When West Ham were relegated the fans were warned to expect the club to lose several of its international players, including some key pieces along the spine of the team, namely Rob Green, Matthew Upson, Scott Parker and Carlton Cole. Whilst it’s difficult (at least for me) to evaluate where the outfield players end up I think the story is different for goalkeepers. Typically teams have two or three, and there are only 20 places in the league for first choice goalkeepers. I’m not sure what price West Ham have in mind but at a guess I’d say the figure is in the region of £7m. I’m also going to guess that Rob Green expects to be the first choice keeper at whichever club he joins.
To identify which teams may be interested I’ve split the premiership teams into three categories depending on how well set they are between the posts
Firstly these are the teams that look to have a clear and/or settled first choice ‘keeper
Blackburn Rovers (Robinson) Bolton Wanderers (Jaaskelainen) Chelsea (Cech) Everton (Howard) Fulham (Schwarzer) Manchester City (Hart) Manchester United (De Gea – providing the deal goes through) Newcastle United (Harper) Stoke City (Begovic/Sorensen) Tottenham Hotspur (Friedel/Gomes) Wigan Athletic (El Habsi)
Next is the group of teams where the ‘keepers appear to be on more shaky ground, or are rumoured as transfer targets
Arsenal (Szcezny) Liverpool (Reina) Sunderland (Gordon/Mignolet) West Bromwich Albion (Carson) Wolverhampton Wanderers (Hennessey/Hahnemann)
Of these I wouldn’t expect Arsenal to consider Green (I don’t actually think Arsenal will look to buy any keepers). Liverpool appear to be going through a movement to get more English players into the set up so that could be a possibility, but only if the rumours that Reina wants to leave are accurate. The persistent rumours coming out of West Brom suggest that Carson is likely gone, and the situation at Sunderland has been up in the air for a couple of seasons. If Wolves were looking to upgrade at the back I don’t think they’d be looking to spend the amount that West Ham are asking.
Which leaves one team that is actively looking
I think this job is going to go to Ben Foster. Common knowledge seems to suggest that Alex McLeish is looking to bring his back room staff with him from Birmingham, with the goalkeeping coach being a part of that package. The rumours that Foster would also move make a lot of sense.
Of the newly promoted teams a dream move back to Norwich could be possible but again money is an issue, plus the fact that they seem pretty settled with Ruddy between the posts. I don’t think QPR or Swansea will actively be looking to change their ‘keepers either – I can’t think of the last time a team was promoted and changed goalies and I doubt this year will be an exception.
So in conclusion there aren’t many starting jobs available in the premier league next season. If West Ham want to sell Rob Green, and it seems they need his salary off the books, then I think they would have to accept a low offer. If Green is determined to play in the premiership he may have to accept a lower salary as well as potentially being the second choice where he goes. An alternative strategy for the club would be to wait to see if injuries hit one of the premier league clubs in August but there’s a lot of risk there.