Liverpool have completed the signing of 18-year-old, Charlton wonderkid Jonjo Shelvey, which will come as a major blow for many Addicks fans.
The Romford-born youngster is set to make the move to Anfield for a fee of £1.7m, with further potential payments depending on domestic and international appearances. Charlton are also hoping to develop a strategic partnership with Liverpool involving the development of players.
Shelvey made his debut for the Addicks in the penultimate game of the 07/08 season against Barnsley, becoming the youngest ever player to play for Charlton aged 16 years and 59 days. Last season Shelvey became Charlton’s youngest-ever goal-scorer when he netted against Norwich in the 3rd round of the FA Cup, 55 days before his 17th birthday. He also finished the season scoring his first league goal for the club in a 3-2 win away at Southampton and he took his tally of the season to four when he netted in draws against Blackpool and Cardiff.
Despite scoring four goals for Charlton in this campaign, Jonjo Shelvey has had a disappointing season. He hasn’t been able to impose himself in many games and a lot of his sublime passing and vision that was witnessed in the Championship last season has been virtually non-existent. Being touted as such a promising youngster and being able to cope with playing against teams in a higher division one would have expected him to be more than comfortable playing against the likes of Exeter for instance. Many times this season he has been over-enthusiastic and tried to do too much rather than play the simple ball, which you can argue is down to his age.
However although Shelvey has had a fairly disappointing campaign, Liverpool have gotten a very good deal out of this transfer. Charlton have an unstable financial situation, which has meant that the club haven’t spent a single penny on transfer fees this season. Liverpool have clearly taken advantage of this fact and as result are getting the player for a cut-price deal and should he not fulfil his potential then Liverpool wouldn’t have wasted a lot of money. Currently Liverpool fans shouldn’t expect too much from Shelvey, as whilst his passing and vision may well be Premier League standard he needs to work on a lot more aspects of his game, so don’t be surprised to see him on loan in the Championship next season.
Whilst this was a good deal for Liverpool, Charlton fans will understandably be upset at the fee being received and losing one of the most promising players the club has ever had. Although Charlton are in financial difficulty, they’re not in the same situation as South London rivals Crystal Palace, who have gone into administration this season and even then managed to sell their most exciting prospect, Victor Moses to Wigan for £2.5m. Surely Charlton could have waited until the summer to sell the player for a better deal, as Charlton could win promotion to the Championship and should that be the case then it would dramatically improve their finances. Although Liverpool are attempting to sweeten the deal with a player development scheme it remains to be seen just how useful that will be to Charlton. After all the club had similar arrangements with Inter Milan and Valencia and yet neither Christian Vieri or David Silva were ever seen pitched up at The Valley.
What makes this worse for Charlton is that Chelsea offered £3.5m for Shelvey last season which the club turned down. Also after Fabian Delph was sold to Aston Villa this summer from Leeds for £8m, Charlton manager Phil Parkinson said: “I’ve seen a lot of Delph and I would put Jonjo ahead of him. Delph went for £8million and Jonjo, in my eyes, is a better player.”
Although Charlton did well in selling Scott Parker to Chelsea and Darren Bent to Tottenham, the club have under-sold many players in recent years. The last notable one being Madjid Bougherra, who Rangers signed for £2.5m which is what Charlton paid to buy him from Sheffield Wednesday, now the Algerian defender is being linked with moves to Barcelona and various clubs in the Premiership.
Unfortunately the reality is that Charlton will always be a selling club, but at least this sale shouldn’t disrupt the team too much like previous sales such as Scott Parker and Andy Reid have done. One glimmer of hope the fans have is that Liverpool might be kind enough to allow Jonjo Shelvey to return on loan next season, however whether or not that happens remains to be seen.