Crystal Palace’s extra-time win over Watford in the Championship play-off final means we now know the identities of the three clubs promoted to the Premier League.
Crystal Palace’s extra-time win over Watford in the Championship play-off final means we now know the identities of the three clubs promoted to the Premier League. Each will need to strengthen in an attempt to remain in the top flight, with the summer recruitment process one of the most important times of the season for these clubs. In this three-part series, we will assess five potential signings for Cardiff City, Hull City and Palace. After assessing five potential buys for Cardiff, we now look at who Steve Bruce might look to add to Championship runners-up Hull City.
In August’s Championship betting previews, Hull City were certainly not one of the names that regularly got mentioned as being in with a chance of promotion. Those who did tip the Tigers said it would depend on the form of £3 million frontman Nick Proschwitz. Both assumptions were wrong. Proschwitz remained goal-shy all season long and his penalty miss in the final minute of the season almost saw Hull having to settle for a play-off place. However, this summer is sure to be different, with Hull’s squad unlikely to have enough quality at present to remain in the top-flight for longer than a season. If owner Assam Allam’s dream of European football at the KC is to come true, he will have to put his hand in his pocket. The permanent transfer of George Boyd from Peterborough has already been completed.
Here are some options:
Kasper Schmeichel (Goalkeeper, Leicester City)
The son of Steve Bruce’s former Manchester United team-mate and neighbour Peter Schmeichel has played down rumours linking him with East Yorkshire. However, Schmeichel, 26, is without question the best goalkeeper outside of the Premier League currently and would probably be tempted to make the step up should Bruce come calling. Between the sticks is certainly a position Hull need to sort out, with six different loanee goalkeepers being brought in over the last three seasons. The latest of those, David Stockdale, could provide an alternative to Schmeichel, but Hull are reluctant to meet parent club Fulham’s £3 million asking price. Other names mentioned include Beşiktaş’s Allan McGregor, Sheffield Wednesday’s Chris Kirkland, Barnsley’s Luke Steele and Genk’s Grzegorz Sandomierski. Two of the above could be a possibility to fight it out for the number one jersey.
Gary Hooper (Striker, Celtic)
After Proschwitz’s poor first season and concerns over whether fellow strikers Matty Fryatt, Aaron McLean and Sone Aluko are Premier League quality, Bruce must add goals if Hull are to survive. Fortunately, he has options in this area and Gary Hooper is one of the names who has been linked. The 25-year-old scored 31 goals for Celtic last season after he stayed north of the border following rumours of a move to Norwich in January. He could now be available for around £4million with only a year to run on his contract although could be tempted to stay to pursue another Champions League campaign with the Scottish Champions. Bruce is also one of a number of Premier League managers likely to be looking at Blackburn’s Jordan Rhodes, although the current £15million price-tag is likely to mean speculation lasting right up until the August deadline. Other options are Aston Villa’s Darren Bent, West Brom’s Peter Odemwingie, Wigan’s Arouna Kone, Raeding’s Adam Le Fondre, Burnley’s Charlie Austin and free-agent Carlton Cole.
Nick Powell (Midfielder, Manchester United)
Powell, 19, impressed in his handful of United appearances in his first season but is unlikely to get many first-team chances at Old Trafford next season and a loan deal could be ideal for him to get some Premier League experience and for Hull to add quality to their midfield. Despite Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure, Bruce still has a close relationship with his former club and is likely to be in a good position when it comes to securing future talents on loan. Hull have also been linked with a loan deal for United’s young Chilean striker Angelo Henriquez. In terms of other midfield options, Bruce may be tempted to move for one Wigan’s pair Ben Watson, although the FA Cup hero is likely to attract interest from other top-flight clubs. Another player destined for the top-flight is Leicester City’s Andy King—one of the Championship’s best midfielders for some time. Crystal Palace are likely to provide a rival for his signature.
Titus Bramble (Defender, free agent)
Bramble’s release from Sunderland led to the obvious suggestion that Steve Bruce may sign him for the third time after previously taking him to Wigan and then Sunderland. However, Tigers fans will be wary with the defender’s record of concentration lapses and off-field problems, despite his Premier League experience of nearly 300 appearances. Centre-back could be a position that Hull need to strengthen in, especially if James Chester leaves the club. The former Manchester United youngster is being chased by Aston Villa and Newcastle United and would need replacing should Hull sell. Other defensive options include Wigan’s out-of-contract Maynor Figueroa and Bolton’s Marcos Alonso, but Figueroa’s wage demands are high, while Alonso appears to be on the brink of a move to Italy with Fiorentina. Elsewhere, others that are likely to be on Bruce’s radar and are available include Birmingham’s Curtis Davies, Sunderland’s Phil Bardsley, Newcastle’s Danny Simpson and young African Cup of Nations-winning Nigerian full-back Juwon Oshaniwa. The pacey 22-year-old is currently with Israeli club Ashdod and his agent is quoted as saying he favours a move to the Premier League, despite interest from FC Basel. Cardiff City could provide competition for his signature.
Ahmed Elmohamady (Winger, Sunderland)
After George Boyd’s loan from Peterborough was made permanent this week, Elmohamady looks likely to be the next to follow. The 25-year-old was one of City’s standout players in their promotion season when he was on loan from Sunderland and Hull have confirmed that discussions are in advanced stages when it comes to making the deal permanent. The Tigers must now agree terms with the player and his agent and this could prove the only stumbling block. If the deal falls through, Elmohamady’s quality and creativity will need to be replaced. Again, relegated Wigan could provide the alternative with Shaun Maloney likely to be another coveted by Premier League clubs. Soon to be former Wigan boss Roberto Martinez was expecting offers for Maloney before the Latics’ relegation from the Premier League and could make a move for him himself if, as expected he takes over as Everton manager.