Et tu, Marquis?
They call it “Silly Season” for a reason, and in 2017 we are seeing one of the biggest examples of that silliness developing amongst the fans at Doncaster Rovers. Speculation, worry and anxiety has been rife regarding the future of star striker John Marquis, who hit 26 goals in 45 league games last season to spearhead the club’s charge back into League One at the first time of asking. So, with the club on the up and his career rejuvenated, is Mr. Marquis heading for the exit door?
Burden of Proof
The main element in a developing transfer saga (as they are often known) is some kind of indication from the player in question that he wants to leave, or is tempted by a potential new club that have been touted to make a move. We saw this towards the end of last season in the Premier League when Everton forward Romelu Lukaku rejected the offer of a new contract in order to further his career in the wake of interest from Chelsea and Manchester United, two clubs who remain in the hunt for the big Belgian now. It has also engulfed Doncaster Rovers before of course, notably when Billy Sharp was prised from our grasp to join promotion-contending Southampton midway through a stellar season in the hoops.
Missing then from this latest ‘saga’ is any kind of evidence suggesting Marquis wishes to leave. There has been only idle internet speculation linking him with other clubs, the biggest of which was a persistent link to Championship club Ipswich Town that has since been debunked as a mischievous attempt by someone within the Rovers fanbase to wind people up. Clearly it worked, because only yesterday someone asked local journalist Liam Hoden (@liamhoden) if there was any truth in the rumour. The response was as follows:
I’m being told by the manager there has been no contact from any club interested in Marquis. I have no reason to doubt him #drfc https://t.co/OQFJZmUDxf — Liam Hoden (@liamhoden) July 4, 2017
Clear enough then, yes? Perhaps not…
Timeline of Events
The one thing I will give credence to in this bizarre rumour mill is that the media have provided bread crumbs indicating a new deal is imminent for several months now. Whilst much can be said about the impact and influence of the local and national media when it comes to stirring up transfer gossip, salacious rumours and the like, it was as far back as April when the prospect of a new deal for our talisman was first mooted. Following the confirmation of promotion with victory at home to Mansfield, Marquis had this to say to BBC Radio Sheffield:
“I’ve got a year left on my contract and it would be nice to sit down and sort a new one out,” “There’s no reason why I would want to go anywhere else, my football has come on so much. “My tactical knowledge of the game has improved, my technique has improved and that is purely down to the manager (Darren Ferguson). He loves coaching and seeing improvements in players individually and as a team. “He’s a brilliant manager and I think we’re lucky to have him.”
All very positive to read as a Rovers fan, and with the club flying high and top of the table, it seemed a formality that Marquis would soon be seen sat at Cantley Park, Fergie by his side and a shiny pen in his hand inking that extended deal. Yet, it didn’t materialise and on we went, focusing on the task of finishing off the season. Upon doing so, Fergie again asserted his confidence in the new deal being signed, telling Liam Hoden in May:
“We’re really close with it,” Ferguson told The Star. “Negotiations have been going on for about a week. “I’ve had a great chat with him on Monday. “He’s had a great season, loved it. He really wants to stay. “You’re always going to get a bit of interest in him. “But it’s not an issue, we’ll get it done. “It’s just a case of going through a couple more things with John. “His was always going to take a bit longer but I’m 100 per cent confident we’ll get John done, no problem.”
On we went without any confirmation however, as many defended the lack of news by pointing out that Mr. Marquis was off around the world on a very well earned summer holiday and would surely ink the page when he returned for pre-season. On June 22nd, Ferguson indicated to the Doncaster Free Press that there was no doubt Marquis would stay, and that shifting out the transfer listed players would enable him to offer a better deal to the player. Could this be the crux of the matter?
The Bottom Line
This week has seen a great deal of development on the issue of the transfer listed bunch. First, Andy Williams was taken off the transfer list late last week, a move that will surely only encourage Marquis to stay after the pair struck up a strong partnership up front last season. Then, both Cedric Evina and Mitchell Lund left the club whilst Ross Etheridge may now be ofered his release having suffered a broken ankle ruling him out for several months. That means only Harry Middleton remains unresolved from that list of players deemed surplus to requirements, so any possible movement on Marquis’ new deal may now increase with the manager better aware of what he can and cannot offer the Londoner.
The other big thing to note here is that in truth, there have been no concerted efforts from any club to try and sign Marquis away from us. The Ipswich rumour has been debunked and, bar some small mutterings about an approach from Wigan Athletic on Twitter, there has been no other sign of a club pursuing his signature. Wigan themselves are already stocked up with strong forward options such as Omar Bogle, Will Grigg and Ryan Colclough so it seems unlikely that they would move for Marquis, especially as Bogle in particular is an impressive physical player with an eye for goal, similar to Marquis.
My personal view at this stage is that fans have been whipped into a frenzy for no real reason, and whilst I understand the worry that our best goal scorer may leave, there seems no evidence at all to suggest he would want to leave, or that there is a team ready to tempt him away. As the next couple of weeks roll on, I fully expect to see an announcement confirming an extension to the one year that John Marquis has remaining on his contract at DRFC. In short, no need to panic!
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