?So, Barcelona have finally been granted permission by RFEF to sign a new forward outside of the transfer window following Ousmane Dembele’s season-ending injury.
How are they using this opportunity? To land an ageing world class pro to offer reliable cover for six months? Or a hungry up-and-comer keen to make his mark in the absence of one of the most highly-rated wingers around?
Well, no. ?They’re signing Martin Braithwaite, apparently.
But who actually is that? Isn’t he the guy who played for ?Middlesbrough a while back and came to absolutely nothing?
Look no further for all you need to know about *double checks notes* Martin Braithwaite.
Why Is He a Target?
Before we take a deep dive into the nomadic career, let’s establish some context that makes the rumour slightly less weird. The conditions of Barça’s period of grace are as follows; they have 15 days to recruit a forward, and it has to be someone playing their domestic football in Spain or without a club.
Getafe’s Ángel Rodríguez, Alavés’ Lucas Pérez and Real Betis’ Loren Morón have all been mentioned as other potential targets, but the difficulty there is that none of those clubs are particularly keen to let go of the players with no chance of signing an alternative themselves.
Enter Braithwaite, stage left, who you’d have to assume is the best realistically available to the Catalan club. Well, it’s utterly unexplainable otherwise, so we’ll have to go with that.
Who Has He Played For?
This question has a less simple answer, since the 28-year-old hasn’t half been about.
Coming through the ranks at at Efsbjerg FB in his native Denmark, he began to cultivate a reputation for himself as a fairly consistent goalscorer before being brought to Toulouse in what was a pretty big break for him in 2013. In France, he netted 40 goals in 149 appearances, before Middlesbrough moved to bring him in four years later.
That’s where things briefly began to go a bit haywire, as during a chaotic period in the Championship, he failed to meaningfully insert himself into the team. He was loaned back to Bordeaux after 18 months, and then to Leganes in January 2019, where his five goals and seven assists were enough to convince them to offer Boro £8m of the £10m they paid for him to make it permanent.
The 28-year-old has since proved a solid addition for the relegation strugglers and has netted eight goals in 27 appearances this season. He’d be a major loss for them, and it would be a serious blow in their bid to stay up, but when Barcelona come calling there is only so much you can do.
What Can He Offer Barcelona?
Well…a bit of everything. ?WhoScored describe him as having ‘no significant strengths’ which doesn’t look brilliant for a Barcelona signing, granted, but that seems to stem from the fact he’s a bit of a jack of all trades, with no aspects of his game in particular standing out.
He’s not slow by any means and is efficient on the ball, while deceptively good in the air for his unremarkable 5’11 stature. He’s versatile, primarily featuring as a central striker this season, but is capable on either flank or as a no.10 if required. He could perhaps work harder from a defensive standpoint and isn’t the striker you want leading a high press, but for Barcelona’s possession-based system, he’s perhaps not the worst player to have available.
If he does end up being signed, he’s good enough to play a part in the bread and butter league games to offer the likes of Antoine Griezmann and ?Lionel Messi some reprieve in European weeks, but not too much more than that, unless Quique Setien sees something we don’t.
How Much Will He Cost?
About €10m is the consensus in Spain, which is really a drop in the bucket for a club of ?Barcelona‘s financial footing. Uninspiring, perhaps, but at least he’s relatively risk free at that price.
What Else Is There to Know?
At club level, he’s scored 85 goals in 348 games to date – a respectable total, it should be said. That’s roughly mirrored in his international strike rate, as he’s hit the back of the net seven times in his 39 appearances for Denmark.
He’s also apparently a natural leader, which might help the likes of positional rival Ansu Fati through what is set to be an intense second half of the season for Barça.
Is he going to single-handedly win them ?La Liga? Absolutely not. Is it the worst signing in the world, considering the best ?Manchester United could conjure up on deadline day was Odion Ighalo (and only after ?Josh King fell through)? Also no.
It’s a strange one, but it can’t be any worse than Kevin-Prince Boateng…
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