The fear was that the step-up in quality to the Premier League was too enormous. But teams competing at the peak of the table no longer have any qualms about spending big on talent from England’s second grade.
James Maddison was plucked from Norwich City and is now the primary founder for second-placed Leicester City.
Tammy Abraham was given the No.9 jersey at Chelsea after plundering numerous goals in the Championship while Neal Maupay is Brighton & Hove Albion’s top scorer in his debut season in the Premier League following his summer move from Brentford.
If the talent is undeniable, the level they are performing at doesn’t really matter.
And that’s why it’s inevitable Saïd Benrahma will wind up strutting his stuff in England’s top-flight. The 24-year-old has been Brentford’s star performer since arriving at the West London club in 2018 in a deal thought to be worth £1.5million.
Aston Villa courted the playmaker through the summer but failed to land him. It’s almost sure other teams in the Premier League will be keeping a close eye on his development. It’s not possible to ignore his numbers.
During his first season in England, the fleet-footed maestro was involved in a target every 102 minutes. He found the net on ten occasions and chipped in with 14 assists in only 2,452 minutes. This season, his average has dropped off a little, scoring or assisting every 180 minutes. But he is still contributing.
Despite slowing down, Benrahma has posted 0.4 goals and 0.3 assists per 90 since his move to England. And while he’s been outperforming his underlying numbers, occasionally a concern when judging a player, he is still averaging 0.5 open-play anticipated goals during this period.
The Algeria global is a creative hub for the Bees. Of the 37 moves he attempts on average, 60 percent come in the last third. Furthermore, he’s completing close to 80 percent. He retains the ball well for a player who attempts a lot of risky passes in crowded regions of the pitch.
Not only can he pick moves, he can also break the lines with his slaloming runs. On average, Benrahma attempts over six dribbles per 90, completing 55 per cent. Given nearly all his touches arrive in the last third, you can understand why he is such an effective tool for Brentford and potentially the most dangerous component in their attacking arsenal.
This isn’t a make-or-break season for the Algerian but, come the start of the 2020/21 campaign, he’ll be 25. Elite sides are less likely to part with big money for a player with relatively little experience at the very top end of European football now in his mid-20s. It may sound odd, but time really isn’t on his side.
However, if Benrahma’s time at Brentford has shown anything it is that he adapts quickly and can hit the ground running. Furthermore, he’s used to the rigours of English football that should, in theory, speed up the transition time.
In a world where goals are king, having the ability to signal a potential kingmaker for less than £25million at a grossly inflated market is something very few clubs can ignore.
Having shown he can cut it in the Championship, he deserves an opportunity to do the exact same from the Premier League.