Blackburn Rovers forward Ben Brereton Diaz has revealed his time with the Chile national team in the summer has been key to improving his confidence and with that, his goalscoring form as he spoke to the club’s media team.
The 22-year-old has already matched his Championship goal tally from the last campaign, scoring an exceptional seven goals in nine appearances after his hat-trick against Cardiff City at the weekend and proving to be an even better asset for Tony Mowbray’s men this season.
He scored the same amount of goals and recorded five assists in 40 league displays last term alongside the likes of Adam Armstrong and former Liverpool loanee Harvey Elliott.
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But with the duo leaving in the summer for the Premier League, the onus has been on the Chilean to step up to the plate after seeing the Lancashire side fail to recruit a striker during the previous transfer window, despite generating £15m for the sale of Armstrong to Southampton.
This is a responsibility the 22-year-old has taken in his stride and amid Rovers’ impressive second-tier form, they now find themselves in the top six.
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Despite his remarkable contribution, Brereton Diaz stressed the importance of team effort in their success thus far and speaking more individually after the 5-1 hammering of Cardiff City, he said: “I feel I’m scoring more goals now than the first couple of seasons here, I’m playing with confidence and I’ve brought some of that back from playing for Chile in the summer. It’s acted as motivation.
“I’m delighted to get the hat-trick but it was about the team and it was a great day for us.
“I was always going to take the penalty when it was awarded (for the hat-trick).
“I enjoyed my first goal the most from Tyrhys’ brilliant cross. I went with my right foot and was thrilled to see it hit the net.”
After playing international football, something he may have thought would have been impossible not so long ago, this has obviously been a major confidence booster for the 22-year-old who is thriving with Chile.
If social media reaction is anything to go by, he also seems to be becoming a fan favourite out in South America and with more potential call-ups on the horizon, being allowed to travel to the continent after seeing Blackburn strike a deal with the Chilean FA, he will be keen to continue impressing.
He has no shortage of motivation to do well before in his previous quest to steal the headlines at the expense of former teammates Adam Armstrong and Harvey Elliott, who were both impressive at Ewood Park last season, but their departures have made him the main man for the second-tier side now.
The forward will have ambitions of his own to get to the Premier League – and if he continues in his current form with his contract expiring at the end of the season – a top-flight side may be able to recruit him on a free transfer next summer.
So his current situation is a win-win. He’s been offered a contract, so he can either take that or decide to hold out for offers from elsewhere and potentially test himself at the highest level.
In fairness to Blackburn, he may be able to do it at his current side if they can maintain their current form and get back to the Premier League against all odds.