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EFL to Premier League transfers: The long road to the top

| 02.01.2022

EFL to Premier League transfers

The transfer window is about to open and some of the best talent in the lower leagues will be hoping for a dream move to the top table of English football.

Ahead of a busy month in terms of rumours and negotiations, we look at some recent EFL to Premier League transfers and the success of those that started out in the Championship or below.

Dele Alli

Alli joined Tottenham  at the age of 18 in February 2015 for an initial fee of £5million, having impressed with 12 goals in 25 League One games for MK Dons that term.

He was immediately loaned back to the Dons and helped them secure automatic promotion to the Championship. He made his Spurs debut in August 2015 and was named young player of the year by the Professional Footballers’ Association in 2016 and 2017.

He has also become a regular in senior England squads and featured at the 2016 European Championship and 2018 World Cup, although he has struggled in more recent times and is out of favour with England boss Gareth Southgate.

James Maddison

Leicester signed Maddison, then aged 21, from Norwich for a reported fee of around £20million in the summer of 2018.

The midfielder has since become a Premier League regular for the Foxes and won his first and so far only senior England cap in a Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro in November 2019.

He made a slow start to the season but has recently returned to his best form, scoring six goals in eight appearances since late November, and he is now 5/1 to be included in England’s World Cup squad.

Daniel James

The Hull-born Wales international became Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first signing as Manchester United manager when he moved to Old Trafford for £15million aged 21 in June 2019.

Having scored five goals in 38 games during his breakthrough season at Swansea, James was handed a five-year deal at Manchester United but had mixed fortunes and struggled to secure a regular starting berth.

His time at United ended in the summer when he crossed the Pennines to join Leeds, who had been close to signing the player when he was at Swansea.

Neal Maupay

The former France Under-21 international started out with Nice before switching to St Etienne in 2015 and then heading to England to join Brentford in 2017.

Having impressed with 41 goals in 95 games for the Bees, the winger moved to Brighton in the summer of 2019 in a £16million deal.

He bagged 10 goals during his debut campaign for the Seagulls and eight last season, and is on course for his best season in a Brighton shirt this time with seven goals already.

Wilfried Zaha

Zaha moved to Manchester United aged 19 in a £10million transfer from Crystal Palace in what turned out to be Sir Alex Ferguson’s last signing before his retirement.

The forward was bought on a long-term contract in the January 2013 transfer window before being loaned back to the Eagles – who were then in the Championship – for the remainder of the campaign.

During his time at Old Trafford, Zaha made only two Premier League appearances, both as a substitute. He was loaned to Cardiff in January 2014 and then Palace in August of that year before the move became permanent six months later.

In 2017 he switched his international allegiance from England to Ivory Coast.

Ollie Watkins

Watkins joined Aston Villa at the start of the 2020/21 season in what was reported to be a club-record £28million deal that could potentially rise to £33million.

That saw the striker become the most expensive player with no top-flight experience to join the list of EFL to Premier League transfers.

Ollie Watkins

The 25-year-old netted 25 goals in the Championship and was just pipped to the golden boot by Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic ahead of his move to Villa.

He was Villa’s top scorer last season and has won five England caps, although he missed out on selection for Euro 2020.

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Author

Andrew McDermott