The 2022 summer transfer window will be hugely important if Wigan Athletic are to consolidate themselves as a Championship club once again. In previous seasons we’ve gone out and signed half a squads worth of players and the lack of consistency and cohesion has cost us over the course of the year.
In 2016 the summer window saw 12 players arrive at the DW Stadium, most of whom failed to live up to the expectations and weren’t able to keep us up. We also made a quite frankly ridiculous 13 January signings, 8 of which came in on Deadline Day which did little to help our survival battle.
2 years later under Paul Cook’s leadership we brought 11 new players into the club, thankfully there were less ‘duds’ but again we struggled in the Championship despite how dominant we’d been the season before. Had it not been for the brilliance of Reece James we might not have stayed up despite the investments we made in our side.
It is worth noting that in both our previous League 1 winning seasons we relied far more on loan players than we have done this time around. We signed 4 players on loan this season; Curtis Tilt joined permanently in January, Glen Rea picked up a season ending injury and returned to his parent club in March, Tom Bayliss played a bit part role in a season blighted by niggles and Kell Watts found himself in and out of the side over the course of the year.
This means there aren’t any huge gaps left by departing loanees that need plugging, and given the fact most of the squad only joined this season you wouldn’t expect a huge amount of outgoings either. Therefore, this season is about sensibly upgrading key areas of the pitch to ensure Championship survival and building a squad capable of pushing on in years to come.
Over the coming weeks I’ll be looking at key areas of Latics’ squad that could be improved on in the summer. I tweeted out asking for suggestions and the most common answers were:
- Right Back
- Centre Back (Ideally Left Sided)
- Playmaking Midfielder
- Wide Attacker
The profile of players I will be focusing on are as follows:
- Based in the UK – Brexit has led to a change in work permit rules which makes signing unproven foreign players much more difficult. We also have an English speaking squad and manager so it makes sense to keep it this way.
- Aged 27 and below – Our side already has a wealth of experience so acquiring more of it isn’t vital. There will be a few exceptions to this rule but on the whole I want to look at players approaching their primes with plenty of sell on value.
- Market Value below £2 Million – Our most expensive buy in the Championship, not including seasons where we had Parachute Payments, is Josh Windass who set us back just over £2 million including clauses according to Transfermarkt. I don’t expect us to spend higher than that this season and will therefore be focusing on players who should be available for less than this figure.
- Experience playing 4-2-3-1 or 3-5-2 – These are the 2 formations I expect us to use the most next season and therefore having players that are comfortable playing in them is preferable and will be considered when identifying targets.
- Statistical standouts – I’ll be using a mixture of data and footage to identify players that could work in our side in their specific roles. For example when looking at a Right Back I will look at what Tendayi Darikwa is expected to do in our system and find players that do these things well.
It goes without saying that I’m no expert, I have no experience in football recruitment or scouting and I’m obviously not being asked to do this by the club. (Although if they want to I’d be happy to help!) These are my thoughts based on data on Wyscout, FBREF, Fotmob and Whoscored and footage on Youtube and IFollow as well as any occasions I might’ve seen the players mentioned play live in the flesh.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be researching and writing up 5 separate posts covering the 5 requested positions and will do my best to highlight some ‘Sensible Transfers’ for Wigan Athletic to make.