Kenneth Zohore has become a huge fan-favourite at Cardiff City over the past year and a half. He was last year’s top scorer with 12 goals as the Bluebirds finished 12th in the Championship.
Few fans of the English game would have heard of the 23-year-old striker and may struggle to understand why a player who has only played in England for 18 months is attracting interest from Premier League teams.
Not only that, but he is attracting attention from clubs the stature of Everton.
Everton have found it very difficult to replace the goals of Romelu Lukaku, but why would they consider Zohore? Even as a Cardiff fan, it seems a bit much to call him the replacement for Lukaku.
Therefore, who is Kenneth Zohore, and is he the answer to Everton’s striker problem?
Zohore started his career at Copenhagen, making 23 first team appearances between 2010 and 2012, including five Champions League appearances against the likes of Barcelona and Chelsea.
At the time Zohore was only 16, which makes him one of the youngest players to play in the Champions League. His only goal for Copenhagen makes him the second youngest goalscorer in Danish Superliga history, a competition he won twice.
As a teenager he was extremely highly rated by some of the biggest clubs in the world, with the likes of Chelsea and Inter interested, resulting in a trial at the former.
Eventually, Zohore signed for Italian side Fiorentina on his 18th birthday, for a fee of around £1 million.
However, Zohore’s time in Italy was less than successful, failing to make a single first-team appearance due to the likes of Stevan Jovetić, Giuseppe Rossi, Luca Toni, and Mario Gomez being selected ahead of him. He did, though, score 15 goals in 43 games for the U19s.
He drifted around Denmark and Sweden before being bought by Cardiff’s affiliates KV Kortrijk and loaned to the Bluebirds (because Cardiff were under a transfer ban at the time) eventually signing a permanent deal six months after.
Introduction to the English game
Kenneth Zohore joined Cardiff, unknown to many fans, and his first six months at the club didn’t exactly inspire much confidence. Two goals in 12 games, only one of which he started, meant that he wasn’t an instant success in South Wales.
It was only when Neil Warnock took over in October 2016 that Zohore shone, becoming Warnock’s starting striker and subsequently repaying the manager’s faith with 12 goals in 25 games.
His form in the second half of the 2016/17 season earned him a new contract at Cardiff, keeping him there until 2020, coupled with the number ten shirt.
Before the 2017/18 season began fans were excited about Zohore, with many playoff hopes being pinned on his form and fitness, so it was a very nervous time when he was getting looks from the likes of Newcastle, Brighton and especially Everton.
Even as a Cardiff City fan, it was undeniable that the move made sense. Everton needed to replace Lukaku, and although not on the same level as the now Manchester United striker, Zohore shows some of the same qualities as the Belgian.
Standing at 6 foot 3, the left-footer is a strong centre-forward who is a serious presence in the box.
His strength would be considered by most to be his best attribute, however, he has shown that his finishing and technical ability are nothing to be sniffed at. Just look the above goal he scored against Preston.
Although I have praised Zohore, and I believe he is a solid player, one I am thrilled to have at Cardiff, a major question is whether he's truly the man to take over from Romelu Lukaku at Everton.
It sounds incredible and my immediate answer would be no.
Everton should splash the cash on a big name if they are serious about replacing a 20/25 goal per season striker. So why is Zohore being linked?
Similarities with Lukaku
He has a very similar style to Lukaku. As I mentioned, he's a big man who can play the ball well. I'm not saying he's the best dribbler ever, but neither is Lukaku.
Koeman may want to sign a player that allows him to keep the same tactic as when he had Lukaku, and Zohore offers that
If Everton were to sign Zohore, he could play almost the same role as the Belgian did, meaning the system wouldn't be affected.
If this were to be true, it would be a major risk by Koeman. Most people would expect Everton to invest in a big name striker, especially if their fortunes don't change with Wayne Rooney or Sandro Ramirez leading their line.
Another obvious question is whether he can deliver in England's top tier.
Realistically he has had a good six months at Cardiff and a lot of his hype comes from the potential he has. He is still only 23 and has his best years ahead of him.
When tasked with playing at a big side in the past, however, he didn't perform at Fiorentina. I know he was younger, and a lot has changed since then, but it's all we have to go by.
Not the only Premier league option
Everton, although the biggest, weren't the only Premier League club that were interested in Zohore this summer. In fact, Everton never made a bid, while Brighton and Newcastle did.
Once I saw that Brighton had bid £10 million I really worried. It might not sound like a lot, but considering there were rumours that Cardiff City, the club itself, may be sold for £30 million, you understand the financial situation.
I had almost come to terms with the fact that Zohore would leave the club, and even though the window is over, there is always January.
It would be hard to reject a £15 or maybe even £20 million pound bid for the striker.
With Premier League clubs looking at Zohore, it shows his talent. Even though he isn't Premier League-proven, some clubs will take a punt on him.
Will the prospect of the jump to Premier League entice the Dane away from South Wales? Is he good enough at this moment for the Premier League?
Only time will tell, but as for now Bluebirds fans can breathe easy for the next three months and hope he replicates his form from last season.
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