Queens Park Rangers are seven points from Premier League survival. With just three games left to go, it seems fairly safe to say their season is over and they’re heading back down to the Championship. Which, given they have the eighth highest payroll in the league, has to go down as a colossal failure that can be laid at the feet of Harry Redknapp, who resigned in disgrace in February.
It’s a situation that in a few weeks, once the season ends and QPR are officially returned to English football’s second tier, will make for a bloated corpse of a football club for those remaining in the top flight to pick over. On the other hand, given the costly failures largely making up QPR’s squad, one wonders whether there would be much value to be had. According to the rumour mongers, though, Liverpool are at least looking.
The player they’re supposed to be looking at is 25-year-old striker Charlie Austin, who is reportedly available for £10M, a fee which seems high given he has just a year left in his current deal and balked at signing a new one when it became clear Rangers were likely to be relegated. His wages, though, would at least be reasonable: he’s currently on £30k a week and is rumoured to have turned down a raise to £60k to force a move.
He also has an impressive return given how badly QPR have struggled. In the league this season, Rangers have managed just 39 goals, but Austin himself has scored 17 of them. He’s added a further six assists in his 32 appearances to date, and has a respectable if far from spectacular 13.7% strike rate with a goal for every 164 minutes he’s been on the pitch. QPR haven’t had many bright spots, but he’s been one of them.
The question with a player like Austin, though, is whether better teammates would improve his already solid numbers and help him to take the next step as a striker or if he’s standing out precisely because he is the focal point in a very bad side. There are also questions about his stylistic suitability given he’s a striker of the tall, physical, and not hugely mobile variety.
At best, he’s a younger Rickie Lambert, one still capable of doing for Liverpool what Lambert did last season for Southampton. At worst, he’s the second coming of Andy Carroll, a perpetually off the pace target-man who ends up nailed to the bench before getting sold to West Ham. For the right price, though, and as long as he’s not brought in as next season’s Daniel Sturridge insurance policy, he might be worth a gamble.
Yet given the questionable fit and that QPR appear to be seeking something like market value for him despite their situation and that Austin only has a year to go on his contract and wants to leave, it’s a transfer rumour that Liverpool fans should probably be highly dubious of.