After getting linked numerous times with the Southampton forward, Sky Sports are now reporting that West Bromwich Albion have finally made an approach for Jay Rodriguez, who would cost somewhere in the region of £12 million. Following a decent finish to their domestic campaign last term, the Baggies manager is eyeing attacking reinforcements this summer as they step up to the next level.
Rodriguez has been more of a shadowy presence in Southampton’s campaign last season. While all the hype remained with the injury of Charlie Austin, then the return of him, Shane Long’s winning goal against Liverpool in the EFL Cup semis, and of course the new favourite at St. Mary’s, Manolo Gabbiadini, Rodriguez has been a forgotten figure amidst all that.
The English centre-forward, who is Southampton’s third-choice, wasn’t a fringe player by any means, as Claude Puel’s rotating philosophy did provide enough game time for his unimpactful displays. But he became a bench player every passing week and could only manage nine starts for Southampton last season, and in total six goals and three assists in 35 appearances.
Many have said he deserved more chances, and that is what the player would look for ahead of a World Cup selection season. Already 27, this would probably be his only chance to get a major break in an otherwise underwhelming professional career.
And Pulis could provide him with exactly that. The Welsh gaffer has underestimated the need of forwards since his early managerial days, as his conservative approaches have mainly included defensive plays. Now, with the Baggies collecting 45 points for the first time ever in top-flight football, he is looking to push his limits.
Pulis only had one natural centre-forward last season to a major extent, as Saido Berahino was mostly in the infirmary. And Salomon Rondon could only do this much, as a result of which the Baggies could score only 43 goals in 36 games.
Rodriguez’s lack of game time doesn’t completely reflect his abilities for sure. Since joining the Saints back in 2012 from Burnley, he got off to a brilliant start under Mauricio Pochettino. But, recurring injuries and Southampton’s unwillingness to sell him despite offering little play time has hampered his crucial years.
The fact that even Pochettino wanted to have him at White Hart Lane, only indicates the potential in him. He could play only over 100 games in six seasons with Southampton and has still managed 26 goals and 13 assists in them. Under Pulis, he could really flourish with his good technique and brilliant finishing.