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Which Rhode will Jordan take

After his explosive goalscoring exploits for League 1 club Huddersfield Town, clubs up and down the country are looking at Jordan Rhodes. Whether Rhodes moves on or not remains to be seen but we take a look at his flourishing career so far.

Rhodes has netted 29 goals in all competitions so far this season, alerting the radars of several big clubs such as Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.

West Ham and Southampton are reportedly the only clubs to have made a formal bid at this stage, a paltry £4million which the Terriers quickly dismissed. However, if Rhodes keeps his unbelievable goalscoring record going it will be very hard for the Yorkshire side to keep hold of their prized asset.

Even though the Hammers have apparently revamped their initial bid, many believe it will take a massive fee for Huddersfield to allow Rhodes, 21, to talk to other clubs. Arsenal signed a 17-year-old Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Southampton when they were in League 1 for an initial £12m, and many see a similar fee beckoning.

Rhodes’ talent is there for all to see, proven earlier this month when he stunningly netted five goals in Huddersfield’s 6-0 demolition over Wycombe Wanderers in front of the TV cameras – equalling the record for goals scored by a Huddersfield Town player in a match set by Dave Mangnall and Alf Lythgoe in the 1930s.

Starting his professional career at Ipswich Town in 2005, and after scoring silly amounts for the under-16s, under-18s and reserve teams, it was clear to see that Rhodes was going to be a real gem of a player for the Tractor Boys. Rhodes was fast becoming the talk of the town amongst the Ipswich fans, who were looking forward to seeing another young talent develop onto the main stage through their impressive academy system.

However, under the questionable management of Roy Keane, Rhodes wasn’t really given a chance, with the former Manchester United captain seemingly not a fan. Then, rather inexplicably, on 31 July 2009 it emerged that Ipswich had sold Rhodes to League 1 club Huddersfield Town.

Shockwaves were sent throughout the Town fans who seemed perplexed at Keane’s judgement, especially seeing as Rhodes was sold for a measly initial £150k.

It is believed that Keane’s reasoning for selling him was that Rhodes would stump the potential of another young striker in the academy set-up – Connor Wickham. This is something that outraged Town fans’ even more, later questioning why not play them together?

Rhodes, who is set to celebrate his 22nd birthday this week, began his Huddersfield career in explosive fashion, scoring six goals in as many games, putting those doubts in the Ipswich fans’ heads even bigger. Further warning signs of Rhodes’ potential were even clearer to see as he scored a hat-trick of headers within eight minutes in a 4-0 victory over Exeter City in October 2009.

As Keane departed company after a disappointing 20 month stint in charge of the Tractor Boys, Rhodes proved him wrong; becoming Huddersfield’s top scorer in their faltering 09-10 (23 goals) and10-11 (22 goals) promotion campaigns. How Keane could have done with a goalscorer for his underachieving Ipswich side. In fact current Ipswich manager Paul Jewell, also under-fire for inconsistent results, could also do with a player of Rhodes’ calibre. Ipswich Town fans must be as sick as parrots.

This season, Rhodes has gone on to break more and more Huddersfield records, becoming the first Huddersfield player since the 1920s to score back to back hat-tricks. He also netted all four goals in Huddersfield’s 4-4 thriller with Sheffield Wednesday before his ‘famous five’ exploits against Wycombe.

As many as eight Premier League scouts were spotted that evening, all making notes on his textbook display of finishing. Though not particularly quick or strong, his track record shows Rhodes knows where the goal is. Interestingly enough, all five of those goals against Wycombe were predatory strikes, finishing off team moves as opposed to individual efforts. The phrase ‘great scorer of goals’ as opposed to ‘scorer of great goals’ springs to mind, drawing similarities to that of fellow striker Darren Bent.

However, if Huddersfield do eventually crumble into agreeing a fee for the Scottish International, maybe in this transfer window or in the summer, will Rhodes want to move on? He is worshipped amongst Huddersfield fans, who will obviously be keen for their hotshot to stay. After just two and a half years at the club, Rhodes is already the club’s 10th highest goalscorer of all time and has a chance to rewrite the club’s history book.

He was a prominent figure in the club’s recent 42-game unbeaten sequence and is of a character where he keeps himself to himself, but it is easy to see that he is settled and happy. On the other hand, Rhodes has tried and failed twice to achieve promotion with the Terriers as they have consistently become play-off victims. With Huddy increasingly looking like they will be there or thereabouts again this season, surely Rhodes won’t want more play-off heartbreak if they fail again.

Another key point to remember is the influence of Rhodes’ manager Lee Clark. This is a man who, earlier this season, ruled himself out of an attractive looking Leicester City job. Although I’m sure Clark will not try to hold back a young player who could potentially play at a higher level, he will surely try his best to influence his star man to stay. And to do that, Huddersfield will have to get promoted this season before the vultures of Premier League clubs battle away for his signature in the summer, presuming Rhodes doesn’t move in this transfer window.

Some Premier League and Championship clubs may question whether Rhodes would be too much of a risk to sign and they do have a valid point, he is unproven at a higher level but I think time and time again he has proven that he does have the class and potential to be one of the most feared strikers in the country.

Whatever path Jordan Rhodes walks in the future, it will surely be a successful one.

Will Ridgard

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