10 April 2014

Rodriguez, Drmić, Rémy: Are these the strikers we need?

With just weeks to go before end of the Prem season, the start of the silly season is just around the corner, and sure enough, the rumors begin. Among our needs are a defensive midfielder (preferably a more-rugged type to lend some grit to our effete aesthetes), a right-back to bridge between the aging (and soon to depart?) Sagna and the callow, one-footed Jenkinson, and, of course, the kind of striker who can challenge if not supplant Giroud. Keeping in mind that there is still a month to go before the season closes, and months beyond that before the transfer-window shuts, the names are starting to bubble up. Among others, Southampton's Jay Rodriguez, Nuremberg's Josip Drmić, and Newcastle's Loïc Rémy have come to the fore, but can any of them offer the quality we're going to need to bolster are chances?

Josip Drmić has begun to draw rave reviews, having tallied 16 goals and three assists in 28 appearances for relegation-threatened Nuremberg, accounting in some way or another to 55.6% of Nuremberg's 34 goals thus far. That's saying something—opponents know with a high degree of certainty that Nuremberg's offense will be going through Drmić and must be keying in on stopping him in one way or another, but he's still finding the back of the net with regularity. Then again, he's only scored once against the Bundesliga's top five teams, and that against Borussia Mönchengladbach. Two of his assists came against drop-zone neighbor Braunschweig, and nine of his goals have come against clubs in the bottom half of the table. Whether this suggests that he does in fact disappear against the tougher clubs is an open question, then. He's young, just 21 at the moment, and his best days are surely ahead of him. However, it hardly seems as if he'd be ready to make a dramatic contribution, not with the challenge of switching leagues and dealing with the pressure of a top-flight title-tilt such as the one we hope to mount. He's probably available for £10-12m, which suggests he could be had without feeling much pain in the pocketbook.

Jay Rodriguez may offer a more-tantalizing option, what with his Englishness, his familiarity with the Prem, and his versatility. Having played virtually everywhere across the front-line for Southampton, he's notched 15 goals and three assists. He's accounted for a lower percentage of his squad's offense—36% of its 50 goals so far, but unlike Drmić, he's shown a few flashes of being able to deliver against some of the bigger clubs with an assist against us, a goal at White Hart Lane, and a goal at Stamford Bridge (in the first minute, mind you, not some last gasp, face-saving goal). He's been a large part of Southampton's season, one in which they're looking for their highest Prem finish since 2003. That might not offer quite the same tension as fighting for a top-four (or higher) spot, but it's noteworthy. Then there's the idea that we've had some decent returns with other Southampton products; perhaps a front-line of Ox, Rodriguez, and Walcott would unlock some ineffable qualities? At 24, Rodriguez is entering that "Goldilocks zone", that just-right level of youth and experience, and could bed in well with our other "just-right" players: Ramsey, Wilshere, Özil, Walcott, Gibbs, and Szczesny. Again, though, he doesn't quite hot up the blood, and his market value lingers in the £7-8m range, implying a certain bargain-esque quality.

And so we come to QPR's Loïc Rémy, on-loan to Newcastle. Thirteen goals and two assists mean he's played his part in 39.5% of Newcastle's goals thus far. Like Rodriguez, he's delivered against a few of the bigger clubs, what with a goal against Chelsea and another at White Hart Lane. He's familiar with the rigors of the Prem, if not excessively so at age 27. At this point in his career, he's likely a known, fixed quantity, unlikely to surge forward suddenly or unearth heretofore hidden talents. In fact, he's been remarkably consistent, scoring between 12 and 16 goals each season since 2009 (six goals in 14 matches in 2012-13 offering a similar rate in an injury-shortened campaign). He's perhaps the most-expensive of the three we're putting through the paces, probably costing around £13-15m. Whether he's worth such a "princely" sum is another question. He's a decent-enough player, but for his age, he doesn't seem to offer the polished, finished product we might expect. Giroud is also 27 and might be able to make the claim that he's still adjusting to life in the Prem or that he's overworked, not that these claims will hold much water however true they may be.

I know it's early days yet, at least as far as transfer-talk is concerned, but I for one needed a diversion from the stresses of the last few weeks, not to mention Saturday's match, and a little window-shopping never hurt anyone. If, however, the summer transfer-window shuts and we've not signed someone a bit more inspiring than the aforementioned, it'll be more than our ambitions that have been dented.