Fulham beat Brentford in the play-off final to join West Brom and Leeds United in the Premier League next season. Scott Parker’s pragmatism ensured the Cottagers returned to the big time at the first attempt, though a lack of star names could make life hard for them next season. But with a month to go until the new Championship campaign starts, who were the six best players in the Championship during the elongated 2019-20 term?
Best players in the Championship 2019/20
Said Benrahma – Brentford
Brentford put together a brilliant run of wins to put themselves in with a shot of automatic promotion, only to struggle in the closing weeks of the season. Key players like Said Benrahma underperformed in the run-in, but the Algeria winger had lit up the campaign for the Bees.
The 25-year-old scored 17 league goals despite playing on the left of Brentford’s prolific front three, as well as contributing nine assists for his team. His dazzling footwork left full-backs baffled, while his highly accurate long-range shooting was a constant threat for the Bees.
Though Brentford missed out on promotion, Benrahma looks likely to be gracing the Premier League next term. Leeds are said to be preparing a bid and Benrahma has even been linked with making a short move across west London to join Chelsea.
Matheus Pereira – West Brom
West Brom’s promotion push was built on the effectiveness of playmaker Matheus Pereira, who will be key for Slaven Bilic’s side if they are to avoid boing-boinging back to the Championship.
Pereira created 16 goals for his team-mates last season – more than anyone else in the league – and hit eight of his own with the Brazilian regularly unplayable for Championship defences.
Whether Pereira can make the step up remains to be seen, but the 24-year-old certainly will be full of confidence after enjoying a stellar season in which he was certainly among the best players in the Championship.
Shaun Hutchinson – Millwall
Few people would have backed Millwall to be in the play-off picture but the Lions almost forced their way into the top six thanks to a solid foundation built on the strength of Shaun Hutchinson.
The 29-year-old defender was a dominant presence in both boxes, marshalling Millwall’s mean defence and also managing to chip in with six goals at the other end.
Hutchinson will be going into his fifth season with the Lions – unless he gets picked up by another club – and his stock is high having been named in a lot of teams of the year.
Aleksandar Mitrovic – Fulham
The league’s top scorer award went to Aleksandar Mitrovic, who scored his 26 goals in fewer appearances than Brentford star Ollie Watkins, who was just as prolific last term.
Mitrovic led the line superbly for Fulham all season, though nine yellow cards indicates he struggled to stay on the right side of referees. The Serbia striker arguably should have been sent off during the play-off final after seemingly performing a chokeslam on a Brentford player.
Winning 4.5 aerial battles per game showed Mitrovic’s strength in the air, but it will be fascinating to see if his regular use of the dark arts get picked up by VAR in the Premier League next term.
Pablo Hernandez – Leeds United
Injury restricted Pablo Hernandez to 29 Championship starts, but the veteran playmaker made it count when he was fit enough to get on to the pitch.
Invariably right at the heart of Leeds’ best play, Hernandez produced 18 goal involvements including some vital contributions during the last few weeks of the season, such as a late, late winning goal away to Swansea City.
At 35 years of age, Hernandez is approaching the end of his career but the midfielder will be hoping to help Leeds to avoid relegation following their long-awaited return to the Premier League. Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa may have to use him sparingly, but Hernandez remains good enough to run games on his own – as long as his legs hold out.
Eberechi Eze – QPR
A string of Premier League clubs are reported to be lining up bids for QPR star Eberechi Eze, who was without a doubt one of the best players in the Championship last season.
Eze rounded off a superbly productive campaign for QPR with a stunning finish into the top corner in a 2-2 draw with West Brom on the last day, taking his tally to 14 for the season.
The 22-year-old also provided eight assists for QPR with his dribbling lighting up countless games. Eze’s versatility and unpredictability means he will surely be playing in the Premier League next season, with West Ham and Crystal Palace among the teams interested.
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