Ticking down to deadline day, here’s a roundup on potential moves into and out of the Championship.
Ashley Cole to Derby?
The former England international looks to set to be re-united with former teammate Frank Lampard at Derby County. Now 38, he was released by LA Galaxy at the end of 2018, so would be available to The Rams on a free transfer. He made 90 appearances for The Galaxy in the MLS, which would suggest he may still have life in those old legs yet.
He would bring a wealth of experience to the Derby side, which may benefit the young talents within their ranks, including the likes of Harry Wilson, Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori and Jayden Bogle. His experience and defending expertise would make him a key asset to Derby who are in the midst of a promotion battle.
Despite this, Derby face competition from Leeds United who may seem a more favourable option to Ashley due to their tremendous league position. However, it seems Lampard could be the deciding factor in where the veteran left-back chooses to moves.
Youngster Clarke to Southampton?
Jack Clarke’s recent burst onto the Championship scene with Leeds United has been nothing short of remarkable. Bielsa has shown faith in the 18 year old, frequently bringing him off the bench this season. The youngster has re-paid his gaffer’s faith by scoring two goals in his last 12 league appearances.
This has alerted Premier League clubs, more specifically new Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhüttl. Adding to this, Arsenal are reported to have prepared a bid for him today. However, The Peacocks have completely written off the chance of a move away in January, stating he is ‘focusing on Leeds United’.
Leeds have made an excellent signal of intent by stating he is staying put. Holding onto a player with massive potential highlights their ambition to finally return to the top flight after their 14-year absence. I believe remaining at Elland Road would be best for Clarke, as he is more likely to obtain the first-team football he needs, and the potential experience of gaining a promotion may be crucial in his growth as a footballer.
Mepham Bournemouth bound?
The Cherries are close to signing the towering centre-half for what will surely be a substantial six-figure fee. Chris Mepham has shown his quality at the heart of the Brentford defence this season, and at 21, he still has time to further improve, meaning he is undoubtedly going to be a future Premier League star.
It must also be mentioned his superb defensive form has come whilst playing in a Brentford side who are massively struggling to adapt to life under Thomas Frank (well apart from Neal Maupay). If he is performing well in an under-performing team, he may be the perfect fit for Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth.
He has already made 50 appearances for the Bees, meaning he does have adequate experience at a respectable level. I can only hope a sudden Premier League move does not halt his outstanding potential. Bournemouth have however conceded 42 goals in just 22 games, so Mepham may be being brought in to solidify a very inconsistent back line, requiring him to quickly adapt to life in the top flight.
Maja on the move
I couldn’t name a club not interested in Josh Maja. He has been crucial in Sunderland’s long overdue upturn in form. The forward has scored 14 goals and claimed 3 assists in just 23 League One outings, propelling his side into an automatic promotion race.
The Black Cats manager Jack Ross has suggested Maja may be sold to Celtic in January, but loaned back to Wearside for the remainder of the season. Undoubtedly Maja has the potential to play higher than the third tier, but would a move to Scotland be a good career choice?
Playing for Celtic and potentially winning various Scottish titles may seem an attractive proposition for the 20 year-old, but I can’t help but think it would be more effective for his development to remain in the English leagues. With almost every Championship club interested in him, I wouldn’t exclude a move up to the second tier, where he would surely be thrown straight into the first team.
Maja played for both the youth teams at Manchester City and Fulham before ending up at Sunderland, but has been at Sunderland since 2015 and appears very settled. He is also a fan-favourite due to his electrifying pace and silky skills. As a result, it may take an exceptional offer to take him away from his promotion chase at the Stadium of Light.
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