In recent seasons, Premier League clubs along with Europe’s top teams have started to look at players in the Championship. Teams are now trusting the English second division to produce talented youngsters. Players like James Maddison, Ollie Watkins, Eberechi Eze and James Justin have all settled in tremendously in the Premier League.
With the cost of signing young foreign superstars rising with every transfer window, teams are becoming more pragmatic in their transfer approach. Even European champions Bayern Munich are monitoring the league. The Telegraph’s Mike McGrath reports that Reading full-back Omar Richards is close to signing a pre-contract deal with the German club. After being neglected for so long, the Championship is finally getting the recognition it deserves.
Europe’s Elite Turning to Championship for Players
Recent Success of Championship Players
James Maddison’s £2o million move from Norwich City to Leicester City in 2018 was controversial. Not only was it a huge sum for a Championship player, but it also set a new standard for players making the move to the Premier League. There were fears that certain clubs would not be willing to spend that sum of money. However, the success of Maddison in the Premier League shows that players are more than capable of making the step up.
Another example is Ollie Watkins. Question marks were also raised about the £28 million price tag, especially since Watkins had once been playing in League Two with Exeter City. People were not sure if he would be able to perform at Premier League level, but alas he has been excellent for Aston Villa this season.
The way elite clubs look at the Championship has changed. They now see the league as a place where young, promising talent can learn their trade in a tough league and realise their potential. The Championship is no longer looked down upon by the bigger clubs.
Foreign Clubs Catching On
Teams in the Bundesliga have been the most active in their desire to sign Championship players. Omar Richards is close to signing for Bayern Munich and, most notably, Jude Bellingham made the switch from Birmingham City to Borussia Dortmund in the summer. Bellingham’s move gained attention due to his age. At just 17 and with only 41 professional appearances before his move, many were left astounded. However, Bellingham has shown his class since, making his England debut and playing in the Champions League.
The quality has always been there but now Championship players are getting the chance to progress to the higher divisions. The Bundesliga is a great place for a youngster to develop their game. High-tempo matches against strong opposition coupled with the chance of playing European football is a chance too good to refuse.
In the current climate, most teams do not have their usual transfer budget. They are not able to spend £50-£100 million on players. So the prospect of singing a less developed but equally promising player from the Championship is a great option. The league is now a tried and tested for Premier League clubs and Europe’s elite to sign players that will improve their team.