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Striker Watch: Javier Saviola

Things have quietened down understandably these days. After all the mayhem those three quick signings created. All that remained of Sunday’s news are reports that renew rumours linking Anelka to United. It’s a Sunday after all, and even your average tabloid reporter needs a day off. We had our opinions on Anelka, and we also thank you guys for your comments. Do keep them coming. Makes us writers here feel less lonely about what we think and write!

Today we will talk about another striker linked to the club. Once again, we aren’t saying if he will come to OT, but just musing on how he will fit into our scheme of things.

Saviola, like many other Argentinian forwards in the post-Maradona era, has been burdened with comparisons with the legend. After the initial hype of his arrival on the European stage, he hasn’t quite lived up to his initial promise. He scored 17 goals in his first season at Barcelona and despite having reasonable returns for the club has been deemed surplus to Frank Rijkaard. Despite scoring crucial goals in the absence of Samuel Eto’o, Rijkaard doesn’t seem to have too much faith in the player and is allowing him to leave on a free. All this despite having a good spell on loan at Sevilla the previous season.

Well let’s see his strengths first. His goal return for Barcelona stands at 44 from 104 games. Which is reasonable although not spectacular. He is considered to be a good finisher, and performed rather well for the Argentinian National team in the World Cup. He has good movement and can function in a team that plays with a fluid formation. The Sevilla side of the past two seasons have been a very attacking side, with real quick movement that results in goals. Barcelona plays good fluid football and it baffles me why Rijkaard would ignore Saviola so much that he would buy Gudjohnsen instead.

However his ability to perform in England remains a doubt. The pint sized player also known as the Rabbit, might find it rather tough to play in a much faster setting as the English league where a player with better physique might be more suited. His strength is debatable. I am also not sure on his aerial ability. These are areas that a fit Saha is extremely good with.

That brings us to the question: Should we get him? The fact that he’s available for a free makes it a no-loss situation. But it would demand a sale of one of the forwards at least, due to his wage demands. I always believe the arrival of a striker would see the departure of either Ole or Smith.

But I am not certain about Saviola’s potential as I was about Anelka. On one hand, his success would mean a transfer coup (because he’s free and only 25), but after the Shevchenko debacle, I am more tempted to think that no striker (from another league) can be bought to guarantee you 25 goals a season.

But I guess I will leave you all to debate if Saviola should be the one we should go for or if it should be Anelka (among the bargain buys), or should we go for some ridiculously expensive (supposedly ‘proven’) striker.

Or instead are we better off the way we are at the moment?