Rudy Gestede has been an unfortunate flop for Middlesbrough
Background photo: Jon Candy, CC BY-SA 2.0
Rudy Gestede made his first Championship appearance for Middlesbrough in over a month on November 27. The striker lasted only 27 minutes before coming off with a hamstring injury. It was his first league start of the season after recovering from a broken ankle in early October. Now, he’s expected to miss several more weeks.
The 2018/19 season couldn’t have gone much worse with Gestede spending more time sidelined than on the pitch. Middlesbrough’s £6-7 million [according to BBC's TeesSport] investment has backfired. After 18 months at the Riverside, Gestede has scored just six goals for Tony Pulis while starting 19 games from a possible 98. He’s been both unlucky with injuries and short on form for some time.
Boro brought Gestede Teesside in January 2017, signing the target man from Aston Villa, a side one division below them. Gestede was a real gamble. He’d struggled for form at Villa Park in 2016/17's first half, scoring just four goals in 18 Championship games for Villa. He lost his place in the side from mid-October. A flop with the Midlands club, he struggled to make an impact in the second tier. Why then would he fare any better in the Premier League? Even if Boro tried to play to his strengths, whipping balls into the box as much as possible, Gestede would be out-fought by stronger top-flight defenders. His lack of athleticism was a big problem, the Benin international not blessed with pace or movement.
Signing Gestede was a desperate move for Boro, who were fighting to stay in the top-flight. For a player who failed in the Premier League with Villa in 2015/16 [32 games, five goals], it was little surprise he repeated the feat with his new club [16 games, 1 goal]. Unfortunately, he didn’t fare much better in the Championship due to his injury woes.
Lame and no game
In Gestede’s first full season at Boro, he picked up a freak thigh injury in early September. Surgery ruled him out for nearly three months. Following his return in December, he was given a handful of substitute appearances before finding himself back in the starting lineup. Even so, his form didn’t return. Between September 2017 and February 2018, Gestede scored a mere three league goals. Then his season ended prematurely due to a broken ankle.
The 30-year-old missed 14 Championship appearances with his freak thigh injury, another 23 recovering from the fracture. Gestede returned on October 2 but only featured in four of Boro’s nine games, amassing a paltry 109 minutes. His return date from the latest hamstring injury is unknown but Boro aren’t short for options in attack. The club signed Britt Assombalonga from Nottingham Forest and Martin Braithwaite in 2017. Gestede faces a tough task returning to the starting lineup.
Lacking form and fitness, he's fallen down the pecking order. Assombalonga is on 16 league appearances this season, Braithwaite 15. Boro didn’t break the bank to sign Gestede but he’s been an unfortunate flop at the Riverside.