A curious thing happened this weekend, something the media reported on without examining it. That is typical of our hacks, and a big mistake in this case considering how important the development might very well prove to be.
Dave King allowed a media briefing to go out, in his name, naming a price that the club would accept for Alfredo Morelos.
This is what the press reported, but without a shred of analysis.
Yet it is perfectly obvious that there are elements to it which deserve investigation.
For one thing, is this really a time when King should be re-advertising, to the world, that he is the decision maker at Ibrox? He’s just been cold shouldered by the City, and the SFA has yet to make a statement on his fit and proper status, although even they must be taking that issue seriously.
If you were in his shoes, wouldn’t you keep your head down?
Yet here he is, making it clear that he’s the man, setting the price at which his club will do business. It’s as if he’s deliberately drawing attention to himself. But in this case, I don’t think he is. I think this is about something else. It’s about “needs must.”
Think too on the strangeness of a club chairman publicly putting a price tag on the head of one of his club’s most important players. Isn’t that unusual?
Celtic told Arsenal what the acceptable price would be on Tierney, but Arsenal had already submitted an offer by then, and Celtic knew they would go to the magic number if we stood our ground.
King’s own demand is more unusual, since there’s been no actual interest in Morelos.
You could speculate that he heard Freedman of Palace was going to be at Tynecastle watching players and decided to try and use it to drum up interest, and I think that might have been part of it, but there’s more going on here than that too.
There are now two separate stories about Morelos in the papers, and I don’t think any of them are particularly realistic. The second King started talking about £20 million fees any real interest there was would have faded away.
Nobody is going to pay that money, and certainly not Villa or Palace.
Villa spent £113 million in the summer; how much more can they afford without letting players go? Even with EPL money, they are in line to make a huge loss this season as it is, and the league has rules against doing that too often.
£20 million for an unproven striker who isn’t recognised at international level, based on goals in the SPL, is ridiculous.
Palace are managed by Roy Hodgson, who was brought on explicitly to put the brakes on the kind of big money deals that had landed the club in trouble.
He has a £30 million transfer surplus since taking over.
Last season he spent just over £10 million in total transfers, and he spent a paltry £6.84 million in the summer in spite of raking in cash on the sale of Aaron Wan-Bissaka. He is not mandated to spend three times that on one footballer and nor do I believe that he would do so, even for a second.
So if you conclude that neither of those clubs is realistically going to pay that kind of cash for Morelos then this is all about public relations, right? An attempt, perhaps, to steal some of the headlines which our players are getting. And yes, it is partly that too.
What this is all about is King firing a warning shot at Ross Wilson.
Mark Allan was let go after failing to move on some of the Ibrox club dreck, and this is King telling Wilson that not only is he to drum up interest in the unwanted players but to find a way of selling Morelos and Tavernier for big money as well.
It’s not a message to other clubs, because who would pay attention to it? It’s a message to those inside his own club whose job it is to “downsize the squad.” King is telling them that their own positions are dependent on the club making a big profit on these guys.
As I said in a piece last week, King thinks this stuff is easy.
He thinks it’s simply public relations and sales. He refuses to accept that all the hype in the world will not get clubs to pay big money for the kind of players he has over there. Tavernier was useless at the weekend, and Morelos scored but was his usual snapping, snarling self with no real football in him.
Sam Cosgrove also scored at the weekend. His record over the last year and half has been easily comparable to Morelos’. Nobody would spend £20 million on him, just as nobody will spend it on the Colombian Kris Boyd.
But Wilson has been warned that nothing less will do. He should take note, because his chairman is not kidding around. He’s already fired one director of football for failing to bring down the wage bill. The stakes are even higher here, with the club still posting losses and deeper in the hole than ever before.
A major sale is vital.
It’s Wilson’s job to deliver the impossible.
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