If there’s one universal truth in professional football, it may be that talented young players keep moving on and moving up. Sadly for Wigan supporters, it’s increasingly apparent that 22-year old midfielder James McCarthy is not exempt from this truth. Despite the 5-year contract McCarthy signed with the Latics in 2011, the last few months have seen rumours of a transfer escalate into a bidding war between top English clubs with Everton and Spurs upping the ante last week.
Throw in Wigan’s relegation, and McCarthy’s desire to compete at a high level in the Premier League, and you shouldn’t need acuvue lenses to see clearly that the Irish international’s time at the DW Stadium is through.
With the exception of time missed due to a gruesome ankle injury in 2010, McCarthy has been nothing but exciting and promising for Wigan. Most recently, he was a key member of the side that was able to dispatch Manchester City in the 2013 FA Cup, and he has established himself as arguably the club’s top player. Nevertheless, the Glaswegian appears to be moving on, so let’s look at some of the rumours and top candidates for a transfer.
Reports surfaced back in May that Tottenham were interested in securing McCarthy’s services as a replacement for Scott Parker in the centre of the park. The problem is, Dave Whelan of Wigan has a certain amount of leverage here, with multiple teams vying for the midfielder, and as such he’s set a high price for his prized midfielder. New boss Owen Coyle has reportedly upped the price further to the region of £20 million. At the moment Tottenham are reluctant to pay but they appear to be leading the hunt.
Everton made it known they had serious interest in McCarthy, but may have botched things by putting in a £12 million offer to Dave Whelan. Not only was this £3 million below the valuation determined back in May, but the price has gone up. Everton was told that McCarthy will cost closer to £20 million. Last week, former boss Roberto Martinz looked to have pitched a final improved bid of £13.5.
Chelsea have shown interest in bringing McCarthy to West London for months now, though there’s no public knowledge yet of any actual offer or negotiation. Chelsea’s best asset for drawing McCarthy’s personal interest is probably having signed former teammate Victor Moses a year ago.
This destination has been lingering. Manager Brendan Rodgers has been seeking to bring in youth, and has interest not only in McCarthy, but also in teammate Callum McManaman. The Reds were rumoured to have taken a long look as recently as May but their interest has cooled while that of cross-city rivals Everton has ratcheted up.
Another London alternative would hold obvious appeal for McCarthy, and Arsenal have a history with spotting promising youngsters. They too have been linked with the Irish star but as seems typical of the Gunners, no concrete bids have arisen. An issue here might be that Arsenal doesn’t have any particular need in the midfield, meaning McCarthy would be competing with more experienced players like Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky.
Finally, there’s Man U, where David Moyes has genuine interest in bringing McCarthy into the fold. The Red Devils have an aging midfield core, and this move would give McCarthy the chance to play immediately, and perhaps blossom into a true star. The Old Trafford side’s courting of Cesc Fabgreas has yet to run its course but should they enter the race for McCarthy, the English champions may blow every other suitor out of the water.