Here's a look at the summer transfer window and some Championship strikers that Premier League clubs may be look at
The transfer window is finally open and Premier League teams will be eager to get their squads in order before the season begins in August. Every season, discussion quickly turns to the relegation picture and which teams have enough to stay in the EPL. There is always a fierce debate on which elements a team needs for survival.
However, what we have seen a lot of the time is the necessity to have goals in the team. It has been suggested that Middlesbrough failure this season was down to a lack of goalscoring ability. However, having a decent striker is not a guarantee to stay in the league, as Sunderland showed this season. Of course, the focus here is not only on the Premier League teams likely to struggle, some of the options to follow could suit various Premier League sides.
What we can say is the players that are coming up have all had an excellent season in the Championship and deserve the opportunity to play at a higher level. There is no intended order and as ever this is largely opinion based.
So now we have that out of the way – let’s get stuck into the options…
1. Chris Wood (Leeds United)
New Zealand striker Chris Wood may well be one of the hottest properties in the transfer market this summer. It’s certainly hard to ignore him, after being the leading scorer in the Championship with 27 goals from 41 starts. However, the Kiwi has also been quite an efficient striker as his 2.4 shots per game is only the 21st best record in the league.
Conversion rates are obviously going to be more important in the Premier League and Wood is showing evidence that he could be ready to perform at that level. The player is now 25 years old and at 6ft3 has the presence to be a top quality lone striker if needed. The Leeds United forward has certainly had an interesting career that has featured a lot of different loan spells, but not too many settled periods in his time.
In fact, when Leeds United signed the player in July 2015, it would have been seen as a risky move – but it now seems their faith has been rewarded. Of course, the club had a decent season in the Championship where they only narrowly missed out on the play-offs – and they will want to build on that success. Wood has become a major asset though and the Whites may face a battle to hold onto him this summer.
2. Jonathan Kodjia (Aston Villa)
Aston Villa striker Jonathan Kodjia is another one that is likely to be in demand this season. Premier League teams are certainly looking to acquire players that have a track record of success – and this forward offers some evidence of that. It wasn’t long ago that the player really made his mark in the Championship by scoring 19 goals for Bristol City.
The 27-year-old has repeated this feat again this season by scoring the same number, but this time from just 36 starts. Villa have certainly taken their time to adjust to life in the Championship – but Kodjia has been a rare bright spark. It’s worth remembering though that the Ivory Coast forward is not likely to be available on the cheap, considering the transfer fee paid by the club.
The fact that he has been so consistent for two consecutive seasons in English football makes him a relatively low-risk signing. However, it is still to be seen if a Premier League club would really be prepared to push the boat out for him – especially since Kodjia is untried at Premier League level. On the other hand, if the goalscorer does stay then Steve Bruce will look to build the team around him for a promotion push.
3. Britt Assombalonga (Nottingham Forest)
The first two options on this list are safe bets and there isn’t too much risk involved for Premier League clubs. On paper, Britt Assombalonga should be in a similar place as there is no doubt that he is a very capable goalscorer at least at Championship level, and at 24 is the perfect age for a long-term contract. The big problem is he has suffered his fair share of injuries and there will be question marks over his fitness because of that.
In terms of this season, Assombalonga scored 14 goals but only managed to start 20 games. It will be interesting to see if Premier League or ambitious Championship clubs fancy making a move for him. Of course, it may well be a matter of him proving his fitness first and then accessing the situation again in January 2018.
Taking the injury issue off the table though, what’s clear is Forest are quite a poor Championship team currently. In fact, I discussed in a recent article, how they only avoided relegation on goal difference. The simple fact of the matter is the quality Assombalonga has is too good for a team in that position. It is still to be seen though whether Forest would be prepared to dispense of such an asset.
4. Fernando Forestieri (Sheffield Wednesday)
Argentine forward Fernando Forestieri is certainly very hot property at Championship level and he has enjoyed another high-quality season. The key stats from the season includes 12 goals, five assists as well as an average rating of 7.14. The player’s performances last season in the Championship were equally as impressive, and he is sure to be in demand over the course of the summer.
There has been a bit of speculation linking Forestieri with moves away in the past – but that has generally been to Championship rivals. Nevertheless, it would be remiss if at least some teams in the Premier League weren’t monitoring his progress. At 27, he is at an interesting age where he still has time on his hands, but you’d feel he will have to make the move to the Premier League sooner rather than later.
It’s fair to say that things really started for the Sheffield Wednesday attacker once he moved to England to join Watford; his earlier spells in Italy didn’t allow him to display his best skills. However, more regular games at Watford, allowed him to show what he can do – but he hasn’t yet been able to make his mark as a Premier League player. After Wednesday’s latest failed promotion campaign, it will be interesting to see what the Argentine feels about his future.
5. Kenneth Zohore (Cardiff City)
It might be a bit early to be considering Kenneth Zohore for the Premier League, but the 23-year-old Dane is one to keep an eye on. The Cardiff City striker has adapted well to life in the Championship and this season has been a breakthrough for him as he scored 12 goals from just 24 starts. The player’s 2.5 shots per game ranks him 18th in the league, showing that he is quite an efficient striker as well.
Cardiff City are also an interesting case, as a football club, because they have rich backing but it hasn’t worked out so well for them. Since being relegated from the Premier League, they have really struggled to readjust to life in the Championship. Furthermore, it’s hard to know where they stand financially; it doesn’t look like they are willing to push the boat out any longer.
Last season was a mixed one for them, as they flirted with relegation at times before climbing to a safe finish of 12th in the league. Although things can change, they appear to be a mid-table Championship team at the moment. Therefore, it will be interesting to see what their policy is on holding onto players such as Zohore. My own view is they will struggle to keep them based on where they are as a club right now.
6. Callum Robinson (Preston)
Premier League clubs are always looking for the best young talent and Preston attacker Callum Robinson certainly fits into that. The player has enjoyed an interesting career so far that begun at Aston Villa and then featured various loan spells – but he has now found a new home with Preston. In terms of this season, he scored 10 goals, provided five assists, and managed an average of 2.3 shots per game.
Another thing that makes him an attractive asset to Premier League clubs is his ability to play in several distinct positions. This season that has included playing as a striker, winger, and an attacking midfielder. Preston obviously aren’t one of the more established teams in the Championship, and probably won’t be able to offer Robinson Premier League football anytime soon.
The player is just 22, which means he would certainly be a good long-term investment. However, playing football regularly is very important at an early age – and many English players have damaged their careers by taking a big move too soon. The player himself is also still relatively inexperienced, as he has less than 100 league appearances to his name. So, it may well be a case of simply monitoring the player for now.
7. Nelson Oliveira (Norwich City)
Norwich City did not have the sort of season in the Championship that they were hoping for, but there were some bright sparks. These included, Jacob Murphy and Alex Pritchard, by the end of the season, and another success story was Portuguese striker Nelson Oliveira; the player certainly had his problems throughout the season, such as injury and suspension.
However, when everything is concluded, it was a good season for him in which he scored 11 goals from just 16 starts. It’s easy to assume looking back at his career prior to Norwich, that he has failed – but that would be an unfair assessment. The simple fact of the matter is he lacked a true home and that played a part in his performances. The quality the striker has shown this season has really proved what he is capable of.
The Canaries are now reshaping their squad for the new season with several more departures expected. It seems though that players over a certain age will be prime targets for that, so Oliveira at 25 is a player that they will want to keep hold of. It will certainly be interesting to note if Premier League clubs are watching his development and whether they would consider making a move.
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The focus here has been on transfers, which is a slight change of direction for me and it will be interesting to see if any of these players end up in the Premier League next season. If they do then you can expect some premium transfer fees involved, since strikers always cost the big bucks. You can check the Championship betting odds here.