Ben Brereton Diaz has been one of the stars of the Championship this season
Ben Brereton Diaz has been one of the stars of the Championship this season

The Championship has proved an effective breeding ground for players to become Premier League stars.

The likes of Jarrod Bowen, Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma are all Premier League mainstays after excelling previously in the second tier.

And with the January transfer window in full swing, top-flight clubs may once again look to the league below in their efforts to bolster their squads.

Read on as we pick out five Championship gems who could be on the move.

Ben Brereton Diaz

What a 12 months it has been for Ben Brereton, who now proudly sports Diaz at the end of his name following his exploits for Chile in the summer. 

The Stoke-born striker was one of the stars of the Copa America for his adopted country and he has continued to ride the crest of that wave with club side Blackburn.

Brereton Diaz has hit a stunning 20 goals in 25 Championship games this term, making a mockery of his previous best tally of seven.

Hitting that landmark made a few ambitious punters very rich men and it will be a similar story for Blackburn if their reported £30million valuation is met.

But with the 22-year-old’s goals firing Rovers to an unlikely second place, Tony Mowbray will be desperate to fend off interest from the likes of Leeds, Newcastle and West Ham.

Dominic Solanke

Written off in the Premier League previously, Dominic Solanke has become one of the Championship’s most lethal strikers since dropping down to the second tier with Bournemouth.

The Cherries No9 has scored 34 goals in all competitions since the start of last season.

The England U-20 World Cup winner is finally starting to show why he was tipped for big things while in Chelsea’s academy before Liverpool also gave him a chance.

Solanke’s exploits reportedly have Newcastle tracking him as they look to fill the goalscoring void left by injured striker Callum Wilson.

Though with every chance that top-of-the-table Bournemouth could swap places with the struggling Magpies next season, Solanke may feel he is best-placed sticking around on the South Coast.

Dominic Solanke is one of the Championship's most lethal strikers
Dominic Solanke is one of the Championship's most lethal strikers

Chris Willock

Another who has helped his side exceed expectations this season is QPR midfielder Chris Willock. 

The older brother of Newcastle midfielder Joe, the 23-year-old has had an unusual route to Loftus Road, swapping Arsenal for two seasons in Portugal with Benfica.

And after returning to England with an unsuccessful loan at West Brom followed by a more positive one at Huddersfield where he helped them avoid relegation, he is now QPR’s talisman.

A fine volley against Derby, a long-range screamer against Blackpool and a wonderful solo effort against Birmingham are just three examples of Willock taking the Championship by storm.

Six goals and four assists have helped the R’s occupy a play-off place and Willock could be one to watch if Mark Warburton’s side do eventually fall away.

John Swift

Reading find themselves in a precarious position in the Championship — but things would be a lot worse without star man John Swift.

A classy operator in the Royals’ midfield for the best part of five years, Swift is a name consistently linked with a Premier League move and it is clear to see why.

The 26-year-old has hit eight goals and nine assists this campaign, an impressive return for a man in his position.

With his jinking runs past opponents from midfield, expert passing range and deadliness from set-pieces, Swift would be a welcome addition to any top-flight side struggling for goals.

Reports suggest Reading will hold on to their man this January as they look to avoid the drop but their resolve could be tested by a big Premier League offer. 

John Swift is once again Reading's star man this season
John Swift is once again Reading's star man this season
Read more: Every confirmed Premier League transfer of January window

Rob Dickie

QPR’s outstanding campaign has seen players from all around their squad attract interest — and towering centre-back Rob Dickie is one of their prized possessions.

The 25-year-old has played every minute for the R’s this season, becoming a dominating presence on the right of his side’s back three alongside Jimmy Dunne and Yoann Barbet.

The former Oxford United man is now a name mentioned on the radar of a host of Premier League clubs including West Ham, Wolves and Southampton.

Dickie has previously made no secret of his desire to play in the top flight, which would be a remarkable journey for a defender who has spent time in non-league as well as Leagues One and Two. 

He told Not the Top 20 podcast in August: "To have played in the Championship, I'm proud of. Now to make that next step to the Premier League, which I believe I can do — I'm ambitious, I want to play in the Premier League."

QPR have shown willingness to sell their star names in the past but with promotion still a possibility for themselves, they may well fight to keep their No4 for a little longer.

Tags

Ben BreretonDominic SolankeChris WillockJohn SwiftRob DickieLeeds UnitedNewcastle UnitedWest Ham UnitedQueens Park RangersBlackburnBournemouthReading

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