Hull – James Chester
The Tigers haven’t been forced to sell yet since relegation, with the only departures being Thomas Ince – who was out on loan – and players that they chose to release like Maynor Figueroa and Paul McShane. Their resolve is being tested though, with Norwich bidding three times for Robbie Brady.
The reason that they felt they could afford to let a fan favourite go in McShane is the vast number of accomplished centre halves at their disposal, and that is where the majority of Premier League raiding will be concentrated.
Both Curtis Davies and Michael Dawson are admired for their leadership qualities as much as their defensive nous. However, both are in their 30s so it is Chester who is the outstanding long-term prospect.
The 26-year-old came through the Manchester United academy, is a starter for Euro 2016-bound Wales and trumped every other Hull centre back for tackles per game in 2014/15, out-intercepting Michael Dawson and completing a higher percentage of passes too.
Leicester, Newcastle and West Brom have been linked, but Everton and Southampton shouldn’t rule him out either.
Burnley – Ben Mee
The careers of Burnley’s starting Premier League full backs Mee and Kieran Trippier are almost identical. Both came through the Manchester City academy at the same time and both were brought to Turf Moor on loan by Eddie Howe in 2011 before being signed permanently a year later.
So it feels wrong that as Trippier settles in at Tottenham, Mee prepares for a Championship return. There was little between the pair performance-wise last term. While the Spurs recruit made more assists, Mee beat him for goals, pass accuracy and defensive attributes like clearances and blocks.
The 25-year-old is unlucky that there are a lot of talented English left backs at present owing to the rise of Ryan Bertrand, Aaron Cresswell and Danny Rose to compliment Leighton Baines, Kieran Gibbs and Luke Shaw, yet Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Sunderland should at least consider him.
QPR – Matt Phillips
Charlie Austin is the QPR relegation victim attracting the most attention, but the asking price of £15 million certainly doesn’t represent value given the number of forwards who have cooled rapidly after a prolific post-promotion campaign, including Grant Holt, DJ Campbell and Marlon Harewood.
Phillips is reportedly available for a more enticing £7 million and has the twin advantage of double the Premier League experience – making it less likely that he is a fleeting hit – and producing his best form from February onwards as others at QPR gave up, reflecting positively on his attitude.
The winger closed 2014/15 on eight Premier League assists, a tally bettered by just eight players (five of them contracted to top-six clubs), and that was despite starting only 20 matches.
West Brom are the frontrunners to land the 24-year-old as Tony Pulis again pursues that elusive top-ten finish at [3.6].