Ranked! The 10 best players in the Championship so far this season
5. Ollie Watkins (Brentford)
Already a shining star for Brentford at 22, the future looks incredibly bright for forward Watkins. Last season’s Championship Young Player of the Year began 2018/19 in sensational fashion, scoring a quartet of eye-catching goals by September 1.
Quick, mobile, well balanced and capable of striking the ball cleanly with either foot, Watkins has all the tools he needs to hurt opposition defences.
He is primarily used as a left-sided forward, but is also able to play as the lead striker whenever the Bees need him to switch roles. Simply, he is Premier League material.
4. Pablo Hernandez (Leeds)
Bielsa said Hernandez is “one of the best players in his position that I have worked with in my career”, and that is high praise indeed from a man who’s coached the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Dimitri Payet.
Before the Spanish winger picked up an injury at the end of August, it wasn’t difficult to see why the Leeds boss was so rich in his praise. Hernandez tormented every full-back he encountered from from his wide-right position, and the 33-year-old was just about unplayable.
The irresistible Spaniard was beating his markers for fun, supplying a lorry-load of chances for team-mates, and had made two goals and scored three more from just five starts. His impending return is bad news for the rest of the division.
3. Dwight Gayle (West Brom)
Darren Moore’s shrewd use of the loan market has helped propel West Brom into the promotion mix, and his decision to swap Salomon Rondon for Gayle is looking like a masterstroke.
The ex-Peterborough striker has formed a scintillating partnership with Jay Rodriguez, and has eight goals in 10 starts so far. Gayle has netted with a variety of strikes, and the 27-year-old’s work rate, movement and razor-sharp instincts in and around the box set him apart from most strikers at Championship level.
September’s player of the month is well on course to score over 25 goals for the Baggies.
2. Neal Maupay (Brentford)
Having bagged 10 goals in 10 starts, at a rate of one every 85 minutes, French hitman Maupay is currently the most lethal marksman in the Championship.
His coolness in front of goal is remarkable: Maupay has hit the target with 23 of his 29 shots so far this term, and Brentford’s leading scorer is the epitome of efficiency inside the danger zone.
He’s more of a goal poacher than somebody who manufactures chances for himself, but the 22-year-old has come of age and will be a target for Premier League sides hunting a goalscorer in January. For now, though, he’s integral to the Bees’ promotion hopes.
1. Harvey Barnes (West Brom)
The standout star of this season’s Championship is West Brom’s Barnes. On loan from Leicester, the 20-year-old attacking midfielder has set the division alight with a string of mesmeric individual displays.
He began the season as a left-winger, but a switch to 3-4-1-2 means he’s found a new niche in the coveted No.10 role – a position Barnes has taken by storm.
Blessed with speed and natural dribbling prowess, Barnes ran from inside his own half to score a sublime goal against Sheffield Wednesday; this, on the back of netting wonderful strikes against Norwich, Bolton and Bristol City too.
The England U21 international has been a constant menace on the counter-attack, and so far looked a class apart at The Hawthorns. Whispers suggest Claude Puel wants to recall him in January, though, so Baggies fans should enjoy his talents while they can.