“Martin O’Neill is a great manager but everyone makes mistakes.” That was Gary Cahill speaking in October of last year, following his first England call-up. The implication being that Cahill, sold to Bolton for £5million in January 2008, was worth keeping hold of. In the light of his first England cap on Friday, and his performances in a Bolton shirt since moving north, he might just have a point. Especially in the wake of recent interest from Italian giants Inter Milan.
Rafael Benitez’s interest comes, I’d imagine, from his familiarity with Premier League football, rather than Cahill’s decent substitute performance in his England debut against Bulgaria last week. But Benitez is not alone in his interest in the centre-back. Manchester United and Arsenal are both known to be keeping tabs on Cahill, and if Benitez does wish to move for him in January, then it won’t necessarily be a straightforward deal.
Cahill’s first international cap triggered a clause in his contract that means he can leave Bolton should somebody come in with an offer of £17.5million. Which, let’s face it, isn’t peanuts. Is Cahill really worth such an amount? Arsene Wenger is hardly known for splashing wild amounts of cash, and Sir Alex Ferguson, for all his protestations about the lack of “value” in the transfer market, quite clearly has his hands tied by United’s current financial predicament. So Inter would appear to be best-placed to sign Cahill. Bolton boss Owen Coyle appeared concerned about the interest surrounding his player. I’m sure he wouldn’t baulk at the prospect of having £17.5million to pump into his squad, but the Scot said:
“There will come a day, and I hope it doesn’t come in January, that Gary Cahill will probably outgrow this football club given the finance involved in it. I firmly believe he could play for any of the top four clubs. And if that day comes, Gary would go with our blessing. He has been a terrific servant. The reason those clubs are in for him is because he has been playing consistently well for me as a manager. I have always said I have no qualms with anyone, as long as they pour their heart and soul into their job. And if that’s the case, then he would go with my blessing.”
Coyle’s quote here doesn’t exactly come across as what Football Manager might refer to as a ‘hands-off warning’. So is all this talk generated through a desire for Coyle to have a few quid to spend at Bolton? Or is this going to be one of the biggest transfers of the January window?
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