Inevitably there are those players who, despite seeing their team drop down to the Championship, will find themselves playing in the Premier League next season. For some, it is a matter of financials as their old club needs the proceeds to offset the loss of revenue. For others it is that their skill simply can not be ignored and another club will come in with an offer to tempt them back to the top flight.
Here we’ll look at three players who, based on their statistical achievement, merit a move back to the Premiership as well as look at their likely landing spots. This is, of course, purely speculation but a review like this can occasionally be done more objectively before months of transfer speculation and journalist dart-throwing muddying the waters.
#3. Yakubu Aiyegbeni
The Rovers hitman had a career year as he scored 17 goals in the EPL for a side that managed to score just 48 goals, as 4 came via own goals. Yakubu took 66 shots, with 31 finding the target. He was the club leader in those categories with only himself and David Hoilett (64) surpassing 40 shots. No other Rovers player managed double-figures with Hoilett’s 7 goals coming second. Hoilett did manage those goals on just 19 shots on target, a remarkable return if one discounts that only 30% (19/64) of his total shots found the frame.
Though he signed a three-year deal at the start of the 2011/12 season, it is unlikely that Yakubu will remain in a Rovers shirt next season. Having been out on loan in the Championship to end the 2010/11 season at Leicester he elected to stay in the Premier League, signing with Rovers from Everton. He is already 29 years of age and the Nigerian has struggled with injuries in the past. His injury history may prove a stumbling block as he looks to remain in the top flight but his goals scored this season illustrate the lethal potential in front of goal.
EDIT: Yakubu’s Wikipedia page indicates that he’s signed with Southampton on 17 May, 2012. The Saints’ own homepage makes no mention of it and an interview posted with Yak on Rovers’ page the same day includes the following quote from the man himself:
“It is one of the best seasons that I’ve ever had, scoring 17 goals in the Premier League, I feel good for that but then I also feel very sad. It is a family club, a club with great history, we all worked hard together, we are all friends. It is sad that the club has gone down but we have to bounce back to the Premier League.”
All that said, it seems unlikely that no club will be able to match Blackburn’s valuation of one of the chief assets. Should the Southampton rumour prove false, there are many clubs who could do with a goal scoring talent like Yakubu. In the past two seasons in the EPL his statistics actually stayed consistent, with only chance conversion rising sharply. That disparity (7% in 2010/11 up to 30% in 2011/12) saw his goals return per minute drop from 1 goal every 669′ down to 1 per 144′. In fairness, his limited playing time could have contributed to the poor return, being unable to find form in just 669′. Indeed, playing time has been hard to find for the Nigerian as his last three seasons at Everton Yakubu played 1131′, 1083′, and 669′. His 2452′ this season for Blackburn nearly equally all of his Premier League pitch time in the previous three seasons combined.
Yakubu’s 30% chance conversion for Rovers this season also marked high water for this 4 year period as his three previous seasons saw 14%, 16% and 7% as he returned 4, 5 and 1 goal for an overall return of 10 in 2883′ or 1 goal every 288′ (1 goal every 3 matches). With his current form linked to his health and constant deployment in Steve Kean’s side he would seem to play best when there is no threat to his position.
A very good landing spot for Yakubu could be Swansea City. While Stoke managed to scored the fewest goals of the season with just 36, one fewer that Aston Villa, both Stoke and Villa claim a viable target man on their current roster in Peter Crouch and Darren Bent. The two England men had decent seasons – recording 10 and 9 goals . The large problem with Yakubu is that he does not generate chances of his own. Despite playing 2452′ he created 27 chances, or 1 chance per match. Crouch (1 chance per 108′) and Bent (1 chance per 89′) fall into this same category of striker first and only. It would seem that Yakubu could replace, but would not compliment, either of these teams current options.
Swansea City scored 44 times in their first season since promotion. In their second they will want to improve as a lack of goals saw them held without a goal in 15 League matches, joint worst with Aston Villa. For the Swans this was promise unfulfilled as they played to five 0-0 draws, six times failed to score at home, and dropped vital points that could have seen them in the top half of the table. Their 47 points was good for 11th but they finished just 5 shy of Liverpool in 8th.
Swansea created only 357 chances on the season, with 50 of those coming from Gylfi Sigurdsson in the second half of the year. Similarly to Villa or Stoke, Brendan Rodgers’ Swans employ a target man whose loan job is scoring. Danny Graham did achieve this with some note, his 12 goals leading the team while his 22 chances created rated him only 8th best in the squad. He was modestly lethal, 19% chance conversion, and was durable playing 2845′. Swans, however, do not have a second striker option with Gylfi Sigurdsson and Scott Sinclair the 2nd and 3rd top scorers for the side with 8 and 7 goals .
Next Page: Number 2 and Number 1 players that should stay up on next page! Click to here for next page or use numbers bottom right.