Thursday, June 08, 2006

Taking the Mickey?

No, for once we're not talking about the endless Owen to Liverpool / Arsenal / Chelsea etc etc rumours, but about his fellow Toon striker Michael Chopra.

Cardiff and Barnsley, who had him on loan a couple of seasons back, have both declared their interest in signing him, while Birmingham and Crystal Palace are also reportedly keen. The figure of £500,000 is being bandied about, and though no firm bids have yet materialised it seems it's only a matter of time.

Would the Championship be a good move for the player? Probably, yes. Despite the wrench of leaving his hometown club, for whom he broke his Premiership scoring duck against the Mackems, Chopra would be a handful at Championship level, and also far more likely to start. With Owen, Ameobi and Luque currently ahead of him on Tyneside, and the prospect of at least one more striker joining the club over the summer, his opportunities look slim.

Would it be a good move for the club? Well, he was for a time our most exciting youth prospect, but his development seems to have stagnated somewhat. His performances towards the back end of the season were energetic and whole-hearted enough to merit another one year extension to his contract, I think, but that would probably be unsatisfactory to a player who, at this stage in his career, really needs to be playing more regularly.

It's always a shame to see a homegrown player depart for pastures new (particularly because you just KNOW that he'll come back to haunt us in a Cup tie some time in the not-too-distant future...), but the jury remains out on whether Chopra has what it takes to cut the mustard at the very highest level.


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