A striker to call our own - Signing
Wednesday, 19th Aug 2020 14:00 by Clive Whittingham
QPR have completed the permanent signing of a real live striker, 24-year-old Lyndon Dykes from SPL outfit Livingston.
Lyndon Dykes is a 24-year-old, 6ft 2in tall centre forward who was born on the Gold Coast in Australia to Scottish parents. He enjoys tattoos, summer nights at the beach and the movies of Jason Statham.
Dykes was a junior rugby league player in Canberra in his youth (hence the sleeve tattoos, they’re mandatory in the NRL) before taking up football when he returned to the Gold Coast. His list of former clubs there surpasses even those of Seaham Red Star old-boy Jordan Hugill and includes Mudgeeraba, Merrimac, Redlands United, Gold Coast City and finally Surfers Paradise Apollo. Strewth.
Between 2015 and 2016 there was a deal of too and fro between Gold Coast and Dumfries, so similar I’m amazed he was ever really able to tell the difference. He toured England with Australia schoolboys, then played a while with the Queens U20s in Dumfries, scoring 22 goals in 14 games, before flying back home. He then came back in June 2016 to sign permanently for Queen of the South, making his debut aged 20 against Queens Park (stay with me) in the League Cup and scoring his first goal in August that year against Hibs in the same competition.
He scored just four times in 27 starts and 13 sub apps at Scottish Championship level in 2016/17 and then bagged eight in 37 starts and seven sub apps the following season. In 2018/19 he played 52 games from the start across the campaign and scored ten goals, but was of greater use as a point man for Stephen Dobbie to play off – he scored 43 goals in a remarkable personal season that year.
The 2019/20 campaign was his first at SPL level having signed for Livingston midway through the previous year and been loaned back to Queen of the South to finish the season there. He scored on his Livi debut against Falkirk in the League Cup in July and went on to net 12 goals, nine of them in the league, in 33 starts with ten assists into the bargain. That included the club’s first ever SPL hat trick against Ross County, and a double against perennial champions Celtic who were beaten 2-0 at the splendidly named Tony Macaroni Arena. His roughing up of £7m French defender Christopher Jullien had the Celtic man apologising to fans on Twitter and has become a real talking point in games where Livingston have faced the Old Firm.
Dykes is eligible to play for Australia, whom his sister has represented internationally at gymnastics at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, or Scotland and is due to meet Steve Clarke shortly ahead of a possible call up there. Obviously with the struggles QPR had flying Massimo Luongo around the world they’d prefer he plump for the latter.
He has signed a four year contract at QPR for a fee reportedly rising as high as £2m.
I’m buzzing, obviously! Being at Livingston was great but to be at a club like this, I just want to put my head down now and kick on. I am a player who works hard for the team. I like to work hard for my team-mates, I want them to know that I’m putting it in for them. I am always going to give 100%. I am always willing to learn and hopefully I can score a few goals as well. I’m willing to get in there and rough some people up." -Lyndon Dykes
“He is a player who can score goals and he showed his quality against Rangers and Celtic last season. He is a hard worker, a good finisher and I think he is going to go on to become a good international for Scotland. He is still young and raw, and there is a lot of development potential in him. A lot of good work has been done and he has worked very hard in Scotland, and we hope very much that we can help him move to the next level.” -Warbs Warburton
"I spoke to Lyndon and told him he’ll do well down there if he embraces it like he did here. Don’t go there and think you’ve made it. Go and buy in to what they are doing and see if you can improve again. It’s another level but knowing his traits and personality, he’ll thrive on it. There are some centre halves down there who will know they are in a game." - Livingston manager Gary Holt
“Having done a fair bit of research on him I’m feeling more positive about this, especially if the fee is closer to £1-1.5m rising to £2m. In 32 games last season he scored 12 and got 10 assists in an average team, plays the lone striker role, he’s a poacher but has good link up play and is mobile, good age, gave the old firm a tough time. All sounds good so fingers crossed, seems a well scouted alternative to Moore.” -MedwayR
“Lyndon scoring in faraway towns, now war is declared and battle come down…” -WrightUpSht_
QPR really need this to work.
Rangers haven’t owned a consistently effective Championship striker since Charlie Austin departed in January 2016 and his contract situation meant we got less than half what he was worth when he moved to Southampton, and therefore not enough to buy a proven replacement. As QPR’s parachute payments have dwindled, and financial situation tightened, so the market for strikers has exploded. The arrival of Aston Villa and Newcastle, in particular, in the Championship skewed the market horribly, with Villa paying north of £10m for average second tier forwards three times in quick succession – Ross McCormack, Jonathan Kodija and Scott Hogan. A situation has developed where £8m now only buys you one Kenneth Zohore, Gary Madine or, God bless him all due respect, Jordan Hugill. Neal Maupay will cost you £20m.
To get around this, Les Ferdinand and the club have tried several things. They looked down the divisions for their own version of Hugill, Tom Bradshaw or Ollie Watkins but came up with a dud in Conor Washington from Peterborough. They looked into Europe for their own version of Maupay, Benrahma or Mbeumo but came back only with Seb Polter and Idrissa Sylla, who were steady enough but never likely to get you more than a dozen goals in a season. And more recently they’ve turned to the loan market, with mixed results – Hugill good, Wells so good we lost him to another club, Jan Mlakar not good enough, Tomer Hemed not arsed. Hefty portions of Premier League wages paid to players we didn’t own, had no hope of keeping permanently, and would lose prematurely if they did too well.
Earlier this summer they thought a unique set of circumstances had fallen in their favour with Kieffer Moore at Wigan. The Latics’ scandalous dip into administration and subsequent relegation made a player available and affordable to us when previously he would have been neither. The much maligned period of austerity and house cleaning at Rangers, overseen by CEO Lee Hoos, has created enough headroom within the FFP regulations for QPR to spend a bit of money again, even during this time of global pandemic. The oft-criticised scouting, recruitment and coaching at the club has produced, in Bright Osayi-Samuel and Ebere Eze, two highly sellable assets who will likely fetch many millions this summer. Unfortunately having got him as far as agreeing to travel down to London for a medical on the first day of the close season, other clubs got wind of the situation and came in with better contract offers and he went to Cardiff.
And so we turn to Lyndon Dykes, who at 24 is a good age for potential re-sale value, has a style of play that suits our system with a physical lone striker feeding a supporting cast of technical attackers, and is affordable to us this time because he plays for one of the extras in the annual Grand Celtic Procession.
Our resident Scotland expert Karl, who regularly chides me for my disparaging of Scottish football and is clearly a far better authority on the players there than me, offers us this…
“I have to admit not seen too much of him except he is strong, athletic and willing to put in a shift as the lone forward. Lack of technique will likely be the biggest criticism but for the lone forward role putting in the hard yards I think he'll do well but fancy he needs quality coming up to work off him. £2m is a big fee but usually from Scotland the wages are more sensible so as a package he is perhaps decent value? It’s strength and athleticism players moving from Scotland can often lack, he has this so it will be his ability with the ball that is key. 6`2'' so adds to set piece defensive set up and with his work rate he's soon get forward from defence.
If I had to compare him I'd say Jackson Irvine would be fair. They're both Aussies, which is coincidence, but playing at unfancied clubs putting in hard graft and getting move to Championship where that work rate is vital if you're short on a skill level. Different positions on the pitch but can see similarities Important to note that he's played on plastic pitches for last two clubs and Livi are very much a route one team. I think players on plastic need good control and close skills as they are pretty unforgiving but it's been his doggedness and battling that have made him an SPL player.”
I’d also recommend this Twitter thread from football analyst Tom Potter about his relative strengths, weaknesses and game plan, and this glowing send off from Livingston blogger Angus McGreggor on what exactly we’re getting.
I have to say, even the £2m this could eventually rise to looks a bit steep to me for a player with his record and club history coming from the GCP, but then Ivan Toney going for between £6m and £10m having never played higher than League One speaks again to how much money you have to pay for strikers. This is a rare chance for us to actually own a forward, rather than borrow one, within our budget and QPR have taken the plunge ahead of competition from Barnsley among other Championship clubs.
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