BLACKBURN, ENGLAND - MARCH 19: Blackpool manager Ian Holloway speaks with Christopher Samba of Blackburn after the Barclays Premier League match between Blackburn Rovers and Blackpool at Ewood Park on March 19, 2011 in Blackburn, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Christopher Samba has finally handed in a transfer request. It looks like the commanding center back will finally leave Blackburn Rovers for greener pastures. PSG is his preferred club and QPR have already opened the bidding for him. Arsenal are reportedly ready to jump into the unfolding drama over his future. Here's a couple of reasons why Blackburn centre-back Samba, a rumoured target for Tottenham Hotspur, should be a gigantic dot on our radar this January.
The elusive piece of the jigsaw that Spurs have lacked in the centre-half department over the last few seasons. Note here that I don't just mean consistency in terms of staying fit, but in a wider sense of being able to offer a reliable presence at the back. As far as Michael Dawson and Ledley King are influential and valued members of the squad, it is impossible to suggest that either of them is not injury-prone. On the converse side of things, as far as Younes Kaboul has demonstrated the ability to stay in fairly good shape over the past few seasons, the phrase ‘cabbage and caviar' springs to mind when describing his performances as a centre-half- for every great aerial clearance he makes, his lack of footballing intelligence will allow a competent striker to slip past him and score, even if his positional awareness has seemingly improved this season. Samba, by contrast, is a prime example of dependability. In November, reports suggested a hamstring injury was set to lay him off for five weeks- he returned far sooner to help his team triumph over Man Utd. Samba played 33 games in total for Blackburn last season- compare to 24 for Dawson and a frankly shocking 6 for King. He was not merely a reliable option during this period, but a vital and instrumental member of Blackburn's campaign. Put simply, we need the kind of confidence that Samba's consistency will bring.
2. Unparalleled aerial presence
Nothing says it better than chalkboards, so I'm going to let the facts speak for themselves here. Samba will very rarely lose aerial challenges no matter who the opposition is. Below are some examples that typify his performances in recent seasons.
A further important implication of his talent in the air is that if you stick Samba in the penalty area, put someone who can distribute on the other end of a set piece, and inevitably you will eventually see goals. Gareth Bale, Kaboul and Dawson have all shown prowess in the air in this department in the past; none of them have achieved the providence that Samba has throughout his career.
That every set piece was going to Samba's head in the above game, and that one of the connections he made tipped the balance of the game, should tell you everything about how much confidence his current team have in his abilities.
The influence Samba has on his side as captain has demonstrably helped to counterbalance the dressing room negativity that the Steve Kean furore has presumably brought down on his side. Without him, Blackburn lose to Cardiff in the League Cup and below par Wolves and Aston Villa sides in the League; with him, they triumph over Man Utd. And Arsenal. I refuse to believe this correlation is merely a coincidence. Samba, much like Ledley King, drives his team on and gives them the confidence to aim higher- this inspiration and confidence-providing aspect of his game would be a welcome facet of Spurs' push for the title.
With Samba's transfer request having been submitted this morning, it doesn't currently look like we could get a defender of his quality for much cheaper. That QPR, our apparent main contenders for his signature, opened with a £5m bid should tell us that they aren't prepared to compete with the league's bigger hitters over his transfer, not when you consider how much money they could have offered for him if they wanted to. Blackburn could of course hold out and try and do what will perennially be known as a ‘Daniel Levy-Luka Modric gamble'- but they don't have anywhere near the pulling power Spurs had then and continue to have now, and if Samba really wants to leave, it's unlikely that they'll be able to hardball us like we did Chelsea over the summer.
5. Statement of ambition
A few weeks back, I did a post about how Spurs need to be proactive if not grandstanding in the transfer market this window in order to cement a top four place. Bagging Samba, in my opinion, would be an ideal first step in this direction. His signing would demonstrate that Spurs are not content to stagnate by relying on our tenuous claims to squad depth- it would be a rejuvenating step, a chance to shake up our starting lineup without the spotlight of a marquee signing. A statement of where we're going that will leave people labelling us shrewd operators rather than showboaters. He would come into the club surrounded by expectations that wouldn't be impossible for him to live up to a la Gary Cahill. Put simply, signing Samba would in my opinion be everything a venture into the transfer market should be- all the advantages with none of the pressure.