Premier League clubs scout the planet in search of new signings, but occasionally great value and talent can be found right on their very doorstep.
Top-flight clubs have regularly raided second-tier sides for their finest talent, with the likes of John Stones, James Maddison and Jarrod Bowen among the most successful to step up from the Championship across the past decade.
From relegated names with a point to prove, to lower-league gems ready for a bigger test, here are five of the best signings from the Championship this summer.
Newcastle’s business has been rather more modest than most expected so far this summer, with Eddie Howe having made just three signings despite the riches at St James’ Park.
Matt Targett’s loan move was turned into a permanent deal, while Sven Botman – a long-term target – has arrived in a £31.8m deal to become the new leader of the Magpies’ backline.
Botman will be tasked with protecting Nick Pope, who has signed in a £10m deal following Burnley’s relegation last season.
🏴 England international
💪 2019/20 PFA Team of the Year
🧤 2nd most saves in last 3️⃣ #EPL seasons
Great to have you on board, @Popey1992! 😁 pic.twitter.com/IHiRgYUCHn
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) June 23, 2022
The England international was keen on an immediate return to the top tier as he looks to secure his place in Gareth Southgate’s World Cup plans, while the move to Newcastle will see Pope join an ambitious side after several seasons of treading water at Burnley.
Newcastle posted the sixth-worst defensive record in the division last season and Howe’s focus has been on restructuring their defence.
The addition of Pope – who formed part of a Burnley team who conceded 52 goals despite an xGA figure of 60.22 last season – is an upgrade to their goalkeeping ranks. Only Ederson and Alisson have kept more Premier League clean sheets since the start of the 2019/20 campaign.
Djed Spence’s performances on loan at Nottingham Forest brought significant interest from the Premier League, with Tottenham winning the race to sign the right-back from Middlesbrough for an initial fee of £12.5m.
Spence starred as Forest won promotion to the Premier League and reached the FA Cup quarter-finals, earning inclusion in the Championship Team of the Season.
Proactive in possession and with pace to raid down the flanks, the 21-year-old looks an ideal fit for the wing-back system Antonio Conte prefers.
it’s official ✅! very happy to finally sign for such a great club, it’s a blessing to be here and I can’t wait to get started !@SpursOfficial 🤍💙 #COYS pic.twitter.com/zFw1Bc6enp
— Djed Spence (@DjedSpence) July 19, 2022
Spence faces a fight to convince his new manager however, who admitted the decision to sign the defender was a club choice.
Spence, however, is confident he can be a success and has outlined his intention to excite the Spurs support.
“To play in the Premier League and for a big club like Tottenham, it’s a dream come true,” Spence told the club’s official website. “I’ll bring excitement, skill, speed. I just want to excite the fans and play well.”
Brentford are looking to build on a successful first season in the Premier League and have continued the club’s ‘money-ball’ approach with an investment in rich potential.
Aaron Hickey has arrived from Bologna in a club-record deal, while the Bees have also dipped into the Championship to sign Keane Lewis-Potter from Hull City.
Lewis-Potter came through the academy system at Hull and has established himself in the side across the past two-and-a-half seasons, turning heads with his goalscoring form from a number of attacking positions.
The 21-year-old has scored 25 league goals across the past two Championship campaigns and Thomas Frank is confident that the youngster can handle the step up into the Premier League, describing the summer signing as one of the second-tier’s brightest talents.
🔥 What a season for @LewisPotter_K in the @SkyBetChamp! 👏#hcafc pic.twitter.com/gW1hidGgBh
— Hull City (@HullCity) May 13, 2022
“I am pleased that we have managed to sign one of the biggest young talents in the Championship,” Frank said to the club’s official website.
“We have a player who scores his goals by arriving in the box and attacking the last line. He gets in the position to convert the chances made for him. He is a flexible player, he can play both sides, as a striker and as a ten if we want to do that. He has a very good mentality.
“He fits the Brentford model perfectly. He is a good young player who we think has the qualities to play in the Premier League now. He will also develop even further.”
Nathan Collins’ move to Wolves has been one of the under-the-radar deals of the summer, with Bruno Lage’s side capitalising on Burnley’s relegation to sign the centre-back.
Collins made just 19 appearances in the Premier League after signing for Burnley last summer, but made a huge impression despite the Clarets’ drop into the Championship.
The 21-year-old is confident in possession and commanding in the air, with Wolves’ faith evidenced with a £20.5m investment in the centre-back, who has overtaken Robbie Keane to become the most expensive Irish footballer of all time.
🇮🇪 Nathan Collins does it by himself 😎#NationsLeague | @FAIreland pic.twitter.com/YjSet6xXKA
— UEFA EURO 2024 (@EURO2024) June 29, 2022
Collins, despite a costly mistake on the final day of the season, improved Burnley after breaking into the side following Ben Mee’s season-ending injury in March.
With the defender in the side, Burnley’s win percentage improved from 10% to 27.8%, while the Clarets also conceded less goals per game on average (1.3 to 1.5) and less shots per game (14.6 to 17.1).
The Ireland international will join a Wolves side who posted the best defensive record outside the top four last season and has all the attributes to be a key cog in resilient rearguard.
David Moyes has previous in unearthing diamonds in the lower divisions, with the likes of Joleon Lescott, Tim Cahill and Jarrod Bowen the major success stories from his spells at Everton and West Ham
Moyes has again dipped into the Championship for new additions this summer, boosting his midfield options with the signing of Flynn Downes from Swansea City.
Downes – signed as a replacement for the retired Mark Noble – has risen through the leagues in consecutive seasons, having departed League One Ipswich to sign for Swansea last summer.
The 23-year-old came through the ranks at Portman Road before excelling following a move to South Wales, completing 92.6% of his 2,465 attempted passes in the Championship last season, giving him the highest pass-completion rate among midfielders in England’s top four divisions.
Highest pass accuracy in England's top four divisions during the 2021/22 season (1,800+ minutes):
◉ 92.6% – Flynn Downes
◎ 91.8% – Rodri
◉ 91.6% – Declan Rice
West Ham now have two of the top three. 🎯 pic.twitter.com/6aWEcDOR65
— Squawka (@Squawka) July 11, 2022
Downes will hope his assurance in possession can earn him a role in the side alongside Declan Rice, who ranked third with a 91.6% completion rate.
“It’s a surreal feeling to have joined my boyhood Club,” Downes said after signing for the Hammers.
“I feel like I’m dreaming. It’s been my dream since I was a little boy to join this Club – it’s an absolute privilege. This is my Club, so I couldn’t be more delighted. I’m glad to be here and I can’t wait to get started.
“I want to be the best I can be and this feels like the perfect opportunity to test myself against the very best players in the Premier League.
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