Sheffield United completed the signing of Richairo Zivkovic on deadline day, with the former Ajax man being one of three new players unveiled.
After a whole host of names were linked with the club in January, the emergence of Zivkovic as a potential signing came as quite the surprise.
Zivkovic, who broke through with the Dutch giants and was a lethal finisher for Jong Ajax, arrives at The Lane from Chinese team, Changchun Yatai. The 23-year-old only moved to China back in February 2019.
It’s been a largely successful spell, too. Zivkovic has plundered an impressive 16 goals in just 25 appearances for Yatai.
While little is known about the Dutchman and some Blades will be sceptical, there is also reason to be excited about his capture.
Something the Blades haven’t got too much of
If there was one criticism you could throw at the makeup of this current Sheffield United squad, it would be that it lacks genuine pace. Yes, Lys Mousset and George Baldock are both quick. But aside from those two, the rest of the squad are hardly the fastest out of the proverbial blocks.
However, in adding Zivkovic, United get themselves a lightning-quick forward. Indeed, a clip doing the rounds on social media demonstrated Zivkovic’s pace perfectly.
Faced with a clear path to goal – barring a defender – ‘Ricky’ made up a good 25 yards on his man. Remarkably, he ended up a good ten yards clear by the time he stroked the ball into the empty net.
Of course, this is just one clip. But it’s enough to suggest that his pace is going to be a real asset.
A hint of Mousset and potential help for the Frenchman
Let’s be honest, most United fans weren’t overly excited when the club shelled out £10m on Lys Mousset. A miserable goalscoring record at Bournemouth led to murmurs of ‘what are we doing?’ in some quarters.
Thankfully, those doubts have been squashed by the Frenchman’s form. However, he still struggles to finish the 90 minutes. In fact, ‘Moose’ has yet to complete a full 90 for the Blades as yet this season.
That, then, is where the signing of Zivkovic could be a masterstroke.
Chris Wilder will no longer need to change shape or tactics because the personnel dictates it. He now has the option of simply making a straight swap between Mousset and Zivkovic. In theory, a defender seeing one of the two go off to replace by the other should be quite a worry.
In turn, Mousset will then have less pressure on him. He’s often the go-to man to change a game up top for United. The arrival of Zivkovic will allow Mousset that breathing space.
As Blades fans, we often sit on the fence until we see the full picture of what we’ve signed.
But at a time when most fans have got excited about a relatively unknown signing in Sander Berge, surely they can be encouraged by the addition of a 16 goal speed merchant?
Time will tell, of course. But in Richairo Zivkovic, Chris Wilder might have just pulled another rabbit out of the hat.