Alan Biggs Sheffield Wednesday column: Why Adam Reach is a wanted man at Hillsborough

Maybe you’ve noticed something missing – so far – from this summer’s entirely normal whirl of transfer speculation surrounding Sheffield Wednesday.

Thursday, 30th May 2019, 14:13 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th May 2019, 14:13 pm
Sheffield Wednesday's Adam Reach

Who’s the Owls player who was considered most likely to attract a big bid this summer? It’s the same answer.

Not to mean, of course, that there is no interest in Adam Reach. But the lack of rumour and gossip suggests there is nothing concrete at this stage.

Come to that, I haven’t noticed a meaningful mention of any of the Owls biggest names under-contract, those carrying substantial valuations. No suggested bids for Barry Bannan or Fernando Forestieri (other than Sheffield United supposedly flirting with the latter). Only the Norwich interest in Jordan Rhodes and the debate over his future.

Of course, things may develop but it does point to the difficulty of the Owls wheeling-and-dealing their way to a stronger squad – just at the point when they are more open to trading.

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Financial fair play issues, of which Wednesday are all too aware, seem to have reined in Championship clubs, with several under pressure. I think the market could well contract on fees and wages – other than any selling to Premier League clubs.

Yes, Aston Villa were linked with Reach in January and could afford to bid high now they are promoted. But would they be interested for the top flight?

Below that, financial question marks surrounding so many clubs could drive valuations down or at least make them harder to gauge.

It is hardly surprising. Outside of loans from the Premier League (increasingly important) and signings from abroad, Wednesday’s trading pool is the EFL. According to a report by Liverpool University’s football finance expert Kieran Maguire, 52 of the 72 clubs ended last season in the red and the collective losses amounted to £388m.

Early last season, when Reach was exploding goals from all distances and angles, I pondered here on his value rising to £20m. This was foolish and even more so in retrospect.

Now, despite his good season in which he netted nine times, I’d peg Reach at around half that figure – although £10m would still be nearly twice what the Owls paid Middlesbrough for the 26-year-old in August, 2016. He’s proven to be a fine signing by Carlos Carvalhal.

There are Owls fans who’d take that sort of money for book balancing and some reinvestment. Others would consider it below par, although you can only trade at what someone is prepared to pay. The one certainty is that no-one would actively wish to see him leave. There are still rough edges to Reach’s game but his talent and adaptability are beyond question and his attitude exemplary. And unless clubs generally radically scale down both their spending and their valuation of assets, EFL trading is heading for a period of stagnation it can ill afford. Certainly it will make those hidden gems and rough diamonds pursued by Steve Bruce even more valuable.