Thursday, 7 August 2008
Gareth Luke-s elsewhere for right-back
Boro today accepted an offer from Aston Villa for right-back Luke Young. While the amount hasn't been disclosed, Gareth Southgate described it as too good to turn down. "Sometimes an offer can be one that makes it very difficult to turn down," he said.
Given that the offer is reported to be somewhere in the region of £5-6m, the financial logic of the decision is clear. Young cost £2.5m from Charlton only 12 months ago, and at 29 with two years remaining on his contract, its unlikely such an offer would be forthcoming in the future. It is also possible that the occasional rumours about the full-back being unsettled on Teesside may have had a factor.
Nonetheless, it is still a surprising and disappointing move. Boro's callow squad is about to lose one of its most consistent and experienced members. With huge doubts over goalkeepers and central midfield already, Southgate now has to deal with another problem position just nine days before the opening game of the season. The manager worked very hard to convince Stewart Downing and David Wheater of the club's ambitions during last year's contract negotiations. How Boro's better and more ambitious players will view the sale of one of last season's most impressive performers is worth considering.
Southgate has promised to move quickly to sign a replacement, although the early rumours about the execrable Justin Hoyte are deeply concerning. Its likely a chunk of Villa's cash will be invested in filling the gaping hole in the centre of the field, meaning Young's replacement may well come on the cheap. For all the improvements made to the squad's attacking talent, Southgate seems to be almost wilfully weakening his back line by allowing Young to leave and failing to replace Mark Schwarzer.
The wisdom (or not) of Southgate's decisions will only become apparent in a few months' time. In the meantime, he's testing the faith of the fans. We have to hope he's right - if his gamble goes wrong, it could be a sobering autumn.
Posted by MR at 17:54