When many fans or pundits were asked who they thought was going to light up Euro 2016, it is far from likely that they would have replied with Hal Robson-Kanu. That’s not to say that the former Reading man lacks quality though, as his turn and finish against Belgium would be a goal that just about any player in the World would love to have scored. In a state of pure joy, Robbie Savage said: “If that was Messi – they’d be talking about it for years!” – and most of the Welsh nation probably will.
Hal Robson-Kanu was originally released by Arsenal at the age of 15 before signing on at Reading. It was here that he spent the next 12 years, working on his craft under the fantastic academy coaches at Reading and the late Eamonn Dolan, who played a huge part in the development of several players who went on to be fully-fledged internationals.
However, the Welsh international always divided opinion during his time in Berkshire. He was often seen as a player who has obvious talent but was not always able to apply it week in week out. It was perhaps put best by Chris Coleman in his post-match interview following Wales’ victory over Belgium when he said: “Hal, once he’s in that mood where he was up for everything and anything, he’s a defender’s nightmare”. This may be the reason that the Welshman has grabbed his opportunity with both hands during both Wales’ and his own biggest moment.
Robson-Kanu has always been a player that has seemed to shine more on the big stage. He was integral in Reading’s tremendous FA Cup run in the 14/15 season which saw them reach the semi-final at Wembley for the first time in 88 years. Robson-Kanu either scored or assisted a great deal of the goals during the cup run which was a bright spot in what was a pretty poor overall campaign for Reading.
He has only played one previous campaign in the top flight, where he found the net on seven occasions. This effort made him one of Reading’s top scorers that season, as they were relegated after just one season back in the Premier League.
It is genuinely a difficult task to say whether a player can deliver the goods at the very highest level, as so many factors go into creating top performances, especially in the Premier League. However, Robson-Kanu is a tremendous athlete and has exhibited speed and power that are enough to make life really difficult for defenders.
He is also a technically gifted player – which was nicely shown against Belgium. If he can also bring the levels of effort that he has put out for Wales throughout their Euros so far, then he will put himself in with the best possible chance of really establishing himself as a solid top flight player.
Robson-Kanu’s future was anything but certain entering the run-up to the tournament. He picked up a knock in the first week of training camp with the national team and nearly missed the tournament but for some hard work on both his part and Welsh medical team. It was not a good situation for a player to be in – without a club and potentially missing out on the opportunity to represent his country at the highest level. However, he recovered his fitness and hasn’t looked back since.
There are reportedly a number of destinations for Hal Robson-Kanu to choose from, some from far-flung locations that would be a staggering change of pace for the Welshman. However, in terms of the Premier League, there are a couple of teams who could prove to be an excellent fit for the Kanu.
The first of these is Hull City. The Tigers are returning to the top flight and only really have one proven goal-scorer on their books in Abel Hernandez who himself struggled the last time Hull were in the Premier League. In England’s top division, you need to be as versatile as possible and have options available to you at all times. The hold-up play that Robson-Kanu can offer could make him an excellent addition to Steve Bruce’s side and he could prove to be the perfect foil for Hernandez in what would be an exceptionally pacey and athletic strike-force.
Another possible destination could be Swansea City. It would be quite fitting that a player who has been one of the heroes of the Welsh qualifying campaign would sign for Wales’ only current top flight team. There have been rumours that Swansea were interested in adding Robson-Kanu to their ranks previously but Reading pushed back any offers.
The former Reading man could add something different up front for the Swans. If he can replicate his effort and hold-up play which he has displayed in the Euros, then there is no reason why he couldn’t become a solid member of the squad. With the likes of Montero and Routledge playing off him, it could prove to be a difficult prospect for any defences to deal with.
One thing that is for certain, is that Robson-Kanu’s performances in France have left his future is his own hands. He decided to let his contract to run down at Reading and try his luck entering the summer as a free agent, and it has turned out to have the potential to be a master-stroke, as many Premier League clubs will no doubt be looking at Kanu as a cheap potential pick-up.
The Welsh international has played a pivotal role throughout the tournament so far and was also impressive throughout their qualifying campaign. It remains to be seen which club will take Hal Robson-Kanu in, but with many clubs reportedly looking to add him to their books, it most likely will not take too long for him to find a new home to work on his trade.
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