It is tempting to be underwhelmed by Albion’s move for Chris O’Grady, as has been the case with many supporters reacting on social media.
Losing Leo Ulloa to Leicester and gaining a striker who has spent a fair proportion of a career with 11 clubs out on loan in the lower divisions looks, on the face of it, a regressive step.
But Albion’s latest transfer business has to be put into context.
O’Grady has scored 26 goals in 100 Championship appearances for Leicester, Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley.
He will not be as prolific as Ulloa but then again he is not meant to be.
O’Grady is not a direct replacement for the Argentinian. He was already on the Seagulls’ radar in their quest to strengthen the strike force, with or without Ulloa.
O’Grady should be regarded more as a belated substitute for Ashley Barnes, who was never adequately replaced in January after moving to Burnley.
Sami Hyypia is expected to have O’Grady, Craig Mackail-Smith and at least one, if not two, more new front men at his disposal, using funds from Ulloa’s £8 million plus sale to the Foxes.
Youngster Shamir Fenelon, who missed Thursday night’s 3-1 friendly defeat against Real Betis in Spain with a slight knock, could either be back-up or loaned out again to gain more first team experience.
O’Grady had a prosperous 18 months in the Championship with Barnsley, despite their relegation last season.
He scored six goals in 16 games in the latter part of the 2012-13 campaign on loan from Sheffield Wednesday.
Last season, after his move from Hillsborough became permanent for a fee of about £300,000, O’Grady scored a respectable 15 goals in 40 league outings in a struggling side.
O’Grady’s grafting, robust style made him popular with the Barnsley supporters.
He primarily operates with his back to goal, making life awkward for defenders with his upper body strength.
He is more of a link-up striker than an out-and-out goalscorer and also at Barnsley often drifted into wide areas.
In other words, he has similar qualities to Barnes, whose contribution was never quite appreciated as much as O’Grady has been in working class South Yorkshire.
Moving to Albion represents a geographical departure for the 28-year-old father of three young children. So far his entire career has been spent exclusively in the North or East Midlands.
That almost changed last month, when Barnsley also agreed a £500,000 fee with Charlton. The deal collapsed because O’Grady could not agree personal terms.
Barnsley were keen to get him off their wage bill after going down. A switch south to Albion was more appealing for O’Grady than Charlton, who nearly ended up with the Tykes in League One.
Barnsley’s neighbours, Sheffield United, agreed a fee as well for O’Grady but personal terms were again a stumbling block. In any case, Barnsley were far less inclined to sell to their local League One rivals.
O’Grady is heading for the Amex instead as Albion set about the task of assembling a strike force no longer spearheaded by the talismanic Ulloa.
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