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Opinion

Raid The Relegated 2020

3 weeks ago
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I had this article pretty much written up a week ago as I was fairly confident that Villa and Bournemouth were set to leave the Premier League and join Norwich back in the Championship.

Then Watford went and sacked Nigel Pearson, got smashed by City, whilst Villa surprisingly beat Arsenal.

Suddenly everything had changed and I started having to ponder on Watford options to include in this article.

Of course, Watford then got relegated and the board must be burying their heads in the sand now as onlookers wonder at why they sacked a man who had dragged them from bottom to the cusp of safety.

Anyway, Jack Grealish had been my number one choice to be poached whether we got taken over or not. I won’t go into why as that’s not the purpose of these articles. Onto the players that do make the cut.

Todd Cantwell

It’s been a disappointing season for Norwich.

Lowest scorers in the division, despite managing to put three past us and leakiest defence, despite only conceding one goal in two games against us.

You’d think it would be difficult to make a case to sign any of their players and yet they do have some decent players.

Could Max Aarons be the answer to our right back issue?

Manquillo has improved a lot and I actually have a soft spot for Yedlin, but neither are exceptional players. Aarons has had a decent season and can play on the opposite flank too. Maybe I’m just too scarred by the brief rise and calamitous fall of his cousin to recommend the twenty-year-old but one to keep an eye on for sure.

Ben Godfrey has rightly received plaudits this season and is another young player who has shown qualities during a difficult season.

However, I will only select the one man from Norwich. In a struggling team, Cantwell has been a shining light. He reminds me a lot of Grealish and not just the dodgy hairstyle. Whilst most of the Canaries seemed to choke in the toxic mine of the Premier League, he’s been a breath of fresh air. He always seems to want to drive the ball forward and maintains possession well.

He’s scored six Premier League goals which is hugely impressive for a young lad who only broke through properly last season. That’s just under a quarter of their twenty six goals. In the Championship he played twenty four games and scored one goal in a team that finished as champions. To play thirty seven games and score six in a team that finished bottom of the Premier League shows enormous growth.

His fitness and energy has been impressive. He’s scored some belters from outside the box, his link up play is quality and he’s not afraid to get stuck in despite having the build of Kate Moss. He’d bring something to the centre midfield position that I don’t think we currently have.

Callum Wilson

Okay, he’s not got an exceptional goalscoring record, but I’ve always liked Wilson.

First thing we need to put in perspective is that a) we need a striker b) this article is about signing players from relegated teams c) there aren’t many good relegated strikers this year.

Obviously, I’d like to see us go out and sign a proven twenty-goal-a-season striker this year. However, as covered in point b, I’m just looking at what we can get from the three worst teams from this season.

Wilson is good striker who should be reaching the peak of his powers and, if this article came after last season, I think most would have been keen to snap him up. He scored fourteen PL goals that season, three more than our own player of the season Rondon and two more than our top scorer Perez.

Most Bournemouth players seem to have had a year off this season. Ryan Fraser, David Brooks and Josh King are all players who went from having outstanding seasons in 18/19 to below par or injury ravaged ones in this most recent outing.

I would have been up for Ryan Fraser being part of this article but a) technically he wasn’t relegated with Bournemouth as he didn’t sign a short term extension and left the club at the end of June and b) he’s clearly a bit of a t.sspot as he didn’t sign a short term extension and left the club at the end of June.

It’s understandable that players don’t want to get injured and potentially have to put their next move on hold. However, Fraser had played for Bournemouth since joining them as a League One side in 2013. He had made huge strides under Eddie Howe, to the point that he was being linked with teams like Arsenal last summer. Rather than playing a few more games to try and ensure the club and their fans didn’t fall out of the big league, and all the financial repercussions that would entail, he Michael Owen’d it all the way.

Back to Callum. He’s a capped Englishman and he’s better than Joelinton and will stay fitter than Carroll or Gayle. Interestingly, reports in recent days have linked us to a £20 million move for him. We’ll likely be linked to a trillion other players between now and Wednesday so I won’t take much note of that, however I think for half the price of Joey he would represent ten times the value.

I do quite like Josh King as well but out of the two I would opt for Wilson.

Ismaila Sarr

Probably going to be out of our price range considering Watford paid £25/£30 million for him last year.

We’ve got two quality wingers in ASM and Almiron but if either of them were injured then there’s no depth you’d be confident in.

Sarr is fast, strong and has taken the Premier League in his stride considering he joined at the age of twenty one. Five goals this season is a decent return from the wing and would put him as our second top scorer this season, only one behind Jonjo.

Signing a player such as this would allow us to be a bit more expansive too. I’ve quite liked it when Miggy has been given a bit of freedom playing off of whoever has been lumbered with the unenviable role of lone striker. With ASM one side, Sarr the other and Miggy playing off of a frontman, we’d have an abundance of energy and creativity.

Of course, we’ll probably sell ASM for a healthy profit and sign someone like Elmohamady to replace him instead.

Gerard Deulofeu

Probably a player that hasn’t and will never reach his potential.

But someone much more likely to sign. This would be a cut-price version of Sarr, not a signing in addition to him.

Only four goals for him this season but he did get ten the previous year. Can operate on the wing or as a forward so would give us some depth in both positions.

Skilful and unpredictable, I’ve always liked him and the fact he’s picked up four caps for Spain (that’s four more than Ayoze Perez) shows others more talented than myself have appreciated his ability in the past.

Watford picked him up for a little more than £10 million and would probably be happy to get him off the wage bill for a similar price. Would be an improvement on the likes of Atsu and Muto.

Ben Foster

If, and only if, we sold Dubravka, which I think could happen should Ashley remain in charge, I would probably sign up Ben Foster.

He’s had an excellent season, in front of a shaky defence, and at the age of thirty seven would probably come quite cheap. I would bring back Woodman as my number one and have Foster as experienced cover.

Darlow needs to go and get first team football, with the Championship the most likely destination for him. So, I would bring in Foster as Woodman’s number two (and able cover should Freddie struggle with the step up) and Gillespie as number three.

Some may say that out of the relegated keepers Krul would be best choice. I’ve got no problems with Krul and thought he was a good servant for us and a fantastic shot stopper. However, he often parried shots back into danger and didn’t seem able to deflect them into safer areas. He won’t want to be a number two at the age of thirty-two and I think will stick around at Norwich to try and help them back up.

You can follow the author on Twitter @billymerlin

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