Earlier in the week, a story popped up about Sevilla being interested in Morelos. I didn’t give it more than a glance. The story has become so familiar, and so easily to laugh at, that there’s a temptation to stop reading it entirely, just as I never read the tired re-treads of transfer stories involving our own club which never seem to end.
We’ve seen this movie not just before but before and before and before. It’s as if it’s been on a permanent loop for the last three years. Every now and again the press goes gung-ho to sell this guy and tries to “spark an auction.” None of it goes anywhere.
Yesterday one of the “club media partners” (pay us £25,000 and write what you’re told) expressed zero regret for the club turning down the famed £16 million Lille bid. That bid may or may not even exist, but it’s part of the Morelos firmament now, part of the folklore.
And it’s the folklore that’s the problem here, although you wouldn’t know it to read the likes of Mark Pirie at The Record who unloads more garbage than a sewage outflow pipe and who today repeats the tired old theory that all they had to do at Ibrox is wait on the right offer, “just as Celtic did” with Odsonne Edouard. The strategy, as ever, is to copy us.
Apparently we had an “Odsonne Edouard playbook.” Except that we didn’t. We didn’t get an auction for Edouard. We actually took less than what we thought the player was worth; the offer we turned down from Leicester was probably higher than that which we got from Palace. We recognised that we were dealing with a depreciating asset … and one whose performances in the team at that point were not making a major fee any more likely.
We asked for £25 million from Leicester, who were willing to pay £18 million. What did we accept in the end from Palace? £14 million possibly rising to £18 million. We didn’t spark an auction, but there were several clubs who wanted the guy … it was a matter of which of them offered a valuation that we could live with first. We were realists in the end.
Pirie thinks that we somehow did well out of that deal, and we did but only up to a point. We got a fee which allowed us to re-invest in the squad, yes, but we didn’t get for Edouard the kind of money that we’d have been able to get the year before … and we knew that, and we knew that to let him enter the critical part of his deal between the summer window closing and his being able to talk to clubs in January was a non-starter. He had to be sold.
Pirie and others have been making this stuff up all the way through the last couple of years. Take that famous Lille bid, that part of the folklore which is so widely reported and as fake as the diamond Lefty tries to pass off on Donnie Brasco at the start of the movie.
Lillie made a bid. That has been confirmed by the club. But contrary to the folklore, that bid has never been made public. The media not only invented their own number but actually put the number into the mouth of the Lille president during a TalkSport interview. But he never confirmed that the bid was £16 million, only that a bid had been made.
So where does that number come from? Well it comes, in part, from how TalkSport’s Jim White, The Daily Record and other outlets reported that story.
“We have (bid £16m). He’s obviously a good player. We had a primary target who was Jonathan David and who we got. He’s locked into a certain system with a number of players already around him,” is how the quote that appeared across the media reads.
But the technical name for those brackets is parenthesis; they signify that this is information added by a writer after the fact, often for the sake of “clarity”.
In fact, all that addition has actually done is muddy the waters and legitimise a piece of left-field speculation that probably has no basis in reality.
The reason the Lille story has been resurrected is that it’s the only bid we actually know for a fact that the club got for the player, and it is likely to be several million higher than anything they are likely to get. Pirie thinks he’s worth at least what Odsonne Edouard went for, and that their “holding out” against Seville could spark the upward spiral in the price … but he points out a few things in that piece which actually run counter to that idea.
First, Edouard was top scorer in the league two seasons in a row. Morelos was the top scorer the year before his first one. Morelos’s best goal tally in the SPFL was that same year; he scored 18 times. He hasn’t come close to that total since. Two twelves and an eleven in the years following that (and a 14 the year before) are not, in themselves, attractive.
Edouard’s valuation was in no small part based on his exploits with the French Under 21 team, where he was frequently excellent. He also emerged from the prestigious PSG youth academy and was always anticipated to go on to big things.
Morelos has 11 caps for Colombia and one goal.
Edouard hasn’t represented France at the senior level yet, but he has one of the best forward lines on the planet ahead of him there. His stats at every level under that for his national team are exceptional; 15 in 12 games as an under 17, 4 in 9 games at under 18, 5 in 13 games as under 20 and most notably with 17 from 14 games as a French under 21.
Those numbers catch the eye.
And for all that talent, we saw that his value was falling like a stone and we did what we had to do. There was no question of us trying to hold onto him and allowing his contract to run down. The club knew that was absolutely crazy and we had no intention of letting it happen … The Record reminded us of the ticking clock every single day.
Now they want to ignore it, by saying that the club can hang on to Morelos until they get the bid they want. But there are two major flaws in that theory.
The first is that Morelos himself will almost certainly not sign a new deal. See, the problem with inventing all this interest and all these flights of fantasy are that Morelos thinks he’s worth that kind of money and that he can land himself a massive deal elsewhere. This is his last chance to get out of Ibrox whilst he’s young enough to climb the ladder the way he wants.
He’s 26 now. He’s older than Edouard and Dembele and one of them has been playing in France for three years now and the other has already moved to England. He’s already lost out to both of them in the race to get a big money move first … and he’s not getting any younger. If he signs a new deal at Ibrox he could be trapped there until he’s nearly 30.
The second thing is that the Record and others appear to be under the misapprehension that this will be just like other transfer windows; it won’t be. Aribo, Kent, Morelos, Helander and Jack are all in their final year now and there has to be a resolution on all five fronts before the window shuts, or all these guys are high-speeding towards pre-contract discussions with other clubs in January. If Ibrox plays this hand badly – and it’s a shit hand – they risk losing some, or all, of these guys to frees next summer and that will be catastrophic.
It’s well and good saying no to an offer when it comes, on the grounds that they think they can hold out. But if they get this wrong, if they fail to sell to the right club, for the right fee and at the right time then they’re screwed and royally so.
Everyone over there had better get real, and their media toadies with them. All this posturing in the press will not sell these guys any quicker. In fact, all it will do is push them to the point where the bids, when they come, will be fantastically small and late in the day; with the clock ticking loudly in the background, what will their options be then?
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