Coral’s five Championship stars who could make a January jump
The Championship is full of hidden gems, so Coral writers put our heads together to create a list of five diamonds in the rough who can make a leap to the Premier league.
With the January transfer window almost upon us, clubs are being linked left, right and centre to expensive options from abroad, but there are already plenty of alternatives in their back garden.
Here’s who we think could make the grade.
Rudy Gestede (Blackburn Rovers)
After being nominated for the Championship Player of the Month award in November, in-form Blackburn forward Gestede is showing no signs of slowing as the hectic festive fixture list takes hold.
The Benin international has eclipsed highly-rated clubmate Jordan Rhodes this campaign, and certainly silenced critics who questioned his consistency by grabbing 11 in 18 league outings.
France-born forward Gestede should be interesting the likes of Leicester City and Sunderland, who are struggling up top, but the 26-year-old’s accomplished all-round play could mean he has a higher ceiling than a relegation scrap.
Will Hughes (Derby County)
A mainstay of the England Under-21s, Derby’s midfield conductor Hughes has long been tipped for future Three Lions stardom.
The Rams academy product may be slight, but his technique, decision-making and ability to pick a pass have reportedly seen him register on the radar of Premier League giants Liverpool and Manchester United.
Still just 19, and with Derby currently topping the Championship table, Hughes may be difficult to prise from Pride Park, where he is enjoying regular playing time, but would represent a smart investment for many a Premier League club. The Rams are 7/4 to lift the Championship title.
Tyrone Mings (Ipswich Town)
Bath-born left back Mings burst onto the scene this season, taking over from departed Aaron Cresswell with aplomb.
If reports are to be believed, Arsenal have been quoted a £10m fee for the fleet-footed 21-year-old, who has taken a regular starting birth at Ipswich, who are 10/1 to win the Championship, in his stride.
Mooted for an eventual switch to centre back, the Tractor Boy has enjoyed a rapid rise, but should perhaps plump for a switch to a club with fewer resources, to ensure he continues his development.
Crystal Palace apparently had a bid rejected over summer but would make a fine fit for the defender. Mings could do worse than looking to previous Eagles alumni Nathaniel Clyne’s development as a template for success.
Bakary Sako (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
The sought-after Wolves wingman is rumoured to have piqued Aston Villa’s interest, and Paul Lambert could swoop for the pacy, powerful Mali international in the new year.
Speedster Sako’s involvement in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in January could scupper any deal, but the 26-year-old is more than worth the risk and should be eager to take the next step in his career.
With seven Championship goals this term, the Wolves wideman is more than capable of manning the flanks for a top tier team.
Villans frontman Christian Benteke will be licking his lips at the prospect of linking up with Sakho, who could be lured away from the Midlands with his contract set to expire in summer.
Callum Wilson (Bournemouth)
The Cherries’ top Championship scorer may be a bit of a wildcard but, at just 22, teams on a budget could be tempted to take a punt on the poacher.
With QPR’s goal-burden resting solely on the shoulders of Charlie Austin, Harry Redknapp’s nose for a bargain may see the Hoops, who are 5/4 to be relegated, take note.
Strong and quick, with the ability to carve out chances for himself, Wilson’s impressive goal haul of 11 in 22 appearances this term could see him propelled to the bright lights of the Premier League sooner than expected.