Premier League

5 Affordable Strikers Brighton Must Target

 • by Matt Gault
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Brighton & Hove Albion have exceeded expectations in the Premier League this season. After earning promotion from the Championship, the Seagulls are flying-high in eighth.

That is thanks to a four-game unbeaten sequence which included a 3-0 win over West Ham United and their most recent success on the road, away to Swansea City.

Glenn Murray has been central to their recent upturn in form. The 34-year-old has impressively rolled back the years with four goals in his last three games. Although the former Crystal Palace and Bournemouth frontman scored 23 goals to help lift Chris Hughton’s side to the top-flight, he perhaps did not anticipate finding the net with such regularity in the top flight.

It’s unreasonable to expect Murray to maintain such a rate and, with Tomer Hemed currently out of favour following his three-match ban for stamping on Newcastle United defender DeAndre Yedlin, Hughton will almost certainly dip into the transfer market looking for options to bolster his strikeforce.

Here are five affordable targets he should consider.

Leigh Griffiths

The Celtic striker’s record in Scotland is highly impressive. Since joining the Hoops from Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2013, he has 93 goals in 156 appearances, boasting an enviable goals to game ratio of 0.59.

This season has seen the Scotland international in fine fettle, too, with eight strikes from 18 appearances. He has attracted interest from the Premier League before and was a West Brom and Newcastle transfer target in the summer.

A proven finisher, Griffiths would add considerable threat to Brighton’s attacking line. After a particularly eye-catching display to help Celtic thump Astana in the Champions League qualifying round, Chris Sutton claimed Griffiths would ‘stroll it’ in the Premier League.

Putting aside Sutton’s association with Celtic, he is a pundit who watches a lot of football in both England and Scotland, so he is in a better position than most to make such a claim. Griffiths is currently valued at £2.5million on Transfermarkt but Celtic would likely demand a fee considerably north of that figure.

But for a player with excellent finishing abilities and the willingness to run in behind defences – something Murray does not offer – it would surely be a deal worth pursuing.

Aleksandar Mitrović

The capricious 23-year-old has fallen out of favour at Newcastle following the arrival of Joselu and the Magpies are reportedly willing to listen to offers.

The Serbia international possesses a great deal of natural ability. He has aerial prowess, strength and decent hold-up skills, while he has a reputation for scoring in big games, netting against Manchester United and in the Tyne-Wear derby against Sunderland during his time in the North East.

His temperament is always going to be a point of discussion but perhaps a change of scenery to the south coast could be just the antidote for his current struggles on Tyneside.

Rafael Benítez has seemingly run out of patience with the striker but Hughton’s abilities as a man-manager could be key in turning Mitrović’s fortunes around.

Gary Hooper

Thanks to some accomplished displays for Sheffield Wednesday this season, Hooper has attracted interest from several Premier League clubs, including Brighton, Palace and West Brom.

The 29-year-old has already surpassed his tally of six goals last season after scoring eight in 12 appearances this term. Interestingly, Hooper played under Hughton at Norwich City. Hughton signed the striker from Celtic in the summer of 2013 and he went on to score eight goals that season as the Canaries were relegated to the second tier.

Hooper will be 30 in January and, with Wednesday lying 12th in the Championship and not looking promising candidates for promotion, he may feel now is the right time to prove that he can still mix it in the big time.

The former Tottenham Hotspur academy prospect is renowned as a penalty box striker, a player with smart movement and clinical finishing from 18 yards and closer. His stature allows him to ride a challenge and, with a fondness of playing off the defender’s shoulder, it would offer a different dimension for Brighton’s playmakers Pascal Groß and Anthony Knockaert.

Leonardo Ulloa

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Brighton fans will have fond memories of the Argentine. Ulloa scored 26 goals in 58 appearances for the Seagulls before being snapped up by Leicester City.

The 6ft 1in striker enjoyed a stellar first season with the Foxes, too, netting 13 times to help them avoid relegation under Nigel Pearson.

However, since then, he has played a bit-part role behind Jamie Vardy and Shinji Okazaki and, with Kelechi Iheanacho and Islam Slimani also ahead of him in the pecking order at the King Power Stadium, Ulloa may be entertaining thoughts of a move away.

The 31-year-old signed a new two-year deal in August but with such limited opportunities in the first-team, a return to Brighton could reinvigorate his Premier League career.

Although he doesn’t offer pace or as much mobility as Griffiths or Hooper, Ulloa is a classic poacher and poses a considerable threat in the air. He would be an affordable option for Hughton and may be one of the easiest to sign given his status at Leicester.

Danny Ings

The 25-year-old Liverpool forward has endured a torrid time over the last couple of years with injury but has recently regained full fitness.

He has emerged as a Newcastle transfer target but there is no reason why Brighton shouldn’t challenge the Magpies for his services. With little chance of getting regular first-team opportunities at Anfield, Ings is tipped to leave on loan in January to get Premier League minutes under his belt.

A direct and dangerous striker, Ings was excellent for Burnley before signing for Liverpool and there is certainly a case that, if he can stay fit, he can replicate that form at a different club.

Ings recently proved to potential suitors that he has not lost his eye for goal after two lengthy spells on the sidelines, scoring four goals for the Liverpool Under-23 side against Bristol City.

The Premier League is a significant step up in quality but Ings is already proven at this level and, after a long road to recovery, he is raring to re-establish himself. If Liverpool are willing to let him leave on loan until the end of the season, he would also constitute a low-risk, low-cost option for Brighton.

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