Seven young Championship loanees who could have big futures in the PL

Quick Reads

A spell out on loan in the Championship can be a stepping stone to great things. John Terry, David Beckham and Harry Kane all spent time in the Football League as youngsters.

And it’s been a stratospheric rise for Chelsea’s latest crop of talent. Reece James, Fikayo Tomori, Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount were all out on loan in the Championship last season but just started in the Champions League as the Blues beat Lille 2-1.

Here are the players currently in the second tier that could be set to follow in their footsteps.

Eddie Nketiah

The Arsenal striker has yet to be given a Championship start by Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds United, but he’s turning heads from his cameo appearances.

After impressing for the Gunners in pre-season, he decided to go out on loan in search of more regular first-team football. He’s having to stay patient, but taking his chances when they come: he scored in both of his starts in the League Cup, and has broken the deadlock twice in the league late on after being introduced as a substitute.

It appears only a matter of time before he’s making a more regular impact at Leeds, and it’s not difficult to imagine him leading the line for his parent club.

Ben White

The decision to sell key player Pontus Jansson to Championship rivals Brentford raised a few eyebrows, not least replacing him with a relative unknown on loan from Brighton & Hove Albion. Ben White’s only previous senior experience was in loans at Newport County and Peterborough United.

But the 21-year-old has been a revelation in United’s backline. Unlike Nketiah, Bielsa has trusted him to slot straight in. He’s played every minute of their promotion-chasing campaign to date, and looks a ridiculously composed presence playing the ball out from the back.

He could well be what Gareth Southgate is looking for in an England centre-half in years to come.

Conor Gallagher

Chelsea haven’t sent out quite as many players on loan this season, due to the transfer ban and Frank Lampard’s eagerness to rely on academy graduates.

But one player that could be set to emulate the likes of Mount, Abraham and Tomori is 19-year-old Conor Gallagher at Charlton. Lee Bowyer’s Addicks have been a surprise package so far, and Gallagher has been integral to their early-season success.

Christian Walton

Christian Walton is still just 23 years old, but has plenty of experience already with over 100 senior Football League appearances across six different clubs on loan from boyhood club Brighton.

After doing well at Wigan last season, he’s now impressing at Blackburn, keeping four clean sheets from his last seven outings.

Grady Diangana

Since getting relegated from the Premier League in 2018, West Brom have had an eye for emerging talent to take on loan. Last season, Harvey Barnes was so good that Leicester saw fit to recall him midway through last season, a decision that had disastrous consequences for their promotion prospects.

They’ll be hoping history doesn’t repeat itself with Grady Diangana. The Democratic Republic Of Congo-born attacking midfielder has represented England at Under-20 level, and has made a strong start for Slaven Bilic new-look Baggies on loan from West Ham.

He scored twice from the bench to help his team come from behind to beat Luton 2-1 back in August, and has since found himself rewarded with regular starts.

Matt Smith

19-year-old Matt Smith already has seven senior international caps for Wales and could be set for plenty more in the future, but he’s yet to be given an opportunity by parent club Man City.

The defensive midfielder enjoyed a successful individual campaign in the Eredivisie with FC Twente last year and is now turning out for QPR, signing for the club on the same day they sold his namesake to QPR. He’s had to settle for the League Cup only so far, but has the potential to become an important player as the season progresses.

Ovie Ejaria

The England Under-21 international signed another loan deal with Reading after helping the Royals fight relegation in the latter half of last season.

The Liverpool loanee averages 2.8 dribbles per game so far this season. No other Championship player averages more.


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