Sam Baldock – Will He Follow Holt, Beckford & Graham?

Frequently, exciting young English talent emerging from lower down in the Football League pyramid have been subject to chronic transfer speculation and extortionate price tags, increasing not only pressure but all round media attention for the player.

The likes of Fabian Delph, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Victor Moses and Connor Wickham have all endured rabid media murmurs contemplating how their futures will pan out with both a new club and on the international stage.

Yet, MK Dons’ Sam Baldock seems to have gone unnoticed. At a raw 22 years old, little has been touted about a lad with over 100 appearances for the Dons and 37 goals to his name so far. Even more surprising is that he’s far from an archetypal striker…

Diminutive in size; you won’t be seeing many re-runs of a superlative set-piece header from the lad, but, using correct movement combined with lethal speed and agility, in Baldock you have a threat.

With examples of Michael Owen and Jermain Defoe becoming ever more rare as ‘super-strikers’ like Drogba or Rooney, who possess all of the strengths that a striker is ‘supposed’ to have increasing in popularity, Javier Hernandez has revived the staggering image of a crafty second striker in the past year.

If Baldock’s traits and style were to be compared to anyone, I’d say it was extremely similar to ‘Chicharito’s’.

The Dons’ #10 often favours living on the shoulder of defenders, using clever tactics to manoeuver an extra yard ahead. Enthusiastic to dart towards the front post, the phrase ‘poacher’ springs to mind. He’s the striker you’d love to select with a big man alongside.

However, rather frustratingly, Baldock seems to prefer to play a tad deeper than you’d think. Looking more comfortable with the ball at his feet in areas with more freedom, it’s obvious that in tighter spaces, stronger defenders can ease him from possession with less room to play with.

Adopting a position that is synonymous with Wayne Rooney, playing in the hole as a playmaker seems to suit the starlet of League 1. Many playmakers these days tend to be positioned on the wing or in a deeper central role so that they can combine defensive duties as well as spark attacks.

Suiting a role that English football hasn’t compromised with for a long time cannot be particularly positive for watchful clubs who may fear that Baldock’s style of play will not fit in with their own.

But make no mistake, with 14 goals from 34 games last year, Baldock certainly has the potential to push on if he remains in League 1 this year.

And by being prolific in League 1, strikers obviously catch the attentions of clubs higher above.

Last season, Jermaine Beckford snapped up 8 goals for Premier League Everton following a free transfer from then promoted Leeds United. Only by pushing on can he cement the affirmation that League 1 can unearth some real livewires.

And alongside Beckford in the Premiership this season are newly promoted Danny Graham, previously of Carlisle United, and Grant Holt of previously League 1 Norwich City. Not to mention whether 34 goal Craig Mackail-Smith decides to link up with a top-tier side this summer.

With plenty of talent emerging from the lesser appreciated League 1, aspiring to follow in the footsteps of fellow professionals brings huge motivation. With exuberance beyond what is called upon, young Sam Baldock could well be the next to rise up from obscurity. Following a £1million bid from Peterborough United which was met with disapproval from the club, there are sure to be more eyes on the youngster as he sets himself to mature into a more productive asset for MK Dons in the coming season.


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