So according to Tony Xia, there was a £25 million bid for Jordan Amavi. Which is crazy. And according to Xia, Villa turned it down. Which is even crazier.
Don't bother reading this. I can tell we have rejected an offer of £25M for @@JordanAmavi He will grow bigger at @AVFCOfficial ! https://t.co/QahCQ1vOgA— Dr. Tony Xia (@Dr_TonyXia) 27 de diciembre de 2016
Let me stress that again. If this is true, it would be an insane thing to do. That would be the second-biggest fee for a Championship player ever, behind Newcastle's sale of Moussa Sissoko to Spurs - and look who got the best of that deal. Villa signed Amavi for a reported £10 million in July 2015 and he subsequently looked good in attack, a bit dodgy defensively and then really injured for a long time. Not exactly the kind of thing that makes you worth more than twice as much in less than two seasons.
While this season Amavi has come back into the side and performed quite well, a £25 million fee would put him just outside the top 10 most expensive defenders in history. Young defenders with potential might go for astonishing amounts these days (looking at you Stones) but Amavi has hardly done enough to be at that level.
But while a £25 million bid might be unlikely, it's not unthinkable with Chinese clubs paying silly money. And actually, there are some good reasons to turn down even bids which value players too highly.
However before we turn to the good reasons, I want to address two bad ones:
Bad reason no. 1 - We're not a selling/feeder club
More than a few Villa fans celebrated this supposed Amavi news on the basis it shows the days of Villa selling off our best players are over. That's a really bad reason.
Look, I understand - Young, Barry, Milner, Delph, Benteke, Gueye - it's been leg-gnawingly frustrating to see Villa's best run off and join other teams and be replaced by lower quality.
But 'selling club' is a ridiculous simplification of transfer strategy. Teams can't force players to stay, nor can they endlessly convince players the good times are just round the corner. It's a matter of picking the moment correctly, having a structure that can survive the loss of even a key player and lining up possible improvements.
Players are not magic resources whose value can only go up and maintaining their contracts has its own cost - see Darren Bent. Age, injury, off and on field behaviour, all can take their toll. And by holding onto players until they simply can't do the job, what young players lose their opportunity?
Every club should be a selling club when the price is right.
Bad reason no.2 - He has unlimited potential
This is not true. It's not true of any young player. Players have developmental curves and the ability of stars is generally visible from the late teens onwards. Plus £25 million is not a potential price tag, it's a developed player price.
To be fair, this comes with two reservations relevant to Amavi. Development can be thrown off by injury and Amavi had a horrific one. Also, defenders have a more difficult curve to define than attackers, with their performances harder to pin down to metrics.
Still, the Villa management should have a pretty clear idea by now of how they expect Amavi to develop. If, as the speculation goes, the bid is from China, it's probably fair to say it's not based on a serious assessment of his likely development. Villa should have a clear-eyed judgement on where that path is likely to go and if it doesn't look like a £25 million or more player, be ready to act on that assessment.
That judgement might turn out to be wrong - on both sides. Amavi might turn out to be even better than we think, or he might fall short of that. It's a probabilistic judgement, not an absolute one. So long as you get it right more often than not, it's OK to miss a few. But there's no excuse for not making the decision. That's how you end up with a constant stream of young players drifting to the lower leagues for no profit, while the club bleeds money.
No-one has unlimited potential and part of management's job is making a decision based on their own judgement of a player's future.
Tomorrow, I'll tackle the better reasons to turn down an over-valued bid, with a few reservations.