The Fire's seemingly doomed pursuit of quick, technical Scottish attacker Shaun Maloney suddenly woke up from its vegetative state today, with reports from England that an expected transfer to Leicester City has collapsed.
Maloney, who will turn 32 later this month, only has six months left on his contract with Wigan, meaning he is free to field offers from any team in the world. The Fire have openly and actively pursued Maloney for months, hoping to add him as the club's third and final Designated Player.
Shaun Maloney broke through with Celtic FC as a 17 year old, but his breakthrough season came as at 22, a 16-goal, 16-assist epic in 2005-06.
Hot (Time) take
The Scot may not be a household name - Celtic fans notwithstanding - but, in form, Maloney would add ideas and touches that were missing from last year's group. He's quick, his first touch is immaculate, and he combines with a selfless joy that is fun to watch. Maloney is a throwback to the way Scots first played the game beautifully - a fluid passer who shapes the ball in uncommon ways.
His hero goal for Scotland against Ireland in Euro Cup qualifying two months ago is an instructive introduction to the player. Here you see his use of combinations to run into space (reminiscent of another ex-Celtic player, Robbie Keane), his flawless touch, and the wicked bend he manages while running at pace.
There are two possibilities here:
1.) The Men in Red are talking personal terms with Maloney pursuant to a transfer now, during the January transfer window, or
2.) The Fire are finalizing Maloney's next contract, to take effect this summer, after his deal with Wigan expires.
It's clear what Frank Yallop wants. He's said so repeatedly. "We want to use it now," Yallop said to Orrin Schwarz (et al) about the club's third DP slot. "In talks with (owner Andrew Hauptman), we want to use it right now and get this team moving and going in the right direction."
In other words, pay the fee and let's do this now ... We shall see. Results are implacable curmudgeons.