Sunderland’s failure to snap up a striker in January was baffling to say the least, but doing just that in the summer is going to be of huge importance regardless of which league we are playing in.
The centre forward is the one position that always demands a premium fee, but the 20-plus goals that the right striker can nab in a season are worth their weight in gold.
Jermain Defoe has carried almost the entirety of our goal-scoring burden since his arrival in January 2015, and even at the age of 34, he still looks as sharp and as clinical as he ever has done. If we do finally succumb to the drop this year, it’s very unlikely he’ll be turning out in the Championship. Even if David Moyes does inspire a Poyet-esque escape between now and May, Defoe’s predatory instincts will not be short of suitors.
If the stars align and Defoe is turning out in red and white come August, he needs another striker to shoulder some of that goal-scoring load, either alongside him or as an alternative option. It’s one of a number of areas of the squad that requires urgent attention.
A potential answer to the problem? Anderlecht and Poland hitman Lukasz Teodorczyk.
Lukasz Teodorczyk has been in superb form for Anderlecht so far this season, averaging a goal every two hours in the league, notching 19 goals in just 27 appearances. In addition to his prolific form in the Belgian First Division, he’s notched seven times in the Europa League and once in the cup.
Standing at 6’2” he is a striker with good aerial ability. He’s strong with a lean physique, reasonable pace, and is technically sound to boot. The above stats prove his clinical edge in front of goal, and he undoubtedly has the raw attributes to adapt to the pace of the English game. He would arrive with international experience, and boasts a record of four goals in eleven appearances since making his Poland debut in 2013.
Teodorczyk is on loan at the Brussels outfit from Dynamo Kiev after spending a couple of seasons in Ukraine. There is an option for Anderlecht to buy him at the end of the season, but Teodorczyk’s form this season could result in him holding out for a more attractive option than the Belgian top tier.
Strikers who have found success in Belgium have often adapted well to the Premier League. In recent years, Christian Benteke proved to be a superb buy for Aston Villa. Romelu Lukaku moved across the English Channel at a very young age, but has improved year on year and has evolved into one of the world’s most complete, consistent strikers.
Alexsandar Mitrovic is perhaps the most recent and relevant comparison. The surly Serb - and Newcastle’s answer to Viktor Krum - scored goals on a regular basis for Anderlecht over a couple of seasons before moving to Tyneside as a 21 year-old. No one expected him to be as prolific in the Premier League, but bar a few issues with his temperament, he showed himself to be a valuable asset to a desperately poor Newcastle side.
Teodorczyk is a great age at 25, and is perhaps better equipped than Mitrovic to adapt to the English game. As a striker with a season full of goals to his name, he will command a hefty transfer fee to whomever nabs his signature come the summer. In today’s market, an eight-figure fee - most likely in excess of £13m – should be enough to convince Kiev to sell. They will be hoping for that opportunity, too. If Teodorczyk does opt to join Anderlecht permanently, the fee built into his loan contract is rumoured to be as little as €5m (£4.3m).
Whether he chooses to make his Anderlecht loan deal a permanent one or holds out for an offer from one of Europe’s top leagues, it looks almost certain that Teodorczyk will be making a permanent transfer this summer. He certainly won’t be short of suitors.