Opinion: Best Foot Forward(s)
It`s time for the January transfer period again.
As pundits and fans speculate alike, the next few weeks of clubs trying to improve their fortunes by investing in some last ditch loans or permanent deals will come to fruition.
Blues are no exception either, and definitely have work to do.
Manager Steve Cotterill has already been on the record this past week stating that he gave the Club a list of preferred targets to bring in during the window, and the hope is that some, if not all, of his additions will continue to improve the team`s fortunes and as a result climb the table.
The biggest link that has been discussed these past few days regarding the team of the second city has been about the potential transfer of former Blues striker Cameron Jerome from Norwich City.
The fact is, Blues need a striker and Jerome has become a rotational option for the Canaries up front.
Amidst these rumours and Cotterill not confirming yet that an approach has been made, it might be interesting to look at some of the most productive strikers that Blues have brought in during the past few seasons.
That being said, here are my top three.
Jon Toral (season-long loan from Arsenal '15-`16)
Gary Rowett`s first full season at Blues two years ago was undoubtedly full of potential and often underrated talent.
Although listed as an attacking midfielder, Arsenal loanee Toral was often played up front to compliment Clayton Donaldson, and his eight goal tally and his 25 yard volley against Ipswich Town was enough to earn him the club`s Goal of the Season and Player of the Season honours.
The young Spaniard spent the entire year at St. Andrew`s, bringing with him a talent on the ball that Blues fans had not really seen consistently since the days of Christophe Dugarry, and after Rowett was sacked last December, he admitted that his plan was to bring Toral back to the club the following January transfer period.
Since leaving Blues, Toral had spent time on loan in Spain (Granada C.F.) and Scotland (Rangers), and rumours circulated that he might rejoin Blues last summer.
Unfortunately for Blues, Hull City beat them to the punch, and he now has a three year contract with the Tigers, the transfer fee reportedly around 3 million.
He played against Blues this season when the Tigers routed them 6-1 under then-caretaker manager Lee Carsley.
2. Federico Macheda (short-term loan from Manchester United January-May '14)
Lee Clark`s Blues struggled to find wins during the year that Paul Caddis saved them from the drop, and United had recalled other loanee Jesse Lingard in January.
Enter Federico Macheda.
The Italian youngster`s ability to find the back of the net at the most important times ended up being crucial during the second half of that campaign.
From eighteen appearances total, ten of them as a starter, he amassed ten goals and was the top goalscorer for Blues, and statistically speaking, for a four month investment, he might be classified as one of Lee Clark`s best signings.
After his spell at Blues ended, he spent time as a rotational option at Cardiff before having his contract cancelled by mutual consent in the summer of 2016.
He has since been a regular for Novara in Serie B, where he has scored nine times. Up until this point, his tenure at Blues was the most productive part of his career.
3. Che Adams (transfer from Sheffield United '16-Present)
The reason why Adams isn`t at the top of the list is because he still has a career at Blues and has continued to progress as a player.
Although he is slowly reintegrating himself into the starting eleven after coming back from his hamstring injury, the past season and a half have been good for him.
Another Rowett-era signing, Adams had a prominent role last year, some of his goals coming as an impact substitute, the others as a starter.
His pace and ability to set and build play up front and in an opposition`s final third paid dividends for Blues on more than one occasion, and his winner at Ashton Gate on the last day of the season ensured that the club would play in the Championship again this year.
It is expected that he will bang two or three more goals this season, and continue to develop.
There is no debate about him as a Premier League prospect; Blues did award him with an improved five year deal in the autumn to try and keep him around and ward off potential bids from clubs like Derby County, Fulham, and top flight interest.
Hopefully some of those years will actually be in the top flight, because that is where he is destined to play.
He is as dangerous as any striker in the league when he is on form, and it will be expected of him to make an impact when he returns fully healthy.
The lad is talented and knows where the goal is, and his future as a footballer looks bright, whether it will be in a Blues uniform or not in the long term.