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. This series for Kettle will assess five potential signings for Cardiff City, Hull City and Palace.
We start with Championship winners Cardiff.
Owner Vincent Tan is rumoured to have given manager Malky Mackay a £30 million budget for the summer and the Bluebirds have been linked with a host of players in recent months, with their promotion almost a nailed-on certainty since early 2013. Despite running away with the Championship, a stronger squad and a couple of key signings will be necessary if they are to remain a top-flight club come this time next season:
Danny Graham (Striker, Sunderland)
A goalscorer will be top of Malky Mackay’s priority as, despite winning promotion, the Bluebirds lacked a finisher in 2012/13 – something they will need to address if they are to stay in the top-flight. Graham could, then, fit the bill. The 27-year-old has proven he can score goals in the top flight, with 21 in a season and a half with Swansea before leaving for Sunderland in January. That move proved unsuccessful and he could be tempted by a return to South Wales, though his Swansea connections may not prove popular at Cardiff City Stadium, just as his connections with Newcastle did not please Sunderland fans. Graham may struggle for first team action at the Stadium of Light when Steven Fletcher returns from injury at the start of next season and new boss Paolo Di Canio may let him leave for around £4million. Other striking options for Cardiff could be Reading’s Noel Hunt and Adam Le Fondre, QPR’s Bobby Zamora, Stoke’s Kenwyne Jones or Lyon’s France international Bafetimbi Gomis.
Wayne Bridge (Left-back, Manchester City)
The former England full-back, 32, has had a successful season on loan at Brighton in the Championship and has shown an interest in making that move permanent. However, with Brighton losing in the play-offs and Cardiff promoted, Bridge may want to take what could be his last opportunity to return to the Premier League. Despite Bridge’s advancing years, the Bluebirds lack Premier League experience in their squad and Bridge could provide this in abundance, with over 300 top flight matches and a 2005 winners’ medal with Chelsea to his name. He would be available on a free transfer.
Chris Eagles (Winger, Bolton Wanderers)
Should Cardiff find themselves in a relegation battle, Eagles, 27, has prior experience of such situations with Burnley and Bolton, though both those fights against the drop proved unsuccessful for him. Despite this, the former Manchester United youngster’s technical ability is one of the best outside the Premier League and Cardiff are unlikely to be the only top-flight club interested in Bolton’s top scorer and assist-maker from 2012-13 should they decide to make a move for him. Eagles played alongside manager Malky Mackay in Watford’s promotion-winning side of 2006, but has said he is happy at Bolton. A move back to the Premier League could prove tempting, though, and he would be available for around £3million. Alternatives to Eagles could be Brighton’s Will Buckley, Blackpool’s Matt Phillips and Reading’s Hal Robson-Kanu.
John Brayford (Right-back, Derby County)
Brayford, 25, is considered to be one of the best full-backs outside the Premier League and interest in him is likely to be high, with Stoke, West Ham and Wigan also rumoured to be interested. With only one year left on his contract, Derby boss Nigel Clough is readying himself for Brayford to leave Pride Park with the club likely to want to cash in. Clough revealed there was interest in the former Burton and Crewe man in January. Cardiff are looking to add some quality at right-back, despite the long-serving Kevin McNaughton signing a new contract. A fee of around £2million could persuade Derby to sell. An alternative to Brayford could be Leeds’ Sam Byram, though new Elland Road boss Brian McDermott is confident of keeping the highly-rated 19-year-old.
Dirk Kuyt (Forward, Fenerbahce)
The Dutchman, 32, certainly has the Premier League experience that Cardiff lack. To add to that, his hard-working nature, big match performances and knack of grabbing crucial goals, which made him popular at former club Liverpool, would make him an ideal signing for Malky Mackay. He is versatile, too, able to play upfront, just behind a main striker or as a winger. Despite only having been with Fenerbahce for a season, it is rumoured that the Turkish runners-up may be willing to sell despite Kuyt making a significant impact in his first season, bagging 15 goals. Fenerbahce are rumoured to want £1million for the Holland international but there have been suggestions that he wants to stay in Turkey. An alternative could be former Chelsea striker Salomon Kalou who has struggled to settle at new club Lille and has been quoted as saying he would like to return to England.