The days of big-spending at Queens Park Rangers have been consigned to the history books for a number of years now, but that’s arguably brought around as many positives as negatives.
Bi-annual pushes for promotion after a Premier League relegation may no longer be the norm at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium as the club’s hierarchy now look for a more organic route to the top-flight, yet there’s plenty to get excited about.
As a result, several impressive homegrown talents have risen through the ranks of the west London outfit, while their work in the transfer market has also become far more astute.
QPR had almost become a byword for ageing high-profile stars looking for a final paycheque between 2010 and 2015, with the likes of Jose Bosingwa, Rio Ferdinand and Julio Cesar failing to produce anywhere near their best form for the Hoops.
Now though, the second-tier side have become an efficient force off the field and continue to make progress through solid signings bought using the proceeds of lucrative sales.
The sale of Eberechi Eze was the prime example of QPR’s new business model, but Luke Freeman’s departure 12 months earlier was perhaps the first significant exit.
Newly-promoted Sheffield United forked out a reported £5.04 million fee to prise the versatile midfielder away from Mark Warburton’s charges after an outstanding 2018/19.
In 48 appearances in all competitions, Freeman bagged nine goals and provided a further eight assists for his teammates, catching the eye of former Blades boss Chris Wilder.
“He’s one of the best players in the Championship, and he can play in a number of positions,” said Wilder at Freeman’s unveiling. “Luke is ideal to complement what we already have at the club, I think he will be a good fit for us.”
However, things didn’t work out as planned for the now 29-year-old after his move to Bramall Lane.
Freeman started just three top-flight fixtures during his maiden campaign in south Yorkshire before spending the entirety of 2020/21 on loan at Nottingham Forest in the Championship.
And although he’s been reinstated into Sheffield United’s first-team setup this term following their relegation, the Englishman finds himself on the periphery of Slavisa Jokanovic’s thinking having not been included in his last eight matchday squads.
As a direct consequence of Freeman’s lack of action and drop-off in form, his market value has plummeted to just £1.8m despite the engine room operator being in his prime years.
It will leave the QPR chiefs delighted that they sold the Premier League flop when they did, receiving what now appears to be a huge fee for a player that is already in decline.
And, in other news…15 duels won: £13k-p/w QPR beast who made seven tackles shone against Forest