In many sports the old adage is defense wins champions. Although Blackburn has struggled to be in the top half of the table recently, their defense was a key to avoiding relegation. With the departure of Phil Jones to Manchester United, can Blackburn lose another key defensive player?
In my eyes, Christopher Samba was Blackburn’s best player last season. I’ll admit I haven’t watched many Blackburn games over the course of the previous season, but he seemed to shine in the few that I did watch. One game I recall that he was immense in was late in the year against Manchester City. Blackburn did lose that game, but Samba gave a man of the match performance. He put in perfectly timed tackles and blocks as well as being a threat when attacking.
If Samba were to leave, with Arsenal heading the queue for his services, it would be a huge loss especially paired with his defensive partner’s departure to Man United. Blackburn don’t necessarily have to sell and manager Steve Kean made this very clear. “We don’t have to sell him. He signed a five-year contract in the last window,” said Kean. “He’s one of the players we would like to keep.”
However, to me Kean’s comments are a little bit hypocritical. Kean, speaking of Jones said, “It was difficult with Phil because he got the opportunity to go to Manchester United and he wanted to play Champions League football now and we’re not there yet.” Granted, you don’t want to lose two defenders, let alone starting defenders in the same window, but that doesn’t strike me as fair to Samba.
Samba has made clear his ambitions to play on a team competing for titles rather than one staving off relegation. He said, “For four-and-a-half years I have been at Blackburn and fought against relegation.” He also went on to add, “If a good opportunity presents itself, I want to take it. I hope the club will understand if I want to make the step up and not prevent a deal.”
Samba does have a contract until 2015, but contracts these days don’t hold the weight they used to. The new contract could very well have been for Blackburn to get a higher fee when he is eventually sold.
As much as Kean and Blackburn fans may want to keep him, is it really worth keeping a player who wants to be somewhere else? I think if Samba is really intent on leaving, selling him sooner rather than later is in the club’s best interest.
Selling him now will allow them to find a suitable replacement. So far, Samba hasn’t put in a transfer request, but if he does the situation may get a little ugly although Blackburn still won’t have to sell him. However, they may not want a sulking player in their squad in a team hoping to improve from last year’s poor form.