Cardiff City broke their transfer fee record and boosted their chances of survival in the Premier League with the signing of Steven Caulker from Tottenham Hotspur. The England international signed for a fee of £8.5m, breaking the record set by Andreas Cornelius earlier in the window. It is clear Vincent Tan is resting on his laurels of making some big money signings.
Last time Steven Caulker was in Wales he enjoyed a very successful loan spell at Swansea in a season that consolidated their place in the Premier League and his place in the England Under-21 team. His success at Swansea prompted Andres Villas-Boas to trust him as a regular for Tottenham, and in the 2012-13 season, he made 28 appearances in all competitions for Tottenham.
However, with Matthew Dawson and Jan Vertonghen as permanent fixtures in the Tottenham side, Caulker needed first team football. Cardiff boss Malky Mackay praised his willingness to move away from the comfort of Tottenham and said he encourages other players to follow Caulker’s example:
“To be part of a squad is a very good thing and at the time you are loathed to leave because it has a comfort blanket associated with it. You are wrapped in it, you have been there and you know it.”
“To actually step out and go and further your career is a brave decision. It is something that I would commend players for when they do it. You see a situation in football when they leave a club and it is unexpected. When it is for the reasons of playing football regularly then I think that is a brave decision. It shows that a player has maturity attached to them and where they see their career going.”
Cardiff City had an “air tight” defense last season, conceding only 45 goals in 46 games, the least in the Championship. Steven Caulker’s capture will of course add more consistency to the defense as the squad take on the English top-flight for the first time since 1962. However, it could drive a couple of players out.
Highly rated youngster Ben Nugent has been loaned out to Brentford until January. The 2012-13 Cardiff City young player of the year made 14 league appearances in a season in which he established himself as an accomplished Championship defender. Ben Turner may also find himself surplus to requirements next season. The former England Under-19 international quickly established himself as a Cardiff City regular after joining from Coventry in 2011.
The move to Cardiff City may boost Caulker’s chances of making the England team on a regular basis. His one and only cap came in a 4-2 defeat to Sweden, where he played 74 minutes and scored before being substituted with England winning 2-1. Steven Caulker felt the move would boost his England chances:
“My aim is to get back in the England squad, and if you ask any Englishman they will tell you they have one eye on the World Cup. That’s something I want to work towards.”
The competition for the England center-back positions will be fierce in the upcoming months. A few commanding displays in the early season from Caulker could add himself into the squad for the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers against Moldova, Ukraine, Montenegro, and Poland.
With his best attribute being short passing, it is easy to see why he has been signed. His role in Brendan Rodgers’ Swansea team in 2011-12 proved his ability to be the complete center-back. He certainly does add more than the typical Championship defender, most of which struggle to adapt to the Premier League.
If Cardiff City end up staying in the Premier League, Steven Caulker could be praised as the instigator of a tight defense. His capture shows the intent of Malky Mackay to sure up the back line and add some useful Premier League experience to the newly promoted side.