Cardiff boss Malky Mackay made his eighth of the summer transfer window by acquiring Peter Odemwingie from West Brom on a three-year contract. The 32-year-old arrives for a reported fee of £2.5m, with the Welsh club beating Stoke and Swansea to his signature in a frantic transfer deadline-day scramble:
Speaking to the press after completing the deal, the Bluebirds boss admitted Odemwingie’s time in the top-flight with the Baggies was a key factor in his decision to splash the cash:
“I’m delighted to sign a player with a proven record of scoring in the Premier League. Peter’s record speaks for itself. He’s versatile, got great pace and does bring us that bit of experience we need. He’s an outstanding footballer at Premier League level, an intelligent footballer with a bit of guile. I spent a lot of time with him and he’s an intelligent and thoughtful person too. He’s going to prove an asset for Cardiff City of that I’ve no doubt.”
Born in the Soviet Union, Odemwingie came through the youth system at CSKA Moscow before kicking off his career in Nigeria with Bendel Insurance. After notching 19 times in 53 appearances between 2000 and 2002, he was picked up by Belgian club La Louviere in the summer of 2002. Odemwingie’s time in the Jupiler Pro League lasted a couple of years – with nine goals accrued over 44 appearances he was snapped up by French club Lille prior to the end of the summer transfer window in 2004/05.
Having racked up 23 goals and 11 assists from 75 Ligue 1 appearances, the Nigerian was on his travels yet again, with Lokomotiv Moscow shelling out $14m for his services in July 2007. His time in Russia produced near-identical statistics, with 21 goals and 11 assists from 74 league matches before Odemwingie rolled up to the Hawthorns in August 2010.
The 32-yeard-old immediately took the Premier League by storm and, handing Fantasy managers a real cut-price contender for their three-man frontlines, produced 15 goals and nine assists in 32 games over his debut season. Odemwingie’s second year was far less successful, with 10 goals and three assists accrued from 30 appearances, while his final term at the midlands outfit proved something of a disappointment – a move to QPR was denied in the most public of fashions last January and, handed a peripheral role under Steve Clarke, he managed just five goals and three assists from 25 matches, with 12 of those games coming courtesy of the bench. On the international stage, Odemwingie has turned out for his country on 55 occasions and found the net nine times.
Mackay’s praise would certainly suggest the former Baggie hasn’t just been purchased to warm the Bluebirds’ bench all season. Although the Cardiff boss hailed the Nigerian’s versatility, it seems he is likely to earn most of his game time on the flank – Mackay somewhat tellingly admitted in an interview earlier this week that winger Craig Conway was omitted from the club’s 25-man squad as a result of Odemwingie’s arrival.
At present, Craig Bellamy and Peter Whittingham still look in the driving seat for the flank roles but, given that the former picked up a few injuries last term and the latter suffered from a lack of form and failed to find the net after October, Mackay has clearly drafted in Odemwingie as a viable alternative for the wing roles, with plenty of Premier League experience under his belt. Strength is depth is crucial for the Cardiff boss but the new boy’s arrival could cut into both Bellamy and Whittingham’s game time, with the likes of Craig Noone shifting further down the pecking order.
Coming in at 5.7 in Fantasy Premier League (FPL), 6.8 in the Sky Sports game and 2.0 in the Sun Dream Team, Odemwingie’s classification as a forward across the Fantasy games looks problematic, though his adaptability could see him utilised through the middle late on in games if Mackay’s switches to a two-man frontline when chasing a result. Certainly, with Fraizer Campbell and Andreas Cornelius currently number one and two for the lone forward role, it would take a spate of injuries to promote him to a central position and bring him into our Fantasy thinking. For now, it’s a case of “wait and see” but as the season unfolds, there would be no surprise to see Mackay increasingly turn to the Nigerian’s experience and proven Premier League record as he looks to rack up the points to secure his side’s safety.