Five Football League to Premier League transfers that have worked (and five that haven’t)

Lewis Oldham
Football League transfers

While Crystal Palace have plucked two gems out of the Football League, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have had a stinker with their additions.

Dating back to the summer of 2020, here are five EFL to Premier League transfers that have worked a treat. Plus five others who have not gone down so well.


HIT: Said Benrahma (Brentford to West Ham)
The £30m winger was a sensation for Brentford in the Championship but his first couple of seasons at West Ham have been a slow burn.

He has been unable to match the lofty heights set by Jarrod Bowen but 17 goal contributions in West Ham’s historic 2021/22 campaign is pretty decent.

Benrahma has been one of David Moyes’ better players this season and fans showed their displeasure last weekend when he was hauled off in the loss to Crystal Palace. There is more to come.


HIT: Matty Cash (Nottm Forest to Aston Villa)
Cash came to life at Nottingham Forest when he was converted from a winger into a full-back under the tutelage of Sabri Lamouchi.

This switch and subsequent in-house Player of the Year award gained him a move to Aston Villa. He has been a Steady Eddy up to now and he is one player who will be hoping to hit new heights under Unai Emery.

Before then, he will represent Poland at the World Cup having capitalised on his mother’s heritage to switch allegiance last year.


HIT: Eberechi Eze (QPR to Crystal Palace)
Patrick Vieira has some bloody fun attacking players to work with and Eze is one of his best. The winger made his name at QPR and it is a shame that his spell at Crystal Palace has been restricted by injury.

But he has made a bright start to this season (five goal involvements in 13 games). He is also only 24 years old so he still has a lot of growing to do.

The Eagles may lose Wilfried Zaha next year but Eze has the necessary talent to fill what would be a massive void should his team-mate move on.


HIT: Michael Olise (Reading to Crystal Palace)
Another player capable of taking on more responsibility at Selhurst Park is France U21 international Olise.

The Eagles are slowly building a Championship dream team and Olise has already proven to be a steal at just £8m.

As his winner against West Ham affirmed, he is certainly a lot better at football than he is at being interviewed. Aged 20, Palace will do well to keep him long-term as his potential is boundless.


HIT: Ollie Watkins (Brentford to Aston Villa)
Brentford were quite good at nurturing talents in the Championship to make them ready for the Premier League. Watkins formed a frankly daft forward line with Benrahma in the second tier.

£33m for a player unproven in the Premier League in Watkins seemed steep, but he scored 10-plus goals in his first two seasons at Aston Villa.

He was one player who reportedly ‘did not see eye-to-eye’ with Steven Gerrard and his form under the Liverpool legend led to him missing out on a place in Qatar.

But a goal and an assist in Emery’s first two games in charge against Man Utd is a promising start for a striker who could spearhead Villa’s new era.



MISS: Adam Armstrong (Blackburn Rovers to Southampton)
The step-up from the Championship into the Premier League is tough but perhaps it is especially difficult for strikers.

More chances tend to come players’ way in the second tier and players are often found out in the league above. Armstrong is one of those as his time at Southampton has been uninspiring to say the least.

His 28-goal season in 2020/21 for Blackburn tempted the Saints to snap him up for £15m. But three goals in 36 Premier League games since says it all about how his time at St Mary’s is going.


MISS: Emiliano Buendia (Norwich City to Aston Villa)
The one-cap Argentina star looked to be a sure-fire hit at Aston Villa as he showed at Norwich City how special he can be when he is on his game.

But Philippe Coutinho’s arrival has stolen his limelight and both players have tussled over one position.

It’s hard to find a way to play both at the same time and Buendia’s performances have not forced Coutinho had to be left out.

The ex-Norwich man may thrive under Emery if the manager realises like the rest of us that signing Coutinho was needless as he’s sadly not the player he once was.


MISS: Ben Davies (Preston to Liverpool)
The weirdest Premier League signing of all time?

Davies was a panic buy after Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip suffered injuries. Even with that trio missing he made zero senior appearances for Liverpool.

The 27-year-old was on loan at Sheff Utd last season and in the summer he joined Rangers permanently. He was part of the Gers side that let in seven goals against Liverpool too.

A colossal waste of time for all involved.


MISS: Joe Rodon (Swansea City to Tottenham Hotspur)
The Wales centre-back was brought in by Jose Mourinho during his ill-fated spell at Spurs.

Just 15 Premier League appearances over two seasons slowed down his progress as he was not trusted fully by Mourinho, Nuno Espirito Santo or Antonio Conte.

The £11m defender now finds himself on loan at Rennes. He’ll presumably be hoping that Conte gets sick of Daniel Levy’s bullsh*t and returns to Juventus, otherwise his Tottenham career is as good as over.


MISS: Djed Spence (Middlesbrough to Tottenham Hotspur)
Spence is another player not fancied by Conte. £20m did feel a bit much for him as his loan season in 2021/22 at Nottingham Forest was his first performing at a high level.

In hindsight, he may have been better off joining Forest permanently instead of Tottenham. He would have fitted in well as their 23rd summer addition.

The right-back has only played three minutes in the Premier League this term. He can’t be doing much right in training with him third in the pecking order behind Emerson Royal and Matt Doherty.

READ MORE: Wales stars dominate XI of Championship players heading to the World Cup