Premier League Recruitment & The Balance Sheet - Part Three
For Part One and the rules, plus how and why we have come to the 'transfer' budget we have for this project, please read part one here: https://www.oakroadhatter.com/post/premier-league-recruitment-the-balance-sheet-part-one
And for Part Two, go here: https://www.oakroadhatter.com/post/premier-league-recruitment-the-balance-sheet-part-two
Players signed so far: Marvelous Nakamba, Nathan Ferguson, Timo Horn, Krystian Bielik, Jake Cooper, Lewis O' Brien
Budget remaining: £13.5-28.5m
So what else is needed?
As highlighted by the Gary Sweet interview above, we are probably looking at around the 8-10 mark for signings. Which means anywhere between 2-4 more that I can make with the budget that is starting to look pretty small. On top of that, we can only register 25 players in our PL squad and the only players from the opening graphic we have already committed to not using are Admiral Muskwe (sold) and Elliot Thorpe (loan or U-23 only). That gives us a list of 24 players already. However, while the best thing for Joe Taylor's development may be a loan, one advantage of keeping him is we can use him in the league without him being registered in that 25 man squad., due to being born in 2002 (or later).
Therefore, were I to make more than two signings, we will have to begin finding ways of offloading more players. So we have to start with two main priorities, one of which is adding another right-back, which we talked about as the gamble we took when signing Nathan Ferguson in part one. We will start with the other one though, which is much further up the field.
Adding forward power
For as good as a season as we had, we didn't actually score that many goals. 57 was the same amount as Norwich City and only one more than them down the road. If we consider that our 39 goals conceded will go up, which it will (even with 8 less games) because as good as the likes of Jed Wallace and Tyrhys Dolan are, KdB and Mo Salah are a slight step up. Then we also have to presume are goals scored will tumble in a polar opposite direction.
Therefore, we can't realistically expect to stay up, just with the forward players we have. My plan A in this regard was always going to be Daniel James. While not a natural goalscorer and probably more of an inside forward than an out-an-out striker, he would possess everything a side on the back foot in the top flight need. Not only is he, by far, the quickest player we would have at the football club, but his workrate to hassle, harry and backtrack using it is unrivalled and the exact reason Marcelo Bielsa was desperate to get him to Leeds.
However, their relegation the day after our promotion probably put paid to that. While we would never be able to afford James, having already loaned him out to Fulham in January giving him another top-flight loan would be a possibility. Leeds being in the Championship not only draws interest into the likes of Crysencio Summerville and Wilfried Gnonto, who are ahead of James in the queue but has also left the managers door being fought over by Graham Potter (who turned him from someone who couldn't get a game for Shrewsbury, into a Man U player) & Daniel Farke (who openly admits to trying to sign James before realising United were in for him).
Another potential loan option I would consider is Folarin Balogun, who is certainly ready for the Premier League after 21 goals in 37 for Reims. Mikael Arteta would be foolish to not involve him at the Emirates now the North London club are in the Champions League. Aston Villa's own European qualification probably takes Cameron Archer off the loan market too.
While other options that we have been liked with may give us 'something different' in the forward line, like a Joel Piroe or a Jerry Yates, what we are really looking for is a more-ready made pace option to replace Harry Cornick's minutes than Joe Taylor.
As a result, the man we have ended up grabbing is Chiedozie Ogbene. Not only is the former Rotherham free-agent the outstanding player in the side that finally stayed up but he had his best ever scoring season in the Championship last terms with eight goals, which is one more than Adebayo and five more than the next highest scorer in Luke Berry. This is despite still splitting some time at right-wing back, which gives us another emergency option with our weakness their right now.
Given the interest from the entirety of East Anglia (well Ipswich and Norwich), it might take more than I would have liked to get him but I think £13kp/w and £2m signing-on-fee should get the job done. Even if it does put Fred Onyedimna's place at threat, it's worth it when Onyedimna arrived as a winger, rather than someone whose natural positions are wing-back and up-front.
I am not stopping there though as we can use those Premier League loan rules in our favour to add some more creativity. Both Tommy Doyle and James McAtee were exceptional for Sheffield United on loan from Man City last season they can't get both back on loan. A mixture of the Blades probable preference for the more defensive option allied with the familial link with McAtee gives us the opportunity to grab him as an additional creative spark.
Given that he basically takes Luke Freeman's place in the squad, it makes sense to move him on. While the 31-year old might not command a significant fee, if one at all, his history in the Championship should give us the opportunity to find someone to take his full wages and given reported wages from reliable sources, the difference between the two will be negligible. Although I reckon City may want a loan fee somewhere in the £1m mark.
Return of the son.
We still haven't signed a right-wing back we can trust to stay fit though and well, I'm still not. However, there is a chance we can get an England international wing-back. Sure it is only on loan and yes, his wages will break our structure but given the relationship he has with several of the squad should mitigated that.
Leicester City have a player that is coming off the back of two major ACL injuries who needs games. They will be in a desperate fight to win promotion back to the top flight and can't be sinking a huge wage into a player who has that injury history. It is also an injury history that makes his sale value frankly minimal at this stage.
Given the emotional attachment to the club and the fact that a successful individual season either gives Leicester a fit and firing top-draw player in the top flight or a significantly higher priced asset if they are not, it is a deal that suits all parties. Genuinely, I believe we can loan James Justin back for £50kp/w.
Room for one more?
That gives us not only a full 25 man squad but still leaves us with about £7.25m of the low end of my budget left. Not only that but we have a 26th man in Joe Taylor and a PL loan we can still use (from anyone other than Man City). I considered adding Jordan Zemura on a free but think it is better that we perhaps ride it out...there is still January of course.