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There's More To A Transfer Than Meets The Eye

There may be more to Craig Bellamy’s transfer to Newcastle United than Coventry City cutting their losses with a player who has, frankly, been a huge disappointment.Craig Bellamy

Could it be, I wonder, that by selling the young Welsh international to the Tyneside club that we are getting our own back for Darren Huckerby?

I jest, of course, but the similarities between the two are clear. Both have tremendous pace (I would be fascinated to see how they got on if put on a cinder track alongside our Olympic sprinters), both regularly hint at an immense amount of skill with a football, but both have consistently failed to deliver as regular, match-winning, goal scorers.

Huckerby, of course, signed for Coventry in a bid to get regular first-team football because Newcastle, managed at the time by Kevin Keegan, did not then operate a reserve team. He arrived apparently oblivious of the offside law, and his debut last season for his fourth club, Manchester City, ironically at Highfield Road, suggested that he still does not understand it.

To be fair to Bellamy, he arrived at Coventry with two major handicaps – firstly he had been out of action for around twelve months after breaking his leg, and secondly he was dubbed, more than a little unfairly, as Robbie Keane’s replacement.

I know many will also point to his transfer fee, reported at around £6million, as an indication of what those at Coventry City who saw fit to sign him, expected him to achieve.

£6million is a significant amount of money for most of the clubs in the bottom half of the Premiership, but consider for a moment what Patrick Vieira is reported by The Sun to have said about Arsenal:

"When I told Arsene Wenger I was leaving, he said to me 'I have £25million to spend on a few players'.

"My answer was 'Obviously, Mr Wenger, you are not shopping in Harrods. That will only buy you one good player.”

City fans who fondly remember the glory of ’87 will also recall John Sillett’s famous quote about how he was going to build a new Sky Blues side off the back of the FA Cup success, how we he was now going to shop at Harrod’s instead of Woolworth’s.

The result? The charismatic and delightful David Speedie, but little else. Twelve years later, Craig Bellamy arrives for a record fee, but a fee that, according to Vieira, is only a quarter of what you need today to buy “one good player”.

Now Bellamy is on his way to Newcastle, subject to a medical and all the other usual formalities, with City recouping their outlay in return.

Meanwhile, Moustapha Hadji, at one time set to move to Aston Villa to partner Moroccan team-mate Hassan Kachloul, could now be set to join Ipswich who were gazumped by Villa in the chase to sign Kachloul.

And we all know how keen we are to do business with Villa anyway. The Sky Blues hierarchy trust their opposite numbers at Villa Park like a bird trusts a cat.

Not to mention the number of recent instances where players have moved from one Premiership club to another via the continent. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbank went abroad when he left Leeds, only to eventually sign for Chelsea, reports suggest that Emmanuelle Petit is about to sign for Chelsea or Manchester United, after moving from Arsenal to Barcelona, and we know all about Robbie Keane going to Italy and then to Leeds within a season.

You might ask whether Leeds feared a fans backlash if they’d sold Hasselbank to another English club in the first place, and whether the same applied to Petit leaving Arsenal and Keane leaving Coventry.

There’s probably nothing in it, other than the wild flights of conspiracy theory fancy of a writer suffering from heat stroke in the middle of an English summer.

But I have been following and reporting on football long enough to know that for every transfer there’s a story that very rarely gets told. Take it from me, there’s far more to a transfer than meets the eye.

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CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / Stuart Linnell / 25 Jun 01
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