It’s easy to say with hindsight that it always felt as though Che Adams just needed something to click for Southampton to reap the benefits of their £15m investment, but a tough debut campaign at St. Mary’s wasn’t without its encouraging signs.
The young striker bought from Birmingham was getting himself into the right situations on enough occasions yet could never find the necessary composure to make the most of them and wasted opportunities became a recurring frustration.
Adams missed eight big scoring chances last term, the same number as Danny Ings, and if even just half of those had instead made the onion bag ripple, a total of eight goals (when combined with the four he did manage to score) during his first Premier League season would have been largely heralded as a solid first attempt.
Nonetheless, improvements were greatly needed this season for Adams to steer his reputation away from the path of becoming a certified Southampton flop and improvements indeed are exactly what we’ve seen so far in 2020/21.
The 24-year-old has already matched his goal involvements tally from last term with just ten games gone, and the panicked finishing that plagued him last year has been replaced by a devilish sharpness in the final third.
Perhaps most impressive though has been Adams’ ability to supply as well as score, an aspect of his game that was prevalent at times during his spell at St. Andrew’s.
Adams has in fact chalked up as many assists as goals this season (three apiece), while James Ward-Prowse largely through the benefit of set piece monopolisation is the than the striker’s return of 1.2.
Of course, being partnered with Ings inevitably makes chance creation a little easier such is the England international’s propensity to test opposition goalkeepers. But Ralph Hasenhuttl will be most pleased with how Adams has fared in the absence of his attacking accomplice, as Ings continues to recover from injury.
Although Adams - who Transfermarkt value at £10.8m - was a little quiet against Manchester United on Sunday, from the other two games Ings missed he managed to score and assist, netting against Newcastle before providing for Theo Walcott with a low drive across goal.
In comparison to last season, Adams looks every bit a striker ready to be a competitive attacking force at Premier League level, although his improvements won’t be of huge surprise to the gaffer because they’ve been gained through hard work.
Back in October, Hasenhuttl told reporters after Adam’s first goal of the campaign against Chelsea; “Hardworking, the assist was good and the goal was important for him. He is always extremely hardworking for the squad and, with Ingsy together they get more and more automatism in how they want to play.”
While Adams won’t want to lose the limelight completely, the great news for him is that Ings could be set to return to action this weekend against Brighton. For how solid Walcott’s been alongside the 5 foot 9 forward in his absence, Adams and Ings have established a clear bond.
Both players are more than just pure goalscorers - they like to drop into the No.10 position as well - and it’s that similarity in mindset which has allowed them to bounce off each other so effortlessly this season.
With Adams showing such vast improvements and Ings in scintillating form before his injury, their impending reunion can only be a good thing for Hasenhuttl’s side as they look to finish amongst the Premier League’s biggest clubs.News Now - Sport News