£85m Tottenham and Newcastle pair Romeo Lavia and Tino Livramento have joined this £342m XI of most expensive player sales by Championship clubs.
Lavia and Livramento (plus ex-Leicester standouts James Maddison and Harvey Barnes) certainly improve this team, but the Premier League’s near-£1bn equivalent is worth a lot more and I begrudgingly have to admit that it makes for a better XI (even with the Chelsea flops). Money talks, after all.
Yet some gems can still be found in this group as Man City, Tottenham and Aston Villa benefitted from splashing out to sign some pretty pricey assets from Championship sides.
GK: Jordan Pickford (Sunderland to Everton, £25m)
The 29-year-old has had his critics over the years, with Gareth Southgate being mocked at times for insisting on keeping the Everton star as his England number one.
But Pickford has been phenomenal for the Toffees over the past two seasons and without him, they would have surely suffered relegation to the Championship.
Pickford is at his peak and while he’s caught the attention of Man Utd and Spurs, it now looks likely that he will stay at Everton beyond this summer and that’s an immense boost ahead of *another* relegation scrap.
RB: Matty Cash (Nottm Forest to Aston Villa, £14m)
Cash’s transition from a winger to a full-back has been the making of him and he sneaks into this team as the least expensive signing at a measly £14m.
The 25-year-old has enjoyed quite the rise following this transfer to the Premier League. He’s already made just short of 100 appearances for Aston Villa and thanks to his mother’s heritage, he’s become an international for Poland (which was a surprising left-field story during the Covid-19 period).
Unai Emery and Monchi’s revolution at Aston Villa is underway and they are well-placed to gatecrash the top seven places this season. Plenty of new faces have come through the door, but Cash has done enough to justify keeping his place at right-back.
CB: Nathan Ake (Bournemouth to Man City, £40m)
The Netherlands international benefitted from Pep Guardiola’s apparent obsession with centre-backs during City’s treble-winning campaign in 2022/23.
Ake went under the radar as a key player for Man City as Guardiola regularly used him as a makeshift left-back, while the sensational John Stones flourished in midfield.
Man City are already a bloody good team and with the possible summer addition of RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol, the status of Ake – who was heavily linked with Chelsea last summer – could have been thrust into doubt, but the versatile defender recently penned a new long-term contract.
CB: Ben Godfrey (Norwich City to Everton, £20m)
Godfrey was among an exclusive group of defenders who actually fared pretty well against Erling Haaland in 2022/23, as the Englishman found that kicking and winding up the feared striker can be a decent method to keep him quiet.
This was as good as the 22/23 campaign got for Godfrey, who missed much of the season due to injury. But he could be an essential player for Sean Dyche moving forward as his athleticism enables him to prove his worth in several positions.
LB: Tino Livramento (Southampton to Newcastle United, £32m)
Newcastle have clearly learned from past mistakes made by Manchester City as their post-takeover recruitment has been well thought out with gradual improvements being made through signing top young talents with a point to prove.
Livramento was sorely missed last season by Southampton as his ACL injury saw him miss most of their relegation campaign but the promising full-back will get the chance to rebuild at Newcastle.
RM: Jarrod Bowen (Hull City to West Ham, £22m)
The England international certainly constitutes a bargain at £22m as he has been integral for the Hammers since his transfer from Hull in January 2020.
Bowen wrote his name in West Ham folklore with his last-minute winner in the Europa Conference League and this moment places him back on track after an otherwise underwhelming season in 2022/23.
The one-time Liverpool target will be one to watch this season as he looks to display the form he showed during his 22-goal contribution campaign in 2021/22.
CM: Romeo Lavia (Southampton to Chelsea, £53m)
Liverpool looked all-set to sign Lavia as they pursued a long-term replacement for Fabinho, but the club’s dillydallying gifted Chelsea a hijack opportunity and they didn’t need to be asked twice, with a deal being completed for £53m plus add-ons.
In a further blow to Liverpool, Chelsea have also signed Moises Caicedo for a club-record transfer fee and suddenly Mauricio Pochettino’s side are spoiled for choice in the defensive midfield department.
CM: James Maddison (Leicester City to Tottenham Hotspur, £40m)
The England international was always going to leave Leicester as he entered the final year of his contract and after their relegation.
Given the circumstances, the Foxes have done well to get £40m for their prized asset. Tottenham are making a big investment to acquire his services and the chances are that he will still prove to be a bargain.
Maddison is a low-risk signing and he’s an attack-minded midfielder capable of filling the void left by Christian Eriksen when he left for Inter Milan in 2020.
LM: Harvey Barnes (Leicester City to Newcastle United, £38m)
Barnes went under the radar compared to Maddison last season, but his 13-goal campaign for the relegated side in 22/23 was more than good enough to secure him a major transfer to Newcastle United.
The Magpies have done some superb business following their Saudi-led takeover and Barnes is another astute addition ahead of their return to the Champions League and the next stage of their progression.
ST: Ollie Watkins (Brentford to Aston Villa, £28m)
The 27-year-old striker has scored at least 10 Premier League goals in all three of his seasons at Aston Villa and he’s challenging Callum Wilson to be England’s second-choice striker behind Harry Kane.
After a meh first half-half to the 2022/23 campaign, Watkins was one of the form strikers in the Premier League during the run-in. Emery worked his magic to get the best out of the Englishman, who scored 11 goals in just 12 league games between January and April.
The well-rounded attacker has been mentioned as a potential low-cost alternative to Kane for Man Utd but if he stays at Villa under the tutelage of Emery, Watkins could step up again and notch 20 Premier League goals in a single season for the first time.
ST: Joao Pedro (Watford to Brighton, £30m)
The versatile 21-year-old has already reached the tally of 100 league appearances in English football for Watford and in an underwhelming 2022/23 campaign, he was pretty comfortably their best player.
Ex-West Brom boss Valerien Ismael has been tasked with rebuilding Watford next season and his mission has been made tougher with Pedro’s departure.
The attacker has been one of Roberto De Zerbi’s first summer signings ahead of Brighton’s debut in the Europa League. The Seagulls rarely miss with their transfers, so it is fair to predict that Pedro will be another hit at the AMEX Stadium.