Blackburn Rovers finally made their first foray into the transfer market by completing the signing of 22-year-old striker David Goodwillie from Dundee United.
The young Scottish international joined on a four-year deal for an undisclosed sum, rumoured to involve an initial fee of £2 million with various add-ons included.
Rovers fans at last have themselves a cause for optimism then, having waited patiently for the club’s owners and manager Steve Kean to bolster a squad that has already lost Phil Jones and several squad members over the summer.
In David Goodwillie, Blackburn have an outstanding prospect. Recognised as the best young player in Scotland in consecutive seasons, the Tannadice striker was hot property going into this campaign and, as Rangers prepared an improved offer for a player who has previously haunted them on the pitch, Blackburn swooped to seal a deal to bring Goodwillie south of the border.
Speaking in his first interview for the club, Goodwillie played down his early season prospects whilst clearly relishing the opportunity to impress on the Premier League stage…
“I feel ready. It’s up to the manager and we’ll see what happens. It will be massive and I think the first few games will be difficult for me…I’m really lively. I’ve got energy and I will just try my best and look to bang in a few goals.”
Goodwillie made his debut for Dundee United back in 2005 at the age of 15 – the youngest player to appear for the first team in the history of the club. He went on to make numerous appearances from the bench that season and was largely used from the bench the following year before being sent out to Raith Rovers on loan in 2007. He returned to Tannadice having scored 9 goals in 21 appearances for the Second division outfit – a hint at his potential which was only realised at Dundee United in the 2009-10 season.
By that stage he’d established himself as a regular starter and notched 3 goals in the first 5 games, scoring a dozen goals by April; that was enough to earn him the Scottish Premier League Young Player of the Year award for that season.
He was to follow that up with the SPFA Young Player of the Year award last term. Goodwillie announced himself in 2010/11 by scoring in six consecutive matches, prompting United to slap a hefty price tag on his head. The suitors duly came circling as Goodwillie ended the season with 18 goals from 43 appearances in all competitions. It was clear that his tenure at Tannadice was coming to an end.
Goodwillie should certainly be given every opportunity to impress. With Nikola Kalinic seemingly set for an Ewood Park exit, Steve Kean really only has Jason Roberts as a recognised striker – that shouldn’t present too big an obstacle for the burgeoning talents of Goodwillie; we should expect an early debut for the Rovers new boy and home matches against Wolves and Everton in the first three present a decent platform.
The player himself is right to be cautious over his early prospects, however. The jump from the Scotish top flight to the Premier League is a daunting one and Goodwillie will undoubtedly be faced with tougher opponents and perhaps more limited service than he is used to. The creative talents of Morten Gamst Pedersen and Junior Hoilett will be crucial to his prospects and if Steve Kean invests in an attacking outlook, Goodwillie could yet receive the ammunition which can be converted into goals.
At 5ft 9inches, Goodwillie is not target man material, but North of the Border he developed a reputation as a player who was rarely bullied off the ball and who possesses an icy quality when presented with an opportunity in front of goal. He was also capable of the spectacular, demonstrated by a stunning overhead kick in the Scotish Cup tie with Motherwell which drew comparisons with Wayne Rooney and ample praise from Dundee United boss Peter Houston…
“He’s got that ability in him and he can be anything he wants to be so long as he gets himself sorted out off the park.”
Houston’s reference to Goodwillie’s off the field entanglements is a worthy sidenote. At 22-years-old, he’s already been involved in a string of controversies, including a charge for an alleged rape – a case which hung over him last season. Goodwillie’s arrival in England and a lucrative new contract will offer opportunities for the striker to stray into trouble once more – his discipline off the field could well be crucial to his prospects on it.
David Goodwillie is currently available for £5.8m. Having already made three appearances for Dundee United this season he will be fit and ready to announce himself on his new stage. Whether he can live up to his billing on the pitch and steer clear of trouble off it, remains to be seen.