Football

Top five: Football League targets part II

Rodriguez looks set for Saints switch. (©GettyImages)
Rodriguez looks set for Saints switch. (©GettyImages).

As the meteoric rise of Brendan Rogers and Paul Lambert proves, there is talent aplenty in the lower tiers of English football, with players, and managers in the Football League requiring nothing more than the opportunity to fulfil their potential on a bigger stage.

After winning promotion with Swansea and Norwich respectively, the prospective Liverpool and Aston Villa managers enjoyed a successful first season in the top tier of English football.

What makes such an achievement all the more impressive, is that they primarily relied upon the players who earned them the right to mix it with the Premier League's elite.

Similarly, on the occasions when the Swans and the Canaries did delve into the transfer market, they opted to sign players who had been plying their trade in the Football League for much of their career.

For Norwich, the likes of Elliott Bennett (Brighton) and Anthony Pilkington (Huddersfield) impressed in what was their first season back in the Premier League following a six-year absence, whilst Danny Graham (Watford) scored 14 goals as Swansea secured an 11th place finish, winning many plaudits along the way for their style of play.

In the latest installment of 'Football League transfer targets', GiveMeFootball provides a breakdown of the players that have a whole host of Premier League teams on red alert, as they look to take advantage of the pool of talent on offer in the lower echelons of English football.


Jay Rodriguez (Burnley)

Young? Tick. English? Tick. Scores goals? Tick. Up and coming talent? Most definitely.

Despite missing the last month of Burnley's run-in, but for a 25-minute cameo appearance on the final day of the league season, Jay Rodriguez still managed to score 21 goals in all competitions for the Clarets.

Little wonder, then, that the likes of Newcastle, Everton and newly-promoted Southampton have been credited with an interest in the 22-year-old striker.

In fact, its been reported that the latter have had a £7million bid accepted for the Burnley-born frontman, so Rodriguez's status as a Football League player is in serious doubt.

Since making his debut as an 18-year-old in December 2007, Rodriguez has never looked back, establishing himself as an integral part of Eddie Howe's Burnley, who will undoubtedly loathe to lose his star man.

However, having made 128 appearances and scoring 41 goals for his hometown club, Howe always knew it would be an uphill struggle to keep Rodriguez at Turf Moor, with the lure of Premier League football proving too strong to reject.

Speaking to BBC Radio Lancashire on 3rd April, Howe said: "Any Premier League team that watches our games and does their homework will see what a season he's had.

"They'll look at his age, his goalscoring record and all of the attributes that he's got."

Although Rodriguez is yet to discuss personal terms with Southampton, should that move fall through, it seems unlikely that the Burnley faithful will be watching their local hero at Turf Moor come August.


Matt Phillips (Blackpool)

When Blackpool signed Matt Phillips from Wycombe Wanderers on the final day of the 2010 summer transfer window, even the management team at Bloomfield Road couldn't have expected the 21-year-old to become such a success.

At just 19 years of age, the Aylesbury-born midfielder could already boast an impressive tally of 78 appearances for Wycombe, scoring 8 goals.

Blessed with lightning quick pace and a bag of tricks, the youngster's versatility enables him to seamlessly slot into a variety of attacking formations.

And after scoring 18 goals in all competitions this season, it comes as no surprise that the Scottish international has attracted admiring glances from the Premier League.

Everton, Stoke, Reading and Swansea have all been credited with an interest, and with the transfer window soon to open, Blackpool's resolve is likely to be tested as they try to keep hold of their speedy winger.


Tom Ince (Blackpool)

Blackpool's success this season could be their own undoing.

After falling at the final hurdle on their charge to the Premier League, losing 2-1 to West Ham in the Championship Playoff final, attentions now turn to keeping the nucleus of their squad together ahead of another promotion push next season.

Tom Ince played a major part in Blackpool's campaign, making 36 appearances and scoring 7 goals en route to Wembley.

Ince, son of former England midfielder Paul, was an unknown quantity when he left Liverpool to join the somewhat depleted ship at Blackpool last summer.

But since making his Tangerines debut, the 20-year-old attacking-midfielder has rapidly transformed himself into one of the most thrilling products in the Football League.

With pace to burn and an end-product to match, his intelligent runs have caused havoc to opposition defences all season, and the likes of Southampton, Reading and Fulham have all been touted as potential suitors.

Ince could provide Holloway with a transfer headache this summer, as the controversial manager attempts to fend off interest in his tricky wide player, who only signed a two-year contract with the option of a third as recently as August 2011.


Robert Snodgrass (Leeds)

Highly-rated Leeds midfielder, Robert Snodgrass, has been linked with a move to the Premier League on numerous occasions.

The Leeds captain was subject of an undisclosed bid from Norwich City last summer, but despite his obvious potential, Snodgrass is yet to make the jump from the Championship to England's top tier.

Leeds' resolve is likely to be tested once again this window, as the Scottish international has just one year left to run on his current deal, with rumours afoot that the Canaries are set to reignite their interest in Leeds' 19-goal skipper.

Although publicly stating his desire to retain Snodgrass, if no agreement over a new contract can be reached, manager Neil Warnock may feel it's best to cash-in on his most prized asset rather than risk losing Snodgrass for nothing at the end of his current contract.

Snodgrass has been one of the few shining lights for a Leeds side that disappointed this season, stumbling over the finishing line and ending the campaign in a solid if unspectacular 14th place.


Lewis Dunk (Brighton)

Lewis Dunk has thrived under the management of Gus Poyet at Brighton.

Since being handed his debut against MK Dons back in May 2010, Dunk has cemented his place in the heart of the Brighton defence, and is now one of the first names on Poyet's teamsheet.

The ball-playing defender looks assured and comfortable with the ball at his feet, and his cultured style makes him an attractive proposition for Premier League sides looking to unearth a gem from the lower leagues.

The 20-year-old is not afraid to mix it up either, as his power and heading ability means he can deal with the most ardent of customers when the going gets tough.

A product of Albion's centre of excellence, Dunk is a fans' favourite at the Amex, and the Seagulls faithful will be praying that they can keep hold of him beyond the summer.

An obstacle that could put off potential suitors is the price. Dunk would not come cheap. Brighton aren't short of cash and their local-lad is settled on the south coast of England.

Any bid would have to be upwards of £3million before officials at the Amex Stadium even considered an approach, and even then a transfer isn't guaranteed.

If a Premier League club were to secure the services of Dunk, they'd be signing a young prospect with bags of potential. And at the tender age of 20, his best years are very much ahead of him.

Topics:
Maxi Rodriguez
Football
Jay Rodriguez
Championship
Premier League
Leeds United
Blackpool
Brighton & Hove Albion

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