If West Brom are to survive in the Premier League next season, they’re going to need goals.
As cliched as that may sound, it’s no coincidence that Norwich City are not only bottom of the top flight, but also have the dubious accolade of being the joint lowest goal-scorers in the division this season.
So it’s perhaps unsurprising to see that the Baggies have been linked with Fenerbahce striker Vedat Muriqi before the transfer window has even opened.
According to Turkish outlet Fanatik, Albion are keen to snap up the 26-year-old this season, with a fee of around £18 million being touted.
That asking price would likely make him the club’s record signing, but would he be worth it, and what sort of player would Slaven Bilic be getting?
The answer – to the latter part of that question at least – is a very physical one.
The Kosovo international has averaged an impressive 8.91 aerial duels per game this term, winning 53.4% of those, as per Wyscout.
As a point of comparison, Charlie Austin has averaged 6.18 per game and won just 26% of those.
Likewise, Muriqi has won 8.04 more duels per 90 minutes – aerial or otherwise – than the 30-year-old this term, with a win ratio that is superior by 6.8%.
And in a game situation, that makes him a real threat.
In the image above, taken just before Muriqi’s most recent goal against Trabzonspor at the beginning of March, the striker is the Fenerbahce player nearest the back post as the ball is played in.
Out of sight of the defender, who has rather foolishly turned his back on him, the forward is able to peel off his man to give himself the extra couple of yards he needs to really make the most of his natural physicality.
By the time the cross reaches him, he has used that space to get the run on his marker, outmuscling him with ease.
His leap is ferocious too, and he jumps so high and with so much power that is able to make contact while the defender is left rooted to the ground.
But Muriqi isn’t just a battering ram.
Of his 13 league goals this season, 10 have come with his left and two with his right, as per Whoscored.
In the image above, taken from a goal Muriqi scored in January, the striker shows a completely different side to his game.
Running in between defenders on the shoulder of the last man, he is demanding the through ball, dictating the direction and tempo of his side’s attack.
How a player of his physical stature is able to sneak into so much space is a mystery, but when he’s there he times his run to perfection, curving it to beat the offside trap.
The finish is excellent too.
Muriqi allows the ball to come across his body before hitting a first time shot with power and precision.
Ordinarily, you might criticise the goalkeeper for being beaten at his near post, but this strike is so thunderous that he barely has any time to react before the ball is past him.
Of course, bringing in a striker from a foreign league and dropping him straight into the Premier League is always going to be a gamble, especially when the player in question would command such an exorbitant fee, but Muriqi looks like he could be the real deal – a Premier League success story in the making.
From what we’ve seen of him here at West Brom News, we would be delighted if we could get this one over the line.
In other West Brom news, Albion are to be handed a potentially huge boost in their bid to sign Matheus Pereira permanently.