Nobody really knows what price tag Wolves have put on our most prized asset. Nobody knows exactly what has been offered, and nobody really knows just how close or far any potential suitors are to signing arguably our best player.
So what DO we know? And weighing up the facts, I ask the question, should he be playing in our pre-season friendlies at all? In a time when building a new look squad to face a new challenge, does playing with Sako in the team give false expectations of what our team is capable of? Does his inclusion ultimately mean somebodies else’s missed opportunity in developing and staking a claim in our midfield?
- Sako is better than League One, and arguably better than The Championship. We would’ve struggled to have held on to him even if we avoided relegation, and the drop to Tier 3 has made us all but accept his imminent departure. We don’t EXPECT him, in our wildest dreams, to stay.
- He was promised Premier League football. Upon his arrival to the UK from France, Wolves promised him (although did not write it into his contract) that if we didn’t provide him with Premier League football within a year, we would support his move to somewhere that did.
- Sako is the text book professional. He didn’t give up last season, and he seemingly hasn’t given up this season either. Crucially, he has NOT handed in a transfer request, and if anything, seems to be enjoying his preparation for the coming season, and remains enthusiastic about Wolves. (If his Tweets are anything to go by.)
- Kenny Jackett WILL play Sako if he is not sold, and by the looks of things has been preparing his squad with that in mind. Sako’s departure, though likely, is not foregone or imminent.
So should he be playing?
This is a tough question, and there are legitimate arguments for both answers. Wolves fans seem split equally too, but here is my opinion...
In a nutshell, I think he SHOULD be playing, and I’m glad he has been. Simply accepting his departure and leaving him out the squad would be insulting to player who has given his all for our club during difficult times. It would also be foolish to leave your best player, who you are still paying large amounts of money for, out of the team. The fact is, he plays for Wolves, and is contracted to do so. Yes, he will gain attention of clubs higher up the pecking order. Yes, he will want to play in higher leagues. But these are not a given, and I can’t help but ask the question of... What if...?
What if Fulham, who look the most interested to sign him, get bored of the financial games and find another, easier target? What if then nobody else comes in for him?
Could we really forgive a brand new head coach and management team that we already have strained relationships with for leaving our best player out of all preparations because we ASSUMED somebody would want to buy him? What if come transfer deadline day Sako has been left out of our team, not had any game time, been banished to the sidelines along with players who DON’T give a damn about our club, only have no offers, and he remains ours until at least January?
* * * * * *
We have to be realistic, and I do still expect him to be sold this summer, and when he is, I wish him well. However, in Kenny Jackett’s position I would do nothing differently, because, other than Zeli Ismail potentially missing out on more playing time, its a win win situation.
On one hand, what if we hold onto him? He’s had a solid pre-season and we’ve shown loyalty to a loyal player.
On the other hand, if he is sold, his performances, if good, can only continue to justify the high price we’re asking for him. Lets face it, Fulham (or whoever) won’t pay more than they already see as acceptable for a player we won’t even play in our own friendlies.
I’d actually do my damnedest to hold onto him, with the expectation to sell him in January, when he’s had the opportunity to bump his price up even higher after half a season destroying League One.
He remains the first name on my team sheet... For now...