Under the radar centre-forward transfer options for Everton, Sheffield Utd & other Premier League clubs
It seems a summer of huge spending is afoot.
Manchester City and Liverpool are looking to get one over on each other in the Premier League title race, Arsenal and Manchester United need to break back into the top four while a whole host of clubs are seeking to supplant them from the top six.
However, not all need (or can afford) to go for the biggest names. Nor should they have to. Right now, there are a bunch of under the radar centre-forwards around Europe who could be snapped up for a fraction of Luka Jovic’s reported €65m (£57.78m).
At Squawka, we’ve picked out five of them and suggested which Premier League club would suit them best.
Andy Delort (Montpellier, on loan from Toulouse)
Who should sign him? Sheffield United
Remember Andy Delort’s 11-game spell with Wigan Athletic in 2014? Of course, you don’t. He was terrible and didn’t score a single goal. That, however, is not to say he’s a bad player, sometimes things just don’t work out for a certain player at a certain club.
This season, Delort really has turned things around, notching 14 goals and seven assists in 36 outings, helping Montpellier to a sixth-place finish in Ligue 1.
Delort isn’t lightning quick, but he certainly has enough pace to beat most defenders to a cross, while his strength means he will rarely be bullied off the ball. This would make him a perfect fit for Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United, who excelled in the Championship with their unique brand of overlapping centre-backs and direct crosses into the box for the likes of Billy Sharp and David McGoldrick.
Both the aforementioned strikers are now advancing into their 30s and cover will be desperately needed at Bramhall Lane if the Blades are to successfully navigate Premier League life. At 27, Delort still has plenty of years left in him and has the make-up to be a real success under Wilder, while his adept dribbling skills and ability to drop off the front-line to link play would add a new dimension to the newly promoted side.
Wout Weghorst (Wolfsburg)
Who should sign him? Crystal Palace
Between Wilfried Zaha (should he remain), Andros Townsend, Patrick van Aanholt and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Crystal Palace are blessed with a real wealth of quick, dynamic wideman, who are all as adept as each other at delivering terrorizing crosses into the box.
The problem for Roy Hodgson side is that, at one time or another, they’ve had the likes of Christian Benteke, Connor Wickham and Alexander Sorloth on the end of them. Let’s face it, they’ve all been pretty hapless throughout their respective Selhurst Park careers.
Wolfsburg Wout Weghorst would be a perfect solution to Hodgson’s centre-forward conundrum. Standing just short of 6ft 5in tall, Weghorst is a real giant and the Dutchman took full advantage of his size to deliver 17 goals and seven assists for sixth-place Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga last season.
Weghorst, 26, could serve a dual purpose for Hodgson: get into the box to head home crosses or drop into the hole behind the opposition midfield and flick a direct ball into space for the onrushing Zaha and Townsend.
This may not sound ‘cultured’ by the game’s modern standards, but if Weghorst could truly unlock the potential of Palace’s two best attacks, who the hell cares?
Andrea Petagna (SPAL, on loan from Atalanta)
Who should sign him? Brighton & Hove Albion
Like Weghorst, Andrea Petagna is another giant, unusually brutish centre-forward. However, rather than trying to provide for others, the Italian solely focuses on his own goal-haul.
Last season, Petagna scored 16 goals for 13th-place SPAL – with another in the Coppa Italia – notching just one assist. His size means the 23-year-old isn’t the quickest and he does leave a bit to be desired when it comes to defending from the front, meaning he wouldn’t suit a team which likes to press high.
Instead, a team which bunkers in and seeks to frustrate the opponent – such as Brighton and Hove Albion – would be perfectly suited to Petagna’s skillset. During their Premier League stint, the Seagulls have massively thrived on the aerial presence of Glenn Murray up front. As we all know, Murray has never been blessed with pace and at 35, that is all the more pronounced now.
However, his aerial dominance makes him a massive set from set pieces. Ten of Brighton’s 35 Premier League goals last season were headers, as were four of Petagna’s 16 in Serie A. Only two players in the division nodded in more.
Should Atalanta manage to hold on to Duvan Zapata, Petagna could be a younger, more mobile upgrade on Murray, providing the goals which were sorely lacking from the Seagulls at the end of last season.
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Borja Iglesias (Espanyol)
Who should sign him? Everton
The likes of Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann have been scoring goals for fun in La Liga for years now but this season has seen the emergence of a now marksman: Borja Iglesias.
Until recently, the 26-year-old had been unable to make his top-flight breakthrough, making 146 appearances in the Segunda Division B with Celta Vigo B and scoring 22 goals in the Segunda Division on loan at Real Zaragoza in 2017/18. But last season finally saw Iglesias get his breakthrough with 20 goals in 41 games across all competitions with Espanyol.
Although there is still work to be done on his game – having been caught offside 45 times last season, the most of any La Liga forward – Iglesias is a ruthless finisher and notched up a 51.85% big chance conversion rate during 2018/19. That’s better than the likes of Griezmann (47.37%), Andre Silva (47.06%) and Karim Benzema (46.88%).
Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson scored 13 Premier League goals each last season but their two main natural centre-forwards, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Cenk Tosun, scored just nine goals between them. If Marco Silva’s side are to challenge for a top six place next season, they’ll desperately need a guy who can just be in and around the box to score goals, getting on the end of the expert deliveries of Sigurdsson and Lucas Digne.
According to reports, Iglesias rejected an advance from Everton – who had met his €28m release clause – as he was unwilling to abandon Espanyol halfway through the season. Could this pursuit be reignited once again this summer?
Willian Jose (Real Sociedad)
Who should sign him? Leicester City
Once of Real Madrid – albeit mainly their youth set-up – it took a while for Willian Jose’s career in Spain to really get going. However, since it has, he’s certainly found himself among the goals, notching 38 in 93 La Liga appearances for Real Sociedad.
Leicester City already have Jamie Vardy, who is showing no signs of slowing down. However, as he advances into his 30s, he inevitably will lose the burst of pace allowing him to get in behind defences almost at will. Furthermore, under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers, Foxes have begun shifting toward his more possession-heavy style of play.
In terms of speed, Willian Jose is pretty middle of the road but what he does excel in is dropping off the forward line to link play, which would really help Rodgers’ side control possession, as well as allowing space for the likes of Demarai Gray to run into.
At 27, he will want to play the sort of regular football he’s getting now in Spain but Vardy turns 33 in January and rotation will be needed. Willian Jose has expressed his happiness in recent months but the riches of the Premier League, as well as the allure of a former champion, could be a proposition too good to turn down.