Gylfi Sigurðsson to … Hoffenheim?

Posted by on Sep 1, 2010 in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Erstwhile Reading season ticket holder Lanterne Rouge pointed me in the direction of Iceland U21’s 4-1 thrashing of Germany over email correspondence a few weeks ago. Most would have considered the score line to have been the subject of our discussion, but it was the role of Royals midfielder Gylfi Sigurðsson that we Football League spods were really interested in.

Such had been the obvious quality of the 20 year-old on the numerous occasions that I’ve seen him play that my first thoughts were those of surprise that he wasn’t in in the senior squad. Despite only emerging at the beginning of last term, the rosy-cheeked playmaker has performed well beyond his years and has, at times, carried his team in an attacking sense with his unceasing knack of floating into the six yard area at precisely the right time. Twenty goals and a load of assists from the midfield of a team that were, until that trip to Anfield, bound for League 1 was a testament to the rate of Sigurðsson’s progress from just another bright Reading Academy prospect to the club’s first name of the team-sheet last season (not to mention his TTU Young Player of the Season award), so it was with mild incredulity that I discovered he wasn’t yet playing a similar role for his country.

Optimistic Royals fans would have hoped to have kept Sigurðsson under wraps for a time yet, but yesterday’s attention diverting news that he’d completed a £6m move to the Gretna of Germany, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, was undoubtedly a good conclusion for all parties. While it weakens Reading’s ability to create from the centre, the profit made from the deal has to be viewed in perspective of the club’s balance sheet which, despite the princely sums earned for Kevin Doyle and Stephen Hunt last summer, cannot have looked awfully healthy in the post-Premiership years. Indeed, manager Brian McDermott had recently struggled to bring in defensive reinforcements after injuries to several key centre halves, and a move for former loanee Zurab Khizanishvili could only be completed once the Sigurðsson transfer had been tied up. Similarly, instead of lining up a lower league star or a Premiership loannee to fill Sigurðsson’s boots, McDermott has brought in Lee Hendrie on a trial, further indicating the modest budget with which he is working.

But what of Sigurðsson’s future? Anglo-centric commentators had predicted a move to a lower-half Premiership club such as a Wigan or a Newcastle, but the Icelander’s choice of destination underlines a certain modesty and grounding that had been evident in a section of the squad that had achieved success with Reading in the Noughties. Rather than warm the bench, or compromise his progress by opting for an outfit more intent on avoiding defeat than winning games in the EPL, Sigurðsson has seemingly chosen an upwardly mobile club in a league that has, of late, earned a reputation for blooding young talent. If Hoffenheim play anything like the German national team, with its strong work ethic and effortless quality in attack, then Sigurðsson will fit just right in.

Lloyd
is co-editor of The Two Unfortunates. He’s 30, supports Plymouth Argyle and takes a particular interest in the fortunes of those Football League clubs west of Bristol.

4 Comments

  1. Jenna
    September 2, 2010

    Agree with every thing you've said. It seems a great shame though that like in the past, Reading sell off their greatest talent instead of keeping it in a gamble to get back to the premiership. I know Reading say its to balance the books, but where has all the money from the transfers of Shorey, Hunt, Doyle, Cisse, Matejovsky and Henry gone? Not to mention the money gained from not renewing contracts of Hahnemann, Murty, Lita, Duberry and most recently, Rosenior. Add to that the termination of Rasiak's contract and it does seem bizarre that Reading create the image that they are worse off than other Championship teams.

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  2. Lloyd
    September 2, 2010

    A fair shout, and one that my fellow Unfortunate and Reading fan Lanterne Rouge must be asking himself (he's on holiday at the moment, so hasn't been able to have his say yet).

    I suppose I'd argue that players such as Mills and McAnuff were brought in for big money last season, and that the debts accrued in the top flight were so large that it's back to square one. What's more, Madejski is no longer funding the club in the same way as he used to, so the coffers have to be secured properly this time around.

    All in all, this doesn't appear to be the promotion season that some optimists had predicted (myself included).

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  3. urzz1871
    September 2, 2010

    I think everyone would agree that it's a great shame that Gylfi has moved on, but I'm sure that everyone would also agree that it was inevitable he would – only the timing was in doubt. He is such a gifted player, obviously destined for great things, that a step up was always on the cards.
    What I can't see is how anyone reasonable believes we could have kept him once Hoff had made their offer. He has a chance to move to an up-and-coming team in the top tier of the best league in the world, with the best coaching structure, and on much better wages than Reading could ever pay, too. What possible reason would he have for staying – and would it be fair of Reading to try and deny him that opportunity of a lifetime? And if they had, just how motivated a player would he be, anyway?
    No-one at Reading wanted him to leave, and he certainty wasn't touted around, but the deal done is superb. To get £6 in cash, up front, is an absolutely stunning deal by today's standards, and it not only secures the club's financial future but it gives Brian Mc the freedom to shore up the defence and bring in loan signings.
    So yes, in the short-term it's a blow to us all, but it was always going to happen one day and it's actually the best thing for everyone in the long term.

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  4. Lanterne Rouge
    September 8, 2010

    Really disappointed that, stranded in New York as I am, this is the last I'll have seen of Gylfi. An un-turndownable fee though – Royals got less for Kevin Doyle who was a PFA full player of the year nominee and pound for pound the best player in the club's history – that the Sig has commanded a greater amount of money after one admittedly scintillating Championship campaign provokes astonishment. Mind you, didn't Fabian Delph go for 8 million or something ridiculous?

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