With just over one month to go until the transfer window opens, which Championship players will already be top of Premier League managers’ Christmas wishlists?
We’ve assessed the players destined for better things – either with or without their current club.
First up, we look at Barnsley through to Leeds…
The Best Championship Players – Who Should We Look Out For?
Our pick: Ben Williams
Why’s he so highly rated? It’s been a wretched season at Oakwell so far, but one crumb of comfort is the potential of their 20-year-old full back Williams. In a struggling back four, Williams has been one of the few shining lights, and has already been called up to the Wales squad.
Premier League ready? He has time on his side to improve, and a few more seasons at Championship would surely help his development.
Our pick: Jude Bellingham
Why’s he so highly rated? The youngest debutant in the club’s 144-year history, it’s little wonder Bellingham is already predicted to hit the big time after an incredible breakthrough season. He’s also captained England at U15 and U17 level, suggesting he’s also got a maturity that belies his age.
Premier League ready? At only 16 years old, Bellingham has no need to rush but already looks a natural at this level.
Our pick: Bradley Dack
Why’s he so highly rated? With over 400 career appearances, it feels as if Dack has been around for ages – which makes it easy to forget he’s still only 25. Doubts were raised as to whether Dack could make the step up to Championship level after Blackburn’s return to the second tier. However, the former Gillingham man kept up his remarkable scoring rate for Rovers, scoring 18 goals in 2018/19.
Premier League ready? He’s already nearing double figures this campaign and could be an affordable punt for sides going up this season.
Our pick: Ollie Watkins
Why’s he so highly rated? He’s earned his stripes in the Championship, with year-on-year improvement during his three seasons to date in the second tier after starting out in League Two at Exeter City. Brentford have a proud tradition of polishing up attacking talent for the top flight – Andre Gray, Neal Maupay and Jota to name a few. Watkins could be next in line.
Premier League ready? With Brentford looking likely play-off contenders, he might be better staying put and seeing if he can make the top flight with the Bees.
Our pick: Niclas Eliasson
Why’s he so highly rated? It’s been a frustrating campaign for Eliasson so far, but he has the lively attributes needed to see him succeed technically in the Premier League. The 23-year-old is one of the best assist-makers in the Championship, with six to his name this season – despite starting most games from the bench. Eliasson can struggle to fit into certain formations which explains Johnson’s reluctance to start him – but a maverick can often be easier to accommodate in the Premier League.
Premier League ready? A risk, but one that could be worth taking for the clutch of clubs fighting relegation in need of a potential game-changer.
Our pick: Joe Ralls
Why’s he so highly rated? He’s had a brief taste of life in the Premier League and has been one of the few Cardiff players that can hold their heads high after a largely underwhelming return to this level following relegation. Ralls has even added goals to his game this season – with his 2019/20 tally of five close to his season career best of seven.
Premier League ready? At 26, next summer’s transfer window could be make-or-break for Ralls.
Our pick: Krystian Bielik
Why’s he so highly rated? Derby pulled off something of a coup to land the Polish international back in the summer, and in a season of ups and downs, he’s one player who has consistently delivered. Manager Philip Cocu has occasionally struggled to settle on Bielik’s best position, but the former Arsenal scholar looks a natural as a holding midfielder.
Premier League ready? Derby will be keen to protect their investment and it would take a big fee, but the defensive star already looks primed for the step up.
Our pick: Aleksandar Mitrovic
Why’s he so highly rated? The Cottagers have perhaps wisely opted for experienced Championship heads to help then mount a promotion charge. Given this is a squad already packed full of Premier League experience, that means Alexander Mitrovic is the obvious if unexciting choice to be the first in the queue to move on if Fulham fail to live up to the billing this season. Fulham were arguably lucky to hang on to their star man in the summer – and at 25, he now looks mature enough to cope with a sustained run in the top flight.
Premier League ready? Yes – he should already be there.
Our pick: Karlan Grant
Why’s he so highly rated? One of the few bright sparks from Huddersfield’s house of horrors this season, Premier League clubs will surely have Grant on their radar after spotting how calmly Grant adapted to life in the top flight after the 22-year-old’s brief cameo in the Premier League in the second half of last season. He’s proved that was no fluke this year, hitting over a goal every other game.
Premier League ready? Grant surely won’t be hanging around this level for long as he closes in on double figures in a struggling team.
Our pick: Jarrod Bowen
Why’s he so highly rated? Bowen is the ultimate Championship talisman – almost single-handedly helping lifting Hull away from the lower reaches of the table. He’s already hit a half-century of goals at Championship and looks on course to exceed his tally of 22 from last season. And he’s not even yet 23. Tigers boss Grant McCann will be desperate to fend off any offers this January.
Premier League ready? Arguably left as the last man standing in the transfer merry-go-round last summer, Bowen’s time has surely come.
UPDATE: Finally got his Premier League chance with West Ham. Can he step up?
Our pick: Ben White
Why’s he so highly rated? Eyebrows were raised when Marcelo Bielsa opted to move on the experienced Pontus Jansson only to replace him with a Brighton loan signing with only loan spells at Newport and Peterborough to his name. However, White has arguably been one of the signings of the season in the Championship with his silky ball-playing ability instantly matching Bielsa’s needs. A bright future awaits.
Premier League ready? Liverpool and Man Utd are reportedly already keen admirers.
Who are the best Championship players you’ve seen this season?
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Image sources: PA Images