Watford to Rotherham: Every Championship club ranked by record signing, including Heskey (twice!)

Date published: Saturday 10th December 2022 7:30 - Lewis Oldham

Championship record signings

The Championship (record signing) table includes some big names from down the years, including Emile Heskey (twice), Andy Cole and Craig Bellamy.

Watford lead the pack with a World Cup star who has just succumbed to Gareth Southgate’s England, while the teams occupying the bottom three are hardly surprising. 

All fees are taken from transfermarkt


1) Watford – Ismaila Sarr (Rennes, £25.7m)
The Senegal winger was unable to help his country stop England in their pursuit of World Cup glory in Qatar. But he is too good for the Championship and is one of the league’s most valuable stars.


2) Sheffield United – Rhian Brewster (Liverpool, £22.2m)
Despite being lauded as a youngster at Liverpool, Brewster’s career has not panned out as well as many hoped. Five goals in 64 Sheffield United appearances is, and this is the technical term, pretty sh*t.


3) Stoke City – Giannelli Imbula (Porto, £20.7m)
What a waste of time this was.

Signed during the post-Tony Pulis era when Stoke had Champions League winners for days, Imbula only played 28 times for the English side and had a reputation for not caring one jot about Stoke.


4) Swansea City – Andre Ayew (West Ham, £19.5m)
Time for a more successful signing as Swansea’s former Ghanaian attacker places them fourth in the table.

The brother of Crystal Palace’s Jordan Ayew made a good impression in Qatar and scored 15-plus goals in the Championship in consecutive seasons before leaving last year.


5=) Huddersfield Town – Terence Kongolo (AS Monaco, £17.1m)
Brought in during the Terriers’ debut season in the Premier League in 2018, the centre-back helped them stay up against the odds before they fell victim to second season syndrome.

An underwhelming spell at Fulham has followed and he’s now on loan in the second division in France.


5=) Sunderland – Didier Ndong (Lorient, £17.1m)
The Gabon midfielder’s time at Sunderland got off to a decent start, although they were relegated during his debut season in 2016/17.

Ndong is now an unpopular figure in the north east. He didn’t turn up for training as Sunderland prepared for life in League One and he was eventually sacked. Bad egg.


7) Burnley – Wout Weghorst (Wolfsburg, £15m)
The big f***er with perhaps the best name out of the entire Burnley alumni didn’t produce anything of note as they were relegated last season. Besiktas, to save you a Google.


8) Middlesbrough – Britt Assombalonga (Nottm Forest, £14.6m)
One of the Football League’s best goalscorers on his day, Assombalonga’s career has declined in recent years and Neil Warnock let him leave Middlesbrough for nothing in April 2021.

He’s spent the last 18 months playing in Turkey for Super Lig outfit Adana Demirspor.


9) West Brom – Salomon Rondon (Zenit St Petersburg, £14.5m)
Rafael Benitez’s personal favourite striker has been pretty dire for Everton in recent years. Still, he was actually decent in the Premier League for West Brom and latterly while on loan at Newcastle United.


10) Hull City – Ryan Mason (Tottenham Hotspur, £13.2m)
The Tottenham academy product joined Premier League rivals Hull City for more game time in 2016.

Sadly, his career was cut short after suffering a fractured skull. He’s turned to coaching and is now working under Antonio Conte at Spurs.


11) QPR – Christopher Samba (Anzhi Makhachkala, £12.8m)
QPR are quite a stable club nowadays, but Samba was signed during their sh*t-or-bust phase in the Premier League.

The physical centre-back only managed ten appearances for the Londoners as they were relegated in 2013.


12) Cardiff City – Gary Medel (Sevilla, £11.1m)
Capturing the 152-cap Chile international was a bit of a coup for the Welsh side following their promotion to the top flight.

He showed his class in flashes but he jumped ship and joined Inter Milan at the end of Cardiff’s one-season tenure in the Premier League.


13) Blackburn Rovers – Andy Cole (Manchester United, £10.4m)
Cole was recruited after the Englishman fell down the pecking order at Old Trafford in 2001.

He was later reunited with Dwight Yorke at Ewood Park but a fall-out with everyone’s least favourite pundit, Graeme Souness, made it an underwhelming spell.


14) Norwich City – Christos Tzolis (PAOK, £9.4m)
Tzolis signed for Norwich City before their biennial season in the Premier League in 2021/22.

The talented 20-year-old was used sparingly last season and he’s now on loan at Eredivisie side FC Twente. There’s more to come from him.


15) Birmingham City – Emile Heskey (Liverpool, £8m)
Sometimes maybe good, sometimes maybe sh*t.

Heskey’s debut season at Birmingham led to him being named their Player of the Year. Then in 2004/05, he was criticised by fans as they dropped down to the Championship. More on what happened next later…


16) Coventry City – Craig Bellamy (Norwich City, £7.9m)
The little Welsh sh*thouse, who was pretty good at football, moved to Coventry after not getting his wish of a switch to Newcastle United.

Upon leaving Coventry to get his desired move to Newcastle, Bellamy said: “I never once enjoyed it at Coventry. I felt quite demoralised. I had enjoyed myself so much at Norwich – but I found I had taken a backward step.” Sheesh.


17) Bristol City – Tomas Kalas (Chelsea, £7.7m)
The centre-back was another victim of Chelsea’s apparent kink of hoarding young players but he was freed back in 2019.

It’s pretty mindblowing that he’s now 29, but he has proved to be a worthwhile investment for Bristol City.



18=) Reading – George Puscas (Inter Milan, £6.4m)
Reading signing a player from Inter Milan. That’s a mental sentence without context.

It becomes more understandable when you consider he only played seven times for the Italian giants before leaving.

His 14 goals in his debut season were promising but his goalscoring abilities in the Championship left him and he’s now in Serie B with Genoa.


18=) Wigan Athletic – Emile Heskey (Birmingham City, £6.4m)
Return of the *Heskey*…

Unlike his spell at Birmingham, Heskey’s time at Wigan was far more consistent as his form over three seasons earned him a move to Aston Villa.


20) Millwall – Zian Flemming (Fortuna Sittard, £2.1m)
The Millwall standout was considered a bit of a coup when they secured his services in the summer and he has lived up to the hype.

The signing of the 2022/23 season at the halfway stage has immense potential and eight goals in 18 outings is a damned good start for a Championship novice.


21) Preston North End – Neil Mellor (Liverpool, £1.9m)
The second player to be signed from Liverpool to feature here is Mellor, who did a lot better at Preston than Brewster is at Sheffield United.

43 goals in 150 appearances for Preston came before his career was cut short by injuries when he was just 30.


22) Luton Town – Carlton Morris (Barnsley, £1.7m)
Time for the relegation places. Morris has surpassed expectations at Kenilworth Road after joining in the summer, scoring eight times in the league.

But Luton’s position in this table shows how they outdid themselves by finishing sixth last season.


23) Blackpool – DJ Campbell (Leicester City, £1.2m)
Signed before Blackpool’s season in the Premier League in 2010/11, Campbell scored 13 top-flight goals that term.

Ian Holloway’s men were beloved during that campaign and hearts were broken when they were relegated. Their front-foot approach made them a lot of fun to watch and Campbell’s goals were key, even though they ultimately fell short.


24) Rotherham United – Jon Taylor (Peterborough United, £514,000)
The Millers predictably finish rock-bottom of this table. And if the Championship was purely based on budgets, that would be the case in real life too.

Taylor joined Rotherham before their one-season stay in the Championship in 2020/21. He’s since moved on and is playing for League Two side Doncaster Rovers. That tells you all you need to know about how this record signing played out.


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