The Premier League may be filthy rich, bathing itself in a bathtub of money rolls even before next seasonÃ¢ÂÂs jaw-dropping new television deal, but those in the know will still tell you that times are hard and clubs still need a bargain or two in the transfer window.
Studying the relegated teams from Europe's big leagues shows that thereÃ¢ÂÂs a few diamonds in the rough to be snapped up. So donÃ¢ÂÂt worry Lambert, Jol & Co. Ã¢ÂÂ weÃ¢ÂÂve got it covered.
Besides, what better way to spend a summer is there than piling yet more misery on a newly-relegated club by nicking their best players? (FFT has never heard of a holiday.)
HereÃ¢ÂÂs our shortlist of Ã¢ÂÂcleverÃ¢ÂÂ signings (i.e. inexpensive and plausible) from around Europe that could make the transition to EnglandÃ¢ÂÂs top flight this summer.
MallorcaGIOVANI DOS SANTOS must still be wondering how on earth he managed to get from Barcelona to Ipswich within nine months, but at least his four-year Tottenham nightmare finally ended with a permanent switch to Mallorca last summer via further loan spells with Galatasaray and Racing Santander.
The 24-year-old Mexican may no longer be a golden boy, but having shown much more consistency Ã¢ÂÂ he scored six goals in the new year after suffering a couple of injuries in autumn Ã¢ÂÂ he could still be handy in the Premier League, if he wishes to banish the bad memories. Ã¢ÂÂHello, is that Daniel Levy? WeÃ¢ÂÂve got someone you may be interest- *beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep*.Ã¢ÂÂ
Would suit: Newcastle. Not many Premier League sides will fancy a punt on little Gio after his ill-fated spell at White Hart Lane, while the former BarÃÂ§a prodigy might only settle for a club of certain stature. So step forward Alan PardewÃ¢ÂÂs Magpies, whose wretched injury list plagued their dour season. Hatem Ben Arfa will remain their main creative outlet but a player of Dos SantosÃ¢ÂÂ quality should offer something more than Jonas Gutierrez and Sylvain Marveaux.
Against Valladolid, Dos Santos scored and passed well but dribbled inefficiently
TOMER HEMED started the season with six strikes in the eight league games, bagging the 26-year-old a regular spot in IsraelÃ¢ÂÂs 2014 World Cup qualification campaign. Though the goals didn't continue at that rate (he finished with 11), Hemed continued to excel for Israel Ã¢ÂÂ he spanked five in total past Luxembourg in successive qualifiers before netting against Portugal in March. EvertonÃ¢ÂÂs reported interest is unsurprising.
Would suit: Take your pick from any of the top flightÃ¢ÂÂs mid-table merchants. Who doesnÃ¢ÂÂt want a goalscorer on the cheap these days? West Ham have made no secret of their need for a marksman, while West Brom, Swansea, Newcastle, Sunderland and all of the newly promoted sides could do with a fresh face up front.
Two goals, good distribution and a reasonable aerial return
Deportivo La CorunaA second relegation in three seasons for the 2004 Champions League semi-finalists certainly can't be blamed on winger BRUNO GAMA, one of the GaliciansÃ¢ÂÂ outstanding players this campaign. The 25-year-old former Portugal youth international is widely expected to leave after netting six times an ever-present season. While Deportivo have the player contracted until 2015, the majority of GamaÃ¢ÂÂs ownership lays with Ã¢ÂÂsuper agentÃ¢ÂÂ Jorge Mendes Ã¢ÂÂ and that can only mean one thing. Got the money? Sold.
Would suit: West Brom or Fulham. Gama is unlikely to find himself at a top club this summer after only one full season in La Liga, but his bright displays could earn him a solid switch elsewhere. An injection of youthful exuberance in wide areas wouldnÃ¢ÂÂt go amiss for either of these two sides.
Gama at Levante: Goal, assist, 49 of 55 passes completed, 7 attempted dribbles
Another who might not fancy the drop to SpainÃ¢ÂÂs second tier is former World Cup, European Championship and UEFA Cup winner CARLOS MACHENA. The former Roja internationalÃ¢ÂÂs best days may be behind him but at 34 next month itÃ¢ÂÂs not over just yet for the rugged centre-back, who can also play in defensive midfield. MarchenaÃ¢ÂÂs experience Ã¢ÂÂ nine years at Valencia Ã¢ÂÂ could prove vital in a Premier League side looking to stay afloat.
Would suit: Southampton. Mauricio PochettinoÃ¢ÂÂs south coasters enjoyed an excellent return to the top flight but shoring up a backline that conceded 60 goals last season will be a priority this summer. WhatÃ¢ÂÂs not to like here?
Marchena in the thick of it Ã¢ÂÂ at both ends Ã¢ÂÂ in two successive games
Real ZaragozaWhat, him again? Yes, itÃ¢ÂÂs everybodyÃ¢ÂÂs favourite Euro 2004 striker HELDER POSTIGA, who's still only 30. Not only did he bag a late quarter-final equaliser against England, the then-Tottenham man followed up with an annoyingly mischievous Ã¢ÂÂPanenkaÃ¢ÂÂ in the penalty shoot-out that followed.
HeÃ¢ÂÂs been there and done it in England with little success (his spell at White Hart Lane lasted a season after netting just once in 24 appearances) but 14 goals in 37 goals for La LigaÃ¢ÂÂs bottom club has proved this enigmatic striker still has something to offer. Goals have never come naturally at club level but those looking for an edge up front could do much, much worse. And frequently do.
Would suit: West Ham. Rather than lobbing almost ÃÂ£15 million in the direction of Alvara Negredo, Sam Allardyce may have more luck boosting his attacking options elsewhere. Though the Hammers obviously have the wonga to splash this summer, theyÃ¢ÂÂll need more than just one new man up top.
At Bilbao Postiga was a willing outlet Ã¢ÂÂ and finished the only pass he received in the box
Second only to Postiga in ZaragozaÃ¢ÂÂs goal chart last season was diminutive playmaker APOÃÂO, who contributed nine strikes for the anguished Aragonese outfit. The former Malaga man has never ventured out of Spain in his playing career but, at 29, might fancy a new challenge in England before the legs slow up.
A beaver-like worker in the middle and an expert from the penalty spot, this tenacious snapperÃ¢ÂÂs potentially low transfer fee could be enough to tempt a side in need of a cultured campaigner.
Would suit: Stoke. Are the Staffordshire outfit serious about their new direction post-Pulis? A signing like this, for a side painfully short of quality in the centre of midfield, would go a long way to proving it.
Long shots and long balls: Insert Stoke joke here
PalermoIn an otherwise dismal season for the Rosanero, one major positive has been key midfielder JOSIP ILICIC, whose 10 goals (none of which were penalties) have propelled the Slovenia international into the attention of big clubs around Europe.
His strikes couldn't stop his side from dropping to Serie B but that hasnÃ¢ÂÂt stopped the likes of Arsenal, Fiorentina and Zenit St Petersburg from sniffing around. Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini has already conceded losing his star man, and it seems only a matter of time before the goal-getting 25-year-old is snapped up.
Would suit: Arsenal. With Santi Cazorla the GunnersÃ¢ÂÂ only regular goal threat from midfield, IlicicÃ¢ÂÂs proven taste for the target could fit well.
In April's win over Inter, Ilicic scored the early winner and recycled the ball efficiently
Elsewhere, versatile defender SANTIAGO GARCIA could also be one to watch. Though predominantly employed down the left by Palermo, the industrious 6ft 3in Argentine can also slot in at centre-back. HeÃ¢ÂÂs tricky too, making the shaggy-haired stopper a potential wildcard pick.
Would suit: Fulham or Sunderland. Considering John Arne RiiseÃ¢ÂÂs imminent departure and SunderlandÃ¢ÂÂs need for a left-back after Danny Rose returned to parent club Tottenham, neither of these sides have a man to fill the gaps yet.
Garcia scored in the win at Samp as a wing-back Ã¢ÂÂ and dominated in the draw at Torino as a centre-back
Young Uruguay striker ABEL HERNANDEZ is another expected to attract interest. A full international with nine caps, the 6ft 1in striker represented his country at London 2012 and although a cruciate knee ligament injury sidelined the 22-year-old from October to April, he returned in time to remind Europe why he has previously attracted the attentions of Arsenal, Inter Milan and Paris St Germain among others.
Would suit: Tottenham. Though the highly-rated youngster has pledged his future to the stuttering Sicilians, an offer from the Premier League could be difficult to resist. With Spurs looking to give their attack some teeth this summer they could probably find room for this sought-after speedster.
Greuther FurthBundesliga basement boys Greuther Furth didnÃ¢ÂÂt have much to smile about last season, but it looked like theyÃ¢ÂÂd pulled off a January coup when Serbia international NIKOLA DJURDJIC joined from Norwegian side Haugesund, where he'd scored 48 goals in 96 games before a six-month loan at Swedes Helsingborg (11 games, 10 goals).
Christmas talk linked the striker with AC Milan and Udinese, but he plumped for GermanyÃ¢ÂÂs whipping boys. Is that an agent with a knack for blowing hot air we hear? Nonetheless, the 6ft frontman bagged five goals in 15 games for the bumbling Bavarians and will be the subject of transfer talk now.
Would suit: Aston Villa. Greuther Furth president Helmut Hack insists heÃ¢ÂÂs going nowhere Ã¢ÂÂ but can they really hold out? With Christian Benteke clearly hankering for a move away, Paul LambertÃ¢ÂÂs men may need a new face sooner than theyÃ¢ÂÂd like. The cash-strapped West Midlands side might find him here.
Against Hannover, focal point Djurdjic scored two equalisers Ã¢ÂÂ but Greuther still lost
Greuther chief Hack has other worries though, and looks set to lose influential midfielder EDGAR PRIB too Ã¢ÂÂ the Russian-born naturalised German is already in talks with Borussia Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt. Though likely to leave for more than the touted Ã¢ÂÂ¬2.5 million, the classy 23-year-old left-footer could be a cheap option for an established top-flight side looking to reinforce their engine room.
Would suit: Everton. Champions League runners-up Dortmund may be a big name, but should JÃÂ¼rgen KloppÃ¢ÂÂs side not pursue their interest then the door could be open for others. With Phil Neville retiring and Marouane Fellaini potentially on his way, Roberto Martinez needs to look elsewhere.
At Dusseldorf, Prib distributed well and got stuck in when needed
As if the Cloverleaves needed any more grief, theyÃ¢ÂÂre likely to see promising left-back BABA RAHMAN linked with a move too. Despite only making the move from Ghanaian side Dreams Football Club last summer, the 18-year-old had a successful debut season in the Bundesliga. With age on his side, one of AfricaÃ¢ÂÂs most promising youngsters has plenty of time to decide his future but bigger German clubs are circling and his time could come sooner rather than later.
Would suit: Arsenal. Though Rahman has hinted at staying in the Bundesliga, the left-back has Arsene Wenger written all over him (not literally, of course, that would be weird). The Gunners were among the sides Greuther claimed to have beaten to his signature last summer, but could now pounce.
Wenger would love Rahman's interceptions but seek to improve distributionEREDIVISIE
Roda JCThe phrase "hotbed of talent" might not make you think of Roda JC, let alone Syria. But combine the two and you get striker SANHARIB MALKI, whose 17 goals in the Eredivisie this season were no fluke. With 42 goals in 65 league games, the Roda skipper has haunted backlines ever since his 2011 move from Belgian Pro League side Lokeren: last year only HeerenveenÃ¢ÂÂs Bas Dost bagged more than his 25-goal haul. At 5ft 11in he isnÃ¢ÂÂt particularly tall, nor is he young at 29 Ã¢ÂÂ but as a cheap option for one of the newly-promoted clubs, Malki could be a huge winner.
Would suit: Cardiff, Hull, Crystal Palace or Sunderland. With an English talent or proven Premier League campaigner costing more than the developing world's debt, the foreign market is sometimes the only way some can stay ahead. All of these sides need improvement at the sharp end and could find that in SyriaÃ¢ÂÂs finest.
And some you might not have considered here in ENGLANDÃ¢ÂÂ¦
Having already lost manager Martinez plus five first-team squad members on free transfers and with other key men expected to leave, Premier League clubs looking to pick at Wigan AthleticÃ¢ÂÂs remaining carcass may have to dig deep. But top-flight sides hunting an all-action full-back need look no further than JEAN BEAUSEJOUR. Though powerless to help the Latics avoid the drop, the attack-hungry Chile international proved himself vital to their adventurous 3-4-3 formation Ã¢ÂÂ a tactic new boss Owen Coyle may not fancy.
Would suit: Aston Villa, Sunderland or Fulham. Having experienced the drop with two sides in three seasons (after Birmingham in 2010-11), you could forgive the 29-year-old for craving a little stability. So step forward any of the above, each with a left-back slot in need of filling. Aston Villa, in particular, could use the experience after last seasonÃ¢ÂÂs hairy experiences.
Give and go: A typical Beausejour game, except that he scored
If Wigan were so bad last season, why are we picking out another defender of theirs? Well, if IVAN RAMIS hadnÃ¢ÂÂt got himself crocked for the majority of the season then things may have been different. The unfashionable Spaniard, signed from Mallorca last summer, played only 16 league games last season after a cruciate knee ligament injury. Ramis may slip under the radar after such little playing time but the 28-year-old would be a useful punt for any mid-table side looking to keep it together at the back.
Would suit: Southampton or Stoke. Ramis feels like an appropriate Pochettino signing given the SaintsÃ¢ÂÂ defensive issues last season, though Mark Hughes might fancy adding a dash of grace to his notoriously grizzly centre-back pairing.
Ramis: busy at both ends and linking well with Boyce on the right
Ask fans at Loftus Road what they thought of JUNIOR HOILETT last season and youÃ¢ÂÂll most likely be greeted with a look of disdain (maybe itÃ¢ÂÂs just their usual facial expression, theyÃ¢ÂÂve had it rough). The west Londoners cried coup when they beat the elite to the young Canadian last summer Ã¢ÂÂ after all, he had averaged more dribbles per game in 2011/12 than any other Premier League player Ã¢ÂÂ but a dismal season left neither club nor player happy, Hoilett slipped down the pecking order and his huge promise was soon forgotten. But writing off a player of his obvious talents at such a young age is foolish Ã¢ÂÂ and with QPRÃ¢ÂÂs wage bill being more akin to Daniel Lambert than Kate Moss, so he may be one of the first to go.
Would suit: Stoke. Yes, them again. But a move for Hoilett Ã¢ÂÂ whom Mark Hughes will know from Blackburn Ã¢ÂÂ makes perfect sense when you consider Matthew Etherington, Brek Shea and Michael Kightly are their wingers. Jermaine Pennant may stay at the Britannia Stadium but, surely, the Staffordshire side will need more to make a good fist of it next time around. Peter Crouch isnÃ¢ÂÂt going to feed himself now, is he?
Hoilett: still loves a dribble