Relegation scrap: the star players likely to be plucked from Stoke, West Brom and Swansea
With Stoke City already condemned, West Bromwich Albion's late rally in vain and Swansea City needing a mathematical miracle to stay up, Steve Luckings picks out the star players likely to leave this summer
Twenty teams began the 2017/18 Premier League season, with varying degrees of aspirations.
Some hoped to win it; one hoped to retain it. Others set their sights a little lower, whether it was finishing in the top four, top six, top half and, for a majority of England's top-tier clubs, remaining in it come the season's finale on May 13.
In the end we didn't need to wait that long.
With Stoke City already condemned, West Bromwich Albion's late rally in vain and Swansea City needing a mathematical miracle to stay up, we now know the three teams who will not contest the 2018/19 season.
Clubs can take a few measures to safeguard their futures in the event of dropping down to the Championship. Exorbitant parachute payments from Premier League television rights help to ensure the hardships that befell the likes of Leeds United don't happen again. Clauses stipulating a pay cut in the wake of demotion are now standard. But few will be able to keep hold of their star names. Premier League players on Premier League wages are rarely sold on the idea of showcasing their talents in the second tier.
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For Stoke that will mean losing almost definitely Swiss schemer Xherdan Shaqiri and most probably highly-rated goalkeeper Jack Butland. Despite an alarming dip in form and some questionable off-field behaviour, the likes of Arsenal and even Manchester City may renew their interest in West Brom centre-back Jonny Evans this summer. Welsh fans are likely to see Alfie Mawson in a Swansea shirt for the final time in Sunday's dead-rubber against Stoke.
We take a look at the players most likely to ply their trade away from the three relegated clubs next season:
Swansea City, 18th, 33 points
Final game: Stoke City (home)
Lukasz Fabianski (goalkeeper): Poland international will look to perform at this summer's World Cup to put himself in the shop window. An able shot-stopper and good with his feet.
Kyle Naughton (defender): Versatile full-back who can operate on either flank.
Alfie Mawson (defender): Young centre-back helped steady the ship as Swansea were rejuvenated following Carlos Carvalhal's appointment in December. Recently called up to the England squad.
Tom Carroll (midfielder): Tidy player who is comfortable on the ball. More economical than exciting but will do a job for one of the league's lesser lights.
Andre Ayew (forward): The Ghanaian has an eye for goal but was unable to prevent the club's relegation following an unhappy spell at West Ham.
West Bromwich Albion, 19th, 31 points
Final game: Crystal Palace (away)
Ben Foster (goalkeeper): Former England goalkeeper enhanced his reputation with some fine performances that have led for calls for him to reverse his international retirement.
Jonny Evans (defender): Wanted by Pep Guardiola and Arsene Wenger last summer, unwanted by his own club in the spring. Brings physicality and leadership qualities to the heart of defence. Part of the infamous group of senior players who stole a taxi following a night out on a team trip to Spain.
Kieran Gibbs (defender): Left-back who joined in August from Arsenal sound defensively and a threat going forward.
Nacer Chadli (winger): Signing the Belgium international from Tottenham Hotspur was seen as something of a coup at The Hawthorns. Has barely featured this term but has the ability to perform at the top level.
Jay Rodriguez (striker): Eleven goals in 38 appearances this season doesn't tell the whole story. The former Southampton striker impressed against Arsenal at Emirates and scored the winner at Old Trafford against Manchester United. Deserves another shot at the Premier League.
Salomon Rondon (striker): The hard-working Venezuelan loves nothing more than crashing into centre-backs. A willing runner but needs to add more goals to his game. Like his strike partner Rodriguez, managed only seven in the league this term.
Stoke City, 20th, 30 points
Final game: Swansea City (away)
Jack Butland (goalkeeper): There were hopes he might stake a claim for the England No 1 jersey following Joe Hart's alarming dip. A season in a struggling side seemed to dent his confidence but the 25 year old is destined for bigger things with Liverpool a likely destination.
Bruno Martins Indi (defender): Dutchman, 26, has over 34 international caps but endured a season interrupted by injury.
Joe Allen (midfielder): Industrious Welshman took a step down after joining from Liverpool. A box-to-box midfielder who has the energy and industry to enhance most squads.
Xherdan Shaqiri (midfielder): The Swiss winger is a dead-ball specialist with the guile and technique to make things happen the final third. That Stoke were relegated was largely down to inferior teammates.
Updated: May 10, 2018 01:33 PM