Following protracted negotiations, Blackburn Rovers have finally agreed to the departure of star striker, Adam Armstrong, who joins Southampton on a four-year deal, for an undisclosed fee.
The fee which includes future instalments, is rumoured to be in the region of £15m, sees the former Newcastle United forward link up with Ralph Hasenhüttl’s Saints, as a direct replacement for fellow striker, Danny Ings, who swapped Hampshire for Birmingham earlier on in the window, as he linked up with Aston Villa.
‘The Angel of the North’, as he was affectionately dubbed by the Rovers faithful, departs Ewood Park following three-and-a-half successful seasons in the Blue and White halves. After initially linking up with the club on loan, during the 2017-18 winter transfer window, Armstrong went on to play a crucial role for Rovers, as they bounced back to the Championship at the first-time of asking, netting nine goals, and supplying two assists from his 21 appearances under Tony Mowbray.
Although this wasn’t the first time Armstrong and Mowbray had linked up, as the pair were together at Coventry City during the 2015-16 season, where Armstrong netted 20 league goals for the Sky Blues, the Geordie forward took like a duck to water in Lancashire, as the gaffer acted quickly to secure Armstrong’s permanent services once Rovers had returned to the second tier. Once Armstrong had returned to Rovers permanently, he found himself sacrificed into a wide-left role, as he played third fiddle to Bradley Dack and Danny Graham, in Rovers’ forward line. That confinement into an ‘inside forward’ role, didn’t stop the ‘Angel of the North’ from pitching in with nine goals and five assists from 48 games in all competitions.
2019-20 saw Armstrong come into his own as he displayed the quality that saw Tony Mowbray justify his faith in him. Although he was still being deployed from the left-hand side, the under-20 World Cup winner was able to build on his experiences from the previous season, to adapt his game and increase his return for the side. Although the season wasn’t one to remember for Rovers fans, given the ACL injury suffered by Bradley Dack in December 2019, prior to COVID-19 halting the campaign for three months, Armstrong’s lethality in-front of goal hit new heights, as he shouldered the responsibility left behind by Dack before going on to end the campaign with 17 goals and seven assists from the 38 games he played in all competitions, including his 45-yard winner away against Cardiff City, which won the club’s 2019-20 Goal of the Season award.
Whilst the Rovers fans had unknowingly seen Armstrong in the flesh for the last time, given that the 2020-21 season saw no fans enter Ewood Park, the lack of an audience allowed the 2019-20 Player of the Year to step-up without any pressure, as he netted 29-goals – which included three hattricks – and coupled them with five assists in all competitions, throughout 2020-21. His incredible eye for goal also helped him finish as runner-up in the Championship’s Golden Boot race, to eventual promotion winner, Ivan Toney of Brentford. Despite his previous season’s goal-tally of 17 impressing, the attacker – who got married over the summer of 2021 – became Rovers’ focal point as Tony Mowbray began deploying him as a central striker, which saw him flourish and reach mouth-watering levels of prolificacy. After building fine synergy with on-loan Liverpool wonderkid, Harvey Elliott, the pair took the Championship by storm as they linked up to cause havoc up and down the country, with Armstrong catching the eye with his clinical displays, as he ended 2020-21 as the PFA Fans Player of the Year in the Championship.
As part of his reported £1.75m move from Tyneside to Lancashire, Newcastle United are allegedly set to earn a windfall of 40% of the profit Rovers have made on the 24-year old, who notched 64 goals and 19 assists in all competitions for Rovers, from the 160 games he played.
With the deal now finalised, it is important to emphasise how deserving of this opportunity Armstrong is, as well as lauding him, not only for his performances over the past three-and-a-half seasons, but for the way the whole transfer saga was handed.
Everyone at ReadRovers would like to thank ‘Arma’ for his outstanding service during his time at the club and wish him well in the Premier League.