Like the first snow of winter, a flake of transfer speculation has fluttered into this column’s path. An early warning of the avalanche to come
in December and January.
For now, it’s easily brushed aside. Sunderland, I’m hearing, have taken quite a shine to Sheffield Wednesday’s Kieran Lee, apparently having him watched regularly.
And why wouldn’t they? An excellent player of great attitude who performs with pride and consistency.
At this point I’m supposed to do what I may have done many times in the past, build up the tale and give it more credence, make you think it could happen. But the beauty of writing a column as opposed to a story is that you can take a sidelong view, perhaps a more objective one. So, having put it up, I’m going to knock it down.
Why raise it in the first place then? Well, as a demonstration that, under the Dejphon Chansiri regime, I doubt the Owls will, or would, sell any player they want to keep. And Lee is most assuredly in that category. Movements in and out of Hillsborough in January will be very much of the owner’s choice, as chiefly advised by head coach Carlos Carvalhal.
Not that Lee isn’t being coveted by Sunderland – and probably other clubs, too, for that matter. The quick-footed and industrious 28-year-old midfielder with great energy and an eye for goal is one of those unassuming, unsung heroes managers love.
You’d be more surprised if David Moyes and others didn’t rate him highly, either for the Premier League, as Sunderland attempt to avoid the drop, or next season’s Championship.
But I doubt Lee could be lured any more than the Owls would let him go. The point also is that, under Chansiri, Wednesday have become very competitive on wages and rewarding players accordingly. As evidenced by keeping Fernando Forestieri and challenging him to earn a new deal. January will be about who they sign, not who they trade (other than the possibility of fringe players being transferred or loaned).
It’s a rare state of affairs at Hillsborough of recent years and, in a second season more challenging than the first, you detect no let up in the chairman’s commitment. It’s why, at the risk of boring you, I’m very much with those who expect a continuation of the Jordan Rhodes speculation saga. In fact, I’m convinced Wednesday made a big play for the former Huddersfield and Blackburn striker last summer.
Middlesbrough refused to entertain loan overtures from Hillsborough and elsewhere. Will they listen this time with Rhodes far from breaking into Boro’s Premier League plans?
It’d mean a loan fee besides footing considerable wages, yet any number of second tier clubs will be interested. Why would you not be keen and who would be more likely to tilt a promotion bid in your favour, considering Rhodes’ prolific record at this level?
You’d also reckon on Carvalhal seeking a quality addition in both defence and midfield. Not a massive sweep, maybe just three players in all, but costing plenty.
And, allowing for a delicate balancing act with Financial Fair Play, none of it needing to be funded by sales.
So you can forget where we started. I think events in the New Year will amplify the point.