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Adam Armstrong has proven Rafael Benitez wrong and made it back to the Premier League

Adam Armstrong scored on his Premier League debut for Southampton
Adam Armstrong scored on his Premier League debut for Southampton
Aaron Gales
ANALYST

When Adam Armstrong lashed the ball past Jordan Pickford and into the top corner of Everton's goal on his Premier League debut for Southampton, he could have been forgiven for casting his eye over to the visiting bench and Rafael Benitez.

Benitez was Newcastle United manager when Armstrong was transferred permanently to Blackburn Rovers in August 2018.

Adam Armstrong's transfer to Ewood Park represented a sad end to a career with his boyhood club which had promised so much when he had broken into the first team under Alan Pardew as a 17-year old in 2014.

A brilliant loan spell with Coventry City in 2015-16, when Armstrong scored 20 goals in 40 appearances in League One, had marked him out as a star of the future.

However, disappointing loan spells at Championship level followed as Adam Armstrong struggled to bridge the gap in quality between the second and third tier of English football. He scored just six goals in 35 appearances for Barnsley in 2016-17.

Adam Armstrong then headed to Bolton Wanderers the following season and endured an even more difficult time, scoring just three goals in 23 appearances. Frustrated by his lack of game time at Bolton, the loan was terminated halfway through the season and Armstrong joined Blackburn Rovers.

Armstrong once again proved his ability to score goals at League One level, finding the back of the net nine times in 21 appearances as he helped Blackburn achieve promotion back to the Championship.

Adam Armstrong excelled during his time with Blackburn Rovers
Adam Armstrong excelled during his time with Blackburn Rovers

The success of that loan spell and the unlikeliness of Armstrong breaking into Newcastle United's first team persuaded his boyhood club to sanction his permanent sale to Ewood Park for a fee of approximately ยฃ1.75 million.

A key element of the move was it gave Adam Armstrong the chance to link up once more with Tony Mowbray, who had been his manager during his successful spell with Coventry City.

His time at Blackburn Rovers has been one of gradual progress which eventually saw Armstrong transformed into one of the best strikers in the Championship. In 2018-19 he scored nine goals in 48 appearances as Blackburn re-established themselves in the second tier of English football.

However, the following season he really came to life, bagging 17 goals in 48 appearances and marking himself out as a player to watch. He also claimed seven assists.

That promise and talent came to fruition in spectacular fashion in 2020-21 as Adam Armstrong enjoyed the best season of his career, scoring 29 goals in all competitions and claiming another five assists.

With just one year remaining on his contract, Armstrong's exploits were always likely to attract interest from the Premier League. After Southampton sold Danny Ings to Aston Villa, they splashed out ยฃ15 million on Armstrong as a replacement.

Adam Armstrong had instant success, with a brilliant goal on his debut and a lively performance in Southampton's 1-1 draw with Manchester United.

Three years after leaving Newcastle United, Adam Armstrong has proven that he has what it takes to be a success in the Premier League and proven Rafael Benitez wrong.


Edited by Rohit Mishra
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