Brentford have braced themselves to lose their star players this summer following defeat to Fulham in the Playoff final.
After twice fluffing the opportunity to go into 2nd place and thus earn automatic promotion in the final week of the season, Brentford came from behind in their playoff semi-final against Swansea before Tuesday’s clash with Fulham.
But two goals in extra-time from full-back Joe Bryan were enough to see off the challenge of the Bees, despite a late consolation goal from Henrik Dalsgaard and secure promotion for Fulham back into the Premier League.
The defeat means Brentford will continue in the second division of English football but with the talents of their squad widely praised throughout the season they will now surely be under pressure from Premier League clubs to sell.
Reports suggest star striker Ollie Watkins has an £18million release clause and Premier League sides Southampton, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa are all keen to trigger it. Said Benrahma was the star of the season and has reportedly attracted interest from Chelsea while Josh DaSilva, Bryan Mbeumo and Christian Norgaard will all surely attract attention from other clubs too.
With the squad they built having cost around £30million and the new stadium now ready to move into without fans being at games for the forseeable future, Brentford may have no option but to cash in.
Replacements will likely come from lower leagues and obscure countries much like they have in the past, with their stats model leading the way in their recruitment process for a while.
With the BMW partnership set to be broken up, Thomas Frank will not only have the task of replacing them but he will need to ensure he is given the time to rebuild and get back to a level where Brentford can compete at the top once again and potentially get back to a position where promotion is a real possibility.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Thomas Frank targeted by a Premier League club next year if a club decides to part ways with their manager and go in the direction of exciting attacking football. Knowing he can work on a shoestring budget will be appealing but the fact that he will likely have some sort of money to work with will appeal to him and give encouragement to any club interested in his services.
It’s a big ask for Brentford now as they go into a season short on money, short on star quality and needing to bounce back from the biggest heartbreak in English football that is losing out in the Playoff finals.