This is quite dangerous as I'm going to stick my neck out and make some predictions. It's dangerous as in the event that I'm wrong, which happens all too often, I will end up with egg on my face. However....
There has been much talk of player sales this summer. Shelvey was sold for just for just over half what we were rumoured to have been offered for him last season, and he was clearly a genuine prospect. It doesn't mean that he'll make it of course as many prospects don't, but for the record I think he will - maybe not in a title winning Liverpool side, but I'd be amazed if he doesn't make it in the Premier League.
Anyway, what does that leave us that we can realistically sell?
I believe that last summer the club tried to sell Bailey and Shelvey to raise funds for new players and to boost the working capital to fund previous and continuing losses. We clearly had more cover in midfield than anywhere else. By the time the 'sale of the club' fell through late summer we had one centre half at the club, no left winger and Burton as the only striker that we could trust to score.
Of course, I have no way of knowing, but I suspect that the takeover was a red herring in the signing of players. I suspect that we needed to sell before we could buy and Bailey and Shelvey were the two that were deemed to be most saleable (Richard Murray confirmed this on more than one occasion) and it was widely known that we wanted to keep Shelvey.
Selling Shelvey was never going to be too difficult. There was always going to be a number of clubs that would be happy to take a punt on him. As I say I could be wrong but I suspect that the £1.7m transfer fee is going to look like a fantastic bargain, and even if not, it's not a great fee for a Premier League club.
Bailey, however, was always going to be a different story. He optimises everything that is wrong with footballers in this modern age. When I say that I do so because he is the opposite of it. The number of players I have seen over the years, and not just playing for us, that have looked like they are not giving 100% is amazing. Bailey always gives 100%. He is an instinctive player, I believe, that doesn't think much about what he does he just gets stuck in and gives it everything. For that he is popular, as most fans can relate to a player that is not hugely gifted but gives 100% as that is what we all believe we would do ourselves.
In my view Bailey's passing can be poor at times and he can be caught in possession in places that are dangerous. I'm not sure he has excelled in the centre, and he is not a natural winger. I believe that his commitment is what keeps him in the side, and won him the Captain's armband. If I'm honest I don't think he is a natural leader. He leads by example, but he doesn't 'Captain' the side like Kinsella or Simon Webster did.
Bailey's biggest failing is his skewed view of the injustices the referees show him. I have never been a fan of players lying on the floor when they are clearly not injured that badly. I also don't like players that chase the Referee to complain about something. Not only does Bailey do this but it is rarely successful. His ability to get up off the floor to chase half the length of the pitch when Orient scored what turned out to be a winning goal, when you'd have thought he was going to have to be carried off until the ball hit the net, is a good example. I know Bailey has scored a number of significant goals for us, but he has also been involved in some that went in the other end.
On the whole Nicky Bailey has been a success at Charlton, and with the exception of a few badly worded comments about leaving (which I suspect were as much to do with his agent) he has shown us a respectable level of loyalty. However, we need to remember that this is a job for him. A career, for sure, but it is how he gets paid, and the club wouldn't think twice about dropping or selling him if it suited them.
So what with happen with our 'most saleable asset' this summer?
Well Middlesborough are being mentioned again. There was talk of him going there last summer, but it didn't happen. I suspect that it's either lazy journalism or a deliberate press release by one of the parties that are involved in Nicky's future. I doubt that this Southerner really wants to move that far North. I could be wrong, but I guess he'd rather go elsewhere.
The real issue is what the financial implications are, both for the player and the club. Bailey has one year left on his contract, which means he can choose where he goes next summer, and probably earn himself an increase in wages in the process. It is widely known that free transfers (that are in demand) end up getting most of the 'saved' transfer fee added to their deal.
So there are two conditions that need to be satisfied. A transfer fee high enough for us to accept needs to be offered and a good enough wage deal to compete with what will be available next summer for a free agent needs to be made to the player. I can't see these two conditions being satisfied.
The snippets that are leaking all seem to point to the fact that our ability to attract players in the last three or four years has been the money we've been paying. Bailey was signed when we were building for a second attempt to win promotion to the Premier League, so he is probably already on high Championship money. In the two years that he has been with us there has been carnage in football finances. I seriously doubt that Bailey is good enough for the Premier League, and I also, personally, doubt that he would make a big difference to the fortunes of a club expecting to finish top six in the Championship, so where would he go?
A move to Southampton has been mentioned, and if Pardew is still there next season, with his spending history, he might get a deal worth having, but would that really be a step up for him? Would he really be offered more than he could get next summer on a free transfer? I also don't know if Southampton would even offer him as much as he's on now - good Championship wages.
Thus it is my belief that Bailey will stay.
I think that same logic applies to Semedo, although I do believe that he is a very good player, and could easily hold his own in the Championship, and could potentially play in the Premier League. With just one year left, however, I think there's a chance that he will choose to stay and prove himself for another season and then get a free move.
Richardson is the other player that is talked about, but he, also has one year left and he signed for us as a free agent so his money is probably too much for a club to match as well as paying a transfer fee.
I'm not sure we have much else that you would imagine could be sold. Sure we could give a few players away, but then we'd need to replace them and that would involve agents fees and there's no guarantee that you would get anyone better for the same money, let alone less, so what's the point?
The football world has changed. Transfer fees for all but the top players have been eroded due to the Bosman rule and the fact that almost all football clubs are needing to cut costs and raise money, not the other way around.
I also have serious doubts that we will be able to shift Mou2kill or McLeod, who's wages are crippling the budget.
What does that mean for our squad, and the club?
I think it means that we will not be able to raise much (any if I'm honest) money this summer and will struggle to reduce the budget of the playing staff and will end up with an unbalanced squad again. More worryingly is that it will probably mean that another injection of capital will be required to bankroll the club through to next summer. I have no idea where that is going to come from.
Either way it looks like we will be 'stuck' with the players that should give us a good chance of being involved in the promotion hunt again, so as long as we can keep the club solvent we should have a good season.
This is, of course, assuming that I'm right. In the event that I'm wrong about the likes of Bailey leaving then everything else I've said will also be rubbish.
Up the Addicks!