Martinelli, Rashford, Salah, Son among players every Premier League club should sell this summer

Dave Tickner
Mo Salah, Marcus Rashford and Gabriel Martinelli
Mo Salah, Marcus Rashford and Gabriel Martinelli

On the face of it, a simple task. One player every Premier League club should sell this summer. But not everyone is going to like all of these, because what we’re not doing – for the most part – here is just listing players who are crap and/or of no value.

If anything the opposite. This is more a list of players clubs might be able to sell for a nice price while minimising the on-field impact. And sometimes, sure, it’s a player who’s a bit crap. And sometimes it’s a player we just want to see move on for our own selfish reasons. But often it’s simply ‘This very good player can be more easily replaced than others and would fetch big old piles of lovely lucre’.

Because this is now the Profit and Sustainably Rules era, and one thing we’ve definitely learned this season is that making those sums add up is a pretty good idea.


Arsenal: Gabriel Martinelli
So yeah, we’re straight in with one. We are not, repeat not, suggesting Gabriel Martinelli is cack with no redeeming qualities. It is specifically his many qualities that put him here, along with the wildly elevated trajectory upon which Arsenal now find themselves.

Martinelli is an excellent footballer and one we enjoy immensely. Someone, somewhere will pay a big old bunch of PSR-boosting cash for a winger of Martinelli’s quality but as this season has gone on, the nagging sense has developed that Arsenal are outgrowing him.

He hasn’t started a game since the 6-0 win at Sheffield United almost two months ago, and has not really been missed. The brutal truth is that six goals and four assists in 32 league games just isn’t where Arsenal are right now.

There are clearly players Arsenal would offload more cheerfully, but none that offer the same limited bang for such significant buck.

👉 Arsenal sanction family reunion, Man Utd sign CB – Feyenoord stars reassigned after Slot joins Liverpool
👉 Arsenal to ‘accept offers’ for trio to ‘fund’ £80m Guimaraes signing and swerve PSR breach

Aston Villa: Douglas Luiz
Yeah, we said it. Nobody in the Villa squad, with the possible exception of Ollie Watkins, would fetch a higher price than the Brazilian, and if you can win 2-0 at the Emirates without a player, then do you really need them that much anyway?

We are of course being a touch facetious here, but if there’s any hint of a transfer tussle for Luiz then you wonder if Villa might be tempted. We’d be very surprised if Arsenal don’t renew their interest this summer, while Liverpool’s midfield still doesn’t look quite right.

We’re certainly not suggesting Villa would be actively looking to move Luiz on, but while he has clearly been a vital part of their excellent season, there have been a few signs in recent weeks. Winning at the Emirates without him isn’t nothing, and if we’re being very harsh indeed his own form has slightly tailed off (albeit from a very high bar) without much tangible impact on Villa’s own trajectory.

There are two years left on Luiz’s contract, so this might be the last chance for Villa to bring in really serious money for him. If they can get two of the bigger boys interested, the temptations are clear.


Bournemouth: Dominic Solanke
At some point the PSR bailiffs are going to come knocking at Bournemouth’s door because over the last two years, their net spend is only a few pennies short of Nottingham Forest’s. And that means – when you are a club the size of little Bournemouth – that you are probably spending beyond your means.

At some point you need to sell and the Cherries have not sold a player for a significant sum during this two-year stay in the Premier League. Would they want to sell their top scorer? No. But would they be silly to turn down £50m-plus if the offer is made? Yes.

UNIQUE TO F365: Mediawatch | Mailbox | Winners & Losers | Bespoke Prem tables

Brentford: Ivan Toney
Obvious answer is obvious. He very clearly wants out, and even with only a year on his contract will fetch a pretty price with a striker very near the top of the summer wishlists of so many deep-pocketed clubs.

There’s also the awkward but undeniable fact Brentford haven’t really needed him anything like as much as it looked like they might when wheels were coming off in December. After scoring four goals in his first five games back he has struggled. Brentford saved themselves from an unpleasant final few weeks of the season with a run that included a highly impressive 3-3 draw at Villa and then 2-0 and 5-1 victories over Sheffield United and Luton to keep wolves firmly from doors. Toney played a grand total of nine minutes across those three games. Against Luton in particular there were clear signs of what Bryan Mbeumo, Yoane Wissa and Keane Lewis-Potter can do in a post-Toney world.

The harshest truth is that Brentford missed the idea of Toney in the first half of the season far more than the new-year reality of a player who no longer wants to be there.


Brighton: Pervis Estupinan
It’s turned into a grim old season for Brighton after last season’s high, and their downturn hasn’t even had the side benefit of putting anyone off a move for Roberto De Zerbi. Could cheat here and argue the manager is the one to cash in on given everything that’s happened this season and the sad truth that Brighton’s is now a squad containing no players that even Chelsea would throw a hundred million quid at. An injury-disrupted campaign has dulled Evan Ferguson’s sheen, while Kaoru Mitoma has also been out of action for extended periods.

And Brighton’s has not been a campaign where one could argue such absences haven’t been keenly felt. Some of the gleam has gone from the whole Brighton project in truth, with even the previously bulletproof idea that it didn’t matter who Brighton sold because they’d just find (or more likely had already found) someone even better for £3m in Argentina no longer carrying quite the same persuasive weight.

For the first time in a long time, it’s hard to look through Brighton’s squad and see who might fit the bill as a player of obvious quality that could nevertheless be sold at a high price and satisfactorily replaced at a far lower one, but Estupinan is probably the closest after a vaguely disappointing campaign between assorted injury setbacks including one that now appears set to rule him out of the Copa America.

👉 Klopp-Salah war, Arsenal bottle it, Spurs win by mistake, and seven more late-season predictions


Burnley: James Trafford
Tricky really until next season’s status is finally confirmed, because Burnley don’t really have a Morgan Gibbs-White type who could fetch a significant fee whatever division they happen to find themselves in.

We’re assuming relegation happens here, in which case we suspect someone out there would be willing to repeat the punt Burnley themselves took on Trafford despite a difficult season. They’d probably get their money back for a player who also probably wouldn’t make that much difference to what is very likely to be a successful promotion campaign once again built on scoring all the goals against teams who lack the wherewithal to hurt them.


Chelsea: Romelu Lukaku
I mean, where to start here frankly. It’s an absolute hot mess of a squad that’s about to be ‘bolstered’ by the return of all manner of unwanted and in many cases largely forgotten loan exiles. Hakim Ziyech will be back with a year still left on his contract FFS.

But there’s a clear winner here. Chelsea want nothing to do with Lukaku, Lukaku wants nothing to do with Chelsea and it’s time for a clean break. Well, as clean a break as can happen two years after it should have happened.

Chelsea insist there will be no more loans for Lukaku, whose 19 goals in all competitions for Roma this season should at least ensure a reasonable number of interested parties at any halfway sane asking price for a 31-year-old.


Crystal Palace: Tyrick Mitchell
Gonna break all our own rules here because we can. In several other cases here we’re going to argue for heads ruling hearts and extol the pragmatic virtues of cashing in on a prize asset at the right time to maximise returns for the PSR reality in which clubs are now forced to operate.

For Palace, though, we’re saying tits to all that. We want to see Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze play a full season together after a full Oliver Glasner pre-season because we suspect it might be marvellous. Sadly, the truth is we can probably say whatever we want about it because it almost certainly will not happen. Palace will probably get picked off, and that’s a great shame. We honestly think this might finally have been the combination to get them to the magical 50-point mark.

But even in our fantasy world where Palace keep both those stars, we need a significant sacrifice and if there’s one thing Palace have a proven track record at it’s getting big money for full-backs, so here we are.


Everton: Jarrad Branthwaite
It’s going to be painful, but again it’s one where a player just sits in the sweet spot for a particular club. Everton need money to invest in conspicuously weaker areas more than they need one very good young centre-back. Think of Everton. Think of Sean Dyche. Think about what they are (relatively) good at, and what they are bad at.

Everton’s points deduction has put them in a weird position in the table, but they are still at best a lower mid-table team. If the ambition is to be better than that – and it must be – then it’s clear where the weakness lies.

Everton have conceded 48 goals this season, which is really very good indeed. It’s fewer than anyone outside the top three. But they have scored only 37, fewer than anyone bar a heroically and historically poor Sheffield United.

Such is the state of things that Branthwaite is more responsible than is healthy for all those numbers. Clearly a brilliantly promising centre-back, he is also the club’s third top Premier League goalscorer this season with three.

It will be a huge wrench to lose him, but the fact a quick look at the Everton squad suggests they might miss him most as an attacking outlet says it all. They are and will remain a competent defensive team without him, but can invest the huge windfall he would generate in trying to become a less dreadful attacking one. Sure, it’s not as easy as ‘spend some money and be less dreadful at scoring goals’ sounds but it’s still worth a try.

👉 Jarrad Branthwaite comes with triple-threat tax for Man Utd
👉 Man Utd: Ratcliffe’s six summer targets revealed as Rashford leads ’12-man clearout’

Fulham: Antonee Robinson
There is a Fulham player likely to be the subject of all manner of Big Six/Seven wrangling this summer. Alas for Fulham that player is Tosin Adarabioyo, who will be out of contract and thus bring no money for the pot when Newcastle, Man United and Tottenham have finished their squabbling over him.

That leaves Antonee Robinson, who is very much in contract and could if Fulham are lucky attract interest from both Liverpool and Chelsea. It would be a wrench to lose him after an excellent season, but we have a half-baked theory that if you’re a mid-table club resigned to losing one key player most summers it’s easier to cope with losing them from a wide position than the spine. If it’s Robinson or Joao Palhinha, then it’s no decision at all, is it?


Liverpool: Mo Salah
We’re very much enjoying the narrative that Salah has somehow been crap this year. It’s tremendously silly and a wonderful bit of the ol’ recency bias. But there’s little point pretending it doesn’t all feel like things are coming to an end for Salah at Liverpool every bit as clearly as they are for touchline sparring partner Jurgen Klopp, and far more clearly than is the case for any of the other key Klopp lieutenants.

Liverpool may have missed the boat for the biggest Saudi payday and it’s as yet unclear what appetite there is on the part of Saudi clubs to replicate anything like last summer’s undignified trolley dash. But what we do know is that Salah is the player they covet above all others.

👉 Mediawatch: We read The Sun on ‘collapse of Klopp’s Liverpool empire’ so you don’t have to…


Luton: Andros Townsend
Unless they stay up. If they stay up, then fine. Townsend can stay. But if they go down, Townsend must be sold because his place is in the bottom half of the Premier League and we’re not yet ready to face a world where that isn’t the case.

The very idea of a Premier League season where Townsend doesn’t score at least one or two memorable big-boy-bothering goals is not one we are willing to countenance.


Manchester City: Jack Grealish
Sometimes a transfer rumour comes along that, while it may well be complete tish and fipsy, just sounds right. ‘Grealish to Chelsea’ is one such transfer. All fits, doesn’t it?

Under Pep Guardiola, Grealish has become a more rounded but much less fun and arguably less effective footballer. He’s won all the pots and pans he could wish to win, learned a great deal about his game and himself, and can now toddle off down to Chelsea and forget all about that to be a jack-the-lad luxury player doing all showboating and highlight-reel stuff without worrying too much about how often it actually gets sh*t done somewhere that no longer retains any pretensions of being a serious football club.

From City’s perspective, they’re probably not getting £100m back even from a club so divorced from financial realities as Todd Boehly’s Chelsea, but they should certainly get the book value and a bit on top for a player halfway through his six-year contract.


Manchester United: Marcus Rashford
Pretty much everyone is available at Man United by the sound of it, and Rashford is the most eye-catching member of that large group. We have our selfish reasons for wanting this, purely because we’re intrigued to see precisely what Rashford might become when taken out of that Man United environment with its myriad toxic and nonsensical elements.

Maybe he isn’t quite the truly elite player we all thought he might be, but we’ll never truly know for sure what his ceiling truly is until we see what he looks like in a completely different set-up.

City is one obvious place you’d love to see him, but let’s file that one under unlikely. We don’t know precisely what it is – maybe it simply is that ‘very good but not quite truly elite’ vibe – but something about Rashford has always screamed Spurs to us.

But wherever it is, we would be fascinated to see a non-United Rashford just to form a final, conclusive opinion about him. And it would certainly allow United to make a statement about their bold new era no matter what else stayed the same.

👉 Where all 22 up-for-sale United players could end up this summer in £575m INEOS clear out


Newcastle: Alexander Isak
Pretty much have to sell someone this summer to balance the books, however irritating that might be for a club that thought it had the cheat code to avoid all that pesky number-crunching. Curse you, PSR, curse your oily hide.

No easy way to go about it, but for clubs outside the absolute elite – and that is where Newcastle remain for now – there remains a compelling case for cashing in on the biggest single asset at the optimum time to maximise returns and then reinvest wisely. That second bit is very important and very difficult, sure, but Isak certainly fits the bill for the former.

Isak is 24, has four years left on his contract, is about to reach 20 league goals for the season and would sit right at the top of the summer wishlist for multiple massive clubs. A nine-figure price tag doesn’t seem unreasonable, and the caveat to this one is that it very much requires the price to be right. The point in selling Isak now, at the absolute height of his value, is to ensure you maximise that sufficiently to not have to even consider any other major departure.


Nottingham Forest: Morgan Gibbs-White
Will have no choice at all about it if they go down, because it’s going to be quite the firesale. But even if Forest do stay up it’s hard to see how the books get anywhere near balanced again without cashing in on their most conspicuously cash-inable asset.

Wouldn’t even be that surprising to see him follow the exact same route out of Forest as Brennan Johnson, and for a broadly similar fee.


Sheffield United: Anel Ahmedhodzic
Looking up and down the Sheffield United squad list it is hard, alas, to see anyone Premier League clubs are likely to fall over each other to pursue. It’s not like when Leicester went down, is it? Gus Hamer might interest some, but has he really done enough in the cold light of day to suggest he isn’t one of those players who is too good for the Championship but not quite there for the Barclays? Might be harsh, that. Certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see someone have a punt.

But we think the one who might get another chance with another relegation battler at the very least is Ahmedhodzic, a centre-back emerging with any credit at all from a season that is now very likely to feature 100 goals conceded is really quite something.


Tottenham: Son Heung-min
We just feel it’s time. For Spurs, anyway. For Son, the time was probably ‘three years ago’ if we’re being brutally honest. He’s not the only wonderful player to have given over the entire peak of his career to an incredibly stupid football club, but it’s still a thing he has done.

He’s had a perfectly good season, because he always does. He’s got double figures in Premier League goals eight years in a row now. He still has lots to offer, but there’s no doubt his wider contribution has faded as the season has gone on. Spurs as a club expended an awful lot of angst on fretting over a post-Kane world but now must also look at a post-Son one.

For one thing, this is the last summer to get any kind of fee for him. He has only one year left on his contract. Fitting in a way for a player whose Spurs career is so indelibly and powerfully entwined with Kane’s that he should reach the same contract scenario but with just far less fuss and attention.

Spurs have had a curious season and where exactly they are on their Angeball journey is currently really quite unclear; they might very well still be near the start of something extraordinary, but could just as easily be barrelling headlong towards another false dawn and a November sacking. What they have done, though, at long last is finally move decisively beyond the Pochettino boys. The departure of Son really would signal the end of that era.

Sure, Ben Davies would still be there but he always will be. He is eternal.

📣 TO THE COMMENTS! Is Son’s time at Spurs up? Join the debate here

West Ham: Lucas Paqueta
Again, brutal reality for clubs like West Ham is that you’re probably going to lose one every summer and what matters is how you deal with it. Did pretty well with the Declan Rice money last year and, while it will be deeply annoying not to see exactly what a new and progressive manager does with the distinctly Big Six-worthy trio of Mohammed Kudus, Jarrod Bowen and Paqueta, the main thing is that those three have still had to play behind a 34-year-old Michail Antonio an awful lot this season.

Keep at least two of those three – and Paqueta is probably the easiest sell to the widest range of buyer at the highest price – and use the money to finally end the striker search once and for all.

Because West Ham fans know better than most that buying a striker who works out perfectly is very easy indeed.


Wolves: Hee-chan Hwang
Because Wolves having not one but two players reaching double figures for Premier League goals in a season just doesn’t sit right at all, and Matheus Cunha has only just got here.