Fair to speculate there’ll be some pretty serious money on the table for David Brooks in January.
Exactly how much depends on his impact for Sheffield United between now and then. But even if he were to be chained to the bench, all those scouts who know there are no secrets in football will have seen enough.
Enough, that is, to plonk down several million quid. And if Brooks continues to flourish, well, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that someone will go to, what, £15m? Maybe even higher. Because that’s the going rate for big talent in the Championship all of a sudden.
Either way, this column believes it should make no difference. Yes, every player has his price. No club in the world is immune from that simple truth. But, at this stage of his development, Brooks, already embraced into the Wales senior squad, is – or should be – different.
Whatever he’s worth in January, it’s likely to be more next summer. So hardly a gamble rejecting big money to keep him. Blimey, he could even give you an unexpected shot at promotion to the Premier League.
For that to happen – and I am not saying it necessarily will – United will need more than the collective spirit, resilience, momentum and no little quality that is currently powering them beyond expectations.
The Championship over the full course requires the X factor. Call that what you will – speed, skill, improvisation, a goal out of nothing. Apart from actually executing the last bit – and he will need to in order to command the top end valuation – Brooks seems to have the full set potentially.
Who knows where this season can take Chris Wilder’s side? But let’s put it this way – I doubt they can go the whole way without the extra qualities someone like Brooks can provide.
For Brooks, read Barnes. Peter Barnes (for those of a certain age). Ex Blade Mark Todd was on Manchester United’s books as a youngster when the former Manchester City and England winger had a spell at Old Trafford in the mid-1980s.
Todd says: “The boy is an absolute talent. David reminds me of a young Peter Barnes. He glides, is very silky and has no fear.” A certain irony in that considering Brooks’ release by City.
You’d tell someone of that ilk to just go out and play, wouldn’t you? Seems the manager of the Blades has done just that.
Todd adds: “’Just go and express yourself’ is obviously Chris’s message to David. ‘Do your own thing.’”
It’s been United’s thing to sell promising players, albeit for good money generated by the club’s wonderful Shirecliffe academy. Their thing this time, with some help from a down-to-earth 20-year-old and recognition of the best course for his future, should be to keep it for as long as possible.
You can take the pulse of opinion from a room full of supporters. Members of Senior Blades, whom I thank after a thoroughly enjoyable few hours over lunch this week, conveyed many of the sentiments expressed above. They know a special talent when they see one.