Charlie Austin - Another Premier League Season Awaits

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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.

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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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