Despite them suffering relegation, there's some talent heading for the Championship...unless the Premier League calls.
Norwich were sent packing after just one season back in the top flight, despite showing early-season promise by beating then-champions Manchester City, while Watford and Bournemouth went down after five years apiece in the top flight.
And while they may not have been good enough to save their clubs from the drop, there are plenty of players who have shown they can do a job in the top flight over the course of 38 games.
Here’s our top five players who should be poached by Premier League clubs over the summer break.
Nathan Aké (Bournemouth)
First up is arguably the pick of the bunch. It’s more than likely that even if Bournemouth had managed to stay up, Dutch international Aké would have been off anyway.
Both Manchester clubs have been heavily linked over the last couple of years, but with the Cherries going down this season, it’s likely that Aké’s £60m valuation will drop to between £30-40m, and Pep Guardiola’s side have barged their way to the front of the queue.
City are in the market for centre-backs as the future of John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi look uncertain, and Ake fits the bill perfectly.
Quick, very comfortable with the ball at his feet, strong in the air for his height and versatile (he’s also played left-back in the past), he seems to tick all the boxes for a Manchester City player. Plus, he’s only 25, so there’s plenty of miles left on the tyres of the former Chelsea man.
Emiliano Buendia (Norwich City)
It’s strange that so many Norwich players come out of the season they finished bottom of the league having improved their reputation, but the Canaries’ Argentinian midfielder is certainly one of them.
At just 23 years old, Buendia is certainly a player you’d expect top flight clubs to be looking at. His asking price may be around the £20m mark as well, which shouldn’t put off too many suitors.
His stats back him up nicely as well. Despite just scoring once in the league all season, he recorded seven assists and created a further nine big chances. You have to assume in a better side, that would lead to double figure assists for a full season.
Further to his attacking output, he also put in 82 tackles, which is more than right-back Max Aarons in the same team, and almost double the amount of Wilfried Zaha, who plays a similar role for Crystal Palace.
You’d expect there to be a few clubs looking at Buendia, but he’d definitely find a first-team role at a club like Newcastle United, Everton or Southampton.
Norwich paid just €1.5m for the Argentina under-20 international in 2018, which was testament to their scouting as they plucked him from the Spanish third tier, where he was on loan at Cultural Leonesa from the fringes of Getafe. Maybe someone should look at the Norwich scouts as well…
Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford)
With Watford having probably the largest salary budget of the three teams to go down, expect there to be a bit of movement out of Vicarage Road this summer.
Roberto Pereyra, Gerard Deulofeu, Ismaila Sarr, Etienne Capoue and Troy Deeney are all on decent wages, but Doucoure will likely beat all of them to the exit first.
The combative midfielder is certainly good enough to do a job higher up the league pyramid, and there’s plenty of interest abroad if reports are to be believed.
He’s likely off to PSG if they come in with a solid bid, but if Manchester United are in the market for midfield reinforcements, they could do a lot worse than taking a look at the 27-year-old.
Looking at United’s squad, if the standard is Fred then Doucoure is certainly worth a bid, considering he’d probably cost around £25m – half the price of the Brazilian who took around 18 months to adapt to the level of the Red Devils.
Callum Wilson (Bournemouth)
This one’s a no-brainer, surely.
Callum Wilson has four caps for England and with Euro 2021 coming up at the end of next season, he won’t have given up on making it into Gareth Southgate’s squad once again.
He struggled with injury and lack of form this season, managing to bag just seven times, but 35 goals over the four previous years certainly proves he’s got what it takes to find the net at the top level. 14 goals in the 2018-19 season furthers that point.
At 28 years old, he’ll want to move on and try his hand at a Premier League club next season rather than stick with Bournemouth in the absolute lottery that is the Championship you would think, and clubs like Everton and Southampton could do worse than him, although Spurs are also reportedly eyeing him.
Everton are about to undergo something of a rebuild with Carlo Ancelotti’s first transfer window coming up, and the Toffees need a striker, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin top scoring with 13 last season. Wilson seems to fit that bill nicely, especially if they can recoup some of the fee required for Wilson through selling Moise Kean, should they choose to do so.
Ben Godfrey (Norwich City)
Another of Norwich’s promising bunch, Godfrey is widely tipped to have a bright future despite the Canaries shipping a whopping 75 goals this season.
And at 22 years old, time is on his side. After signing for Norwich from his hometown club York City in 2015 and enjoying a successful loan spell at Shrewsbury Town, Godfrey has been a regular for Daniel Farke’s side.
And speaking of his hometown, maybe a move back to Yorkshire could be on the cards, as Leeds United prepare for a Premier League return after 16 years away. If the Whites don’t manage to sign Ben White from Brighton on a permanent deal, Godfrey could be an option for Marcelo Bielsa’s side, who should have plenty of cash to spend should they require it.
However, some big clubs have been keeping eyes on Godfrey, and RB Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund and Spurs are rumoured to have been keen in recent months. With Jan Vertonghen having left the club this week and Toby Alderweireld likely to follow, they may be tempted by Godfrey’s asking price.
That price could be as much as £50m, but with add-ons like England caps and Champions League football potentially involved, Norwich surely wouldn’t stand in his way should a big boy come knocking.
MAX AARONS – Some massive names looking at Aarons, with Bayern Munich keen on the Norwich right-back. Decent move if you can get it!
DAVID BROOKS – Bournemouth’s tricky winger looks genuine top flight standard. Although maybe he should have stayed with Sheffield United with the benefit of hindsight. Injury worries may be the only thing keeping him at the Cherries.
ISMAILA SARR – He cost Watford £30m just a year ago and there aren’t many £30m wingers playing in the Championship these days. Expect maybe a move abroad for the Senegal winger, who is just 22 years old.
TEEMU PUKKI – He tailed off badly after a fantastic start to the season, but the Fin still hit 11 goals in the Premier League. A newly-promoted club could grab themselves a bargain.
KIKO FEMENIA – The Spanish winger turned full-back certainly has something to offer a top flight side, and could be a bargain as he’s not one of the names you instantly think of when you look at Watford’s squad. Maybe a return to Spain is more likely though.