With 11 league games gone in the Championship already this season, there is a clear set of strikers that are leading the way ahead of the rest – with one of them plying their trade at Ewood Park.
Along with Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic and Coventry City’s Swedish hitman Viktor Gyokeres, the rise of Ben Brereton Diaz to become Blackburn Rovers’ star player has been one of quite extraordinary scenes.
The forward was aged just 19 when he signed for the Lancashire side from Nottingham Forest in January 2019, and it’s fair to say he failed to live up to expectations in his first two-and-a-half years at the club.
However following a surprise call-up to the Chile national team this past summer for the Copa America tournament, the phenomenon of Brereton Diaz has only grown.
The 22-year-old is now a star name in the South American nation and his experience with international players has clearly transformed his game back at Rovers.
Brereton Diaz scored just nine times since the beginning of 2019 since his move to Rovers, but following his excursion across the globe and the departure of Adam Armstrong to the Premier League, he’s already surpassed that previous tally with 10 goals from his first 11 Championship matches of the season.
And so comes the big January dilemma – does Brereton Diaz follow Armstrong out of the exit door or does he remain at Ewood Park until the end of the campaign?
His contract expires next summer, meaning clubs from abroad can speak to him from January in regards to a pre-contract arrangement for the 2022-23 season, but with Football League World exclusively revealing that he has a 12-month optional extension in his current deal, it doesn’t look like Rovers will be losing him for free either way.
23 questions about some of Blackburn Rovers’ best ever academy graduates – Can you score full marks?
The club are committed to trying to tie Brereton Diaz down to a long-term contract despite having that extra 12 months on the table, but his good form so far this season will attract interest from not only the Premier League but from foreign leagues as well.
Rovers just banked an eight-figure fee for Armstrong this summer from Southampton and didn’t manage to bring in an out-and-out replacement, meaning that Brereton Diaz is shouldering the load from a wide left position and he’s coping well so far.
But will the Venky’s be tempted to sell if an eight-figure bid comes for the Chilean as well? They have pumped a lot of money into the club to cover seasonal losses over the years and they will know full well that money they can recoup for Brereton could offset some of those losses even further.
Even after a few poor results though, Rovers could push for the play-offs this season and to have their best chance of doing that, they cannot lose Brereton Diaz this season.