They say the sign of a great striker is a man that continues to plunder goals in a struggling team; a man who still bangs in 15-20 goals a season while his fellow team-mates falter and flounder. A fine example of said striker in the Premier League this season would undoubtedly be one Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Blackburn Rovers’ Nigerian centre-forward. The 29-year old, affectionately known as ‘The Yak’ has fired himself to 16 league goals this season despite the Lancashire side’s disappointing form. His large frame, strength and positional sense has been sharper than ever in this current campaign and, should Blackburn Rovers go down, he will surely be seeking his fortune elsewhere in the division.
Where would he go? Now, a top six side is surely out of the realms, both Manchester clubs have attacking riches aplenty up front, Arsenal have RvP and Newcastle United have the most in-form striker in Papiss Cisse so what about the Toon Army’s deadliest rivals, Sunderland? The club have found some form under Martin O’Neill since he stepped into the hot-seat in December and, despite recently faltering, they are still looking good for a top-half finish to the campaign. There’s one thing the side is missing, though, and that’s a deadly striker. Nicklas Bendtner, despite what he might believe, is no potent finisher, Frazer Campbell is slowly edging his way back into the side after long-term injury and Connor Wickham is a fledgling to Premier League life. In order to make the step up into the top six, O’Neill must invest in a striker and surely someone like Yakubu would fit the mould perfectly.
The Northern Irish manager faces a problem this summer in how he needs to handle the Asamoah Gyan situation. It seems very blatant that the Ghanaian striker, currently on loan at Emirati club Al Ain, doesn’t want to play for the Black Cats again anytime soon. O’Neill needs to work quickly to ship the big striker out of the club and replace him like-for-like. The other option is to discuss his future at the club in the summer but, given comments made by Gyan, that seems highly unlikely. A deal must be made with Al Ain who are keen to keep the forward, stated O’Neill in an interview earlier this year. If he wants to replace a goalscorer with a goalscorer then I would state that Yakubu is the most suitable man for this role – not too pricey and surely willing to continue playing in the top flight, should Rovers be relegated.
Now approaching his 30s, Blackburn’s Nigerian striker has not been short of Premier League experience – arriving in England in 2003 and signing with Portsmouth, a club for whom he scored 43 goals in little over 100 appearances. He then enjoyed spells at Middlesbrough, Everton and even a loan stint in the Championship with Leicester City. Goals were never hard to come by so Steve Kean took a chance on the Yakubu in the summer, signing him on a three-year deal. It would be great for fans of the Lancashire club if his goals were to keep them afloat but he cannot do it by himself and it’s looking increasingly likely that they could go down. If that was the case, players of the standard of their number 24 could be moving on.
If a club like Sunderland don’t declare their interest in the potent marksmen then surely somebody else in and around them will. Feed the Yak and all that…
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