Several Premier League sides have been linked with the signature of Nantes forward Emiliano Sala, including the likes of Crystal Palace, West Ham and Everton.
But whilst the Argentine forward isn’t a household name in football, his goal-scoring prowess is causing a stir among top flight clubs, as he continues to defy the odds of a once overlooked striker.
Here are six things you should know about Ligue 1’s in-form man.
1. He’s Already Written His Name Into Nantes’ History Books
Having signed from fellow division rivals Bordeaux in July 2015, Sala has already surpassed several former greats in the goal scoring charts. Currently sitting on 47 goals, the
Argentine is just three short of former Romanian Viorel Moldovan’s half century – and 32 off Nantes all time record holder Japhet N’Doram.
Nantes’ transformation from a bottom half side to a top 10 outfit has been down to Sala’s precious goals – that’s also seen him finish the club’s top goal scorer in back-to-back seasons in all competitions.
2. He’s A Real Aerial Threat
The majority of Sala’s goals have come from his right boot, but his head has also been doing the talking. With the likes of West Ham interested in the Argentinian’s signature, they could certainly do with another Andy Carroll type striker.
The 6’2″ poacher is a match for any defender in the air, and his physical presence has proved a handful for opposition teams since his introduction to France. The competitive nature of the Premier League has proved a burden for some of Europe’s most decorated forwards, but Sala could well turn the tide – should a move materialise.
3. He’s the Current Ligue 1 Joint Top Scorer
Boasting 11 goals in just 12 league games so far, the Argentine is keeping World Cup winner and PSG forward Kylian Mbappe (11) on his toes in Ligue 1.
His purple patch in front of goal has seen him net seven goals in his last four league appearances – shooting his side up to 10th. Sala made more history for the Canaries by scoring his first hat-trick for the club, becoming the first player since Mamadou Siallo in 2006 to do so.
No wonder he’s a wanted man.
4. He’s Yet to Earn an International Cap
With the likes of the word’s elite Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Mauro Icardi sharing the same nationality as Nantes’ front-man, you would probably be correct for thinking Sala’s chance at international fame has passed.
Sala is perhaps not blessed with the skill set of those above him, but his tenacity to out-score his counterparts must be admired – perhaps a move to English top flight football could persuade manager Jorge Sampaoli to reconsider his options.
5. He’s Valued at £25m
Despite Sala’s pedigree, Nantes’ valuation of the forward could be considered too steep for the 28-year-old.
The Daily Mail report that Sala’s price tag is currently set at £25m – which given the huge swathes of money available to Premier League sides, isn’t really that much. His departure would be a huge blow for his parent club – though they surely wouldn’t be able to turn down an offer of this magnitude.
6. He Learned the Hard Way
Much has been made of Jamie Vardy and Callum Wilson’s journeys through the football league pyramid and Sala’ journey is certainly comparable.
After breaking through at Bordeaux, he was subsequently sent out on-loan to third-tier side US Orleans – where he scored 19 goals in 37 games. He was once again sent out on loan, this time to Ligue 2 side Niort and despite earning a near identical record, he found himself at the bottom of the pecking order again.
Like all successful strikers, Sala’s perseverance shone through and although he is considered a late bloomer to top flight football, he’s made quite a name for himself in Green and Yellow.