Best XI of Championship stars who can be stolen on free transfers NEXT MONTH including Tom Lawrence and Sam Johnstone

THE Championship season finally ended on Sunday as Nottingham Forest confirmed their return to the Premier League after 23 years away.

They beat Huddersfield in the £200million Wembley final, condemning the Terriers to another season in the second tier.


With the end of the season comes the end of plenty of contracts.

And that means some of the shining stars of the 2021-22 Championship campaign will become free agents in the next few weeks as their deals expire on June 30.

SunSport rounds up the best XI worth millions of pounds but available for nothing this summer…

GK: Sam Johnstone (West Brom)

Goalkeeper Sam Johnstone is rated at £10.8million – the most of any Championship free agent – and is still regarded as one of England's leading stoppers – playing for the Three Lions last autumn.

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He had four seasons with West Brom, playing 36 times this term despite competition from David Button, but will now be ready for his next adventure as Crystal Palace leading the race to land him despite links to Tottenham, Manchester United and Rangers.

RB: Ryan Nyambe (Blackburn)

Ryan Nyambe is a 24-year-old right-back who made 32 appearances for Blackburn this year.

But a summer of change at the club means the Namibia ace is up for grabs for free.

CB: Darragh Lenihan (Blackburn)

Nyambe's defensive colleague Darragh Lenihan is following Tony Mowbray out of the exit door.

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The two-cap Ireland international joined Blackburn in 2011 and was promoted to club captain – there will be no shortage of interest including from rivals Burnley.

CB: Alfie Mawson (Fulham)

Joining Lenihan in the heart of the defence is the first man in the team to be promoted this term: Fulham's Alfie Mawson.

The former England Under-21 man, whose career has gone downhill since his initial break, played just 206 minutes in the league this term, the last a one-minute cameo on November 6.

LB: Lee Buchanan (Derby)

The Derbyshire-born left-back, 21, joined the Rams academy in 2010 aged just nine.

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He has racked up 60 first-team appearances and broken into the England youth set-up, too, but he looks to be a victim of Derby's financial woes and relegation.

CM: Jean Michael Seri (Fulham)

Big things were expected when Jean Michael Seri joined for a club-record £25m in 2018 – but he struggled in the relegation season then went out on loan to Galatasaray and Bordeaux.

But he finally proved his worth this season and was a popular regular for Marco Silva as the Cottagers won the league – but not enough for the West Londoners to offer him a new deal as 14 players were released.

CM: Andy Rinomhota (Reading)

The midfielder, 25, came through at Reading, having joined the club at 18.

Seven years, 139 appearances and four goals later, he will be looking for a new venture once he passes his medical after recovering from a knee injury.

CM: Joe Rothwell (Blackburn)

The third Rovers player in the team is central midfielder Joe Rothwell, whose four years at Ewood Park looks set to end.

The former Manchester United youngster is valued at around £3.15m and would certainly be a sensible option for plenty of Championship clubs aged 27.

RW: Jed Wallace (Millwall)

Jed Wallace has proven to be Mr Reliable at the New Den over the last seven seasons but was not handed an extended deal.

Promoted Forest were keen in February – but their attention may now have changed – while Besiktas and West Brom are also interested in the Millwall hero.

ST: Josh Koroma (Huddersfield)

Josh Koroma joined Huddersfield from Leyton Orient in 2019 but managed just four goals in 34 league games in 2021-22.

The 23-year-old was not part of the matchday squads for any of the three play-off matches as Carlos Corberan's side suffered heartbreak.

LW: Tom Lawrence (Derby)

Former Manchester United and Leicester winger Tom Lawrence has enjoyed the best spell of his career with Derby, with 35 goals in 177 matches and the armband on many occasions under Wayne Rooney.

Leeds, Southampton, Everton and Bournemouth could all provide the 23-cap Wales international a return to the Premier League, while Celtic may try and lure him north of the border.

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