This summer will require a big reshuffling of the pack regardless of whether we stay up or go down.
But relegation would undoubtedly mean losing more players than survival and there are obviously some big names who would look for pastures new. Our clause to make the signing of Tomas Soucek permanent wouldn’t be taken up and he would return to Sparta Prague.
Sebastian Haller, Felipe Anderson, Issa Diop and most disappointingly Declan Rice have reputations that would make it impossible to see them lining up for us in the Championship. As for the first three, Irrespective of whether they have lived up to their reputations, there would be suitors elsewhere willing to take them off our hands in the hopes of discovering the qualities that saw us pay nearly £100 million for their services.
As for Rice, despite our poor season he has still been one of the top defensive midfielders in the league and will hopefully carry that form into the Euros with England in the summer. As much as we could hope his love for the club might mean he is willing to drag us out of the second tier, no fan could begrudge him leaving for the sake of his career.
As for the rest of the squad, starting with the defence I imagine Arthur Masuaku will leave.There has been reported interest in him from abroad and he is unlikely to be up for the fight of Championship football.
Pablo Zabaleta is retiring, Ryan Fredericks will likely stay and in truth the Championship is probably his level. Jeremy Ngakai has shown enough promise in his few appearances to suggest he can stake a claim for the right back spot and the second tier is probably good enough for him to continue his development.
Aaron Cresswell is coming towards his twilight years and on a long contract after his renewal this season so he will likely stay and be a good player to be able to call on. Ben Johnson should provide ample cover for him. The likes of Robert Snodgrass and Mark Noble fall into the same category as Cresswell.
Those three experienced heads possess enough nowse and leadership, as well as decent qualities on the ball, that could serve us well. Despite maybe not being up to Premier League standards anymore, there is youthful exuberance around them to do the running required.
The other more experienced pros are slightly harder to call. Darren Randolph will likely stay as either first choice or back up and is a good keeper for that level. His role would depend on the decision of Fabianski, which is a difficult one to call.
Fabianski has undoubtedly been one of the best keepers outside of the top six and his experience and ability could tempt newly promoted/mid-table sides to try and pry him away. But as he gets older and more injury prone, we may find that clubs are unwilling to pay the wages or the fee required, given the value he would have to us, especially in the Championship.
The same could be said of Angelo Ogbonna and Michail Antonio. Ogbonna is the more likely of the two to leave, with a return to Italy muted in recent windows, whilst Antonio’s work rate, strength and directness would make him appealing to a number of clubs.
But I could see both staying to see if they can help us return at the first attempt at least. Fabian Balbuena has fallen out of favour with Moyes, but is a Paragyuan International and still has a reputation in South America, so could well leave.
If we could retain his services, and he could rediscover his first season form, he could be a valuable player for us in the Championship. I would also hold a slight hope that we could retain the services of either Lanzini or Pablo Fornals.
The days of Lanzini being courted by the top six sides are long gone and he is on a big wages and a long contract. Fornals could be tempted to stay and establish himself in the side as our main man, similar to Neves at Wolves when he lit up the Championship.
If we can keep one of the two, we will possess a real match winner in the second tier. Speaking of match winners, Grady Dianganna has shown that he is too good for the Championship this season and would be a massive coup if we can convince him that his development would be best served with one more season fighting for promotion.
Likewise Jarrod Bowen, whose relegation release clause may prove high enough to stave off suitors at least until the January window. If we have those two, make use of the returning loanees like Nathan Holland, Josh Cullen, Conor Coventry and Nathan Trott, and add in a few of the other highly rated youngsters from the dominant Premier League 2 side, such as Cardosa and Xande Silva, then we could have a blend of youth and experience to return to the top flight st the first time of asking