Recruitment staff from Premier League clubs often search far and wide when it comes to prospective signings, but top-flight sides could do worse than look a little closer to home with the Championship currently packed with emerging stars.
With the January transfer window now open we’ve looked at several players who could be of interest to Premier League clubs, as we head to England’s second-tier to profile some of the Championship’s best.
Here are five Championship players who should be on the radar of Premier League sides:
Arsenal have been strongly linked with a move for Emiliano Buendia this month with the Norwich star having been arguably the Championship’s best player this season, the diminutive Argentine having proven too good for the second tier.
Buendia starred as Norwich won promotion to the Premier League in 2018/19 with 20 goal involvements in just 35 league starts, and whilst the Canaries suffered a swift return to the Championship the 24-year-old still managed to impress.
Just three players – Kevin De Bruyne, Jack Grealish and Trent Alexander-Arnold – created more chances than the winger in the Premier League last season, with Buendia finishing the campaign with a respectable seven assists.
The star often starts wide before drifting into dangerous central areas and has continued to be the creative hub of the Norwich team this time around, scoring seven goals in addition to providing six assists in just 19 Championship appearances in 2020/21.
No player in the second tier has created more chances this season and whilst Daniel Farke will be desperate to retain his services for Norwich’s promotion push, his hand may be forced should significant offers arrive from the Premier League.
Josh King has been routinely linked with Premier League sides since Bournemouth’s relegation last season, the likes of West Ham, Newcastle and Aston Villa amongst those to have been credited with an interest in the Norwegian international.
King netted 48 goals in 161 appearances in the Premier League for the Cherries including a career-best 16 goals during the 2016/17 campaign, whilst his ability to play in multiple positions across the frontline only adds to his appeal.
The 28-year-old’s contract is set to expire at the end of the season and he appears unlikely to pen a new deal, the star having made just three league starts this season and is understood to be keen on a new challenge.
King’s contract situation has raised the possibility of a cut-price swoop for any Premier League side in search of firepower this month, with Bournemouth unlikely to stand in his way should they receive a suitable offer.
Adam Armstrong was tipped for a big future at Newcastle before ultimately failing to make the grade, but the forward has rebuilt his career in the lower leagues and now looks primed for a second chance in the Premier League.
Armstrong signed permanently for Blackburn in 2018 and enjoyed an underwhelming debut season, before firing 16 league goals last season and raising those standards once more this time around.
The 23-year-old is the joint-leading scorer in the Championship with 16 goals in just 22 appearances, his non-penalty xG of 13.7 the highest of any player in England’s top four tiers.
Armstrong has regularly got himself into great goalscoring positions this season and has fired more shots than any other player in the Championship, averaging a shot every 18 minutes with the forward’s confidence at an all-time high.
West Ham have been linked with a move following the sale of Sebastien Haller earlier this month, and David Moyes has shown a willingness to gamble on unproven but hungry talents with Jarrod Bowen having made a similar step up from the Championship last winter.
Michael Olise’s stunning emergence at Reading has seen the teenager swiftly linked with a big-money move away, with clubs such as Liverpool, Chelsea, RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund amongst those reported to be monitoring his progress.
The 19-year-old previously spent time in the academy systems of Manchester City and Chelsea before signing for Reading, where he quickly established himself in the senior side and has been one of the Championship’s star performers this season.
Olise has featured in a variety of midfield positions and has impressed with his close control and ability to carry the ball in possession, whilst the teenager has quality in his end product with no player having recorded more than his eight Championship assists.
There have been many bright prospects to have emerged from the Championship in recent seasons but Olise is one of the most exciting in recent memory, his performances having helped fire Reading to fifth with the Royals dreaming of a return to the top tier.
Whether or not Veljko Paunovic’s side make it to the promised land remains to be seen, but in Olise they have a talent who appears ready-made for life at Premier League level.
Brentford’s ‘BMW’ forward line fired the club to the brink of the Premier League before falling at the final hurdle last season, and whilst Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma moved on to the top division, Bryan Mbuemo has remained to continue the Bees pursuit of promotion.
The 21-year-old enjoyed an excellent debut season for Brentford in 2019/20, scoring 16 goals and providing a further seven assists with the Frenchman’s speed and skill winning admirers.
Thomas Frank had spotted the potential in the young winger and his £5.8m investment looks set to make Brentford yet another significant profit should Mbuemo depart, with a number of clubs monitoring a player who looks tailor-made for England’s top tier.
Mbeumo’s numbers have dropped slightly this season but a return of nine goal involvements in 20 league starts is still an impressive total for a young player still learning his trade, and should Brentford – currently fourth in the Championship – fail to win promotion once more their fleet-footed winger could be the next one prised from their impressive production line of talent.