On Monday 1st July, Che Adams joined Southampton from Birmingham City for a fee in the region of £15M. The ruthless striker scored 22 goals for Birmingham last season and had attracted the attention of many other Premier League clubs such as Everton, Tottenham and Manchester United. This is a smart signing for Southampton and follows the trend of Premier League clubs buying young players from the EFL.
Adams has followed in the footsteps of Jamie Vardy, Michail Antonio and Charlie Austin by progressing through the non-league pyramid. Like many young players, Adams faced rejection during the formative years of his career as he was released from Coventry’s youth academy at the age of fourteen. He picked himself up and began playing non-league football, joining Oadby Town and then moving on to Ilkestone.
Adams was clearly too good for that level of football and only spent two seasons in the non-league system. He jumped up to League 1 with Sheffield United and took some time to adjust to the higher standard of football. A brace in the FA Cup against Tottenham Hotspur was an indication of his talent though. He eventually acclimatised to the pace of League 1 football and managed to bag 12 goals in the 2015/16 season, winning Sheffield United’s Young Player of the Season award in the progress.
After spending two years with the Blades, Adams left for Birmingham City in 2016. Yet again, Adams didn’t hit the ground running at a higher level. He was often used as an impact substitute and had to really fight for his place in the starting XI. His breakthrough 2018/19 season was remarkable and he quickly became one of the best strikers in the Championship. Adams netted 22 goals and formed a formidable partnership with Lukas Jutkiewicz.
Adams’ fine form was rewarded with a move to the Premier League, after months of speculation. I believe that Southampton is the perfect place for the 22-year-old to flourish and hone his skills. The Saints are an established Premier League club but also aren’t among the elite in the division, meaning that Adams will get a fair share of minutes on the pitch.
Many young talents have developed, improved and moved on to bigger clubs in the past. Adams will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Gareth Bale, Sadio Mane and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Southampton are only going to get better under Ralph Hasenhüttl meaning that this is a very sensible destination for Adams.
A product of non-league football, Adams is a ruthless brute. He has an abundance of raw pace and physicality that allows him to hold off defenders with ease. Adams also possesses an explosiveness, meaning that he burst through defensive lines and release wicked shots on goal. His mixture of pace and muscle means that he’s capable of spearheading counter attacks whilst also holding the ball up and bringing his teammates into play.
He is almost like a bulkier Jamie Vardy and hasn’t lost many of the traits and skills that he picked up whilst playing non-league football. Adams thrived alongside Lukas Jutkiewicz after seasons of inconsistency, the pair were unstoppable at times so Hasenhuttl(*AGAIN*) may explore the possibility of playing 2 up top. The Austrian has played 4-4-2 briefly which was a formation that suited Adams perfectly.
It may take a while for Adams to adapt to the sheer quality of his opponents in the Premier League but this is a player who has risen from the 9th tier in English football to the top tier by the time he’s 22. He is used to constantly having to prove himself at a higher level so the magnitude of the league he’s entering won’t phase him. I’m confident that Adams will thrive at Southampton and could easily become one of England’s best strikers within a few years.
By: Thomas Owen
Photo: Sky Sports