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Beyond the Top 5: 5 Championship players for Premier League teams to target

January 27th 2022, 1:13:48 pm

Beyond the Top 5 is a series that will look to beam the light on some of Europes lesser-fancied leagues, taking in storylines and insightful analysis.

English Championship superstars

The English Championship has been a reliable talent factory for Premier League teams in recent years.

Ollie Watkins, James Maddison, Said Benrahma, Jarrod Bowen, Eberechi Eze are some examples of big-name signings from the Championship to the Premier League that have made an instant impact and improved their new teams.

The 2021/22 season of the English Championship has seen several players put up Premier League-worthy performances, here are the top five of those Championship players that would improve at least one Premier League team right now.

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Norwegian international midfielder, Sander Berge is technically a Championship player but anyone that watches him can tell he is better than that level.

Berge was signed almost exactly two years ago for €23 million by Sheffield United, when they were still a Premier League team, from KRC Genk.

Although Sheffield United have since been relegated, Berge’s quality has not dipped, he remains a first division player and Premier League clubs would do well to take advantage of that.

Berge is quick, anticipates danger well, is good on the ball, has a decent passing range and is a competent long-range shooter.

The defensive midfielder has only played 11 games this season due to a knee injury that kept him out and scored once.

Another ex-Premier League player as recently as last season, Sam Johnstone was one of the very few positives from West Brom’s grim 2020/21 campaign in the top flight.

The goalkeeper conceded 74 goals in 37 Premier League appearances last season on a poor West Brom team but also kept six clean sheets which is more impressive than it looks.

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Johnstone proved himself one of the best shot-stoppers in the Premier League last season and has won three England national team caps, which is a testament to his ability while playing for West Brom.

It is a wonder Premier League teams let Johnstone go down with West Brom again to the Championship, where he has been superb this season. The 28-year old has 11 clean sheets in 24 games so far, which is the joint-most in the league, having also conceded only 17 goals.

Former Liverpool winger and current Welsh international, Harry Wilson has been one of the shining stars of the 2021/22 Championship season.

The 24-year old right-winger who prefers to cut in on his left foot has scored eight goals for Fulham and assisted ten times already which is the second-highest in the league.

Wilson has also previously played in the Premier League for Bournemouth so he is not a stranger to the intensity nor does he lack the quality to be a regular starter for a mid-table team.

Premier League fans will remember Philip Billing as a defensive midfielder for Huddersfield and then Bournemouth before they got relegated to the Championship.

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Since then, Billing’s game has grown so much under Bournemouth manager, Scott Parker who turned him into an elite offensive threat.

The 25-year old Danish international still plays in central midfield but with an increased license to roam which often sees him end up in the number 8 or 10 positions.

Billing has scored seven goals and provided five assists for Bournemouth this season, the kind of midfield productivity that multiple Premier League teams desperately need.

Not only is Aleksandar Mitrovic the undisputed best player in the Championship right now, but he is also a fair shout for best Championship player in history.

Mitrovic has scored 27 goals and provided seven assists in 25 appearances so far this season for Fulham with 21 games still to play.

What Mitrovic is doing so far is remarkable and cannot be overlooked despite only being in the second tier of English football. The 27-year old Serbian international is a proven goal machine with 44 goals in 69 appearances for Serbia to back that up.

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