News broke yesterday that Jem Karacan has completed his free transfer to Galatasaray and the reaction between fans has been mixed. I'll start off by saying that I’m not intentionally criticising Jem, as he has been a great servant to the club for eight years and given fans some performances to remember. However, I’m not sure whether I’m in the minority or majority when I say that I don’t mind seeing him go. Perhaps if he had been a regular for the past few years, but 36 league starts in three seasons means that we won't miss him as much as many people think that we will.
This is especially the case because of the large amount of midfielders we already have at the club. Danny Williams and Oliver Norwood are as good as, if not better than, Karacan, whilst we’ve got great young talent coming through in the shape of Aarons Kuhl and Tshibola. Furthermore, the new signing of Stephen Quinn from Hull City adds another midfielder to ranks and is the perfect replacement for Karacan as he plays with a very similar style. A poll on the Tilehurst End showed that over half of you didn’t see central midfielders as a priority position this summer, so losing one isn’t that bad.
As I touched on earlier, Jem’s troubles with injuries have kept him out of the side in recent years. It’s for this reason that the club offered him a pay-as-you-play deal as Steve Clarke revealed a few weeks ago. I agree completely with the club on this. You can’t offer a player who has been out injured for a long a time a three year contract because who is to say he won't get injured again? As with many players, Karacan was on ‘Zingarevich wages’, which the club clearly couldn't afford to renew in the Championship with FFP looming large. Especially when he’s been out for so long, it would be a risk giving Karacan a longer and more expensive contract.
Karacan revealed that he turned down a contract offer from the club because he wanted to feel "valued". Firstly, he was the club captain so should already feel valued, and secondly the club must have explained to him that they physically could not pay him more. Galatasaray clearly can because they are a Champions League club, and that’s one of the reasons why Jem has decided to move there. But looking at the Turkish club’s squad, I can see no way that he will be starting every week with competition from seasoned internationals such as Wesley Sneijder.
I like Jem as a player and a person, but I think things have perhaps become a little bit sour with all the speculation surrounding him. Was he getting too big for his boots at the club? Perhaps not, but he was far from our best player and has barely played in the last few years, so what the club are offering him is entirely reasonable. Moving to the Galatasaray may be a dream move, but how often will he get to pull on the yellow and orange stripes?
I didn’t want to be critical of Karacan as I'm sure he is a great person as his leaving message to fans showed, but I think he needed to realise where was better for his career, where he will play more and where the fans will be more supportive and give him more time. I may be completely wrong, and a fresh start might be completely what he needs. He has chosen to move on, so good luck to him and thank you. But we can cope without him and are not missing anything special by letting him go. If it was the Jem Karacan of three or four years ago, my views would perhaps be different, but at this moment in time he is a risk too big to take.