Football can be a funny game. Alexander Sørloth, who has scored just once for Crystal Palace, is now a transfer target for Manchester United, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion.
The 24-year-old Norway international spent the second half of the 2018/19 campaign on loan with Gent but failed to set the Belgian league alight.
He was viewed as a flop and it appeared as though the Eagles would make a loss on the forward who cost £9million when he moved from FC Midtjylland in January 2018. To get him off their books, a two-year loan with Turkish side Trabzonspor was agreed last summer.
Yet after a blistering start to life in Turkey, clubs are queueing up to sign the 6ft 4ins forward. Trabzonspor find themselves in second position in the Turkish Süper Lig, just a point behind surprise leaders İstanbul Başakşehir. Karadeniz Fırtınası have the option to make his loan move a permanent one at the end of the season for a fee of £6million. His agent confirmed as much recently.
“I can confirm that Trabzon has an option agreement with Crystal Palace, but I do not want to comment on anything more than that, “Morten Wivestad told VG.
Additionally, he confirmed that there interest from clubs in Sørloth but did not name any clubs.
“It’s a while before the window opens, but there is a lot of interest around Alex, I can confirm that,” he added.
In theory, Trabzonspor could sign the Norweigan powerhouse before immediately selling him on for £30million, turning a huge profit in the process.
According to reports, Manchester United, Sheffield United, Sevilla and RB Leipzig all sent scouts to watch the striker as he played for Trabzonspor in their 5-2 win over Rizespor in the Turkish top flight.
He failed to add to his tally. It’s only the eighth time Sørloth has failed to score in a Süper Lig match this term, but he did register an assist. It means his total for the domestic campaign now stands at 19 goals and six assists in 2,204 minutes.
He went from goal-shy to goal machine.
However, talk has inevitably turned to whether or not Sørloth can replicate his form outside of Turkey, or whether the quality of the league is lending itself to the 24-year-old looking like one of the best strikers in Europe.
Statistically, the 22-cap Norwegian international appears to be the real deal.
He is outperforming his expected goals average of 0.59 by 0.19, which seems substantial. But, even if he reverted to the mean, the Trabzonspor No.11 would still be good for more than 20 goals in a 38-game season. An impressive return for a player averaging just 2.7 shots per 90.
Sørloth doesn’t rely on volume to be effective. He doesn’t need countless shots to score his goals. That’s why he’s in such high demnand. Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah take in excess of four shots per game for their goals. They need lots of opportunities. Sørloth doesn’t.
He’s fairly accurate with his shooting, hitting the target with 50 per cent of his efforts. When you break it down, the stats suggest he is an elite chance-getter. Shots from Sørloth have an average expected goals value of 0.21 this season.
When you watch him play, it’s easy to understand why his shots tend to have such high values. He rarely has an effort from outside the penalty box and the majority of his goals are tap-ins. The skill of getting into those areas with such regularity is often overlooked and undervalued.
A juggernaut in the air and diligent defensively, Sørloth is what every team wants their No.9 to be. Everything about his form suggests it is transferable and he could well deliver on a bigger stage.
Crystal Palace might regret giving up on him so soon, especially having kept faith in Christian Benteke, a player with five goals since the start of the 2017/18 season.