Time to resist the transfer temptation

by Ben Somerford on Jan 20, 2012

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The inevitable January transfer speculation has rolled on this week with two young Aussies, Rhys Williams and Mathew Leckie linked with moves away from their current clubs. One's getting regular game time, the other isn't, but my advice to the duo, is stay where you are.

Middlesbrough defender/midfielder Williams is reportedly one of the hot properties of English football right now. Ever since the 23-year-old's return from a long-term injury, Middlesbrough have improved from relegation battlers 12 months ago to promotion contenders. That's no coincidence.

There's been links with Liverpool, West Bromwich, Newcastle and Bolton, although the latter are the only club to have officially made a bid for his services and that was more than six months ago.

In the Twitter-sphere and among forums there's been a lot of discussion about Williams jumping at the change to play Premier League with one of these clubs. After all, it's an attractive prospect and the player himself has admitted it's his dream.

However, such a move right now isn't without risk and he's not in a position where he really needs to take that risk.

The risks of a move to a new club include the prospect he may struggle for game time. There are already established players in the club and there's always the transition of moving to a new team, with new team-mates, new coaching staff and a totally new environment. It does take adjusting.

As well, when a club like Bolton or West Brom is mentioned, there's also the threat of relegation.

When you consider Williams is currently getting regular game time at a promotion contender, you begin to ponder, 'why the rush?'.

Indeed, the Perth-born Socceroo has time on his side as he is contracted with Boro until mid-2013. As he's hinted at, his best option is to try and help Middlesbrough gain promotion this season. If they do, brilliant, if they don't, it's time to assess his options.

Some might say, the interest from these Premier League clubs may not always be there, but Williams needs to back himself in this instance.

In many ways, this is the same reason why I believe 20-year-old Mathew Leckie should remain at German Bundesliga outfit Borussia Moenchengladbach.

In case you hadn't read about it, Aberdeen boss Craig Brown has revealed his admiration for Leckie – who scored a double in a pre-season 5-2 win over the Dons. Brown admitted he'd like to sign the Australian who has made only seven cameo appearances off the bench for the Foals.

Typically, the reaction to such interest has been to poke fun at the SPL as an inferior league/bad career choice, as is the way in Australia at the moment with anything British it seems.

However, this interest has opened the discussion on a move for Leckie, perhaps on loan to Germany's second tier as he bids for more game time. After all, when you tally all his subs appearances together, you'll find he's only been on the pitch for 83 minutes this season. But it's worth noting Leckie has been getting some games with Moenchengladbach's II side in Germany's four tier Regionalliga West.

As well, he's done remarkably for his first season in Germany. To think, this time last year he was an A-League player and now he's playing in the Bundesliga - one of the world's strongest competitions - it's quite a feat. He's obviously impressed Foals boss Lucien Favre to have made such an impact, so why stop now?

And with the club's star attacking option Marco Reus leaving for Dortmund at the end of this season, Leckie would be best served hanging around, continuing to impress Favre in training and fighting off competition from players such as Yuki Otsu, to put himself in a good position for next term. Like Williams, in this context Leckie needs to back himself.

Indeed, while sometimes players like new Austria Vienna signing James Holland desperately need a change, others need to hang around and back themselves in for the betterment of their careers.