The Most Expensive Championship Players of All Time



James MaddisonIpswich Town v Norwich City – Sky Bet Championship | Stephen Pond/Getty Images

On 9 September 2020, Aston Villa forked out a staggering fee for Championship Player of the Year Ollie Watkins, in a deal that could be worth up to £33m. In the process, Watkins became the most expensive player to ever be bought from a Championship club (excluding relegated players).

And Watkins isn’t the only player from the second tier who has been on the move this summer. Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham went overseas to join Borussia Dortmund, while QPR’s Eberechi Eze and Nottingham Forest’s Matty Cash both secured Premier League moves for eight-figure sums.

Eberechi EzeEze was one of the Championship’s brightest young players last season | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Buying from the Championship is always a risky move, especially with such massive fees involved. Some have thrived, but others haven’t been able to adjust to the higher division.

Here are the 15 most expensive Championship players of all time.

Chris MephamMepham joined Bournemouth in 2019 | Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Following an encouraging two seasons at Griffin Park, Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth splashed out £12m for the services of the young Welshman.

Mepham has since made 25 appearances in all competitions, with a knee injury keeping him out for large parts of last season. In those 25 outings, Mepham has just four clean sheets for the Cherries, and has often found himself on the bench.

While he is still just 22 years old, it has not been an ideal start to life on the south coast for the Wales international.

Verdict: Miss

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-BOURNEMOUTHAnother Bournemouth defender to add to the list | PETER POWELL/Getty Images

Another Cherries defender joins the list.

After breaking through the ranks at Bristol City, Kelly made the switch to the Vitality Stadium in the summer of 2019. Unfortunately, his career in red and black has been blighted by injuries, with the England Under-21 international making just eight appearances as Bournemouth were relegated.

While it may seem harsh to deem him a failure, he can hardly be celebrated as a success.

Verdict: Miss

Oliver BurkeBurke went to Germany as a 19-year-old | Steve Bardens/Getty Images

Burke made a flying start to the 2016/17 Championship season, scoring in four of his first five games. This encouraged newly-promoted RB Leipzig to take a gamble on the youngster.

The move had mixed success. He only made five starts for Die Roten Bullen, scoring just once. However, the Bundesliga side were able to sell him a year later for a £2m profit, so it wasn’t a complete failure.

Verdict: Miss

Aston Villa v Leeds United - Sky Bet ChampionshipMcCormack left Fulham for Aston Villa in 2016 | Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images

Having kept Fulham in the Championship almost single-handedly for two years running, Aston Villa secured the Scotsman’s signature for a hefty price in 2016.

Unfortunately for the Midlands side, the signing was a miserable failure. McCormack scored only three goals for the Villans, before falling out with manager Steve Bruce over fitness and attitude problems.

Verdict: Miss

Chris WoodThe New Zealand international has done well at Burnley | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

After finishing the 2016/17 season as the Championship’s top scorer, Leeds United forward Chris Wood was snapped up by Burnley in the summer transfer window.

Since his arrival, Wood has been Sean Dyche’s top scorer in all of his three seasons at Turf Moor, netting 38 goals in a notoriously defensive side.

Verdict: Hit

Benjamin GibsonGibson joined Burnley in 2018 | Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images

What on Earth happened to Ben Gibson?

The Middlesbrough man looked to be a promising young centre-back, earning an England call up in 2017. So when Burnley made the decision to spend £15m on the Englishman, it seemed like a shrewd signing.

Gibson has since made just one league appearance for the Clarets in two seasons, and has since gone on loan to Norwich City for the 2020/21 season.

Verdict: Miss

Che AdamsAdams had a tough start to life at the Saints | Pool/Getty Images

Ralph Hassenhuttl opted to spend the big bucks to bring Birmingham City striker Che Adams to St. Mary’s. Did it work out?

Well, for a long time, it looked to be a complete failure of a signing, not scoring in any of his first 24 outings. However, four goals in his last six games have somewhat turned things around for the 24-year-old.

It’s not time to bin him off just yet, but it’s been a tough time down south for Adams so far.

Verdict: Miss

Daniel JamesThe Welshman has had a mixed season at Old Trafford | Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Arriving from Swansea in 2019, Daniel James wasn’t exactly the marquee signing that Manchester United fans were looking for. However, after scoring three in his first four appearances, it looked like the Red Devils had picked themselves up a bargain.

It’s been all downhill from there, especially after the Welshman lost his place to 18-year-old Mason Greenwood. And, with the club still looking to secure a deal for Jadon Sancho, it is looking increasingly unlikely that he’ll ever find his way back into the starting XI at Old Trafford.

Verdict: Miss

Britt AssombalongaAssombalonga joined Middlesbrough after their relegation | James Baylis – AMA/Getty Images

Britt Assombalonga established himself as one of the second tier’s top strikers after three successful years at Nottingham Forest. Seeking an instant return to the Premier League, Middlesbrough coughed up £15m for the DR Congo international.

While Boro struggled for promotion, Assombalonga has had a decent three-year spell up north, netting approximately a quarter of Middlesbrough’s league goals in the last three campaigns.

Verdict: Hit

Oli McBurnieMcBurnie found the net six times last season | Alex Livesey – Danehouse/Getty Images

Daniel James wasn’t the only Swansea player to make the step up to the Premier League last summer. Newly-promoted Sheffield United brought the Scottish forward to Bramall Lane off the back of prolific spells in the Championship with Barnsley and the Welsh side.

While his goal tally of six isn’t exactly groundbreaking, McBurnie ended the season as the Blades’ top scorer. I think Chris Wilder will be happy with what he’s seen so far from his summer acquisition.

Verdict: Hit

Adama TraoreTraore is a regular starter at Wolves | James Baylis – AMA/Getty Images

The Spaniard had struggled to make an impact in the top flight with Aston Villa and Middlesbrough, gaining a reputation as a player who was all physique and no end product. However, he began to emerge as a more complete player when Tony Pulis arrived at the Riverside.

Traore’s performances in the 2017/18 Championship earned him a move to Molineux, and he hasn’t looked back since. The former Barcelona man is now one of the most feared wingers in the league, and with a bit of polishing, he could be one of the best wide players in the world.

Verdict: Hit

Adam WebsterWebster has slotted in comfortably at Brighton | James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

Centre-back Adam Webster joined the Seagulls off the back of an impressive season at Bristol City – winning their Player of the Year award for the 2018/19 campaign.

Since arriving at the AMEX, Webster has displaced Irishman Shane Duffy from the starting lineup (and indeed the club), and formed a solid partnership with Lewis Dunk.

Webster has enjoyed a positive debut season at Brighton. However, with manager Graham Potter fighting tooth and nail to keep Ben White at the club, it remains to be seen whether Webster will keep his place in the team.

Verdict: Hit

Neal MaupayMaupay celebrates a late winner against Arsenal | Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

After finishing as runner up to Norwich’s Teemu Pukki in the Golden Boot race, French forward Neal Maupay earned a big money move to Brighton, where he has had an impact.

With ten goals, the former Brentford man has had a fine debut season at the AMEX, finishing as the club’s top scorer. And, at just 24 years of age, there could be plenty more to come from the striker.

Verdict: Hit

James MaddisonMaddison has kicked on at Leicester City | Visionhaus/Getty Images

James Maddison enjoyed a sensational 2017/18 season, recording 14 goals and eight assists in a mid-table Norwich side, so it was no surprise when he got his move to the Premier League.

And the Englishman has done well in the top flight, scoring 13 and assisting a further ten for Leicester City. Throughout his time at the Foxes, Maddison has constantly been linked with pricey moves away from the King Power Stadium.

Verdict: Hit

jarrod bowenBowen has made an encouraging start at the Hammers | Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images

English winger Jarrod Bowen was phenomenal for Hull City, scoring a staggering 52 league goals in two and a half years at the Tigers. It was only a matter of time before a Premier League club made a move for the 23-year-old, and it eventually came when West Ham paid a handsome fee for his services in January.

While it is still early days, Bowen’s showings at the London Stadium have been encouraging. Manager David Moyes will be hoping for more of the same from his latest recruit.

Verdict: Hit



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