Back to transfer talk this week and there’s been more about who might be leaving than who could be coming in, but the main news has to be that we have made a third signing of the close season and, like Neil Etheridge and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, it’s a Bosman type free transfer signing.
However, there are differences between this one and the other two. Firstly, Hearts right back, cum wing back, cum winger, cum central defender, cum striker Callum Paterson is only twenty two, so there has to be a compensation “development” fee (believed to be around £450,000) paid to his old club and, secondly, with all due respect to Etheridge and Mendez-Laing who have the look of squad players to them at the moment, my feeling is that Paterson, who has won five senior caps for Scotland, comes here with the plan being that he is going to be a very important part of Neil Warnock’s strongest team next season.
Looking at Paterson’s Wikipedia page, the thing which jumps out at me is his goalscoring record. Yes, it can be explained in part by the fact that he has been used as a target man type striker in the past by Hearts, but I believe that his nine goals last season were all scored when he was playing full back, as indeed were the majority of the goals he scored at a rate of virtually one every four games.
I mentioned a number of positions Paterson was capable of playing in earlier, but, reading about his pace and athleticism, I got the impression that he plays as a full back, wing back and winger all in the same game – in that respect, he seems the epitome of a modern day full back and, youngster Cameron Coxe apart, I don’t believe this applies to the other right backs we have.
In an ideal world, when someone your club has just signed is called “the bargain of the summer”, you would prefer the compliment to be paid by someone at another team, rather than a fan at the one he used to play for. However, as this messageboard thread shows, Hearts fans are virtually united in their high opinion of Paterson and, given the number of contributors involved, that’s as good a testimony as to a new City signing’s abilities as I’ve seen from fans of a former club.
There is, of course, a fly in the ointment, Paterson was badly injured shortly after scoring in Hearts’ 4-0 win over Kilmarnock on 27 December last year and has not played since. His recovery from the cruciate knee ligament damage he sustained that day appears to be on course, but Paterson is not going to be available until September or October it seems and, although injuries of this kind are hardly ever the career enders they sometimes were in my youth, there has to be that nagging doubt as to whether his effectiveness will be reduced when he comes back.
However, given that it was widely reported that there was Premier League interest in Paterson at the turn of last year, with there being plenty of speculation that he was on his way to West Ham, I think it may be true to say that he is only at Cardiff now because of that injury. Even if he hadn’t moved in January, I believe we would have had plenty of rivals for his signature if he had played a full season at Hearts.
Patterson signs on a three year contract and, apart from those slight concerns about his injury, he strikes me as a bit of a step up from the type of signings we’ve become used to in recent years – welcome to Cardiff City Callum, I hope your stay here will be fruitful for all concerned.
I was going to say that this week saw the end of our long running interest in Aberdeen winger Jonny Hayes who we had two bids for rejected back in January. It had been reported that City had dropped out of the running for his signature because of the time it was taking for the situation to be resolved. However, this morning, this story has appeared on the Wales Online website which contradicts the earlier reports – indeed, the winger, who started for the Republic of Ireland against Uruguay earlier in the week, is said to favour a move here, with his club, apparently, preferring that he signs for Celtic.
Another transfer which went through in the last few days was Deji Oshilja’s move to AFC Wimbledon on another free transfer. The versatile and speedy defender has spent so much time out on loan in recent seasons that it felt like he’d left anyway, but he goes now having never made a league appearance for City to go alongside the ones he made in cup competitions – I still think worse players than Deji have played Championship football for us since we got relegated, but this seems to be a good move for him as he is reunited with former City Academy boss Neil Ardley at a club he did well for during a loan spell in 2015.
Another imminent departure would look to be Peter Whittingham if this story is to believed. What gives the report more credence is that City team mate Matt Connolly posted a picture of himself and Whitts on Twitter with a couple of sad face emojis added to it – there were no words to confirm the rumours, but the inference seems clear enough to me.
I mentioned last week that my feeling about this summer has always been that any “big money” moves for new players would have to be funded by transfers out of the club, so it was interesting to hear that City had turned down a bid of £3 million from Sheffield Wednesday for captain Sean Morrison.
I believe Morrison’s contract is due to expire next year, so I feel that there could be further bids for the centreback over the course of the summer, but it was good to see the club turn down Wednesday’s offer with Neil Warnock remarking that £3 million wouldn’t even buy one of the player’s legs!
I agree with our manager there. Morrison has always had his critics among City fans and I daresay there are many who would think £3 million is a good price for him, but I’m not one of them. Yes, like lots of big centre halves, he can struggle when players run at him and I agree with those who say his heading can be better in the opposition penalty area than it is in ours. However, I think week in, week out, he has been our most reliable centreback in the last three seasons and we’d struggle to find one who contributes as much as Morrison does when it comes to attacking play – I’d be looking for £5 million, at least, if we decided we could let him go.
Finally, I talked last week about the successful tours of the Netherlands and Spain by City’s 9 to 11 age group teams, well this piece gives a few more details on the trips – turns out we played a couple of games (one a win, the other a draw) against Inter Milan as well.