Port Vale’s faith in youth could still pay off for Norman Smurthwaite

Port Vale’s faith in youth could still pay off for Norman Smurthwaite

Trusting in youngsters could see a big money sale plus the possibility of more to come says OVF editor Rob Fielding.

Rob Fielding writes…

Despite the poor run of form on the pitch recently, I do think it’s worthwhile to highlight a positive aspect of this season’s many changes. I am talking about Vale’s increasing focus on developing and playing young talent.

Vale can always expect to be a selling club but in recent years it has often been on the cheap, so it’s good news that Norman Smurthwaite recently told BBC Radio Stoke that expected Premier League interest in young star Nathan Smith could net the club “a great deal of recompense.”

Arguably the “recompense” would be considerably less had Smith not agreed a new three-year deal earlier this season…

Arguably the “recompense” would be considerably less had Smith not agreed a new three-year deal earlier this season. I have long argued that Vale need to secure their best talent and now that both Nathan Smith and Jak Alnwick are on long-term deals, the club can expect to get a decent price should either be sold.

If Vale can obtain a decent price for Nathan Smith then it will a validation of their trust in youngsters this season. Smurthwaite has indicated that Smith may go in the next transfer window and during the same period he would like to bring Alex Jones to the club on a permanent basis. This is a wise move and echoes the transfer dealings of John Rudge some years back (sell one star for a big transfer fee and bring in a promising newcomer at the same time).

Jones may not be ready to walk into the Birmingham City side right now but he is a good forward at League One level and has great potential. If Smith is sold, Vale have cover at centre-half (with Kjell Knops and Calvin Mac-Intosch) and will still have three promising youngsters in Alnwick, Streete and (hopefully) Jones. And that’s not including the potential of some of the continental additions such as Seb Amoros, Miguel Santos and Anthony Defreitas.

A quick word on Remie Streete. His progress this season has been overshadowed by defensive partner Smith but he also needs to be offered a new deal. Streete is only 22 and also has potential to play at a higher level. He’s surely worth a new two-year contract. Sign him up Vale!

In future years, Vale may be potentially looking at transfer income in the hundreds of thousands…

In future years, Vale may be potentially looking at transfer income in the hundreds of thousands if the likes of Alnwick, Smith, Streete and Jones all fulfill their potential and are purchased by other clubs. It is of course not as simple as that. Trusting in youth is a game of luck. There is still the chance of losing promising talent for peanuts (Andoh, Hugill etc), seeing players tipped for the top not make it (Lewis Bergin, Jonny Kapend, Aziz Deen-Conteh etc) or watching talent disrupted by injury (Andoh again, or from further back Brian Mills)

However, like in the Rudge days, if you trust in your judgement and accept that not all young players will get there, you will still hopefully make plenty of money if one or two from the group do make it.

It’s a sensible policy and one that could benefit Vale both on and off the pitch for years to come.

 

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