Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Bye bye O'Best

So it's farewell to Leon O'Best, who today completed his move to relegated Blackburn Rovers for a fee said to be in excess of £3m. That means we've doubled our money on the Republic of Ireland striker, signed in January 2010 as part of a posse to help get us over the promotion line - and the fee could rise higher should he help Rovers bounce back into the Premier League. Good business, arguably, for a player who's suffered with more than his fair share of injuries.

Most of us had O'Best pegged as an out-of-his-depth try-hard, even after he got off the mark for the club in spectacular fashion with a hat-trick at home to a hapless West Ham, and it's true that he probably didn't quite have the quality or finesse required of a real top-flight forward. Nevertheless, he scored skilful winners at St James' Park last season against both Fulham and QPR, and was also on the scoresheet in that phenomenal 4-4 draw with Arsenal. The writing was on the wall in February, though, when he limped off injured at home to Villa and had to watch from the sidelines as debutant Papiss Cisse pinged a left-foot scorcher into the top corner of Shay Given's net.

As a forward who made the most of somewhat limited abilities, he followed in the footsteps of Antoine Sibierski and, like the Frenchman, can leave the club with his head held high and with our best wishes to send him on his way.

Of course, O'Best's departure leaves us with fewer striking options - beyond Cisse and Demba Ba, we're now looking at Big Lad, essentially, as the Lone Ranger and Xisco are currently well out of the frame and Peter Lovenkrands has also left. So, in other words, selling the Irishman can only be considered genuinely good business if we can strengthen the squad by bringing in a superior replacement. Which is where Twente's Luuk de Jong comes in - and hopefully come in he will. His agent Louis Laros' recent comments will have given us some encouragement: "Luuk is still a Twente player. If the right club comes along then he will happily make the move. The club doesn't need to be a top club, but a good club in a big league where Luuk can play regularly and develop as a player."

The Dutch club might be trying to play hardball over the fee (as is their right, of course), but given that de Jong's agent has declared that his client "has taken the decision to move on", you do wonder whether they might come to view dispensing with a disgruntled wantaway player swiftly as the most sensible course of action.

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