08 Jun 2022 | 08:25
From Jarrod Bowen to Jude Bellingham, the Championship has a way of nurturing young talent and preparing players to move to Europe’s top five leagues.
This season is no different, with plenty of young, exciting prospects who will tear the second-place net and are now linked to move elsewhere.
Here are five of the brightest, after searching Infogol’s expected goals (xG) data, I feel have the characteristics to elevate the Premier League.
We’ll get one clear of the way. Chile and Blackburn centre-back Ben Brereton Diaz is too good for the second division.
The 22-year-old had a breakthrough year last season, outperforms his xG of 20.26 scored 22 goals in 37 appearances.
He scored more than a third of Blackburn’s goals last term as Rovers finished eighth in the table.
Brereton Diaz can play in the middle, but usually plays on the left wing as a reverse winger. He is an energetic striker who can be comfortable in many roles.
Last January, he was linked with Newcastle, Brighton, Leeds, West Ham and even Sevilla. Hopefully similar clubs will revolve around him again.
The interest surrounding Djed Spence is such that it looks like he will now be hunted by a Premier League club in days, not weeks.
The Middlesbrough loanee has been revealed as Nottingham Forest’s number one right-back, helping Steve Cooper’s side win the playoffs overall and earn him a spot in the Team of the Year at EFL Award.
Boro has not held any discussions about the 21-year-old’s future since the end of the regular season but will likely open the door for Spence, who is contracted at Riverside until 2024.
Should he choose to stay at Forest, he will certainly be a guaranteed start at the City Ground in the top tier next season.
But his head could be turned with rumors of Tottenham about to pounce and make an offer.
Spence has made 42 appearances for Forest in the League this season alongside two coming off the bench. He made four assists from total expected support (xA) of 4.79.
Lewis O’Brien is unlikely to be a Huddersfield Town player much longer after his side lost the play-off final last month.
The 23-year-old midfielder had a standout performance in the Championship last season and there is a release clause in his contract that could see him leave for just over £12m.
The Huddersfield vice-captain is being targeted by Leeds, who missed him last summer, but are also attracting interest from Wolves, Crystal Palace, Brighton and Southampton.
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He can easily fit into the midfield of most mid-tier groups in the Premier League.
Keane Lewis-Potter may not be a household name yet, but he will be.
The 20-year-old striker from Hull made his debut in 2019 for his local club and has made an impact. Primarily operating from the left and with a tendency to cut in, Lewis-Potter can play anywhere on the other side of the line.
He has cemented his place after a fantastic season in Sky Bet League One, with 13 goals and six assists to propel Hull into promotion last season. He is now a regular first team player and did well in the Championship with 15 goals last season.
He averages 0.27 xG per gamethis ranks him among the best wingers in terms of his ability to take advantage of good opportunities.
Everton, West Ham, Southampton, Brentford and Bournemouth have all shown interest, when compared with Bowen’s move from Hull to the Hammers in June 2020.
West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Sam Johnstone is a bit of a tough guy on this list. At 29, he is no longer a young player and already in his prime, and on June 30 he will be released by the Baggies and will no longer be a Championship player.
But in terms of the big moves between the EFL and the top tier, Johnstone seems certain to be one of them.
The former Manchester United youngster is leaving at the end of his contract after four years in the West Midlands, making 167 appearances for Albion since his arrival in July 2018.
The England international, part of the Euro 2020 squad of the summer, was linked with a host of clubs 12 months ago following his side’s relegation.
Around this time, he was rumored to be about to move to Crystal Palace, Tottenham and the old owners Man Utd.
He kept 15 clean sheets in 36 appearances last season, the 4th best in the league, despite playing for a team that had a lesser record and finished mid-table last season.