Sheffield United: Why Jay Rodriguez's £5 million release clause must spark the Blades into action
These days, top quality strikers come at premium price – We've heard that the Sheffield would need to stump up over £20 million for Brentford's Neal Maupay, and that's for a striker who has never played at Premier League level.
On Tuesday, the Daily Telegraph reported that West Bromwich Albion striker Jay Rodriguez will be available for just £5 million this summer – a contract clause inserted as a reward for remaining a Baggies player despite their 2018 relegation.
Following an exceptional 2013/14 campaign with Southampton, Rodriguez was set to play an important role in England's World Cup squad. Then the unthinkable happened: disaster struck at the tail end of the league campaign, when the forward slumped to the ground in a heap at the Etihad Stadium, and left the field in tears with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament; a brutal and career threatening injury.
His dreams of representing England on the world stage shattered, Rodriguez missed the entire 2014/15 season to recover, and featured sparingly for the Saints before moving to West Bromwich Albion in 2017.
Five years on, he's fresh off the back of a stellar season in the Championship, where his inspirational forward play saw him net a hefty 22 league goals. The injury worries of old look to be behind him, and he's champing at the bit to regain his reputation as a lethal, feared marksman.
Sheffield United are in the market for a striker this summer, and they could offer the tenacious striker a route back into the big time.
Of course, wages could be an issue; the 29-year-old is believed to be earning around £60k per week on his current Baggies deal, which would make him a top earner should be join the Blades. But his character – motivated, hungry, ambitious – marries perfectly with Chris Wilder's managerial ethos, and his homegrown status is also likely to appeal to the Blades boss.
Competition may also come from more established sides – there's been talk of Spurs interest, and Mauricio Pochettino could look to reunite with his former Saints striker to bolster his attacking options. That said, he'd be playing second fiddle to Harry Kane, and wouldn't play the regular first team football his talents deserve.
In truth, United would be outsiders to get a deal for Rodriguez over the line, and they may look to pursue more realistic targets.
However, there's no denying that the former Burnley man has shown the kind of form that saw him an England call-up in the first place, and he'd be an excellent candidate to lead the line in the Blades' first top tier campaign in 12 years.
£5 million, in today's wildly inflated transfer market, is a deal simply too good not to consider.