Che Adams Must Move Past This Year's Struggles & Come Back Better Next Season

Callum Altimas
Che Adams scored his first Southampton goal against Manchester City
Che Adams scored his first Southampton goal against Manchester City / Pool/Getty Images
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Following his arrival from Birmingham in the summer of 2019, expectations were high for Che Adams heading into his first season as a Southampton player.

It was easy to see why. The forward had been Birmingham's bright spark up front with 22 league goals as the Blues finished 17th.

Adams had demonstrated a goalscoring ability Southampton sorely lacked throughout the 2018/19 season, with their lead scorer being loanee Danny Ings with seven goals in all competitions. The Saints needed help and looked to Adams for it, spending £15m to bring him in last summer.

Adams has struggled to replicate the form he showed at Birmingham last season
Adams has struggled to replicate the form he showed at Birmingham last season / James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images

However, the 24-year-old has struggled to adapt to life in England's top division.

The Englishman failed to score in his first 28 appearances for Southampton in all competitions and looked to have already lost his place within the first team, only playing more than 20 minutes in a Premier League game twice from September until July. To make matters worse, Adams' struggles coincided with now permanent signing Ings enjoying the form of his Premier League career.

The Saints had made Ings' previous loan deal permanent in the same transfer window that they brought Adams to St Mary's, but the former Liverpool man hit the ground running following his signing. He has wracked up 24 goals in all competitions for Ralph Hasenhuttl's side, with his 21 Premier League goals this season behind only Leicester's Jamie Vardy, who has 23.

Danny Ings' sensational form this season has eased the pressure on Adams
Danny Ings' sensational form this season has eased the pressure on Adams / Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

The Premier League's suspension following the coronavirus outbreak could have been the break Adams needed, though. Following the league's return, the former Birmingham forward has appeared in all but one of the Saints' games and even bagged his first two goals for the club, grabbing the winner against Manchester City before then rounding off the club's 2-0 victory over Bournemouth.

While the pressure on Adams to succeed right away has eased, the 24-year-old still has a lot to prove and must do so in the 2020/21 season if he wants to spend the rest of his career in the Premier League.

With Hasenhuttl opting to play with two forwards, a budding partnership alongside Ings will be imperative to Adams' success going forward. Playing off a striker in the rich goalscoring form that Ings is currently in will benefit Adams in the long run and help the Englishman make the necessary steps to succeed.

Alongside Ings, Adams has the chance to forge a strong partnership
Alongside Ings, Adams has the chance to forge a strong partnership / Robin Jones/Getty Images

Expecting Adams to reach the sort of goalscoring numbers he did during his final season at St Andrew's may be a bit too much to ask, however. Outside his 22 league goals during his final season in the Championship at Birmingham, the forward has only reached double figures for goals scored once before, when he bagged 11 during the 2015/16 season with Sheffield United in League One.

That's not to say he can't have a strong career at St Mary's. With Ings alongside him, Adams won't have to carry the full goalscoring load for Southampton, but he has shown his ability to win games for the club - his sensational strike to defeat Premier League runners up Manchester City demonstrating just that.

Saints manager Hasenhuttl is building towards something positive at St Mary's and has turned the club's fortunes around dramatically following their struggles earlier in the season.

Earlier this week, the manager in his final press conference of the season revealed: "Che Adams has made good progress and that will help his future. I am still 100% convinced on this player. It's difficult to show the workload you need in that position in our system. He can score many more goals next season, I'm sure."

Adams has certainly demonstrated his ability hit the back of the net prolifically in the past, but he'll need to move past this year's struggles if he's to stand any chance of helping the Saints improve.

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