The number 9 position has always been a weakness for the Wanderers. It has cost us countless games, arguably even trophies and it has already proven to be a real issue this season. The Kerem Bulut gamble hasn’t worked out, with the striker having fewer shots on target than, left back, Jack Clisby and it is becoming more obvious that Santalab, while good, is not the answer either.
With the January window approaching and rumours bubbling, we take a look at the top 5 strikers that could or should be joining the Wanderers (ranked based on preference and likelihood).
- Robbie Kruse
The ‘Socceroo’ Robbie Kruse has made 48 appearances for his country, scoring 4 goals, and is currently on loan to, second division German team, Stuttgart from the Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen. The Wanderers could potentially pick up Kruse as regular game time is crucial to maintaining his spot in the national squad and he is struggling to get it in Germany.
However, this could also be an issue as the Wanderers need a fit and in form striker to help turn their season around and make a real charge for a 2nd ACL trophy. It is also not clear whether Kruse would be willing to give up on Europe and take a pay cut at the same time to join the Wanderers, even as a marquee.
- Robbie Keane
Where to begin? When the news broke that Robbie Keane was leaving the MLS for a possible move to Australia, the race was on. The 36 year old Irish legend with stints at Tottenham, Liverpool, Wolverhampton Wanderers and LA Galaxy to name but a few, is a seasoned and proven striker and would be a signing of the highest order.
The only reason he only made it to number 4 on the list is because the word is that, although the Wanderers were briefly the front runners to sign him, our cheque books couldn’t match what he is asking and the ‘deal’ is all but gone. Even as a marquee player with FFA assistance it is unlikely that the Wanderers can afford a player of this stature.
- Dimitar Berbatov
Following the news that the Keane deal had fallen through, rumours began to rise about the possibility of signing Berbatov. The 35 year old Bulgarian striker has played at a number of top clubs, most notably Manchester United where he scored an incredibly 48 goals in 108 matches. His career has recently taken somewhat of a turn, now playing in Greece and rumoured to be looking for an exit.
Although Berbatov is more likely, at this stage, to be signed than Keane, he would still stretch the budget. Further to money, it is also unlikely that Berbatov would fit what Popovic is looking for in a striker. This is because Berbatov is known for being what some call a ‘lazy’ striker and simply stays forward looking to poach goals rather than working in defence.
- Shane Smeltz
The Kiwi international striker, Smeltz has played for a number of A League clubs, most notoriously Sydney FC. A prolific and experienced goal scorer, Smeltz would be a handy addition to the Wanderers. Currently playing for Kedah FA in the Malaysian Super League and linked to a move to Newcastle, Smeltz is a real possibility in both opportunity and price.
However, would the Wanderers faithful be happy with a former ESFC striker joining the club? Smeltz would also take up a valuable Visa spot, even more crucial heading into ACL. Also, while good and potentially ‘gettable’, is probably one of the weaker options on this list.
- Jamie Maclaren
Deservedly at number 1, is the young and talented Brisbane Roar striker, Jamie Maclaren. When it comes to what the Wanderers want and need in a striker, Maclaren ticks all the boxes. He is lethal in front of goal, skilled, great on and off the ball, dangerous in space and transition and already proven, scoring 20 goals last season. Maclaren would be a perfect fit in the Wanderers’ system and seeing him in front of Nico, Jumpei and Nicholls would be eye-watering.
Maclaren is off-contract at the end of the season and it has been made public by Brisbane Roar that they have not been able to come to an agreement to keep Maclaren beyond that. With a Marquee spot available, the Wanderers could easily poach Maclaren in January or at least at the end of the season. An added bonus is that Maclaren would not require a Visa spot. Here’s hoping…
What are your thoughts? Have we left someone off this list that would be worth looking at? Have we jumped the gun looking for strikers? Leave your comments on our Facebook page or tweet us @RednBlackTV