After a strong start, Cardiff have lost their way a little bit in the transfer market recently. The early bird catches the worm and Neil Warnock moved quickly to secure four impressive signings, but three more are still needed.
Unfortunately, with just over a week of the transfer window remaining, it is sure to be a free for all from here on in. Premier League clubs appear to have been slow to adapt to the new, shorter transfer window and the World Cup won’t have helped either. Plenty of clubs still have plenty to do and some have yet to get off the mark, so the next few days are going to be carnage.
Cardiff are scrambling around in amongst it all, on the look-out for one, maybe two central midfielders and a striker. Midfielders are far more bountiful than forwards and Cardiff are fishing in increasingly shallow waters for the latter.
Against this backdrop came the links with Troy Deeney, which appeared to be music to the ears of some and a cause for concern with others. For me personally, the prospect of a £15m move for a 30-year-old who is believed to earn a six-figure weekly salary was a shock to the system.
Having spent conservatively and smartly all summer, this felt like an out of character impulse move. A bit like the Gary Madine signing then. The whispers have since been silenced, but I wouldn’t write this one off just yet.
Depending on which side of the fence you occupy, chances are that you subscribe to one of two schools of thought on Deeney potentially joining Cardiff. Either you think he is ideal, a great character offering experience, great hold-up play and something a bit different. Alternatively, you think his legs have gone, the goals have dried up, he’s too old and too expensive.
As always with these things, the truth is probably somewhere in between. I can see it from both sides, but alarm bells were definitely ringing on this one.
In terms of the financial side of things, you always have to take the figures quoted with a pinch of salt. In saying that, you imagine it would take a figure in that region for Watford to part with him and its unlikely that he would entertain a substantial pay cut, so we’re in the right ballpark.
It would be a massive investment in a player with no resale value. Also, if it feels like a lot of money now, it will feel even more excessive when he is deeper in to his multi-year deal. Were we talking about a player in his early twenties, like Bobby Reid or Josh Murphy, you can consider it an investment, but this would be a substantial outlay with very little chance of a future return.
Some might argue that if Deeney helps keep Cardiff up, its job done and to some extent that’s true. Similarly some have argued that signing Madine worked because it inspired Kenneth Zohore and promotion followed. The other way of looking at is that had they got the Madine transfer right, they wouldn’t now be looking for someone like Deeney.
It also begs the question as to why Watford would be willing to sell Deeney in the first place, especially to a rival.
Deeney is a cult hero there akin to what Peter Whittingham was at Cardiff. He has been a giant for them, but the general consensus amongst their fans seems to be that he is on the wane and it would not be a travesty if he left while he would still generate a profit. Never the most mobile, he appears to be slowing in line with his goals return. Maybe a change of scenery would inspire a revival, or maybe the rot has set in.
The greatest concern for me is that Deeney does not strike me as a particularly great fit because Cardiff are so wedded to playing with a strong, mobile striker. When Madine, a player more in the Deeney mould, stepped in last season, he was expected to play like Zohore and was doomed to fail. Both Deeney and Madine are strikers, but Cardiff play with a forward, so it’s like replacing apples with oranges.
Maybe Warnock is planning to mix things up next year. I can see him playing with three centre backs on occasion, but I would be surprised if he started utilising two strikers, or a striker with a forward, as it would leave them short elsewhere.
It’s hard critiquing a potential transfer without being accused of negativity. I understand why, as the lure of the new is powerful. People don’t want you to rock the boat or spoil their fun. Some feel that it is sacrilegious to even question Warnock after all he has done for the club. I get it, but you can’t deny your gut feeling.
Don’t get me wrong, Deeney is every inch a Warnock player. He’s a natural leader and you could imagine him fitting seamlessly in this Cardiff dressing room. Whether he can still cut it on the pitch is another matter.
As the window begins to close, panic will begin to take hole, but as long as there are players like Jay Rodriguez, Salomon Rondon, Lucas Perez, Danny Ings, Tammy Abraham, Oumar Niasse and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting still up for grabs, I have faith that Cardiff will hold their nerve and get the right deal over the line. I think they may well have dodged a bullet with Deeney though.