Forgotten £15m Brighton striker handed surprise chance to save Premier League career
Since arriving in January 2018, Dutch striker Locadia has struggled to make his mark in English football.
A £15m purchase from PSV Eindhoven, Locadia arrived at the Amex with bags of potential, with both the physical and technical tools to thrive in a challenging Premier League environment.
However, after netting only twice in his first full top flight season at Brighton, both the fans and board started questioning his performances, resulting in some loan departures since.
Spells in the Bundesliga and Major Soccer League with Hoffenheim and Cincinnati respectively have offered the striker fresh opportunities to impress Albion, but seven goals in two years hasn’t raised any eyebrows.
Surprisingly, Locadia made an unexpected appearance on Potter’s bench at Brentford last weekend, after Aaron Connolly picked up an injury setback on international duty.
Although the Dutchman was the only recognised striker named amongst the substitutes, Potter in fact turned to midfielder Alexis Mac Allister to replace frontman Danny Welbeck, perhaps suggesting he doesn’t yet trust Locadia to contribute from the bench.
By including him in the matchday squad, Potter may well be sending a strategic yet uplifting message to the 27-year-old: he is no longer an outcast in his eyes.
Brighton’s struggle for goals was well documented last season, resulting in a desperate plea from fans to sign a potent new striker this summer. However, after the failed pursuits of Darwin Nunez, Nicolas Gonzalez and Odsonne Edouard, who rubbed salt in Albion wounds by scoring a brace on his Crystal Palace debut, Brighton have entered the season with an apparent shortage of goal scoring strikers.
It seemed the script was written once again this weekend, after a goalless 90 minutes at the Brentford Community Stadium.
Fortunately for the travelling Seagulls fans, Leandro Trossard delivered a sublime solo goal in injury time to make it a third win of the season.
Although Trossard’s shooting boots were on during the final stages, Brighton have tended to rely on set-piece goals and moments of brilliance to carry them up the Premier League, which is unlikely to sustain throughout the course of a full season. With Connolly injured and Welbeck presumably lacking the fitness to last 90 minutes, there is a slight window of opportunity for Locadia in the next two weeks.
By showcasing a professional and determined attitude in training, Locadia could continue to earn a spot on the bench.
If his services are not required in the next Premier League outing against Leicester, Brighton’s EFL Cup clash with Swansea on Wednesday may prove a perfect dress rehearsal for
Locadia, as Potter looks to rotate the squad and build match sharpness. Following Welbeck’s return from injury and Maupay’s succession of starts in the Premier League, Potter is likely to rest his preferred striking partnership against the Swans, which boosts Locadia’s chance of a start.
Whilst there is no guarantee of him featuring in the next few games, Locadia’s unprecedented inclusion on the bench last Saturday suggests a make-or-break fortnight of football for
Albion’s forgotten man, who will be eager to prove his doubters wrong if his number is called.