As Steve Bruce plans for next season, could he bring back a striker who has changed considerably since his first spell at the club?
He scored only one Premier League goal and was sent off for head-butting an opponent in the match that all but condemned Hull City to relegation. And yet here I am putting forward a case for his return to the KC Stadium this summer.
The player in question is Jozy Altidore – a man whose first spell in England was anything but successful. And yet the erratic teenage striker of 2009 has been replaced with one of Europe’s most prolific forwards, as his 26 goals in 24 games for Dutch side AZ Alkmaar testify.
The 23-year-old American has had quite the coming-of-age since his move to Holland from Villarreal in 2011. Having spent the majority of his time on loan from the La Liga club, first at Hull and later with Turkish side Bursaspor, his permanent move to Alkmaar saw him notch 19 goals in his first year before last season’s astonishing return.
In short, Altidore has learnt to channel his talent, and the rough diamond Hull fans remember is now very much polished.
Having already been linked with a number of clubs including Aston Villa and Fulham, his agent Lyle Yorks has confirmed, “There’s plenty of interest in Jozy.”
And while you wouldn’t expect an agent to say anything else, with Altidore it is clear why so many clubs are reportedly clamouring for his services, most recently Schalke and Lazio.
If the reported fee of just €4million is correct, whoever does ultimately sign him will be getting a bargain.
Not only does he score goals, but he is young enough to improve further. And when you consider that he has scored four braces and three hat-tricks in the Eredivisie in his most recent campaign, the prospect of him becoming even more prolific is very much a reality.
In light of such competition for his services, the prospect of a return to Hull may be unrealistic. And yet it is that word ‘return’ that may give Steve Bruce an advantage should he wish to bring the striker back to England.
Altidore will know his first spell at the club was disappointing. And while he became something of a fans’ favourite, the fact that he left with the ignominy of a red card and a minuscule goal return may leave him feeling that he has unfinished business at the club.
As with all the promoted sides, Hull will be thinking long and hard about the players they need to turn a season-long fairy-tale into a far longer reality.
They say you should never go back. But Altidore was a boy when he left Hull City. Should he return, it will be as a man.
What are your memories of the player during his first spell at the club? And would you like him to return?
image: © Erik Daniel Drost