Jozy Altidore’s struggles at Sunderland have been well-documented at this point, and there’s already enough evidence to suggest that his spell in the north east could be drawing to a close.
One of Paolo Di Canio’s first signings at the club, Altidore arrived from Eredivisie’s AZ Alkmaar last summer with the expectations of a £6 million price tag, having netted 51 times in 93 games during his two seasons with the Dutch side.
However, the US international would go on to score just once in 31 Premier League appearances while being widely derided by supporters, with new manager Gus Poyet dropping him from the line-up as the team staged a dramatic escape from relegation.
Still to make a Premier League start this season, the past weekend’s 2-2 draw at home to Tottenham Hotspur saw Poyet opt to bring on Emmanuele Giaccherini, Will Buckley and Jordi Gomez over Altidore during the final 30 minutes with the club a goal down, further demonstrating what little faith he has in the out-of-form striker.
The Black Cats boss has tried to put a positive spin on his future at the Stadium Light in recent weeks, but the summer pursuit of Liverpool’s Fabio Borini was an ominous sign, and there are suggestions that the search for additional firepower will be resumed come the winter transfer window.
With Steven Fletcher and Connor Wickham well ahead of him in the pecking order, Altidore’s chances of regular minutes before then look slim and, having previously failed to impress during a 2010-11 loan spell at Hull City, he looks no better in the English top-flight this time around.
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A teenage revelation in MLS upon bursting onto the scene with the New York Red Bulls in 2006, aged 16, the promising hitman’s undoubted promise earned him a $10 million move to La Liga’s Villarreal in June 2008, but his struggles in Spain led to fruitless loans at Xerez, Hull and Buraspor over the next three seasons.
While he revitalised his career upon moving to AZ in the summer of 2011, Altidore’s reputation is now back in the balance and succumbing to the same fate as past Eredivisie flops such as Alfonso Alves and Mateja Kezman seems unavoidable going forward.
The 24-year-old has, nevertheless, remained crucial to Jurgen Klinsmann’s US side over the years, boasting a scoring record of 23 goals in 72 games, while captaining the team in their recent fixture against the Czech Republic, but, for all the talk of his outstanding pace, power and strength, he has failed to show the best of those attributes against more imposing defenders in England.
Altidore still has both the potential and the time on his side to carve out a solid club career for himself in Europe, perhaps with a Ligue 1 club or even in the Bundesliga, but it’s hard to envisage him ever shaking the tag of Premier League flop given the directions things are heading.