The sun is only just setting on a better than expected season for the Hornets, yet we are hearing that an offer has already come in for our player of the season and the Championship’s top scorer Danny Graham. Now I guess we expected some interest in the close season and if we’re realistic, it’s doubtful we’ll see Danny in a Watford shirt come August. But for it all to kick off so soon? I have my theory – Neil Warnock’s getting in early just in case Swansea and our old friend Mr. Rodgers come sniffing around post play off final. What could be good for us though is that it starts off a bidding war as other interested parties join in, not wanting to miss out on the goal getter. And this seems to be the key conversation topic amongst fellow fans. How much is Danny worth?
Friend of the podcast from across the pond @Curtiford asked fellow fans on Twitter that very question. I responded with an off the top of my head figure of £4 million, maybe £5 million. And that seems to sit somewhere within the general consensus, looking at the responses to the very same question asked by the Watford Observer online. But that doesn’t seem very scientific does it? The club must have their ideas of what constitutes a good price, the minimum they would take if no-one reaches the valuation come 31st August, the “offer we can’t refuse”. They’re the pro’s so will know what they’re doing, hopefully! But we’ll take a look, in particular at previous Championship top scorers, to see if we can work out how much cash we can expect for our star striker.
In the previous three seasons, Peter Whittingham & Nicky Maynard shared the award and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake won the other two. And none of those three have left their clubs since, although Ebanks-Blake did move from Plymouth Argyle to Wolves for £1.5m halfway through the first season he won the award. Going back a further season, Jamie Cureton was top scorer with 23 goals in 44 appearances for Colchester United. He left at the end of the season for a mere £825,000. However comparisons with Danny are poor. Cureton was turning 32 at the beginning of the following season and had expressed concerns at the ambitions of his current side, eventually stating that he would like to return to old club Norwich City. I do not recall Cureton being talked about in terms of Premier League potential at that stage of his career and the Canaries were heading donwards rather than the lofty heights they are heading for now. Not surprisingly, Cureton is no longer part of the setup at Carrow Road and is now turning out for Exeter City.
Next? Well we’re now in the 2005-06 season. Some bloke called Marlon King got the award that season. We all know what happened to him! If you need reminding, he was injured for a large chunk of the season and all my non WFC supporting mates told me we’d probably have stayed up if he’d been fit all season. Not sure I agree with them. Still, he seemed to believe his own hype and seemed more interested in playing for himself at the beginning of that 2007-08 season, eventually securing an “undisclosed” £3-4million move to Wigan. Did we get any of those add ons? I’m not really sure, but then who does know what happened to a lot of the money coming in around that period?
As for the top scorer in 2004-05. Now we’re getting somewhere! 24 goals in 45 games – same as Danny’s record. He was 23 at the start of the season, only a couple of years younger than Danny at the beginning of this season and had previously plied his trade at a lower level. However, Nathan Ellington had already cost Wigan £1.5m to get this far. At the end of the 2004-05 season West Brom signed Ellington for £3,000,001 – activating the clause in his contract that allowed him to leave for any offer over £3m. And then despite a less than successful time at the Albion, Aidy Boothroyd splashed out an initial £3.5m (rising to £4.5m with add-ons) on the striker.
So does that help put a value on Danny Graham. I don’t think it does!! All these players had different circumstances – age, experience, baggage! I guess that Ellington comes reasonably close. And had Plymouth held onto Ebanks-Blake until the end of the season & sold him to an EPL club in 2008, that might have given us a better idea. What else can we look at? Craig Mackail-Smith of Peterborough is this season’s League One top scorer and he’s being talked about in terms of £3.5m. He only managed 10 goals in the previous season in the Championship, but had a 20+ season the year before back in League One. So with Danny getting his big haul at a higher level in a mid table team, rather than a big fish in a smaller pond, does that make him more valuable? That would put him in the £4-£5m bracket, which is where I had him at the start of this blog piece and is where I think I’d put his value now.
One more reference to use. Last season the League Champions’ leading goalscorer managed 17 league goals. Not as many as Danny, despite playing in the best team in the division. In January 2011, that same player, Andy Carroll, was sold to Liverpool for £35m. Well we can dream can’t we?
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