After losing Jermaine Beckford to Everton, Leeds have moved fast to bring in a replacement in the form of Swindon’s Billy Paynter who joins the club on a free transfer. But will he be enough to fire Leeds back into the Premiership?
Paynter scored 29 goals in all competitions for Swindon this season and came close to helping Swindon get promoted to the Championship only for them to lose against Millwall in the play-off final. This season was the 25-year-old’s most prolific in front of goal and there’s no doubt that his four goals against Leeds over two games made them sit up and take notice. However now he has a lot more responsibility on his shoulders as Leeds are a massive club and the expectation on him to fill Beckford’s shoes will be immense.
However Leeds manager Simon Grayson is confident that he will prove to be a success: “He works ever so hard, holds the ball up well and he has proved he knows where the back of the net is.” Grayson added: “When we knew he was available we were desperate to get him. We feel he will be a good acquisition for the club and I am delighted to have got him.”
But the step up to the Championship will be a big one for him to make and it remains to be seen whether or not he will be able to play at that level, similar to Beckford making the step up to the Premiership. We will only find out next season if Paynter has what it takes, so Leeds best bet is to bring in another proven striker to make sure they are not lacking any firepower. There are two strikers who would best fit the bill Nicky Maynard and Gary Hooper, with their best bet probably being Gary Hooper. Hooper is only 22-years-old and has scored 19 goals for Scunthorpe this season, which made him the third-highest scorer in the Championship. Last season he hit 30 goals for them in all competitions which helped fire them to promotion from League 1. Without disrespecting Scunthorpe, a bigger club like Leeds should have no problem luring him away and he would represent good value for money given his age.
If Leeds wanted to pursue Maynard instead then that wouldn’t be a bad option, the Bristol City striker has scored 21 goals this season including a stunning strike against QPR that was voted the Football League Goal Of 2009. Maynard is a very technical striker with a good eye for goal, but with Steve Coppell having newly been appointed as Bristol City manager they will have ambitions for promotion next season, so it will be hard for Leeds to convince them to part ways with their number one striker.
As for Leeds other striking options they only have Luciano Becchio as a proven striker, he has scored an impressive 36 goals in two seasons at Leeds but again like Paynter it is unknown if he will handle the step up. Other than that Leeds only have the unproven duo of Mike Grella and Davide Somma so they will be keen to invest in the team.