By Mike Rice.
Adam Buksa has been confirmed as departing Major League Soccer for Ligue 1 side RC Lens in France.
The centre forward is leaving New England Revolution in a bumper deal of around $9 million. This comes after the sale of Matt Turner to Arsenal going through this summer as well as last season’s departure of Tajon Buchanan to Club Brugge and has given the club a large amount to use in the summer.
Things are changing quickly in New England. Players are leaving, it’s been a struggling campaign in the CONCACAF Champions League, and they are out of the MLS playoff places after 13 games.
Jozy Altidore was brought in to support the forward line, but injuries have once again affected his form, while Gustavo Bou is only just becoming available from injury himself.
Bruce Arena and co. will be going into the summer transfer window knowing a new centre-forward is high on the list of needs.
Buksa will be hard to replace. He had seven goals and two assists in 10 games this season and leaves with 35 goals and seven assists in 73 games for New England. As a Poland international, Buksa has continued his goalscoring form with five goals from eight caps.
Some of the figures, from Wyscout, from his time in MLS, have seen him average 0.54 goals per 90 from 4.93 touches in the penalty area per 90.
The Revs will need to be looking for a player able to show the clinical edge Buksa has, while also providing the physical capabilities out of possession which has seen Buksa involved in 9.06 offensive duels per 90.
A player like Wilfried Kanga, currently at Young Boys in Switzerland could be an ideal replacement.
The forward, capped at France U20 level is a tall forward like Buksa, he is 1.89m tall and a strong, quick player.
His height and strength in the air make him a danger from crosses and set pieces. This would make him an ideal target for the likes of Carles Gil from set plays.
On top of this, he has good movement, breaks lines well and has good pace to get in behind defenders. This, once again, would be exactly what Gil is looking for from a striker. Last season’s MVP has the ability to link up well with a forward that is able to get on to through passes.
Kanga’s link-up play is good as well. He can control and hold up the ball well, waiting on support in transition, as well as run at defenders with the ball.
Kanga scored 12 times in his 2021/22 season from 31 appearances and also attracted attention from Sporting Kansas City back in January.
New England could consider going in for a possibly lower price, saving their DP spot for another player. In this case, they could look to Sam Gallagher of Blackburn Rovers.
The forward has been a strong player for the side with his willing running and hard work off the ball. Something like this could benefit the team while giving more cap room to improve the roster which has been going through a lot of changes in the past couple of seasons.
Gallagher isn’t a statement signing and is not on the level of Buksa but would give the Revs some breathing room should they feel Altidore is the man this season.
Gallagher only managed 0.29 goals per 90, though his role in the side can differ somewhat from Buksa’s in New England due to Blackburn also having Ben Brereton-Diaz in their lineup.
A gamble could be on bringing Frantzdy Pierrot back to MLS after having failed to make an impression at Colorado Rapids back in 2018. He has since been at Mouscron in Belgium and is currently playing from Guingamp in the French Ligue 2.
The Haiti international has 14 goals in 22 games for his country while having an impressive season in France in 2021/22 scoring 15 goals in 34 games.
He is an athletic striker with good speed, and can run in behind the defence in transition, while also being a focal point in an attack. Latching on to crosses and through balls as well as being a target from set-pieces.
He had 0.53 goals from 4.18 touches in the box per 90 this season, similar to Buksa though obviously from different leagues. He did, though, have more offensive duels than Buksa, with 12.11 per 90 showing the competitive edge which could make him a useful signing in New England.
What we will learn from New England’s transfer activity is if they feel a big statement signing at centre forward is the way to go, or if the whole squad build is more pressing.
It would be hard to argue that one player won’t fix this side and make them favourites for the MLS Cup, but someone needs to step up and put the ball in the net without Buksa in the squad anymore.