5 affordable (but in-form) strikers who could move to the Premier League this summer
Not every team in England’s top flight is able to splash £60m on the latest darling of European football. Ryan Baldi picks out a handful of forwards who could represent excellent value for money
1. Anthony Modeste (Köln)
Remembered most in England for a disastrous loan spell with Blackburn in 2012 - he failed to find the net in nine Premier League appearances - Modeste has proven to be something of a late bloomer.
The Frenchman departed his homeland for Hoffenheim in 2013 off the back of a productive loan spell at Bastia. An impressive return of 12 league goals in 29 games in his first season at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena was followed up with a less striking, yet respectable, tally of seven from 26 the following campaign.
Having demonstrated his ability to dependably dispatch scoring opportunities in a side not renowned for its creativity, Modeste attracted the attention of Köln, who snapped up the former France Under-21 forward two summers ago.
The ex-Nice academy graduate bagged a hat-trick on his competitive debut for Die Geißböcke and hasn’t looked back since. He overcame a mid-season drought to finish with 15 goals from 34 Bundesliga outings, and he's carried that hot form into the current campaign with an astonishing 22 strikes at the time of writing.
Keeping apace with Robert Lewandowski and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at the top of the German scoring charts, the 28-year-old will have caught the attention of many scouts around Europe, and Köln will be bracing themselves for a flurry of offers in the summer. They've already turned down a €50m offer from China.
Strong in the air and an expert first-time finisher, Modeste’s 22 league goals this term have come from 78 shots, giving him an impressive average of just 3.55 shots attempted for every goal scored.
As a penalty-box poacher with outstanding finishing instincts, Modeste is primed for a move to an ambitious, creative side. If he fancies another crack at the Premier League, he could be an ideal replacement for Romelu Lukaku if the powerful Belgian leaves Everton this summer.
Would suit: Everton
Estimated cost: £25-30 million
2. Lars Stindl (Borussia Mönchengladbach)
As the German season entered its winter break, it looked for all the world that Borussia Mönchengladbach – Champions League qualifiers thanks to last term’s fourth-place finish – were destined for a relegation battle. But coach Andre Schubert was replaced by ex-Wolfsburg manager Dieter Hecking in December, and their fortunes have turned around since the campaign resumed.
This is in no small part down to the form of captain Stindl. The 28-year-old, who is equally comfortable as an attacking midfielder or as part of a front two, is Gladbach’s talisman, and his humble leadership, technical quality and will to win have inspired Die Fohlen to pull clear of the drop zone and make a late push for Europe.
With 14 goals in all competitions this season, Stindl is perhaps not the most prolific forward on this list, but he's certainly the most well-rounded. Blessed with an immaculate first touch, near-flawless striking technique and a knack for scoring important goals, the former Hannover man’s greatest gift is his ability to find space inside the penalty area.
In a crucial game against Bayer Leverkusen in January, Gladbach found themselves 2-0 down at the break following an abject first-half display. Two goals from Stindl, including one which involved him outmuscling Leverkusen’s man mountain of a centre-half, Jonathan Tah, inspired his side to a stunning come-from-behind victory.
Gladbach would be extremely reluctant to part with their on-field leader in the summer, but a failure to qualify for Europe could force their hand. If that proves to be the case, Stindl would be an excellent option for a side like Southampton, where he could form a devastating partnership with Italian hotshot Manolo Gabbiadini.
Would suit: Southampton
Estimated cost: £18 million
3. Diego Rolán (Bordeaux)
Uruguayan striker Rolan has hardly set the world alight with his performances for Bordeaux since a 2013 move from Defensor Sporting, but the 24-year-old is steadily adapting to the demands of European football and could become prolific with the right service.
Athletic, fast and agile, Rolan is reminiscent of fellow South American Jackson Martinez (at least in an old incarnation, anyway). With 32 goals from 114 league outings for les Girodins, his is not the kind of strike rate that immediately attracts attention, but the 23-time Celeste international reportedly attracted the attention of Bayern Munich and Manchester United last summer.
Such a move would be a step too far for Rolán at this stage of his development, but a switch to a mid-table Premier League side could eventually put him in the shop window for a big-money transfer.
With just eight Ligue 1 goals to his name so far this term, Rolán might seem a strange inclusion on this list; the speedy attacker has required only 38 shots to plunder his tally, though, meaning he finds the net once every 4.75 efforts at goal – a more than respectable return.
Rolán would be an ideal signing for a club such as West Brom, where a clinical touch is vital given the relative lack of chances created. The Baggies were believed to be interested in former Watford striker Odion Ighalo before the Nigerian moved to China in January, and the Bordeaux man is of a similar ilk. They might not be able to keep hold of Salomon Rondon for too much longer.
Would suit: West Brom
Estimated cost: £12 million
4. Willian José (Real Sociedad)
Willian José's career has been a strange one: the journeyman Brazilian striker has desperately tried to gain traction at home and in Europe. Signed by Deportivo Maldonado in 2011, he had eight loan spells - with Santos, Las Palmas and even Real Madrid among others - before leaving his parent club without ever having represented them to join Real Sociedad on a permanent basis last summer.
Before this season, José had only reached double figures in a single campaign twice in his career – once scoring 10 with Real Zaragoza and reaching the same tally with Las Palmas last term. However, the nomadic marksman has found a home at Anoeta, and appears to be reaping the rewards of being settled in his surroundings as a permanent part of the squad.
Such stability has translated into 11 goals in 26 matches this season, including an impressive nine in 20 La Liga tussles - a haul which puts him ahead of compatriot Neymar. The 6ft 1in former Brazil U20 international is a powerful presence in the penalty area and outstanding at attacking aerial balls. He's more than just a brute-force bully, though: José is blessed with a delicate first touch and an uncanny awareness of his surroundings, allowing him to play as the targetman for Eusebio Sacristan’s side by linking play in the final third.
As a key figure in the San Sebastian club’s push to crack the top four this season, they will be reluctant to part ways with the man they signed to a five-year deal in July. But with his physicality and aerial prowess, José could be the antidote to West Ham's centre-forward woes. Alternatively, a move to a team like Crystal Palace, who place such a heavy emphasis on wing play, could be right up his street.
Would suit: West Ham, Crystal Palace
Estimated cost: £20million
5. Deyverson (Alaves, on loan from Levante)
Former Benfica B star Deyverson has become an expert at leading the line for struggling sides in La Liga. The Brazilian is fast, dynamic, and clinical, making him the ideal striker for any side looking to sit deep and break quickly.
This was very much the case when newly promoted Alaves travelled to the Camp Nou to take on Barcelona earlier this season. The away side played five at the back and four in midfield, and Deyverson – a loan signing from relegated Levante – was deployed up front on his own.
Alaves absorbed everything Barça threw at them and counter-attacked with gusto whenever the chances arose. The 25-year-old striker scored the opener as the underdogs snatched an unlikely 2-1 win over the reigning champions.
To the surprise of many, Mauricio Pellegrino’s men currently occupy 10th position in La Liga, having already reached the magical 40-point mark. The work of Deyverson - tirelessly harrying opposing defenders and feeding off scraps - has been a key contributing factor.
He may have only found the net six times so far this term, with his goals return hampered by a recent 13-game barren spell, but Deyverson is a valuable asset to Alaves and the man they invariably want their chances to fall to. Nine strikes for Levante last season was a strong return within a weak side, moreover, and a spell with Portugal’s Belenenses showcased poacher’s instincts earlier in his career.
Unlike many Brazilian strikers past and present, Deyverson does not boast a broad array of attributes and, with a 55% pass-completion rate, is of little use in build-up play. But the gifts he does possess – speed, excellent close control and dribbling skills, as well as dependable finishing – would make him a good fit for a team that counters well.
Playing with a strike partner capable of holding the ball up and creating opportunities for him could see Deyverson become a real threat at a slightly higher level. In that regard, Watford could be wise to consider teaming him up with Troy Deeney in their attack.
Would suit: Watford
Estimated cost: £10 million
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