GUEST POST FROM THE MAIN MAN MIKE MCDONALD (FOLLOW)
I can’t remember a time in the last 20 years where there has been so much potential Premier League talent available in the Championship.
I think this has snuck up on us as coaches. Championship teams have suddenly made the conscious choice to ‘play football.’ In previous decades there has been a marked difference in the playing style as you looked at the lower leagues.
The result is two-fold. Potential becomes easier to spot as teams like Leeds/Brentford have players who not only understand modern football but they play it too. Secondly, you can slide them into a PL team with significantly less adaptation.
Arsenal not only need to look at some of these gems because finances may dictate but also because they are good enough. Some could even be elite.
You will enjoy these videos. Some will dazzle you. I haven’t priced these players as prices will depend on each club’s Covid impact.
Arsenal need a modern midfield, centre backs that can handle stress, and arguably need a creative player or two more than anything.
The Championship has more of this type of potential gem than any other type of player.
Said Benrahma (Brentford)
An inverted right-footed, left-winger. Can play both wings and as an attacking midfielder.
A difference maker with delicious feet who brings joy. If you see potential in Pepe, you will see the same here. Perhaps the player we hope Nelson could be.
Chelsea are allegedly very interested but have much competition in this area already. Arsenal could use him as a ‘wandering left-winger.’
What a talent!
Ebe Eze (QPR)
A powerful, direct, line breaking attacker. Has an equal eye for an assist as a goal. Reminds me of Martial with a similar toolbox of skills.
Can play as an 8 in a 4-3-3 or anywhere across the front 3 in a 4-2-3-1.
Ovie Ejaria (Liverpool on loan at Reading)
Very similar in playing style and looks to Eze, but taller and stronger.
Another fantastic natural footballer with a bag of creativity.
Much like Eze he can play as a line-breaking third midfielder or across the front three.
Would Liverpool sell or probably want to loan?
Matheus Pereira (West Brom)
After speaking to a handful of fans of Championship clubs, most felt that he is the best of the creative players. His loan from Sporting Lisbon is now obliged to be triggered for €9M.
Plays as a 10 or as a right-winger. Six goals and 12 assists to date. His primary qualities are his vision and high technical level. Has a wicked reverse pass.
If you watch this video, you will note a left-footed, elegant player who seems to glide around the field. Never known West Brom to have this type of player!
Michael Olise (Reading)
Reading have this 19 year-old French kid Michael Olise, if we didn’t already have Willock I’d be rooting for us to get this guy as his deal ends 2022.
He’s certainly one to watch.pic.twitter.com/vRzx9n4vk3
— Gilles (@_Grimanditweets) July 5, 2020
Yet another gifted creative player. Olise is a left-footed, attacking midfielder with the proverbial wand of a left foot. At 18, he may be the cheapest of the ‘creative’ list and a worthwhile investment due to his high ceiling. Seems to use the sole of his foot to bamboozle. Love it!
MODERN CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS:
Even though we all see the improvement in Xhaka and Ceballos, we all see the need for modern, athletic central midfielders.
Max Bird (Derby)
Arsenal need modern, athletic, tall, powerful midfielders to at least be on par with the vast majority.
Max Bird may not be this in the PL yet, but he has the profile. His most impressive quality lies in his ability to see both opportunity and danger quickly.
Bird plays alongside Rooney in the centre of midfield. Rooney recently claimed that he “wouldn’t be surprised if he was in the England squad within a year.” Much like Olise, at 19 years old it might be a wise investment?
Kalvin Phillips (Leeds)
With Leeds likely to go up, it’s highly unlikely that a hometown boy would reject the opportunity to play at least one season for Leeds in the PL. I’ve included him however as I think he potentially has everything we need. An athletic centre or defensive midfielder who can deny and create. You will remember him as the hub of the one sided first half at the Emirates in January as Leeds totally dominated. It is hard to find a central midfielder who is a specialist in both areas, you normally have to find two.
Arsenal are pursuing Partey as he can do both, but so can Phillips. I’ll be very surprised if he’s not very close to England’s Euro 2021 squad as he’s a far better footballer than both Rice and Dier.
Kalvin Phillips will also be the player with the highest value in the Championship at around £35M.
Conor Gallagher (Swansea…. on loan from Chelsea)
A two way, two-footed creative central midfielder. An impressive eye for a pass in the final third as well as counter opportunities. A modern-day number 8, with boundless energy and goal threat.
Named Chelsea’s Academy player of the Year last season which is no mean feat amongst huge competition.
FULL BACKS/WING BACKS
We need a better option than Kolasinac and many including myself, think Bellerin is overrated.
Nathan Ferguson (WBA)
Ferguson is allegedly on his way to Palace. Smart move as he’ll play. Arsenal should take a look as he’s going to cost below £10M and has played both right and left back.
A fast, athletic, modern full back who at 19 has a very bright future.
Jayden Bogle (Derby)
Want your right back to be hugely confident on the ball? High technical ceiling? A huge attacking threat with the athleticism to recover?
You need to watch this video because people are starting to talk about Bogle.
Probably a better right wing back than right back.
Matty Cash (Forest)
A combative attacking right back who interestingly has the posture and profile of a defensive midfielder. Actually a converted winger who took advantage of Carl Jenkinson’s long term injury. Tough, quick and great in the tackle. Being tipped to get a call up to the Poland team through his grandparents heritage.
Kristian Pedersen (Birmingham)
Not the greatest video but you’ll get a little flavour of an emerging talent getting rave reviews at left back for Birmingham City. A tall powerful left back with a wicked left foot. Former winger, like Cash.
The best CB in the Championship is Ben White but he is officially a Brighton player and I mentioned him in last weeks transfer blog.
Beyond Ben White there is one more worth your attention.
Pontus Jansson (Brentford)
A warrior. Arsenal fans pine for a Tony Adams type. Here he is. Not saying he is of this level but certainly a similar profile. Aggressive, strong, better on the ball than given credit for. This 29 year old Swedish international is worth a look.
Arsenal don’t need an unproven striker as they have Nketiah, Martinelli, John Jules and Balogun vying for this. What they will be interested in however, is the right profile of striker.
Arteta seems to like a willing presser. The ability to play with your back to goal, perhaps a false nine and I’m sure he’d love someone better in the air as in Saka and Tierney in particular we have good crossers but nobody great in the air.
Ollie Watkins (Brentford)
To add to the list above, Watkins can create goals for himself off the dribble.
Tall, very fast and able to score in a variety of ways. Watkins will no doubt find himself in the PL with Brentford or somebody else, I’m sure.
Firstly, I think it’s important that we don’t become snobby about this. The Championship truly has some gems. You’ll be aware that Jude Bellingham (Birmingham City) has just been signed by Dortmund. They play their youngsters like we do. A reminder that the most sought after creative player in the PL in Jack Grealish has played the majority of his minutes in the Championship.
I think Arsenal should take a close look at Bogle and Ferguson as wing-back options. Phillips would be a dream signing but it’s not happening yet.
We will need more than one creative force to finally connect the front and back. As Benrahma and Pereira will likely get promoted and be more expensive, I’d take a close look at Eze at QPR, who would no doubt need money and sell cheaper.
Follow me @Mike_Mmcdonald