5 Championship players who can step up to the Premier League

With only the playoffs remaining in the Championship, we look at five young players who have thrived this year and could make the jump to the Premier League next season.

Nathan Wood, Swansea

The 20-year-old center back has excelled on the ball for Swansea this season. Wood’s 87.6 PFF passing grade ranks first at his position and seventh overall in the Championship. His 79.4 PFF ball carry grade suggests a composure well beyond his years that could translate well to the Premier League, where many teams desire ball-playing defenders. Brighton will likely need a replacement for Levi Colwill, and Wood could be a good fit. Wood’s 78.4 PFF challenge grade is above average among Championship center backs.

Hayden Hackney, Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough will play in the Premier League next season if they can make their way through the playoffs, but Scottish U-21 international Hackney seems destined for that level either way. The 20-year-old central midfielder has thrived under Michael Carrick's tutelage this season. His 88.3 PFF passing grade ranks sixth among all players in the Championship, while his 86.2 PFF ball carry grade ranks second at his position and fourth league-wide.

While Hackney has room to grow defensively, his 81.1 PFF grade on 50-50 duels shows he has the necessary aggression to develop into a midfielder in the Premier League. Hackney would be a smart signing for Premier League teams if Middlesbrough fail to progress.

Amad Diallo, Sunderland

The third 20-year-old in a row on this list, Diallo is sure to be playing at a higher level next year. On loan from Manchester United, the Ivorian winger has led Sunderland into the playoffs and will look to take them back to the Premier League, irrespective of whether he'll be playing with them. Diallo has been an attacking force in the Championship, with his 94.4 PFF shooting grade ranking third league-wide. Diallo is also a strong passer and ball carrier, earning PFF grades of 82.6 and 79.0, respectively. Manchester United fans will be hoping he can provide competition for their forwards next season.

Ryan Giles, Middlesbrough

The second Middlesbrough player on the list, Giles could be playing in the Premier League next season regardless of how The Boro fare in the playoffs. The 23-year-old left back is strong going forward and defensively. Giles finished with a 79.2 PFF passing grade and an 81.6 PFF crossing grade in the Championship. The Wolves loanee struggled on aerial duels and 50-50 duels but performed well defensively in facets more typical to fullbacks, with a 79.5 PFF tackling grade, an 84.5 mark defending dribbles and a 79.2 grade defending carries. Giles could provide competition at left back for Wolves next season or return to Middlesbrough if they make it through the playoffs.

Iliman Ndiaye, Sheffield United

Ndiaye will almost certainly be in the Premier League next season after helping guide Sheffield United to automatic promotion. The 23-year-old forward is a well-rounded player, earning a 78.3 PFF shooting grade, an 83.3 passing grade and an 82.3 ball carry grade. The Senegal international is an elite dribbler, as his 88.8 PFF dribbling grade ranks second in the Championship. Ndiaye is poor in the air but is above average defensively for a forward, posting a 68.0 PFF tackling grade and a 70.1 mark at defending carries. The Blades will hope Ndiaye’s all-round game can help them survive in the Premier League next season.

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