Last week I speculated on who might not be offered new contracts by City when their retained list was published.
Well, the release of that list yesterday showed my success rate in predicting who would be going and who would was staying to be modest at best!
In my defence, I would point put that the link I used to find out the contract situation with our players, and so base my predictions on, provided me with some duff information.
The list as published by the club shows, for example, that Mark Harris and Loic Damour, two players I thought would be on their way out of the club, still have at least one year left on their contracts it would appear.
As it turns out, the number of players released by City was small and, even with the two “big” names among the departures, there has to be some doubt as to whether the club were minded to release them or whether the players concerned decided they would look elsewhere themselves.
That would certainly appear to be the case with Aron Gunnarsson who, before he signed his one year deal last summer, was making noises about how he didn’t feel he was up to the rigours of another forty six game Championship campaign. I think it was generally accepted among supporters that it was only our promotion, with its thirty eight game Premier League programme, that enabled Gunnar to delay his departure for a season.
With Gunnar having only turned thirty in April, my belief is that the club would have been happy for him to stay if he had given them any encouragement that he was willing to do so, but, as we have known for about three months now, he’d already committed to signing for Qatar side Al-Arabi.
The position is less clear cut with Kadeem Harris, but the situation arrived at seems to me to be the correct one – that is, he tries to further his career elsewhere after a stay of about seven and a half years at Cardiff where he came close, but never quite managed, to nail down a regular place in the first team starting eleven.
Whether Kadeem decided to turn down a new deal with City or one was never offered, he, surely, won’t have too many problems finding a new club. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back at Cardiff City Stadium in 19/20 as part of a rival Championship team’s squad or, failing that, he should be able to find himself a top end League One club.
One surprise for me was the news that Brian Murphy has been offered another contract by City. Perhaps this has come about because of interest from elsewhere in Neil Etheridge which I’ll discuss further shortly, but, before I leave it completely, I’d like to make a couple of quick further points about the retained list.
Firstly, while you would expect the large majority of players offered new deals by the club to accept them, there may be a few who do not. As an example, I mentioned last week reports that Cameron Coxe had been attracting the attention of Manchester City and it would hardly come as a surprise if he was minded to accept any deal from them if there was any truth in that story.
Secondly, if all or nearly all of those offered contracts are still with City next season, then, with it being reported that Neil Warnock would like to bring a further six senior players in over the summer, it looks a very big squad which would be in need of some trimming.
I won’t name names here, but having just worked my way down that alphabetical list of players appearing under the “First team” heading on that retained list, I counted nine that I would guess the club would be either happy or not too bothered about losing if the right offer came along. Also, I would not be too surprised if they were amenable towards any approach for established first teamers if a decent, as opposed to good, offer was received for them.
One player who City appear to be determined to hang on to is Neil Etheridge. City’s Player of the Year was the subject of an £8 million offer from Aston Villa recently which was turned down (reports that Liverpool had also expressed an interest in the Philippines international have since been denied, but, one of his former clubs, Fulham, are said to be interested in him).
However, with Villa manager Dean Smith and goalkeeping coach Neil Cutler both having worked with Etheridge at Walsall, this has the look of a piece of close season transfer gossip that definitely has some substance to it. Indeed, with Cutler, pretty obviously, a big fan of our goalkeeper, as shown in this article, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a transfer go through in the coming weeks for something like the fee being reported.
The Etheridge story has been, by far and away, the most persistent one when it comes to possible transfers at Cardiff this week. In fact, judging from what I’ve seen, you could be forgiven for thinking it was the only one, but there was something in midweek about us, Bristol City and Barnsley being after St Johnstone’s Scottish Under 21 international centreback, Jason Kerr who can also play as a deep lying midfielder.
Kerr was the subject of a £250,000 bid from Barnsley in January that St. Johnstone turned down and, having recently signed a contract extension until 2022 with the Perth club, it can safely be said that it would require considerably more than that now to persuade them to part with one of their prize assets.
Finally, it was confirmed yesterday that Spanish team Real Valladolid, who finished sixteenth in the twenty team La Liga in the season just ended, will be our opponents in the game in Edmonton to conclude our visit to North America announced last week. Valladolid have been much in the news lately for reasons that they would prefer not have been and , with the piece linked to making it sound like the story originates from a usually reliable source, it could be that the side City face will be nothing like the one that played Valencia recently!