Transfer Talk: Five Championship stars who could light up the Premier League
It has been yet another thrilling Championship season so far and some of the stars lighting up the second tier are attracting interest from the Premier League.
Highly-flying Burnley and Sheffield United lead the way at the top, with a wide-open division seeing just 10 points separating Blackburn in third and Birmingham all the way down in 17th.
With the second tier regularly proving a hotbed for talent, we look at which players could earn themselves a move during the January window.
Viktor Gyokeres (Coventry)
Viktor Gyokeres continues to prove a lethal marksman in the second tier with 12 goals for Coventry this term, following on from his tally of 17 in 2021-22.
The Swedish striker has been instrumental in firing the Sky Blues up the table and into play-off contention after a disrupted start to the campaign for Mark Robins’ men.
With only Middlesbrough’s Chuba Akpom ahead of him in the scoring charts, the 24-year-old could well prove a useful addition to Premier League sides desperately looking to add goals.
One of those are Leeds, who are keen on a new No9 as Patrick Bamford’s injury problems persist.
The same can be said for Frank Lampard’s struggling Everton, while Wolves, Crystal Palace and Southampton are also credited with an interest in the former Brighton youngster.
Ismaila Sarr (Watford)
Given the wealth of interest Ismaila Sarr regularly attracts, it seems surprising Watford have managed to keep hold of him for so long.
The flying Senegalese winger has six goals for the fourth-placed Hornets this term and is already a ready-made Premier League player after starring in the top flight during the 2019-20 and 2021-22 seasons.
Aston Villa are a potential suitor for the 24-year-old, with a proposed £25million switch falling through late in the summer window.
Reports suggest Villa’s sporting director Johann Lange remains a big fan of Sarr and new boss Unai Emery is keen to add wide attackers to his squad, making a return to their former target surely likely.
With Watford now reportedly demanding £35m, it remains to be seen whether the Midlands outfit — or other reported chasers Everton and Tottenham — are willing to fork such a large fee mid-season.
Ilias Chair (QPR)
QPR talisman Ilias Chair continues to be one of the Championship’s finest attacking midfielders — and speculation over his future is intensifying.
The diminutive creator has six assists and a further four goals this season and made his World Cup debut during Morocco’s extraordinary fourth-place finish in Qatar.
The R’s were contenders for automatic promotion earlier this season but have seen their hopes rapidly fade following Michael Beale’s departure to take over at Rangers.
That has increased the likelihood of Chair moving on with current boss Neil Critchley recently discussing the reported interest.
Critchley said: "Do we want him here? Of course, we do. Do we love having him here? Yes.
"I’ve been nothing but impressed with him as a player, he’s really humble and down to earth and loves football.
"No I can never guarantee that [Chair will definitely stay at the club]. I would be foolish to do that.
"I hope he remains a QPR player, but I can’t obviously guarantee that."
Iliman Ndiaye (Sheffield United)
To another Championship player who starred for his country in Qatar, Iliman Ndiaye’s stock continues to rise after a fine season for Sheffield United and Senegal.
Ndiaye featured in the Lions of Teranga’s group win over Qatar before starting in their decisive victory over Ecuador and then their last-16 clash with England.
Add that to his impressive tally of nine league goals and seven assists for the Blades this term and the 22-year-old looks to have a big future in the English game.
The Yorkshire outfit’s promotion prospects look extremely healthy at this stage as they sit with a nine-point cushion in second.
And manager Paul Heckingbottom hopes N’Diaye and fellow star name Sander Berge will stay put and see the job through.
The 45-year-old said: "I just want to keep the lads together, that's the priority and that's what we need to do.
"So that's it. That's my focus and that's my goal. And if you're talking to me on the first of February and it's as is, then I would be delighted."
Chuba Akpom (Middlesbrough)
Prolific Championship strikers are always going to attract Premier League interest in the January window and top scorer Akpom could be as good an option as any.
Having struggled to make an impact during various loan spells throughout his career, he has returned to Middlesbrough from a second spell at PAOK this season like a man on a mission.
The Arsenal academy graduate has scored 13 goals in just 19 Championship appearances, with nine of those coming since Michael Carrick’s inspired appointment as manager in late October.
Like Gyokeres, Everton appear to be one of the top-flight teams most keenly watching the 27-year-old — with a new striker a top priority for under-fire Lampard.
Southampton and Palace are also said to be in the mix for his signature, with recent reports even suggesting a handful of Bundesliga clubs were considering an approach.