Yakubu set for medical ahead of Leicester City loan move
Everton striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni will undergo a medical tomorrow (Wednesday 12th January) at Leicester City’s Belvoir Drive training ground ahead of a season-long loan move from Merseyside.
BBC Radio Leicester’s Ian Stringer broke the news on his Twitter account following an article on the Sky Sports website and rumours from reliable sources on City messageboards.
So will Yakubu prove to be the big-name signing that finally provides that extra impetus Leicester’s owners are desperate to supply to Sven-Goran Eriksson. Premier League players Chris Kirkland, Curtis Davies and Roman Bednar have all come and gone without making the desired impact. Can Yakubu be any different?
The Nigerian certainly has the physical presence to make a big impression at the Walkers Stadium. In recent weeks, Eriksson has resorted to the jet-heeled Darius Vassell to lead the line for Leicester but this has only come about through the limitations of veteran target man Steve Howard and Bednar’s poor form during a wholly unimpressive loan spell.
Vassell’s own form of late has been superb, with the former Aston Villa and Manchester City man netting the winner in each of Leicester’s first two games of the new year. He then turned in an accomplished performance to trouble his most recent English employers’ backline in Leicester’s creditable 2-2 draw with Roberto Mancini’s City in the FA Cup third round.
Yakubu’s apparently imminent arrival will, without question, radically alter the dynamic of Leicester’s attack. The logical switch would be for Vassell to move back to the wide berth he occupied upon joining the East Midlands side, with Lloyd Dyer the most likely to drop out of Eriksson’s favoured starting lineup.
Rotation is unlikely, with the Swede demonstrating a preference for a settled first eleven in his first few months as manager. Yakubu is almost certainly set to earn big money at the Walkers Stadium, as the club’s new Thai owners begin to wield their financial power to the largest degree yet, so the new man’s place is assured as the spearhead of Leicester’s front three.
Eriksson would be expected to stick with the formation that has so far brought him success. Leicester’s midfield trio of Yuki Abe, Richie Wellens and Andy King provide the heartbeat to Eriksson’s side and he would be loathed to alter their roles too dramatically. Although lively, left-winger Dyer has been largely ineffective under the former England manager in terms of goals and assists.
There is also scope for Vassell to play further in from the wing than a traditional wide player in a 4-3-3 setup, with Abe covering behind and loanee right-back Kyle Naughton using his stamina to push up the flank. Eriksson may admittedly opt for his historically preferred 4-4-2 formation at home, particularly against weaker opposition or when in need of a goal. Paul Gallagher is set to keep his place on the left side of the attack.
Yakubu’s first taste of English football as a Portsmouth player, initially on loan from Maccabi Haifa, was a promotion battle with Leicester in the 2002/03 season. After Pompey’s promotion to the top flight, he signed for the club permanently before moving on to Middlesbrough in 2005. A switch to Everton followed two years later, but injuries have restricted his success at Goodison Park and Toffees manager David Moyes has often favoured the likes of Louis Saha and Tim Cahill ahead of the Nigerian.
Leicester supporters will be wary of expecting too much from their potential new signing given the struggles suffered by proven Championship performer Bednar over the winter period. Nevertheless, the capture of Yakubu would be a real statement of intent from a club that has been transformed in the last six months.
The Yak should soon be back in the second tier, in what promises to be another interesting chapter in the story of Leicester City Football Club.