Blackburn Rovers: Goals at a premium for Kean with pressure on Goodwillie
Blackburn Rovers added much-needed firepower to their squad on Wednesday when Dundee United striker David Goodwillie made the switch to Ewood Park. Signed for an undisclosed fee, the 22-year-old scored on his first appearance for Steve Kean’s side in a 4-1 friendly win over Kilmarnock on Saturday.
Goodwillie will be under pressure to keep up those scoring feats immediately when the Premier League returns next weekend. During his time with Dundee United Goodwillie scored 39 goals in 133 games, a decent return of around one in three, with his final season at Tannadice his most prolific, finding the net 18 times in 43 appearances. Such statistics would be manna from heaven for Kean after Rovers finished last season as the joint-third lowest scorers of the teams that avoided relegation, with 46 goals from their 48 games - the same amount as Stoke City and Wolverhampton Wanderers, and more than only Sunderland and Wigan Athletic. With Sam Allardyce’s £6m signing of 2009, Nikola Kalinic, misfiring - just 13 goals in 53 games - and the hard-working but goal-shy Jason Roberts leading the line, a 15-goal per season striker could lift Rovers from perilously close to the relegation zone and into Europa League contention - last season, no Rovers player managed more than five goals in the Premier League.
If Kean has issues this summer to address in front of the opponent’s goal, then the same is true when defending Rovers’ own. 59 goals were conceded by Blackburn in the league last season, more than all-but-three of the sides that ended the season outside of the relegation zone - West Bromwich Albion (71), Wigan (61) and Wolves (66) were the more porous, while relegated Birmingham City kept a tighter ship than Rovers by a single goal. The continued presence of Christopher Samba is at least encouraging in that regard, but as Arsenal are rebuffed by Everton in their pursuit of Phil Jagielka, the towering Congolese becomes a more attractive proposition by the day. Kean has added Brazilian defender Bruno Ribeiro to his squad, subject to a work permit, but replacing the departed Phil Jones in the centre of defence is a priority. Kean has been linked with a string of names, including Tottenham Hotspur’s Sebastian Bassong, but talented young defender Grant Hanley could be given extra responsibility.
In midfield, Kean is on the verge of signing Radosav Petrovic from Partizan Belgrade, with a £3m fee agreed for the Serbia international. The Lancashire Telegraph reported on Friday that the deal would be completed early next week. The 22-year-old will require a work permit but with 18 international caps to his credit a snafu would be unexpected, and Petrovic, nominally a defensive midfielder, is said to have both the quality and versatility to play a more attacking role - and as the scorer of nine goals last season, could provide a boost to Rovers’ meagre tally. With Jermaine Jones returning to Schalke 04 after the end of his loan spell, however, Petrovic’s main responsibility will be replacing the hard-tackling German-American in a midfield partnership with Steven N’Zonzi. Rovers are also one of a number of clubs to be linked with a move for Thomas Hitzlsperger, the former West Ham United midfielder who is now a free agent after the Hammers’ relegation, and PAOK winger Vierinha is set for a £4m move to Rovers, but the future of El-Hadji Diouf remains up in the air, while Keith Andrews is expected to leave the club, most likely on loan.
It is, however, goals that Rovers still crave. Goodwillie may not be the only striker brought to Lancashire by Kean during the transfer window, with Spurs forward Robbie Keane a persistent rumour earlier in the summer, with his Tottenham colleague Jermain Defoe also mentioned in the Press on numerous occasions. Manchester City’s unwanted striker Craig Bellamy has been touted for a return to Ewood Park, five years after he left for Liverpool, following a single - but successful - season in blue and white. Bellamy scored 17 goals in 32 games under Mark Hughes in a campaign pockmarked by injury, with his form impressive enough to entice Liverpool into a £6.5m bid, matching the release clause in Bellamy’s contract. More ambitious targets - including Brazil international Luis Fabiano and Manchester City’s Emmanuel Adebayor - remain unlikely. If another forward is not found then the onus will be on the likes of Goodwillie and the impressive young winger David Hoilett to find the net, lest Kean become a victim of Venky’s itchy trigger finger.
Bruno Ribeiro DEF - Gremio Barueri, free
Radosav Petrovic MID - Partizan Belgrade, £3m
David Goodwillie FWD - Dundee United, undisclosed
Jason Brown GK - Aberdeen, free
Phil Jones DEF - Manchester United, £16m
Zurab Khizanishvili DEF - Kayserispor, free
Maceo Rigters FWD - free
Benjani FWD - free
Vierinha MID - PAOK
Robbie Keane FWD - Tottenham Hotspur
Craig Bellamy FWD - Manchester City