Football Features

Ranking: The 12 most expensive transfers in Championship history

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 18:35, 4 December 2020

The competitiveness of England’s second division is well-documented.

Since its rebranding as the Championship in 2004, we’ve enjoyed plenty of close seasons with clubs desperate to escape and feed on the Premier League’s riches.

So, to achieve their dreams, spending becomes critical, though not all have the means to open the cheque book. It’s worth noting those who drop back down from the top flight are cushioned by parachute payments, arming them for an immediate return attempt.

What follows are the most expensive signings (£10m+) made by a Championship club, with a look at how they got on and where they are now.

12. Jordan Rhodes

From: Blackburn Rovers
To: Middlesbrough
Fee: £10m

Jordan Rhodes continued his journeyman career when he swapped Blackburn for Middlesbrough in early 2016. It was seen as a coup given he’d bagged 84 goals across 169 matches in all competitions for the Lancashire club. However, the Oldham-born marksman couldn’t live up to the hype and left Boro with six goals in 24 outings. He first joined Sheffield Wednesday on loan before making the move permanent and he remains at Hillsborough after a loan spell at Norwich.

11. Dwight Gayle

From: Crystal Palace
To: Newcastle United
Fee: £10m

It made sense for Newcastle United to recruit Dwight Gayle following their relegation in 2016. The Londoner, who enjoyed a mixed spell at Crystal Palace, made his name in England’s lower leagues and repaid the Magpies’ faith by registering 23 goals in 32 games as they made a swift return to the Premier League under Rafael Benitez. He was equally prolific for West Brom (23 in 39 last season), though couldn’t help them go up and has since returned to warm the bench at St James’ Park, this time under Steve Bruce.

10. Matt Ritchie

From: Bournemouth
To: Newcastle United
Fee: £11m

Newcastle were determined not to stay in the Championship heading into their 2016/17 campaign. Alongside the arrival of Gayle was Matt Ritchie from Bournemouth. He’d contribute with 12 goals and eight assists as they were promoted and the Scotland international remains at St. James’ Park playing more often as a converted full-back.

9. Jonathan Kodjia

From: Bristol City
To: Aston Villa
Fee: £11m

Villa recruited Jonathan Kodjia following their relegation from the Premier League in 2016 and the Ivorian centre-forward proved to be an instant hit. Kodjia scored 19 goals in 36 matches, but Villa finished 13th. He then registered just a single strike the next season and nine last time out as they confirmed their Premier League return via the playoffs. Kodjia has since moved on to Al-Gharafa in Qatar, where he has found some goalscoring form.

8. Scott Hogan

From: Brentford
To: Aston Villa
Fee: £12m

Scott Hogan spent the backend of last season on loan at Sheffield United at it remains to be seen whether he’ll be part of Dean Smith’s squad as they make their Premier League comeback. The 28-year-old striker joined Aston Villa in 2017 and scored 10 goals across 61 matches in all competitions. Last season he was loaned to Stoke City and then rivals Birmingham City, a move that was made permanent over the summer.

7. Benik Afobe

From: Wolverhampton Wanderers
To: Stoke City
Fee: £12m

The former Arsenal academy graduate represented no fewer than 10 clubs, many of which on loan, before permanently relocating to Stoke City in January 2019. Since being a Potter he’s only managed nine goals in 51 games, being sent on his second loan spell away from the club, now at Trabzonspor in Turkey.

6. Ross McCormack

From: Fulham
To: Aston Villa
Fee: £12m

Ross McCormack recently brought an end to a three-year association with Aston Villa after his contract wasn’t renewed. After a year as a free agent, McCormack found a new club in the National League, now playing for Aldershot Town, though he has only played twice so far.

5. Helder Costa

From: Benfica
To: Wolverhampton Wanderers
Fee: £13m

Following their acquisition by Chinese investment group Fosun International in 2016, who have strong connections with super-agent Jorge Mendes, many of his clients went on to join Wolves, with Hélder Costa being one of the first to arrive. He’s since joined Leeds United, first on loan and then permanently, but featured across 109 matches in all competitions for Wolves, scoring 19 times before heading to Elland Road.

4. Joao Carvalho

From: Benfica
To: Nottingham Forest
Fee: £13.2m

Another client of Mendes but not at Wolves, Carvalho instead left boyhood club Benfica to join Nottingham Forest in 2018. It’s fair to say the attacking midfielder hasn’t been a resounding success. To date, he’s made 61 appearances in the Championship but managed just five goals and nine assists, and is now on loan Almeria.

3. Helder Costa

From: Wolves
To: Leeds United
Fee: £15m

Helder Costa appears for the second time on this list and as you can probably tell, things didn’t quite work out as well at Molineux for him as they did for compatriots Rui Patricio, Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho. That said, he made his loan to Leeds United permanent in July for a handsome £15m fee and is now a regular in the Premier League.

2. Britt Assombalonga

From: Nottingham Forest
To: Middlesbrough
Fee: £15m

After pulling up trees at Nottingham Forest (no pun intended), Britt Assombalonga took his talents to Boro and though he’s scored more goals (45 compared to 30) he’s not been as clinical having played 74 more times for his current club.

1. Ruben Neves

From: FC Porto
To: Wolverhampton Wanderers
Fee: £15.8m

Arguably one of the greatest players to grace the Championship, there’s no question Neves played an instrumental role in Wolves’ promotion campaign. The highly thought of Portuguese midfielder, who helped Wolves finish seventh in their Premier League return, has caught the eye of several top six clubs and it seems only a matter of time before he leaves Molineux. But for now he is still Wolves’ man and there are so much better for it.