While everyone discusses the money thrown around in the Premier League during the transfer window, the Championship also enjoys its fair share of clubs throwing the cash about.
Aston Villa, under new Chairman Tony Xia, have splashed the cash in an attempt at an instant return. They have boosted their forward line by bringing in Jonathan Kodjia from Bristol City and Ross McCormack from Fulham for a combined total of £27million. It could prove to be money well spent as the pair bagged 40 goals between them for struggling clubs.
Defensively, Villa have also improved majorly by securing the services of three quality defenders in Tommy Elphick from Bournemouth, Ritchie De Laet from Leicester and James Chester from West Brom. All three are more than capable of playing in the Premier League and have the vital experience of automatic promotion from the Championship.
Aston Villa’s midfield has been boosted too by the arrival of Mile Jedinak from Crystal Palace and Albert Adomah from Middlesbrough. Jedinak was a key part of the Palace midfield for several seasons and has the ability to dictate a game, while Adomah arrives fresh from gaining promotion to the Premier League with Boro.
Newcastle United have also used their financial weight to build a squad capable of promotion. Matt Ritchie, who performed superbly in his debut Premier League season, has arrived from Bournemouth for £12million. Another major move was the signing of Dwight Gayle from Crystal Palace for £10million. Gayle struggled to nail down a place at Palace but the chance to become a key player at Newcastle is what his career needed.
The key aspect of Newcastle’s transfer business has been the arrival of proven Championship players. Daryl Murphy, one of the division’s most prolific finishers, has arrived from Ipswich. Mohamed Diame, who was essential to Hull City’s promotion campaign, has arrived to fill Moussa Sissoko’s role. Grant Hanley, one of the division’s better defenders, has arrived from Blackburn Rovers.
The other relegated club, Norwich City, has not thrown the cash around as much as Aston Villa or Newcastle. That can be attributed to the fact they lack the reputation of the other two clubs to attract the bigger names and the fact that they already have a squad that’s capable of an instant return.
Norwich have made some impressive signings, though. Sergi Canos, who was a delight to watch at Brentford last season, has arrived from Liverpool. They did lose Nathan Redmond to Southampton but have replaced him with Alex Pritchard from Tottenham; the England youth international was one of the top players in the league two seasons ago during a loan spell with Brentford. Goalkeeper Michael McGovern, who excelled for Northern Ireland at Euro 2016, arrived from Hamilton Academical. Their last signing was Nelson Oliveira from Benfica; the Portuguese international enjoyed a fairly successful loan spell at Nottingham Forest last season and has bags of unfulfilled potential.
For most clubs, relegation usually results in mass exodus that leads to a squad that is nowhere near as good as it was before. But that is not the case at all this season, particularly in the case of Newcastle and Aston Villa. Both have very much shifted out the ‘deadwood’ and have assembled squads that are more than capable of gaining promotion to the Premier League.