Pope, Cornet, Cuisance: Europe’s best relegated players XI

Nick Pope and James Tarkowski feature in the best XI to be relegated in Europe's top five leagues in 2021/22

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.

An XI of the best players relegated from Europe's top five leagues
LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 29: Nick Pope of England during the international friendly match between England and Cote D’Ivoire at Wembley Stadium on March 29, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

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.

Bellanova features in the best relegated players XI
CAGLIARI, ITALY – APRIL 30: Raoul Bellanova of Cagliari in action during the Serie A match between Cagliari Calcio and Hellas Verona FC at Sardegna Arena on April 30, 2022 in Cagliari, Italy. (Photo by Enrico Locci/Getty Images)

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.

Tarkowski will leave relegated Burnley for free
BURNLEY, ENGLAND – MAY 22: James Tarkowski of Burnley applauds the fans following defeat and relegation to the Sky Bet Championship following the Premier League match between Burnley and Newcastle United at Turf Moor on May 22, 2022 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

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.

Carboni features in the best relegated XI
CAGLIARI, ITALY – DECEMBER 18: Andrea Carboni of Cagliari looks on during the Serie A match between Cagliari Calcio and Udinese Calcio at Sardegna Arena on December 18, 2021 in Cagliari, Italy. (Photo by Enrico Locci/Getty Images)

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.

Haps could be a solid option for cheap
LA SPEZIA, ITALY – APRIL 02: Ridgeciano Haps of Venezia FC in action during the Serie A match between Spezia Calcio and Venezia FC at Stadio Alberto Picco on April 2, 2022 in La Spezia, Italy. (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)

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.

Brownhill has been excellent despite Burnley's relegation
WATFORD, ENGLAND – APRIL 30: Josh Brownhill of Burnley celebrates after scoring their team’s second goal during the Premier League match between Watford and Burnley at Vicarage Road on April 30, 2022 in Watford, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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.

Venezia have been relegated from Serie A
TURIN, ITALY – MAY 01: Michael Cuisance of Venezia FC reacts during the Serie A match between Juventus and Venezia FC at Allianz Stadium on May 01, 2022 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images)

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.

Okugawa has impressed for releated Arminia Bielefeld
BIELEFELD, GERMANY – FEBRUARY 19: Masaya Okugawa of DSC Armini Bielefeld looks on during the Bundesliga match between DSC Arminia Bielefeld and 1. FC Union Berlin at Schueco Arena on February 19, 2022 in Bielefeld, Germany. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

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.

De Frutos has done good numbers in La Liga while being relegated
VALENCIA, SPAIN – FEBRUARY 25: Jorge de Frutos of Levante UD celebrates after scoring his team’s second goal during the LaLiga Santander match between Levante UD and Elche CF at Ciutat de Valencia Stadium on February 25, 2022 in Valencia, Spain. (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

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.

Wout Weghorst was relegated with Burnley
BURNLEY, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 23: Burnley striker Wout Weghorst in action during the Premier League match between Burnley and Tottenham Hotspur at Turf Moor on February 23, 2022 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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.

Cornet features in the best XI of relegated players
BURNLEY, ENGLAND – APRIL 06: Maxwel Cornet of Burnley celebrates after scoring their team’s third goal during the Premier League match between Burnley and Everton at Turf Moor on April 06, 2022 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

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