The postponement of football due to the Coronavirus pandemic has created several problems financially for a lot of England’s top-flight clubs. While wage cuts for players and furloughs for staff are bigger concerns right now, looming in the background is the question of this year's summer transfer window and whether clubs will have the money to improve their squads.
For the first time in years, an influx of big money foreign talent looks unlikely this summer, leaving Premier League clubs with no option by to look closer to home and scout the Championship for the next Dan James or Jarrod Bowen.
With that in mind here’re five second-division talents that may be gracing the Prem next season. Just a side note, I haven’t included any West Brom or Leeds players as, barring the season being written off, there's a good chance they will be coming up anyway.
Eberechi Eze - Queens Park Rangers
Now as a QPR fan I may be biased, but if you don’t put this man in at least your top 3 Championship players we can’t be friends. Since returning from an impressive loan spell at Wycombe Wanderers, in the first half of 2017-18 season, Eze has been a regular in the QPR team, but up until this season, he was talented but inconsistent. However, that has all changed under Mark Warburton. The midfielder has grabbed 12 goals and eight assists this season, to leave the R’s six points of the playoffs before the season was halted and has the highest average rating of any Championship player on WhoScored.com. Dazzling displays against the likes of Stoke, Preston and Leeds, where he wound Kalvin Phillips up so much, he got sent off for trying to break Geoff Cameron in half, have captured the hearts of Rangers fans and the eye of Daniel Levy; with reports stating the Tottenham chairman is lining up a bid of £20 million. If he does move across the capital, he could be a long-term replacement for Christian Eriksen, and with him only being 21 his best is still to come.
Said Benrahma - Brentford
While it pains me to say it, I could have put all of Brentford’s excellent front three in here but in the interest of fairness, I have kept it as one player per club. When choosing between the three, I decided Bryan Mbeumo hasn’t been in England long enough and Ollie Watkins is well, Ollie Watkins (I’m not his biggest fan) so I settled on Benrahma. After not being able to establish himself at Nice, the Algerian moved to Griffin Park in 2018 for £1.5 million and has been an example of the club's world-class scouting system, that their fans don’t shut up about. After a good first season in West London, Benrahma has continued to impress this term with eight goals and 10 assists, helping to fire the Bee’s up to fourth in the league, and should the season return could help them reach the promised land for the first time ever. If not, Benrahma could get there himself with a whole host of top-flight clubs sniffing around.
Jude Bellingham - Birmingham
It is said that it’s disheartening when you first start to see footballers younger than you are coming through and that is exactly the case for me with Jude Bellingham, his mere existence causing an existential crisis in my head. Born in 2003, Bellingham is sixteen, SIXTEEN, but that hasn’t stopped him becoming one of the standout players of this year's Championship campaign. Making his debut for the last fourteen minutes against Swansea this year, the teenager then preceded to score the winner in his next two appearances against Stoke and Charlton: making himself Birmingham’s youngest ever scorer in the process. Bellingham has gone on to make a further 29 Championship appearances for the Blues, who seem all but safe, and has attracted interest from Manchester United, as well as German giants Borussia Dortmund, all before he has completed his A-Levels.
Matty Cash - Nottingham Forest
It does seem a bit ironic, that despite signing what feels like close to two million players in the last few seasons, it’s a player that came through their youth team that’s one of Nottingham Forest’s greatest assets, but that’s what they’ve got in Matty Cash. After starting his journey at Wycombe he joined Forest’s youth system in 2014 and, following a brief loan spell at Dagenham and Redbridge, made his debut on the opening day of the 2016-17 season, a day before his nineteenth birthday, in a 4-3 win over Burton Albion. Starting off as a winger with occasional appearances in central midfield, Reds manager Sabri Lamouchi moved Cash to right-back this season, due to injuries to Tendayi Darikwa and Carl Jenkinson. In his new role, Cash has flourished and been an integral part of a Forest team that currently sits in fifth. His performances have attracted the interest of top-flight teams such as West Ham, as well as Serie A giants AC Milan, who look ready to stump up the cash (I’m sorry I couldn’t help myself) to secure the 22-year-olds services.
Tom Cairney - Fulham
Cast your mind back two years ago, when the left boot of a Scotsman sent Fulham up back up to the Premier League after a four-year absence and sent John Terry out of football in a pool of his own tears. For a QPR fan, I didn’t enjoy that playoff final very much, an ideal outcome would have been neither team gets promoted, but there is something heartwarming about seeing John Terry cry. That Scotsman was a certain Tom Cairney and while he is less in demand than in 2018, the 29-year-old is still a quality player having notched up eight goals and three assists this season to leave the Whites third in the table after getting relegated straight back to the Championship. Linked with West Ham as he was two years ago, Moyes and Cairney a better love story than Twilight, Cairney may get his chance back in the big time.
This article was written exclusively for golear.co.uk.