It’s being reported that Pavel Pogrebnyak has rejected a new deal with Martin Jol at Fulham and has instead accepted a deal reportedly worth £65,000/week for 4 years. That works out to £3.38 mil a year for 4 years. Sure he scored 6 goals in 12 matches during his loan spell at Craven Cottage. But, not only is that a small sample size, 5 of those came in his first 3 matches. He scored one goal in his last 9 matches for Fulham, often when he was the main strike option and teammates tried to get him the ball in front of the net. In fact, after being subbed for just twice in his first 6 matches with Fulham, he was swapped out 4 times in his final half-dozen. Here’s another interesting fact: in the final 9 games Pog played for Fulham (in which he started all 9 and scored 1 goal), the Cottagers were 1-4 when Pog played the full 90 and scored a total of 2 goals, and 3-1 with 5 goals in matches he was subbed out of. Not sure if that means anything, but it’s something to think about.
It’s all too small of a sample size for me, like I said before. Basically what happened is his work rate and strength caught the Premier League completely off guard, and he forged an early partnership with Clint Dempsey to give him many early chances and overpower opposing defenders. However, once teams figured out how to shut him down, they did just that, cutting off the front of the net and forcing the Fulham wingers to get the ball to Pog in other ways, frustrating the big Russian.
Those 6 goals served the man well, earning him a big contract with Reading, at least the journos are reporting so. His agent, Oleg Artimov, said
“We are not just talking with Reading. There are other English clubs. I think that a final decision will be in a week’s time.”
We’ll have to see whether the Pog officially signs for Reading or if it’s all a falsely reported contract, but with so many outlets saying the same thing, it seems like a classic case of “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” He very well could find himself with teams battling for his services now that this has hit the press, but word on the street is he’s having a medical at Reading later this week and they are clearly in the driver’s seat for his signature.
I asked my Twitter followers (follow me @FulhamsFinest to get in on the banter next time) the following question: if you were Fulham, would you sign Pogrebnyak to the deal he reportedly signed with Reading? Not a single person replied with “yes.” I got many saying absolutely not. The best response came from a great follower of mine who said, “if a 28 year old striker with 6 Premier League goals in half a season is worth £65,000 a week, then how much is a 29 year old midfielder with 17 Premier League goals worth?” Obviously referring to Dempsey, it’s a great point. What will teams offer Clint once they catch on to how valuable he is?
The bottom line is this: Pogrebnyak will be 32 1/2 at the end of his contract, and despite having 6 goals in 12 matches in the Premier League and looks to have needed zero time adjusting to the playing style of English football, he looked a bit lost once teams figured out who he was and how to guard him effectively. Did Reading potentially pay too much for the big Russian? Leave a comment and let me know what you think about this possible contract. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying he’s bad. He burst onto the scene with great poise and was really enjoyable to watch. This is more about worth than rating someone or not.
I bought his jersey since I was in London for his 3-goal performance against Wolves and that will forever be engrained in my memory as my first visit to Craven Cottage. It will be sad for me to see him leave for that personal reason, but as a football move, Fulham may just be priced out.
Edit 6-20-2012: The Daily Mail and The Daily Star are both reporting Pogrebnyak’s deal with Reading is more in the £30,000/week range. That’s more reasonable, but remember, Fulham were only willing to offer Pog a maximum of £20,000/week for 2 years. Still begs the question, are they overpaying?