Blackpool’s Tom Ince and Crystal Palace’s Wilfred Zaha have been hogging most of the headlines when it comes to being linked with a move to the Premier League this January but, there are other Championship players capable of stepping up a league.
Simon Bunn gives a run down of 10 of the best of the rest.
1) Luciano Becchio – Leeds United
Leeds United’s tall robust Argentinean forward is having his best season since moving to the West Yorkshire club in 2008. In all competitions this campaign he has notched up 20 goals and is the Championships third leading scorer at present. Becchio is a clever player with a knack of being in the right place at the right time. His boyhood hero was Gabriel Batistuta and many people might not know that he has also played 10 times for Barcelona’s B team. There has been serious interest of late from Wigan, who are reported to be preparing a £4m offer for the consistent striker.
2) Liam Bridcutt – Brighton & Hove Albion
The former Chelsea youth players stock has been rising quickly of late. As a holding midfielder he was voted as Brighton’s Player of the Season for 2011-12 and has continued his form into the new campaign. Recently he won many plaudits for his man-of-the-match display in the 2-0 F.A Cup win against Newcastle. Still only 23 years old his manager, Gus Poyet, has been quoted as saying that he is good enough to play for Real Madrid. That said Poyet would be incredibly reluctant to sell and he would hold an expensive price tag.
3) Nathan Redmond – Birmingham City
In a period of dire uncertainty for Birmingham City, Redmond has been one of the rare rays of lights. Some circles have even hailed the miniature winger as Birmingham’s best young talent since Trevor Francis. Still only a tender age of 18 Redmond has already represented England’s U-19’s 6 times and has made an incredible 45 appearances for Birmingham, scoring 5 times. Birmingham fans won’t wish to see their exciting wing wizard go but, with the club in financial dire straits, have reportedly informed clubs such as Fulham, Newcastle and West Brom that he could be available for £6m.
4) Jack Hunt – Huddersfield Town
Hunt impressed massively during Huddersfield’s successful promotion charge from League One last season, including scoring the 17th penalty in the Play-off final. His performances earned him a place in Sky Sports League One team of the season. His appearances in the Championship have been limited to only four appearances, but at 22 years old time is on his side. Hunt is a versatile player, normally a right back but, he can also play effectively as a right midfielder and would come cheap for any potential suitors.
5) Liam Trotter - Millwall
The 24 year old 6ft 2in midfielder is generally pinpointed as ‘the danger man’ when teams come up against Millwall in the Championship. Trotter has already netted six times in the league this season and has been on the radar of several Premiership clubs, namely Southampton, for a while now. The all action midfielder is an economical option that would set buyers back somewhere in the region of £1.5-2m.
6) Glenn Murray – Crystal Palace
The name Glenn Murray won’t be a stranger to most. With 22 goals in 22 games he is the Championship’s top goal scorer. The lower league journey man has been likened to Norwich’s Grant Holt, so it comes as no surprise that he has been linked to Lambert’s Aston Villa. With Crystal Palace in the throws of a serious promotion challenge Ian Holloway won’t want to lose their 29 year old marksman. However, as his arrival from rivals Brighton showed Murray is not adverse to a controversial move.
7) Tom Lees – Leeds United
The 22 year old Leeds and England U-21 blocker is highly rated. Lees can play at Centre half or right back and has already made 60 appearances for the Elland Road club. The defender has been likened to Everton’s Phil Jagielka and is reported to have attracted the interest of Celtic, Villa, QPR, Wigan and Cardiff City. The one stumbling block for clubs will be that Lees is tied up until 2016, so Leeds will be in no rush to sell.
8) Matej Vydra - Watford
Watford’s Matej Vydra is just one of about 43 loan signings that boss Gianfranco Zola has bought in from Italian club Udinese. The Czech forward has scored 12 times in the Championship this season, as well as 5 assists. At 20 years old he is young, quick, a good finisher and also caused Manchester City problems in the cup earlier this season. Zola is looking to turn Vydra’s loan into a permanent move so Premier League clubs would need to act fast.
9) Jack Butland – Birmingham City
Little needs to be said about the Birmingham City and England goalkeeper. His potential has been there for all to see for a while now. At only 19 he has a huge future ahead of him. With Birmingham’s appalling financial situation the club would have no option but to listen to serious offers of £6m upwards. Many clubs from all tiers of the Premiership have been linked with Butland, or will no doubt be interested, although the keeper has stated that he will not move to a club where he will be substitute. That will give hope to the smaller teams in the Premiership, and whoever receives his careful signature will have a bargain on their hands.
10) Will Hughes – Derby County
Tom Ince and Wilfred Zaha aside, then Derby County wonder kid Will Hughes is the Championships greatest talent. The 17 year old attacking midfielder has featured in all of Derby’s 28 games this season and was named ‘Football League Young Player of the Month’ for November. He is tricky, skilful, intelligent and idolises the likes of Xavi and Iniesta, which says a lot about the type of player he is aiming to become. The Premierships big boys, including Man City, Spurs, Arsenal and Liverpool are willing to pay £10m or more to secure his ludicrous potential. If that wasn’t enough then Barcelona are also rumoured to have compiled a detailed dossier on Hughes. Derby Boss Clough will be glad when January is over.
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