While it is most often the case that sides relegated from a top flight fall to the drop due to a lack of quality within their squad, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a hidden gem hiding within their team.
Within those relegated sides every season, there are a number of bargains to be had on players who outperformed their side and have proven that they can hold their own at a higher level.
You only have to look at Liverpool signing Andy Robertson from Hull and Georginio Wijnaldum from Newcastle to be reminded that, with accurate recruitment and the correct coaching, poaching from relegated sides can prove incredibly effective.
Across Europe’s top five leagues, there is a large handful of talent that fit into the category of ‘too good to be relegated’ and so sides up and down the respective divisions will be sniffing in a bid to make those marginal gains.
Be it a veteran with invaluable experience and the ability to still contribute, a youngster who has broken in and shown signs of promise, or a team’s main man who is entering their best years, there’s something for everyone in the relegation market.
With that in mind, GIVEMESPORT has searched across Europe’s top five leagues and drafted an XI of players who have faced the drop, and could be available on a discount ahead of the 2022/23 season.
Goalkeeper – Nick Pope (Burnley)
Ran very close by Venezia’s Sergio Romero, Pope will still command a fair fee, but is itching for a chance at a top side, be it in England or abroad and is an exceptional player. The 30-year-old is comfortably one of the Premier League’s best stoppers. With Burnley desperate to recoup funds, Pope’s time at Turf Moor looks all but over.
Right back – Raoul Bellanova (Cagliari)
Norwich’s Max Aarons will be the name on everybody’s lips, but they’ve not been afraid to keep a high price on his head in the past, and Bellanova looks a hot shot for Cagliari. On loan in Italy from Bordeaux – who have also been relegated over in France – the Italy under-21 is a product of AC Milan’s academy and has impressed in his 31 Serie A appearances. He could be available for incredibly cheap.
Centre back – James Tarkowski (Burnley)
Another Burnley man, Tarkowski is out of contract this summer and has attracted interest from mid-table Premier League sides for a number of years. Burnley will likely regret not coming down in their asking price in previous summers, as they are now resigned to losing a proven Premier League player for free.
Centre back – Andrea Carboni (Cagliari)
At just 21, there is still plenty for Carboni to learn. He’s shown promise in his young career, though, and big sides would be able to prize him away from Cagliari following their relegation. He stands tall at 6’2, is left-footed and has represented Italy at youth level. Promising.
Left back – Ridgeciano Haps (Venezia)
Coming into the peak of his powers at 28, Haps has looked a comfortable and experienced figure at the back for Venezia, despite their relegation. Considering it was his first season in the Italian top flight, he made a solid account of himself and is an attractive, affordable option as backup for Serie A sides.
Central midfield – Josh Brownhill (Burnley)
Simply put, Brownhill is way too good for the Championship. The Englishman can play in any central role in the midfield and has proven he has an eye for goal, alongside a solid technical ability. Arguably Burnley’s best outfield player, Brownhill could prove a very shrewd piece of Premier League business.
Central midfield – Michael Cuisance (Venezia)
It’s hard to believe that Cuisance is still only 22, considering how wild his CV is. Failing to break in at Bayern Munich, the Frenchman almost moved to Leeds United but failed a medical in the summer of 2021. Venezia swooped in and snapped him up in January 2022, but following their relegation, they could see him snatched away. There’s a seriously talented player there.
Central midfield – Masaya Okugawa (Arminia Bielefeld)
Eight league goals and an assist from 33 appearances for the side that scored the fewest goals in the Bundesliga is a mightily impressive return, and proves that Okugawa can shoulder responsibilities. The 26-year-old is a tricky attacking midfielder and is now entering his formative years. If available for cheap, Okugawa could prove a very good gamble.
Right winger – Jorge de Frutos (Levante)
Heading to Spain for a creative attacking talent, De Frutos has impressed from the flank despite Levante’s relegation, racking up four goals and seven assists from 25 La Liga appearances. A product of Real Madrid‘s academy, injury has derailed what could’ve been an even better season. Absolutely a player to keep an eye on, considering he could be on the move for a low price.
Striker – Wout Weghorst (Burnley)
There was a plethora of options in attack, and while Weghorst appears to be the easy pick, he is also the most sensible. Granted there will be a queue of clubs in for his services, the Dutch giant couldn’t quite find his form to fire Burnley away from relegation, but that isn’t a reflection of his ability. Weghorst proved for Wolfsburg just how effective he can be. Considering where he is in his career and Burnley’s financial position, pursuing him is a no-brainer.
Left winger – Maxwel Cornet (Burnley)
It’s a shame that Burnley couldn’t find the support to extract the maximum out of what has been a very strong spine for the longest time. Cornet did everything he could as the team’s sole creator, but needed more help. Weghorst arriving mid-season didn’t help, either. The Ivorian’s move to Turf Moor from Lyon was always a shock, thus his future will likely be down to which top side wins the race for him.