It’s that time of year again, and this year it will be all hands to the pump. With the majority of the squad set to ship out, VFTN has kindly surveyed the market and collated a few, admittedly attack-heavy, options worth considering.
Cardiff were linked with Sam Greenwood in the 2021 January transfer window. He was 18 at the time and has only just turned 20, but is already on the fringes of the Leeds first team. The centre forward, who was signed from Arsenal as a teenager, is a prolific scorer in the reserves and at England youth level, but is only an occasional impact sub for the Leeds senior side. A loan spell surely awaits and Cardiff are presumably in Leeds’ good books after their handling of Cody Drameh, who would surely put in a good word.
Drameh has had a transformative effect on not just Cardiff’s right flank, but also the team as a whole. He will leave quite the void, if they can’t coax him back, but Forest Green Rovers’ Kane Wilson offers an interesting alternative, with a contract that currently expires in the summer. Having just turned 22, he recently placed 38th in FourFourTwo’s annual list of the best 50 players in the Football League and its easy to see why. With three goals and a mighty 14 assists this season, Wilson has been a driving force since joining from West Brom as a free agent in 2020. Rovers could seal promotion to League One by Monday, but Wilson’s future may be in an even higher division.
Cardiff currently lack any wingers of note, so Steve Morison has no option to play with wide attackers, should he want to. It will be interesting if he pursues that position in the summer and if so, Josh Bowler, 15th in FFT’s list, will likely be on his radar. There are a few appealing potential Championship free agents this year, but Bowler is a more viable option than Darragh Lenihan, Jed Wallace, Johns Swift or Joe Rothwell. A free transfer from Everton, he has been a revelation on Blackpool’s right wing this season. With seven goals and three assists, the 23-year-old soon heads out of contract, but Blackpool have the option to tack on another year, which they surely will. The hair band may not be a great look, but his high-energy wide displays certainly are.
In a season when Cardiff’s best young players have made their breakthrough, the one that got away is finally making his mark on senior football. Rabbi Matondo, Splott’s finest, is still only 21 and has nine goals for Cercle Brugge in Belgium this season. After a disappointing, injury-affected loan spell at Stoke last season, Matondo, who left Cardiff for Manchester City, has one more year on his contract at Schalke. Anyone taking him on loan next season will surely be in the drivers seat to take him on as a free agent when his contract expires and he will still only be 22. Matondo can play anywhere across a front three, has pace to burn and is the sort of unpredictable talent that Cardiff lack. He’s also one of our own. What’s not to like?
Another suggestion, another winger. Chiedozie Ogbene is currently making a name for himself for both club and country. Nigerian born, but representing Republic of Ireland, he recently scored a bicycle kick against Belgium to make the world sit up and take notice. With three goals and six assists, the 24-year-old is a key performer for Rotherham, who are very much in the League One promotion mix and recently won the Papa John’s Trophy courtesy of a Ogbene stunner. With a contract entering its final few weeks, Ogbene is sure to generate plenty of interest.
Looking further afield, which Cardiff don’t tend to do, although the indications are that may soon change, former Reading prospect Danny Loader may soon become available. The 21-year-old striker moved to European giants FC Porto as a free agent a couple of years ago and despite impressing, he has yet to breakthrough to the senior squad. In fairness, the competition is pretty fierce and Porto seemingly have the option to extend his deal by another couple of years, should they desire. If that doesn’t happen, he would be a hot property, if he’s not out of sight and out of mind over there.