‘Tick, tick, tick, tick’
What’s that you can hear? It’s only the transfer window merry-go-round cranking up to almost full speed.
The summer window has been open for many weeks now, and we’ve seen transfers galore. Whether it’s exciting prospects coming south from Scotland, or veteran midfielders swapping EFL clubs, or even star players signing further up the greatest football pyramid on the planet – we all love a good transfer. The most exciting transfer of all? A Striker. When our football club’s social media accounts tweet out that silly little teaser post that they ALL seem to do nowadays, then there is a little part of you that hopes it’s a fresh striker that’s going to bang 25 goals that season (even if your squad actually needs a new GK and centre backs). So far this summer we’ve seen many strikers moving around the EFL and they will have watered the mouths of their relevant fanbase. So, here is a look at 6 of the EFL’s Most Exciting Striker Transfers (So Far):
*it’s worth noting that this is in no particular order, and ‘so far’, means prior to 9th August*
1 – Jerry Yates (Blackpool)
The 23-year-old Doncaster born striker has left his parent club Rotherham United to join the Tangerines. I say, ‘parent club’, simply because Yates has been a serial loaner, having made five different loan spells already. He’s scored goals for Harrogate Railway Athletic, Harrogate Town, and Carlisle United, but his best returns came last season. He spent the 2019/20 campaign down in Wiltshire, as he helped fire Swindon Town during their unusual title-winning season.
It was arguably a breakthrough season for Yates, as he hit a brilliant scoring rate of 0.52 (about 1:2). Something that is quite impressive considering he wasn’t the main striker for the club. That was specifically for his pre-January the 21st stats. He re-joined Swindon later that month but only hit one goal in the following six games. Across the entire season he was only substituted ON once, and OFF seven times. Does that show that Richie Wellens trusted him enough to effect games positively in the final quarter of most games? Yes, yes it does.
He’ll now be turning out for League One outfit, Blackpool, after they signed the lad for an undisclosed fee this summer. Whether he’d flourish as a central striker in an ultra-competitive League One is definitely something that can be questioned, but he holds the pace and dribbling expertise to feature strongly as a second striker, or even out wide.
2 – Troy Parrott (Millwall)
This Irish attacker is held in high regard at Tottenham, so it is some coup for Millwall to get the man in on loan. At only 18 (he’s making me feel old), he’s been capped by the Rep. of Ireland at all three possible youth levels so far, including the U21s. He has even made his senior first team debut last November – he assisted one of the trio of Irish goals against New Zealand. The teenager has also made his professional debut for Spurs too. Featuring twice already for a team with one of the best strikers in world football.
But what have Millwall actually got here? Well, with a somewhat ageing attack force of Tom Bradshaw, Matt Smith, Aiden O’Brien and Jón Dadi Bödvarsson, then Parrott will add a bit youth and exuberance. A vastly pacy striker, who can develop into true goal-scorer, he’s got a lot of learning to do. He and Gary Rowett’s Millwall side might be able to get the best out of each other; he could give them the extra attack force that could take them into the Championship Play-offs next year. He’s showed he can score goals at a decent level too. Hitting six goals in four appearances in the 2019/20 UEFA Youth League, and then three in two appearances in the Premier League 2. Good stats for the 18 year old.
3 – Offrande Zanzala (Crewe Alexandra)
The Congolese striker has swapped Lancashire for South Cheshire this summer, and it is a move that could see him reach the potential that Derby County believed he had. As a child, he faced becoming a refugee of the Congo Civil War. But as his family fled to Nigeria, and then Austria, a young ‘Offy’ was also becoming the humble man he is today.
It’s believed that his contract wasn’t renewed by Accrington Stanley this summer due to financial issues. Crewe moved fast and picked up the 23-year-old early on. With 14 goals in 60 appearances in all competition for the Accy, it’s easy to argue that his goal-game ratio of 1:4 is fairly poor. Very poor really. But when you delve into the actual number of minutes the 6’1 attacker played, then it starts to look better for him. In League One last season he averaged a goal every 152 minutes, which is an average of 1:1.6 – much, much better.
Over the past few seasons you will have seen some big names begin to emerge from the Alex, from assist-king Charlie Kirk, to holding midfielder Ryan Wintle, to the full back pair of Perry Ng and Harry Pickering. Manager Dave Artell has overseen the excellent growth of these young players, and there’s no reason as to why Offrande Zanzala can’t be the next one.
4 – Ashley Hunter (Salford City)
A player who can feature both through the middle, and on the left wing, Ash Hunter is a speed demon. With 0 goals in 16 League One appearances for Fleetwood Town in the first half of last season’s campaign, he moved to Salford City on loan in January, and went on to star for the club. Hitting 5 goals in 11 league games, the attacker scored, on average, a goal every 166 minutes in the Salford red. This summer he’s moved permanently to Graham Alexander’s side, as the infamous League Two club continue to bolster their squad.
I remember seeing Hunter play for Fleetwood a couple of seasons ago; he tore up the pitch that day with a skillset of raw pace and direct football. Whether it’s running in behind, or taking on a full back/centre back, he is a tough player to handle. With one assist to his name in L2 since January, there is a clear aspect of the 24-year-olds game that could do with some work. His decision-making and final third work isn’t the greatest, but the lad can score goals when called upon. Since the 2016/17 campaign, he’s scored at least 8 league goals a season in League One. Moving down a league, to a club that can boast a solid squad too, can only be a positive factor to the attacker’s potential scoring records.
5 – Joe Ironside (Cambridge Utd)
Cambridge United are in a strange place. With key man George Maris moving on to Mansfield Town, you could argue that there is a rather large gap left in the squad, both in terms of creativity and leadership on the pitch. That being said, the no.10 only scored the one goal last season, and none of the other striking options actually hit double figures either. Harvey Knibbs bagged seven goals, and at 21-years-old, he is arguably their most exciting striker. So, with Sam Smith’s and Victor Adeboyejo’s loans wrapping up this summer, and a significant lack of goals from Andrew Dallas, AND with Paul Mullin not being the most prolific attacker either; then a goal-scoring striker was top of the list for the U’s.
Introducing, Joe Ironside.
Macclesfield Town had a torrid season last year, but one player that showed some quality was Joe Ironside. The 26-year-old striker spent only the one season at the Moss Rose, and only scored seven goals in 36 appearances. Not a great return, but when you think of the chaos that was Macclesfield last season, then you can start to sympathise. At 5’11, Ironside might share a name with a Transformer, but he doesn’t replicate the same physicality. Not the quickest, not the tallest, but he does own the abilities of a true penalty-box striker – and with Wes Hoolahan ready to whip the crosses in, then he will be jumping on the spot to tap them home.
The seasons that best shows his scoring ability was during his time at Kidderminster Harriers. With 48 goals in 96 games across two and half seasons, he showcased himself excellently. With a strike rate of exactly 0.5, the striker would score at a rate of one goal every two games – in the League Two, that can be a great asset. Across a regular L2 season, that would work out to be an average of 23 goals. And that is excellent. Yes, those impressive scoring stats might’ve been in the National League North, but that doesn’t subtract from the fact that he is a striker that can find the back of the net – especially when given the service.
Last season – which was his first in the Football League since 2015 – showed that he can find the net, so if given the right service, he could really boost Cambridge’s hopes of reaching the Playoffs.
6 – Eoin Doyle (Bolton Wanderers)
What a coup this signing is for the new-look Bolton Wanderers. As they begin to rebuild in League Two, they’ve brought in some major names, and none more so than Eoin Doyle. Last season’s League Two top scorer, with the help of Jerry Yates, fired Swindon Town to the title. Initially he had joined on loan from Bradford City, and then after some debacle, he finally signed permanently at Swindon for the rest of the season in January. With a crazy 23 goals in 22 league games on loan, the striker was utterly phenomenal for The Robins. Despite a slower rate of only two goals in six league games after January, he still won the League Two Golden Boot award – he was the best player in the league last year.
Under new (ish) ownership, and with Ian Evatt as manager, Bolton could be on the road to going back to where they should be. Signing a striker with a goal to game ratio of 1:1.16 is certainly a step on the right track. He racked up 2,498 minutes last season and averaged a goal every 96′ of them – that’s very impressive. Bolton have certainly signed themselves a proven goal scorer at this level.
It might be worth noting that between the Swindon loan ending, and the permanent move, (and before the loan deal), Doyle featured six times for Bradford City. Six games, zero goals. A fluke? Just unlucky? Or did Swindon have the perfect setup to get the best out of the Irishman? If so, then will Ian Evatt’s Bolton boys boast a similar style and setup in order for the attacker to truly flourish?
There is a fair few other interesting striker transfers amongst the EFL so far this window – and I’m sure I could’ve missed one or two.
Ollie Palmer’s move to AFC Wimbledon signals an upgrade in leagues for the mighty centre forward, but also a major issue for Crawley Town, who will have to replace his 27 goals (in 68 league appearances). Vadaine Oliver has replaced Mikael Mandron at Gillingham, with the latter heading to Crewe Alex. Neither are prolific scorers, but it will be interesting to see how the Gill’s and the Alex’s styles will adapt to the two massive centre forwards. Nathan Delfouneso has joined Bolton’s potential revival too. He’s another striker with good pedigree at this level and will be missed at Blackpool.
There you have it; six of the most interesting/exciting striker transfers in the English Football League (prior to August 9th). I, for one, hopes that Troy Parrott can find his feet quickly at The Den, and progresses his career better in ‘proper man’s football’ as they say. Also, I sort of hope Eoin Doyle has another good scoring season. He’s a man that could prove himself to be a legendary striker at this level of the game… either that, or he was a one-season wonder (a two-season wonder really, as he did bits with Chesterfield too).