During Wales’ exciting and unexpected run to the semi-finals of Euro 2016, every member of the squad stood out at some point. Some of these players, like Gareth Bale or Aaron Ramsey, were expected to impress. Others, like Hal Robson-Kanu; recently released by Championship also-rans Reading, seemed lucky to have even been picked, and therefore their excellent performances came as much more of a surprise.
From his scuffed winner in Wales’ opening game against Slovakia, to his sublime performance against Belgium that was capped off with a ridiculous turn in the box to hoodwink four Belgian players and an excellent finish past one of the best goalkeepers in European football, Robson-Kanu’s tournament went from strength. to strength. Despite the team’s eventual exit to Portugal in the semi-finals, Robson-Kanu put in a decent shift despite the loss, and looked to be brimming with confidence.
Now that the dust has settled around Wales and their European dream is over, the inevitable transfer speculation has started up, and none of their players appears to be as sought after as Hal Robson-Kanu. At one point it was rumoured that four different Premier League clubs were after the in-form winger. On the face of it, you might think that fans of these clubs would be excited to be signing a player on such form, but as this tweet from a Crystal Palace fan account proves, not everyone was looking forward to the prospect of their club signing the former Swindon loanee.
— CPFC HQ (@CPFCHQ) July 9, 2016
Despite the luke-warm reception from some fans, the rumour mill has now moved on to concrete offers, and Hull City now seems to be a likely destination for Robson-Kanu. In stark contrast to the feelings of the aforementioned Palace fans, the media in Hull have certainly gotten behind the potential transfer, with the Hull Daily Mail labelling Robson-Kanu as a perfect fit for the club. Fans of the club are torn, and a poll elsewhere on the their website showed that marginally more fans think signing Robson-Kanu would be a mistake.
However, does Robson-Kanu have the attributes necessary to help Hull City avoid relegation next season?
Well firstly, Robson-Kanu will not be the man to fire Hull (or any team he joins) to safety. At the age of 27, the Welshman has scored just 33 league goals in 240 appearances. In fairness to him, he is more predominantly played as a winger at club level, whereas for Wales he tends to be played as a lone-striker. That being said, his scoring record for Wales is equally uninspiring, with just the four goals for his country in 35 appearances – although two of those did come at this summer’s Euros.
Based on his scoring stats, it is interesting that Robson-Kanu is so highly sought after, especially considering that he has shot to prominence this summer mainly due to the two goals that he has contributed towards Wales’ semi-final push. This does smack of short-term desire that is so typical of clubs and the football media in this day and age.
It is also worth remembering that he has just been released from Reading. He has been quoted as saying that he ran his contract down at Reading in order to allow him to move on this summer. By all accounts, Reading wanted him to stay, but Robson-Kanu cannot have realistically expected to sign for a Premier League club this summer before his heroics in France.
It is hard to know what he expected for himself on leaving Reading, even though with hindsight his decision appears to have been vindicated. Whilst there have previously been rumours of Premier League transfers, nothing concrete has ever materialised. Clubs have in the past shied away from signing the winger, and it makes one wonder what exactly has changed over the past few weeks.
Obviously, Robson-Kanu had an impressive tournament, but even then over the course of Wales’ six games he only played in five and spent just 269 minutes on the pitch. He scored important goals but has done nothing to suggest that he has taken a huge leap forward in terms of his ability on the pitch. If a club was not looking at him before the tournament, seriously considering signing him after the tournament seems short-sighted, and might be an example of clubs with less money to spend trying to sign “big-name” players to appease fans who expect new signings.
It is easy for clubs and fans to be caught up by the hype surrounding particular players, but it should be remembered that the reason Robson-Kanu’s tournament seemed so impressive is because it was very much not in keeping with his previous form for club and country. He has a track record of being a pretty average performer in a team that has had varying fortunes during his time at the club. To expect his career to suddenly take off now, at the age of 27, is not impossible but it is unlikely.
In all reality, should Hull City sign Robson-Kanu, they can look at his capture as a decent bit of business. They will have acquired themselves a strong, selfless runner who will battle for the cause but who is lacking technically. He also has experience of having played in the Premier League before with Reading, which might be useful for Hull later in the season when points will be hard to get. He is also able to sign on a free, which is good news even in these times of Premier League plenty, and will free up more money that could be spent on other players.
Overall, Hal Robson-Kanu would be a positive step for Hull to survive relegation, but it will be the quality of The Tigers’ other signings that ultimately determine their fate in the Premier League, not this one.
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