It is one of football’s well-worn truths that January is a challenging time to find value in the transfer window. Clubs are generally unwilling to let go of their best players midway through the season and so the majority of moves concluded at this time tend to be loan deals and short-term solutions.
This season, however, the Championship has emerged as a worthwhile place to do some January shopping. In this uncertain financial climate, with managers, chairmen and owners in England and across Europe tightening their belts, Premier League clubs are looking to the division below for bargains.
Max Aarons, for instance, has emerged as a reported target for Manchester United, according to the latest Manchester United transfer news, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seemingly keen to add a naturally attacking right back to his squad. Aarons came close to a summer move to Barcelona and is destined to leave Norwich City for a higher platform some time soon
Emi Buendia is another Norwich City player currently linked with a January transfer to the Premier League. The Argentine was one of the Canaries’ best performers in the top flight last season and is now seen as a potential January addition for Arsenal who are desperate for a midfield creator. Buendia would fit the bill.
Aston Villa are reportedly monitoring David Brooks just months after the Welsh midfielder was linked with a move to Manchester United. Brooks has allowed injury to stagnate his development after bursting on to the scene two seasons ago, but the 23-year-old would still broaden Dean Smith’s options. He is good enough for the top tier.
Bayern Munich are expected to sign Reading’s Omar Richards at the end of the season while Ismaila Sarr is reported to be on the radar of numerous clubs having impressed in the Premier League for Watford last term. This comes after French midfielder Etienne Capoue swapped Vicarage Road for Villarreal.
The number of viable January transfer targets currently playing in the Championship is a knock-on effect of the financial inflation that has happened at the top level of the English game in recent years. While relegated teams were previously forced to sell off their best players on the cheap as soon as they dropped down, now they have the financial clout to hold on to them.
While the gulf between the bottom of the Premier League and the top of the Championship was once a wide one, now that is no longer the case. Just look at the success Leeds United have enjoyed this season and the impression Sheffield United made on the top flight last term. Promoted teams can aim high.
Jarrod Bowen has become an important figure for West Ham since joining from Hull City 12 months ago with Said Benrahma also making a good start to life at the London Stadium following his transfer from Brentford. Ollie Watkins has helped take Aston Villa to the next level following his summer move from the same club, former QPR midfielder Eberechi Eze has continued his rapid development at Crystal Palace and Josh Brownhill is a key player for Sean Dyche at Burnley after joining from Bristol City.
The Championship has taken on the role of English football’s finishing school with so few first team opportunities afforded to young players at Premier League level. This is another reason the second tier has become such a viable place to do some January shopping. It’s packed full of players ready to take the next step in their careers.
At a time when Premier League clubs are thinking outside the box to strengthen and improve their squads in the January transfer market, the Championship has never boasted a deeper talent pool in which to fish. Expect to see more than a few managers cast their line into the second tier before the month is out.
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