Forwards who can be like a new signing in 2024/25

7 Jul 2024
Strikers like a new signing

Adrian Clarke looks at players who could have a big impact after missing most of 2023/24

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Ahead of the start of the season, Adrian Clarke looks at the players who missed the majority of the last campaign and can have a big impact in 2024/25.

Kevin Schade (Brentford)

Ivan Toney’s suspension opened the door for 22-year-old Schade to grow his own role within Brentford’s starting XI, but a serious adductor injury kept the forward out for 200 days. He was subsequently not involved in 27 of their top-flight matches.

Thomas Frank likes to use the German on the left side of his attack in a 4-3-3, but he could also perform as a striker in a 3-5-2.

Schade attacking stats 2023/24
Statistic Total Brentford rank
Touches in opp. box/90 7.29 1st
Headed shots/90 0.87 1st
Aerials won/90 3.71 1st

Schade is exceptionally good in the air, Brentford’s best player in that department by far, and he habitually gets himself on the ball inside the opposition box.

He is yet to prove himself as a prolific scorer, but Schade is a real handful to contain. This season he should provide the Bees with a new dimension, allowing them to play more direct.

Christopher Nkunku (Chelsea)

Nkunku only made two Premier League starts, coupled with nine substitute appearances in an an incredibly frustrating debut season at Chelsea.

Whenever he was available, the 26-year-old Frenchman showed a lot of promise, giving defenders headaches with his power and skill, as well as scoring three goals at a rate of one every 146 minutes. Cole Palmer was the only Chelsea player to find the back of the net at a faster rate.

Chelsea with and without Nkunku 2023/24
Statistic With Nkunku Without Nkunku
Matches 11 27
Win ratio 63.6% 40.7%
Ave. points 2.18 1.52
Ave. goals scored 2.27 1.92

Nkunku’s influence on the side is visible as the table shows, with Chelsea’s win ratio, goals scored and average points tally all significantly better when he was involved.

Enzo Maresca will be hoping the knee, hip and hamstring injuries which plagued him last season, do not trouble him again.

Matheus Franca (Crystal Palace)

Brazilian forward Franca came off the bench to good effect in Oliver Glasner’s first two matches in charge of Crystal Palace, but a groin kept him out of the run-in from early March onwards.

It is hard to assess how impactful the 20-year-old will be in 2024/25 on the back of just 225 minutes of first-team action, but the former Franca’s pace and physicality looks like it will be a useful option inside the final third.

Glasner will also be pleased with how versatile Franca can be. He can operate in the wide areas, as a No 10, or even as a box-to-box midfielder, if Jean-Philippe Mateta keeps his place as the first-choice striker.

Harvey Barnes (Newcastle)

Newcastle United were a more dangerous attacking outfit when Barnes was on the pitch last season.

The Magpies scored once every 43 minutes when he was on the pitch, but that improved to one goal every 33.1 minutes.

Newcastle with and without Barnes 2023/24
Statistic With Barnes Without Barnes
Minutes 765 2625
Goals scored 240 61
Mins/goal 33.1 43

Barnes regularly provided second-half impetus with his direct style of play and positivity. Six of his eight direct goal contributions (including four goals scored) came when he was brought on as an impact substitute. He started seven matches but tellingly, was used 14 times from the bench.

Barnes suffered a injury to his big toe that kept him on the sidelines between late September and early February, while a hamstring issue put him out during March.

If he stays fit in 2024/25 it will be interesting to see where Eddie Howe accommodates him, as his preferred position on the left is usually occupied by Anthony Gordon.

Taiwo Awoniyi (Nott'm Forest)

In some respects, Chris Wood outshone Awoniyi as Nottingham Forest’s centre-forward last season, but the Nigerian’s importance should not be underestimated.

Awoniyi is a real handful for defenders given how quick and powerful he is, and even if he is not scoring goals himself, the presence of the 26-year-old tends to open up additional space for his team-mates.

Nott'm Forest with and without Awoniyi last two seasons
Statistic With Awoniyi 22/23 Without Awoniyi 22/23
Matches 17 21
Matches failed to score in 4 8
Ave. goals scored 1.24 0.81
Statistic With Awoniyi 23/24 Without Awoniyi 23/25
Matches 12 26
Matches failed to score in 1 9
Ave. goals scored 1.5 1.19

Groin surgery and a thigh problem restricted Awoniyi to only 12 starts last season, but interestingly Forest only failed to score in one of those matches. By contrast they blanked in nine of the 26 where he did not make the starting XI.

It was a very similar story in the previous campaign, so ever since he arrived at the City Ground it is clear the striker has made a tremendous impact.

Nuno Espirito Santo will be hoping Awoniyi avoids injury in 2024/25. He is a talisman for the side.

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