Joe Allen to Swansea City is a transfer story to keep an eye on this summer.
A reunion with his boyhood club has romantic connotations, but when one also inspects the facts and figures behind a deal, it actually makes a lot of sense. You can read more about that here. His pal and former team-mate, Owain Tudur Jones, has lifted the lid on the details of a transfer, which would see the 32-year-old take a paycut to return to south Wales, something he is willing to do, he believes.
Indeed, Allen had already told his friend that he wanted to head home previously. Allen was at Liverpool at the time and in the January ahead of the Euros in 2016, he wrote an email to his agent asking him to facilitate a move back to Wales. As we all know, it didn’t quite work out as planned, with Mark Hughes and Stoke City swooping in for the midfielder.
He’s now out of contract with the Potters after six years at the bet365 Stadium, and Swansea are keen on him, again. And his words from four years ago reveal he had a longing to re-sign for the club he joined as a kid.
“We go back to my last season at Liverpool. We got to January, I started one league game in December and had done 10 league games in a row as an unused sub. I think it was fair to say the writing was on the wall,” he said on The Longman’s Football World podcast back in 2018.
“We got to January, I spoke to (Jurgen) Klopp and probably about 10 days before the end of the transfer window said I wanted to leave, I probably went a bit early with it because it wasn’t as if I had options. I just wanted to let him know, could we sort this out.
“Then I remember, it was a time of a lot of soul searching and anyway I looked at it – potential moves, who might be interested and who definitely won’t be – and I remember writing an email or a letter to my agent explaining that ‘I keep coming back to Swansea, that’s all I really want. I want to go home and I want to play for them. If they want me can we try and make it happen?’
“Klopp had said ‘if we can get someone in then you can go’. That was pretty straightforward, but he did say ‘we don’t have anyone lined up, so if we don’t (get someone) you are staying’. So that was the situation, I think Huw (Jenkins) was interested in it. January is always an awkward time for any club, most of them have probably done their business in the summer.
“At that time if you look at how my career was going, the value probably would not have cost anywhere near as much as it did in the summer, only six months later. So that was the first one, and January didn’t really happen. But Swansea had said: ‘Let’s keep an eye on this and wait until the summer’.
“Then the second half of the season went much better, I played more, enjoyed it more. But it was almost that final hurrah as I always knew that come the summer I had a year left on my deal. Basically a year before Liverpool had said they wanted to extend my deal and get it sorted. A year later, I had not heard anything. I think it’s fair to say there was a U-turn on that decision.”
His tremendous form in France meant his price tag increased, which chucked a spanner in the works as far as Swansea were concerned. No bid had been put in for him before the tournament, and by the time his former club had submitted an offer, Liverpool were able to play hardball.
“Then it was straight to the Euros, and I was keen to get it done. Why wait? I was hoping again for Swansea,” he continued.
“It’s ironic, but in January I had said it was Swansea and there were two other teams who, if they showed an interest, I would probably be interested in. They were Stoke and Southampton, I thought they were two stable Premier League clubs.
“Basically, the Euros started and there was nothing from Swansea and we played the two games and after the England game they tabled a bid. The problem was that by this stage I had had two good games at the Euros. Liverpool as a business were thinking ‘his value has increased now’ so probably waiting made it more difficult.
“You get it second hand but I don’t think Swansea were that far off, but Swansea probably thought ‘we’re not getting the best deal here, we’ll wait’. The Euros happened and the rest is history and that’s when Stoke tabled a bit which was higher, Liverpool accepted that bid and said until this is matched we are rejecting all other bids.
“It was not as close as people think. Some people think I could have gone to Swansea but chose not to but it was not a case of that, it just did not quite happen. Swansea had the takeover happening at the time, there was a lot going on there in terms of who was staying and who was going and the rest of it. It was now or never for me, so that didn’t happen and I signed for Stoke.”
Four years on from speaking to his former team-mate, there remains an appetite to finally bring Allen home. Swansea head coach Russell Martin is keen on making it become a reality, and it is understood Allen himself is up for it too.
It appears unlikely that Swansea will make the same mistake again in not firming up their interest in the Pembrokeshire product. Where issues may arise is with other teams rivalling their attempts to seal the capture of what promises to be one of the most popular transfers of the summer.
As Jones said this week, this is a “massive opportunity” that Swansea cannot afford to miss.