You never want to lose one of your best players and it was understandable that new Blackburn (and former Burnley, Bolton and Wigan) manager Owen Coyle, did not want to lose Grant Hanley, who was also the captain of Rovers.
But Grant wanted to join Newcastle and Rafa Benitez – in what the Magpies manager calls his exciting new project at the club – also called the Rafa Revolution or more simply the Rafalution.
Once Newcastle kept coming back, the Blackburn owners finally agreed to sell their star for around £5.5M, after bids of £3.5M and £4.5M were summarily turned down.
Grant Hanley – hopefully he will be smiling soon?
We are still surprised we got Grant so cheaply given his experience in the Championship – and that he can still improve a lot under Benitez, but there are probably some add-ons to that initial £5.5M fee.
Owen Coyle has today talked in the Lancashire Telegraph about his losing battle to keep Grant at the former Premier League Champions:
“It’s like anything else – we all know that Grant’s a very good player and I said that we certainly didn’t want to lose any of those players.”
“Newcastle were very persistent and kept coming back with offer after offer, and Grant told us that he wanted to go, that he wanted that move to Newcastle.”
“As a manager, you want players who want to be at your club.”
“He’s been here as a kid and he’s been a very good servant to the club, and equally, Blackburn Rovers have been very good to Grant Hanley.”
“That’s with giving him his chance and looking after him with contracts through the years.”
“So that’s the point it got to. It came to the offer they made and it was accepted by the owners and that’s where we are.”
It had been reported that Grant was keen to sign for Newcastle, but you never really know whether those reports are really accurate.
But it does seem Grant was keen to sign on, so he also acted professionally while still at Blackburn – that’s good for him and shows good character and professionalism.
With Jamaal Lascelles looking better in every game and likely to be Newcastle’s new (young) captain for the coming season, Grant will likely fight it out with Chancel Mbemba for the other center-back spot.
We now have three very good young center-backs at Newcastle and it will be surprising if Chancel cannot get his game this season, after he did so well last term after his £11M move from Anderlecht last summer.
But there are a lot of games in the coming Championship season, so all three center-backs will get more than enough playing time.
Rafa wanted competition for places at Newcastle and he’s starting to get that.
And finally, it’s great to have Grant at the club.