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  • Billy Wooldridge

The Premier League's Top Players Made in the Championship

The Premier League has never been filled with as much young talent as it has today. From the newly promoted sides all the way to the quadruple chasing giants, the best league in the world is packed to the brim.

Many of these talents made their name in the lower ranks or abroad but with the UK’s recent Brexit vote, the opportunity for players to gain experience overseas will be much harder to come by, making the EFL leagues even more important to players wanting to make their mark in the Premier League.

Here is a look at the TOP 13 players aged 25 and under who made their name in the Championship.

Eberechi Eze (QPR)

Eberechi Eze made 112 appearances, scoring 20 goals for Queens Park Rangers before his 2020 £17 million move to Crystal Palace. He began his career at the Arsenal academy, followed with brief spells at Fulham, Reading and Millwall.

However things began going up for the forward at Loftus Road when he broke into the first team in 2018 after a six-month loan move at Wycombe Wanderers. After making 16 appearances for QPR at the end of the 2017-2018 season, Eze was handed the number 10 shirt for the club.

He then followed his terrific form playing 94 games across all competitions between the 2018-2019 season and 2019-2020 campaign, beginning to draw eyes from many clubs in the Premier League. After being named in the 2019-2020 PFA Championship Team of the Season, the then 22-year-old made his switch into the Premier League and continued his terrific form under Roy Hodson for Crystal Palace.

The prospect of an international England call up is certainly not too far away from Eze, who has started this season in fine form including a delightful assist in Palace’s 1-1 draw at Anfield.

Michael Olise (Reading)

Another Crystal Palace regular who made his spark in the Championship is Michael Olise who worked his way from Reading’s Academy scholarship programme to one of their most influential players before his 2021 move to South London.

Olise made 44 league appearances for Reading in the 2020-2021 season, scoring seven goals and collecting 12 assists as he made his name known around Europe. The winger was crowned the EFL Young Player of the Season before Crystal Palace signed him on a five-year deal.

Olise made 27 league appearances for Palace last season, netting two goals and five assists, and at the age of only 20, there is plenty more to come from the Hammersmith born attacker who ended last season with France under-21 call up.

Fikayo Tomori (Derby)

Fikayo Tomori is arguably one of England’s best centre-backs and after lifting the Serie A title with AC Milan last season, he showed just how important time in the Championship can be.

Being at Chelsea from under-8s level, Tomori experienced a few loans moves at Brighton & Hove Albion and Hull City before making waves at Derby County in the 2018-2019 season where Frank Lampard’s side narrowly lost to Aston Villa in the play-off final.

Tomori was still at a very young of 20 when he made his loan move to Pride Park, but certainly showed his skill and previous experience, making 44 league appearances and only just missing out on promotion to the Premier League.

Tomori’s loan move to the Championship has cannoned him to brilliant success, being named Derby’s “Player of the Year”, before moving to AC Milan in 2021 for £25 million.

In last season’s title winning campaign, Tomori played 33 games for the Italian giants, and in the final 11 games of the season, only conceded two goals earning him a third senior England call-up.

Mason Mount (Derby)

Having been at Chelsea from as early as four years old, Mason Mount joined Dutch Eredivisie side Vitesse in 2017, for a season long loan. In just 39 games, the attacking midfielder scored 14 times, managing to include himself in the Eredivisie Team of the Year and also winning Vitesse Player of the Season.

However his Championship loan move to Derby County was the final piece in the puzzle for Mount who has gone on the accomplish 31 international caps for England.

Under the guidance of Chelsea legend Frank Lampard, Mount was one of Derby’s most influential players in the 2018-2019 season, where they narrowly lost out to Tammy Abraham’s Aston Villa 1-0 in the play-off final.

Following his return to Chelsea, Mount was rewarded a five-year contract, and has since gone on to play 164 games for Chelsea and started all but two games in England’s 2021 run to the European Championship final.

Tammy Abraham (Aston Villa)

Tammy Abraham, arguably one of the countries best strikers, has used both his Championship loan spells to the best of his abilities, and is one of the best examples on this list of how influential a loan move to the second division can be.

In 2016, Abraham joined Bristol City on a season long loan, and managed 23 goals in 41 league games for The Robins. He was also named the club’s Player of the Season, Young Player of the season and Top Goalscorer awards. With this, the then 19-year-old became the first ever player to earn all three awards in the same season.

After a disappointing loan move with Swansea City the next season, Abraham dropped back down into the Championship to Aston Villa and became the first player since 21977 to score 25 goals in a single campaign for the club.

Following his heavily successful time in the West Midlands, finally had his shot with Chelsea, and wearing the No. 9 shirt. In 82 games at Chelsea, Abraham scored 30 goals, and in August 2021 made his switch abroad to Serie A club Roma for a fee of £34 million.

In his first season in Italy, the striker became the first English player in thirty years to score more than 10 goals in a Serie A season and has continued to cement his position in Joe Mourinho’s side, most recently scoring away to Juventus in a 1-1 draw last weekend.

Harvey Elliott (Blackburn)

After Liverpool’s 9-0 demolishment of Bournemouth last weekend, it was only right to include the next two players on this list.

The Premier League’s youngest ever player Harvey Elliott (aged 16 years and 174 days at the time), has matured superbly in recent years after a loan move to Blackburn Rovers in the 2020-2021 season.

After moving from Fulham to Liverpool in 2019, and spending a year in the Reds’ academy, Elliott took a year in the Championship, where he played 41 games, scoring seven. He was also nominated for the EFL Young Player of the Season award, which was eventually won by previously mentioned Michael Olise.

Following his return to Liverpool, Elliot was thrown straight into the first team, and began the 2021-2022 season brilliantly, however after dislocating his ankle only a few games him, Elliott wasn’t able to return until February.

Following his return, Elliott scored his first professional goal for Liverpool in a 3-1 victory over Cardiff City, before scoring his first league goal for Jurgen Klopp’s side last Saturday in their 9-0 win.

Now wearing the No. 19 shirt previously owned by Sadio Mane, Elliott is continuing to show his class and just why he is one of the world’s highest rated youngsters.

Fabio Carvalho (Fulham)

Another Liverpool youngster formally of Fulham is Fabio Carvalho, who also scored his first league goal for the Reds in last weekend’s game, only turning 20 a few days ago.

Born in Lisbon, Portugal, Carvalho spent 3 years at the Benfica academy before moving to England and joining the Fulham academy in 2015. After signing his first professional contract at Craven Cottage in 2020, Carvalho then made his first team debut the following season.

However, last season is when Carvalho really began to shine, playing 38 times, scoring 10 goals and providing eight assists in Fulham’s promotion season.

This form drew the eyes of many, but it was Liverpool who managed to snap up the highly rated attacking midfielder for a reported fee of £5 million. Carvalho has played in all four of Liverpool’s Premier League games this season and is set to be a very influential figure for Klopp this season.

Reece James (Wigan)

Another Chelsea starter on this list is Reece James, who took a season in the Championship with Wigan Athletic and on return cemented his place in the Chelsea first team.

At Chelsea from the age of six, James moved to DW Stadium for the 2018-2019 season, scoring his first foal for the Latics in November with a brilliant free kick against Leeds United.

James went on to play all but one of Wigan’s league games that season, scoring three goals and winning Wigan’s Player of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year and Goal of the Season. He was also named in the 2018-2019 Championship Team of the Season.

On his return to Stamford Bridge the following season, James made 24 league appearances, and played a major role in their 2020-2021 Champions League winning campaign, starting in the 1-0 win over Manchester City in the final.

During that season, the full-back received his first England senior call-up and has gone on to make 13 appearances for Gareth Southgate’s side.

Emile Smith Rowe (Huddersfield)

One of Arsenal’s most promising youngsters also made his trade in the Championship, with Huddersfield.

Smith Rowe spent half a year at The John Smith’s stadium, playing 19 league games and scoring two goals. Even though his game time was limited through his age and the Covid-19 pandemic, the Englishmen managed to leave a mark in the Championship and on his return to the Premier League was thrown straight into the Arsenal first team to help mend Michael Arteta’s tough start at the Emirates.

He made 20 appearances for Arsenal in the 2021-2022 season, scoring two goals and assisting a further two. At the end of that season he picked up the No. 10 shirt and scored 10 goals cementing himself in Arteta’s strongest eleven in a season where Arsenal tightly missed out on a Champions League finish.

In that season, Smith Rowe was rewarded with his first England senior international call up and scored his first goal for the side in a 10-0 thumping of San Marino.

Former Huddersfield first team coach described Smith Rowe as a player who elegantly “drifts past people. He does not look quick but he is and it is with the ball which is brilliant. He naturally glides across the ground and he takes the ball in his stride. He has good vision and a good understanding of the game."

James Maddison (Norwich)

After a three-year spell at Coventry City, James Maddison made his switch to Norwich City, playing a total of 47 league games and scoring 15 goals.

In the 2017-18 season after the appointment of Daniel Farke, Maddison became a regular starter and was named the Norwich Player of the Season at the end of the campaign. The Englishmen was also named on the shortlist of the EFL Championship Young Player of the Year, eventually won by Fulham’s Ryan Sessegnon.

Maddison then made the switch to Leicester City for a reported £20 million, and since then has played 175 games in all competitions, scoring 47 goals.

Maddison made his England Senior debut in August 2020, coming on for the final 44 minutes in a 7-0 win over Montenegro.

Known for his set-piece expertise, at the age of 25, Maddison is certainly a name who has much more to give and could go on to be an incredibly influential player for both Leicester and England in the future.

Harvey Barnes (West Brom)

Another Leicester City player who first made his mark in the Championship is 24-year-old Harvey Barnes.

A product of the Leicester academy, Barnes departed on various loan moves to MK Dons and Barnsley before making his mark with West Brom.

On an initial season long loan, Barnes played 26 league games for West Brom, scoring nine goals but was recalled to Leicester with immediate effect and was thrown straight into the first team.

A few months later, Barnes scored his first professional goal for Leicester in a 2-2 draw with West Ham and has been making moves in the Black Forest ever since.

Barnes has made 114 league appearances for Leicester, scoring 23 goals and was rewarded with an England senior international call up in 2020, playing 14 minutes in a 3-0 victory over Wales.

Jarrod Bowen (Hull)

At Hull City from the age of 17, Jared Bowen made his way through the ranks and made his professional debut for the side at 19 in an EFL League Cup game against Exeter City.

In the 2018-2019 season, Bowen was selected as part of the Championship Team of the Season, as-long as being named Hull’s Player of the Year, Players' Player of the Year and Hull City Supporter's Player of the Year. He was also Hull City’s top scorer with 22 goals in all competitions.

Halfway through the 2019-2020 season, Bowen joined Premier League’s West Ham for £18. In a season degraded with the Covid-19 pandemic, Bowen took a while to settle into David Moyes’s side, but eventually came into his own being a key individual in West Ham’s Europa League campaign last season.

Bowen received his first England senior call up last season making his full debut in Gareth Southgate’s sides 1-0 loss to Hungry in May 2022.

Bowen has gone on to make four appearances for England and started both of West Ham’s semi-final legs to Eintracht Frankfurt, who eventually went on to lift last season’s trophy.

Oliver Skipp (Norwich)

Tottenham’s sole player on this list is Oliver Skipp, who also spent a season on loan at Championship’s Norwich City.

As a product of the Tottenham Hotspur academy, Skipp spent the whole of the 2020-2021 with the Canaries, finishing the season in the Championship Team of the Season, as Norwich won the Championship.

Since then, Skipp has made 28 league appearances for Tottenham, and still at the age of 21, the midfielder has bags of time to make his mark in the Premier League as Antonio Conte’s side aim for another charge at the Champions League places and their first trophy since 2008’s League Cup victory over Chelsea.

Joe Gomez (Charlton)

Last but not least on this list is Liverpool’s Joe Gomez, who spent eight years at Charlton Athletic before making the switch to the Premier League for a fee of £3.5 million.

Gomez rose through the ranks at the Charlton Academy before making his senior debut in August 2014, going on to make 24 appearances for the first team before joining Liverpool in the summer of 2015.

Since joining the Reds, Gomez has gone on to win the Premier League, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup, FA Cup and League Cup, even through a number of injury setbacks.

Gomez has made 145 appearances for Liverpool in all competitions and has recently signed a new five-year contract with the club.

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