The Championship has always been a familiar shopping place for Premier League clubs. Many players have come from the second division to enjoy tremendous success in the top flight. Players like Andy Robertson, Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey are prime examples. Their talent and the scouting networks of top teams make them available for feasible prices to continue their development. The Championship players usually prove to be smart buys for the clubs.
𝑶𝒉, 𝑨𝒏𝒅𝒚, 𝑨𝒏𝒅𝒚… 🎶❤️
Great news, @andrewrobertso5 has signed a new long-term deal with the Reds 🤩 🙌
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) August 24, 2021
Andrew Robertson is a Scottish left-back who was just relegated along with Hull City to the Championship. Liverpool may have probably pulled off the bargain of the decade by signing him for £8 million. The swashbuckling fullback took his time to adjust to Jurgen Klopp’s system. Once he was set, he lit up Anfield with his defending and outstanding attacking output going forward. He developed into a world-class player under Klopp and formed the best full-back duo in the contemporary world with Trent Alexander Arnold.
Robertson at Liverpool has gone on to win the Premier League, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and the Club World Cup. He is an undroppable member of Klopp’s team sheet. To ascertain his importance, he has recently signed a long term contract with Liverpool till 2026. The Scotland captain thus became an example for budding players in the championship to have a go at the Premier League.
Keeping Robertson’s success story in mind, FootTheBall looks at 10 players from the Championship who could be the smart buys for thePremier League clubs.
BEN BRERETON – BLACKBURN ROVERS
Ben Brereton is an in-form striker who enjoyed a brilliant summer with Chile. Brereton, the England born Chile international started this season in fine form with 3 goals in 4 league games. With his compatriot Adam Armstrong leaving for Southampton, Brereton is the main man at Blackburn now. Brereton can still make a move to the top flight in the final few days of the window.
🎯 3⃣ goals in 4⃣ games now for @benbreo this season.#Rovers | #ROVvWBA 🔵⚪️ pic.twitter.com/u6gLpBT3Lu
— Blackburn Rovers (@Rovers) August 22, 2021
Brereton is a versatile forward capable of playing anywhere across the forward line. He excels in a strike pair or as a sole striker with his proficient finishing. He can also play on either flank and possesses sublime dribbling skills. Brereton lacks crossing accuracy from the flank but makes up for it with his short and pinpoint passing. He was deployed on the wing for Chile at the Copa America and excelled at it.
Brereton is a perfect fit for counter-attacking teams due to his ability to create and score on the breaks. He can thrive in the top flight at clubs like Brighton and Newcastle.
DOMINIC SOLANKE – BOURNEMOUTH
The English forward has revitalised his career on the South coast. He has four goals and an assist to his name this season. Solanke joined Liverpool from Chelsea as a teenager to pursue his dreams. The move came too soon for him as he struggled at Liverpool. He struggled to break through into the Liverpool side that had just formed the Mane-Firmino-Salah triumvirate. He joined Bournemouth and started scoring regularly after a slow start.
Finding that bottom corner 💥
Our @HendyGroup 𝕄𝕠𝕞𝕖𝕟𝕥 𝕠𝕗 𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝕄𝕒𝕥𝕔𝕙 from Saturday's game was @DomSolanke's opener 🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/419dt0dmpu
— UP THE CHERRIES 🍒 (@afcbournemouth) August 23, 2021
Solanke is an old fashioned number nine who takes up good scoring positions in the box. He is good in the air and has predatory instincts in and around the six-yard box. He also likes to shoot from outside the box and is a canny dribbler. Solanke cleverly wins free-kicks in promising positions for his team. On the flip side, Solanke doesn’t offer much defensively and is not great on the pressing front. In the modern game, this is a must and he has to incorporate defensive duties into his game.
The 23-year-old can be a viable option for teams like Burnley and Norwich.
SAM JOHNSTONE – WEST BROMWICH ALBION
Sam Johnstone is a top-class goalkeeper in the Championship. The 28-year old enjoyed an impressive campaign in the Premier League with West Bromwich Albion. Despite his numerous saves, the Baggies went down. Johnstone won the Player of the Season award at the Hawthorn Stadium for his massive contributions. He even won his first international cap for England before the Euros and travelled with the squad for the mega tournament.
🏴 Named in @England’s provisional #Euro2020 squad
🏆 Supporters’ Player of the Season
🏆 Players’ Player of the Season
🏆 Community Champion
What a day for @samjohnstone50! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/NgH9z1SGee
— West Bromwich Albion (@WBA) May 25, 2021
Johnstone was on the books at Manchester United as a teenager. He failed to break through at the Theatre of Dreams past David de Gea and was forced to go out on loan spells. He joined West Brom permanently later where he lived up to his potential. Johnstone is a tall goalkeeper who is comfortable saving shots with his hands or feet. He earned suitors in the form of Arsenal and Chelsea initially in the window. With passing time the interest died down.
As goalkeepers peak much later in their career, Johnstone has time on his side. Another impressive stint in the Championship might earn him a move to the top flight in future.
JEFFERSON LERMA – BOURNEMOUTH
Lerma is an all-action defensive midfielder who takes no prisoners. The Colombian is the Cherries’ club-record signing and excelled in the Premier League for them. However, he was helpless to avoid relegation in 2020. Back in the Championship, he’s leading their charge to enter the top flight again. The Cherries have been to the playoffs but weren’t lucky to clear it.
Ya queda muy poco 🔥🔥🔥#afcb🍒 #vamosquevamos 🙌🏿🙌🏿 pic.twitter.com/TPEVndPOjV
— Jefferson Lerma (@jeffersonlerma) August 23, 2021
The midfield dynamo is full of energy and covers almost every blade of grass on the pitch. He is technically astute on the ball with passing and dribbling. He often takes shots from distance and finds the target. Lerma is a keen reader of the pitch and takes up perfect positions to intercept the ball. However, he goes overboard while it comes to tackling. The odd adrenaline rush makes him commit rash challenges leading to bookings. If he can adjust the discipline part of his game, he can easily become a top-class player.
In the closing stages of the window, he can be a viable option for any club in the Premier League looking for a defensive midfielder.
CONNOR ROBERTS – SWANSEA CITY
Roberts is an exciting full-back who has grown leaps and bounds in the Championship. The Welsh right-back enjoyed a successful Euros with the Wales national team by scoring a crucial goal. A groin injury suffered in the same tournament ruled him out from the start of this campaign. A comeback from injury is slated for September. This might have implications on any move happening in this window.
The greatest night of my life 🏴❤️ pic.twitter.com/zsGV4p57ZT
— Connor Roberts (@ConnorRobs) June 16, 2021
Roberts is a perfect example of a modern-day full-back. He is a right-back by trade who defends well and flies forward at the slightest of chances. Roberts has a good cross on him and often pops up in the box anticipating loose balls and rebounds. He helped the Swans with 5 goals and 7 assists in the previous campaign. He was justifiably named their Player of the Season. The Welsh defender also plays a full-back or a right-winger if the need arises.
Roberts can perfectly replace the ageing Seamus Coleman at Everton gradually.
DAVID BROOKS – BOURNEMOUTH
David Brooks once lit up the Premier League as a 21-year-old. The versatile winger was part of a Bournemouth side that played free-flowing football in the 2018/2019 season. He helped himself to seven goals and assisted five times in the most competitive league in the world. A move to top clubs like Liverpool was on cards only for an ankle injury to derail things. He spent a year on the sidelines nursing an ankle surgery and wasn’t the same initially. His side was relegated to the Championship and Brooks had to start from square one again.
Been a great month for the whole team! On a personal note, it’s been a long year, so delighted to see the hard work paying off 🙌🏼 pic.twitter.com/yY3vj0UZkt
— David Brooks (@DRBrooks15) December 11, 2020
Brooks is an intelligent player and a typical right-winger who cuts onto his left boot and takes his shot. His gifted left foot often produces unbelievable through balls and crosses. Apart from being a winger, he can also play as a second striker or a number 10. After freeing himself from the after-effects of the injury, he delivered 5 goals and 6 assists in the previous campaign. Brooks started this season as he means to go on with three goals in five games.
Brooks needs to produce a consistent and high scoring season to remember everyone what he’s capable of and win a move to the top flight.
SANDER BERGE – SHEFFIELD UNITED
Sheffield United quite pulled off a coup when they signed Sander Berge. The Norwegian defensive midfielder was from the famed Genk academy and played in the Champions League before signing for the Blades. Despite interest from Manchester United, Napoli and Liverpool he made the move to the British midlands. Berge instantly became an integral part of Chris Wilder’s midfield and played a key role in their strong finish in 2020. An injury disrupted campaign held him back as the Blades were relegated to the Championship.
Standing at 6’3ft Berge is an imposing figure in the middle of the park. He uses this advantage to win the midfield battle aerially or on the ground. Berge excels as a deep-lying playmaker in a single pivot or a two-man pivot. Though he has the talent to play line-breaking passes, he chooses the simple one. He can build on this aspect in the future along with improving his work rates. The 23-year-old can enter the world-class bracket if he is coached by a top footballing mind.
Berge started the new season in the Championship with solid performances in the middle of the park. If he can guide them back to the top flight, a rewarding move might be on the cards.
GUSTAVO HAMER – COVENTRY CITY
Hamer is the star midfield attraction in a previously lowly Coventry City team. The Brazil-born Netherlands ex-u-20 international started this season brilliantly. He shone along with the Coventry side that won three out of its four opening games. After trying to avoid relegation last term, the Sky Blues are showing some ambition to get to the top.
Still not quite over this Gustavo Hamer header from the weekend.. 👤💥
— Oddschanger (@Oddschanger) November 9, 2020
Hamer is a versatile midfielder whose preferred position is defensive midfield. Apart from playing as an enforcer, he also enjoys being a creator and goal scorer for his team. Hamer has great technical passing and reading of the game. He is their primary set-piece taker and shoots well from the defence and heads quiet well from distance too. However, a lack of strong physique hampers his aerial prowess defensively. Hamer is described as a player who would get better in a team with better players around him.
An eye-catching season in the Championship would secure him a good move to mid-table clubs of the Premier League.
LOUIE SIBLEY – DERBY COUNTY
Sibley is a 19-year-old midfielder teeming with energy at Pride Park. The budding midfielder joined Derby’s academy as a boy and progressed through its ranks. He would’ve seen players like Mason Mount cut their footballing teeth with the Rams. If he can continue what he’s doing now, he might be the next big thing from Derby. Sibley is a left-footed central midfielder who loves to roam forward and join the attack.
Here's how @louie_sibbo opened his account for the season!
And what a brilliant strike it was 💥#DCFC pic.twitter.com/53St1UO5cl
— Derby County (@dcfcofficial) August 25, 2021
Sibley is multifunctional as he can also play as a winger or a number 10 or a holding midfielder. The teenager has good vision and calmness on the ball beyond his age. He doesn’t shy away from a duel and looks to take on his man. It is said that he has a great attitude in training with an eagerness to learn. In Wayne Rooney, he has a Premier League legend to learn from.
If he can produce consistent performances this season, he can join Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise as the youngsters to move to the top flight from the Championship.
GRADY DIANGANA – WEST BROMWICH ALBION
It was a move that angered club captain Mark Noble. The West Ham United captain was furious when he learnt that Grady Diangana was sold to West Bromwich Albion. It just shows how talented the young winger is. Diangana is a winger blessed with abundant pace to take on the full-backs and skilful dribbling. He has a strong right foot and cuts in towards the goal with devastating effect. Despite not racking up numbers in the Premier League he did no harm to his talent as well.
5 – Grady Diangana has been directly involved in five goals in his last eight league appearances for West Brom (4 goals, 1 assist). Future. pic.twitter.com/iMlWLL39QK
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 19, 2020
Diangana enjoyed a breakthrough campaign with the Baggies on loan from West Ham. But current options at London Stadium meant he was surplus and was sold. West Brom dropped into the Championship due to a lacklustre defence. After Matheus Pereira left them, Diangana has to take the onus of goal scoring and creating. The youngster needs to hit the gym to build some muscle to make him uncatchable in duels.