As rumours continue to circle that Argyle will sell Freddie Ladapo for a fee in the region of £400,000, Frazer Lloyd-Davies and Josh Pope look at the alternative sides of the argument.
Frazer: why Plymouth Argyle should keep Freddie Ladapo
Unless Argyle receive a silly offer in the region of seven figures, they shouldn’t even contemplate letting last season’s leading goal scorer Freddie Ladapo leave the club.
Ladapo ended the campaign with 18 league goals, in a relegated team, that conceded 80 in the process. In what was his first full season of his career, having missed only one league game all season, Ladapo proved what he was capable of when given the opportunity. With Argyle slipping a division, and Ryan Lowe keen to implement a more attacking brand of football at Home Park, it is not outlandish to suggest that the striker could improve on his goal tally next season.
Ryan Lowe’s Bury team scored 82 goals on their way to league promotion, with striker Nicky Maynard, responsible for 21. Of the highest goal scorers in League Two, only Jayden Stockley (137) had a better record than Maynard when it came to goals per minute, with the Bury striker scoring a goal for every 140 minutes he was on the pitch. Ladapo is as good as Maynard, if not better, and given his League One exploits, he would no doubt flourish in a more attacking set up.
What’s more, last season, we saw Ladapo play best in games in which Argyle were able to control against lesser opposition. There was a clear split in his record. Against teams positioned 1st-8th, Ladapo scored 0 goals last season. He scored 7 against teams positioned 9th-16th and 11 against teams positioned 17-24th. Only four of these goals came away from home during the entire season.
|Ladapo’s goals*||Teams positioned 1st-8th||Teams positioned 9th-16th||Teams positioned 17th-24th|
*taken from the team’s league position prior to the match.
Ladapo struggled when playing away from home and when facing better opposition. In such situations Argyle would be set up defensively. Ladapo’s role focused on him helping the team, holding the ball up and bringing others into play. It was a role he visibly struggled with and one of which limited his chances to score.
With Ryan Lowe now as manager, and the expectancy of Argyle to be one of League Two’s top teams, Ladapo will be asked to do a lot less of this. His primary focus will be to score goals with the team set up around him. If he remains injury free, there’s little reason as to why Ladapo can’t get close to 30 League Two goals.
It isn’t just about goals though, and there are other reasons as to why Argyle should keep hold of their main striker.
With Graham Carey gone and Ruben Lameiras’ departure looking somewhat imminent, losing Ladapo would mean that arguably Argyle’s three best players from the previous campaign would have all left the club. That’s a big loss in any dressing room and it leaves a void for others to fill.
It goes without saying that transfers will be made and should Ladapo be moved on, a new striker or two will no doubt join the club. Nonetheless, there’s no guarantee that a replacement will perform.There’s a lot less risk involved with keeping Ladapo, who – at the very least – would be in familiar surroundings. A replacement striker could struggle for form for a whole host of reasons, and that’s without considering the potential for Argyle signing an unknown ‘bad egg’.
There’s also no guarantee that any money received for Ladapo would be handed straight to Ryan Lowe for additional players. With the club having been relegated last season, it is estimated that they will lose approximately £800,000 just as a result of being a League Two club before factoring in any reduction in ticket sales. Combined with the compensation figures paid to Derek Adams, Paul Wotton and Bury FC for the services of Lowe and his team, and the club’s relegation will have ultimately cost beyond £1m. Whilst the sale of Ladapo wouldn’t cover that all, it would go a long way to helping and it’s unlikely that this hasn’t already been discussed at board room level.
Keeping Ladapo would be a huge statement of intent from the cub and whilst they could lose the striker on a free next summer, it’s a risk worth taking if he helps ensure League One football. The club is moving forwards off the pitch and they will be keen to ensure that last season’s disappointment was only a blip. This inevitably means that promotion back to League One must be achieved at the earliest opportunity. Keeping Ladapo gives Argyle the greatest possible chance of doing that and so unless a silly offer is made, he must be kept at the club.
Josh: why Plymouth Argyle should sell Freddie Ladapo
It seems staggering that a team in League 1 is willing to pay half a million British sterling to acquire the services of Freddie Ladapo. It’s not that he isn’t a talented footballer, it’s just that, aside from a few goals against terrible sides, he has done very little to justify such a large price tag.
Don’t forget, this is a player who failed to score against any team in the top 8 at any point during the last season. In fact, in many of those games he would often go missing. Lameiras and Carey were forced deeper to accommodate a player who made everything about himself. It isn’t hard to see that, unless you make everything about him, he isn’t going to be an especially successful striker. Perhaps this is why he had failed at numerous clubs before coming to Argyle.
It is for this reason that, for someone who has scored 18 league goals in a relegation season, Freddie Ladapo is not an especially popular figure. Certainly not in the same way that players like Graham Carey and Ruben Lameiras have often been idolised. Often when teams have that sort of player in their ranks and talk of him leaving for a fee comes about, fans are often devastated. Perhaps not surprised, but usually disappointed.. And yet nobody seems to be. £500,000 for him seems like a remarkably good deal for a player entering the last 12 months of his contract.
The money is just too good to turn down. On the assumption that at least a decent amount of it is reinvested into the playing squad then it is enough on its own to bring in several very good quality players for the league we will be entering. There is no doubt that Ladapo would be a good fit in Lowe’s attacking formation, but for the sort of money we would free up both from his wages going and the transfer fee received means we would be in a very strong position to find a striker capable of being an asset within Lowe’s system.
Don’t forget, since a possible move has been talked about for some time now his head may well have turned and if he wants to move away to better himself then there is no point keeping an unhappy footballer at the club. After similar talk of an offer in the January transfer window, he only scored six goals in the entire remainder of the season. Clearly, he has no plans of playing his football in League 2 and who could blame him.
With 12 months on his deal, he is unlikely to sign a renewed contract that wouldn’t come with a huge (and arguably undeserved) wage hike, meaning he would simply leave for free a year later. This factor alone means he is definitely worth cashing in on, regardless of how important you would judge him to be in Lowe’s system.
A shame, perhaps, to see him join other successful Argyle players of recent times in leaving the club, but it does give Lowe the opportunity even further to stamp his own mark on the situation. We all assume that Ladapo would be a huge part of his plans, but there is no guarantee that it would work out perfectly even if he were to stay. Allowing Lowe to bring in his own men with the money raised from the transfer seems like the best possible outcome here.
In the right side then it would be fair to say that Freddie Ladapo would be a huge asset. Maybe that could have been for a Ryan Lowe team, maybe not. A much bigger statement of intent would be the now free wages of several key first team players and a sack of money worth half a million pounds being reinvested into the first team. After years of a manager moaning week after week about the budget he had to work with, it’s something I am sure we would all love to see happen.