Top 10 lower league transfer targets for Premier League clubs

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Every summer transfer window, the lion’s share of the media’s focus is on the big names from big clubs.

This year, Edinson Cavani, Robert Lewandowski and Wayne Rooney are just three of them.

However, as has been proved in the past, there are some gems to be had from lower down the football pyramid. Canny managers have managed to turn promising players into top-class performers in the space of a season and there have been notable examples.

Tim Cahill was one of Everton’s finest performers of the past decade, but after being plucked from Millwall by David Moyes, no-one expected the Australian playmaker to do so well.

Other examples of players signed in the summer from below the Premier League who have gone on to bigger and better things include Nathaniel Clyne, Joe Hart and Gareth Bale, the latter two becoming world-class players in their own right.

This summer, a few teams have looked to the Football League in search of reinforcements. Already, newly-promoted Crystal Palace have chosen to spend £4.5m on Peterborough United’s prolific striker Dwight Gayle.

Elsewhere in the league, Norwich City have signed Nathan Redmond from Birmingham City, while Hull City have taken Redmond’s ex-teammate Curtis Davies from St Andrews in the hope of steering them away from a possible relegation battle.

A number of highly-rated players from the Championship and Leagues One and Two have been linked with a step up to the top flight, but who are they and where will they end up should they move?

Here, we look at eight players who will be on the radar of Premier League clubs from now until the end of August:

Sam Byram – Leeds United

Leeds United v Huddersfield Town - npower Championship

Ostensibly a left-back, Byram’s pace and trickery mean that he’s equally adept further up the pitch. In an otherwise ordinary Leeds side, Byram looked like he was ready for a move elsewhere. West Bromwich Albion have reportedly had a £3m bid rejected already.

Tom Ince – Blackpool

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The son of current club boss and ex-England international Paul, Tom Ince looks like an international in the making, but is aware that he must move to a higher level in order to realise his ambition. Cardiff City are apparently close to signing him, but his preferred destination is former club Liverpool.

Charlie Austin – Burnley

Watford v Burnley - npower Championship

One of the best strikers in the Championship, Austin has come a long way since plying his trade for Poole Town. Recently, Austin failed a medical after agreeing personal terms over a £4m transfer to Hull City; a persistent knee problem being a potential barrier in place of a move to the top flight.

James McCarthy – Wigan Athletic

Wigan Athletic v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

After winning the FA Cup and getting relegated with the Latics, the Republic of Ireland international has a big decision to make. He would fit in perfectly at Everton as a replacement for Marouane Fellaini, should he leave, but he will probably cost upwards of £10m.

Alex McCarthy – Reading

Reading v Fulham - Premier League

In a team where he has the impressive Adam Federici to compete with, a possible sale following Reading’s immediate return to the Championship cannot be ruled out. Newcastle United may be interested in him, but he will want a regular starting place in goal, wherever he plays.

Bakary Sako – Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Bolton Wanderers - npower Championship

The French winger was the only player to impress in a disastrous successive relegation to League One for Wolves. Mid-table Premier League sides who require a little creativity could do worse than sign Sako and it seems that Fulham may have him for a modest £4m.

Harry Maguire – Sheffield United

Sheffield United v Sheffield Wednesday - npower League One

Despite playing in the third tier, Maguire is seen as a potential Premier League star. This classy yet dependable centre-back wouldn’t look out of place in the top flight. A possible move to Aston Villa will reunite him with former colleague Matt Lowton, who improved after a shaky start.

Jordan Rhodes – Blackburn Rovers

Arsenal v Blackburn Rovers - FA Cup Fifth Round

Amid the chaos at Ewood Park, Rhodes looked to be worth every penny of the £8m they paid Huddersfield Town for his services. Moves to other Championship clubs have been mooted, but another step up would be more likely. Blackburn are reluctant to sell, though.

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