With Harry Redknapp urging Premier League clubs to sign more players from the Football League in light of the success of Jamie Vardy and Dele Alli, Rob Conlon looks at 10 stars who could soon move to the top flight.
Arguably the most naturally gifted English footballer outside of the Premier League, at 18 years of age Cook has already made over 50 appearances in the Leeds United first team. Graced with a natural ability to glide past players with the ball at his feet, the midfielder also has an impressive range of passing and is one of the few players in the Whites’ squad to excite the crowd at Elland Road. As reported by the Daily Star on Tuesday morning, Leeds have slapped a £10million price-tag on the England Under-19 international as top-flight clubs are eyeing a move for the teenager in January.
Potential Destination: Manchester United, Liverpool, Stoke City or Bournemouth
Having joined Fulham from PSG, striker Dembele clearly has a good pedigree. The youngster made a slow start to life at Craven Cottage but has clearly acclimatised to English football this season, scoring eight goals so far this season. The 19-years-old’s performances have obviously caught the eye of suitors at a higher level, and sources have told TEAMtalk that a couple of Premier League clubs could make a move in January with his contract talks reportedly stalling.
Potential Destination: Everton or Tottenham
Another youngster who has benefited from plenty of first-team experience, Birmingham’s Gray has played over 70 matches since breaking into the first team at St Andrews towards the end of 2013. An exciting winger, Gray has been earning rave reviews this season, terrorising Championship defences. Bournemouth were understood to have had a number of bids turned down over the summer, but with the 19-year-old’s release clause reportedly lowering at the end of the current campaign, the Blues may be forced to sell sooner rather than later.
Potential Destination: Liverpool or Bournemouth
Similar to the Premier League’s top scorer, Jamie Vardy, striker Adams first cut his teeth in non-league, appearing for Evo-Stik Northern Premier League outfit Ilkeston. The England Under-20 international burst onto the scene with two quickfire goals for Sheffield United against Tottenham in the semi-finals of the League Cup last season. Still somewhat raw, Adams is featuring in the Blades’ first team on a more regular basis this term, scoring seven times, and has been watched by Premier League clubs in the past.
Potential Destination: Sunderland or Southampton
Brighton are yet to be beat in the Championship and Dunk is one of the major factors behind their excellent form. The classy centre-back has developed into one of the best in the second tier and was the subject of continued interest from Fulham, who had a bid of £4million for the 24-year-old rejected. Since then he has only improved and the likes of Steve McClaren, who was keeping an eye on the defender over the summer, could renew their interest in January.
Potential Destination: Newcastle or Everton
Having scored 11 goals in 20 matches from midfield this season, and 17 in his last 27 appearances, Oxford’s Roofe was always likely to attract interest in January. Manager Michael Appleton has confirmed clubs are watching the 22-year-old, although has denied any formal approach has been made. Formerly on the books at West Brom, Roofe could make the Baggies regret never giving him a chance at the Hawthorns.
Potential Destination: Newcastle
Absolutely prolific last season, Afobe scored 32 goals for MK Dons and Wolves, including a brace in the Dons’ famous 4-0 victory over Manchester United in the League Cup. Some Arsenal fans questioned Arsene Wenger’s decision to allow the England Under-21 international to leave the club, leaving only Olivier Giroud and injury-prone Theo Walcott as the North Londoner’s only strikers. Norwich had numerous bids for the 22-year-old turned down in the summer, but expect various goal-shy teams to target the forward.
Potential Destination: Norwich City or Aston Villa
Highly rated at Leeds United, Lees was surprisingly allowed to join the Whites’ Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday on a free transfer last summer. Since then he has proven just why fans had such high expectations of the defender and has even captained the Owls on occasions. Having been linked with a number of Premier League clubs over the past 12 months, expect the Hillsborough outfit to face a fight to keep hold of the centre-back.
Potential Destination: Sunderland, Newcastle or Norwich City
Son of former Hull and Bradford hero Dean, Windass is effectively making a name for himself plying his trade for League Two side Accrington Stanley. With nine goals this season, the 21-year-old is among the league’s top goalscorers. His dad has revealed the youngster is set to turn down a contract at the Crown Ground amid reported interest from Arsenal, Windass is unlikely to remain in the fourth tier much longer.
Potential Destination: Arsenal or Fulham
Few Owls fans could have claimed to have known much about Joao upon signing the striker in the summer, but the 22-year-old has been an instant hit at Hillsborough, scoring in the eye-catching 3-0 win over Arsenal in the League Cup. The former Nacional forward has made such an impression in the Championship that he was handed a Portugal debut against Russia earlier this month and has already started to attract interest from the Premier League.
Potential Destination: Everton
Who do you think could be the next Football League star to make an impact on the Premier League? Have your say below.