They purposely kept it under wraps, but, on Sunday, Southampton confirmed the £4m signing of QPR striker Charlie Austin.
Considering his Premier League experience, as well as his knack for goal-scoring, the fee agreed is a true definition of a bargain.
Time to rewind. Last summer, we were unsurprisingly linked with a number of attacking options including the likes of Karim Benzema, Pedro and Gonzalo Higuaín.
We signed none, and it frustrated supporters. Why? They were, and still are, of the belief that Olivier Giroud is too inconsistent to lead us to Premier League triumph. Theo Walcott has played his part to keep the experienced Frenchman on his toes but, it seems increasingly likely that he’ll be frequently rotated between the wings and a centre-forward role, the latter a position he feels best suited to.
Having a world-class player like Benzema, raises the intensity of competition and calibre in the squad by an extra 10%. That’s been proven by the acquisitions of Mesut Özil, Alexis Sánchez and most recently, Petr Čech.
But, wouldn’t you rather have an effective player in the side, regardless of whether he has worldwide appeal or not? Austin represents that type of striker, someone who isn’t in the world-class bracket, but would do an efficient job for a team.
Considering Queen’s Park Rangers were relegated after a dismal showing all-round last season, it seemed inevitable that their key players would be sold to bigger and better clubs. Plenty of the mid-table Premier League crop were interested in Austin’s signature, but QPR were reluctant to sell and transfer negotiations broke down as the new campaign began.
At 26, he’s not relatively young nor inexperienced either. The peak of his powers is yet to come, and if you consider how integral he was in QPR’s Premier League fight at the bottom end of the table previously, you’ll understand where I’m coming from.
The following are his stats – goals and assists in all competitions from the previous four seasons
2011-12 season: 17 goals, four assists
2012-13 season: 27 goals, three assists
2013-14 season: 20 goals, three assists
2014-15 season: 18 goals, seven assists
Walcott turns 27 in March, Giroud will be 30 in September. Ronald Koeman will certainly be happy with his own signing. Austin for £4m is a low-risk option that Arsenal, for all our well-documented ‘struggles’ in-front of goal, and would have been a welcome addition to a side eager to keep improving.