As the start of pre-season training for many European teams draws closer, many of the elite clubs in Europe are being linked with some of the world’s best footballers. However, there’s an interesting transfer story developing in England, involving a player from the English third tier and one of the biggest and best clubs in European football.
According to reports, Bayern Munich have made an official bid for League One side Tranmere Rovers star teenager Dale Jennings. Unsurprisingly, Jennings is eager to make a move to one of Europe’s best clubs and it looks likely this move will happen as soon as the clubs negotiate a deal. Bayern’s initial bid was supposed to be a relatively modest initial fee with add-ons based on appearances. However, Tranmere apparently turned down a bid of £600,000 from a Premier League team (believed to be Everton) earlier in the season, want a larger upfront payment, but they won’t stand in Jennings’ way by demanding anything unreasonable.
Tranmere manager Les Parry said "It's not just paper talk, they have put a bid in, I'm not too sure how close it is but it's moving along. They're keen to get him over there and it's a great move."fficeffice" />
"Like with all transfer deals, they say they'll give us a penny and we say we want three and then we’ll fight over the difference and that's where it's at, at the moment.
I've spoken to him and he's interested - who wouldn't be? If you look back at the number of young players who have had the chance to go abroad to one of the giants of Europe, there are very few English players who have done that. It's a fantastic opportunity for him."
Jennings is an 18 year old who can play up front or on the wing. He was released by Liverpool and signed for Tranmere (Tranmere is on the opposite side of the River Mersey to Liverpool) a few years ago. He broke into the Tranmere team the season just gone and has made a big impression. Jennings is extremely quick, which is always useful for a player but is not rare, but what sets him apart from many other players is that he can maintain that speed with the ball at his feet, which is a much rarer attribute.
Jennings broke into the Tranmere team last September and immediately caught the eye. I was there for his debut and for his breakout game when he destroyed MK Dons (one of League One’s stronger teams) almost single-handedly, scoring two goals, in only his sixth start. That was the performance that made clubs sit up and take notice of him, sending scouts coming from far and wide to watch him and he would have had them salivating after this goal against Plymouth.
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axnY3auosDU&feature=related"]YouTube - Tranmere - Plymouth.mp4[/ame]
After Christmas, he suffered a few injuries, which hampered his form, but he had still done enough to win the League One Apprentice of the Year award, beating the £10m rated Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain of Southampton.
Jennings has the raw skills to make it at the highest level but he needs a lot of refining if he is to become a player for one of Europe’s top clubs. Obviously it is a huge step-up from the English third tier to the Bundesliga but Bayern have a reserve team, Bayern Munich II, that plays in the Regionalliga (the German 4th tier), which has been used as a proving ground for many of Bayern’s current star players and Jennings would be able to hone his game and learn the way Bayern play.
This could turn into a great move for all parties. Jennings would not command a huge transfer fee so it isn’t a tremendous risk for Bayern in buying him, but there is potentially a huge upside if he develops into a top-level player. Tranmere, who are a cash-strapped club with a tiny budget even by League One standards, would welcome the transfer fee, and I’m sure that there’ll be a sell-on clause in the deal giving Tranmere a percentage of any fee Bayern receive for him in the future, which could provide a big financial boost for Tranmere.
This would also be a no-lose situation for Jennings. He may find himself playing for one of Europe’s biggest clubs. The worst-case scenario for him is that things don’t work out in Germany and he returns to England. But even if that happens, he’ll have benefitted from a much higher level of coaching and conditioning that he’d have received at Tranmere and be a better player for it. Also getting to train with and learn from some of the best players in the world in his position like Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery will definitely help his development.
There has been a late twist to this transfer as it is being reported that West Ham have made a bid for Jennings, believed to be about £1.4m. While I think that Bayern is Jennings preferred destination, that sort of money would be very hard for Tranmere to turn down.
Whatever happens with this transfer (I’m rooting for Jennings to move to Bayern), it is good to see that the best clubs are scouting in the English lower leagues and it must be a tremendous incentive for young players in the lower tiers, especially players who suffered the disappointment of being released by a Premier League club at a young age, to see that if they play well, there’s a chance they’ll be spotted by a top club.