Championship transfer targets: Berge, Scott, Bellingham
The Premier League season is almost over, with Burnley and Sheffield United sealing the two automatic promotion spots in the Premier League, while Luton Town and Coventry City are set to battle for the final berth in the playoff final on Saturday (stream live on ESPN+, 11:45 a.m. ET.)
Many young players have impressed in the second tier of English football and some have already agreed big transfers ahead of the summer. Watford striker Joao Pedro is set to join Brighton & Hove Albion for around £28million this summer, while Blackburn Rovers midfielder Ben Brereton Diaz has reportedly agreed on a pre-contract to sign for Villarreal on a transfer free.
Meanwhile, some players who have done well on loan will return to their parent clubs, hoping to seal a place in the first team. These include: Amad Diallo (Sunderland, back to Manchester United), James McAtee (Sheffield United, back to Manchester City), Taylor Harwood-Bellis (Burnley, back to Man City), Nathan Tella (Burnley, back to Southampton) and Cameron Archer (Middlesbrough, back to Aston Villa.)
So which of the league’s top stars could be moving next? Who should clubs have on their radar when the transfer window reopens?
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Iliman Ndiaye, 23, AM/FW, Sheffield United
Amid interest from Everton in January, Sheffield United did well to hang on to Ndiaye. It remains to be seen, however, if the Senegal international – whose contract expires in 2024 – remains a Blade at the start of the Premier League season.
With 14 goals and 11 assists in 46 league games, Ndiaye has been deemed “irreplaceable” by his coach, Paul Heckingbottom. He is the very definition of a “livewire” as his quick dribbling skills, neat footwork and low center of gravity make him difficult to anticipate and dispossess. The persistence of his run is impressive, as he always finds instinctive solutions to whatever comes his way. And the way he transitions quickly from attacking mode to intensive ball-winning is also very commendable.
Sander Berge, 25, CM, Sheffield United
Another Sheffield United star to shine this season, Berge has been repeatedly linked with top clubs at home and abroad. And it’s only the recurring injuries the Norway international has faced in recent seasons that have kept him at Bramall Lane. But, despite missing nine games this season due to ankle ligament damage, he is injury-free in 2023 and is therefore starting to attract more transfer interest.
A €23m signing from Genk in 2020, Berge is an atypical figure for a No.6/No. 8 hybrid midfielder, thanks to his 6ft 5in stature. Not only a physical force that takes care of interceptions (3 every 90 minutes) and aerial duels, but he is also technically gifted and deceptively smooth with the ball as he breaks opposition lines with his surging runs (2.8 dribbles per 90 minutes) from deep midfield positions. . With a contract expiring in 2024, Berge has been linked with Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea.
Max Aarons, 23, RB, Norwich City
The lack of quality right-backs available internationally could lead to top clubs taking a particular interest in the England Under-21 defender this summer, with Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Man United, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur all already related.
Aarons recently recorded his 200th league appearance for Norwich and, by Norwich sporting director Stuart Webber’s own admission, has “overtaken the club”. With just one season left on his contract, the Canaries should weigh the offers rather than risk losing their consistent and energetic right-back for nothing next summer.
A brilliant ball carrier, who barely misses a game, Aarons times his striker perfectly and positions himself well to swing in crosses. His quick feet and mental alertness also make him effective at anticipating duels and picking up stray balls in midfield.
Norwich chief Webber has also claimed Omobamidele could be allowed to leave, despite being contracted until 2026. As Norwich rebuffed a £20million bid from an overseas club to sign the centre-back from the Republic of Ireland in January, chances are that transfer interest in him will reignite in the coming months.
Omobamidele has stood out for his composed and mature defensive style in what is only his first full season in senior football. His deliberate distribution from the back often sees him given more than 70 touches in a match – against West Brom last year he recorded an incredible 103 assists – while he also possesses the pace, the reading of the game and mobility to effectively manage with peril.
Many predicted that the club’s record signing (€30m from Rennes in 2019) would have moved on to bigger things by now, especially after two respectable seasons in the Premier League. But with one more season left on his contract, Watford’s prospects of recouping anything near that substantial transfer fee could be hampered as his development has slowed somewhat.
Still, signing the Senegal international remains an attractive proposition for Europe’s top clubs and he has seen links with Liverpool and Man United in the past. Primarily deployed as a right winger – although he is also capable of playing on the opposite side of attack or even as a central striker – Sarr’s direct and penetrating running, fine dribbling and ability to play combinations with his high-speed teammates set him apart. as a difference maker.
Alex Scott, 19, CM, City of Bristol
Labeled an ‘incredible player’ by Man City manager Pep Guardiola after their 3-0 FA Cup win over Bristol City in early March, Scott is also said to have caught the eye of Liverpool, West Ham and Wolves, and is believed to have won the Young Player of the Championship title. Reward of the season.
Tactically flexible, he can dictate play from a deep pivot role or as a No.8/roaming No. 10 as he did against City. With the physical, mental and technical qualities to go far in the game, the 19-year-old should be the subject of much interest once he returns from representing England at the U20 World Cup this month. this.
Scott’s strengths are crisp, well-directed passing, delicate touches, deceptive turns, and high-paced ball progression (4.1 dribbles per 90 minutes.) He also has an impressive work ethic and never shows no fear to make his presence felt to recover the ball. (18 challenges per 90 minutes with a success rate of 50%).
Dan Neil, 21, CM, Sunderland
After making his first-team debut two years ago, the homegrown lad has proven indispensable at Sunderland this season. An energetic box-to-box midfielder with the stamina to cover large areas, Neil is always on the move and distributes the ball effectively.
He creates space with his clever off-the-ball movement, makes solid tackles and displays top-notch tactical awareness for a 21-year-old. And, despite his desire to enter the box, his discipline and mobility allow him to quickly regain his defensive form.
The fact that Neil is Sunderland’s second most used outfield player speaks volumes about his consistency.
It is still too early to determine whether Jobe will follow in the footsteps of his illustrious brother Jude as a world-class midfielder. What is clear, however, is that the England U17 international shares some of Jude’s precocious nature.
The 17-year-old has played just under half of Birmingham City’s league games this season, while the last two games have seen him complete his opening 90 minutes. Although still in physical development, the attacking midfielder – who tends to play higher up the pitch than his brother, whether as a winger or behind the striker – has shown the necessary mental and technical ability to build an impressive career.
While a move to the Premier League, or to join his brother at Borussia Dortmund, is too soon, a £3m move to Sunderland is reportedly close.