Two days, two signings and things are looking a little more interesting than they did on Boxing Day. First up was Sweden Under-21 international and Helsingborgs captain Andreas Granqvist followed a day later by Norway midfielder and boy band member Kristofer Haestad. Both deals may be on loan until the end of the season, but there seems to be an element of ‘with a view to a permanent’ transfer to each.
Granqvist plays in defence and looks likely to plug our need for a more mobile centre half. He’s a young, tall defender who in the words of Paul Jewell “loves defending”. The 21 year old has been tracked for a while by clubs across Europe with PSV, Bayern and Liverpool amongst his suitors. It seems that Liverpool took the option of Latics target Daniel Aggers ahead of Granqvist in the summer.
Haestad trumps the Swede in that he has 11 full caps for Norway. He comes with the reputation of being an energetic and effective midfielder. Kristofer’s performances over the past couple of seasons have been key in re-establishing his club Start back into the Norwegian top flight. Again the player has been tracked by a number of clubs, the most prominent being Manchester United.
The signing of Haestad looks very promising for the Lovejoys of this world a quick trip around Google images establishes him as a thoroughly modern footballer, delve a bit deeper and you’ll find details of the single he has released with (amongst others) Blackburn’s Morten Gamst Pederson. If he’s as good a player as his band mate then I think he can be excused the mascara.
On the face of it, these transfers look to be good deals for Latics, the more cynical amongst us may be wondering if the players don’t get that bit (well loads actually) more from them.
Both these players are young internationals, clubs like Bolton and Blackburn have been linked with them but more worryingly so have proper real world ‘big clubs’. Presumably they have not seen enough so far to warrant signing them – will the same apply in six months time?
One possibility is that the two lads come over and do the same sort of disappearing act that Andreas Johansson did in his first season. Part of the reason for that is that the Scandanavian football seasons, for obvious reasons, don’t run through the winter. Both Norway and Sweden have just started their breaks and players will be heading towards ‘holiday mode’. As we’ve seen in recent World Cups and European Championships, the modern footballer just isn’t up to being on top of their game outside of the football season.
Next is the situation, where they are just not up to the job. It’s clear that the two lads are decent players, but it’s not as simple as that. Look at Andy Webster, if people are struggling to acclimatise between Scottish and English football then what chance do foreign players stand. If that happens then there’s a fair chance we’ll struggle over the rest of the season, maybe even go down. Whilst the rest of us are left to pick up the pieces Andreas and Kristofer retreat a safe distance just in time for the start of their national leagues.
Finally, what if they put in the key performances that make the difference between relegation and Europe? Latics are hardly renowned for their ability to tie deals up quickly. After a good half season, any sort of delay may see bigger clubs reigniting their interest and what then? It’s hard to believe that in the face of an offer from, say, Liverpool or United that any player would be swayed by a sense of loyalty to the team that gave them their break.
The other side of that is that there’s a sign of one way that Latics can maintain some level of success at this level. The Chimbonda situation has already painted Latics as a stepping stone club. Maybe the way forward is to take those risks with Europe’s young prospects, buy them in the hope that they’ll prove themselves capable of playing at a higher level. As with Chimbonda, it will always be disappointing when they move on, but at least we will have had their services for a while and you never know after a while they may want to stick around.
Then again, they might come in be good enough for what we need, play the rest of the season and be part of a team that keeps us up and be gagging to sign permanent deals before they get off to Ayanapa, but this is Latics. Other clubs might get plain sailing, but not us.
Anyroad, welcome to both Andreas and Kristofer. You’ll have to forgive the cynicism, it just comes naturally to Wiganners. Here’s hoping that your time at the club is long and fruitful.
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