A Republic of Ireland international that has pace, finishing ability, versatility, can go past a man. It's the rarest of all beasts.
For all of the characteristics that we generally have in our national team, the ones mentioned above are so often lacking. This had led to plenty of problems.
In a time when the speed of the game is becoming much quicker, the role of forward players is changing. The day of the bruising big man up front, who throws himself about and is there to hold up the play, are all but gone. Equally, the old fashioned wingers who get chalk on their boots and who have the sole duty of delivering crosses into the penalty area are a dying breed.
We now expect forward players to do it all.
The likes of Kylian Mbappe and Mohamed Salah encapsulate what you want to see in that position: players who can cut in from wide areas or play through the middle, mixing pace with creativity and deadly finishing ability.
While we unfortunately do not have someone of that ability to call upon in this country, we do have a player who fits that mould of the modern forward player.
Callum Robinson is a relative novice on the international scene. With only eight caps to his name, he has yet to make a major impact in a green jersey. Yet, at 24-years old, the signs are there that he should be a vital player in the coming years.
2018 was no doubt a disastrous year for the Republic of Ireland, extinguishing any optimism that surrounded the team following their World Cup near miss the year before.
Callum Robinson was the only bright spot. He played well in his limited opportunities during the UEFA Nations League, and looked like the type of player who could have a real impact going forward.
While injury robbed him of the opportunity to take part in the opening Euro 2020 Qualifiers in March, he reminded us of his quality against Gibraltar. It was once again a poor team performance, that Robinson stood head and shoulders above every other player on the pitch.
Speaking after that game, his club and international teammate Sean Maguire had this to say:
Robbo can be anything he wants. I've seen it in games and training and hopefully he keeps improving.
He has been even more impactful at club level, which has caught the eye of plenty of potential suitors. Preston yesterday announced that they have accepted a bid from an unnamed Premier League club for the player.
While they were desperate to hang onto him, Robinson had only 12 months left on his contract. Fearful of losing him for nothing in 12 months, their hand was forced.
It has since been confirmed that the buying club is Sheffield United, where he will link up with international colleagues John Egan, Enda Stevens and David McGoldrick.
The Blades have paid a substantial undisclosed fee to land Republic of Ireland international Callum Robinson from Preston North End.
The 24-year-old forward has penned a four-year deal at Bramall Lane and becomes boss Chris Wilder's third signing of the summer.#SUFC 🔴
— Sheffield United (@SUFC_tweets) July 12, 2019
We are backing him to have a huge impact in the English top flight next season.
Robinson is capable of playing anywhere along the front line. He started wide right in that qualifier against Gibraltar, and put in an outstanding performance. He also frequents through the middle, where his pace and movement make him a constant threat.
However, it from the left flank that the former Aston Villa man does his best work. Of his 24 starts in the Championship last season, 18 came on the left. After rotating a bit at the start of the campaign, he operated almost exclusively out wide from October onwards.
And yet, to describe him as a wide player would not be entirely accurate. He is very much in the mould of the modern, do-it-all forward player described earlier. 12 goals and three assists in the 18/19 campaign is nothing to be sniffed at, and it is likely those numbers would have been significantly higher were it not for a four-month injury layoff.
Naturally right footed, Robinson loves to drift infield from wide positions. His movement is fantastic, and he often finds himself free for tap-ins at the far post as a result.
📽️ "The in-form Callum Robinson applies the finish..."
Some things don't change in four years, do they @CallumRobinson7? 😅
Our 'Memorable Match' looks back to November 2014, when this goal secured the win for #pnefc against Bristol City. ➡️https://t.co/CTaIVxLKob pic.twitter.com/5Rc0YGf7Ev
— Preston North End FC (@pnefc) November 9, 2018
He has a quick trigger, and is capable of a powerful strike without much back lift. This will be especially helpful in the Premier League, where very little time is afforded at the edge of the penalty area.
Look at this strike against Brentford last season as the perfect example.
Preston confirm that they have agreed a deal with a 'Premier League club' for forward Callum Robinson 🤝
He netted 1⃣3⃣ goals for North End last season...
Where is he going? 🤔#pnefc pic.twitter.com/hiNh8f1NBH
— Sporting Life Football (@SportingLifeFC) July 11, 2019
This effort against Ipswich was equally impressive.
He is intelligent too.
Watch this clever piece of movement to create some space in a crowded penalty area.
— Profound Valley (@ProfoundValley) July 15, 2017
He can create. With an average of 1.3 dribbles per game, Robinson was by far the most effective ball carrier in the Preston team last season. His dribbles were successful on 66% of attempts, a very encouraging number.
He was equally adept at picking out a pass, with 1.4 key passes per game, the second highest mark in the squad.
As the few goals below display, Robinson can be deadly when operating through the middle. His pace is a huge asset, and something very few defenders can live with.
When he gets into a scoring position, he usually take his chances.
— Profound Valley (@ProfoundValley) October 25, 2018
Two footedness is key, and he also has that in his locker. When forced onto his left foot, he is just as adept at tucking the ball away.
My favourite Callum Robinson is where he celebrated in front of the Blackburn fans and single handedly had them on strings pic.twitter.com/nZBUgeguNE
— Jack (@Tuckerftbl) July 11, 2019
So where does he fit into the Sheffield United team? It's highly likely he will be utilised in a central role.
United employ a 3-5-2 formation, with their width provided by their wing backs. That doesn't leave any room for a wide player further up the pitch.
For most of last season David McGoldrick was the first choice striker, with his partner being rotated on a week by week basis. Robinson's pace and running in behind would perfectly compliment his compatriot, who drops deep and occupies defenders with a tireless work rate.
This is how the team is likely to line up at the moment, assuming the anticipated deal for Dean Henderson is finalised in the coming weeks.
Robinson should provide an option across the entire front line, and his versatility will be key here. As shown above, he is capable is scoring goals from all areas of the pitch.
He will offer a secondary option out wide when needed, be it with runs in behind or playing with his back to goal. McGoldrick can then react accordingly, making his way into the penalty area and leaving space for his strike partner to operate in the hole.
If the ex-Preston man runs in behind, McGoldrick can draw away at least one of the opposition defenders.
Robinson will bring that unpredictability to the team, which is why he fits the mould of the ideal modern forward. At 24-years old, there is still plenty of room to grow. That is incredibly encouraging, both for Sheffield United and for Ireland.
Heading into next season, keep a close eye out for his progress. If all goes to plan, he will soon become difficult to ignore.