Sheffield Wednesday fans were shocked to hear the other day that Brentford had made a bid to sign Barry Bannan.
The reason for the shock was not because they believe Bannan is a poor player. Other than a vocal minority, Bannan is one of the most well-liked players at Hillsborough even through last season which got pretty toxic at times for the Owls. He is often the hardest worker on the pitch, one of the few criticisms aimed his way is that he works too hard and is out of position because of it, and his pass distribution is one of the best in the division. When Garry Monk took the decision to strip Tom Lees of the captaincy and give Bannan the armband, no one disagreed. And when you get praise from Pep Guardiola of all people, you obviously have some talent.
Because of all of this, the vast majority of Wednesday fans do not want to sell him. While the midfield looks better than it has for a long time with Massimo Luongo and Izzy Brown starting the season well, everything revolves around the energy and dynamism that Bannan gives the team. Youngsters like Alex Hunt and Fisayo Dele-Bashiru will probably be able to replace Bannan in the long run but not many would say they are ready to step into such a crucial role especially with Wednesday being in such a perilous position due to their points deduction.
But there is an argument to selling Bannan now. A good one as well, one which might make you think even if you are solidly in the keep Bannan camp. Though as we don’t know the fee that Brentford offered for the Scottish international, this does depend on that bid actually being something to shout about rather than a derisory small one.
Right now, Bannan is probably at the peak of his career in terms of what he brings to the game. He is 30-years-old and it is likely that his decline will start soon. In a purely business aspect, this becomes the best time to part with the player. His value won’t be higher than it is now and the cash raised by the sale can be used to invest, either in a replacement or in another area of the pitch. In terms of Financial Fair Play, the words which can make any Wednesday vomit on cue, Bannan’s likely to one of the highest earners in the squad so moving him on with a fee to boot would be great for the books.
You also have to consider the risk of losing Bannan on a free transfer. His contract is set to expire next summer and if Wednesday do get relegated, which considering they are still on -7 points is still the most likely endpoint of the season, he is going. Bannan with all his ability is not going to League One, especially with the wage cap they have in that division. Even if Wednesday do stay up and the interest from Brentford is still there, Bannan would probably move. This hurts as a Wednesday fan to say but at this moment in time, a move to Brentford is a better option than a move to Wednesday. They are more likely to get promoted have all the momentum in the world at the moment. If you are going to lose Bannan on a free next season anyway, it might be tempting to get some cash now.
But a lot of these reasons are purely business reasons rather than footballing reasons, mostly because there aren’t any footballing reasons to sell Bannan. He is one of Wednesday’s best players, if not the best, is a leader amongst the playing squad and brings something to every game. There is no one on the market who could replace him and it would be unfair to pile the pressure of this season on the young shoulders of Hunt or Dele-Bashiru. Selling Bannan would be a huge blow to the playing squad and increase the risk of relegation.
The decision to sell or keep Bannan will show if the owner Dejphon Chansiri has his business head or football on. If his business head is on, Bannan is soon going to be looking for a home in West London as from a financial point of view, it makes complete sense. If his football head is on, Bannan isn’t going anywhere as it would be insane to let one of your best players go.
Let’s see what happens.