In this blog I analyse the various transfer rumours of who Blackpool have been linked with and suggest a few names I think we should consider, based on our recruitment strategy over the past few windows.
Firstly the Rumours
Oliver Casey – Centre Back – Leeds U23
Very much a young project, who has been likened to Brighton and England’s Ben White. Casey worked his way up through the Category One status academy at Elland Road. After impressing as an u18 he signed a two-year professional contract with Leeds in November 2019, making his pro debut a month later. He signed a new three-year contract in July 2020, indicating he was highly rated by Marcelo Bielsa. Now though, Casey is rumoured to want first-team football and that’s unlikely as Leeds look to progress towards the top of the Premier League.
– Likelihood: 9/10
Viv Solomon-Otabor – Winger – Wigan
Some may remember that Viv featured previously for Pool on loan during the 2017-18 season, making 44 appearances and scoring five goals. He gave Wigan a helping hand in their fight for survival last season. A few League One clubs have been linked to Viv and whilst I’m an admirer of the winger I can’t see Blackpool interest being concrete, the tenuous links from the loan suggest this one is agent talk drumming up interest for a better deal.
– Likelihood: 4/10
Stephen O’Donnell – Right Back – Motherwell
The Scottish international put in a shift at right-back against England last Friday and is apparently on the Blackpool target list, along with Derby County and Blackburn. Blackpool has become a sort’ve home-from-home for the many Scottish players we have had in the past. Blackpool made a bid of £125k for O’Donnell in 2015 that was accepted according to reports. However, unsurprisingly we couldn’t agree personal terms. We definitely need a right back, so I am not surprised we have been linked with one. However, a 29-year-old right-back that was relatively unknown until last Friday? And one we have been linked with before? I’m not so sure on this one.
– Likelihood 5/10
Sonny Carey – Midfielder – Non-League
The non-league players is supposedly in a transfer tug-of-war between Blackpool and Ipswich Town. It’s not the first time Blackpool have adopted this approach of targeting non-league talent as Blackpool fans will know with the purchase and recent sale of Ben Garrity to Port Vale, as well as Curtis Tilt who joined from Wrexham in 2017. It wouldn’t surprise me if Blackpool were looking for another diamond in the rough, as they certainly exist in non-league, but could be hard to find.
– Likelihood 7/10
Louie Barry – Winger/Striker – Aston Villa
The Aston Villa star shined in the FA Cup game scoring the opening goal against Liverpool, before they went on to lose 4-1. The youngster featured for Barcelona u19 before making his move to Villa. Whereas I can see enquires being made, the rumour is that we face competition from AC Milan. I’m unsure this one will go the distance.
– Likelihood 4/10
Then the suggestions
Taylor Moore – Centre Back – Bristol City
Moore was in and out of the City team last season and new manager Nigel Pearson will be addressing the squad soon, so Taylor could be out. The 24-year-old loved his time here on the seaside, becoming a fan favourite during his short three-month stint last year. Being that young, he fits the bill and could be excellent cover or start for the Pool. An option if we can’t re-sign Ballard for sure, either permanent or on loan.
Ethan Laird – Right Back – Manchester United
Ethan featured on loan at MK Dons last season and was a big hit, helping the club regain some form in the latter half of the season. Chipping in with four goals, for the Dons, his key attributes are size, speed and top-class decision-making. His versatility to play at both right back, centre-back and right midfield may be another reason why Critch may take a closer look at a player he’s likely aware of from youth football.
Con Ouzounidis – Centre Back – Everton U23
Part of a clear strategy has been Critchley watching the Everton u23 squad and this Centre Back/Right Back could be another potential option. Whereas I think it will be unlikely as we look to bring in Casey and Ballard, Con is 21 and has just been released by Everton, similarly to Bowler. A lot of Blackpool deals were actually free transfer last season: Stewart, Dougall, Ekpetita, Anderson, Sarkic, Garbutt, Williams, Robson and Mitchell. We may well operate in a similar fashion this year.
Dion Charles – Striker – Accrington Stanley
Former Blackpool youth striker Dion Charles had a stand out season for Accy and some interest from his boyhood club could be tempting for him. He won’t come cheap though so it’s whether Critch can resist getting the cheque book out. From his comments about Elliot Embleton which implied he would not be held to randsom, it looks like he will be looking for value for money and it’s unlikely Charles will be that, given he doesn’t have any experience in playing at this level. Charles played for Blackpool’s youth team against Neil Critchley’s Liverpool back in 2013.
Irons are most certainly in the fire, with rumours coming out day-by-day. We have already seen the additions of Lavery, Bowler, James and Grimshaw as we go into the peak of the window in July. Critch will want his squad in place before mid-July to really crack on with pre-season. Deals will be done but the process will not be a rush, smart deals are the priority, and the board’s strategy of keeping cash for wages as opposed to transfer deals is very wise. I’ve got every confidence that the most exciting deals are still ahead of us in this window.
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