Earlier in the month, following a series of frankly unlikely rumours linking want-away striker prospect Jerome Sinclair with a Manchester City move, a more realistic destination appeared. That destination was Watford, sat comfortably mid-table and a club that would appear to both have some upward mobility and to offer Sinclair a chance to see significant minutes should he move there.
Only after the initial burst of rumours claiming that there was interest, nothing much happened. Watford had reportedly been hoping to get Liverpool to release the 19-year-old for a nominal fee in January rather than waiting until the summer and signing him on a free, something that would result in arbitrated compensation being awarded. It appeared the two sides must not have been able to agree such a fee.
Now, though, according to a handful of reports in the English press, there’s a new twist to the tale—as well as a reason why any previous negotiations might have ended. As the rumours have it, Watford have decided they can wait until the summer for Sinclair. And that when they do bring him in, they can use their owners to game the English FA’s system that seeks to compensate clubs when young stars get signed away.
In short, Watford’s owners also own Granada in Spain’s La Liga and Udinese in Italy’s Serie A. If either club were to sign Sinclair, Liverpool would receive compensation as mandated by UEFA, who usually only seek to compensate for a club’s direct costs in developing a player. This would mean a compensation fee of a few hundred thousand at most rather than a few million as would be awarded in England.
Following the move, Granada or Udinese would then loan Sinclair to Watford. It seems, on the surface, faintly ridiculous. It’s also very, very difficult to see the English FA taking well to being so blatantly side-stepped. The other leagues involved, too, might see it as an attack on the integrity of their leagues—using one of their clubs as a shell corporation of sorts to benefit an owner’s business holdings in another jurisdiction.
All of which makes for a rather bizarre situation that seems to be developing. One that, in truth, it’s difficult to imagine will actually come to fruition. Still, for the time being at least, Jerome Sinclair being signed on a free by Udinese or Granada before being flipped to Watford on a no fee, multi-season loan is currently a thing that appears as though it could happen. Interesting times and all that.