Despite consistent claims of a gulf in class between England’s top two divisions, there’s no shortage of Championship stars who thrive once given a chance in the Premier League.
The second tier is currently brimming with talent and there are a number of names who have attracted top-flight interest after excellent Championship campaigns. Those recently relegated are not included, as we look at five second-tier stars who seem primed for a move to the Premier League.
Five Championship stars primed for Premier League transfers
Alex Scott – Bristol City
Alex Scott’s performances have turned the heads of Premier League clubs after the midfielder was named as the EFL Championship Young Player of the Season in 2022/23.
Scott has made a major impression since signing for Bristol City from non-league Guernsey, where he has established himself as one of the most exciting talents outside the top flight. The midfielder scored just once and provided four assists for Bristol City last season, but the statistics tell only a small part of the teenager’s game.
Scott was the most-fouled player in the Championship last season with his close control and awareness leaving defenders with little choice but to bring him down, as the 19-year-old glides past challenges in the centre of the pitch.
A maestro in @BristolCity‘s midfield ⭐️
— Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) February 1, 2023
He presses well with impressive defensive numbers, is intelligent enough to perform in multiple positions had possesses a poise uncommon in a player with such inexperience. Liverpool and Tottenham are among the clubs to have checked in on his progress this season, while Wolves, West Ham and Bournemouth are all said to be keen on a deal.
Scott created more chances (38) than any other team-mate for Bristol City last season and is valued at around £25m at Ashton Gate. His manager, Nigel Pearson, believes the teenager is ‘destined for the very top’.
Viktor Gyokeres – Coventry City
Viktor Gyokeres is a name on the wish-list of several Premier League clubs after another excellent season at Coventry City. The Sweden international has scored 41 goals in 97 appearances across the last two seasons for Coventry and was named in the Championship Team of the Season last term after firing The Sky Blues to the play-off final.
Defeat to Luton has seen Premier League clubs circle for one of the second-tier’s finest forwards and Gyokeres is expected to move on to a top-flight side. The 25-year-old failed to make a league appearance during a spell at Brighton earlier in his career, but now looks ready for the top level and will hope to follow the likes of Ivan Toney and Aleksandr Mitrovic in impressing after stepping up to the Premier League.
A superb solo effort! 👏
— Sky Bet Championship (@SkyBetChamp) November 9, 2022
Gyokeres – who scored 21 goals and provided 12 assists in a superb season at Coventry – has just 12 months remaining on his deal and Mark Robins faces reluctantly cashing on in his prized possession.
Powerful and with drive, Gyokeres averaged 4.43 progressive carries and 7.16 touches in the opposition penalty area per 90 minutes last season. Valued at around £25m, a move to the Premier League will improve his chances of a regular role with Sweden, for who he has scored three goals in 13 caps. Sporting Lisbon are understood to be rivalling top-flight clubs in the race for his signature.
Gustavo Hamer – Coventry City
Gustavo Hamer is another of Coventry’s impressive side on the radar of top-flight clubs after a prominent role in the club’s run to the play-off final.
Hamer scored 11 goals and laid on nine assists from a central midfield position for The Sky Blues, form which has attracted interest from Premier League sides.
The Brazil-born midfielder arrived from PEC Zwolle for a fee of over £1 million in 2020 and has proven a fine addition to Coventry, despite moments of ill-discipline. Like Gyokeres, he has just 12 months to run on his deal and Coventry’s defeat in the play-off final has alerted clubs in search of the combative edge and creativity that Hamer can provide.
— Coventry City (@Coventry_City) January 29, 2023
Asked on his future, the midfielder told Dutch publication voetbalprimeur.nl of his desire to take ‘a step up towards the Premier League’, while outlining a desire to return to former club Feyenoord, where he came through the ranks after moving to the Netherlands as a child.
“For me, the focus is now on a step up towards the Premier League, but a return to Feyenoord would also be extremely attractive. Other top leagues would also be nice, but these are my real goals now. If Feyenoord calls me to return, I will say yes, without hesitation, in spite of everything.”
Chuba Akpom – Middlesbrough
Chuba Akpom’s explosion at Middlesbrough was one of the stories of the Championship campaign, a season in which it all came together for the Arsenal academy graduate.
Akpom’s previous two seasons at Middlesbrough saw the forward score just five goals in 39 appearances, while he had never recorded more than eight league goals in a season during a nomadic career that has taken in spells in Greece and Belgium.
— Sky Bet Championship (@SkyBetChamp) January 29, 2023
The 27-year-old produced a scintillating season to fire Michael Carrick’s side into the play-offs however, scoring 28 league goals to win the Championship’s Golden Boot and Player of the Season awards.
Akpom became the first player to score in nine consecutive home games in the second tier and the first Middlesbrough player in 33 years to score 20 league goals in a campaign. The forward had been backed for a successful career after 33 goals in 50 appearances for Arsenal’s u21s, but later than expected appears to have now found his feet and consistent goalscoring form.
Boro activated a clause to automatically extend his deal by another season, but Akpom’s contract expires in 2024.
Joel Piroe – Swansea
Another forward top-flight clubs are considering taking a chance on, Swansea’s Joel Piroe has been a regular source of goals across two seasons in South Wales.
The Dutchman signed for Swansea in a £1m deal from PSV Eindhoven and has shone in the second tier with 41 league goals in 88 appearances. Swansea ended last season 10th in the table to miss out on the play-offs and have since seen manager Russel Martin depart for Southampton and key figures Ryan Manning and Joel Latibeaudiere leave as free agents.
Another gift from Hull 🎁
This time it’s Joel Piroe who gets his name on the scoresheet pic.twitter.com/YfCG1BFWCC
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) September 17, 2022
With a rebuild required, Piroe could look to move on and step up a level. The 23-year-old is another with 12 months remaining on his current contract and his sale could provide much-needed funds for a new manager to refresh the squad.
Swansea appear unlikely, as things stand, to push for promotion and Piroe could be the latest name to swap the Swans for top-flight football, with Daniel James, Joe Rodon and Flynn Downes among those to have taken similar steps in recent windows.
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