QPR have reportedly set a £15m valuation for their prized asset – Charlie Austin – and as yet no club as met that, but surely they will.
With the summer transfer window approaching its finale, the time for clubs to evaluate their summer purchases is upon us. There will be several sides wondering if they have adequately strengthened to fulfil this year’s ambitions and after a few blunt attacking performances, there will also be clubs in the market desperately searching for attacking reinforcements. So why isn’t anyone looking at Queens Park Rangers’ main man?
Charlie Austin has enjoyed a phenomenal rise up the footballing ladder, playing non-league football as recently as 2009 and culminating in a call-up to the national team earlier this summer. The former Burnley striker has carried on his form from last season and has managed four goals from four matches already this term.
Queens Park Rangers scored just 42 goals in their unsuccessful attempt to stave off relegation from the Premier League last season, with Austin contributing 18 of them. Netting that many goals for a relegated side is incredible. Not many strikers involved in the upper echelons of the Premier League can boast a record as impressive as that. In fact, since the introduction of a 20-team Premier League, only Andy Johnson; with 21 goals whilst with Crystal Palace, scored more for a relegated side.
QPR boss Chris Ramsey has praised Austin for the way he has handled the speculation surrounding his future, admitting earlier this month that the 26-year-old had ’’not rocked the boat or made any disturbances in the changing room about not wanting to be here’.’ Would his future have been resolved had he tried to take note of the way in which Raheem Sterling forced a move away from Liverpool? We may never know, but it is certainly refreshing in an age of itchy feet and agent interference.
So are the rumours regarding 26 year old’s injury record putting prospective buyers off? The former non-league star failed a medical at Hull City in 2013, after a bid of just £4.5m was accepted by Burnley; his club at the time. Reports suggested that it was Austin’s shoulder that could have been the problem. He had earlier suffered three dislocations, although none in the previous two years. He went on to sign for QPR and his rumoured injury issues had not been mentioned until last week when David Gold said this about Austin – ’’They say he has no ligaments in his knee, who knows?’’
Gold retracted his comments the following day, explaining that the injury records of Dean Ashton and Andy Carroll have made the Hammers wary of strikers with a history of problems remaining off the treatment table. That seems fair, but West Ham did sign Demba Ba on loan in 2011 who had previously failed medicals at Stuttgart and Stoke City. Besides, Austin’s injury record since turning professional is exceptional. He has managed 187 games since his move to Swindon Town in 2009, scoring 112 goals in the process.
There is a clear need to supply Slaven Bilic with someone that can put the ball in the net regularly whilst staying injury free. The Hammers strikers managed just 21 goals between them last year although the club may now play a slightly more attacking brand of football this season under the Croatian manager. With the Hammers moving to the Olympic stadium next summer, maintaining Premier League football is a must. With Carroll suffering another injury, the Upton Park outfit are desperately short up-front and surely must strengthen. However has Gold; the club’s joint-chairman, burnt too many bridges with his comments this week?
Players failing medicals are actually becoming a rare occurrence these days. Generally a footballer’s medical history is well documented so there are rarely any surprises. However there are a few players that have failed these pre-transfer examinations and gone on to have successful careers. Gabriel Milito failed medical at Real Madrid before moving to Barcelona. Furthermore, Leroy Fer has failed tests at Everton and Sunderland in the past, and Ruud Van Nistelrooy famously failed his medical at Manchester United before joining the Red Devils a year later.
Another stumbling block is clearly the fee. As we all know, there is always a premium to pay when signing an English player, however given the potential fees being suggested for Jordan Rhodes, along with the money paid for Ross McCormack and Andy Carroll, surely £15m is a reasonable fee. I am still of this opinion even though there is only a year left on Austin’s contract.
Odds were slashed late last week on Austin making a move to Manchester United. Given the lack of goals from Louis Van Gaal’s side so far, it is easy to see why rumours of another striking option being brought to the club have been banded about. However, it remains to be seen whether Charlie Austin has the quality to make the impact required by the Old Trafford faithful.
The same goes for a team such as Spurs, who desperately need someone to help ease the burden on Harry Kane. Even Chelsea; who brought in Radamel Falcao earlier this summer, could make use of a player like Austin. The Columbian has hit heights far loftier than the former Swindon striker, however surely Austin could offer as many goals as Falcao’s current incarnation, as the former Porto forward is yet to look anywhere near his potent best after a knee injury in 2014.
Les Ferdinand; QPR’s director of football, admitted this week that the club had turned down offers from Leicester City and Crystal Palace. Norwich were also rumoured to have made a recent bid, however none matched The Hoops’ valuation.
It may be that these clubs will go back with another offer as the window reaches its climax. QPR will want a decent price for Austin to help their rebuilding process and with the new TV deal arriving next season, they know that Premier League clubs are more flush with cash than ever. No club can afford to drop through that trapdoor.
Simply put, even at £15 million, Austin would look like a bargain if he provides the goals that keep a team in the Premier League or even helps them fulfil more lofty ambitions. We are approaching crunch time and it is surely just a matter of days until someone meets his valuation.
Featured image: All rights reserved by Ian Johnson
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Jonathan Kodjia could become an Aston Villa hero
The Ivorian is set to return to first-team action after the international break.
Aston Villa’s automatic promotion hopes have come off the rails in recent weeks. For a while, it seemed Villa were going to upset either Wolves or Cardiff and break into the top two in the Championship. After a run of just one loss and one draw in 12 games, which ended in a 4-1 thrashing of Wolves, it was easy to see why.
Unfortunately, those hopes have come crashing down to earth. Villa have suffered two shock defeats in their last two outings. Firstly there was the 3-1 home reverse to QPR. Last weekend it was the turn of Bolton Wanderers, with Villa losing 1-0 at the Macron Stadium.
The international break could therefore not come at a better time for Aston Villa, who will hope to see some of their regulars return to action after injury.
One such player could be Jonathan Kodjia. The Ivory Coast striker has not played since the 0-0 draw with Birmingham City in October. The 28-year-old is suffering from another ankle injury and has been sorely missed up front.
But it appears he is nearing a return.
Kodjia featured for 45 minutes of a behind-closed-doors friendly against Peterborough United at Bodymoor Heath.
His return to action would be a huge boost for Villa. Whilst Kodjia can be a frustrating figure at times, he is also a top striking option.
Last season Kodjia scored 19 goals in the Championship and his firepower at this level has been sorely missed. With Scott Hogan out of form Lewis Grabban has been handed the burden of finding the net, Kodjia will hope to ease that responsibility.
If he can return to action at Villa Park and score the goals that send them back to the Premier League he will go down in Aston Villa folklore as a hero.
For a man with Kodjia’s character, that is an opportunity he will try to not let pass.
How has Marco Silvestri performed since Leeds United exit?
The Italian had a mixed experience at Elland Road.
Leeds United have certainly had a rough time of it recently. A sudden and dramatic dip in form has seen them plummet down the Championship table. The club have had plenty of problem positions this season, but perhaps none more so than in goal.
Leeds United allowed number one Robert Green to join Huddersfield Town in the summer. That came after he was replaced as the first-choice stopper by German talent Felix Wiedwald. The Werder Bremen recruit was then backed up by former Leeds captain Andy Lonergan. The pair looked to be good moves, but both have flopped at Elland Road.
Now the club has resorted to playing youngster Bailey Peacock-Farrell in goal, such is the lack of faith in the summer recruits.
Things have not turned out much better for Green, who has had to sit on the bench for the Terriers most of the season. But what about the other goalkeeper Leeds let go in the summer?
Marco Silvestri was one of the Massimo Cellino era signings at Leeds. The young Italian arrived from Chievo in 2014 and soon displaced Paddy Kenny at Elland Road.
His time at Leeds was certainly mixed. Nobody could deny that Silvestri had talent. When it came to shot-stopping the Italian had frightening reflexes and would occasionally make an incredible save.
But Silvestri was also error-prone. Poor off his line and not the best at handling the ball, Silvestri frustrated Leeds fans who wanted a more experienced and suited goalkeeper between the sticks. After two seasons as Leeds number one Garry Monk brought in Green and Silvestri became back-up in 2016-17.
This summer he left, joining Hellas Verona in Serie A where he hoped to play more regular first-team football.
Unfortunately for the 27-year-old that has not been the case. For the second season in a row Silvestri has had to settle for being the back-up option. Verona have used Brazilian stopper Nicolas as their number one this season, as they battle relegation to Serie B.
Silvestri is still young, especially for a goalkeeper, and still has fond memories of Leeds. He even congratulated Peacock-Farrell on his recent first-team action:
Congratulation mate for you’r start @bailey_pf ?? Yu deserve it !!
— Marco Silvestri (@MarcoSilver1991) March 8, 2018
Hopefully he can find his way back to playing regular football for next season. Because, despite his faults, Silvestri remains an immensely talented young stopper who, with the right coaching and club, could be a very good goalkeeper.
Staying at Hearts is best option for Leeds United linked Harry Cochrane
The 16-year-old has had a brilliant breakthrough campaign at Hearts this season.
Leeds United were seemingly in the hunt for Hearts midfielder Harry Cochrane this summer.
The 16-year-old was apparently a target for Leeds as well as Premier League side Brighton and Hove Albion, according to the Scottish Sun.
But the news this week suggests Cochrane is going nowhere.
According to the Scottish Sun, the teenager is set to sign a contract extension at Hearts, keeping him at the club until the summer of 2020.
Such a move would be the wise choice for the immensely talented midfielder.
Leeds United have a history of bringing through young players so, on the one hand, Cochrane could not pick a better team to join.
That said, at just 16 years of age, playing in the Championship looks a very unlikely scenario.
Considering the current influx of players into the under-23s under Victor Orta’s reign, Cochrane would have a battle on his hands to play regularly at that level.
Whilst Leeds have struggled in centre-midfield this season, summer improvements are likely. If Leeds bring in experienced options in the heart of midfield then Cochrane is again likely to miss out on playing regular first-team football.
Staying at Hearts is a far more sensible option. The teenager has played 16 times in the league for the Edinburgh side this season and that highlights how highly rated he is at Tynecastle.
Moving to Leeds would see him move into a youth team. Staying at Hearts will see the Scot playing regularly at a first-team level.
As tempting as a move to England – with a club the size of Leeds – must be, remaining at Hearts and playing on a regular basis is easily the best career choice for this precocious talent.
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