The Championship is one of the toughest divisions in club football, with the disparity between the second-tier and the Premier League epitomising the need to build a team worthy of promotion.
Money is often tight, even at recently relegated outfits, so getting the best contract expiry signings from within the Championship can prove to be the makings of a promotion-winning campaign.
In FIFA 21, your first crack at making some pre-contract signings in the Championship will come during the 2020/21 season, with them being completed in the summer of 2021.
If you fail to earn promotion at the first time of asking, you can see your team sharply bolstered by a wave of top new players, and all without the cost of a transfer fee.
Here, we’ll be going through the best Championship players currently primed to become eligible pre-contract signings. At the foot of the article, you can find all of the potential contract expiry signings from the second-tier of English football in 2021.
To find out how to make contract expiry signings in FIFA 21, consult our pre-contract signings guide.
FIFA 21’s best Championship pre-contract signings
FIFA 21 doesn’t launch until 6 October, but as the in-game contracts are drawn from those in real-life, we can see which Championship players are set to be in the game on deals that run out in 2021.
As it stands, these players are all still in the Championship and on contracts that will expire next summer. However, a new deal could see them become unavailable as a pre-contract signing on 1 January 2021 in FIFA 21.
Wayne Rooney, Derby County (CM, CAM, ST)
Former cover star of the FIFA game franchise, Wayne Rooney is still available in FIFA 21 as a highly-rated Championship player.
In FIFA 20, Rooney boasted an 80 overall rating, £8.1 million value, and some very usable ratings, including 83 long passing, 82 vision, 88 composure, 81 penalties, 80 long shots, and 84 shot power.
The record Manchester United goalscorer has, however, seen his movement ratings drop in recent editions of FIFA, with the last game giving the now-34-year-old a 58 for acceleration, 61 for agility, and 59 for sprint speed.
Having started to play for Derby County in January last season, Rooney was immediately rewarded with the captaincy, featured predominantly in attacking midfield, and racked up six goals and three assists in 24 games.
If Rooney’s open to a contract expiry signing in January on FIFA 21, which will depend on whether or not the Englishman opts to retire, he’d be a valuable addition to any Championship team looking to boost their promotion hopes.
Christian Kabasele, Watford FC (CB)
At 28-years-old with a 78 overall rating and 79 potential rating, Christian Kabasele was a decent squad rotation centre-back for a bottom-half Premier League club in FIFA 20.
In FIFA 21, Kabasele will be in the Championship with the now-relegated Watford, and while the Belgian’s overall rating will likely take a hit, he’ll still be a top choice in the second-tier.
For Watford last season, Kabasele secured himself a starting role, playing in 31 games across all competitions and teeing-up two goals in the Premier League.
Assuming that drastic ratings changes don’t occur, the medium-high work rate, 83 jumping, 80 strength, 80 sliding tackle, 77 standing tackle, 76 interceptions, and 78 defensive awareness of Kabasele will prove to be valuable assets if you make the centre-back a contract expiry signing.
Joshua King, AFC Bournemouth (LM, CF, ST)
Another strong player coming down to the Championship via relegation, it wasn’t long ago that Manchester United sought to bring back their former trainee, Joshua King.
It was all about pace for the Norwegian in FIFA 20, with King boasting an 85 for acceleration, 74 for agility, 79 for ball control, 80 for dribbling, and a mighty 90 for sprint speed.
King, hampered by injuries and a struggling team, still managed to score six goals and four assists in the top-flight last season, and will undoubtedly be leaned on by the Cherries as they fight to climb back up – provided he remains a Bournemouth player.
With his speed and decent shooting attributes, the now-28-year-old could prove to be one of the most potent attackers in the Championship in FIFA 21, and so, will be a prime target for any manager aiming to make pre-contract signings.
Bradley Dack, Blackburn Rovers (CAM, ST)
Still only 26-years-old, Bradley Dack was Blackburn Rovers’ highest-rated player in FIFA 20 at 75 OVR, with room to grow into a potential rating of 77.
In-game, Dack’s 81 balance, 81 agility, 80 aggression, 79 positioning, 77 strength, and 77 composure are the attacking midfielder’s best assets.
The Blackburn star has been one of the most impressive Championship players over the last few seasons. In 2017/18, he scored 18 goals and nine assists in 42 league games, following up with 18 goals and ten assists through the 2018/19 campaign.
Last season, however, Dack was cut down by the much-feared anterior cruciate ligament injury in December. In the 24 games before the injury, the English attacker racked-up a tidy ten goals and three assists.
Should Dack remain a potential contract expiry signing in January 2021 of FIFA 21, consider him a worthy addition for promotion and potentially in the Premier League.
Jack Butland, Stoke City (GK)
Having pulled on the mitts for the GB Olympic Team at London 2012, Jack Butland has long been tipped as England’s next number-one in net.
However, with injury setbacks and a relatively low club affiliation, the nine-cap goalkeeper finds himself in the Championship.
Butland boasted a 75 overall rating by the end of the last game, with a 79 potential rating, enabling the 6’5’’ goalie to stand as one of the best in the Championship.
The go-to starter for Stoke City, Butland kept nine clean sheets in the league, and the 27-year-old donned the captain’s armband in several matches.
He may not be in the England conversation right now, but Butland is a top choice as a contract expiry signing. If you have the option to make him a pre-contract offer in FIFA 21, leap at the opportunity.
All potential FIFA 21 Championship contract expiry signings in the first season
Below, you can see a table of all of the potential Championship pre-contract signings in FIFA 21 Career Mode. Listed by their current club, you’ll find their current age and their wages in the last game for reference.
|Troy Deeney||Watford FC||32||ST||£59,000|
|Kiko Femenía||Watford FC||29||RB||£48,000|
|Christian Kabasele||Watford FC||29||CB||£55,000|
|Roberto Pereyra||Watford FC||29||LM||£56,000|
|Dan Gosling||AFC Bournemouth||30||CM||£46,000|
|Harry Arter||AFC Bournemouth||30||CDM, CM||£29,000|
|Adam Smith||AFC Bournemouth||29||RB, LB||£46,000|
|Junior Stanislas||AFC Bournemouth||30||LM, RM, LW||£42,000|
|Steve Cook||AFC Bournemouth||29||CB||£51,000|
|Joshua King||AFC Bournemouth||28||LM, CF, ST||£62,000|
|Alexander Tettey||Norwich City||34||CDM||£23,000|
|Michael McGovern||Norwich City||36||GK||£10,000|
|Kenny McLean||Norwich City||28||CDM, CAM||£32,000|
|Mario Vrancic||Norwich City||31||CDM, CM, CAM||£32,000|
|Ryan Shawcross||Stoke City||32||CB||£20,000|
|James Chester||Stoke City||31||CB||£25,000|
|Benik Afobe||Stoke City||27||ST||£26,000|
|Jack Butland||Stoke City||27||GK||£22,000|
|Jordan Cousins||Stoke City||26||CDM, CM||£8,000|
|Nick Powell||Stoke City||26||CAM||£21,000|
|Lee Gregory||Stoke City||32||ST||£15,000|
|Luke Daniels||Brentford FC||32||GK||£9,000|
|Henrik Dalsgaard||Brentford FC||31||RB, RWB, CB||£26,000|
|Emiliano Marcondes||Brentford FC||25||CAM, LW, ST||£13,000|
|Richard Stearman||Huddersfield Town||33||CB||£13,000|
|Tommy Elphick||Huddersfield Town||32||CB||£15,000|
|Frazier Campbell||Huddersfield Town||32||ST||£15,000|
|Christopher Schindler||Huddersfield Town||30||CB||£24,000|
|Jonathan Hogg||Huddersfield Town||31||CDM, CM||£23,000|
|Ben Hamer||Huddersfield Town||32||GK||£7,000|
|Alex Pritchard||Huddersfield Town||27||CAM, LM||£22,000|
|Steve Mounié||Huddersfield Town||25||ST||£18,000|
|Florent Hadergjonaj||Huddersfield Town||26||RB, RWB, LB||£6,000|
|Isaac Mbenza||Huddersfield Town||24||RM, LM, ST||£9,000|
|Adama Diakhaby||Huddersfield Town||24||RW, LW||£20,000|
|Costel Pantilimon||Nottingham Forest||33||GK||£18,000|
|Albert Adomah||Nottingham Forest||32||RM, LM, RW||£16,000|
|Samba Sow||Nottingham Forest||31||CDM, CM||£30,000|
|Michael Hefele||Nottingham Forest||29||CB||£17,000|
|Tendayi Darikwa||Nottingham Forest||28||RB||£22,000|
|Zach Clough||Nottingham Forest||25||CAM, LM, ST||£9,000|
|Nathan Baker||Bristol City||29||CB||£26,000|
|Rene Gilmartin||Bristol City||33||GK||£4,000|
|Tommy Rowe||Bristol City||31||LB, LWB, CM||£16,000|
|Jack Hunt||Bristol City||29||RB, RWB||£20,000|
|Jamie Paterson||Bristol City||28||LM, CM, CAM||£21,000|
|Famara Diédhiou||Bristol City||27||ST||£29,000|
|Niclas Eliasson||Bristol City||24||LM, RM||£23,000|
|Hakeeb Adelakun||Bristol City||24||LM, RM, CAM||£3,000|
|Sol Bamba||Cardiff City||35||CB||£21,000|
|Junior Hoilett||Cardiff City||30||LM||£19,000|
|Neil Etheridge||Cardiff City||30||GK||£16,000|
|Joe Bennett||Cardiff City||30||LB||£18,000|
|Joe Day||Cardiff City||30||GK||£2,000|
|Greg Cunningham||Cardiff City||29||LB||£18,000|
|Nathaniel Mendez-Laing||Cardiff City||28||RM, RW||£16,000|
|Curtis Nelson||Cardiff City||27||CB||£9,000|
|Wayne Routledge||Swansea City||35||LM, RM||£12,000|
|André Ayew||Swansea City||30||RM, LM, ST||£27,000|
|Jay Fulton||Swansea City||26||CDM, CM||£14,000|
|Barrie McKay||Swansea City||25||LM, RM, LW||£5,000|
|Declan John||Swansea City||25||LB||£5,000|
|Wayne Rooney||Derby County||34||CM, CAM, ST||£35,000|
|Curtis Davies||Derby County||35||CB||£17,000|
|Martyn Waghorn||Derby County||30||RM, LM, ST||£18,000|
|Florian Jozefzoon||Derby County||29||RM, LM||£13,000|
|Andre Wisdom||Derby County||27||RB, CB||£13,000|
|Duane Holmes||Derby County||25||CM, CAM, RM||£14,000|
|Jack Marriott||Derby County||25||ST||£14,000|
|Jonathan Howson||Middlesbrough FC||32||RWB, CB, CM||£18,000|
|Tomás Mejías||Middlesbrough FC||31||GK||£5,000|
|Britt Assombalonga||Middlesbrough FC||27||ST||£21,000|
|Marvin Johnson||Middlesbrough FC||29||LB, LWB, LW||£10,000|
|Ashley Fletcher||Middlesbrough FC||24||LW, ST||£16,000|
|Sone Aluko||Reading FC||31||RM, RW||£7,000|
|Michael Morrison||Reading FC||32||CB||£12,000|
|Sam Baldock||Reading FC||31||ST||£8,000|
|Sam Walker||Reading FC||28||GK||£4,000|
|Maikel Kieftenbeld||Birmingham City||30||CDM, CM||£6,000|
|Josh McEachran||Birmingham City||27||CDM, CM||£5,000|
|David Davis||Birmingham City||29||CDM, CM||£8,000|
|Jon Toral||Birmingham City||25||CM, RM, CAM||£5,000|
|Iván Guzmán||Birmingham City||29||RW||Unknown|
|Agus Medina||Birmingham City||25||RB||£3,000|
|Josh Cogley||Birmingham City||24||RB, CB||£2,000|
|Paul Gallagher||Preston North End||36||CDM, CM||£16,000|
|Paul Huntington||Preston North End||32||CB||£9,000|
|Louis Moult||Preston North End||28||ST||£11,000|
|Billy Bodin||Preston North End||28||RM, RW||£12,000|
|Daniel Johnson||Preston North End||27||CDM, CAM||£23,000|
|Ben Pearson||Preston North End||25||CDM||£19,000|
|Andrew Hughes||Preston North End||28||LB||£15,000|
|Darnell Fisher||Preston North End||26||RB||£14,000|
|Ben Davies||Preston North End||25||CB||£16,000|
|Alan Browne||Preston North End||25||CDM, CAM||£18,000|
|Charlie Mulgrew||Blackburn Rovers||34||CB||£9,000|
|Elliott Bennett||Blackburn Rovers||31||RB, LB, RM||£9,000|
|Bradley Johnson||Blackburn Rovers||33||CDM, CM||£9,000|
|Lewis Holtby||Blackburn Rovers||29||CM, RM, CAM||£18,000|
|Corry Evans||Blackburn Rovers||30||CDM||£6,000|
|Derrick Williams||Blackburn Rovers||27||LB, CB||£10,000|
|Joe Rothwell||Blackburn Rovers||25||LM, RM, CAM||£7,000|
|Bradley Dack||Blackburn Rovers||26||CAM, ST||£19,000|
|Bartosz Bialkowski||Millwall FC||33||GK||£8,000|
|Frank Fielding||Millwall FC||32||GK||£5,000|
|Shaun Williams||Millwall FC||33||CDM, CM||£7,000|
|Shane Ferguson||Millwall FC||29||LM||£5,000|
|Matt Smith||Millwall FC||31||ST||£7,000|
|Tom Bradshaw||Millwall FC||28||ST||£9,000|
|Jiri Skalák||Millwall FC||28||LM, RM||£5,000|
|Mahlon Romeo||Millwall FC||24||RB||£6,000|
|Ben Thompson||Millwall FC||24||CM, CAM, CF||£6,000|
|Keiren Westwood||Sheffield Wednesday||35||GK||£15,000|
|Jordan Rhodes||Sheffield Wednesday||30||ST||£16,000|
|Barry Bannan||Sheffield Wednesday||30||CDM, CM||£24,000|
|Tom Lees||Sheffield Wednesday||29||CB||£16,000|
|Kadeem Harris||Sheffield Wednesday||27||LM, LW, RW||£18,000|
|Adam Reach||Sheffield Wednesday||27||CM, RM, RW||£20,000|
|Moses Odubajo||Sheffield Wednesday||27||RB, LB||£9,000|
|Joey Pelupessy||Sheffield Wednesday||27||CDM, CM||£9,000|
|Joost van Aken||Sheffield Wednesday||26||CB||£4,000|
|Mike Bähre||Barnsley FC||25||CM, CAM||£3,000|
|Alex Mowatt||Barnsley FC||25||CDM, CM||£7,000|
|Geoff Cameron||Queens Park Rangers||35||CB, CDM||£5,000|
|Lee Wallace||Queens Park Rangers||33||LB||£4,000|
|Dominic Ball||Queens Park Rangers||25||RB, CDM, CM||£3,000|
|Seny Dieng||Queens Park Rangers||25||GK||£1,000|
|Dillon Barnes||Queens Park Rangers||24||GK||£990|
|Ryan Manning||Queens Park Rangers||24||LB, CM||£5,000|
|Joe Lumley||Queens Park Rangers||25||GK||£3,000|
|Kazenga LuaLua||Luton Town||29||LM, LW, ST||£6,000|
|Eunan O’Kane||Luton Town||30||CDM, CM||£4,000|
|James Collins||Luton Town||29||ST||£10,000|
|Danny Hylton||Luton Town||31||ST||£7,000|
|Ryan Tunnicliffe||Luton Town||27||CDM, CM||£5,000|
|George Moncur||Luton Town||27||CM, LM, CAM||£5,000|
|Matty Pearson||Luton Town||27||CB||£7,000|
|Luke Berry||Luton Town||28||CM, CAM||£6,000|
|Sonny Bradley||Luton Town||28||CB||£7,000|
|Dan Potts||Luton Town||26||LB||£4,000|
|Elliot Lee||Luton Town||25||CAM, ST||£4,000|
|Kyle McFadzean||Coventry City||33||CB||£3,000|
|Liam Kelly||Coventry City||30||CDM, CM||£4,000|
|Michael Rose||Coventry City||24||CB||£2,000|
|Dominic Hyam||Coventry City||24||CB||£2,000|
|Amadou Bakayoko||Coventry City||24||ST||£2,000|
|Maxime Biamou||Coventry City||29||ST||£3,000|
|Shaun MacDonald||Rotherham United||32||CDM, CM||£3,000|
|Lewis Price||Rotherham United||36||GK||£2,000|
|Billy Jones||Rotherham United||33||RB||£3,000|
|Clark Robertson||Rotherham United||26||CB||£4,000|
|Jamie Proctor||Rotherham United||28||ST||£5,000|
|Adam Thompson||Rotherham United||27||CB||£3,000|
|Kyle Vassell||Rotherham United||28||ST||£4,000|
|Adebayo Akinfenwa||Wycombe Wanderers||38||ST||£2,000|
|Darius Charles||Wycombe Wanderers||32||CB||£2,000|
|Ryan Allsop||Wycombe Wanderers||28||GK||£2,000|
|Josh Parker||Wycombe Wanderers||29||ST||£2,000|
|Curtis Thompson||Wycombe Wanderers||26||CDM, CM||£2,000|
If you want to enhance your team for a promotion campaign at little cost to your transfer budget, be sure to snap-up the best Championship contract expiry signings in FIFA 21.