The likes of Gareth Bale, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Dele Alli blazed a trail for EFL players to make their mark in the Premier League and, since then, tons of players have made the move from the EFL to the Premier League and starred in the top division.
Ollie Watkins, James Maddison, Neal Maupay, Jarrod Bowen, Daniel James, Matty Cash, Che Adams and Ebere Eze, amongst many others, have all seamlessly stepped up to the Premier League in recent years, having never played at the level before.
The EFL will garner plenty of attention next week, as the Championship, League One and League Two play-offs get underway, but which players will Premier League clubs be keeping their eye on?
There is only one player who can kick this list off. Having scored 31 goals in the Championship for Brentford this season, there aren’t many strikers that will be more in-demand than this man in the summer.
Powerful, aggressive, and a deadly finisher – the 25-year-old has got everything you could want from a centre-forward. Despite plying his trade in the EFL for the last five seasons, Toney did make two Premier League appearances for Newcastle in the 2015-16 season, coming on as a late substitute in games against Manchester United and Chelsea.
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West Ham are rumoured to be in the market for a striker this summer and Toney seems the perfect fit, especially when you consider that they have signed more EFL players more than any other club over the past 16 years, including the likes of current stars Bowen and Michail Antonio.
Tottenham could also be looking to replace Harry Kane if he were to move on, and they could do a lot worse than bringing in Toney.
I’m sure some readers will vaguely remember the name Arnaut Danjuma.
He joined Bournemouth from Club Brugge for a hefty £13.7m at the start of last season but, after an injury-hit Premier League campaign, the Dutchman made just six starts on the south coast before their relegation.
This year has been a different story. He has flourished under both Jason Tindall and current boss Jonathan Woodgate, contributing 15 goals and 7 assists in just 29 starts.
Liverpool will look to strengthen their misfiring frontline in the transfer window, and I see no reason why Danjuma couldn’t have the same impact that another former EFL man Diogo Jota had when he signed at the start of the season.
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Helik is another player that some people might have heard of before, with the centre-back bringing down Raheem Sterling and gifting England a penalty in their 2-1 win over Poland in March.
But don’t let that take away from the fact that Helik is undoubtedly ready to make the step up to the Premier League.
Having made 43 appearances for Barnsley this season, he has helped them into the play-offs, despite the Yorkshire side being heavily tipped for relegation at the start of the campaign.
He was named Barnsley’s Player of the Season and it’s not hard to see why, with his solidity at the back, partnered with the five goals he’s scored from defence.
Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United could all be in the market for a central defender this summer and, having signed Joe Rodon from Championship side Swansea last summer, perhaps Helik could partner him at the heart of Spurs’ defence next year.
Current Manchester United captain Harry Maguire was a League One player with Sheffield United six years ago.
Since then, Maguire has joined United for £80m in 2019, making him the world’s most expensive defender. And you can definitely see the similarities between him and current League One defender Rob Atkinson.
Currently at Oxford, Atkinson’s progressive dribbling and duel-winning capabilities make him an ideal candidate for a Premier League move.
Perhaps a transfer to a top-six side could be a step too far this summer, but you can see the likes of Brighton or Burnley, who have both brought defenders from the EFL in recent years, looking at the 22-year-old if he can impress in the play-offs for the U’s.
Carlos Mendes Gomes
Moves from League Two to the Premier League don’t happen very often but, if anyone was going to do it, it would be Mendes Gomes.
Formerly of Atletico Madrid’s academy, the 21-year-old moved to England in 2015 and, having struggled to find a club, joined non-league side West Didsbury & Chorlton. Morecambe signed him in 2018 and, after a relatively slow start to his League Two career, he has burst onto the scene this season, scoring 15 goals and helping the Shrimps defy all odds and finish in the play-offs.
Quick, skilful and an eye for goal, Mendes Gomes has been linked with Rangers recently, which could see him play Champions League football next season.
Crystal Palace or Newcastle could be a good move for the Spanish youngster, and playing him in the same team as Wilfried Zaha or Allan Saint-Maximin would give Premier League full-backs nightmares.