Burton Albion has had a difficult season. They’ve won just seven games all season and sat bottom of the table until a crucial win over Rochdale. But with the season coming to a close, they need to ensure they offer Lucas Akins a new deal.
The arrival of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has seen a massive revival but it’s still a huge task to survive.
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Lucas Akins has also had a difficult season. He’s scored just six league goals and registered no assists, by far his least productive season at the Pirelli Stadium. An ageing player dropping in form with an expiring contract would usually be an obvious choice to leave the club but Akins is far more than that. Lucas Akins is everything Burton Albion stands for.
He’s become the face of the most successful period in the club’s history. He’s scored goals consistently in the Championship, League One, and League 2, he’s sacrificed himself for the good of the team and he’s always the last player out clapping the fans. Akins deserves a contract offer and here are five reasons why.
While it’s not been used as much this season, Akins’ versatility is still a vital attribute to have in a squad. The natural winger can operate effectively in both defence and attack on both sides of the pitch. He’s played in every position but goalkeeper for the Brewers. When he filled in at centre-back in a 3-0 win over AFC Wimbledon during the 2018/19 season, he looked like he’d played that position for years.
Every squad needs versatile players but for low-budget teams like Burton, the importance of these players is even bigger. With versatile defender/midfielder Keiran Wallace set to miss a chunk of next season due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament, having Akins around even just to fill in the gaps, would be helpful.
Akins’ flexibility also allows Burton to be flexible in the way they set up. He could comfortably play as a wing-back in a back five for the first half and a lone striker in the second. This allows Burton to adapt to the opposition and cause them problems in other ways.
The 32-year old isn’t just a versatile role player, he’s still one of the best players in Burton’s squad. His goal against Rochdale, a beautiful curling strike into the right corner, should build the winger’s confidence up and help him increase his production. The fact he’s kept his place in the starting line-up, despite Burton signing multiple wingers, shows Hasselbaink’s faith in him.
Akins can easily end the season with double figures in goals and now he’s got better quality in attack with him, the assists should start to add up too. Not offering a player who is capable of the numbers Akins is a new deal would be a poor decision regardless of his relationship with the club.
Akins is may not be the most vocal player in the dressing room but he leads by example with his work ethic and respect to the fans. He’s captained the club on several occasions in the past and has worked successfully with all types of players and personalities during his time there.
Burton freshened their squad up in January with several young players and who better to teach them the routine and professionalism required at the Pirelli Stadium than Akins. Keeping some experience amongst a youthful team is vital to a successful team and Akins can provide it while still offering quality on the pitch.
The former Huddersfield Town player could’ve left Burton at many stages during his seven years there. He most likely had plenty of options in the 2015/16 and 2018/19 seasons but decided to stay put. Akins could’ve joined Championship clubs on both occasions but he decided to try and achieve it with Burton and he deserves an attempt at promotion again whether that be going straight back up to League 1 or pushing for the Championship.
Lucas Akins Also Has a Decision to Make Over New Deal
Akins was rumoured to be leaving throughout the January transfer window. Old Brewers boss Nigel Clough wanted him at Mansfield Town and still does. If Burton can stay up the choice to stay here next summer becomes obvious to Akins if offered the chance but if Burton goes down things become complicated.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbink and Dino Maamria may leave and the winger may feel playing under Clough and old teammates Stephen Quinn and Oliver Sarkic is the better option. Clough will play a system he’s familiar with and the Burton squad may undergo a major overhaul. Making Mansfield somehow feel more familiar to Akins.
If Burton wants to keep Akins, which they should, they need to let him know soon before his head is turned.