The Championship has become a breeding ground for young talented players that are making a name for themselves by playing top-quality football. The gap between the second tier of English football and the Premier League is narrowing.
Chelsea and Manchester United have seen first-hand that Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Daniel James have been able to make the step up without a problem. It could lead to other teams mining the Championship for players to bolster their ranks – leaving the overseas markets where they have been forced to pay premium prices.
We’ll now look at three players that could make the leap from the Championship to the English top-flight in January.
Ollie Watkins (Brentford)
Sheffield United have been interested in the forward and it’s not hard to see why. The 23-year-old has been outstanding for the Bees since his move from Exeter City in 2017. He has made gradual improvements season after season. Watkins has 10 goals to his name at the time of writing and is on course for his first 20-goal campaign.
The forward has the pace and energy that Premier League teams are craving from their players in the final third. He seemingly fits in perfectly with the Blades and would offer a potent threat alongside Lys Mousset and Oli McBurnie. United should not be the only team interested in his services as there are plenty of other sides that could use a player of his ilk.
Jarrod Bowen (Hull City)
The 22-year-old continues to produce for the Tigers. He scored 14 goals in his first full year as a starter in the 2017/18 term, while he took the next step in his development by notching 22 strikes in the last league campaign. Bowen does not quite have the size and athleticism of Watkins, but he is more clinical and versatile with the option of playing anywhere across a three-man attack.
Hull are on the fringes of the playoffs and he would be a huge loss to their hopes of promotion, currently being backed at 16/1 in the Championship betting odds to return to the Premier League. Bowen is their key cog and there certainly should be a queue of top-flight teams ready to pounce in January. Crystal Palace should be one in order to ease the burden on Wilfried Zaha.
Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United)
It would take a team in the top half of the table to lure Phillips away from Elland Road. Phillips is the rock in front of the Leeds back four that has allowed Marcelo Bielsa to boast the best defensive record in the Championship this term. The 23-year-old has outstanding distribution skills from the back and is combative enough to win the ball without having to slide into numerous challenges.
It would be the sort of signing Manchester United could look to make as they remodel their team. However, Leicester City and Brendan Rodgers could be a good fit as they have a young side on course to challenge for a place in the top four. Phillips would work well in the N’Golo Kante role that served the Foxes so well in their drive to the Premier League crown in the 2015/16 campaign.