Why Sheffield United should avoid a move for Billel Omrani
Blades boss Chris Wilder has already completed his first piece of business in the January transfer window, with former Man City midfielder Jack Rodwell joining the club on a short-term deal. The manager is now seeking up additional cover in front of goal heading into the brutal second half of the season. (h/t Sun)
Omrani, 26, has emerged as a potential target for Sheffield United after registering 13 goals and 4 assists in 31 appearances for the Romanian heavyweights across all competitions.
Six of those goals came in the qualifying rounds of the UEFA Champions League as Cluj eventually fell short in their pursuit of a return to Europe’s premier club competition. Omrani also found the net on Matchday 1 of the Europa League group stages back in September as Cluj shocked Serie A outfit Lazio with a 2-1 victory.
A youth exponent of Marseille, Omrani spent nine years at his boyhood club between 2007 and 2016 before moving across the continent to join the Romanian giants, having struggled to establish himself as a regular fixture in Ligue 1.
The 26-year-old’s decision to drop down to a lesser competitive league in Europe has paid off handsomely. Omrani has racked up 37 goals and 28 assists in 134 appearances for Cluj across all competitions so far, with 7 of those goals coming in European competitions.
Meanwhile, Sheffield United triumphed 2-1 against non-league outfit AFC Fylde to book their seats in the fourth round of the FA Cup and the Blades must aim to carry that momentum into their home fixture against West Ham in the Premier League on Saturday.
United have lost their last couple of league fixtures against Man City and Liverpool but the fruits of their impressive run in the first half of the campaign still remain intact, with the Blades currently placed 8th in the standings, just a point shy of 6th-placed Tottenham.
However, Sheffield United need to improve their squad in January if they are to emulate the heroics of Wolves from the previous campaign and mount a strong challenge for a European spot.
The Blades have been highly resilient in the Premier League under Wilder so far this term, thanks in large proportion to their water-tight backline that has shipped just 21 goals.
To that end, a lack of goals could prove to be a major stumbling block in their pursuit of a dream European finish and Wilder will surely need to find a way to improve on a scoring record of 23 goals in 21 games if the Blades are to push on for greater glory.
The summer transfer window marked a huge overhaul of the attacking options at Bramall Lane, with Callum Robinson, Lys Mousset and Oliver McBurnie all coming through the door as fresh recruits to join the likes of Billy Sharp, Leon Clarke and David McGoldrick.
The new arrivals have largely restricted the ageing duo of Sharp and Clarke to a bit-part role this season. As a result, Clarke has been linked with moves to Championship clubs Stoke City and Huddersfield Town in January (Football Insider h/t Stoke Sentinel) while Sharp could also seal an exit, with Celtic rumoured to be among the potential suitors. (h/t Daily Record)
Lys Mousset, who joined from Bournemouth this past summer, has struck 5 goals in the Premier League so far this season while McBurnie has also chipped in with 3.
However, with McGoldrick yet to break his duck in the Premier League and Robinson scoring just once so far, it is a no-brainer that Sheffield United’s existing strike force isn’t potent enough to propel the club to a European finish.
To put things into perspective, Chris Wilder needs to bring in some attacking reinforcements in January to beef up his artillery but Billel Omrani doesn’t look like a big enough upgrade on the Blades’ existing options in front of the goal.
Sheffield United need an immediate game-changer in front of goal to improve their lacklustre scoring record and while Omrani is in his prime at 26, there are hardly any guarantees that he would be able to translate his prolific form at Cluj to Bramall Lane.
Taking into account the obvious difference in quality between the Premier League and the Romanian top-flight, there is every possibility that Omrani might struggle to make such a big jump.
Plus, Wilder has largely focussed on building a squad around homegrown players, meaning that the Blades would be better off looking at other options to bolster their attack. Despite all his exploits at Cluj in Romania, the fact that he failed to cut the teeth at Marseille in France doesn’t give a lot of positive vibes about this move.
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Suffice to say, the Blades need to think twice before investing in Billel Omrani during the January window. Playing such a gamble could well be the undoing of all their hard work in the Premier League so far.