With the dust settling from Saturday’s Championship Playoff final and the promotions of three teams now confirmed, we take a look at five players who still reside in the Championship but may have done enough to warrant a move up to the top flight.
1. Arnaut Danjuma
We start off fittingly with a player who many would cite as the finest not to achieve promotion this season. Arnaut Danjuma spearheaded Bournemouth’s assault on the top six, scoring 15 times and assisting seven from the left-wing in the Championship.
By combining raw speed and trance-inducing trickery with an esteemed eye for goal, Danjuma inflicted nightmares on fullbacks throughout the division and rightly earned a place in the EFL’s Championship Team of the Season. The Cherries ultimately failed to return to the top flight at the first time of asking as they fell short to Brentford (with Danjuma scoring in both legs), though one would feel that the Flying Dutchman will be penciled on the shopping lists for a host of Premier League outfits.
Danjuma, unlike anyone else on this list, has previously played Premier League football, having signed for Bournemouth at the beginning of last term for a fee in the region of £13M. Needless to say, it was anything but a success; the attacker endured an injury-ravaged start to life on the South Coast, only making six starts in his side’s relegation campaign. His stark improvement in the second-tier suggests that he could really come to life next campaign- though where that will be, remains a mystery for now.
2. Adam Armstrong
Every day, you can feel the increasing levels of frustration and pangs of regret emanating from St James’ Park at their decision to let Adam Armstrong leave the club back in 2018. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, however, and Blackburn Rovers have cherished the speedy forward ever since.
This term, the optimum of Armstrong’s talents came to fruition as he found the back of the net on 28 occasions and amassed the best minutes per goal record in the league, trumping Brentford hotshot Ivan Toney in the process. What’s even more impressive is that all this was done in a Blackburn side that finished the season in 15th, a whole 20 points from 6th-placed Bournemouth.
The 24-year old’s Premier League dream was unattainable during his time at Newcastle United, but it is most definitely within his grasp now.
3. Michael Olise
At the age of 19, Reading’s Michael Olise has captivated Championship audiences all season long to emerge as one of the league’s finest individuals. He has showcased a mightily impressive inventive spark by racking up the 3rd most key passes behind Emi Buendia and Jed Wallace with 84, whilst also dispatching the second most key passes per match.
As you’d suspect, these performances haven’t slipped under the radar. Olise, who spent time on the books of Chelsea Manchester City in his youth, has reportedly been courted by the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal, and Leeds United ahead of a prospective summer transfer. It is hard to argue that the EFL Young Player of the Year hasn’t done enough to deserve it.
4. Kieffer Moore
The Cardiff supporter rooted within me is wishing that Kieffer Moore remains at the Cardiff City Stadium for next season, but the Bluebirds will certainly have a tough task holding onto their prized asset.
Moore joined the club from the newly-relegated Wigan Athletic last summer and surfaced as an instant success, becoming the first Cardiff player to eclipse the 20 goal mark since the late Peter Whittingham in the 2009/10 campaign. His impact on the team’s dynamic wasn’t limited to goalscoring, either- at six foot five, his aerial superiority bedded in precisely with Cardiff’s style of play and opened up space in the final third.
Cardiff’s hulking hitman also ranks top of the tree in aerials won p/90 with 10.5 and is only behind Norwich’s Emi Buendia by WhoScored’s average match rating, highlighting his almost interminable consistency.
He is set to play a key role in Wales’ upcoming EURO 2020 campaign and you wouldn’t be surprised to see a host of Premier League clubs eagerly monitoring his displays at the tournament.
5. Andre Ayew
The final inclusion takes us from one end of the South Wales divide to the other, and after recently experiencing playoff heartbreak, Swansea City talisman Andre Ayew could desire one last shot in the top flight.
For the second season running, the French-born Ghanaian International topped Swansea’s goalscoring charts, finding the back of the net 16 times to guide the Jacks to Wembley. Now three years on from their relegation, Ayew is still reported to be earning Premier League wages and a mystery lingers whether they are in a financial position to accommodate such finances for another season, too.
Ayew has previously played in the promised land with both Swansea and West Ham, and whilst his age doesn’t present a long-term option, he could yet have a part to play there.
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