A 3-0 defeat to Newcastle United on Saturday left Cardiff City in the Premier League relegation zone and owners of the joint-lowest goals scored record in the league. However, there was some good news for the Bluebirds as the club finally confirmed the capture of striker Emiliano Sala for a club-record fee of around £15 million.
The on-off saga with French club Nantes was brought to an end with the 28-year-old putting pen to paper on a three-and-a-half year deal on Saturday, eclipsing the previous club record of £11 million paid for Chilean midfielder Gary Medel in 2013.
“I’m very happy to be here. It gives me great pleasure and I can’t wait to start training, meet my new teammates and get down to work,” Sala told Cardiff’s official website.
“For me it feels special [to be the Club’s record signing]. I have come here wanting to work and to help my teammates and the Club. I can’t wait to get to work straight away and do everything I can.”
With 12 goals in Ligue 1 this season Sala is among the leading scorers and Cardiff will be hoping that the lanky striker can bring that form to the Premier League to ensure survival.
The club-record fee paid would suggest the Welsh club are banking on it but it hasn’t been a straight-forward climb to the top of the scoring charts for Sala.
A Santafesino, Sala never played in his native Argentina and instead joined Bordeaux’s academy as a teenager where he enjoyed some early success out on loan at lower league clubs, US Orléans and Chamois Niortais. Another short stint with Ligue 1 club Caen also produced goals but on the limited occasions Bordeaux presented an opportunity, Sala failed to take it.
This eventually saw the 25-year-old Sala join Nantes for €1 million in 2015. Far from an immediate sensation, Sala scored six goals in his first season but has been a steady source since and had made his best start to a campaign this season to attract the interest of Cardiff.
Far from the quickest and a with slightly awkward appearance, Sala may not be much to look at but with his ability in the air and clever movement, the late bloomer has evolved into an attacking focal point. Hard working and willing to drop deeper or drift wide for the team, Sala has proved a hugely popular figure in Nantes but given Cardiff’s current situation, industry alone will be enough.
A debut against Arsenal could follow and Cardiff will be requiring the immediate impact that Sala has lacked throughout his career.