Charlton Athletic are preparing for their return to the Championship this season and Lee Bowyer will be looking to ensure that his side extend their stay in the second flight of English football past just one season.
The Addicks sealed promotion from League One play-offs after defeating Sunderland in the play-off final and there has been significant turnover at the Valley over the summer, with 10 players leaving the club and five new players coming in.
Amongst the summer departures are forwards Josh Parker, Igor Vetokele, Nicky Ajose and Mikhail Kennedy, as well as 10-goal midfielder Joe Aribo, leaving Bowyer’s goalscoring options depleted.
Charlton have signed striker Macauley Bonne from Leyton Orient already this summer and are now reportedly interested in a move for Reading’s Sam Baldock as they look to add more reinforcements up front, according to journalist Anthony Smith.
Baldock spent last season at Reading after joining in the summer from Brighton and Hove Albion, where he featured regularly during their time in the Championship but saw his play time reduced in the Premier League.
We look at his statistics from his debut season with the Royals and examine whether they suggest this would be a good move for Bowyer to make.
The 30-year-old made 21 appearances for Reading in the Championship last season, 15 of which were as a starter, and scored five goals in that time, meaning he scored a goal every 273 minutes, the fourth highest of any player at the club who scored more than one goal.
That is not an excellent record but given that Baldock was the side’s third top scorer and saw limited minutes in a Royals team that were the fourth lowest scorers in the Championship last season, it is by no means awful.
Baldock averaged 1.2 shots per game, while creatively he did not offer a great deal, generating just one assist and 0.5 average key passes per game, but again these stats are also reflective of a team that looked lacklustre going forward regularly last season.
The forward is just five-foot-seven and so it is perhaps unsurprising that he averaged just 0.6 aerial duels won per game but if Bowyer is signing him it will not be for his aerial prowess.
At 74.7% Baldock’s pass success is decent and it is worth considering that the Royals finished in 20th last season and it is often tough for teams near the bottom of the league to retain possession.
What is a concern is that he averaged just 14.5 passes per game last season, the second worst of any player with more than 1,000 minutes, indicating he struggled to impact the game outside of his goals.
Two statistics relating to Baldock that are important to consider when weighing up the value of the move for Charlton are his 157 appearances and 38 goals in the Championship.
With Bowyer’s side returning to the second tier of English football, the addition of a forward with significant experience in the league could be vital given that Lyle Taylor and Bonne have no Championship experience at all.
This is likely a huge factor in Bowyer’s interest and given the Royals’ large wage bill, Charlton may be able to add some useful knowledge and depth to their striking department for a low cost.