Earlier this week, Jay Rodriguez finally made the switch to Southampton.
Talk of a transfer had been rife since the end of the season, and there were even conspiracy theories surrounding the reasons for his absence in the final games of the campaign.
The official word was that he was struggling with a groin injury, but many believed manager Eddie Howe was protecting him; wary of the fact that a serious injury in the final weeks could scupper a transfer and a potentially large fee.
I would like to take this opportunity to quash those rumours here and now, having been inside the training facility myself in April and seen Rodriguez on the physio’s table receiving treatment for the injury. If it were a phantom complaint, it seems an awful lot of trouble to go to on the club’s part to keep up the charade.
The seemingly inevitable transfer has now been agreed of course, and I feel we have come out on the better side of it. The fee, thought to be around £6-7m, is a big one for a player without a single minute of Premier League experience. The club; having brought Rodriguez through the centre of excellence; has made a healthy profit and should look to spend the money wisely on replacing him.
Rodriguez has the potential to be a top class striker. Tall, quick, strong in the air and with the ability to score goals from anywhere, he provided an extra edge to our attack; something quite different from the likes of goal poacher Charlie Austin or the workmanlike Martin Paterson.
At 22, he is still young and only has two full seasons of professional football under his belt, but the improvement we have seen in him over those two years has been marked. He has developed from a waif-like youngster restricted to a few minutes of action from the bench, into the side’s spearhead and main attacking threat.
Like all Burnley fans, I have only fond memories of his time at the club. Coming off the bench to score the winner in the 120th minute against Fulham, he was the one who sparked off the incredible run to the Carling Cup semi finals in 2009, and it was his goal against Spurs which sent that semi final into extra time. I’ve been going to Turf Moor for 18 years and I can’t recall a goal ever being celebrated quite like that one.
Highlights from the most recent campaign include a marvellous headed double at the City Ground in January, bettered by a solo effort in the next game at home to Peterborough which more than merited the Goal of the Season award.
Burnley born, the fans immediately took to him and you could tell that he absolutely loved playing for the club. I believe that given enough game time, he will thrive at Premiership level alongside the likes of Ricky Lambert. The two have similar qualities (although Lambert has honed his over a longer career) and it will be interesting to see if Nigel Adkins plays them together. Whatever happens, Rodriguez certainly has the potential to establish himself as a Premiership striker.
All Burnley fans thank him for all his goals and everything he did for the club, and wish him well at Southampton. We identified with him. As the song goes…Jay Rodriguez: He’s One Of Our Own.