As I write this, Che Adams will be on the verge of completing his move to Premier League team, Southampton. Whilst Adams leaving was inevitable, it doesn’t stop the huge disappointment of seeing one of our best players walking out of the door.
Fans of the club have every right to be disappointed too. Che bagged 22 goals and picked up 5 assists across 48 games during the 2018/19 season. It was the first time a Blues player has reached the 20 goal mark since Steve Claridge hit the milestone in the third tier, under Barry Fry, during the 1994/95 promotion season.
We can’t begrudge Adams the move and I’m sure most, if not all fans, believe he has earned his shot at the Premier League. What appears to have upset Blues fans the most is the fee of £15m. They think “the board has bent over” or “sold the player for peanuts” etc etc
I can understand why fans think that, but my personal opinion is that it’s probably about right. I’d heard from a reliable source that the club tried to hold out for £20m. They still might get that too (more on that later).
There was interest from four clubs including Southampton. Despite their enquiries, Crystal Palace, Burnley and Everton all thought anything over £12m was too much of a risk for them. They have every right to think that too. This is a forward that has spent three years in the Championship, playing 116 games, scoring 34 goals and notching 13 assists. Adams only season of breaking double figures was this season just gone and whilst 22 is a fantastic return, it’s also worth remembering that he only scored 1 goal in the last 13 games. That shouldn’t take anything away from the achievement of the 22 year old, but it should be taken into account and will have been a factor when potential suitors were weighing up bids.
Players without Premier League experience rarely move from the Championship to the Premier League for more than Blues are expected to receive for Che. In fact James Maddison is the only player without who hadn’t previously featured in the Premier League to move for £20m or more.
I have mentioned this previously on the We Are Birmingham Podcast, but a factor that many may not realise, is that Che and his agent (Clive Platt) were given a promise by the club, after the January transfer window, that Adams could move in the summer. The player behaved impeccably and everything between the club and the player was amicable. Now, a player doesn’t often set his price, but this verbal agreement does put the club in a slightly tough position once the bids start coming in for the player again.
I understand that Che had a preference of where he was to move to and he was always quite keen on a move to the South Coast with Southampton. The belief is it would aid his progression more than other interested clubs. When considering Saints record of developing young players, I think it’s easy to understand why.
It is also worth mentioning, that, as it stands the club are due to fail the one year cycle of the ‘Profit and Sustainability’ (FFP) rules. At a guess I estimate the club probably require around £11m to ensure they don’t fail and end up with another punishment during the 19/20 season. Nobody at the club wants another point deduction, so I’m sure the club want to have something in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
So we take into account all the above, does that give Blues more or less room to negotiate? I’d argue it certainly gives them less room to manoeuvre. That said, we’re still the selling club and we’ve already rejected numerous bids so far.
From January through to June Birmingham City have knocked back various bids from £8m to £14m, mostly from from one club. It gets to late June and there is no bidding war, the club are at the table with just one club, Southampton. If we don’t deal now do we risk an unhappy player? Do Southampton lose patience and move on elsewhere? Do Blues risk rejecting all bids for Che to get injured or to have a poor season and never receive a significant bid again? What if Blues were to go down and despite Che having a good season we have to sell him for a drastically cut price? Maybe he even has a relegation release clause..
The Blues board know they have to pay Sheffield United 20% of the profit on the transfer and they wanted to hold out for £20m, but I think that was always going to be difficult when there is only one team left in the bidding. £15m is the initial fee, I also understand that the add-ons include the potential to take in another £5m. These will be based on tangible milestones such as appearances etc. Realistically, I think there is a chance of the club bringing in another £2-3m from the deal, but we should probably consider the 20% sell on clause that has been added in too. This is also on profit so there’s potentially more money further down the line, which could end up being a nice windfall once he’s moved on to Liverpool in 2021.
I’m as gutted as most Bluenoses that Adams is leaving, but ultimately it was a move that was always going to happen and I believe that the deal is as close to as good as the club were going to get. What I hope and expect now is that the board move swiftly to soften the blow and numb the pain of our top goal scorer leaving, by bringing in some new players to improve our already thinning squad.