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Which EFL Star Could Your Club Sign This Summer?

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Which EFL Star Could Your Club Sign This Summer?

 

EFL Star Players who could be on the move this summer

With the 2020/2021 English football season coming to end, numerous managers and recruitment staff will be eyeing up their transfer targets for the upcoming summer window.

And whilst there are plenty of deals to be done abroad, the physical and mental demands of all three EFL divisions can mould a player into one that can perform on the biggest stage. This was seen at the 2018 FIFA World Cup where all but six of the players involved in Gareth Southgate’s squad learned their trade in the EFL. Only Eric Dier, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Phil Jones, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling and Trent Alexander-Arnold hadn’t experienced EFL football in their careers. 

The likes of Jamie Vardy, Dele Alli and Kyle Walker were all signed from clubs within the EFL and the majority of teams would jump at the chance of signing players of that calibre and quality this summer.

So in this article, we take a look at which EFL star your club could sign this summer.

 

Emiliano Buendía

Club – Norwich City

Position – Attacking midfielder / Winger

Potential Destinations – Arsenal, Aston Villa

This season, Argentinian playmaker Emi Buendía has lit up the championship for a second time whilst helping Norwich City bounce back to the Premier League at the first attempt. 

As a newcomer to English football in 2018/2019, Buendia surprised many as he withstood the physical challenge of the Championship and produced twenty-five direct goal contributions in all competitions, with the Canaries claiming the title. Whilst the Premier League was always going to prove a harder challenge, Buendia didn’t flop and produced eight direct goal contributions in a team that looked massively out of their depth as the season wore on.

But this season, the former Getafe man has well and truly stood out as one of the Championship’s best players, and his statistics prove that point. Buendia has directly contributed to thirty-one goals this season by scoring fourteen and recording seventeen assists. Inevitable rumours of a departure from East Anglia have emerged once more with Arsenal and Aston Villa linked with a move for Buendia who is valued at around £40 million. So any deal would not be a cheap one.

Described by teammate Max Aarons as a player who is “more about getting into pockets, playing neat passes and creating things” as opposed to taking defenders on, Buendia could fill a potential gap left at the Emirates by Martin Ødegaard who may well return to Real Madrid this summer. Jack Grealish has also continued to impress at Aston Villa this season and looks set to move on to bigger things in the somewhat near future. Buendia would prove to be a more than capable replacement for the England international, with funds not proving to be a problem for Villa in recent times.

 

Ivan Toney

Club – Brentford

Position – Striker

Potential Destinations – Brighton, Crystal Palace, West Ham

Ivan Toney’s from in front of goal since joining Peterborough United in 2018 has been mightily impressive, and the current Brentford striker undoubtedly deserves a move to the Premier League.

Signed by Newcastle United in 2015, Toney failed to make an impact on Tyneside and only registered four senior appearances for the Magpies. Following a series of loans, he then made the move to Posh, with the club having an immense reputation for finding prolific strikers such as Britt Assombalonga, Dwight Gayle and Jack Marriot.

Having scored twenty-three and twenty-six goals in his two campaigns at London Road, Toney almost went north-of-the-border, after admitting that he was close to joining Celtic who instead signed Albian Ajeti for a smaller fee.

Though the Bees have proved a perfect fit for Toney, with Thomas Frank’s side playing an attacking style of football which has previously brought the best out of Neal Maupay, Saïd Benrahma, and Ollie Watkins. The quality of chances provided by the likes of Sergi Canós and Bryan Mbeumo has allowed Toney to thrive and score an incredible twenty-nine goals at the time of writing.

No club will turn down the opportunity to sign a prolific hitman such as Toney, but there are some Premier League clubs who will be more desperate than others.

Crystal Palace are rumoured to be facing a big rebuilding job this summer, with Roy Hodgson’s contract coming to an end and a number of ageing players who will need replacing. Whilst Palace have always been defensively sound throughout Hodgson’s tenure, they have often looked toothless in attack with the Eagles arguably over-relying on star attacker Wilfried Zaha. Christian Benteke, Michy Batshuayi and Jean-Philippe Mateta have all struggled for goals, and Toney could be the man to end those problems.

Rivals Brighton and Hove Albion have found themselves hovering dangerously above the drop zone this season, despite having impressed in their overall play. Having made a reputation for underperforming xG, Toney has the finishing ability to eradicate that reputation which has held back the Seagulls.

West Ham United, have often found themselves operating without a recognised striker this season, with the departure of Sébastien Haller and the injury issues that Michail Antonio has faced. Despite the latter having impressed when available, Toney has the firepower to help David Moyes’ side push on from an impressive campaign.

 

Michal Helik

Club – Barnsley
Position – Centre back
Potential Destinations – Burnley, Liverpool, Southampton

Barnsley have been this season’s feel-good story of the 2020/2021 Championship season having confirmed their play-off slot under Valérien Ismaël.

At the heart of their successful campaign is Poland international Michal Helik. Having never played outside of his home country prior to this season, the towering centre-half has made his mark in both boxes for the Tykes and is now considered one of the division’s best defenders.

Statistics highlight how influential Helik has been. Of central defenders with more than twenty-five appearances this season, Helik averages the most clearances per game (5.6),  the most successful tackles per game (1.8),  the second-most amount of interceptions per game (2.4), and he is even dribbled past the least amount of times per game (0.1). 

As previously mentioned, he is also extremely effective in the opposition box. Helik has the highest goal tally of any defender in the Championship alongside Cardiff skipper Sean Morrison with six. His impressive form led to a maiden international call-up from Paulo Sousa as Helik appeared at Wembley Stadium for England’s 2-1 win over Poland.

If Ismaël’s men achieve the unexpected and win promotion to the Premier League, there is no reason why Helik should feel compelled to leave Oakwell having admitted he feels at home in South Yorkshire. But if his debut season in English football is anything to go by, he can certainly make the step up to the Premier League.

With James Tarkowski unlikely to sign a new contract at Burnley, Sean Dyche will likely be on the lookout for a new centre-half sooner rather than later. Presumably, a deal for Helik wouldn’t be an extremely pricey one with the Clarets notorious for not spending heavily on transfers. The likes of Tarkowski, Michael Keane, and Ben Mee have all stood out defensively under Dyche, so this deal could be a match made in heaven.

Perhaps an unlikely shout, but one that makes sense is Liverpool making a move for Helik. With Jürgen Klopp’s defensive problems well documented throughout the season, the Reds signed Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies in January. Whilst the former has impressed, it has not yet been confirmed if his deal will be made permanent. It’s also believed Liverpool will add Ibrahima Konaté to their ranks in the summer. If the above deals fail to go through, a deal for Helik could prove a masterstroke, with Davies’ move to Anfield proving the club are willing to do business in lower divisions.

Southampton’s struggles throughout the second half of this season have seen them drop into the bottom half of the table, having led the way at one point. Ralph Hasenhüttl’s main cause for concern has been conceding goals, with the Saints having conceded the second-highest amount of goals in the league, even more than relegated Sheffield United. Signing Helik could bolster Southampton’s rearguard ahead of next season.

 

Jonson Clarke-Harris

Club – Peterborough
Position – Striker
Potential Destinations – Fulham, Sheffield United, West Brom

Another striker off the famed Peterborough production line, Jonson Clarke-Harris was considered a lower-league journeyman prior to finding his goalscoring touch at Bristol Rovers last season.

Having made his Coventry City debut at just sixteen years and twenty days, he became the Sky Blues’ youngest-ever player. Though Clarke-Harris struggled to live up to his early hype and expectation with moves to Peterborough and Rotherham -excluding a fruitful spell at Oldham- failing to bring out the best in him.

But after Graham Coughlan took a chance on Clarke-Harris in January of 2019, a switch was flicked and it appears that the striker hasn’t looked back since. After netting sixteen goals in all competitions throughout the 2019/2020 campaign at the Memorial ground, Clarke-Harris was handed a second chance by former boss Darren Ferguson who needed a replacement for the aforementioned Toney.

Clarke-Harris’ second spell at London Road has proved to be a goal-laden one with the striker admitting his confidence is “sky high”. This season, Clarke-Harris has scored a remarkable twenty-nine goals at the time of writing and looks set to break the thirty goal mark in the last two games of the season.

Having impressed in League one this season, a move to the Championship will be the next natural step for Clarke-Harris to make, meaning he may prove a valuable addition to one of the three relegation-bound teams.

Sheffield United have failed miserably this season both defensively and offensively, but it’s going forwards where they’ve struggled especially, having only found the net eighteen times. Rhian Brewster has failed to make the desired impact hoped of him whilst Ollie McBurnie, Lys Mousset and Billy Sharp have failed to prove themselves fully in the top-flight. If Mcburnie, Mousset and Brewster seek pastures new, a gap could emerge for Clarke-Harris to make his mark in the Championship.

An upturn in performances and results has come too late for Big Sam and West Brom, with the Baggies lacking the presence of a clinical striker all season. Mbaye Diagne has added a robust edge to Albion’s attack, it is unknown whether he’ll remain at the club next season, whilst Karlan Grant has disappointed following his move from Huddersfield. Clarke-Harris may be the man to fire West Brom back to the Premier League.

Fulham have somewhat defied expectations this season despite being set to return to the Championship. Many thought the Cottagers would go back down with a whimper, but Scott Parker’s men have put in a respectable effort despite looking set to fall short. Aleksandar Mitrović has failed to perform at the level he can this season but Josh Maja has shown signs that he may prove to be a positive addition. If Fulham do require a striker next season, Clarke-Harris could be someone they to consider.

 

We hope you enjoyed this article ‘Which EFL star could your club sign this summer?’. Which EFL star would you like your club to sign this summer? Let us know!

 

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Matthew Smith is a passionate sports fan and student with a strong ambition to break into the sports media industry, with his expertise lying in football and cricket. Having received an unconditional offer to study Sports Business & Broadcasting at UCFB Etihad Campus in September 2020, Matt is continuing to improve the range and quality of his sports content. He created, produces and hosts the cricketing podcast Caught and Bowled, produces Football Manger 2021 content on his YouTube channel “mattfm” and currently writes for WBAReport. As a long-suffering West Bromwich Albion fan Matt has been through the highs and lows of supporting his team whilst also witnessing landmark moments in English cricket such as the first time England passed 400 in an ODI fixture at Edgbaston in 2015 and Jimmy Anderson‘s record 11th wicket partnership with Joe Root against India in 2014.

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