A former Championship Player of the Year. 36 Championship goals in 100 appearances. 10 goals in the second half of last season. Patrick Bamford’s pedigree is undeniable. He’s a class act at this level who has proven he can score goals when given a chance.
So why have Boro sanctioned his sale for just £7m up front? And to Leeds of all clubs!?
The problem for Paddy is where he fits in Boro’s team. Despite his goalscoring heroics a few months ago, Pulis clearly doesn’t see him as the main striker.
He doesn’t offer the physical and aerial presence he’s looking for. This is nothing new for Bamford. In the first part of the season, he struggled to get into Monk’s team ahead of Assombalonga.
When he did play, he was shunted out wide or into midfield. It was the same when he first came back to the club last January. Karanka and Agnew couldn’t justify starting him ahead of Negredo, so when he did come on he was shoehorned on to the right wing.
For all his skill, Bamford is not a winger or a midfielder, so he’s struggled to have any impact from those positions. He made just 0.8 key passes per 90 mins last season, compared to 2 for Downing, 1.9 for Traore, 1.6 for Besic and 1.4 for Howson.
Even Assombalonga and Gestede created more chances for others when playing up front. This is probably the crux of the issue for Bamford – he’s a good goalscorer, but when he’s not scoring he’s not offering enough support to the rest of the team.
Nine of his goals came in a blistering seven match spell in the spring, but outside of that he was often anonymous in games.
So all this means that he’s third choice striker under Pulis, and a makeshift reserve winger at best. He doesn’t have a natural place in Pulis’ squad, so has become a bit of a spare part, a bit of a jack of all trades.
The problem with this is that he’s probably one of the highest paid players at the club, and those wages might be better spent on somebody who can be first choice in his position.
Instead of shoehorning Bamford on to the wing, Pulis can now sign an out and out wide player who will offer more in terms of creativity.
Despite the outcries from some Boro fans, the deal probably suits all parties. Leeds get a proven Championship player at a relatively low price (but will pay more depending on performance), Bamford gets a fresh start presumably in his preferred position, while Boro get to redistribute his wages to cover a weakness in the squad.
Hopefully, instead of a jack of all trades, we might finally have a master of one.