This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict’ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
With just one senior striker on the books going into the final few days of the transfer window, it was important for Middlesbrough to secure some competition for Uche Ikpeazu – and they did just that.
The ex-Wycombe man has done a good job so far as Boro’s battering ram at the top end of the pitch, but Neil Warnock needed an alternative option and someone who is more of a natural goalscorer.
He finally secured that after weeks of negotiations as 30-cap Slovenia international Andraz Sporar was secured on a season-long loan from Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon.
The 27-year-old could pen a permanent deal if all goes well with the Northern Echo confirming there is an option in the deal to make it more long-term, but will he end up taking Ikpeazu’s starting spot or will he play alongside him? The FLW team have had their say on the matter…
The signing of Andraz Sporar has at last given Neil Warnock a real dilemma over who his first-choice forward should be in the Championship for the rest of the campaign.
Uche Ikpeazu has been asked to shoulder a lot of responsibility at the start of the season in leading the line and acting as the main scorer for Middlesbrough.
The former Wycombe Wanderers forward has managed to do a good job for Middlesbrough so far with him having fired home two goals and provided one assist in his opening four league games.
The 26-year-old has shown why Warnock wanted to bring him to the Riverside Stadium and he will be an invaluable option throughout the rest of the season providing he remains injury-free.
Unlike Ikpeazu when he arrived, Sporar does not come to Middlesbrough with experience in the Championship already under his belt.
We have seen in the past that some players can take a while to adapt to the English second tier and Warnock has already said as much about Martin Payero after his arrival earlier in the summer.
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However, Sporar looks like he has the quality to adapt to the Championship and he comes with a good pedigree having been an impressive goal-scoring machine for Slovan Bratislava prior to his switch to Sporting CP.
The 27-year-old might not immediately come into the starting line-up ahead of Ikpeazu, but it does seem that he is the more natural scorer out of the two forwards judging off their career numbers in front of goal.
So, if Middlesbrough get to a stage this term where they have to prioritise scoring goals then Sporar could well come into play and overtake Ikpeazu in the starting line-up.
I think both will be given a chance to show what they can do and they’ll also probably be given a chance to work together at times too.
I think Ikpeazu has started this season pretty decently with a few goals and assists in the bank and that’s a really positive sign, given he’s only just arrived himself from Wycombe.
Certainly, there’s no real need to hook him out of the team and I think this signing from Sporar will more be to help add more depth up front and give Warnock the ability to have different options for different situations in different matches.
There should be some healthy competition between the pair and Boro fans will hope that they can spur one another on to new heights as they look to motor on after the international break and get themselves firmly in that play-off mix before the next break in October.
There is certainly scope for Andrz Sporar to come in and and claim a starting spot over Uche Ikpeazu, but the former Wycombe Wanderers man is providing an excellent service at present, meaning it will take a lot to de-throne him from his starting striker spot.
Sporar has proved to be an excellent scorer of goals in recent years, whilst he also possesses the physicality to cause opposing defenders problems, however, he many have to bide his time.
Ikpeazu has displayed early on in his Middlesbrough career that he is a lot more than just a physical unit who is just a real handful. He is also a relentless worker, who is just as happy running in behind and chasing lost causes as he is holding the ball up an bringing other into play.
Two goals in four is also an excellent return. He is being supplied with more service with Boro, and thus far, he is reaping the rewards.
Sporar is a talented footballer who can enjoy a very successful time with Neil Warnock’s side, but he might have to be patient early on.