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5 Strikers for Premier League Clubs To Target

The January transfer window is open – and yet nothing is happening. Usually various moves are completed in the first few days of the month, and there are a few intriguing rumours about further major transfers. This time around, everyone is either keeping their wallet in their pocket, or playing the waiting game…

Various clubs appear in need of an extra forward, however, so here’s a look at five emerging players who could prove a useful goalscorer for Premier League clubs…

Paulo Dybala, Palermo, 21.

paulo dybala

Anyone interested in splashing the cash on this exciting young Argentine forward will need plenty, because Palermo chairman Maurizio Zampararini wants nothing less than €42m.

That’s a staggering sum for a player who is midway through his first genuinely consistent spell in European football, but it summarises the potential of a forward who has inevitably been compared to Sergio Aguero. 5’9, always on the move, capable of dribbling, creating and outfoxing opponents with clever movement, Dybala has now added goals to his game.

Nine goals in 17 games is a good return for a newly-promoted side, especially for a player who isn’t an out-and-out striker. That is one obstacle to his development into one of Europe’s leading forwards: he’s a difficult player to categorise. He’s not an out-and-out striker, yet has generally led Palermo’s attack this season, and while there’s more to his game, he needs to maintain his excellent goalscoring record to prove he can play upfront permanently, considering his lack of physicality.

With both Italian and Polish ancestry, Dybala wouldn’t require a work permit for a Premier League move. Sides like Liverpool and Tottenham would be the most obvious suitors, although they’d surely be put off by the pricetag of €42m. He’ll probably move for less, albeit not this month.

Luc Castaignos, Twente, 22.

Purchasing players from the Eredivisie can be troublesome – sometimes you end up with a Ruud van Nistelrooy or a Luis Suarez, sometimes you get a Mateja Kezman or an Alfonso Alves.

Castaignos, in truth, would probably be somewhere between. Now into his second year at Twente, the Dutchman has hit nine goals in 14 games. He’s on course to break his record of 15, which he managed with Feyenoord in 2010/11, having hit 13 and 14 in the previous two campaigns. In fact, he’d probably have more goals were it not for an eye problem he developed in December, which forced him to have surgery. He should be fit for the Eredivisie’s resumption.

Castaignos was linked with Liverpool and Tottenham a couple of years ago, although a more likely suitor would probably be a side like Swansea, looking to invest proceeds of a Wilfried Bony sale into the next young Eredivisie talent. He might suit a side like that, too – he’s a different player to Bony, less imposing but highly technical, good at finding space in the box, and a decent – rather than ultra-reliable – finisher.

He was often compared to Thierry Henry in his younger days, perhaps because of a similarity in their running style. Then again, so was Ryan Babel. Castaignos wouldn’t be cheap, and would be a risk, but he could be brilliant.

Alan, Red Bull Salzburg, 25.

We all preferred it when Brazilian forwards had names like Romario, Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho, but now we’re in the era of Fred, Jo and Bernard, the next on the scene is Alan.

The Brazilian has been hugely impressive in a dynamic, attacking Red Bull Salzburg side, and his goal return is excellent – 26 in 29 last season, 9 in 14 this time around. Granted, it’s difficult to translate those statistics considering the questionable quality of the Austrian Bundesliga, but Sadio Mane – Alan’s teammate last season at Salzburg – has adapted instantly to Premier League life with Southampton, and there’s no reason Alan shouldn’t do the same. Besides, as the top goalscorer in this season’s Europa League, Alan has netted against foreign opposition, including a double at Celtic Park.

A player with a great turn of pace, a good leap and excellent control, Alan is a master of controlling difficult passes and getting the ball immediately onto his trusty right foot, before finishing with impressive ease. He can play anywhere across the frontline, too, and is accustomed to pressing energetically.

Alan hasn’t been capped for Brazil, and is keen to take up Austrian citizenship – he’s lived in the country for five years – to play for the national side. That would allow him a work permit, and a move to the Premier League, too.

Britt Assombalonga, Nottingham Forest, 22.

Assombalonga’s rise through the divisions has been remarkably quick. In 2012/13 he impressed at Southend, on loan from Watford, before transferring to League One Peterborough and hitting 23 goals. Then came a move to Nottingham Forest – for a club record £5.5m – and he’s already hit 13 goals in 23 games. The obvious next step would be the Premier League, and it currently seems unlikely to come with Forest.

A quick striker who loves working the channels on the outside of centre-backs, Assombalonga is an eternal threat, and scores a good number of headers for a pacey, 5’9 striker. He’d be a useful central striker for a team playing quick counter-attacking football, and might thrive alongside a ‘big man’ for an attack-minded side.

It remains to be seen whether he has the intelligence – particularly in terms of the quality of his runs – to trouble defenders at the top level, and he might need to impress for longer at Forest before earning yet another move. But Assombalonga will get a Premier League opportunity at some point, it’s just a question of who’s brave enough to make the first move.

Alexandre Lacazette, Lyon, 23.

alexandre lacazette

The other players on this list have the potential to become top-class forwards, but Lacazette is already there. His development into an outstanding footballer comes as no surprise, considering he was hyped from an early age, but his progression into a consistent goalscorer happened almost overnight. He hit five goals in his first full season, then three in his next campaign – before managing 15 last term.

Lacazette has hit 17 goals in 19 games this season – including doubles in three consecutive matches before the winter break. He’s the major reason Lyon are second in the table – ahead of PSG – and Marseille’s closest challengers going into the second half of the Ligue 1 campaign. His dribbling remains his greatest asset, and he’s still capable of threading passes through the defence too, but his goalscoring is now a serious weapon.

A complete all-rounder, it’s difficult to find a Premier League club that wouldn’t want Lacazette, although only a few could dream of affording him. Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool have all been linked, but with Andre Schurrle unlikely to stay around at Chelsea for too much longer, Lacazette could be a perfect player for Jose Mourinho.

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Posted in , Premier League, Zonal Marking | 3 comments

January 8th, 2015 by Michael Cox

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