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The Case For Signing A Non-League Free Agent

Gozie Ugwu has impressed this season, could he jump up 3 divisions?

Wycombe Wanderers v Aston Villa - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

I've done a couple of these transfer pieces now because....well 'tis the season. Last year I also did a list of non-league players that we could sign which actually turned out to be fairly bang on. 6 of the 8 I mentioned have since made Football League moves, 3 of those to the Championship. One of the player who didn't get a move however was Gozie Ugwu who played for Woking. His contract has since run out making him a free agent, a wanted one at that. Why should we take a punt on this (and other) non-league talent? Here's why!

First off the bat, we need strikers. A quick glance at who we still have on the books will show as much. Gary Madine, Jamie Proctor (surely getting loaned again)....that is it. Clayton is out of contract, Wilko has been told to do one and Adam Le Fondre is a loanee. Whilst ALF and Clayton may yet stay there would still be a distinct lack of depth.

So why a non-league striker? Well a cursory glance around who is getting released this year will show you it is fairly slim pickings as far as strikers go. There are a few decent Premiership Under 23s like Conor McAleny who could be worth a punt but one name in particular caught my eye.

Gozie Ugwu is 6ft 1, is a 'hard worker' up front and has that wonderful combination of strength and speed. Whilst this is not enough to be a good striker, players who possess both attributes will always be a handful for any defence. We've missed having a player who can 'do both' in recent years with players either being fast or strong. His scoring record before this season is iffy, but scouts of the clubs supposedly after him believe this could be a case of late maturing as apposed to finding his level.

His contract has expired at Woking having had a fantastic season with 21 goals over the course of the season. There is reported interest from Walsall, Partick Thistle and Motherwell all of whom have been impressed by the tall, powerful striker this season.

'So why didn't you include him in your free transfer list?' Well truth be told I didn't look that far down the leagues when compiling it. Something I was so annoyed at myself for doing I decided to write a whole piece on him. I mean it is summer and we need something 'football' to do.

Is he a risk? Yep. Has he failed to shine in higher leagues before? Yep. We sure as hell wouldn't be signing a sure thing. However we've seen non-league transfers pay dividends for us before in the form of Kaiyne Woolery. We made a profit on him and got a different type of player we were sorely lacking. From what I have seen of this kid, I feel he has something. Whilst that may turn out to be incorrect, the pay-off if I'm right far outweighs the risk involved.