It is a move that Wycombe Wanderers fans feared but cannot begrudge. After recent speculation linking young star Matt Phillips with a host of high-profile clubs, it is with a heavy heart that the fans wave good-bye to their most recent prodigy; as he heads to Premier League new boys Blackpool.
Many fans, Wycombe or otherwise, would have liked to have seen a player of Phillips’ potential grow in the lower leagues, perhaps showing a loyalty to the team where he was nurtured through the ranks; such a place where he would grow physically and mentally as a player and get further games under his belt.
But when a top flight club comes knocking it is difficult to stand in the way of such talent, and both manager and chairman understand the hunger Phillips has to succeed as he leaves with their blessing: "It's a great opportunity for Matty to play in the Premier League,” said manager Gary Waddock.
"He's an outstanding prospect and I'm sorry to lose him, but it's a great move for him and excellent business for the football club."
Wanderers’ owner Steve Hayes echoed the sentiment, telling wwfc.com: "We didn't want Matty to leave, but how could we deny him the chance to further his career by moving to a Premier League club?”
Further to the opportunity for Phillips the deal was also good business for the club, as they saw £325,000 up front, with a further £375,000 cash injection payable should Blackpool maintain their Premier League status or return to the top flight within four years.
Despite not being a regular in the Wanderers’ side, the 19-year-old has come a long way in a short space of time. Not only has he appeared for his country in the under-19s European Championship, but also got his name on the score sheet.
It is, however, the hefty sell-on clause Wycombe negotiated for the winger that makes this good business, as Blackpool may well be regarded as a stepping stone in Phillips’ career.
Phillips’ farewell came in the last week’s goalless draw against Oxford United, where he played the full 90 minutes. The fans will be disappointed that there was not a chance for a proper send-off but will hope he has an impact at Blackpool, when given the chance.
The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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