This article forms part of our Profit Players feature series, which is where Football Transfer Tavern takes a look at how well a player has fared since being signed or sold, using statistical figures and statements from pundits to prove how good of a deal the club managed to achieve.
“I probably wouldn’t have left if they had offered me the contract they said they were going to offer me earlier.”
That was Luke Freeman’s reflection on leaving Bristol City in January 2017 (as per Bristol Live), with QPR the beneficiaries as they swooped to sign the attacking midfielder for the measly sum of £315,000 (as per TransferMarkt).
He had endured a frustrating first half of the 2016/17 at Ashton Gate, scoring just twice in 21 games and failing to provide even one assist. In his first four months in west London, he plundered another couple of goals and also supplied four assists in the space of 16 matches (as per TransferMarkt). The change of scenery seemed to be doing him plenty of good.
Freeman’s early promise didn’t diminish in his first full season at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium – far from it. He started 43 of QPR’s 46 Championship matches that term, helping himself to five goals and a very impressive tally of 13 assists – only two players recorded more and they both ended the campaign with 14.
The former Arsenal youth player posted a distinguished match average of 2.4 key passes in the 2017/18 season and also averaged 2.4 shots per game, attesting to his creative aptitude and confidence in taking on opportunities when they presented themselves. He also completed three dribbles per game, again marking him out as a player with plenty of self-belief to take on and beat opponents. [via WhoScored]
Already the Hoops’ investment of just £315,000 looked like an absolute steal and Freeman had another impressive campaign in 2018/19, ending the season with nine goals and eight assists in 48 matches in all competitions. His shots per game and key passes per game averages both fell to two, although those figures were still more than respectable.
Fans of the R’s certainly appreciated what he brought to the team as he was named the Supporters’ Player of the Year, along with winning the Players’ Player of the Year prize. However, with the Londoners finishing a lowly 19th in the Championship, and after two-and-a-half stellar seasons for QPR, interest would surely have been drummed up in offering him a higher platform on which to perform.
It duly arrived in the form of Sheffield United, who were preparing for their return to the Premier League after finishing second in the Championship. In July 2019, Freeman took the opportunity to try his luck in the top flight and joined the Blades for £5.04m (as per TransferMarkt), a fee which represented a 1500% profit for the R’s compared to what they paid for him.
Do you think QPR sold Luke Freeman at the right time?
The View From website featured online comments from QPR supporters informing their Sheffield United counterparts of what they could expect from Freeman, with compliments such as “good attitude”, “tricky feet”, “terrific energy” and “our best player by a country mile” being offered.
Just as the R’s did great business in buying the 28-year-old so cheaply, hindsight has shown that they have done well to recoup what they did for Freeman last summer. Although he briefly became the Blades’ record signing, he has struggled for recognition under Chris Wilder this season, starting only three Premier League games and making just 10 appearances in the division without scoring or contributing to a goal (as per TransferMarkt).
In terms of both the purchase and sale of Freeman, QPR got it spot on.
QPR fans, how good do you think Freeman was in his time at the club? Comment below with your views!
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