Bargain Buys – 12 of the Best Players from Relegated Teams around Europe

When it comes to players on relegated teams, it’s easy to get lazy, the team was terrible so everyone playing in it must be too. Thankfully, football clubs have got a bit better at evaluating players than your average amateur football scout on Twitter. A closer inspection reveals that actually, the teams might’ve struggled but shopping in relegated sides can usually bag you a bargain.


How Sassuolo Landed Themselves in a Relegation Battle


So, without further delay let’s look at some of the best bargain buys from Europe’s relegated sides including: two internationals, a former Chelsea star and one of Real Madrid’s former hottest prospects. Where player rankings vs other positions or the rest of the league are concerned, I’ve removed all players who’ve made less than 10 appearances.




Gustavo Hamer

Age – 26

Position – CM, CDM, CAM

Club – Sheffield United

Following a season in which he was pivotal to Coventry’s near promotion to the Premier League, it’s no surprise Gustavo Hamer was snapped up by a Premier League side. Whilst Swedish striker Viktor Gyökeres made his way to Sporting, where he has proceeded to win the Golden Boot, Hamer remained in England and headed to Bramall Lane.


Gustavo Hamer: Coventry’s Midfield Orchestrator


Hamer then proceeded to further showcase his talents by bagging 10 G/A from central midfield, 29% of all Sheffield United goals in the Premier League this season. Able to play as a 6, 8 or 10, he’d make a perfect signing for any lower to mid-table Premier League side.


Ross Barkley

Age – 30

Position – CM

Club – Luton Town


What a difference a year makes. This time last year Ross Barkley was released by OG Nice wondering where it all went wrong (hint, joining Chelsea). When Luton came calling, eyebrows were raised. Fast forward a year and Barkley looks like a bargain.


The Renaissance of Ross Barkley at Luton Town


Tasked with sitting deeper and progressing the ball up the pitch he’s completed the joint 4th most dribbles per 90 in the league (2.1) and contributed 9 G/A for a team everyone largely expected to be the worst in PL history. Likely available for a cut-price fee, Barkley would fit into any PL club perfectly, whether as a starter or a depth option.


Teden Mengi

Age – 22

Position – CB

Club – Luton Town

When Manchester United released Teden Mengi, Luton pounced, hoping they’d spotted something United missed. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they were right. Still only 22, Mengi’s anticipation goes far beyond his years, he leads the league in interceptions per game (1.9) and ranking 13th in clearances per game (4.8).


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Premier League level centre backs are hard to come by and clubs are constantly looking for quality reinforcements. Still only 22 and having spent the year playing across Luton’s back 3, Mengi might just be the answer.


Alfie Doughty

Age – 24

Position – LWB

Club – Luton Town


As with a large contingent of the Luton squad this season, Alfie Doughty’s debut season in the Premier League surprised just about everyone. Given the freedom to support the attack in Rob Edwards’ 3-5-2, Doughty has hit 8 assists this season and averaged 1.9 key passes per game, good for 21st in the league.


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Still only 24, any club looking for an attacking left back should give Doughty some serious consideration. He’s approaching the prime of his career, and with the Hatters dropping down to the Championship, it seems unlikely that he’ll be sticking around at Kenilworth Road for much longer.




Domenico Berardi

Age – 29

Position – RW

Club – Sassuolo


Let’s start this section with the most obvious one from this group. While Sassuolo might’ve struggled to do anything positive this season, their star man didn’t. Blessed with the perfect combination of smarts, agility and tenacity, Domenico Berardi bagged himself 12 G/A despite his side’s struggles and still ranks in the top 20% of Serie A wingers for progressive passes.


Player Analysis: Domenico Berardi


He might be getting older (29) and he might have injury issues (he’s currently out with a torn Achilles) but he’s still an Italy international and only 2 seasons removed from hauling in 32 G/A in 2021/22. He’s more than worth a punt.


Luca Mazzitelli

Age – 28

Position – CM

Club – Frosinone


The world might’ve been watching Matias Soule, but it was the Frosinone captain who gave the Argentinian the platform he needed. It says a lot when a player is made captain in their first season, the Italian has spent the season showcasing why it was the right decision.


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Not afraid to do the dirty work, Mazzitelli leads Serie A CMs in clearances per game (2.3) and has even chipped in with the odd goal here and there (5 goals). He might not be Andrea Pirlo, but as a cheap option in the middle of the park, he’s perfect.


Andrea Pinamonti

Age – 25

Position – ST

Club – Sassuolo


Whilst Sassuolo have had an awful year, Andrea Pinamonti certainly hasn’t. Despite being starved of service (Sassuolo rank 15th in assists) Pinamonti has scored 11 goals this year, including against the likes of Juventus, AC Milan and Fiorentina.


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And while Sassuolo paid €20m for his services, he’s likely to cost a fraction of that. Perfect for a team looking for forward options, he’s already being linked with a return to Inter to replace the Saudi Arabia-bound Marko Arnautovic.




Timo Hubers

Age – 27

Position – CB

Club – FC Koln


Since relegated sides tend to leak goals, it’s often hard to evaluate their centre backs. How much of the blame do they deserve for their team’s relegation? One player that defies this logic is Timo Hubers. While Koln conceded the 5th most goals in the Bundesliga, Hubers has been a brick wall.


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He tallied the most clearances (5.4) and 2nd most interceptions per game (2) in the league and was a top 15 player in tackles (2.2) and blocks (0.9). The 27-year old’s defensive prowess, combined with Koln’s relegation to the 2. Bundesliga is likely to raise the eyebrows of a number of clubs in need of defensive reinforcements this summer.




Matthieu Udol

Age – 28

Position – LB

Club – FC Metz


While star striker Georges Mikautadze might’ve grabbed headlines at Metz this year, one player whose good season slipped under the radar as a result was left back Matthieiu Udol. Udol does every aspect of being a full back well.


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Defensively solid, Udol leads Ligue 1 left backs in clearances per game (3.1) and ranks 2nd in interceptions per game (1.7). Going forward, he’s bagged 6 G/A and ranks joint 8th in crosses into the penalty area. He’d be perfect for a team looking for low-cost options at left back.


Muhammed Cham

Age – 23

Position – CAM

Club – Clermont Foot


Clermont might’ve failed to put the ball in the net this season (26 GF, last in Ligue 1) but Muhammed Cham didn’t. Primarily a No. 10 but able to play anywhere in a forward line, Cham contributed 46% of the team’s goals this season (12 G/A).


Clermont Foot – Ligue 1’s ‘Other’ Overachievers


He’s also proven his skills as a creator, ranking 5th in Ligue 1 for Shot Creating Actions (119). An Austria international at the age of 23, he might need time to develop, but Cham is likely to become a star.





Sergio Arribas

Age – 22

Position – CAM

Club – UD Almeria


In 2023, Sergio Arribas made a very hard choice. In order to get first-team minutes, he decided to leave Real Madrid’s academy and move 500 KM south, to Almeria. On the surface, it looks like it was a disaster. Almeria had a dreadful season, finishing 19th and scoring the least goals in La Liga (23). Arribas however, has plenty to smile about.  


UD Almería – La Liga’s Striker School


Playing in no less than 6 positions, Arribas finished the year with 13 G/A, an astonishing 52% of his teams’ total goals. The young number 10 definitely needs time to develop, but after Almeria’s relegation, he’s available for cheap (a reported €10 million). If his career continues on the same trajectory, I’d say that’s a bargain.


Marc Pubil

Age – 20

Position – RB

Club – UD Almeria

Another Almeria player likely to be on the move this summer is Marc Pubil. At his best bombing forward, the 20-year-old ranks in the top 20% of La Liga fullbacks in successful take-ons per 90 (1.58) and progressive carries (2.82).


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But that doesn’t mean he’s a slouch when defending, ranking joint 3rd amongst La Liga full-backs for clearances per 90 (3.2). He’s already attracting attention from the likes of Liverpool and Inter Milan and it’s easy to see why. He’s got a lot to learn, but there’s definitely something there.


By: Kieran Alder / @The_Own_Goal

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Mick Walker – CameraSport