Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Would big offers tempt players away from AFCB?

In the last couple of weeks some media reports have said that Championship and Premiership clubs are said to be taking a keen interest in some of AFCB's players, which needn't be seen as bad news for AFCB fans. Indeed, Eddie Howe even says it's a compliment. And why am I not not displeased? Well, because if AFCB's players are attracting attention and did become transfer targets they would not be going for small fees anymore. 

What kind of price would you put on Steve Cook or Lewis Grabban? If Tokelo Rantie is worth £2.5m is Grabban a £3m or £4m striker? And in Steve Cook do we have our first £1m+ defender? The values are of course anything that AFCB want to put on their players and negotiations will always go on before clubs can agree a fee. The Cherries are also in a strong position with the players under long contracts. 

What worries me is the Financial Fair Play stipulations. I don't really get them, but I hope they don't make it necessary for AFCB to sell some of their best players for less than the going rate. A quick sale would boost the club coffers, but I hope AFCB don't have to sell for those kind of reasons. The fire sale after 2010/11 was difficult enough.

Steve Cook could get the chance to play at a bigger club in January,
but if he is content at AFCB I hope he stays.
We know AFCB is a club that does not tend to stand in the way of a player if they want to move. AFCB is not yet a big club and sometimes you can't fight off the larger ones who come in for your players, but I believe AFCB are looking to build a long-term presence in the Championship which is harder to achieve if you are continually selling your best players. Moreover, the Championship experience is only just beginning for the club, supporters and many of the players. Don't underestimate the feeling that goes around being part of a progressive family club that is doing well.

Still, it is only natural for some to see the bright lights of the top division as their main ambition and to be interested in moving on. Players of course only have one career though and the chance of playing in the top division has to be a big pull. The timing for those moves though has to be carefully considered. So many English players have made big moves to top clubs only to be a squad member and to have a lifetime in the reserves. It is up to the individual what you want out of a career, but I think most of our players are still growing at the same pace as our club. 

Grabban remains key to AFCB's future plans. 
But if a Premiership club comes in with a ridiculously large figure for one of our players this January do AFCB sell? I think it comes down to only if Eddie and Jason know of better players they can bring in and want to work with. Such interest from other clubs if unwanted could unsettle players, but Eddie Howe is a manager that seems to embrace any situation with a positive outlook and he will do what is best for the club and the players. That is why I don't think AFCB fans should worry.

Personally, I don't see it happening for too many AFCB players this January, even for the much admired Steve Cook. He will know that staying at AFCB does not give him a guaranteed place every week, but he would perhaps have even less certainty of playing many games at a Crystal Palace, Norwich City or Cardiff City for example. It also seems that fewer English players are getting moves to the Premiership these days, because Championship teams raise the transfer fees knowing that the top clubs have big pockets. A Nottingham Forest, Leicester City or QPR could be more likely to be interested in picking up players from a younger Championship club like AFCB. But if AFCB don't want to sell they can turn all offers away.

Lewis Grabban I believe is even more vital for AFCB to hold on to than Steve Cook. Finding a regular goal scorer at this level is difficult and Lewis has scored goals in whatever division he has been in. That is going to be tempting for clubs come January, but is six months in the Championship enough experience for another club to be sure he is worth a high fee?

While the financial rewards of the Premiership are significantly better than those in the Championship, I also feel it will be hard for any of AFCB's players to turn away from the club at the moment, after the kind of seasons that the club has been having in recent seasons. The team spirit among the current squad seems excellent, so it would be a blow if our best players were picked off, but the bigger picture is that it could make the team even stronger in the end with new recruits.

However, if there are any unhappy squad players AFCB should let them go. Around the fringes of the team you can see players like Miles Addison and Wes Thomas or Matt Tubbs (when he comes back from Rotherham) possibly looking for teams that could give them more regular football after January. If that allowed AFCB to get a top player in, then I suspect most supporters would understand that.

The January transfer window could be interesting.

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