Aside from Chris Samba, perhaps the most talked about player in the transfer window has been Ravel Morrison.
Newcastle have had a bid turned down, he has been linked with Barcelona and now Manchester City are said to be trying to tempt him across town.
Quite astonishing really for a player who has made just three substitute appearances in the Manchester United first team (all of which in the Carling Cup) and who rarely appears in the newspaper articles without words like “wayward” or “troubled” being attached to his name.
Morrison, who is 19 two days after the window closes, has long been earmarked as a likely prospect to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Beckham, the Nevilles, Butt and Giggs – he was the star of the FA Youth Cup winning side of last season (along with Paul Pogba – who is also set to leave the club according to speculation).
If it were that simple, though, he’d already be in the squad, but with Morrison it isn’t like that.
The young midfielder has had a troubled past, and is currently subject to a police supervision order, which is due to expire. He has been convicted of offences such as witness intimidation and assault. Indeed it is often said that the only reason he is still there is because he is so good.
It is, though, about a little bit more than football ability, and it is, you suspect about something altogether less wholesome, it is about money, pure and simple.
As we have talked about previously on these blogs Youngsters are now big money (Liverpool have already signed a 15-year-old from Wycombe this window) and increasingly clubs want to protect their assets.
It was reported in one of the newspapers this week that it is not uncommon for some youngsters in Premier League youth teams to be on £200k a year, a frankly staggering amount for 17-year olds to be getting.
But it is a fraction of what the likes of Morrison can expect to earn if they fulfil that potential – and it that potential that the clubs are spending to try and keep, and that is exactly why Barcelona, Man City and the rest are being linked with Morrison, because getting him now for whatever compensation they end up having to pay is a darn sight cheaper than buying him if he is worth £30 million at some point in his career – and reports seem to indicate that he is that good.
Crucially, this desire to make sure that the best youngsters are in their control was the reason for the changes to Youth signings the other week – see blog here
- , which means the situation will only get worse for the smaller clubs. Youngsters are now big business and football clubs want to cash in
Only time will tell what happens to Ravel Morrison – Alex Ferguson has said his wage demands are “unrealistic ” So his Old Trafford future remains in doubt – but you can bet that if he is as good as we are led to believe then he won’t be leaving Manchester without a fight, because pounds and pence dictate it.