As regular readers will know, I’ve scoffed at the idea that Celtic offered, or were ready to offer, a high seven figure sum of money for Patrick Roberts.
I scoffed at it because we couldn’t bring in a central defender in time for the window to shut; I thought it highly unlikely that we would have thus struggled if there was a chunk of change like that burning a hole in our pockets.
Then I read Brendan on the central defensive situation, and it put my mind at ease somewhat.
He’s right to point out that our signings have to be the right ones; I question why we didn’t have a number of targets instead of just one, but I accept the premise of his argument and don’t think it’s a stretch to say “give the man some time to get who he wants.”
Roberts was a guy we wanted to sign permanently.
We still do.
Whilst I laugh at the suggestion we offered that particular sum for him, in that window, I know we made what we thought was a good opening pitch. Brendan and Patrick both said so in the media, and I know enough that I have no reason to disbelieve it.
Roberts is still highly rated at City, but, and I hate to write this, not quite as much as a footballer as he is a saleable asset; they expect they will get a mammoth transfer fee for him somewhere down the line. They may well, and it may or may not come from Celtic Park.
In the fullness of time I think we’ll get our boy, but I chafe at the press coverage of the last few days, which focusses so much on something Brendan said as a throwaway remark. Of course, in many quarters it hasn’t even been reported the way Brendan said it.
I’ve read numerous online headlines and articles which claim we offered £30 million for Patrick Roberts, or would have. No-one at Parkhead has ever made such a ridiculous claim, and I don’t know what the point in spinning it is.
You almost get the impression those headlines were written with a sneer, but a sneer at who? The writers themselves, because they are the only people who seem to believe this is what Brendan actually said, or that it was a claim he actually made.
Many of the Sevco fans have called Brendan a fantasist for the claim; whose fantasy is it they are living in exactly? Brendan’s or their own? Because all Rodgers said is that Manchester City told Celtic the player was not for sale. Not for sale at any price. And Brendan elaborated by throwing a wild number out there. There’s no story, but that wild number was somehow projected onto the headlines as if we tested it out with a bid.
The idea that Brendan branded Roberts a £30 million player is equally absurd.
It’s not exactly a good negotiating strategy for opening talks next time is it? I mean, when you sit down with City and open the bidding at £7 million you don’t want it out there, on the record, that you reckon he’s worth more than four times that, do you?
What is Roberts worth? Roberts is worth whatever the market will pay, in the same way someone like Dembele is.
I hear a lot of talk that Fulham will not be happy if he is sold for a modest sum; that could not be less important to the negotiations. A future sell-on fee comes down to little more than dumb luck. If a player leaves on a free you get nothing. If a player gets injured you get nothing. If a player falls out with people at the club and has to be moved on for the sake of harmony you might as well be getting nothing.
Van Dijk was told he was not getting a move during the window; Celtic would have had no right to phone Southampton and demand they change their policy to get us our own cut of the fee. That’s not how these things work.
The market value will be dictated by a number of things; the player’s ability, his exposure to the right audience, his willingness to go where the club wants him to and a few other issues over which a club has no control. Roberts has the ability and we’re handing him the audience.
On one hand you hope he’s a huge success for us, but you know too that if he is the price-tag will probably rise beyond what we can pay. The only thing is … what if Roberts himself doesn’t want to be anywhere else? What happens if Celtic is where he wants to be?
That’s the question, and it’s the one City will not want answered in the affirmative. His actual value will fall somewhere between how much we want to pay, how much he wants to come here and what City are willing to realistically accept so that no-one’s seen to have lost out.
Fulham might complain either way, but they’ll never realise a Van Dijk style pot of gold now and they must already have realised that.
The media will continue to write nonsense of course – the way they keep pushing up the fee City paid for him in the first place is a sterling example – and guys like Parks will write nonsense … but Roberts will do his talking on the park and we’ll do business the way we always do, in private, and in a professional manner.
And then we’ll see, folks.