Chester City striker James Alabi looks set to leave the National League outfit for a chance to feature in the Football League once again, after turning down a new deal at the Deva Stadium.
Alabi had been offered a new contract, but the promising side that had begun to emerge at Chester this season looks as if it is to be broken up. Elliott Durrell has not been offered a new deal, defender Sam Hughes is looking to ply his trade elsewhere and now Alabi has admitted he is in talks elsewhere.
Alabi has led a nomadic existence prior to settling with Chester City. He’s a former Stoke youngster who spent time on loan at Scunthorpe, Mansfield, Forest Green and Accrington before joining up with Ipswich Town. He scored a brace in an u21 trial match to earn his chance at Portman Road, and despite a Capital One Cup goal against Doncaster first team football did not follow.
After a short spell at Blundell Park he opted to head west with Chester, scoring six. He hit four of those in the 8-2 demolition of Aldershot as well as bagging one in the 2-1 defeat at Sincil Bank in April of 2016. This season he has come to the fore after a relatively slow start. He scored just three times prior to November 22nd, but since then he’s found consistency in front of goal hitting 14 more.
His last goals for Chester came away at Sutton as they went down 5-2, and today he admitted to the Chester Chronicle that he had probably scored his last goals in Chester colours.
“Sometimes you have to drop down to get back up. When I left Ipswich I had offers in the Football League but I knew I needed to play games as it is something that I hadn’t really had the benefit of beforehand. I needed to have a full season under my belt and show what I could do and I’m thankful to Chester and the manager for having that faith in me.”
That faith might have been repaid in goals, but it isn’t enough to keep him in the National League, at least not with Chester.
“I said I would score goals this season and I’ve done that. I’ve enjoyed playing for the club, although I wish we would have had a better end to the season. It doesn’t matter whether the (new) team is in London or not, the most important thing is that the move is right for me. There’s been quite a bit of interest from Football League clubs but I’ll just speak with my family and take some time to make a decision. Like any player I want to play at the highest level I can but I can’t thank Chester enough for my time there. I feel I’ve improved massively as a player since I have been at the club.”
Aged just 22, Alabi would command a tribunal fee for Chester, although having only been there two years it would be nominal at best. Barnet had a £10k bid turned down for him in January, and it is thought they have the edge in the race for his signature. John Still was keen to put him alongside Oliver Hawkins to form a devastating front line at Dagenham, but their two-legged play off defeat by Forest Green means they’re unable to offer him a return to the Football League.
Alabi impressed me when Chester came to the Bank last month, he’s a big unit but he was mobile and caused us problems in a tough game. Along with Durell I thought Chester had the backbone of a good team, but it looks like manager Jon McCarthy is going to have to start all over again next season.