Championship

The best Championship signings this January transfer window - ranked

Ross Jackson
Feb 2, 2021, 1:15 PM GMT
Shane Long will spend the remainder of the season with Bournemouth
Shane Long will spend the remainder of the season with Bournemouth | Naomi Baker/Getty Images
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Combine the maddest league in the world with the most frantic month of the footballing calendar, and usually you're treated to an absolute explosion of activity - usually.

The 2021 January transfer window was hardly one to remember, though, with the confirmed spending between the 24 second-tier clubs amounting to little over £5m - but that's not to say there wasn't some quality business done.

Managers saw their powers of persuasion pushed to the max as they were forced to work on shoestring budgets, so let's take a look at the best Championship signings from the mid-season window.

15. Ben Pearson (Preston to Bournemouth)

Ben Pearson has swapped Preston for Bournemouth
Ben Pearson has swapped Preston for Bournemouth | Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

A solid if not spectacular addition to Bournemouth's squad.

The Cherries lost a number of midfielders over the January transfer window and so the need for reinforcements was clear.

Ben Pearson has been a dependable performer for a number of years now and will given Jason Tindall a solid base to be able to allow the team's flair players to strut their stuff.

14. Glenn Murray (Brighton to Nottingham Forest)

Glenn Murray has teamed up with former boss Chris Hughton
Glenn Murray has teamed up with former boss Chris Hughton | James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Only four teams have mustered fewer goals than Nottingham Forest in the Championship so far this season, and so the need to bolster the club's attacking options was clear.

Doing so with barely any money to spend was always going to be tricky, so the opportunity to bring in a striker on loan who's proven himself at Championship level wasn't to be missed.

Glen Murray links up with Chris Hughton for the second time in his career, and if the Forest boss can get him firing on all cylinders like he did the last time the pair worked together, Forest should avoid the drop.

13. Darnell Fisher (Preston to Middlesbrough)

Fisher has joined Boro
Fisher has joined Boro | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Not exactly one which immediately jumps off the page, but this is fantastic business by Neil Warnock.

Bringing in so many wingers in the window was a great idea to solve Middlesbrough's creativity problems, but shoehorning them into the starting XI would mean ditching the wing-back system they've used so often this season, and Djed Spence has proven himself to not be reliable enough to play as an orthodox full-back.

Darnell Fisher's arrival not only makes sense in the fact they got him on the cheap with his Preston deal set to expire in the summer, but Boro now have a solid right-back meaning they can afford to play a flat back four and can subsequently accommodate some of their newly-signed wingers.

12. Rabbi Matondo (Schalke to Stoke)

Rabbi Matondo will spend the remainder of the season with Stoke
Rabbi Matondo will spend the remainder of the season with Stoke | INA FASSBENDER/Getty Images

A bit of a gamble by Michael O'Neill, but the loss of Tyrese Campbell has really impacted their promotion push - with Stoke winless in their previous nine outings in all competitions - and they're desperately in need of a spark.

The signing of Rabbi Matondo from Schalke until the end of the season may turn out to be a failed experiment, but he's a livewire who might just be able to reignite their season.

11. Charlie Austin (West Brom to QPR)

Charlie Austin is already proving a quality addition
Charlie Austin is already proving a quality addition | Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

When QPR re-signed Charlie Austin on loan from West Brom, there was a sense of 'well, five years ago maybe, but now?'. Oh how wrong we were.

The 31-year-old has already bagged two huge goals for Rangers as they look to distance themselves from this year's relegation dog fight, and if he carries on scoring at the rate he is then QPR will soon be looking up rather than down.

10. Patrick Roberts (Manchester City to Derby)

Patrick Roberts' spell at Boro didn't work out as planned
Patrick Roberts' spell at Boro didn't work out as planned | Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

The curious case of Patrick Roberts. From £12m Manchester City signing to sat on the bench at Championship side Middlesbrough.

In truth, it was never going to work for him at the Riverside. While Roberts provided the spark Boro needed at the back end of the last season, Warnock soon recognised he didn't have the work rate required to play in his team.

But that's not to say he's not a fantastic signing for Derby. While he may not fit the Warnock style of play, he's likely to be given more a free role under Wayne Rooney at Pride Park, and given a platform to showcase his undoubted talent, Roberts can thrive and could be the man to steer the club away from the drop zone.

9. Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa to Swansea)

Conor Hourihane didn't take long to make an impression at Swansea
Conor Hourihane didn't take long to make an impression at Swansea | Ben Early - AMA/Getty Images

It's no surprise that the sudden availability of Conor Hourihane alerted the interest of a whole host of Championship sides.

The Republic of Ireland international can add some much-needed bite to the Swansea midfield, and coupled with the Swans' free-flowing football and Hourihane's eye for goal, the two could be a match made in heaven as Steve Cooper's side look to secure their place in next season's Premier League.

8. Shane Long (Southampton to Bournemouth)

Shane Long has made the short journey to Bournemouth
Shane Long has made the short journey to Bournemouth | Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Shane Long has become something of a forgotten man at Southampton.

Admittedly, he's never been particularly prolific in front of goal - though it's worth noting that his last full season in the second tier saw him notch 21 in 44 games - though his working of the channels and ability to stretch teams can be a huge asset to Bournemouth, especially with the addition of midfield metronome Jack Wilshere.

Breaking teams down has become an issue for Bournemouth in recent weeks, with just five goals scored in their previous eight league outings, and the chance to add a new dimension to their attacking play wasn't to be missed.

7. Filip Krovinovic (Benfica to Nottingham Forest)

Filip Krovinovic is back in the Championship
Filip Krovinovic is back in the Championship | David Rogers/Getty Images

Filip Krovinovic played a key role in West Brom's promotion last season, and until the arrival of Sam Allardyce he seemed to be just as key to their survival chances.

His guile and ability is exactly the sort of thing Nottingham Forest need, and coupled with the arrival of a proven goalscorer in Glenn Murray, Chris Hughton looks to have outdone himself this transfer window.

6. Jarrad Branthwaite (Everton to Blackburn)

Jarrad Branthwaite has signed for Blackburn
Jarrad Branthwaite has signed for Blackburn | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Jarrad Branthwaite has had something of a shaky start to his Blackburn career, though that's to be expected considering his lack of senior playing time in recent months.

Given time to find his feet he could be a huge player for Blackburn this season, having proven just how good a defender he can be in his handful of appearances in the Premier League.

Tony Mowbray's sides are renowned for their inability to defend as well as they are able to attack - a point proven by the current Blackburn team - so the addition of a talented centre-back could be key.

5. Sam Cosgrove (Aberdeen to Birmingham)

Sam Cosgrove could be the answer to Birmingham's goalscoring problems
Sam Cosgrove could be the answer to Birmingham's goalscoring problems | Scott Baxter/Getty Images

While most teams opted to do their business in the loan market, Birmingham have gone for broke.

They splashed out £2m on Aberdeen frontman Sam Cosgrove - almost half the confirmed figure spent by all 24 Championship clubs, although that figure doesn't include undisclosed fees.

Aitor Karanka's side's lack of goals has been their major flaw this campaign with just 19 goals in 26 leagues games, so the addition of a striker with 47 strikes in his last 97 games could be huge.

4. Yannick Bolasie (Everton to Middlesbrough)

Yannick Bolasie is back in English football after a spell abroad
Yannick Bolasie is back in English football after a spell abroad | Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images

And so the saga ends.

Middlesbrough have been chasing Yannick Bolasie since the club was founded in 1876, and FINALLY he's agreed to join the Teessiders.

A lack of first-team football in recent months could be a huge factor in whether this deal works out or not, though in fairness there's always an element of risk with mid-season arrivals.

If the Everton loanee can hit the ground running - his debut at league leaders Norwich showed plenty of positives - then he could be one of the signings of the window.

3. Daryl Dike (Orlando City to Barnsley)

Daryl Dike is one of the best prospects in MLS right now
Daryl Dike is one of the best prospects in MLS right now | Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Well, who wouldn't look out the window of their Orlando residence and dream of moving to Barnsley?

All jokes aside, this is one hell of a coup for the Tykes.

Daryl Dike is raved about in MLS and at just 20 years of age he looks to have a huge career ahead of him. Already capped by the United States national side, the frontman could be the last piece in the puzzle needed to see Barnsley mount the most unlikely of promotion pushes.

2. Winston Reid (West Ham to Brentford)

Winston Reid has moved to the Championship
Winston Reid has moved to the Championship | Bill Barrett/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The January transfer window is all about fine-tuning your squad and filling in any gaps you think might be hampering you from achieving your season goals - that's exactly what Brentford have done in signing Winston Reid.

Thomas Frank's side are comfortably the league's top scorers, though their leaky defence means they sit outside the automatic promotion places.

The addition of an experienced campaigner who can both help out younger members of the squad and plug gaps when needed is fantastic business from the Bees.

He could turn out to be the difference between promotion and another year in the second tier.

1. Philip Zinckernagel (Bodo/Glimt to Watford)

Philip Zinckernagel looks a quality addition
Philip Zinckernagel looks a quality addition | Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Who?

Believe us when we say you will know all about this man come the end of the 2020/21 campaign.

Philip Zinckernagel arrives from Norwegian champions Bodo/Glimt where he scored 22 goals in 31 games last season.

The Danish wide man is being slowly integrated into the first-team setup at Watford having made five cameo appearances from the bench, but it won't be long before he finds his feet in English football and is tearing Championship defences apart.

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