Where will Andy Carroll play his football in 2012-13?
The Liverpool striker, on loan at West Ham, has a very murky future. Despite the £18 million buyout fee the Hammers have negotiated for him (via The Liverpool Daily Post), no assurances have been given that the London club will follow through.
It begs the question: Is Carroll worth £18 million?
Andy Carroll is a big guy.
His natural physique limits the type of player he can become. At 6'3", it's pretty clear which areas he is able to dominate.
Put the ball in the air and he will win it. No defender comes close when Carroll is in dominant form, so getting the ball into his chest and onto his head becomes the priority.
The West Ham loanee wins an average of 10.2 aerial duels per game (via WhoScored?), which is two more than Christian Benteke and almost three more than the towering Peter Crouch.
He will always be played as a central striker—his centre of gravity is too high to play as a wide forward and his distribution is limited, thus making him a questionable choice at deep-lying forward.
With a big man up front like Andy Carroll, players will instinctively look to deliver the ball into his body.
Even if you've trained all week long in tiki-taka football, that burly target man looks like a knight in shining armour when you're under duress in possession.
Everything (offensively) is geared toward him—be it reactively or proactively—and having a physical man up front who isn't fantastic on the ball can dictate how you play.
When Carroll was at Newcastle United, Chris Hughton set his team up to play to the target man's strengths. That meant full-backs hitting him as they crossed the half-way line and ball-playing midfielders switching out wide to deliver accurate crosses.
Ultimately, very little football was played on the deck. You can't deny the style was effective, but it can only take you so far.
Like it or not, Emile Heskey, strikers will always be judged on their goal tallies.
Let's take a look at Andy Carroll's effectiveness in comparison with similar strikers  by using statistical evidence from the 2012-13 season.
|League only||Goals (Apps)||Assists||KP pg||Shots/goal||Turnovers pg|
|Christian Benteke||14 (26)||4||1.4||6.4||2.1|
|Andy Carroll||5 (15)||0||1.4||9.8||1.8|
|Peter Crouch||5 (23)||3||1.1||7.6||1.4|
|Olivier Giroud||10 (20)||3||1||9.4||2|
|Pavel Pogrebnyak||5 (20)||0||0.3||4.6||1.4|
KP pg = Key passes per game—Statistics via WhoScored.com
Carroll doesn't produce the impact that players a quarter of his £35 million fee have, with Benteke and Giroud possessing a better goal per game ratio and Pogrebnyak leading by some distance in terms of clinical finishing.
 By similar, we mean in terms of how teams use the player. Carroll and Benteke are different animals, but their respective sides use them as foils for relief and presence.
For £18 million, what do you receive?
The good news for Andy Carroll is that he will always score goals. He is of a certain ilk in that respect. Even if woefully out of form, he will be presented with enough chances to find the back of the net.
Traditional English centre-forwards—"battering rams," as they call them on the British Isles—have always been utilised efficiently in the EPL.
However, using Carroll hinders your squad's overall development. It gives your players a go-to option to lump it and when pressured they'll no doubt oblige.
Carroll is English, so any EPL team paying must shell out 25 percent extra. However, at a cool £18 million, you risk setting your club back pretty heavily. Intentionally or not, Carroll makes sides one-dimensional.