On Thursday afternoon, Aston Villa owner (and ITK extraordinaire) Tony Xia tweeted a confirmation that an agreement had been reached to allow Joe Bennett to move to Cardiff on a free transfer. Bennett had one year remaining on his contract, after signing a contract extension last summer.
We have agreed to let Joe move to Cardiff for free but not subside any wages . Wish him a bright career there as many SW fans expected!— Dr. Tony Xia (@Dr_TonyXia) August 26, 2016
Bennett’s summer has fraught with speculation on whether he would be staying at or leaving the West Midlands club. After featuring in pre-season, Roberto Di Matteo appeared set to let Bennett leave, with Aly Cissokho the preferred left-back of choice (with Jordan Amavi still appearing to need more match time in the meantime to get up to speed).
When Sheffield Wednesday swooped in for Bennett’s signature, his departure appeared all but confirmed. Well, until Xia blocked his departure at the last minute, noting that not only would Villa have to subsidise his wages to enable to departure, but that he would not allow him to move to a rival competing for promotion.
Simple&fair.We won't pay4him 2play 4others.Either cutting wages 2play 4others or getting full pay by club 2watch. https://t.co/RpSz9my7t0— Dr. Tony Xia (@Dr_TonyXia) August 25, 2016
His action at the 11th hour appeared to oppose the wish of Di Matteo, and is discussed in depth here. Joe Bennett in a tweet also seemed resigned to stay, even though there Xia seemed to suggest in a tweet that he wouldn’t feature in the Villa setup whatsoever this season.
His departure to Cardiff would seem to be a compromise: Bennett would be able to play competitive football this season, Villa would not be sending him to a rival (and also not have to subsidise his wages in the slightest.
Update: Joe Bennett’s move to Cardiff City has been confirmed by both clubs. In Villa’s press release, they detailed that he had “penned a three-year contract in South Wales – subject to international clearance,” and in a separate tweet wished him good luck.
Can you get anymore disrespectful tweeting about a players career like somebody has the last week— Joe Bennett (@JoeBennett27) August 26, 2016
Bennett’s move has been somewhat mired by added ‘drama’ (if you could call it that) between himself and Villa owner, Dr. Tony Xia. The latter also appeared to have deleted two tweets that seemed to be referring to Bennett’s situation. Their final tweets (embedded below) are a bookend on the issue, whatever it was – resolved or not.
Joe just sent a message explaining and apologizing that he meant to some fans annoyed him not me&club. Let's move on and best wishes to him!— Dr. Tony Xia (@Dr_TonyXia) August 26, 2016
My comment yesterday had nothing to do about contracts or fans. It was simply that I didn't want my (cont) https://t.co/hu9kmoqeih— Joe Bennett (@JoeBennett27) August 27, 2016