Alan Biggs' Sheffield Wednesday column: Bruce has great contacts but scepticism is required in summer transfer market
Transfer speculation is, like football itself, a game. Actually a game within a game and not to be taken too seriously.
Clubs happily live with it, partly because it can help them to be falsely linked with players, thereby disguising the real targets.It follows that they are not going to announce their true intentions, on or off the record, and there will be players who have escaped any mention whatsoever on Sheffield Wednesday’s radar this summer.And I’d expect several of them to be young talents with Premier League clubs, an area where Steve Bruce’s contacts are almost unmatchable at this level. That’s assuming, as I expect, the soft embargo hurdle is cleared.You can only use logic and gut feeling to assess the many who have been touted. So, besides the early well-established moves for Julian Borner and Moses Odubajo, which are the ones with legs?Yes on Cardiff’s Kadeem Harris, which looked right from the start, and possibly Spurs’ Josh Onomah, rated by Bruce despite a patchy loan spell at Hillsborough last season.Onomah had a previous stint with Bruce at Aston Villa and history can teach us a lot. Players tend to follow managers around.For that reason, links with Mo Diame (freed by Newcastle) and Sone Aluko (Reading), who both served Bruce at Hull, are hard to dismiss entirely.They are on the top side of 30 and the Owls boss wants a younger squad, although both still possess the pace and vitality Wednesday lack. Salary demands, especially with Diame, could be a problem and maybe loaning back Rolando Aarons from Newcastle, assuming proof of fitness, is a better bet.Wouldn’t rule out defender Jake Bidwell as a free agent from QPR, either.The rumoured £3m bid for Motherwell midfielder and likely Celtic capture David Turnbull was a puzzle. Do the Owls have that sort of flexibility without a major sale (none on the horizon)? Or has the expected ground sale manoeuvre eased the restrictions? Is the club working behind a convenient smokescreen ahead of publishing its long delayed accounts? Certainly the squad needs thinning whatever the situation. It’s good news, though, that I fully expect all the trio made new offers - Keiren Westwood, Liam Palmer and Kieran Lee - to be staying on fresh deals. As for speculation generally, I’ll admit that in a previous role right up at the coal face, I pushed the boundaries a bit occasionally. Whispers can turn into shouts if you’re not careful.Now that I’ve taken a step back to pontificate on it all, I can see that the wheat is often unidentifiable from the chaff. Journalists with genuine stories often have to hide and protect their sources behind the same vague terms used by those taking a punt ... “set to”... “in line to”... “ready to bid” ... “preparing a bid” etc. You can know that a bid has already been made but saying so invites an official denial - maybe on the technicality that it was verbal and not written.It’s a more hazardous exercise than ever before. Where once in my career managers and chief executives were your best sources - and you would accept a degree of manipulation as a trade-off for info - now very little comes via that route. Certainly not at source.The speculation game is in the hands of agents who, via favoured media outlets, look to move players and place them, sometimes using uninvolved clubs to grease the wheels.So read everything - including this - with at least a degree of scepticism. Certainly pay no attention to that myriad of “in the know” accounts - and keep trying to decide for yourself “is that for real?”