£4 Million is the price tag Ipswich Town F.C has reportedly slapped on the head of former academy midfielder Flynn Downes with Crystal Palace said to be the latest Premier League showing interest.
When the news broke yesterday, the fan in me reacted with first annoyance and then frustration.
Weeks after being asked to not withdraw our season ticket refund and instead allow the club to put that money back into the academy, here we are, once again selling our academy stars only a year or two after they emerge.
You start to question, is it worth it?
On the one hand, we are a selling club, always have been. After all, we have often sold our young stars from Wright to Dyer to Connor Wickham.
Furthermore, I found myself annoyed that again we were seemingly under evaluating our players and that a bid of anything less then £8 Million was laughable to me.
Also, to be blunt, I simply lack trust in the club to recruit a player, not just as good as Flynn Downes, but also someone with a similar potential to develop.
Then, after some time digesting the news and seeing the various discussions around the player and what his 'true value' was, the 'podcaster' and 'amateur journalist' in me started to think it over.
IS £4 Million a fair offer?
Recently we had a wonderful article by Stuart Watson over at Archant Towers for the EADT giving us a rundown of recent midfielders who have left League 1 for a fee.
On the list were players such as;
Some tremendous players have played at League 1 level prior to moving on.
However, for context, we first must look at Flynn Downes and where he is currently on his 'career Journey' and find out just the type of player he can be by using stats provided by who scored. Com
Appearances: 60 (19)
Experience at Championship level: 1 full season
Taking a look at Flynn's last two seasons (overall) stat-wise I've broken the data down into five key areas:
*A key pass is a pass that leads to a shot at goal.
2018/19 stats (Championship)
Pass Completion: 82%
Tackles won: 64%
Headers won: 40%
Key Passes: 14
19/20 stats (League 1 )
Pass Completion: 81% (down 1%)
Tackles won: 68% (up 4%)
Headers won: 56% (up 16%)
Shots: 24 (Up 12 )
Key Passes: 17 ( Up 3)
So, Downes, despite playing fewer games this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, progressed in all but one category. Considering the player's age there is absolutely every reason to believe this will only continue to improve as he grows more experienced and starts to move towards the prime of his career.
It is that very paragraph that will be getting Premier League analytical departments excited.
Speaking to Football coaches, it is widely accepted that midfielders generally tend to peak between the ages of 26-30. Staggeringly placing Flynn still 5 years from his peak. The top of Downes' game can not be understated.
I'm not trying to sell you the next Deli Ali here because they are different players. Downes, however, can absolutely be better than JonJo Shelvey who has made well over 150 premier league games.
So in short, Downes is in no way the finished article but every arrow is trending up.
So for comparison, I am going to only include players who;
Have gone on to play regularly in the Championship or Premier League.
Had already made Championship appearances before being sold.
Will try and include midfielders that are similar to Downes. Ali is a brilliant player but to compare Ali to Downes is unfair. It would be like comparing Makelele to Lampard.
Who are we left with?
From the list that was originally put forward by the EADT for comparison, we are left with just one name who, in my opinion, is really the 'true' comparison to Flynn Downes at present.
Massimo Luongo £3.5m in 2015 , 5 years ago.
Australian Massimo Luongo actually got Championship experience when on loan at Ipswich playing 9 games before being sent back to parent club Tottenham.
The Australian then made a mark for himself further down the pyramid at Swindon. However, when QPR came knocking there still would have been concerns about the Australian's ability to make the step up.
At the time of his move to QPR, Luongo's career stats looked like this;
(For your comparison, Downes stats are in red
Age: 23 (21)
Appearances: 84 (60)
Sadly, little to no data could be found on Luongo's time with Swindon. However, we can pick out some statistics from Luongo's first Championship year with QPR and compare that to the data we have for Flynn's time in the Championship ( his first full senior year).
I have placed Flynn's data next to Lunaogo's for comparison;
Appearances 30 v 21
Pass Completion: 73% (82%)
Tackles won: 80% (64% )
Headers won: 47% (40%)
Shots: 26 (12)
Key Passes: 43 (14)
As we can see, Luongo not only played more games than Downes did in his first full championship season, but he also beat Downes hands down in four out of the five categories.
For the reader information, I feel it is only fair to also include the state of both clubs at the time. In Luongo's first season at Championship level, QPR finished 12th and changed their manager twice in the season.
In Downes' first full season, Ipswich sacked their manager after a dreadful start and were relegated in last place.
So is £4 Million a fair offer?
Well, I'll leave that to you. However, one final piece of the jigsaw to consider is the football price inflation rate.
According to theshortuse , prices have increased 40% since 2015 ...but I can already hear you screaming ' we are in a different landscape now due to COVID.'
Are we? Yes
Are Premier League teams who continued a season? Absolutely not and with the spending already being done we shouldn't feel sorry for the cash-rich clubs.
So with that in mind, a 23-year-old Luongo would have cost QPR around £5 Million in today's money.
Downes at 21, with so much potential and a year at Championship level already under his belt?
If you ask me £5 Million sounds the perfect place to start ...
Until next time
stats courtesy of Who scored . com