• Joe Boulcott

Five Championship players who are ready for the Premier League

Updated: Jan 5

With the January transfer window underway, there will be clubs in the Premier League looking down the football pyramid at potential signings to improve their squads. But who could make the step up from the Championship to the top-flight?

The second tier of English football has often provided some of the most exciting players in the Premier League after transfers, whether that be James Maddison (who left Norwich for Leicester in 2018) or Crystal Palace’s midfield maestro Eberechi Eze.

In the past few years, big money has been spent on players from the Championship, with often raw talent seen from those coming from lower leagues of football.

Utilising the domestic market has proved crucial in recent years, despite large fees that are now demanded for the best players of the second tier – as seen with the fee for Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins, who joined from Brentford for a fee believed to be around £27m, as per transfermarkt.co.uk.

Unearthing a player who can make it in the top-flight can provide teams with a different option, with the attacking players in particular often proving entertaining in the Premier League as they make the step up.

With that in mind, which players could make the step up in this January transfer window?

Adam Armstrong

Blackburn Rovers’ striker Adam Armstrong was often tipped for success when breaking through the youth ranks at Newcastle United, yet was sold in 2018 after 17 first-team appearances for the Magpies.

The 23-year-old has proved prolific for Tony Mowbray’s side this season, smashing in 16 goals in 22 games so far as he looks to help Blackburn push up the table and with only 18 months left on his contract, could be in line for a big-money move to the Premier League, should Blackburn decide to cash in.

Armstrong could be the perfect signing for clubs trying to fight relegation or ensure a mid-table spot, such as West Brom or Crystal Palace. With the Baggies struggling for goals, Armstrong could add the firepower that keeps Sam Allardyce’s side up this season, whilst he would add some pace up top for the Eagles as an alternate to the likes of Christian Benteke or Jordan Ayew.

A shock move could be one back to Newcastle, who are looking short up front with only Callum Wilson offering much in the goals department this season. A strike force of two former Coventry goal-getters in Wilson and Armstrong could propel Steve Bruce’s Magpies up the table.

Josh DaSilva

Brentford are yet again performing wonders in the Championship this season, with Thomas Frank’s side recovering from play-off final heartbreak at the hands of Fulham last season to occupy third spot, with a game in hand.

Josh DaSilva, an Arsenal academy graduate, has stood out for the Bees this season and looks technically brilliant, as he displayed when he scored the winner against Newcastle United in the Carabao Cup quarter-final, as well as physically dominant in the midfield.

Brentford would likely want to keep him until at least the summer, when they could demand a big fee should they fail to get promotion to the top-flight.

DaSilva seems destined for the big-time and could be the perfect fit for a side such as Southampton, with 10 goals last season and 88% pass accuracy so far this time around, the 22-year-old would fit into Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side full of hard work but also talent and could complement James Ward-Prowse in the Saints midfield.

Emiliano Buendia

As per Opta, Buendia created the fourth-most chances in the Premier League in 2019/20 with 83, a staggering statistic given that Norwich came bottom of the league. Only Kevin de Bruyne, Jack Grealish and Trent-Alexander Arnold created more, highlighting the quality of players Buendia was amongst last season.

His average of 3 key passes a game also put him in the top ten most creative players in Europe’s top-five leagues in 2019/20, despite Norwich’s relegation straight back to the Championship.

He settled in the top-flight well and has been linked to Arsenal in recent weeks, a club that seem like they are crying out for a creative attacker to give the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang service.

The Argentine could be the perfect signing for Mikel Arteta as he looks to improve the Gunners hopes in 2021 on the back of three consecutive wins, despite a poor start to the season. Combining Buendia’s creativity with Aubameyang’s finishing could be the key to unlocking the potential that Arsenal’s squad has.

Ismaila Sarr

Ismaïla Sarr was already Watford’s star player last season before he scored twice to sensationally end Liverpool’s unbeaten run in February as the Hornets stung Jürgen Klopp’s title winners in a shock 3-0 victory.

It was Liverpool who were actually the side linked most often to the Senegalese international in the summer, but Watford’s record-signing stayed at Vicarage Road, scoring four goals so far in 18 league games as he looks to help his side bounce straight back to the Premier League.

Watford will be braced for bids in January from sides for the rapid winger, but with the club sixth in the table, they may look to retain him and hope to gain promotion under new manager Xisco Munoz.

Crystal Palace could be the side who would benefit from Sarr’s pace and directness, as a long-term upgrade on Andros Townsend. Another side that the former Rennes’ star, still only aged 22, would fit in well at could be Everton, who would be able to play James Rodríguez central should they sign Sarr, who could thrive in an attack with Richarlison, Rodríguez and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

David Brooks

Having left the Championship in 2018 for AFC Bournemouth, Brooks is back in the second tier despite a relatively successful time in the Premier League.

After a standout 2018/19 season in the top-flight, Brooks suffered an ankle injury in pre-season of 2019/20 that scuppered both his and Bournemouth’s chances, with the Cherries ultimately getting relegated.

Brooks looked brilliant in his first season, being nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award, whilst he should be looked at by clubs looking to add talent and craftmanship to their sides in the Premier League.

The Wales international has scored three and assisted five in the Championship so far this season for Bournemouth and whilst he has been linked with Manchester United recently, he could fit in perfectly in Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester City side. The Foxes have struggled to truly replace Riyad Mahrez at right-wing, but Brooks’ talent would suit the high-flying side well.

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