Charlie Austin is a phenomenon. Last week the Burnley marksman became the fastest player to reach 20 goals in the English game’s history – reaching the haul just 17 games into the season. He is still currently outscoring both Messi and Ronaldo. It should come as no surprise that Liverpool have been linked with the striker.
Austin has been terrorising Championship and League 1 defenders for 3 and a half seasons now. Dangerous with both feet, quick across the ground, possessing lightning fast reactions and deadly in the air, Austin has the complete package you want from a goalscorer.
It’s worth remembering that Austin is just 23 and has only been playing professional football for 3 years. Before joining Swindon in 2009, Austin was a part time brickie playing for Poole Town (scoring 46 goals in 48 appearances). Since turning pro, Austin has scored 65 goals in 81 starts – a stunning return no matter the level.
From Poole to Swindon to Burnley, Austin has consistently scored lots and lots of goals with each move he’s made up the Football League. There is no reason to doubt that he’d be able to continue to do so in the Premier League. Considering his age and relative lack of experience, there is no reason to doubt that Charlie Austin still has a lot of improving to do as a player. And for a player currently outscoring the rest of Europe, that’s a frightening prospect.
Austin first came to my attention in 2010 when my team Charlton came against Swindon in the League 1 play-offs. Austin bagged the first goal of the tie; storming onto a cross to power in a header past our motionless ‘keeper. It was the kind of goal you could see coming as soon as Austin began his run into the box. The run and header were both of such an unwavering conviction that anything but a Swindon goal just didn’t seem possible.
The following season our paths crossed once more and again Austin put us to the sword with two goals in a 4 – 2 victory Swindon. Admittedly it was possibly the worst performance I have ever seen from a Charlton side yet I was struck by the confident swagger of the young striker. Swindon were awful themselves but Austin found two openings and took them both – celebrating with his arms aloft and a smirk on his face in front of the South London crowd. Here was a player literally scoring goals for fun.
This confidence, perhaps even arrogance, is an essential ingredient for a goal-scorer and Premier League clubs should cash in while Austin is still high on the stuff. Anyone who would dare do “the sprinkler dance” on a cold winter’s night in front of angry South Londoners clearly has an ego of Kanye sized proportions. Austin should have no trouble holding his own in the dressing room and would not be fazed by the demands of a top half Premier League side.
Both fans and managers often like to turn their noses up at talk of purchasing a striker from the lower leagues. The striker is usually seen to be the star of the side and as such nothing other than a big name is deemed acceptable. But why late an almost certain big name of the future like Austin pass you by when he’s affordable now?
Arsenal’s current man up top (and French international), Olivier Giroud, was playing for Tours in France’s Ligue 2 as recently as 2010. Everton purchased their prolific goal snaffler Nikica Jelavic from Rangers with relatively little competition from other Premier League sides, although Liverpool apparently turned him down. The SPL is often considered to be a league of a worse standard than the Championship and as such the fear is that players who are successful north of the border won’t be able to make the step up in the Premier League. Yet as the case of these two strikers reveals, goal-scoring is an art that doesn’t go away, no matter the size of the stadium it’s performed in.
How Liverpool must wish they had got a piece of their blue neighbour’s Croatian hero to help carry the goal-scoring burden weighing on Luis Suarez. How much better would Arsenal fans feel if their only back up striker wasn’t the oft-hapless Marouane Chamakh? The answer to both should be glaringly obvious. Charlie Austin’s record should have the entire Premier League embroiled in a bidding war. Liverpool and Arsenal should fight to buy him now, before his cocky smirk comes to haunt your ground too.