When Sheffield United announced the £23.5m signing of Rhian Brewster in October, it was Liverpool who received the plaudits. How could Jurgen Klopp’s men demand such a fee, with the safety of a buy-back option for the next three years, for a player yet to play a single minute in the Premier League?
On the face of it, though, the deal seemed beneficial to all parties, even if the current champions came out on top. Brewster would receive first-team minutes in the top flight, Liverpool could now afford new acquisitions of their own, and the Blades were getting a natural goalscorer that they so desperately needed.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t quite worked out like that.
Life is full of risks, and sometimes you just have to roll the dice. On other occasions, you have to know when to stop.
Sheffield United dazzled in 2019/20 with their innovative and exciting brand of football capturing the nation’s attention and imagination.
It was all the more exciting thanks to Chris Wilder entrusting his band of predominantly British brothers to carry out his unique approach against elite opposition. This was despite most of them spending their careers in the lower leagues of the English game.
The Bramall Lane outfit were always going to need some reinforcements to stand a chance of repeating their incredible feat. But their approach in the transfer market of taking punts and gambles on players that either have a point to prove, or are looking to make their name, appears to have finally caught up with them; especially with one youngster in particular.
When he signed, Brewster commented on their ability to create chances: “The team creates a lot of chances; the three at the back, overlapping, they get crosses into the box, and that’s my game; being in the box, finding space and one and two-touch finishes. That’s what I am going to try and do, and try and score goals for Sheffield United.”
Wilder’s men only scored 39 goals last season and finished the campaign with a goal difference of zero. They were involved in several tight affairs and failed to create an abundance of openings for their forwards. This contributed to their low output in the final third.
Only four sides found the back of the net on fewer occasions last campaign. Even relegated Bournemouth outscored them, indicating Brewster was misguided in his assessment of his new side.
Rhian Brewster’s Goals
The Blades parted ways with £23.5m after he impressed on loan at Swansea City in the second half of 2019/20. There he scored 11 goals in 22 outings.
Nine of those 11 strikes came from within, or on the line of, the 18-yard box. Ten of them were after two-touches or less, with nine of the goals resulting from first-time finishes – as the above image shows. In short, Brewster is a fantastic finisher who relies on his team-mates for constant, accurate, quality service to score his goals, something he is yet to receive in the Steel City.
Rhian Brewster’s Shots in 20/21
So far this season, in 403 minutes of Premier League football, Brewster is yet to score and has touched the ball just seven times inside the opposition penalty area. Four of those touches have been shots, with only one of them on target – as indicated below.
At the Under-17 World Cup winner’s unveiling, his new boss made it clear how highly he rated his new signing.
“He has been our number one target. At the top of the pitch we have one of the country’s hottest properties from Liverpool and for him to sign permanently here is fantastic for everyone concerned,” said Wilder.
“He’s a natural goalscorer. He finishes from any aspect, whether it is in the air or whether it’s spectacular goals, free-kicks or off his shin – he has a lovely habit of scoring goals, which is crucial in the Premier League.”
But Brewster’s habit of scoring goals relies upon those around him, not too dissimilar to several other players in his position. However, this seems to be pivotal to the England Under-21 international, and his game is dependant upon it. When he’s not being armed with near-perfect balls into the box, it’s hard to see what else he offers.
The Liverpool academy graduate may go on to have a fantastic career at the top-level, although it’s hard to see that happening at Bramall Lane. It’s a transfer that’s gone bad quicker than Sheffield United’s survival chances, and it’s difficult to see a way of his time there being resurrected.