Football may have finished for three weeks or so and I always tend to think of early and mid June as fairly quiet periods before contracts expire and things start to click into gear on the transfer front, but, this year, Cardiff City just keep on signing players at a bewildering rate!
Three more came in this week taking the total of new arrivals to eight and they’ve all been permanent signings, yet it has been reported that City want to use all five of the loan options they’re allowed and there is of course at least one very high profile name we’re linked with which I think has moved on beyond the mere speculation stage now.
So, it would appear that the plan is to bring in at least fourteen players which may seem a lot, but when you consider that five loan signings from the second half of last season have left, eight senior players have not been offered new contracts, Sam Bowen has left the club with a year of his contract left, Sean Morrison’s future is uncertain once he has completed rehabilitation work following his ACL injury sustained at Barnsley and Joe Ralls, plus possible first team squad member George Ratcliffe, have not signed the contracts they’ve been offered by the club, it’s certainly feasible that we’re less than halfway through our recruitment this summer.
The three new signings this week do not address the glaring imbalance in the squad as it stands at the moment. With the contracted James Collins’ future at the club uncertain, we could be in a situation where Max Watters may be the only striker who is a potential member of City’s senior match day squad who will turn up on the first day of pre season training (I believe it’s late next week when that happens) if Mark Harris is given a bit more time off because of his involvement with the Wales squad.
All three new men are far more accustomed to the other end of the pitch and, as of now, I can only agree with the opinion I’ve heard quite often in the past week that we look like a relegation squad, but, truthfully, how can we be anything else with so few strikers? Furthermore, only one of these has proven himself at this level completely and even he is someone we appear to want get rid of who has spent most of his career in the lower leagues.
Surely, the point is that the squad cannot be judged to any great degree yet – we are going to sign some strikers between now and the end of July and it may be that many will still rate us a relegation squad after that, but let’s see who they are first eh?
What I will say though is that I can’t see the signings we’ve made up to now persuading many waverers to renew their season tickets or become a new season ticket holder – that’s not to belittle any of the new players or to ignore the financial constraints currently in force at the club, but what I say is true isn’t it?
The first of the trio of arrivals this week was Vontae Daley-Campbell, a twenty one year old right back/wing back who joins us on a three year contract after being released by Leicester City. Daley-Campbell describes himself as a hard working full back who likes to get forward a lot and although he never played for Leicester in the Premier League, he did feature in a couple of matches in their FA Cup winning run in 2020/21 – he also played nine times while on loan to Dundee last season in their unsuccessful fight to stay in the SPL during which time he was shown a straight red card in a game at Ross County.
That’s as much as I know about Daley-Campbell, but I do know more about the other one of the two right backs we signed on the same day and I would say my opinion of him is mixed.
I first became aware of Mahlon Romeo (who is the son of Jazzie B the front man of Soul II Soul) when he made an early mistake in a televised Millwall v City game in our 17/18 promotion season which enabled Junior Hoilett to put us ahead and I believe he was withdrawn at half time in that game. Also on the debit side is that he was not being selected in the starting line up during the final games of his season long loan spell in League One with Portsmouth in 21/22.
To counter that, Romeo played just short of 200 league games for Millwall with the majority of them in the Championship and he was something of an automatic choice for them before he was publicly critical of the Millwall fans who booed the taking of the knee by the team in the first match after supporters were allowed back into games following the Pandemic. From the outside, it would appear that Romeo’s subsequent loan move was a consequence of this breakdown in his relationship with the supporters of the team he joined from Gillingham as a youngster.
Romeo is twenty six and has also signed a three year contact – confusingly, a story in the local media stated that he was a free transfer who was signed for an undisclosed fee! The fact he was still under contract at Millwall though suggests that there was some sort of fee involved and his signing does not come as a surprise, because it seemed a realistic move when City’s interest in him was first reported earlier in the year while he was with Pompey.
Arriving the day after Daley-Campbell and Romeo was goalkeeper Ryan Allsop who celebrated his thirtieth birthday on Friday and has signed a two year deal after his contract with Derby expired. Allsop has turned out for thirteen different clubs and has played most often for Wycombe who he made nearly one hundred and twenty league appearances for, first in a loan spell and then after signing permanently for them. Most of Allsop’s football has been played in the lower divisions, but in recent years he has played more in the Championship and ended last season as first choice at Derby.
There have been rumours that Steve Morison wanted goalkeepers who were more confident when it comes to playing out from the back and this is a feature of Allsop’s game that does come up in messageboard discussions I’ve read about him, where he was also praised as a calming presence – comments regarding his actual goalkeeping though are best described as mixed.
The goalkeeping situation at the club is confusing if you consider that Dillon Phillips was reported to be staying with City a few weeks ago, but considering that we’ve signed Jak Alnwick as well, it’s hard to see how we, as a reportedly cash strapped Championship club, can accommodate three senior keepers and it seems more likely that Phillips’ situation will be similar to James Collins in that we’ll be looking to get him off the books, whether it be by temporary means or permanent ones.
On the Gareth Bale front, there was a story from an unusual source about him this week. French publication Football Mercarto reported in an “exclusive” that City had offered Bale a two year contract with an option for a further year and that the player “isn’t against” returning to Wales and is “taking more time to reflect”.
Intriguingly, the story also states that City are “rather confident” of getting their man. I honestly don’t know what to make of that last bit. Of course, the whole thing could be rubbish and there has to be a strong possibility that it is. Also, it’s quite unusual for potential buying clubs to make such positive noises while things are still up in the air on the negotiating front (I wouldn’t put it past our lot blurting something like that out mind). Then again, could it be that the deal is all but completed and the club is putting out a teaser aimed at those wavering season ticket holders I mentioned?
I’m over thinking things there aren’t I – there’s not much point in speculating too much as this does feel like something that we’ll get a definitive answer on quite soon, rather than it dragging on throughout the summer.
I’ll finish by asking if you’ve noticed that Cardiff City have become something like 13/8 on favourites to be Aaron Ramsey’s next club as well!