It’s almost time folks, the English second tier, the Championship starts for the 2019/20 season next weekend. For many, it is the most exciting league in the world owing to its unpredictability and the sheer amount of large famous clubs which occupy it. Clubs have been busy throughout the summer months putting together their squads for kick-off and some noteworthy transfers have taken place. Here are six such transfers to watch in 2019/20.
1. Anthony Knockaert – Brighton & Hove Albion to Fulham – Fee: Loan
2018/19 was a season of strife for Fulham. The West London outfit began it with optimism, a return to the Premier League after a four-year absence and over £100 million spent on transfers. Yet it was a disaster for the Cottagers. Relegated with several games to spare after two managerial changes during the season and a defence leakier than a sieve with 81 goals conceded in 38 games. It is up to ex-player Scott Parker, appointed on a permanent basis this summer to attempt to lead the Cottagers back to the Premier League. If statements could be made by signings, Fulham have made an impressive one with the purchase of Anthony Knockaert.
The 27-year-old French winger was a competent performer for Brighton last season in the Premier League with 2 goals and 6 assists from 30 games as a regular for the Seagulls. However, if Knockaert is a competent performer at Premier League level, he really excels a division below. In 148 Championship games for both Brighton and Leicester City, Knockaert has weighed in with 33 goals and 29 assists from the flanks. Opposing Championship fullbacks will not relish trying to subdue the tricky winger.
2. Ivan Cavaleiro – Wolverhampton Wanderers to Fulham – Fee: Loan
Opposing fullbacks facing Fulham this upcoming term could have to face up to double trouble. If the aforementioned signing of Anthony Knockaert wasn’t a punishing enough ordeal to endure, they now added another quality wing loanee to their ranks, Wolves’ Ivan Cavaleiro. The Portuguese struggled to make the step-up to the Premier League for the West Midlands outfit last season registering only 3 goals and 1 assist from 23 matches. However, in the Championship, a commodity like Cavaleiro could prove invaluable to Fulham’s promotion hopes.
In two seasons at this level in 2016/17 and 2017/18 with Wolves, the Portuguese contributed 14 goals and 17 assists in 73 games. In the latter of those campaigns, which ended in promotion for Wolves, Cavaleiro was especially impressive, weighing in with 9 goals and 12 assists in 42 appearances.
3. Helder Costa – Wolverhampton Wanderers to Leeds United – Fee: Loan
It says it all about just how strongly Wolves performed on their eventual 7th placed return to the top flight last season that another of the stars of their 2017/18 Championship promotion-winning campaign has been ruthlessly jettisoned. That individual is Helder Costa and Leeds United, so close to ending their long absence from the Premier League last term and intending to win promotion this term have agreed a loan move for the Portuguese winger.
Like Cavaleiro and Knockaert, Costa struggled to perform to a good level in the top flight, 2018/19 saw the 25-year-old register only 1 goal and 2 assists in 25 appearances. However, in 71 appearances in the Championship over the 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons, a much better return of 15 goals and 19 assists was delivered.
4. Arijanet Muric – Manchester City to Nottingham Forest – Fee: Loan
For 20-year-old goalkeeper Arijanet Muric, it is fair to say that the 2018/19 campaign was one of drama. This time last season, Muric was sent out on loan by Man City to Dutch Eredivisie outfit NAC Breda. After only one first team appearance for NAC, his parent club were rocked by the news that reserve goalkeeper Claudio Bravo suffered a serious injury which ruled him out for the entire season. In a flash, Muric was recalled by the Cityzens to take up Bravo’s place as reserve keeper behind Ederson.
Muric did not see a single minute of Premier League action as Ederson proved irreplaceable in City’s successful championship defence. However, the young Kosovan international proved his worth in the Cityzens’ defence of the League Cup. Muric played every minute of the competition up until the final and even proved himself a hero in the Quarter Final victory on penalties against Leicester City. However, with Bravo now recovered from injury, Muric’s development would be best served playing regular first-team football and Nottingham Forest swooped into land the promising young keeper on a season-long loan. A young talent to watch as ambitious Forest target a return to the Premier League.
5. Pontus Jansson – Leeds United to Brentford FC – Fee: £5.54 million
If ever there was a role model that clubs aiming to consolidate at Championship level should look to emulate, that club is Brentford. The West Londoners have managed frequent mid-table to play-off finishes since winning promotion to the Championship in 2014. The likes of Uwe Rosler, Mark Warburton and Dean Smith on the managerial front and Jota, Harlee Dean, Chris Mepham and Ezri Konza on the playing front may have all departed in recent seasons, yet Brentford remain a competitive outfit. In addition, these playing departures have gifted the club a large cash windfall which this season could be used to make a serious push for promotion.
The clearest indicator of this came early on this summer when Brentford splashed out £5.54 million on Swedish international central defender Pontus Jansson from fellow Championship rivals Leeds. The 28-year-old over the past three seasons emerged as a real fan-favourite and leader at Elland Road making over 110 appearances since arriving from Italian Serie A outfit Torino. Bees fans will hope Jansson’s arrival will help improve on the 59 goals conceded last term and cement them firmly in the promotion picture.
6. Nick Powell – Wigan Athletic to Stoke City – Fee: Free Transfer
The final name on the list is Nick Powell. Back in the summer of 2012, after starring for hometown club Crewe Alexandra, Powell, then aged just 18 signed for Manchester United for a reported fee of £6.75 million. However, the move did not work out and after a series of unsuccessful loans at both Leicester and Hull City, Powell was released in the summer of 2016. Powell then moved onto Wigan Athletic where he had three successful seasons. Powell excelled as a key player in the Latics’ promotion to and subsequent survival in the Championship.
Yet, despite this, Powell decided against extending his contract at the DW Stadium and was snapped up by Stoke City on a free transfer. The Potteries had a challenging campaign last season, nowhere near the promotion places and are now rebuilding under new gaffer Nathan Jones. Powell despite his success at Wigan was prone to picking up knocks, nonetheless, his natural talent is worth the gamble. Eight goals and seven assists in 32 games for the Latics in 2018/19 highlight this. Now 25 and more mature than his time at Old Trafford, Powell may now fancy a chance to finally prove himself in the Premier League soon and the move to Stoke potentially gives him a better chance of fulfilling this objective in the future.