Anthony Modeste is about to finalize his move to the Chinese Super League, Bobby Wood has signed an extension with Hamburg and we are still without a viable option at striker.
Bobby Wood looked like a good option, he is fairly young, fairly affordable and somewhat of a finished product ready to slide into the starting XI and start scoring goals. But he didn’t want to join us, so we need to rethink the strategy altogether and possibly look for less refined options as we continue to look to the future and plan not just for this season’s Europa League campaign, but towards future attempts to crack into the top four and eventually make a serious attempt at winning the league.
Transfer Target: Michael Gregoritsch
Current Club: Hamburger SV
We turn our gaze from Bobby Wood towards another young Hamburg forward today, Austrian International Michael Gregoritsch. I will be the first to admit, Gregoritsch is a significantly larger risk than signing Wood. He is fairly young, but has never been the focal point of a system at the top-level of a major league, and for the most part, has been fairly surplus to requirements to every club he’s ever been at. But all of these are just words. The real question remains” Who is Michael Gregoritsch?
To understate it, he is a twenty-three year old Austrian striker who currently is on the books at Hamburg. He has been at Hamburg since 2015 and has made 53 total league appearances, scoring 10 goals. These numbers are not spectacular, but it is important to take into consideration that nearly half of his appearances have come as a substitute.
Prior to suiting up for Hamburg he started his career at Austrian side Kapfenberger SV, before making the move to Germany, signing with Hoffenheim in 2011. Almost as soon as he arrived at Hoffenheim he was sent out on a tour of various lower league clubs throughout Germany, suiting up for four different clubs on loan and achieving moderate success virtually everywhere he was loaned out at, scoring 11 goals in 28 appearances for the Hoffenheim reserve side and netting 7 times in 25 appearances for Bochum. These number show that there is potential in Gregoritsch, but is there enough to step into the boots of Modeste and score 20 or more league goals next season?
I feel it is important to point out that Köln have already made a bid of €5 million for Gregoritsch, which has been rejected, however it is believed that Hamburg have declared that a bid of €5.5 million would be enough to secure a transfer. This is very important because this represents quite a potential bargain for the Billy Goats, and would ensure that multiple other players would be able to be signed for much-needed depth.
So we know that he has fairly high potential, and would be a bargain buy, but would he fit into our system? He is fairly pacey, especially for a player of his size and would represent a good counter-attacking and good fit for Peter Stöger;s system in that way. And at 6’4″ he represents a great aerial threat, much in the same way that Modeste did. He is a versatile player, capable of playing on the wing, and feels comfortable cutting inside and shooting from distance. The intangible may be his ability to score from direct free kicks.
He is also now a full Austrian international, and although he has only received a single cap for his national side, he was a prolific striker for the U-21 Austrian side, scoring 20 times in 26 appearances.
Overall, I would be quite pleased if the head brass pulled the trigger on Gregoritsch. He is a young player that can grow along with the team, and can immediately provide offense for the squad. The only caveat is, I would almost certainly want the team to sign a second striker, to add depth to the roster and to elevate pressure on the young Austrian if he were to stumble out of the blocks. He also represents a good value and could yield tremendous return on investment if he grows to full potential. And hey, sometimes the long shot pays off big.