The transfer window reopens this month and whilst many top flight sides will look to signings from abroad, the Championship, League One and League Two remain crucial hunting grounds for top talents
The 2021-22 club season did not disappoint with plenty of drama and entertainment spanning nine months.
Whilst the action on the pitch has grinded to a halt, off the field a hive of activity is set to take place. The domestic transfer window re-opens on June 10. And after two years of Covid-affected finances limiting the number of deals that took place, this summer is expected to see business return to normal with plenty of clubs ready to flex their financial muscles.
Those in the top flight, naturally, will have bigger wallets to put to use but one market that consistently delivers value for money is the EFL.
With that in mind, Mirror Football runs an eye over six EFL players who could be set for Premier League interest over the summer.
Midfielder O’Brien has dazzled for Huddersfield over the past three seasons. He caught the eye during the team’s struggles to adapt to life back in the Championship in 2019-20 and 2020-21 whilst last term he ratcheted up his performances to push the Terriers to within one game of a Premier League return.
A modest return of just three goals and three assists bely O’Brien’s importance to the team and he looks destined for a top flight move, with plenty of suitors looking to snap up the 23-year-old this summer.
Team he’d most suit : Crystal Palace. He would prove an intriguing replacement for the departing Conor Gallagher.
Ben Brereton Diaz
What a season, and indeed a year, Brereton Diaz has enjoyed.
Last summer he came to the international fore after a shock call-up by Chile resulted in him starring at the Copa America. He handled that pressure with consummate ease and went on to enjoy his best goalscoring season by some distance for Blackburn in 2021-22.
He notched 22 times in the Championship as Rovers fell short of the play-offs. Blackburn triggered a clause in Brereton Diaz’s contract that means he is tied down for at least another year but his form hasn’t gone unnoticed and a tempting offer could persuade Rovers to cash in this summer.
Team he’d most suit : Brighton. The Seagulls have shown in the past they aren’t afraid to spend big on EFL talent, such as Neal Maupay and Adam Webster.
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The Norwegian giant showed glimpses of his best form as he played a big role in aiding Sheffield United’s promotion push last term. Ultimately the Blades fell short but his second full season saw him rack up more appearances and goals than he had managed in the previous one-and-a-half seasons combined. He attracted interest from the likes of Arsenal and Napoli last summer and once again United may have to fend off admiring glances from higher up the pyramid.
Team he’d most suit : Aston Villa. The Midlands side have already been busy in the transfer market this summer and Berge would add some much-needed bite to their engine room.
Huddersfield Town goalkeeper Nicholls enjoyed a renaissance campaign last time out. Signed from MK Dons, many assumed Nicholls would be mostly warming the bench for the Terriers. Instead he made the number one jersey his own, kept 18 clean sheets and won a spot in the EFL Championship team of the season. The fact that he was the only player on that list who didn’t play for one of the three promoted teams tells its own story. Nicholls started his career in the Premier League with Wigan but failed to make a top flight outing. Since then he’s worked his way back up the divisions and is in the form of his life.
Team he’d most suit : Southampton. The Saints have seen Fraser Forster leave for Tottenham with veteran Willy Caballero also set to depart. Goalkeeping department is in need of fresh blood.
Spence enjoyed a fabulous season on loan at Nottingham Forest, playing a huge part in them sealing victory in the Championship play-off final over Huddersfield. He more than warranted an inclusion in the second tier’s team of the season. He caught the eye for his attacking plaudits in a wing-back position and especially with his performances in FA Cup scalps over Arsenal and Leicester. Spence is contracted to Middlesbrough but appears destined for the top flight in either England or abroad.
Team he’d most suit: Arsenal, Tottenham. Both have been heavily linked with Spence and it would be intriguing to see how he would adapt to either team’s set-up.
MK Dons’ midfielder Twine scooped the League One player of the season award and rightly so after a superb showing in 2021-22. The 22-year-old scored 20 and assisted 13 as the Dons fell at the play-off semi-finals hurdle. He won plenty of plaudits for his overall attacking prowess and his dead-ball skills. Premier League clubs are reportedly monitoring him and it will be interesting if any take the plunge this summer.
Team he’d most suit : Brentford. The Bees have a good record at plucking lower league talents down the years and Twine would be an interesting addition to Thomas Frank’s system.