Transfer Deadline Day: 5 Reasons Christopher Samba Is a Great Signing for QPR
Queens Park Rangers are battling against relegation from the Premier League, and though new manager Harry Redknapp must have known he would need some new additions to the squad to survive, he probably hoped to count on his best players staying out the season.
Unfortunately for the Hoops, arguably their most reliable defender is on his way across the Pacific so one definite requirement was a direct replacement—and former Anzhi Makhachkala's giant central defender Christopher Samba is that man.
BBC Sport that he has agreed terms on a permanent contract to move on transfer deadline day for around £12.5 million.
Thanks for all my kind messages ahead of my move,bless u all— Samba Christopher (@cs4christsamba1) January 31, 2013
QPR are likely to try and complete further business on Thursday before the deadline passes, but Samba is a big signing for them, possibly the most important one they could make in January.
Here are five reasons why he's a great signing...and one why he might not be.
With Loss of Ryan Nelsen, QPR Badly Needed a Defensive Organiser
QPR don't have too many over-performing players, so when one of them accepts an offer to go and take his first management job elsewhere, that is a problem for a team in the relegation zone.
The New Zealand defender played his final game on Tuesday, keeping a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw with champions Manchester City, leaving a rather sizeable hole behind him in the back line.
Thankfully for QPR, Chris Samba is a rather large character himself, both in terms of his physical frame and in his organisational attributes in defence.
QPR have conceded 37 goals this season. It's not the worst in the league, but when you consider that they have only scored themselves 18 times (and that is the lowest in the top flight) then every goal conceded is a major obstacle to overcome in a game.
Samba brings good communication, leadership and personality to a team in need of all three if they are to pull together and beat the drop.
Premier League Experience Combined with Having Played at High Level
One thing QPR couldn't afford to do was bring in players who were going to need time to adapt to playing in England's top flight.
Christopher Samba will have no worries there, having spent five years in the Premier League with Blackburn Rovers, from 2007 to 2012.
In total, he figured 161 times in the Premiership during his first spell in England.
Since leaving Ewood Park, Samba has been playing in Russia with Anzhi Makhachkala, where he has been for just shy of one year now.
During the last 12 months he has gained in European football experience, in the Europa League, and has played alongside the likes of Samuel Eto'o, Joao Carlos, Jucilei da Silva and Lass Diarra.
Joining the likes of Shaun Derry, Armand Traore and Bobby Zamora might be a bit of a comedown, but QPR can only benefit from Samba's experience and quality.
Huge Strength in the Air and on the Ground, Especially Defending Set Pieces
Samba's biggest strength is, quite literally, his strength.
His impressive frame makes him a formidable opponent for attackers to deal with, yet he is athletic and mobile enough to be a big adversary on the ground as well as in the air.
Heading and tackling are pretty basic skills for a defender in general, but Samba is certainly excellent at both and uses his size to command where both attackers and his fellow defenders position themselves.
QPR concede an average of 16.5 shots per game against them, which is the fourth-highest in the entire division.
Samba will help to reduce that statistic, particularly in aiding his team defending from set pieces where both his organisation and his aerial ability will come to the fore.
Goal Threat at the Other End, and Rangers Need Victories
QPR recorded a good point against Man City last time out, but being four points from safety with only 14 games left to play means they really need to start picking up victories.
As mentioned, their goal-scoring form has been largely terrible this season.
The Hoops record an average of less than four shots on target per league game and have scored only 11 times from open play—only Stoke City have managed less.
One area in particular where Samba can help his team at the other end of the pitch is in attacking set pieces, where QPR have been successful on only five occasions this term, the fourth-fewest in the league.
Samba did play as an emergency forward for Blackburn at times and scored 16 times, with an additional 10 assists, in his previous spell in the Premier League.
He'll Be Worth More Than the £12.5 Million Fee If He Helps Keep Them Up
The reported fee of £12.5 million is a pretty hefty sum, but the cost of relegation for QPR could be significantly higher.
The attributes that Samba possesses are a vital building block for manager Harry Redknapp to start from, as he bids to make QPR harder to beat for starters.
Neither opponent have been in impressive form, with the Canaries failing to win any of their last seven league games and the Swans only taking two wins from their last nine.
QPR are four league games unbeaten, but three have been draws—if Samba can contribute to taking three or four points from his first two games, he'll already be paying back a big chunk of his cost.
And One to Ponder... Are QPR Actually Mad? Or Just Desperate?
Little more than a month ago, incoming boss Redknapp stated that there were too many overpaid players at QPR and that he wouldn't be buying players if it could be to the detriment of the club's finances (as per BBC).
There are a lot of players at this club who earn far too much money, far too much for their ability and what they give to the club. I don't really want to see the owners have their pants taken down like they have in the past. A lot of agents made money out of them [the club's owners].
It begs the question, perhaps, why the club have been willing to spend such a huge sum now when they are facing imminent potential danger of relegation?
Redknapp bemoaned one of his players, Jose Bosingwa, for being on £65,000 per week, saying, "He has been fined two weeks' wages, £130,000. Not too bad for two weeks - decent isn't it?"
But according to reports, Samba's weekly wage will simply dwarf the right-back's incomings, with BBC stating a contract of £100,000 per week has been signed. Such a salary is simply not sustainable at Championship level and questions must be asked of the wisdom of spending such vast sums at this moment.
It is a point lost on neither football journalists nor football fans.
£12.5m for Chris Samba plus a weekly wage of £100,000. Someone at QPR clearly doesn't know where to put a decimal point.— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarretTimes) January 31, 2013
what's up first for qpr: relegation or bankruptcy?— lenikdot (@lenikdot) January 31, 2013
QPR have clearly decided to do everything possible to survive the drop this year, in the hope they can clear out the under-achievers from the squad and rebuild next summer, but it is a big risk to take for a club that's 20th in the Premier League.
Statistics from WhoScored.com and TransferMarkt.co.uk