Is Mitrovic just an outstanding Championship striker?

Aleksandar Mitrovic is on track to achieve the feat of the greatest season recorded by a striker in the Championship after an outstanding start to the 2021/22 football campaign. In his first 16 games of the season, the Fulham forward notched 19 goals along with five assists. The record for most goals scored in a Championship season was set by Portsmouth’s Guy Whittingham in the 1992/93 season when he notched 42 strikes in 46 appearances. The Serbian player is on target to surpass his accomplishment, although it will take a flawless run between now and the end of the campaign to maintain his pace and remain injury-free particularly with the busy Christmas fixtures.

Fulham will be keen for the forward to remain on the pitch given his success. The Cottagers were relegated from the Premier League after only one season in the top flight, but are on course to bounce back at the first attempt for the second time in a row. Marco Silva’s men are backed at evens in the Championship winner odds to return to the Premier League as champions of the second tier, which the club last achieved in the 2000/01 season. Bournemouth and West Brom are also in contention in the Championship predictions and the race for automatic promotion promises to be a thriller.

Mitrovic will play a key role in their success, but his performances may attract teams from the top flight to swoop for his signature in the January 2022 transfer window. The 27-year-old has excelled in the Championship but has found life in the Premier League a lot tougher. In Fulham’s last Premier League campaign, he mustered only three goals in 27 appearances. He did score 11 goals in 37 games in the 2018/19 campaign in the top flight, proving that the forward is capable of producing in the right circumstances. However, the transition from the Championship to the second tier has been just as difficult for Mitrovic as it has Fulham, resulting in their successive relegations.

Mitrovic is not alone in his struggles in the Premier League after playing a starring role in the second tier. Teemu Pukki and Norwich have discovered that success in the Championship does not translate into the top tier. Pukki scored 29 goals in the Canaries’ run to the Championship title in the 2018/19 season, only to return 11 in the top flight as the club were relegated without a fight albeit he started the Premier League season on fire. Daniel Farke’s men responded to storm their way back to the top flight with another title-winning surge that Pukki led with 26 goals in 41 matches. Once again, the Canaries and Pukki have failed to make the adjustment to the top flight, with the Finn on course to score eight goals this term.

If Mitrovic continues his amazing run and breaks the 40-goal barrier in the Championship, there will be the belief that he can finally fulfil his potential at the highest level that saw Newcastle part with £13 million in 2015 when he was only 21. Fulham and potential suitors must also be aware that he has his limitations, and it could be that the forward is just a very successful striker in the second tier. There’s no shame in that, but the Cottagers must be aware moving forward if they are to avoid another Premier League disappointment.