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10 players from relegated clubs who could make great Premier League signings

Benjamin Moukandjo

Jordan Pickford (Sunderland)

After spending several seasons flirting with demotion to the Championship, the Black Cats finally ran out of lives this term. Yet given the strength of Pickford’s performances in his debut Premier League campaign, it's unlikely that the 23-year-old – who has already been linked with Everton, West Ham, Manchester City and Arsenal – will go down with them.

The local lad was handed the No.1 shirt (figuratively speaking) in August and didn’t let anyone down. As well as being an excellent shot-stopper, Pickford caught the eye with his pinpoint long-range distribution that helps turn defence into attack very quickly.

The England U21 international would be a sensible long-term investment for a number of Premier League clubs, even for a mooted £25-30m fee. 

Benjamin Moukandjo (Lorient)

A number of Cameroon's high-profile stars opted to sit out the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, but not Moukandjo. Instead, the Indomitable Lions captain lifted the trophy following a 2-1 victory over Egypt in the final, a game in which he was also named Man of the Match.

Things didn't work out quite as well for the striker at club level: after finishing the Ligue 1 season in 18th, Lorient were relegated with a 2-1 aggregate play-off loss to Troyes. The 28-year-old Moukandjo still managed 13 goals in 25 appearances, mind.

Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez (Granada)

Even Tony Adams couldn't save Granada, who will be competing in the second tier of Spanish football next term.

Carcela-Gonzalez only joined the Spaniards last summer and is under contract at the Estadio de Los Carmenes until 2020, but he's still likely to seek pastures new as the window reopens. The Moroccan wideman turns 28 in July and, having enjoyed a decent season in La Liga, will be keen to return to one of Europe's top leagues. Leicester and Sunderland were both linked with the tricky dribbler this time last year.

Ilija Nestorovski (Palermo)

Palermo's policy of hiring and firing 45 managers (approximately) per-season was always going to catch up with them at some point, and so it proved in 2016/17.

If it wasn’t for Nestorovski, however, the Sicilians may have been relegated long before early May. The Macedonian frontman scored 11 goals and provided three assists – including a delightful piece of skill to set up Robin Quaison against Sassuolo – in his debut Serie A season.

Everton and Fiorentina are two of the clubs reportedly interested in the 6ft forward, who cost Palermo just £425,000 last summer.

Jorge Mere (Sporting Gijon)

After receiving a first call-up to the senior Spain squad last year, the 20-year-old Mere will be hoping to establish himself as a long-term alternative to the likes of Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique for la Roja.

In the short term, his objective is probably securing a move away from Sporting, who ended the 2016/17 campaign just below the dreaded dotted line.

A strong, aggressive and somewhat old-fashioned defender, Mere has a £25m release clause in his contract and is reportedly being eyed up by Premier League champions Chelsea.

Marcel Heller (Darmstadt)

Heller first joined Darmstadt when they were in the third division, before back-to-back promotions catapulted die Lilien into the Bundesliga in 2015.

They survived their first year back at the top table with a 14th-placed finish, but 2016/17 was one long struggle and Torsten Frings' men were eventually put out of their misery at the start of May.

A quick and direct winger – local punk band Decubitus devoted a song to him entitled Heller ist Schneller (the German word for ‘faster’) – the 31-year-old is supposedly a transfer target for both Watford and Everton.

Harry Maguire (Hull)

If Marco Silva had been appointed at the KCOM Stadium in July rather than January, Hull probably would have survived in the Premier League. The damage had already been done when the Portuguese pitched up in Humberside at the turn of the year, however, and he isn’t sticking around to try to get the Tigers back up.

Maguire may also follow his manager through the exit door, having earned several admirers this season. As well as being physical and reasonably quick, the centre-back is composed with the ball at his feet and willing to join his team's attacks whenever the opportunities present themselves.

Alvaro Negredo (Middlesbrough)

Negredo promised so much during that wonderful half-season with Manchester City in 2013/14, when he found the net 23 times in 33 appearances before dramatically tailing off from February onwards. He's never really returned to that level since, but 10 goals in all competitions for an attack-shy Middlesbrough this year shouldn't be sniffed at.

Negredo is still owned by Valencia but is unlikely to have much of a future at the Mestalla, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see him pitch up at another European top-flight club next term. Galatasaray are most strongly linked with his services.

Faitout Maouassa (Nancy)

Maouassa may only be 18, but it's almost two years since he made his debut for Nancy. A versatile player, the teenager was deployed at left-back, as a left winger and in the centre of midfield for les Chardons in 2016/17 (a season which ended with relegation, despite victory on the final day).

A quick and powerful runner, Maouassa – who has recently been representing France as a left-back at the U20 World Cup – is also comfortable in possession. With Nancy needing to cut their cloth accordingly as they prepare for life in Ligue 2, they may be forced to listen to offers for their young starlet.

Rade Krunic (Empoli)

Every great escape has a victim, as Empoli recently discovered when Crotone hauled themselves out of the Serie A drop zone in miraculous fashion. Six wins from their final nine matches was enough for Davide Nicola's men to stay up, sending Empoli down to the second division at their expense.

Whether Bosnia international Krunic will join them in Serie B is another matter. The 23-year-old midfielder, who is strong in the tackle and tidy with the ball, was one of Empoli's best players this season and could move on following their relegation.

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