You can’t blame Charlie Adam for feeling devastated by the failure of Blackpool and Liverpool to agree a fee for his transfer. With the £50m sale of Fernando Torres giving Kenny Dalglish licence to go on a 24-hour shopping spree on Monday, the Liverpool manager channelled £35m of it Newcastle’s way for Andy Carroll and didn’t have enough left over to meet Blackpool’s valuation of their prized midfielder. Luis Suárez was already on his way to Anfield too and the club were reluctant to raise their previous bids for Adam to £14m.
Harry Redknapp reportedly made a late attempt to grab the Scotland international too but had his fingers rapped by the closing transfer window shutters. Spurs’ offer fell victim to the window’s 11pm deadline, which sounds suspiciously like somebody in north London or west Lancashire forgot to fill the fax machine with paper.
At the start of the season, however, nobody expected a Blackpool player to be talked about in terms of eight-figure transfer fees, as Adam has been. It’s a testament to the player-spotting skills of Ian Holloway that the £500,000 it cost to bring the 25-year-old to Bloomfield Road now looks like such a bargain. Holloway stands to earn a cut of any future fee for Adam, an unconventional arrangement yes, but one that reflects the manager’s faith in his own judgement as well as the abilities of the player.
Originally joining on loan from Rangers in February 2009, Adam has enjoyed a hugely successful two years with the Seasiders. Adam was instrumental in Blackpool’s progress to the Championship play-offs last season, culminating in a goal in the final victory over Cardiff, but carrying over his form into the Premier League this season has won the player who couldn’t get a game at Ibrox by the end of his time there all sorts of new admirers.
Adam’s performance against Manchester United last week – supplying the two corners that so befuddled United’s defenders and resulted in Blackpool’s two first-half goals – left Sir Alex Ferguson to conclude that his team “couldn’t handle” the midfielder. “His corners alone are worth £10m,” added Ferguson. There was even talk in the Daily Mail over the weekend that Adam had played himself into contention as a possible heir to Paul Scholes as United’s playmaker when, as is expected to be the case, his manager looks to buy a replacement for the veteran in the summer.
A statistical analysis of Adam’s performances for Blackpool this season that appeared on the Telegraph’s website last week indicated that, while the player’s valuation by Blackpool is probably a little inflated, his record does stand up against other similar Premier League midfielders. Before the game against United, it was noted that the player had made more passes than Cesc Fabregas this season and created more chances than Nani, Rafael van der Vaart, and Samir Nasri. The fact that Adam is Blackpool’s talisman means that they look to give the ball to him at every opportunity, involving him in almost every attack, which is reflected in his pass and chance-creation stats. He might struggle to be such a central figure at a club with more attacking options but that does not detract from his ability to pick the right ball and find teammates in space when given the opportunity.
Adam is a rare recent example of a Scottish player truly thriving in English football. Wigan’s ex-Hamilton midfielder James McCarthy is earning praise but James McFadden, Shaun Maloney, and Kris Boyd are just three examples of players who have struggled to do justice to themselves outside the SPL. What makes Adam an even rarer case is that his current reputation is almost entirely down to his performances south of the border. Rangers fans are complimentary about the player who was brought through their youth system and scored fourteen goals in the 2006/07 season, including a famous free-kick in an Old Firm derby, but the club were still willing to sell Adam for such a low fee just two years later after he had fallen out of favour.
Given his age, Adam certainly has time on his side. Should the midfielder continue to play between now and May as well he has done already this campaign – and Blackpool will be relying on him doing just that, with the Seasiders being far from safe from relegation – then a big-money move at the end of the season seems very likely indeed. With Holloway having picked up Andy Reid from Sunderland on deadline day, the manager already seems to be preparing for life after Adam.
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