Tactical Thinker: Relegated stars that should stay in the Premier League next season

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Norwich and Watford made 2021-22 a notoriously bad season for the Premier League’s bottom two clubs. Luckily, the fight away from the final relegation spot ended full of entertainment and intrigue, with Everton, Leeds and Burnley battling it out to stay alive. Ultimately, the Clarets would succumb to relegation on the final day, even despite a late push under new management. Now with Burnley, Norwich and Watford heading down to the Championship, we asked you to conjure up the names of the players you think should stay in the Premier League in 2022-23. We received a multitude of responses from our readership, and these were the most common names to hit the board, and the clubs that could be best suited for their signatures.

1. NICK POPE

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After enjoying half a decade as one of the Premier League’s standout goalkeepers, the prospect of Nick Pope not plying his trade in England’s top flight just feels wrong. Simultaneously one of the best ‘Sweeper Keepers‘ and shot-stopping extraordinaries, Pope ensured Burnley’s head stayed above water for years longer than it likely would have without him. Evidently above the level of the Championship, the 30-year-old goalkeeper must be on the radar for many of England’s top sides this summer. Southampton, Nottingham Forest, Newcastle, West Ham and Leicester could all use an upgrade in the position, and Pope would provide an excellent option for more than just a few years.

2. JAMES TARKOWSKI

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Everything said about about Nick Pope could also be reiterated when it comes to James Tarkowski – the Burnley vice-captain who played a formidable role in their sustained survival in the Premier League until the end of 2021-22. Tarkowski has been a rock for Burnley the past few years, and has been perpetually linked with clubs above Burnley’s level since his breakthrough season all the way back in 2017-18. Now at the age of 29, Tarkowski is climbing over the peak years of his career, but still offers loads of experience and bravado to any Premier League club looking for an upgrade at centre-back. Among the top candidates include Everton, Newcastle and West Ham – each of whom would suit his robust and fearless style of play. Everton would be a particularly interesting move for the veteran defender, with Ben Godfrey a solid sweeper to play alongside all of the fantastic ‘Stopper’ qualities Tarkowski provides.

3. MAXWEL CORNET

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After just one season in the top flight, Maxwel Cornet is the final name to make our list from the Clarets, after scoring 9 goals in his 25 Premier League appearances. Cornet offers a flash in front of goal and vast versatility to play up front or on either wing. Slightly less cost-effective than the previous two Burnley men, Cornet would require more of an arm and a leg, now entering his peak years at 25 years of age. The usual suspects have all been linked – Everton, Tottenham, West Ham and even Newcastle, with little sign yet of where exactly Cornet could end up by the time August rolls around. Regardless, the Ivorian remains set for a move back to the big time, one way or another.

4. EMMANUEL DENNIS

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Emmanuel Dennis started the season in phenomenal form, scoring 8 goals from his first 16 Premier League appearances. He went quiet for the second half of the campaign as Watford stuttered out of form and managers saddled up on a merry go round around the clock, but still ended the season on 16 goal contributions in 33 appearances. Possessing buckets of pace and personifying the physical nature of the modern Premier League, Dennis would be an excellent option for any counter-attacking team. That could be a Leicester City, Aston Villa or as a back-up for one of the league’s big hitters. Dennis still has far more to offer inside England’s top flight, and we should expect to see the Nigerian back in the big time soon.

5. TEEMU PUKKI

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Teemu Pukki has long been one of the deadliest goal-scorers on the planet, and would offer most Premier League sides far more attacking fluency and clinical finishing in front of goal. When given the players around him to create chances and utilize his exceptional timing of movement into space, Pukki could easily make his mark on this league in all kinds of new ways. Southampton, Brighton and Brentford would all be excellent fits for the 32-year-old, who is currently valued at just 5 million pounds. For 5 million pounds, Pukki would be prepared to double or triple that value in the goals he provides for any club next season.


So there it is! The most common answers to our latest question in our Tactical Thinker series, all about the Premier League stars that should be set to stay in the Premier League in 2022-23. Be sure to follow on social media @mastermindsite, and consider becoming a subscriber to never miss another Q&A! Thanks for reading and see you soon!

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