This season has been one of few surprises, especially compared to last season’s antics. However, one major surprise has been the failings of some strikers and attacking players.
A Season to Forget for Some Premier League Striker
Combine the likes of Vincent Janssen, Michy Batshuayi, Simone Zaza, Lucas Perez, Nolito and Ahmed Musa, and you end up with 14 Premier League goals this season. Staggeringly, their combined transfer fees reach over £101 million. All of these players will be in a hurry to forget 2016-17.
Claudio Ranieri faced the impossible job last summer, to strengthen a Leicester side that had just been crowned English champions. Musa was at the time a club-record signing, with £16.6 million paid for his signature (Islam Slimani would later trump this). The Nigerian, 24, came from CSKA Moscow with high expectations, having netted double figures in his past two seasons. Furthermore, he currently sits on 60 caps for Nigeria, and he is not even 25.
Musa started relatively well, scoring a pre-season double against Barcelona. His two Premier League goals came back-to-back in October. With no assists, Musa will surely fear for his Leicester future under Craig Shakespeare, having been cemented to the bench. With so much potential, Musa will not be the only one wanting to forget this season. Rest assured Ranieri will still be pondering over what went wrong for the Nigerian, as will many Leicester fans.
The un-capped Spaniard arrived at the Emirates last summer following a £17.1 million move from Deportivo La Coruña. Much like Musa, his record was good – he bagged 17 La Liga goals last season. At 28, the striker should be reaching his prime. Arsene Wenger would have hoped Perez could be the man to fire the Gunners to a successful season; this certainly has not happened.
Perez did score a 39-minute hat-trick against Basel in the Champions League, helping the Gunners to top their group. Ironically Wenger’s men still managed to draw Bayern Munich, and Perez’s highlight led to further misery. His one Premier League goal will not be remembered, coming in the same game as Giroud’s stunning scorpion kick. For his sake, Perez may look to leave Arsenal, and this year will be a time for him to forget.
Another Spaniard, 30, signed a four-year deal for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City last summer, costing the Sky Blues £13.8 million. He arrived having never in his career managed a 20-goal season, and 2016-17 would not be his first either. Thankfully for him, the demise of Claudio Bravo has somewhat overshadowed his poor record this season.
He had a fairly productive start to the season, scoring six goals across the Premier League and Champions League. However, since the middle of December he has failed to find the back of the net. Yes, he has been injured, but now the fully-fit Nolito cannot make the Manchester City team, sometimes failing even to make the bench. With the increasingly likely stay of Aguero, it is no surprise Nolito has been linked with a move back to Spain.
His time in the Premier League will be forgotten, and he has subsequently lost his place in Spain’s national team.
The man who scored 27 goals in last year’s Eredevisie is certainly yet to get going in England. Two Premier League goals in 27 appearances – one coming from the penalty spot – is underwhelming to say the least. Janssen arrived for £17 million, having just won the Johan Cruyff Trophy for the Dutch ‘Talent of the Year’. Arjen Robben and Christian Eriksen are past winners; how Janssen would have loved to emulate them in England.
Only 22, the Spurs number nine has looked short on confidence. Harry Kane probably hasn’t helped him, scoring with ease over the season. The relief around White Hart Lane when Janssen scored his first goal from open play was tangible. The Dutchman will be hoping Mauricio Pochettino keeps faith in him, or else his career in England may well be over prematurely.
West Ham United fans will not forget the name Dimitri Payet anytime soon, but Simone Zaza will be forgotten swiftly by Slaven Bilic and the West Ham faithful. Much hype followed this £4 million loan deal from Juventus. The goals did not follow – he never found the back of the net. More damning is the fact that Zaza managed just two shots on target in the Premier League.
A ludicrous clause in his contract meant that if the Italian made enough appearances for the Hammers, Bilic would have been obliged to buy Zaza. Hence his role in the team diminished and Bilic acted swiftly in getting rid of the 25-year-old in January. Typically, at Valencia since January, Zaza has already bagged six goals. As with most of these players, perhaps England just was not for him.
Thankfully for Batshuayi, he will always be the player that won Chelsea the Premier League. Besides that accolade, Batshuayi has probably been the biggest disappointment of them all. He signed on the dotted line for £33 million, following a 23-goal season with Marseille in Ligue 1.
He scored against Watford back in August, but Chelsea fans were excited too early. His second Premier League goal came against West Brom, to seal the title. Remarkably that was his first shot on target in the Premier League since September. Again, Batshuayi has found it hard to adjust to England, and has had a season to forget. Only 23, Conte and the Chelsea faithful will be hoping to see him at his best. Despite a decent run of form in the last few weeks of the season – including a last day double against Sunderland – his Chelsea future is inevitably in doubt. West Ham are supposedly interested, and Bilic may see more in him than he saw in Zaza. Batshuayi has probably done enough to avoid being offloaded in the summer, but only just.
Over £100 million worth of talent, yet these five strikers have only 14 Premier League goals to show for it. These six strikers have all had debut seasons to forget. Loic Remy is lucky not to join them. He has had a torrid time at Crystal Palace this season and many have forgotten he is there. However the Frenchman just survives, having already proven himself in the Premier League.
These players may have their minds set abroad, already put off by the English ways. The talent is there, and hope is present that all these players will one day flourish in the world’s most competitive division.