If there is one thing that everyone knows about Sunderland AFC it is the importance of Jermain Defoe to them.
“Everyone” includes the people who run West Ham United.
Even those of the meagrest intelligence have worked out that the absence of Defoe, for whatever reason, will see tumbling odds on the club avoiding relegation; something that is distinctly in the balance even if he plays every game.
SAM, the Sport Analytics Machine used by University of Salford boffins to make footy predictions, reckons that keeping Defoe is worth £41.3m to Sunderland. It also supposes that selling Defoe would increase the chances of relegation from 58.7 to 66 percent.
I hope they kept the receipt for that machine, or that it’s only on hire from Rediffusion; because £41.3m and 66 percent sound like implausibly conservative figures.
David Moyes has described Defoe as “priceless,” which is almost literally true.
Sunderland are in significant debt and relegation would cost them £100m – per season outside the Premier League. Try not to think of Leeds United, Sheffield Wednesday or Nottingham Forest at this point; it hurts.
Then there is the cost of replacing Defoe in a league where decidedly average strikers are sold for £15m. True, he’s now 34. But Didier Drogba was still playing for Chelsea at 37. And a striker of Defoe’s capabilities but a few years younger could set a club back £40-£50m.
I can’t therefore imagine that the denizens of the Taxpayers Arena were anything like astounded when their allegedly serious bid of £6m was turned down like a bedspread.
It was a quick response too; a two-word reply taking so little time to type.
Even if reports of a slightly less silly £15m bid are correct, we have to wonder: are West ‘Am dwelling in an alternative fiscal universe? Their other recent punt of £3m to Hull City for Robert Snodgrass would suggest that they are.
Another possibility is that they are attempting to secure their own future, by unsettling the best players at clubs that are currently in the bottom three.
This can’t possibly be true of such a delightful, well-liked club with such unstintingly ethical owners. Cleanse yourselves of the very notion
So they must be making a moral stand against the ascending and obscene amounts of money changing hands in football today. Yeah, that’s it.
We would therefore urge Sunderland to adopt the same approach for their own January recruitment.
Having set the financial level, David Moyes could land Winston Reid for a case of Merrydown Cider and a meal for two in the Blue Bell.
A bid of 200 quid and a Game Boy should suffice to see André Ayew in red and white stripes. Dimitri Payet would come to Sunderland in exchange for the contents of my shed.
I exaggerate of course. I don’t have a shed.
West Ham and the doolally Chris Sutton among others, seem to assume that Defoe would gleefully take the opportunity to play for a smaller club in a dreadful stadium, because it happens to be in London.
Things may look very and horribly different in the summer.
But Defoe has not publicly stated, or even suggested, that he wants to leave Wearside. Quite the opposite in fact. He seems happy.
If he was to unpleasantly surprise us by asking for a move this month it should be denied to him. Normally I am very much of the opinion that if a player wishes to leave – then he should leave (for a suitable fee).
But this is an exceptional case. Sunderland would in all likelihood be better off playing an unhappy Defoe than whatever the alternative might be.