In the January transfer window, Birmingham City striker Che Adams was the subject of much speculation – and for good reason.
The 22-year-old, who has scored 22 goals in the Championship so far this season, was heavily linked with Burnley and Southampton, two clubs desperate to add more goals at the time to stave off the threat of relegation.
Adams stayed put and is still banging them in on a regular basis for Birmingham, which is certain to lead to fresh interest this summer.
But who is Che Adams? And how did he rise to prominence enough to draw comparisons with the original Ronaldo?
After impressing at non-league Ilkeston, Adams was snapped up by Sheffield United – then a League One team – in November 2014. Two months later, in one of his very first appearances, he announced himself.
Coming off the bench in a League Cup semi-final second leg against Tottenham Hotspur, Adams scored twice in just over two minutes to draw Sheffield United level on aggregate. Unfortunately for him and his side, a late Christian Eriksen winner ensured a 3-2 victory for Spurs.
The following season, Adams earned more game time and finished the campaign with 12 goals across all competitions. Sheffield United’s failure to achieve promotion left them with no choice but to accept a summer bid for the teen star from Birmingham City.
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Slow-burn at Birmingham
Adams scored 12 goals across his first two Championship seasons with Birmingham. He has bettered that tally by 10 this season alone, provoking plenty of interest from the Premier League – with Everton the latest linked with a summer swoop.
His 22 goals saw him nominated for the EFL Player of the Season award, although the gong went to Norwich City striker Teemu Puki, one of only three players with more Championship goals than Adams this term (26). That, however, shouldn’t take anything away from what Adams has achieved.
At just 22 years of age, Adams has already garnered a great deal of experience in a competitive league, an attribute that could serve him well when he inevitably makes his way to the top-flight. Indeed, holding onto the former England youth international will be a tough task for Birmingham this summer.
Defoe, Kane or Ronaldo?
Speaking to The Guardian, Adams’ former teammate Omar Bogle said the striker is like “a more physical version” of Jermaine Defoe. Those comparisons are apt; Adams has the ability to get the ball out of his feet quickly and shoot powerfully.
But the physicality Adams possesses may put onlookers more in the mind of Harry Kane. Likening any young player to the best striker in the country isn’t always helpful, but Adams resembles Kane in that many of his goals are low, venomous shots across the goalkeeper.
If comparing him to Kane wasn’t irresponsible enough, Ilkeston defender Matt Baker also told the Guardian: “He reminds me a little bit of the old Ronaldo.” Fittingly, some Birmingham fans refer to Adams as ‘Chelé’ – it may be tongue in cheek, but it’s also indicative of Adams’ raw ability and rapid rise to prominence.