The nature of the Premier League is changing.

This is good news for Albion, because it will improve the prospects of holding onto star performers like Lewis Dunk.

There used to be three divisions within the division. The top six, an established middle ground of clubs not good enough to challenge them but too good to go down, and those destined to struggle.

The heayweights, Leicester's freak title triumph apart, have most of the best players and the financial muscle to maintain their dominance.

From seventh all the way down to 20th it is wide open.

Three of the so-called established clubs - West Brom, Stoke and Swansea - went down. Another, Southampton, finished fourth-bottom.

Everton needed Sam Allardyce to rescue them from early relegation worries.

West Ham needed a three-point swing on the final day to edge above Albion.

Who would predict now, with any certainty and the Europa League to distract them, that Burnley cannot possibly go down next season?

This is relevant to Dunk and any other Albion players that might catch the eye of others - Pascal Gross (below left) is another likely candidate after the intelligent German's influential debut season.

The Argus: Dunk, as most regular watchers suspected, took the step up in his stride.

He has been outstanding, one of just five outfield players who played every minute of every match.

Only his less cultured but similarly effective partner Shane Duffy (below centre) made more blocks (58 to 57).

The Argus: If Dunk attracts attention from, say Arsenal, and an offer matched Albion's valuation, he would go with everybody's good wishes. No hard feelings.

If, on the other hand, it was an Everton or West Ham that would be a different matter much more irritating.

They are bigger clubs than the Seagulls with bigger finances - but not big enough in the new Premier League pecking order to justify moving for football reasons.

The squad selection by Gareth Southgate last time around of Harry Maguire, James Tarkowksi and in particular Alfie Mawson - considering that he plays for Swansea - should also encourage Dunk to believe that staying with Albion would not be a major disadvantage to his England ambitions.

Chairman Tony Bloom will, from a financial perspective, undoubtedly display the same determination as in the past couple of seasons to retain the club's best players while seeking to improve again the quality of the squad.

This is essential to continue progression. Another smart summer of recruitment, after the outstanding work by Paul Winstanley and his team in the last few transfer windows, involves signing not just good players but good characters. Stoke in particular have come unstuck in this respect.

As it transpired, purely in terms of final points totals, Albion were safe not on March 4 when they beat Arsenal (below) but on Manchester United when they suffered the same fate at the Amex.

The Argus: They did pretty well against the top six at home, also holding Tottenham to a draw and Manchester City for more than threequarters of the match on the opening day before Pep's runaway champions glided into top gear.

Even the four-goal margins of defeat by Liverpool and Chelsea were misleading in their severity.

Away from the Amex it was much tougher, no points, 14 goals conceded and only one scored by Leo Ulloa at the Etihad last week.

An improvement in these lopsided statistics, together with fewer demands on last-ditch interventions by Dunk and Duffy, would be proof of progress.

Assuming, that is, Dunk is still wearing the blue and white stripes. The Premier League's 14-team sub-division has increased the chances of that remaining the case.