Players who earned big-money moves abroad from Championship clubs

Players who earned big-money moves abroad from Championship clubs

There was a time when scouring the Championship as part of your summer recruitment was looked down upon – but times have changed.

Aston Villa and West Ham have both been benefactors of some shrewd second tier purchases in recent years, with Said Benrahma, Jarrod Bowen, Ollie Watkins and Ezri Konsa all proving themselves capable of cutting it in the Premier League.

And it seems the aforementioned purchases have started something of a trend.

Some of European football’s biggest hitters are taking note of the Championship’s brightest talents these days, with Reading’s Omar Richards securing a move to Bayern Munich and Norwich’s Max Aarons rumoured to be on the wish list of a whole host of foreign sides.

With that in mind, here’s 90min’s look at the Championship players who’ve secured big-money moves from England’s second tier to foreign shores.

Salomon Rondon during his time at West BromSalomon Rondon during his time at West Brom
Salomon Rondon left West Brom when they were in the Championship | James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

When West Brom were relegated to the Championship in 2018, Salomon Rondon was clearly in no mood to hang around – seriously, did he not expect this would happen when he joined the club?

The Venezuela international promptly moved to Newcastle on loan for the season, before returning to the Hawthorns the following summer.

With the club failing to bounce back at the first time of asking, Rondon decided life in the second tier wasn’t for him and the Baggies netted a tasty £16m following his move to Chinese side Dalian Professional.

Jordan Amavi during his time in the Championship with Aston VillaJordan Amavi during his time in the Championship with Aston Villa
Jordan Amavi spent a year in the second tier with Aston Villa | Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images

Jordan Amavi moved to Aston Villa in 2015 in a deal worth up to £9m.

After a solid start to life in English football, the Frenchman suffered a season-ending injury just a few months into the campaign and Villa were relegated to the second tier in his absence.

The France Under-21 international hung around for their first season back in the second tier since 1988, but having failed to secure promotion Villa were resigned to defeat and Amavi moved to Marseille for the same price as they bought him for.

Jude Bellingham moved to Borussia Dortmund having been brought through the Birmingham academyJude Bellingham moved to Borussia Dortmund having been brought through the Birmingham academy
Jude Bellingham is probably the most notable Championship player to move abroad for big money | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

It was clear from a very early age that Jude Bellingham was something special.

The youngster established himself in the Birmingham starting XI at just 16 years of age, and after one season in the senior game he was snapped up by Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund,

The initial deal was reported to be worth £25m, with the Blues receiving a number of additional lump sums dependant on his performance at Der BVB.

We’re not going to mention the squad number retiring thing.

Christopher Samba secured a big-money move to Anzhi Makhachkala following QPR's relegationChristopher Samba secured a big-money move to Anzhi Makhachkala following QPR's relegation
Christopher Samba during his time at QPR | Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Probably not a name you expected to see on this list.

Christopher Samba earned a lucrative move to Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala back in 2012, before moving back to the Premier League in January 2013 and then heading back to Anzhi in the summer.

His agent must be worth a fortune.

The second of his two moves to Anzhi took place with QPR back in the Championship after just two years in the top tier, with Rangers pocketing £12m from the deal.

Pervis Estupinan moved from Championship side Watford to Villarreal in 2020Pervis Estupinan moved from Championship side Watford to Villarreal in 2020
Pervis Estupinan moved to Villarreal in 2020 | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

While Christopher Samba is a name you might not have expected to see on this list, Pervis Estupinan is quite possibly a name you’ve never even heard of.

The Ecuador international moved to Watford in 2016, only to be loaned out to four different clubs over the next four seasons.

He eventually secured a permanent move to La Liga side Villarreal in 2020 with the Hornets back in the Championship, in a deal worth a whopping £15m.

If it were any other club we’d think all this was a bit weird, but, well…Watford.

Marten de Roon represented Middlesbrough in the Championship before moving to Serie A side AtalantaMarten de Roon represented Middlesbrough in the Championship before moving to Serie A side Atalanta
Marten de Roon spent little over a year at Middlesbrough | Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Marten de Roon arrived at Middlesbrough following their promotion to the Premier League, with the Teessiders pinning their hopes of survival on the combative midfielder.

It didn’t work.

The Dutchman was played out of position and Boro were soon heading back for the second tier, with De Roon deciding he couldn’t be bothered with Wednesday night trips to Rotherham and deciding to go and play European football with Atalanta.

Weird decision.

Oliver Burke came through the Nottingham Forest academy before moving to RB Leipzig in 2016Oliver Burke came through the Nottingham Forest academy before moving to RB Leipzig in 2016
Oliver Burke was brought through the Nottingham Forest academy | Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Oliver Burke burst onto the Championship scene with Nottingham Forest in the 2015/16 season, with Bundesliga side RB Leipzig seeing enough for them to part with £13m.

The youngster failed to really live up to the hype that surrounded him as a teenager, and after one season abroad he moved back to English football with West Brom.

Burke currently finds himself at Sheffield United where he looked destined for yet another relegation to the Championship having previously dropped down to the second tier with the Baggies in 2018.

Obafemi Martins left Newcastle for Wolfsburg with the club in the ChampionshipObafemi Martins left Newcastle for Wolfsburg with the club in the Championship
Obafemi Martins played for Newcastle between 2006-2009 | Julian Finney/Getty Images

Obafemi Martins was part of the doomed Newcastle United squad that suffered final day heartbreak at Aston Villa in 2009.

The former Nigeria international was one of the first out of the door as Newcastle’s status as a Championship club was confirmed, with the frontman bagging himself a £10m move to Bundesliga side Wolfsburg.

Nacer Chadli left West Brom for Monaco with the Baggies in the ChampionshipNacer Chadli left West Brom for Monaco with the Baggies in the Championship
Nacer Chadli suffered relegation to the Championship with West Brom | Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

When Nacer Chadli made the move from Tottenham to West Brom in 2016 it looked to be a big coup for the midlands club.

However, the Belgian’s second season at West Brom was marred by injury issues and the Baggies suffered relegation back to the Championship.

The midfielder opted for a move to Ligue 1 as he swapped West Brom for Monaco in an £11m switch.

Afonso Alves left Middlesbrough following their relegation to the Championship, moving to Qatari based side Al-SaddAfonso Alves left Middlesbrough following their relegation to the Championship, moving to Qatari based side Al-Sadd
Afonso Alves endured a nightmare spell on Teesside | Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Another Middlesbrough player who was brought in to help them push on and ultimately suffered relegation.

Afonso Alves became Boro’s record signing in January 2008 as he joined for a fee in the region of £12m, but aside from a final day hat-trick against Manchester City in the 2008/09 season he basically couldn’t hit a barn door.

The Brazilian left the Teessiders with them stuck in the Championship, moving to Qatari based side Al Sadd for £11m.

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