Although there was no drama to compete with the likes of Dimitar Berbatov’s midnight move to Old Trafford and other eye catching deadline day deals, some clubs certainly have reason to be happy with their summer transfer activity. One particular last minute deal to stand out for the Football League would be the transfer of England U19 wideman Matt Phillips from League Two Wycombe to Premiership newcomers Blackpool.
This writer has had the pleasure of watching Phillips on a number of occasions; his willingness to take on the opposition defence and whip in a cross had seen him become an integral part of the Chairboys’ squad as they achieved promotion back to League One in 2009. His continued development saw him impress again last season and although his entertaining performances were unable to help the Buckinghamshire side avoid relegation, it was clear that he had made a name for himself. With rumoured interest from the likes of Bristol City, Preston and Watford, it was perhaps only a matter of time before a firm bid was made for his services. His recent inclusion in the England U19’s squad for the European Championship qualifiers and subsequently the tournament itself in France saw his profile rise further, whilst Phillips enjoyed a starring role in the squad, mixing with his Premier League counterparts.
And so Phillips’ move to pastures new and greener is no great surprise but what of the deal itself? Blackpool will pay Wycombe £325,000 up front with the deal potentially rising to £700,000 if the Tangerines can stay in the top flight, or at least make a return there within four years. It has also been reported that Wycombe have negotiated a sell on clause in the deal. Whilst it is always disappointing to lose an exciting prospect, it would seem hard to argue that Phillips’ now former employers have done badly out of the deal.
With the experienced Gareth Ainsworth and Kevin Betsy seemingly ahead of him in the pecking order for a wide berth at Adams Park, Phillips has found himself in and out of the starting line up. £325,000 guaranteed for a fringe player in League Two is not in any way bad business. As for Blackpool, this can be seen as somewhat of a low risk gamble. Phillips has a bright future ahead of him, of that there is little doubt. If he does not make an impact on the side this year, he surely will in the coming seasons, whether that be in the top flight or back in the Championship.
The remaining issue is to whether this is the right move for Phillips himself? Of course, few would ever begrudge a young emerging talent an opportunity to compete against England’s elite, but the step up from League Two to the Premiership is monumental. Clearly a raw talent, the feeling amongst some sections of the Wycombe faithful is that perhaps one more year playing regularly (or at least more frequently than you might expect in the top flight) would have better served his development. However, with no disrespect intended, Ian Holloway’s side are no Barcelona, and if Phillips is to breakthrough in the Premiership this season, Blackpool could be the perfect fit for the youngster.