As Premier League clubs scour the market for solutions to their early-season issues, they could do a lot worse than target these six Championship standouts.
Ben Brereton Diaz (Blackburn Rovers)
The Chile international is perhaps the most likely player on this list to leave their current club this month.
The attacker is once again among the Championship’s top scorers with his nine goals in 26 outings and it feels like only a matter of time before he departs Blackburn Rovers.
Rovers decided against cashing in on their prized asset in the summer and they could opt to retain him this month to boost their hopes of getting promoted via the play-offs.
But Blackburn could be presented with an offer that they cannot refuse this month, with Everton and West Ham United said to be in a £20m battle for his services.
Both clubs are in need of more firepower up front to ease their relegation fears and while Brereton Diaz is not yet proven in the Premier League, he has shown in a Chile shirt that he can perform against higher caliber opponents.
Viktor Gyokeres (Coventry City)
The Swede announced himself in the Championship with 22 goal involvements last season and he has carried that momentum into this term.
The powerful forward has provided 12 goals and one assist in 25 games this term as Mark Robins’ side are mounting an unexpected push for the top six.
Coventry are putting their off-field issues behind them as they have been a joy this term. They are showing that a club’s financial might not be all and end all in this division.
Gyokeres is one of the league’s best players on his day and aged 24, there is time for him to get an awful lot better yet.
Premier League sides are all already circling for the forward, with Crystal Palace, Everton and Leeds United said to be among them. 90min are reporting that Coventry want £16m for their star manand they would no doubt welcome a bidding war.
George Hall (Birmingham City)
From two of the Championship’s top attacking talents to one of the division’s best young players.
The Blues have a decent track record when it comes to nurturing graduates from their academy. Jude Bellingham is now at the center of a £130m transfer fight involving Liverpool, Man City and Real Madrid. Plus his younger brother Jobe is pretty good as well…
Hall, 18, is a year older than Jobe, but both players have been thrust into the limelight and have featured pretty regularly for their boyhood club this season.
Described as a “fantastic young player” by Birmingham boss John Eustace, Hall looks to be on a similar trajectory to England star Bellingham, with Liverpool, Everton and Leeds monitoring his progress.
Liverpool certainly need their midfield to be more youthful. They hope Bellingham can help with that, but Hall would be ideal as one for the future as well.
Gustavo Hamer (Coventry City)
Coventry City with at least two Premier League-ready players in their squad? We must have all been in a time machine and sent back 20-plus years.
But seriously, without too much expenditure, the Sky Blues have built a squad which transcends their off-field troubles so Robins and his staff warrant a lot of plaudits.
Midfielder Callum O’Hare could have easily found himself on this list had it not been for his injury troubles this term. Instead, here we have his teammate Hamer.
Plucked out of the Dutch Eredivisie, just like Millwall’s Zian Flemming, Hamer has been a sensation in the English second tier.
Coventry’s 2021/22 Player of the Year has kicked on from last term. Typically a defensive center-midfielder, Hamer is now contributing more going forward (four goals and three assists this season).
Sheffield United’s Ollie Norwood and Burnley’s Josh Brownhill have been superb for the promotion frontrunners, but Hamer has not been too far behind them. He may go under the radar this month but it will be hard for Premier League clubs to ignore him in the summer.
Ryan Manning (Swansea City)
“The feedback is at this minute, Ryan’s agent is saying it’s unlikely we are going to sign the current deal he’s been offered and I’m not convinced we as a club can go any further.”
These are quotes from Swansea boss Russell Martin a few weeks ago when asked about Manning, who is out of contract in the summer.
The promising young manager sounds resigned to losing Manning and this will be a huge blow to Swansea. The wing-back has established himself as an invaluable asset as part of Martin’s 3-4-2-1 formation.
Full-back was once the least fashionable position in football. But with the emergence of wing-backs, this is completely different as they are suddenly the belle of the ball with three-man defenses being used prominently.
Manning is one player who has benefitted from this switch, as he was previously best known as a centre-midfielder. But the left-footer has come into his own further wide and he is often a great creative force for Swansea.
With him set to be available for nothing in a couple of months, it would not be a surprise should one of the promoted teams recruit Manning to bolster their squad.
Ross Stewart (Sunderland)
I lauded the Scot as one of the league’s breakout stars way back in September and he hasn’t let me down since then.
Stewart made the step up from League One to Championship seamlessly, though his campaign was hampered by a hamstring injury.
He has not let this setback deter him as he has scored in four consecutive games since returning to action for Sunderland on December 17.
This takes his tally in the league to nine goals in 11 games. Middlesbrough’s Chuba Akpom is the Championship’s top scorer with 13 goals in 19, but it is fair to assume that Stewart would be ahead of the rest had he not missed 15 games through injury.
Sunderland are in the fight for the play-offs but they need to put their money where their mouth is to keep Stewart, who is out of contract in a few months.
Rangers have been mentioned as a potential destination, but Premier League clubs will also come sniffing before long as prolific strikers like Stewart are hard to come by at this level, especially as a free transfer.