The transfer market can move unpredictably and mysteriously and yesterday proved to be one of those days.
The financial powerhouse of the non-league, Wrexham, confirmed the signing of AFC Wimbledon frontman and former Luton Town loanee Ollie Palmer.
The League One outfit confirmed that they had accepted a £300,000 bid for Palmer’s services, whilst the club’s Chief Executive mentioned that the club two tiers below the Dons included an “irresistible personal offer.”
Palmer had been in fine form for Wimbledon this season, scoring eight times in 25 appearances in all competitions, proving to be an integral member in and amongst a youthful Dons squad.
Wrexham have now attracted three players to North Wales who were set to be important players at their respective former clubs at third-tier level this season, with Ben Tozer and Paul Mullin arriving in the summer.
Tozer led his Cheltenham Town side to the League 2 title last time out, winning both the supporters’ and players’ player of the season awards, whilst Mullin netted 32 times to fire Cambridge United to fourth-tier promotion.
It is no surprise to see Wrexham attracting high-calibre players, however, the surprising element is that they are attracting players who could quite easily play a couple of tiers higher.
Wrexham’s higher-level, funds-focused recruitment strategy is almost entirely opposite to our system at Luton, and I am extremely grateful for it.
Our ability to spot talent in the lower divisions has been key in our progress as a football club over the last few years, with the majority of our top performers at present being recruited from League’s One or Two, or were part of our 2018/19 promotion-winning season.
Sitting high and mighty as one of the club’s best buys of recent memory is the magician himself, Elijah Adebayo, who is believed to have cost us around the £250,000 mark.
It was an educated and informed punt at the time for a recently turned 23-year-old who was thriving in League 2.
On arrival, it was clear to see that the potential was there and he already possessed the physicality required, it was just a case of unlocking his all-around game and instilling him with confidence.
Adebayo has hit new levels this season, terrorising defences with his undoubted technical ability and physical presence, and he is continuing to prove that he knows exactly where the goal is.
To think that Adebayo cost us less than Palmer has Wrexham is completely absurd to me, but offers further insight into the incredible recruitment that goes on at Kenilworth Road.
Adebayo has an incredibly high ceiling too, with not just the Premier League in sight for the exciting 24-year-old - Palmer is also six years older than the former Fulham academy graduate.
Finding hidden gems in the lower leagues is a difficult concept to master, given the attention impressive, young players are given in the modern game, however, we are a club that continues to identify these players, equip them with the necessary tools and then trust them in the first-team environment.