Right now, there is a big demand for strikers. Bayern Munich has been playing journeyman Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting up top: a capable player, but not exactly a star. Chelsea has, despite heavy spending, been unable to find a solution at number nine. Manchester United has struggled for a consistent striker, although Rashford has been successful up top this season. Even Barcelona needs an option besides an aging Lewandowski.
All of these teams will likely pursue the usual suspects. The top, top strikers like Harry Kane and Victor Osimhen. The up-and-coming stars like Evan Ferguson, Rasmus Hojlund, and Vitor Roque. The elite goalscorer in smaller leagues, like Goncalo Ramos and Gift Orban.
Slightly smaller teams may have to look for strikers with less demand. While often this results in mid-table clubs signing aging stars and unimpressive players, there are plenty of quality strikers available who have been flying under the radar and could be available in the summer. Here are five to look out for:
El Bilal Toure, 21, Almeria
I’ve already written about how El Bilal Toure should keep Almeria from relegation, but either way, he ought to get some offers this summer. The tall, physical striker has six goals and two assists in just 14 starts this season, directly accounting for roughly one in every four Almeria goals. What Toure does goes beyond the goals, though: just look at his stunning strike against Barcelona.
He first held off defender Andreas Christensen using his physicality, before passing backward to teammate Luis Suarez (not that one). Toure then stayed onside, beat Christensen for pace, and slammed the ball past Ter Stegen into the net. That goal pretty much sums up Toure: he’s a good finisher, very physical, fast, and involved in the build-up play as well as scoring. He also is an aerial threat at 6’1″, and has played over 80 league games despite being just 21.
Toure would be an intriguing option for AS Roma, who have struggled for consistency at striker this season. Tammy Abraham has as many goals as Toure (6) in over 500 more minutes, while Toure has better passing statistics and comparable defensive numbers.
Habib Diallo, 27, Strasbourg
After surprisingly competing for Europe last season, Strasbourg has fallen back down to Earth. The club is in a relegation dogfight, currently at 16th in Ligue 1. Diallo has not been the reason for that, though: the Senegalese striker has 15 goals, just four fewer than PSG star Kylian Mbappe.
In the past four Ligue 1 seasons, Diallo has a total of 47 goals — very decent numbers for a striker who hasn’t always been a starter. The season before that, he bagged a whopping 26 goals in Ligue 2, but he continues to be underrated — even in his home country. Diallo missed the cut for Senegal’s World Cup squad last year, despite the absence of star attacker Sadio Mane.
Diallo would be a great signing for Everton. He’s an old-school striker: he’s decent in the air, a good passer, and an excellent finisher, but more than anything he knows how to find the back of the net. He gets in the right position for rebounds and relentlessly shoots until he scores — which is exactly what Everton needs.
Henry Martin, 30, Club America
Club America is one of the biggest teams in North America, and they have continued to impress this season. They finished first in the Apertura standings (the opening, or first part of the league) and are currently fourth in the Clausura (closing, or final part of the league). A big part of this is Henry Martín: the prolific striker has bagged 22 goals in league play this season, already more than his last two seasons combined.
At 30 years old, Martín is a bit old to make the move to Europe — or is he? Martin’s previous record for goals in a season was 15 — he almost passed that in the Apertura alone this year. He hadn’t been a regular starter for the Mexican team for years — and he’s a starter now, and scored the opener in Mexico’s lone win in Qatar. He didn’t have any experience against European opposition — but he scored against Real Madrid last summer. Martín is just getting better with age.
The only question is how much it would cost to sign Martín. He’s a legend with Club America, and his contract doesn’t expire until 2024. Liga MX sides are also known for their high valuations of players. However, if he’s available for anything less than $10 million — which he should be — many La Liga sides could use the prolific goalscorer. Mid-table side Osasuna, in particular, has struggled for goals and should consider signing Martín.
Artem Dovbyk, 25, Dnipro
Fans may remember Dovbyk’s late, dramatic winner against Sweden in the Euro 2020 Round of 16 — a deadly header in the 121st minute that whistled past Robin Olsen. Or they may remember his strike against Scotland in World Cup qualifying when he beat the offside trap and stayed calm to clinch the win for Ukraine.
Dovbyk isn’t just clutch with Ukraine, however. The powerful forward is the top scorer in all of Ukraine, with 15 goals and 3 assists in 18 matches as Dnipro is challenging for a first-ever league title. He finished as the top scorer in the league last season, with 14 strikes — meaning he’s already passed his total from last season. In the European Conference League, he’s scored five goals and assisted two in seven matches.
Dovbyk is a complete forward: he’s fast, powerful, tall, and has excellent finishing. He has been heavily linked with Turkish club Trabzonspor but would be a good option for German side Borussia Mönchengladbach. Mönchengladbach’s starting striker, Marcus Thuram, will likely leave in the summer for free, and Dovbyk would be an affordable replacement.
Tomáš Čvančara, 22, Sparta Prague
Sparta Prague is a talent factory: within the past few years, they’ve sold strikers Patrik Schick and Adam Hložek abroad. Tomáš Čvančara could well be next: the Czech forward has 12 goals and three assists this season in the Fortuna Liga and scored three minutes into his international debut.
Čvančara is what would be called a poacher — he waits around and in the box for good opportunities, and then finds the back of the net. He’s very good in the air, at around 6’3″, and is an excellent finisher. As a result, he’s already passed his goal tally from last season, despite playing four fewer games so far.
Čvančara would be a good option for Empoli, who use two strikers up top. The club’s two primary aerial threats (Roberto Piccoli and Martin Satriano) are both only on loan, so Čvančara would be a cheap permanent option. Empoli has struggled to find the net this season, scoring just 25 times.
Image Courtesy of Supporterhéninois, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.
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