position that needs reinforcement.
Earlier this month I wrote an article about five center-backs who should get attention during the transfer window. Any of those players would work great for Fulham, but they aren’t all realistic. The Cottagers lack the funds for Gleison or Fikayo Tomori, and I have my doubts that Martin Hinteregger would leave a Champions League team to battle relegation.
Ultimately, I think Konstantinos Mavropanos would be the ideal signing for Fulham. He’s only just signed for Stuttgart permanently, but Stuttgart likely triggered the purchase option expecting to sell the Greek defender. Fulham should sign Mavropanos as he has Premier League and Bundesliga experience and is still young.
Bournemouth: GK Guglielmo Vicario, Empoli
Bournemouth certainly have one of the Championship’s stronger goalkeepers with talented Irishman Mark Travers. However, depth is important, especially in the Premier League. Brentford, for instance, won just three of the 14 matches they played when their starting goalkeeper was out with injury.
Outside of Travers, Bournemouth will have just one other goalkeeper on their roster next season. That would be Will Dennis, who has made just two career appearances for the Cherries. For next season, they’ll need some more depth at the position as well as some more experience. Enter Empoli’s Guglielmo Vicario.
On loan, Vicario kept Empoli afloat while watching his parent club Cagliari go down. Vicario finished with the Serie A’s eleventh-best save percentage while also outperforming his expected goals allowed by +3.5, with only two goalkeepers outperforming their expected goals by more. Empoli have an option to buy, but Cagliari might want to test the market as they need the cash. He shouldn’t be too expensive and would be a bargain for Bournemouth.
Nottingham Forest: ST Hwang Ui-jo, Bordeaux
Nottingham Forest may have finished with the third-most goals in the Championship, but they managed it without having a clear star striker. The team’s top scorer is Brennan Johnson who can operate as a striker but is better elsewhere, while aging striker Lewis Grabban has dealt with injuries. They are the only players on the team with double-digit goals this season.
Grabban is a very solid striker, but also has just one goal in 24 career Premier League matches. Behind him, Nottingham don’t have much depth and could be in trouble if he were to re-injure himself. This becomes even more evident as Keinan Davis’s loan expires in two days.
South Korean striker Hwang Ui-jo could be a viable option up top. Despite Bordeaux’s relegation this season, Hwang scored eleven goals with an additional two assists. Last season he scored 12 goals with three assists, showing the level of consistency the 29-year old striker provides for one of France’s worst teams. He’ll be available for cheap, too, as Bordeaux’s financial situation is less than ideal.
To survive the first season in the Premier League, teams need the right mixture of depth and quality to survive, something hard to do for promoted clubs due to the disparity in budgets. In order to create a roster with both, they’ll have to think outside of the box for players like these. Which other players do you think they ought to look at?
Image Courtesy of The Stadium Guide, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
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