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Ranked! The 10 best Championship signings of summer 2017

Gianni Alioski Leeds

10. Barrie McKay (Rangers to Nottingham Forest, £500k)

With the Rangers squad undergoing a significant overhaul following the appointment of Pedro Caixinha, his predecessor swooped in to sign someone who’d unexpectedly fallen out of favour. Mark Warburton was a big fan of McKay during his spell at Ibrox, making him a first-team regular en route to the Scottish Championship title in 2016. McKay was named in the PFA Team of the Year and earned his first cap for Scotland too.

For £500k, Nottingham Forest have acquired a wideman who’s technically assured, can glide past players and packs an excellent delivery. The 22-year-old also showcased good long-range ability when smashing the winner against Millwall on his debut.

9. Liam Lindsay (Partick Thistle to Barnsley, £350k)

Barnsley were victims of their own success last season, forced into a rebuilding job as wealthier clubs picked off some of their best players. Fortunately, they have an impressive recent history of building a solid backline with unheralded stars who they can later sell on for profit, with Marc Roberts, John Stones and Alfie Mawson a few notable examples.

This strategy is Barnsley’s best chance of continuing to compete successfully at this level. Former Partick Thistle defender Liam Lindsay is in the same mould: a promising young centre-back who’s both strong in the challenge and comfortable on the ball. The 21-year-old Scot came in for his debut at the end of August and helped keep the club’s first clean sheet of the season in a 3-0 win over Sunderland.

8. Nathaniel Mendez-Laing (Rochdale to Cardiff, free)

A free transfer from Rochdale, the 25-year-old already looks like one of the biggest bargains of the season after just a handful of games. The stocky winger has been a lively and productive presence out wide for his new club, scoring five times already in all competitions.

A tricky, talented player who likes to get defenders on the back foot, Mendez-Laing has seized his opportunity to step up to the Championship. He started Cardiff’s first game on the bench but soon became indispensable, notching twice in a 3-0 win over Aston Villa.

7. Kamohelo Mokotjo (Twente to Brentford, £880k)

The Bees finally got their man after two years of trying. Their data-led search for value in Europe’s less-publicised leagues repeatedly turned up South African international Mokotjo, but the west Londoners' pursuit had previously been foiled by work permit issues. Patience has paid off, however, and a deal was finalised for £880k this summer.

The bustling defensive midfielder, who captained Twente last season, is full of energy and purpose, routinely nicking the ball away from opponents and initiating attacks. Brentford are still searching for their first league win of the season but it hasn’t been for want of trying on the 26-year-old Mokotjo’s part. His task will be made even harder by the departures of Harlee Dean, Maxime Colin and Jota.

6. Darnell Fisher (Rotherham to Preston, undisclosed)

Many expected Preston to struggle after Simon Grayson left for Sunderland, but they’ve picked up where they left off last year under new manager Alex Neil, despite the distraction of striker Jordan Hugill’s uncertain future. Likewise, there wasn’t much optimism about the signing of Darnell Fisher following Rotherham’s dismal relegation.

The powerful, hard-running right-back has proven everyone wrong so far with some impressive performances as part of the Championship’s meanest defence, with just one goal conceded in five games. The 23-year-old has been ever-present and excellent value.

5. Ruben Neves (Porto to Wolves, £15.8m)

The circumstances of his arrival owe a great deal to super-agent Jorge Mendes and his relationship with Wolves’s Chinese owners Fosun International – but there can be no doubting the midfielder’s ability. The Portugal international is only 20 years old but joined from Porto, where he gained plenty of big-game experience.

An excellent passer of the ball with great touch and technique, he even captained his former club in the Champions League aged 18. The fee, believed to be £15.8m, is huge but will be repaid one way or another.

4. Gianni Alioski (Lugano to Leeds, £2m)

A Macedonian winger who was the third-highest scorer in the Swiss Super League last season, Alioski was a left-field choice for new manager Thomas Christiansen. But the 25-year-old has rapidly become a cult hero at Elland Road, helping dissolve fears that the loss of ex-boss Garry Monk would lead to a decline for Leeds.

The Whites are unbeaten after five league games, and Alioski has been a constant menace to opposition full-backs. He opened his account for the club with an excellent long-range effort against Nottingham Forest, as part of a man-of-the-match display.

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3. Jota (Brentford to Birmingham, £6m)

Harry Redknapp lived up to his reputation with 14 deals completed this summer. Birmingham left it late to get much of their business done, though, with 10 of their new players arriving after the season had started. It’s hoped that the latest additions will rouse the club from an indifferent start – and Jota’s creativity should be key.

The club record signing was one of three players to leave Brentford in the final two days of the transfer window. With 23 goals in 78 games for his former club, the 26-year-old Spaniard is charged with waking up an often-pedestrian midfield as Redknapp’s side target promotion.

2. Jackson Irvine (Burton to Hull, £2.5m)

Competing on the Championship’s lowest budget by a considerable margin, Burton Albion have had to embrace their role as a proving ground for untested prospects and a rescue home for those who’ve lost their way. Marvin Sordell, Joe Mason and Luke Murphy are among those who’ve played for bigger clubs but are looking to get their careers back on track under the guidance of Nigel Clough.

In contrast, Irvine arrived from Ross County last summer as a relative unknown. A rangy box-to-box midfielder with great stamina and an eye for goal, he scored 11 times in 2016/17. The 24-year-old Australia international was picked up by Hull earlier this week for a relatively modest fee rumoured to be around £2.5m.

1. Tom Lawrence (Leicester to Derby, £7m)

Exceptional on loan at Ipswich but unlikely to get a look-in at Leicester, Lawrence was a wanted man this summer. Derby were the beneficiaries, buying the elegant 23-year-old winger for a fee that could rise to £7m.

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Lawrence is tasked with filling the void left by Tom Ince, and big things are expected of him at Pride Park.

Derby have looked sluggish in their opening games and Gary Rowett is under pressure to turn things around. Lawrence is often used on the left, cutting inside onto his stronger foot, and his dribbling skills and composed finishing could make all the difference this season.

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