All the attention today will be on Elland Road to see whether or not Jermaine Beckford makes an appearence, but with his transfer clearly inevitable, I thought we should look deeper at the stats of his possible successors.

After one user criticised my earlier post claiming that the Beckford to Newcastle deal was done, I feel I should first clarify my position on this. I still believe the deal is done, but it’s simply a case of crossing the i’s and dotting the t’s. Jermaine Beckford clearly made that statement saying he was going to Newcastle, or else the club would have dismissed it by now. It’d be stupid of them not to as any other potential suitors would go elsewhere if they believed (as it appears) the deal is already as good as done. I guess today will reveal a lot, but a company like aren’t going to make quotes they can’t back up or court-case happy, Ken Bates led Leeds United would be sending the lawyers round.

Anyway, back to the point at hand. I’ve compiled a table of stats for the four strikers the bookies are favouring to replace Beckford. The appearences and goals are league games only and for the club they are currently signed to.

    Apps Goals GPG
Jermaine Beckford Leeds United  105 63 0.6
Gary Hooper Scunthorpe United 62 31 0.5
Aaron McLean Peterborough United 115 55 0.48
Lee Barnard Southend United 73 35 0.48
Billy Sharp Sheffield United 53 8 0.15

It’s worth noting that Billy Sharp’s record away from Sheffield is a lot better. His average goals per game ratio at Scunthorpe United for example was 0.64, which is better than that of Beckford’s at Leeds. Similarly, whilst he’s been on loan at Doncaster Rovers he’s managed a record of 0.625 goals per game. It just seems that at Sheffield United, he’s never really been able to perform as he can.

Looking at the stats with that in mind, it’s quite obvious why these are the players the bookies are favouring. Leeds United need to replace Beckford with someone capable of one in two. They’re more likely to invest in someone of a relatively young age, which is why 21-year-old Hooper was 2/1 favourite the last time I checked. Leeds United will also need a player capable of peforming in the Championship, and since Hooper is already at that level with struggling Scunthorpe, he ticks all the right boxes. You don’t have to be a professional scout to be able to see the list of criteria required by Leeds, but the one thing no one has really considered is cash.

We’re all assuming Beckford will go for somewhere in the region of £2m. I aren’t convinced Scunthorpe would part with their star-player for such a price, especially since his departure would almost certainly seal their fate as one of the relegated teams from this years Championship. Whilst Hooper is my preferred choice of replacement, the big questions are whether we can get him for the same (or less) than we get for Beckford, and will Bates be willing to add further funds if not?

A quote from Hooper yesterday, in response to the speculation has been interpreted differently by many fans, but for me, it signals his willingness to join Leeds;

“I want to stay at Scunny, but it will be in the back of everyone’s head that I will be going there.

“But I am staying at Scunny and playing at Derby tomorrow hopefully.

“I would be keen (to stay) but if a big club comes in, you never know.”

Given we’re the only team I’m aware of being linked with Hooper, the big club must be us. Maybe it’s years of supporting Leeds that’s made me cynical, but when a player refuses to catergorically rule out a move away from a club, it tends to mean he’s leaving, which is exactly what he’s done here. The door is wide open and this is a screaming invitation for Simon Grayson to collect.

Billy Sharp meanwhile is a definite option. Out of favour at Sheffield United, so undoubtedly available on the cheap. He’s also young and as I pointed out above, he has got a 0.6+ ratio away from Sheffield. He’d tick all the right boxes not only in terms of playing criteria, but also in terms of cost, which would undoubtedly make him Bates’ favourite and give him an edge over the others.

Billy Sharp and Gary Hooper then clearly leading the way, but Aaron McLean and Lee Barnard are good outside shots. That said, this is Simon Grayson whose transfer dealings have never been done publically. Very little was heard about Max Gradel before he signed on the dotted line, so an unexpected striker like the earlier linked Steve Davies from Derby shouldn’t be ruled out. Should make for an interesting few weeks anyway!