Why Gaspar Panadero could be a smashing signing for Cardiff City
According to claims from Spanish newspaper AS, as relayed by Wales Online, Cardiff City have been credited with an interest in Gaspar Panadero, who currently plies his trade with Spanish second-tier outfit UD Almeria.
Bluebirds boss Neil Harris has identified Panadero as a potential target heading into the mid-season trading period in January, although the Welsh outfit are expected to face competition from Almeria’s second-division rivals Burgos, as well as Cypriot giants Apollon Limassol, in their pursuit of the highly-rated winger (h/t Wales Online).
The 21-year-old, who has previously represented Spain at U18 and U19 levels, is yet to score in 10 La Liga 2 appearances for Almeria this season but he has impressed Cardiff’s scouting team with his all-round game while also assisting twice in the process.
Born in Tarazona, Spain, Gaspar Panadero rose through the youth ranks of Almeria and created history when he came on as a substitute against Cordoba in the La Liga back in September 2014, becoming the youngest professional for the club aged just 16 years and 277 days and also one of the youngest debutants in the history of the Spanish top-flight.
The former Spanish U19 international initially featured for Almeria’s ‘B’ team in the lower divisions but he has gradually evolved into one of the mainstays of his club’s attack in La Liga 2 over the past few seasons.
A diminutive winger with a good left foot, Panadero is primarily a left-winger by trade but he has illustrated the versatility to play in a wide variety of roles across the forward line, including on the right-hand side as an inverted winger and also through the middle as a No.10 behind the striker.
Meanwhile, Cardiff City slumped to their first loss in five games under new manager Neil Harris, as playoff rivals Brentford inflicted a 2-1 defeat and denied the Bluebirds a golden opportunity to close the gap on the top-six in the Championship.
Cardiff remain only three points adrift of the playoff spots and still very much in the promotion mix heading into the second half of the campaign.
As per the report, Harris has suggested that he might look to move a few players on during the mid-season transfer window in order to free up space for new arrivals as he looks to stamp his authority by bolstering the squad with fresh recruits.
Cardiff’s scoring record of 31 goals in 21 games puts them right up there with most of the promotion-chasers in the Championship but the goals have been evenly spread out, with the unimpressive striking quarter of Isaac Vassell, Omar Bogle, Robert Glatzel and Gary Madine only sharing 4 goals among them.
Danny Ward (5) has been a key contributor while midfielder Joe Ralls (5), as well as the wide attacking cavalry of Junior Hoilett, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Josh Murphy, have also chipped in with some valuable goal contributions.
To put things into perspective, Cardiff City can certainly do with a bit of reshuffling in January in a bid to bolster their attacking ranks and Gaspar Panadero is a player in the right age bracket.
Given the 21-year-old’s lack of professional experience outside his homeland, Panadero would be a bit of a gamble for the Bluebirds but they would be better off looking at him as a long-term prospect.
The Spaniard’s tally of 2 goals and 5 assists in 46 senior appearances for Almeria suggests that there is not enough end product in his game at the moment but at 21, he still has plenty of time left on his side to make significant improvements.
Mendez-Laing and Hoilett have emerged as the preferred wide options for Harris in recent weeks, with Murphy playing second-fiddle and Gavin Whyte out of the mix due to an injury that he picked up on international duty last month.
Whyte came through the door from Oxford United this past summer with a lot of promise but the Northern Irishman has struggled to make a positive impact, failing to score in 14 league outings for the Bluebirds thus far.
Hence, it is easy to see that Panadero’s arrival would certainly take a lot of pressure off Hoilett’s shoulders while also adding some much-needed depth and dynamism to the ranks.
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Suffice to say, Cardiff City need to look at Gaspar Panadero as a project player with loads of potential rather than someone who could hand an immediate boost to their surge for promotion. Nevertheless, the youngster is surely worth a punt for Harris as he looks to bring in his own set of players.