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Possible replacements for Toko Ekambi

A little bit of striker depth could come in handy.

Real Madrid v AS Roma - UEFA Champions League Group G Photo by Denis Doyle - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

Personally, I think we could use one more striker if we’re going to make Europe this season. I don’t have a ton of confidence in Bacca at this point in his career and Moreno can’t play every single minute the rest of the season. What we have below are a few suggestions that I think could be had on loan. I’m focusing on loans because we do not have a full fee for Toko Ekambi guaranteed yet, and I don’t think the club would be willing to extend itself on a permanent transfer fee until the full sale of Toko is secured. So here there are:

Mariano Diaz, Real Madrid

This guy would be perfect, and he inspired the article. He’s an incredibly high energy striker, full of passion and a hunger to score that’s rare even among strikers. In 2017-2018, as a full time striker for Lyon, he bagged 18 goals and put in two more in the Europa league.

His pressure regains (times per 90 minutes a team regains the ball within five seconds of the player pressuring an opponent) show the energy I’m talking about. He’s not the striker who is just going to give up on the play when it doesn’t go his way, he immediately wants the ball back for his team and is willing to put in the legwork to go get it. Mariano’s wages are a bit high, but he’s third choice at Real Madrid and after these early Copa Del Rey rounds he isn’t likely to see the field again for them this season. Benfica reportedly want him, but I think we could get him if we show interest.

Paco Alcacer, Borussia Dortmund

I know he’s got ties back to Valencia, and I know Valencia may lose Rodrigo and thus pursue a Paco return but if that deal falls through he may be a worthwhile pursuit. Paco bagged 18 for Dortmund last season in less than 1200 minutes, and before an ill-advised move to Barcelona had 13 goals for Valencia in 2015-2016. He’s a solid striker with experience in the league.

The radar there is from his first six months at Dortmund. As you can see, he outperformed his xG in a way that probably was never going to be sustainable. What encourages me is that he’s over 0.7 xG per 90 over the course of the entire Dortmund spell. That’s the kind of xG production we got out of Toko Ekambi and Paco is probably a more reliable finisher. He’s not going to create a lot with a final ball but he does get involved in the buildup much more than Toko ever has.

Moussa Dembele, Lyon

This might be a bit on the nose, but Toko’s transfer to Lyon immediately set off a wave of transfer rumours about Dembele going out on loan to another destination. Dembele is still just 23 but I’m a little worried that he hasn’t really dominated in France, which I consider to be a distant fifth in quality in the ‘top five leagues’. There’s still probably a decent player there, and as long as Moreno is going to get healthy and stay healthy it may not be a terrible move to help Lyon out and take their player back to relieve their clog at striker and fill out our depth. Dembele has 26 goals in the last season and a half in Ligue 1. (It’s entirely possible Lyon fully intends to keep them both as they chase European qualification. If so, disregard.)

Rafael Leão, AC Milan

AC Milan’s striker’s have had an abysmal time finishing this season, and Leão has had it rougher even than his fellow striker Piatek. He’s only 20 years old, and while I’m sure Milan will be tossing Zlatan Ibrahimovic minutes to try to get into Europe, they’ll want this young player to get some minutes. Is he better than Carlos Bacca right now? Well, actually I think so. Check this out:

Leão isn’t great but Bacca’s just downright brutal right now. Might not be a bad six month loan pickup to tide us over until this summer.

That’s what I got

What are your suggestions? Who should we get to add striker depth the rest of this year? Or do you think we’re fine with what we have? Will Villarreal even try to sign someone? Give me your thoughts below.