So... Why Did Arsenal Sign Yaya Sanogo Instead Of Ulloa?
Hands up who’d heard of Leonardo Ulloa prior to the start of the season? Put your hands down, the answer doesn’t matter. It’s just a colourful way to start an article.
Yes I know he was at Brighton. Yes I know you saw his potential. Yes I know you knew he’d do really well but, let’s face it, you’re a total whopper. Fact is, most of us hadn’t heard of him, but boy, we do now.
I have fallen overwhelmingly in love with Leonardo Ulloa over the first 5 games of this season, despite his towering equaliser for Leicester against Arsenal a couple of weeks back. I admit it’s been many, many years since I have played football regularly, but when I did play I was a keeper, and so I tend to identify with keepers and defenders more. A good striker, I think, should look deeply frightening, and Leonardo fits this mould.
Leonardo Ulloa, with his face like Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men nutting the ball like a cattle gun right through the forehead of the opposing goal.
Leonardo Ulloa, looking like a Dad has come in to play with the under 11s. Leonardo Ulloa, the Aztec Andy Carroll. Leonardo Ulloa, like a Grecian statue reanimated by an ancient curse. Leonardo Ulloa, fascist dictator in an allegorical Guillermo Del Toro fairytale. Leonardo Ulloa, king of the King Power Stadium. Leonardo Ulloa, who flagrantly ignores the rules of the alphabet by pronouncing Ls like Js.
“Uh, isn’t it U-low-a, Leonardo?”, said his teacher, first day of Primary school. Leonardo, already a staggering and frankly quite improbable 6-foot tall, just glares his teacher down. “Are you sure about that?” – the matter was never spoken of again. UH-JOE-A. Say it with me.
I love a good unknown foreigner playing for a mid-table club and absolutely killing it. It harks back to the good old days of Fabrizio Ravanelli at Middlesbrough or Paolo Wanchope at Derby County or Marian Pahars at Southampton or Tore Andre Flo at Chelsea, back when Chelsea were quite happy to just muck about in the UEFA Cup, simpler times.
I love the idea that the fans of said club have an immediate hero to pin hopes of 7th place finishes and decent League Cup runs to. I love the lack of expectation on the player causing him to flourish with such immediacy. I love the inevitable pointed questions at Arsene Wenger: “Had you heard of him? Why didn’t you sign him? He’s better than Sanogo” – Leonardo Ulloa is this season’s Michu, immediately subbed into everyone’s fantasy football team this week.
So a toast to Leonardo Ulloa, and to your own favourite foreign import who, yeah, might not sit at the top table with Henry, Bergkamp, Zola and Ronaldo, but will instead be making fans of smaller teams dream that the coming season might just be alright.