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Should Leeds United sign Emmanuel Emenike

Sunday 23rd September 2018
Reports suggest Leeds United are interested in signing Emmanuel Emenike to fill their need at striker.
Reports suggest Leeds United are interested in signing Emmanuel Emenike to fill their need at striker.

Leeds United is on a mission. The Premier League's the ultimate goal. England's second-tier was entirely White after eight rounds. Birmingham splashed a bit of blue on the canvas with a shocking 2-1 defeat at Elland Road Saturday. Leeds remain atop the table, though, while second in most goals scored and fewest conceded. It's a quick start even Usain Bolt would find difficult to run down. 

The Championship's not a sprint; it's a marathon in which every step is a draining test. Even Pep Guardiola believes

It is the hardest second division in the world because there are 46 matches and play-offs later. 

A fit squad is required to keep up the intensity for the entire race. Squad rotation and reinforcements are essential.

Not yet a quarter-way to the finish, manager Marcelo Bielsa finds himself short on resources, particularly in attack. Leading scorer Kemar Roofe and summer recruit Patrick Bamford are unavailable due to injury. While the Argentine's known for operating with a streamlined roaster, he could make do with some extra firepower. 

Enter Nigerian free agent, Emmanuel Emenike. A recent online poll conducted and voted on by Leeds fans urged Bielsa to look up the former West Ham poacher. The prospect's a tantalising one, a bargain even, albeit his arrival might have adverse effects. 

Pros 

Emenike brings bags of top-level experience to Bielsa's young squad. The 31-year-old journeyman represented 10 different teams in seven countries across three continents. He's a former Nigeria international. Such priceless exposure counts over an arduous season.

He can produce, as well. Despite rough patches, Emenike's record is positive. He's approaching a career century in 236 matches. He was top-scorer for the Super Eagles when Nigeria won the 2013 African Cup of Nations.

Emenike made his name at Spartak Moscow and Fenerbahce.
Emenike made his name at Spartak Moscow and Fenerbahce.

The Nigerian isn’t your everyday forward; he's a bully. Emenike's physique recalls Everton hero Yakubu Aiyegbeni. Not the most skilful player, he relies heavily on his strength. Combined with pace, heading ability, athleticism and a fierce shot, Emenike is every manager's delight. In the English second division, where power's a rare commodity, he'd wreak havoc on a weekly basis.

Cons

Emenike represents a huge gamble. On his day, the Nigerian carries a frightening threat at the final third but injuries and inconsistent form are more intimidating eventualities. He hasn’t played at any level in almost a year. His most recent experiment at Las Palmas backfired. He didn't even kick a ball. 

Then there's his temper. Emenike's altercations with managers and fans fostered a 'bad boy' reputation. He was forced to retire from international football in 2015 due to a fallout with coach Sunday Oliseh. On another occasion, he was red-carded after making an 'obscene' gesture towards the opposition bench.

Emenike's arrival would inhibit Welsh sensation Tyler Roberts' growth. Absenting Roofe and Bamford, Roberts stepped up with aplomb. He endured tough games against Millwall and Birmingham but proved his class with a brace against Preston.

Verdict

With Roofe expected to return in a matter of weeks and Roberts showing remarkable progress, signing Emenike makes no sense. In this case, however, rational choice is left to Marcelo Bielsa. There are reasons he's known as the Mad Scientist.

Football Fixtures
Toby Prince

If the sport has 11-men on each side, a ball and lasts for 90 minutes then I'll write about it. Simply put, I'm an unrepentant soccer freak that other freaks will, however, call a geek. I do find time for music when not watching the beautiful game, though and have been known to produce the odd track. 


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