Last summer, Premier League clubs raided the Championship for some top talents with noteworthy signings including Ebere Eze to Crystal Palace, Ollie Watkins to Aston Villa and Said Benrahma to West Ham. The Championship is often a goldmine for brilliant players just waiting for their chance to step up.
But there are still many players in the second division that would be capable of playing in the Premier League, so here’s 10 of the best.
10. Adam Armstrong
Last season Armstrong notched up 16 goals as Blackburn finished amongst mid-table in 11th place. This season however, Armstrong already has 17 goals in just 26 matches and the former Newcastle striker is proving that he has an eye for goal. This is both a blessing and a curse for Rovers fans as his goal scoring heroics have lifted them to 8th in the table, but the bad news is that if they were unable to sneak into the Premier League then he wouldn’t be short of suitors. Armstrong would be a brilliant signing for any bottom half Premier League club and has age on his side at just 23 years old
9. Paddy McNair
Middlesbrough struggled last season under former player Jonathan Woodgate before replacing him with Championship master Neil Warnock who subsequently dragged them to safety. This season Warnock has worked more of his magic as ‘Boro sit in 7th place and still in a position to push for the playoffs. Defence has been key for Warnock’s men as they boast one of the best defensive records in the league despite their recent form. Paddy McNair is a key reason for this, with the Northern Ireland international being in superb form and bringing some much-needed steel for a team that play this way. McNair can play at the back or in midfield and was probably Middlesbrough’s best player last season.
8. Kieffer Moore
Cardiff have been disappointing this season after sneaking into the playoffs last year. This time around though the Bluebirds have struggled which ultimately led to Neil Harris losing his job. Mick McCarthy is now at the helm in the Welsh capital and Moore’s goals will be key to him being able to turn their fortunes around. The Welsh international signed as part of the Wigan fire sale for a measly £2 million which is a steal when you consider how good he’s turned out to be. Having already surpassed last season’s goal tally with 11 goals in 24 games it looks as though he’ll edge nearer to the 20 mark. Moore is now 28 years old so his Premier League window may well be closing, but if he keeps up his form there’s still time for the physical forward to reach the promised land.
7. Rico Henry
Rico Henry was ready to make the step up last season and the fact that Brentford have managed to hold onto him has been a great piece of business all on its own. Henry is probably the best left back in the Championship and has lit the league on fire so far this season. It’s rare to find a left back who is as good as Henry going forward who also has the defensive awareness to avoid getting caught out but the Walsall academy graduate manages to be brilliant at both ends of the pitch. He’s done well to bounce back from some injury concerns when he initially moved to Brentford but with reported interest from West Ham and Aston Villa, Henry will most likely be playing Premier League football next season regardless of whether Brentford get promoted.
6. Jed Wallace
There were times last season where it felt as though Wallace was carrying Millwall’s playoff push on his back as he reached double figures for both goals and assists as the Lions ultimately fell short. This season has been a little more disappointing as the London club sit in 14th place. Wallace however has still managed to reach 6 goals which sets him on course to reach last season’s tally of 10. The 26-year-old mainly operates on the right hand side and constantly provides an added threat due to his excellent set-piece delivery, something that Millwall look to exploit with excellent aerial targets such as Jake Cooper and Matt Smith.
5. Krystian Bielik
It hasn’t been a brilliant season for Derby and they are currently involved in the relegation scrap in 22nd place. One shining light however has been the emergence of Krystian Bielik as one of the leagues best performers. The Polish defensive midfielder signed for the Rams in summer 2019 from Arsenal but unfortunately had his first season disrupted by injury and is currently back on the side-lines once again. But when fit he’s been superb and has shown his versatility, being able to play at centre back or in central midfield. Hopefully we’ll be able to see Bielik back on the pitch before too long and eventually in the Premier League.
4. Tyrese Campbell
Stoke were inconsistent last season with Nathan Jones delivering a disappointing start to the season before Michael O’Neill came and cleaned up the mess. One bright spot was the emergence of talented youngster Tyrese Campbell and he’s been amongst the goals ever since. Being able to play anywhere along the front three, Campbell prefers to cut inside from the flanks to create shooting opportunities and his clinical finishing has led to 6 goals in 13 starts this season, following on from last season’s 9 goals in 33 games. At 21 years old Campbell is only going to improve and Stoke look a much better side with him in it.
Reading have had a fantastic season thus far and sit comfortably in the playoff places. Veljko Paunović has done a brilliant job this season following the Royals’ mediocre 14th placed finish last season. Ejaria is a very skilful player and consistently manages to find space in tight areas in the centre of the pitch and is the driving force for many things Reading do correctly. 5 assists in 23 games is nothing to scoff at for a midfielder but he might be disappointed to have only found the net twice. Ejaria signed for Reading for approximately £3 million so should Reading feel the need to sell they would make a steady profit on him, but they would undoubtedly love to take the 23-year-old to the top flight themselves.
2. Freddie Woodman
Swansea have had an unbelievable season following on from their successful campaign last time around which led them to 6th in the table. Many doubted whether the Swans could replicate this for a second year with loanees Conor Gallagher and Rhian Brewster moving to Premier League clubs. Yet here they are, 3rd in the league with a game in hand on Norwich above them and a major reason for this is Woodman between the sticks. He’s arguably the best goalkeeper in the league and has 3 clean sheets more than anyone else with a staggering 15 in 26 appearances. The good news for Swansea fans is that the Newcastle loanee will be behind Dubravka and Darlow in the pecking order for the Magpies, the bad news though is that he’s reportedly on Arsenal’s radar. Should Swansea get promoted with him though, he would probably want to return to Steve Cooper’s side and have a shot at first team football in the big time.
1. Ivan Toney
One way or another, we will be seeing Toney in the Premier League. With the loss of Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma last summer, many were concerned about whether Brentford would be able to replace their goal threat but moneyball seams to have struck gold once again as the former Peterborough striker has scorched the league this season. Toney is actually on course to break Glenn Murray’s record of 30 league goals in a single season which he reached in the 2012/13 season for Crystal Palace. Toney already has 23 goals and 9 assists in 28 games which is just absurd. Brentford look set to finally reach the Premier League and if they do, expect Ivan Toney to be a revelation. The Bees have buzzed their way to the top of the table but if Brentford somehow miss out once again, then most Premier League Clubs will be circling around Toney and at only 24 years of age he still has his best years ahead of him.