It can often seem an all too easy transfer tactics for clubs promoted into the Premier League.
Why raid the relegated clubs when those players have suffered a poor season themselves? Yet Cardiff City may find some players from West Bromwich Albion, Stoke City and even Swansea City that may suit their summer rebuilding job.
Neil Warnock knows — and accepts — he needs a few acquisitions as the Bluebirds prepare for life in the top flight, but at the same time doesn’t want to upset the tight-knit group that won promotion.
So who may the Bluebirds target from the clubs that finished in the Premier League bottom three last season?
One position Warnock is looking to prioritise this summer is a striker, with Kenneth Zohore needing a player with proven Premier League ability to provide support. The Bluebirds have already been linked with Salomon Rondon in the past week or so, but Jay Rodriguez would bring something the Bluebirds don’t have in terms of finesse and versatility in the final third.
Rodriguez pipped Rondon 11-10 to be the Baggies’ top scorer despite relegation from the Premier League with just 31 points in the season just gone, though he has been linked with a return to Burnley.
The sticking point with both Albion strikers would be the transfer fee. Rodriguez cost around £12million for the Baggies to take from Southampton a year ago, while Rondon — who cost something similar back in 2015 — has a number of suitors.
Midfield is certainly an area the Bluebirds will want to bolster and West Brom have no shortage of players who could be moving on this summer. James McClean remains a fairly unpopular man in Cardiff after his goal crushed Wales World Cup dreams last year but the Irishman is the kind of tenacious, hard-working wide man Warnock would like to have in his side.
Chris Brunt is similar, though also has the prowess from set-pieces that could prove fundamental to Cardiff’s survival hopes next term. Neither player would break the bank, so could be on Warnock’s radar.
One who could prove beyond the Bluebirds reach, but would certainly inject control and authority to the midfield is Jake Livermore . The former Spurs man has been an England squad regular in recent months and will be sweating on a place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad. It would be a coup were Cardiff to land his signature but the fees in terms of transfer and wages would be high and a more established top flight side is likely to swoop.
Matt Phillips is a player formerly of Queens Park Rangers and Sheffield United — two former Warnock clubs, though he has never played under the Yorkshireman — and could represent an upgrade on the wing.
With Yanic Wildschut, Liam Feeney and Jamie Ward all likely to return to their parent clubs, Cardiff will be short of options and must have a player of Premier League pedigree in case Nathaniel Mendez-Laing struggles with the step-up in quality. Kadeem Harris may depart in the summer, although Junior Hoilett’s place should be secure if and when he signs a new contract.
It is clear Cardiff also need a goalkeeper to challenge Neil Etheridge and in Ben Foster they might find an experienced head to vie for that No.1 jersey, finances depending.
And although the Baggies are well stocked with centre-backs — Ahmed Hegazi and Craig Dawson could both cut it at Cardiff in the top flight — Warnock has insisted he’d be happy with Sol Bamba, Sean Morrison and Bruno Manga as his three main choices next season.
Forwards and central midfielders will be a priority.
As with West Brom, the Potters have at least one centre-back, in Ryan Shawcross , who could slot seamlessly into the Cardiff back line. His physicality, no nonsense attitude and aerial prowess make him an ideal fit — were Warnock on the look-out for a centre back. As we understand, that is not the case.
The one-cap England international almost played for Wales due to his schoolboy connections with Flintshire but has been a Stoke mainstay for the past decade. It could stay that way.
The intriguing Potters star who will surely remain in the Premier League next season is Joe Allen . His Swansea City past makes a move to Cardiff unlikely, but he’s the kind of classy passing midfielder the Bluebirds badly need.
Wales-supporting Cardiff fans would love to see Allen don a blue shirt, but a number of factors make it very, very unlikely.
ANY SWANSEA CITY PLAYERS?
Perhaps it’s a signifier of a Swansea City squad devoid of talent that few names leap off the page when it comes to Premier League certs next season.
Lukasz Fabianski and Alfie Mawson aside, there is scant quality in the Swans squad and virtually no players you could foresee doing a job for Warnock and Cardiff. Perhaps Kyle Naughton and Sam Clucas fit the bill in terms of positions Cardiff need to strengthen. But both have serious cons to negate the pros in terms of price or quality.
But the Swans have an expensive squad that doesn’t offer a lot in terms of the grit and work-rate Warnock views as the key attributes needed to survive in the Premier League.