Portsmouth are currently finding life in the Premier League very unforgiving. The south coast club are not only bottom of the table but are also involved in an ongoing financial battle and face a tough fight against both relegation and bankruptcy. The last few days have seen several further twists in what has been a dramatic saga with Udinese reportedly ready to sue Avram Grant’s side. The Italian clubs are unhappy over the 2007 transfer involving Sulley Muntari with Pompey missing outstanding payments to the club believed to be around £700,000. The news of further financial problems have caused Portsmouth to consider pushing for the departure of star goalkeeper David James and his proposed loan move to Stoke is supposedly back on.
There is no doubt that James is one of Portsmouth’s key players and the news of his impending departure will not have gone down well with the Pompey faithful however, would it really be the end of the world if he left?
Although James is still one of the finest keepers in the Premier League, he has found himself sidelined with injury for the majority of the last few months and his playing time has been limited. The England keeper has not appeared for the south-coast club since the 1-1 draw with Sunderland back in early December and his understudy Asmir Begovic has been deputising.
Now strength in depth is certainly not a term that you would associate with Portsmouth at the moment and their current league position speaks volumes about the size of their squad however, they have more than adequate cover for the number one jersey. The Bosnian shot stopper may just be 22 years of age but he has impressed every time he has been called upon this season and looks more than comfortable playing under the pressures of the Premier League.
Begovic has already contributed to the 14 points that the south-coast side currently hold. The game against Burnley, for example, on paper will look like a comfortable 2-0 home win however, that does not tell the full story. Begovic made a string of stunning saves with the deadlock yet to be broken and the result could easily have been different had the Bosnian not tipped wide Steven Fletcher’s excellent left-footed volley.
The key factor in the transfer lies in the detail that it is a loan deal. Portsmouth would not be losing James for good and it is a deal that could work for both parties. James is eager to prove his fitness and for solid first team football in order to stake his claim for a place on the plane to South Africa whereas Pompey can no longer afford the shot stoppers £50,000 a week wages. James is one of the highest earners at Fratton Park and removing him from the wage bill would go a significant way in helping their financial problems.
Whilst I do not believe Pompey must relinquish James, it would certainly not be the worst thing in the world, which is how it is being viewed by some Portsmouth fans. The club have adequate cover in the promising Begovic and they must attempt to at least partly solve their financial issues before they can fully concentrate on Premier League survival.
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