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Early success for inexpensive Championship forwards

Tuesday 22nd August 2017
A few recently demoted EPL sides are stuck in the spending habit. Elsewhere, more affordable forwards are impacting more pragmatic Championship sides.

Britt Assombalonga and Martin Braithwaite joining Middlesbrough may have been among the more expensive striker purchases at Championship level during the summer transfer window, but several of the cheaper forward recruits are already proving to be an instant success for their new clubs.

Braithwaite has failed to score for Boro this term while two-goal Assombalonga was jeered by his former home supporters when failing to convert several chances at Nottingham Forest on Saturday. Yet the weekend action provided further signs that Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, Samuel Saiz, Joe Garner and Martyn Waghorn could prove to be bargain acquisitions..

Meanwhile, weekend action at other venues offered further signs Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, Samuel Saiz, Joe Garner, and Martyn Waghorn will prove to be bargain acquisitions.
Mendez-Laing claimed his fifth competitive goal of the new campaign, bagging Cardiff's winner over Wolves. The Birmingham native has plied his trade in Championship and League One football with varied success.

Scoring 15 goals in two seasons for Rochdale apparently attracted Neil Warnock's attention. Thanks to the shrewd manager's keen eye, the 25-year-old has helped the Bluebirds win their opening four league games after coming over on a free from Spotland Stadium.
Ipswich can also boast a 100% start to the new Championship campaign. It had been thought Tom Lawrence's return to parent clubLeicester would adversely affect the Tractor Boys' attacking options. Happily, Mick McCarthy is another experienced manager with an eye for talent. He secured both Joe Garner and Martyn Waghorn from Rangers, each for a relatively modest £1 million.
Garner was prolific in League One football for Preston but had never maintained the same strike rate in either the Championship or Scottish Premiership. This term, though, he's already scored in three league games.

Waghorn has also quickly justified McCarthy's faith by netting four times in three league appearances. The South Shields-born forward,a former England U21, had lacked consistency since first debuting for Sunderland in 2007. The 27-year-old did score 20 goals in one Scottish Championship season for Rangers. Now, he has already claimed more than half the league goals he netted last term in Scotland's top flight.
Meanwhile, Samuel Saiz netted his first Championship goal in a 2-1 win for Leeds at the Stadium of Light. Then he assisted on the Whites' second goal. Signed for approximately £3.2 million from Huesca in La Liga2, Saiz also scored a hat-trick in a 4-1 EFL Cup win against Port Vale. His record of 12 goals and 10 yellow cards in 42 league appearances for the Aragonian side hints at a fiery character.

Saiz has been supplemented in Leeds' attack by another pacy forward: Ezgjan Alioski. The Macedonian had been playing Swiss football prior to his summer arrival. Lugano let him go for £2.3 million. While he has yet to find the net in English football, he has been a creative influence in Thomas Christiansen's team.

Alioski scored 16 Swiss Super League goals last term, suggesting he's finding the first at Elland Road to be the most difficult. Both he and Saiz should help Leeds compete despite losing Chris Wood's services.

It may still be early days in the Championship campaign. Nevertheless, these four players are already demonstrating that money alone doesn't buy titles. Value is required, as well.
John Welsh
I am a freelance sports writer specialising in football covering Premier League, EFL and English non-leagues plus top leagues in France, Germany and Italy. I have written for Inside Futbol, Football Weekends plus football previews for Hong Kong Jockey Club, and I’m also the author of book First Touch, a novel covering the exploitation of young African footballers and their experiences in Europe.

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