WIGAN ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 05: James McCarthy of Wigan Athletic celebrates after scoring to make it 1-1 during the Barclays Premier League match between Wigan Athletic and Blackburn Rovers at DW Stadium on February 5 2011 in Wigan England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Lost in all of the big exciting news involving you know who were some interesting rumours about a player closer to home. According to some, James McCarthy's contract talks with Wigan Athletic have hit a snag, and now several teams are smelling around the 20-year-old midfielder, including Arsenal, Liverpool and - apparently - Chelsea FC. There's a good reason that McCarthy might be drawing so much attention, and that's because he's a lovely little midfielder who can play virtually anywhere on the pitch.
In fact, there were some fans who were actually rooting for Wigan to go down on the last day of the season just so as to free up McCarthy for a purchase, and while I wasn't one of them (when Roberto Martinez is sad, I am sad) I certainly like McCarthy plenty. However, that doesn't mean I think he's a Chelsea-calibre player. He's got bags of potential, but it's hard to imagine him displacing anyone in the team right now, and he won't be homegrown after this season*, so it'd be hard to paint him as a sure thing for the future.
*It's slightly strange to me that Scottish players aren't home-grown but Welsh players are, but hey, we'll roll with it.
Wigan's price is around £15M, which is pricy for someone who's no sure thing. Yeah, McCarthy's done relatively well in the Premier League, but it's easier to stand out when you're playing for, well, Wigan. It's vaguely amusing that he's being linked to Liverpool - the only reason the Reds would buy him is if Damien Comolli has somehow snapped and started to confuse midfielders for Pokemon - but Arsenal seem a little more reasonable, should Cesc Fabregas be on his way to Barcelona.
Realistically, I can see McCarthy having the talent to make it on a big team, but, somewhat paradoxically, not if he goes to one now. If his contract with Wigan falls through, he'd be better off going to one of the mid-tier sides (say, Bolton or Aston Villa) and developing as a starter there. Sticking him behind Ramires and Michael Essien in the depth chart simply doesn't do him or Chelsea any good.
Before we'd bought Oriol Romeu off Barcelona, I'd have been a little more open to a potential move. Now? Eh. I don't think it's a particular wise idea. Am I completely mis-judging McCarthy here, guys?