Three reasons Leeds, Brighton target could be this summer's shrewdest buy

Southampton Football Club

We take a look at three stats that suggest Southampton's Billy Sharp could be this summer's most astute signing amid interest from Leeds United and Brighton and Hove Albion.

According to Sky Sports, a number of Championship clubs, including Leeds United and Brighton and Hove Albion, are interested in signing Southampton striker Billy Sharp.

The Sky Sports report states: ‘’Sharp has found himself down the pecking order at Southampton in the last 18 months and he is unlikely to figure in Ronald Koeman’s plans.

‘’The 28-year-old joined Saints from Doncaster for £1.8million in January 2012 and helped them win promotion back to the Premier League.

‘’However, Sharp, who has scored 10 goals in 18 appearances for the St Mary’s club, has seen his first-team chances limited in the top-flight and he spent spells on loan at Reading and Doncaster last season.

‘’Sharp is keen to move on in search of regular first-team football and the news has alerted the likes of Leeds, Brighton and Reading who are all in the market for striking reinforcements before the window closes.’’

The 28-year-old striker needs little introduction to supporters of Football League clubs as his outstanding record speaks for itself.

In the 2011-12 campaign, his last full season at Championship level, the striker bagged an impressive 19 goals in 35 appearances which included eight goals in his last eight games. Nevertheless, the talented striker was quickly deemed surplus to requirements following the Saints' promotion to the Premier League.

Since then, he has been farmed out to numerous Championship clubs but struggled to settle and fit to a particular playing system which has led to his reputation taking a hit.

We take a look at three statistics that prove to us that the former Doncaster striker can still play at the very top end of the division.

146 goals in 346 games in all competitions: The reason Sharp needs little introduction to Football League fans is because his name is often on the scoresheet, regardless of what level he is playing at. The common misconception that the goals have dried up for him is wrong too, and here’s why.

Last season, Billy Sharp scored six goals in 26 Championship matches. Although it may not look all that impressive, you have to take into consideration that he was on loan at two different clubs at different points in the season. You must also factor in that five of those 26 appearances came from the bench, giving him less time to make an impact on the game.

At Forest, the season before, he was firing on all cylinders between October and February but a change in system following a quick succession of different managers saw him ultimately move on to the bench as his face didn’t fit. Nevertheless, when the team played to a system he could make an impact in, he proved he could, scoring seven goals in 12 appearances during that aforementioned period.

The season before his loan move to Forest, as previously discussed, he was considered one of the top strikers in the division for the amount of goals he scored.

32 shots in 16 games: A striker that gets chances at goal is usually a striker scoring goals, and last season Billy Sharp was doing just that.

Whilst at Doncaster, the 28-year-old was still averaging roughly two shots per game which is in line with the best in the Championship. A sign that, despite not being in the best team in the division, he can still get chances on goal.

76.1% pass completion: Usually a statistic like this, for strikers, is overlooked. Nevertheless, we feel that because he has proven he is a tidy player with the ball and doesn’t just ship it back to the opposition that he can be trusted to play a key role in a side that is planning on playing football on the floor, something both Brighton and Leeds will be doing next season.

Although it’s not as important as scoring goals for a striker, it does certainly help a manager’s peace of mind if he knows that his striker can hold the ball up well and bring others into the game.

Leeds and Brighton fans do you agree, can Billy Sharp be this summer's shrewdest buy?

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