The Championship has been used as a production line for future Premier League stars in recent years and is something we have seen again this season. Last summer saw the likes of Eberechi Eze, Ollie Watkins, and Patrick Bamford all make the Premier League their new home, and so far, they have notched a combined total of 26 top-flight goals between them.
A prime example of a Premier League club building success around former Championship players is Leicester City. The Foxes currently occupy third place in the top-flight and have developed a team predominantly built around former Championship stars- this includes players such as Kasper Schmeichel, Harvey Barnes, James Maddison, and even Jamie Vardy. So this begs the question, which current Championship players are the next future Premier League stars in-waiting?
The 24-year-old only joined Championship side Brentford in August 2020 from League One Peterborough United- for an initial fee believed to be in the region of £5m (could rise to £10m with add-ons). The Bees targeted Toney as the replacement for Ollie Watkins, who left for a club record-fee when joining Aston Villa in the summer. He has repaid the clubs faith, scoring 24 goals and producing nine assists to date.
Following play-off final heartbreak last season at Wembley against Fulham, Brentford aim to achieve their target of promotion this term, with Toney spearheading their charge. Yet, if the Bees fall short for the second successive season, they will risk Premier League teams potentially poaching the former Northampton youth player. Leicester City are reportedly interested in his signature this summer, although Toney has a contract with the West London club until June 2025.
The ‘Bury Baggio’ has played a starring role in an impressive young Barnsley side this season. The 20-year-old midfielder has bagged three goals and two assists in 26 Championship matches so far. But his high work-rate and outstanding dribbling abilities are what have been earning him his plaudits.
Since Barnsley appointed their manager Valerian Ismael, the former Burnley youth player has taken his game to another level. Having cost the Tykes £500,000 when he joined from Bury, his performances this season will demand a much larger fee if a Premier League team tries to prize him away from Oakwell. The highly-rated youngster recently agreed to a new contract until 2023, which will only boost Barnsley’s bargaining power in the transfer market.
19-year-old Michael Olise is having a season to remember at Reading. He currently sits joint top of the Championship assist table, having notched nine already this season, of which five have come from set-pieces. Primarily playing in the central attacking midfield position, the Royals youngster has also contributed four goals this term. Olise’s performances deservedly helped him win the EFL young player of the month award in December 2020.
The Reading playmaker is already being linked with Premier League clubs, while also being eligible to play international football for four nations- England, France, Nigeria, and Algeria. Olise has already been on the books of Manchester City and Chelsea at academy level, so it’s evident to see from where his raw talent stems. The concern for Reading this summer is that Olise has under 18 months left on his contract, which expires in June 2022. This would suggest that Olise looks set to become a Premier League player very soon.
The Championship has lots of talented players who arguably should be playing at a higher level. Emi Buendia and Max Aarons will be hopeful for bouncing straight back to the Premier League with Norwich, who currently sit 10 points clear at the top. Although, both of Norwich’s star men have been linked with big European clubs in the past 12 months. Watford’s Ismalia Sarr and Bournemouth’s David Brooks will be looking for a Premier League return. Furthermore, players such as Connor Roberts, Adam Armstrong, Tyrese Campbell, and Gustavo Hamer all have good reason to be on the radar of Premier League clubs.
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