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Scouting For Strikers – Bony vs Benteke

It is always a risk when a club ventures abroad to sign a striker, especially with the price tags attached to some of them even in Europe’s smaller leagues. Leicester City signed Andrej Kramaric for circa £9m, which broke their transfer record. The Croatian had a very good scoring record, but had only played in his native country and the Premier League is very different. Nigel Pearson knew that his side needed goals, and saw Kramaric as a potential solution, which is why a large part of his budget went on the striker. If he had come in and scored the goals to keep them up, it would have been seen as a bargain. As it stands, it looks like it has been an expensive gamble that hasn’t paid off.

bonyvsbenteke

The price of strikers will continue to rise as they are central to a lot of Premier League sides, especially those who are fighting relegation, as the revenue on offer for playing in the Premier League is huge. Scouts will scour Europe for the ones with the potential to emulate the two players I will be focusing on in this article, as both have shown that it is possible to bring in strikers from smaller leagues capable of playing in England.

Bony:

Wilfried Bony is going to be the poster boy for successful scouting for the foreseeable future as he was a revelation at Swansea before moving to Manchester City in the January window. Although many football fans will suggest that Bony was an obvious talent due to his incredible goal record in Holland, scouts need to know a lot more than just a goal ratio when scouting a striker, especially for the Premier League. Many clubs looked at Bony, but they weren’t totally convinced that he could replicate his form in England. Expensive mistakes have been made before with the likes of Afonso Alves, Mateja Kezman, Stephane Guivarc’h and Andreas Cornelius arriving with impressive goal records before becoming some of the worst forwards in Premier League history. Even a European legend and a winner of the Ballon d’Or in Andriy Shevchenko failed to adapt to the Premier League. Scouting Europe for a striker is one of the hardest assignments for a scout, but with high risk comes high rewards as highlighted by the rise of Bony.

The striker continued his impressive scoring record in South Wales with 25 goals in 54 appearances, which is just short of a goal every other game. This is an exceptional goal ratio for any player in the Premier League, and for Bony to come from Holland and start scoring straight away is a huge achievement. The Ivorian was the top scorer in the league in 2014 with 20 goals. Swansea fans will not have been surprised when Manchester City came calling in January, given his consistency, especially throughout 2014. He continues to have over three shots per game, highlighting his ability to get into dangerous areas. Bony can create chances for his team-mates as well, the Ivorian has six assists since arriving in England from Vitesse Arnhem.

One of the main reasons for Bony’s success has been his impressive physique, while his pace and power makes him a difficult player to mark at times as he can make late runs and find space with his movement. As his impressive strike rate throughout his career shows, Bony has always been comfortable in front of goal and his finishing with his feet and his head allows him to standout as arguably the best signing of Swansea’s history.

Benteke:

Another player with similar physical attributes is Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke, who is another forward that shows that there are quality strikers playing in Europe’s smaller leagues, but he has had issues unlike Bony.

Aston Villa signed Benteke on the back of an impressive breakthrough season in Belgium with Genk after he failed to make an impact at Standard Liege. His record was more modest than Bony’s, as he netted a goal every other game in the Belgian top flight in the season prior to his Premier League move. The Villa forward is a couple of years younger than Bony, which may explain why he has shown less consistency after an incredible first season in England.

Since he moved to these shores, he has featured in 81 matches and scored 34 times, which is still a great record considering his side has consistently been struggling with relegation in this time. Although it could have been much better, as the last two seasons haven’t been as prolific for Benteke. In his debut season (2012/13), the Belgian scored 19 times, he has only managed 15 in the next two. While he was also creating more chances and getting more shots on target in his first campaign. He has 8 assists overall while at Villa, which shows that like Bony, the Belgian can create goals as well as scored them. He has struggled with injuries and a lack of confidence in recent times, which is why he has yet to make the jump to a bigger club, despite interest from the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool. However it is clear that Benteke is another example of shrewd scouting and at the age of 24, it would be surprising not to see him playing for a bigger club at some point in his career.

As the summer is approaching, more names from abroad will be linked to British clubs, with the names of Aleksandar Mitrovic, Bas Dost and Eder coming up in recent days. In recent times, there has been a lot of success in the form of the two studied in this article, Graziano Pelle, Diafra Sakho and Papiss Cisse to name just a few. However, there have also been a number of disappointments and clubs must be prepared to take a risk as there are high rewards there if their gamble does come off as Swansea could make up to £16m profit from the Bony deal after an initial £12m investment.

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