Hull gaffer Steve Bruce will have to choose wisely when selecting his targets for this summer.
For any manager going into the preseason, there is always the problem of getting the balance right when bringing in and selling players. However, the issue becomes greatly magnified when a team is making the transition from the Championship to the Premier League.
Steve Bruce has two examples to learn from.
One is Southampton, who made funds available to significantly strengthen last summer, bringing in key players such as Maya Yoshida, Jay Rodriguez and Nathaniel Clyne, who helped the Saints to place 14th at the end of the season.
The other is Reading, who, having finished above Southampton in 2011-12, perhaps underestimated the quality of the top flight. They brought in players, though not top players—while Pavel Pogrebnyak and Danny Guthrie came from Premier League teams, they are not as good as Gaston Ramirez and Rodriguez—and were doomed to spend only one season at the top before being sent down in 19th place.
However, Steve Bruce has plenty of top-flight experience, both as a player and in management, and will no doubt push Assem Allam for some spending money.
Here we will take a look at some possible transfers that could see the Tigers survive through to the 2014-15 Premier League season.
All stats are courtesy of transfermarkt.co.uk unless linked otherwise.
Austin has had two consecutive seasons of good form and is a target for a number of PL clubs.
The young Burnley forward has enjoyed a steady rise through the football ranks, which culminated with 2012-13 being the 23-year-old’s best professional season to date, as he scored 27 goals in all competitions.
With reports from The Sun suggesting Charlie Austin harbours a desire to play in the top tier, Steve Bruce can offer him that and reap the benefits of signing an in-form striker while not parting with too much of a fortune.
But with Sky Sports reporting a tide of interest from more established clubs such as Aston Villa and Newcastle United, Bruce will have to give Austin a strong case as to why he should move to Humberside.
No need to despair, though, for there is another promising striker on the horizon.
Rhodes reportedly has his eye on a summer move to the top flight.
In the wake of escaping relegation from the Championship by a mere four points with a Premier League squad, it’s difficult to see exactly how Blackburn Rovers can expect to pocket the desired £15 million that they want for Jordan Rhodes.
Another 23-year-old who has been making a mockery of Championship defences, Rhodes netted 29 goals in 49 clubs games last season, which has alerted both his employers and prospective bidders to his serious potential. The reaction of the club hierarchy was to staple a huge price tag on him, but it is unlikely to ward off predators, with Hull and West Brom reported to be interested according to the Hull Daily Mail.
Rhodes or Charlie Austin would give Hull some of the much-needed goals they lacked in 2012-13, as evidenced by the Championship top scorers table, in which the only featured Hull player was George Boyd in joint-24th on 10 for the season.
Odemwingie looks set to be on his way out of the Hawthorns.
Whether or not you would want this man and the accompanying attitude in your dressing room is open for debate, but his talent and experience are undeniable.
The Nigeria international will be sold this summer, having soured his relationship with the Baggies after making an extramarital trip to London, apparently with the intent of securing a lucrative contract with QPR.
But while his loyalty is there to be sneered at, his goalscoring record is rather more astute, with 31 goals and 17 assists in 90 games for the West Midlands club.
With the misfiring Jay Simpson released from his contract, Peter Odemwingie would provide a decent foil for either Rhodes or Austin, while his footballing pedigree (Lille and Lokomotiv Moscow) would rub off well on the developing Sone Aluko.
Espinoza (right) is a desirable option, but the short duration of his Wigan career could get in the way of any potential deals.
The Latics showed their quality with an almost flawless FA Cup final victory over Manchester City this year but unfortunately succumbed to league relegation only three days later.
That, coupled with the likely departure of Roberto Martinez reported by The Sun, has led to uncertainty at the DW Stadium, and the door has been left open for the likes of Bruce and Hull to poach players who might be pining for a top-flight return.
There are a number of talented individuals who could slot into the Hull set-up.
Roger Espinoza has impressed since joining Wigan in January and could be tempted, but that he has only been at the club for five months could prove an obstacle, as Dave Whelan and company will be desperate to hold on to players for a push back into the top-flight.
Despite finishing in second on 79 points, Hull’s goal difference last season was a paltry nine. This highlights issues at the back as well as the front, and recruiting a defender with top-tier experience could be part of the solution.
Emmerson Boyce has worked with Steve Bruce before and could be willing to leave his club of seven years to re-join his former manager back in the Premier League.
Additionally, while he is not a Wigan player (or indeed, tied to any club at present), Richard Dunne is looking for a new club and comes with the appealing price-tag of zero. The former Aston Villa and Manchester City centre-back has been sidelined since summer 2012, and as a result was recently released by Paul Lambert.
It would be a gamble, but Dunne has invaluable Premier League nous, and if Hull can get him fit and back in form they would see considerable value in a player who was bought for £5 million in 2009.
The highly promising Nick Powell in action with the England under-19s against Turkey.
One clear advantage that Steve Bruce has over many of his counterparts is his access to the Manchester United youth setup.
Naturally, loaning young players from big clubs is generally a short-term plugging action—unless, as in some cases, there is a view to purchase—but coming back into the top-flight is no cakewalk.
Bruce will know that the key to reestablishing Hull as a Premier League team lies in the second season, when it is time to start building a permanent group of players to take the club forward based on the attraction of having survived the baptism of fire. In the meantime, recruiting a few promising talents on year-long deals wouldn't hurt.
Judging by Hull’s lack of strike power, a sensible option would be Chilean striker Angelo Henriquez. The 19-year-old has shown substantial talent despite his lack of playing time while on loan at Wigan, and given the fact that he is unlikely to oust Robin van Persie from the point of the United attack just yet, he will probably be sent out on loan again.
Another option in attack is a player who has garnered praise since making his Manchester United debut—Nick Powell.
Able to perform as either a forward or attacking midfielder, Powell’s United career got off to a flying start with a debut goal that rocketed past Wigan Athletic ’keeper Ali Al-Habsi from outside the box in a manner not unlike that of a young Paul Scholes.
However, since then he has not broken into the team, and with his burgeoning talent it would be disappointing if David Moyes was to confine him to the bench for another season rather than sending him out on loan.