The Emiliano Sala tragedy still has the power to take your breath away and every revelation, like the recent carbon monoxide claims, just feels like another punch to the stomach. It still doesn’t quite feel real and closure feels as elusive as ever. The story continues to run and run, with no end in sight.
Cardiff were denied the chance to enjoy Sala’s presence, but his presence is still keenly felt, especially in their transfer dealings. Running parallel to the investigations in to the nature of his death are conflicting legal claims regarding the legitimacy and responsibilities relating to his transfer. Sala may drift in and out of the public consciousness, but everything continues to rumble on behind the scenes.
It is often claimed that Cardiff didn’t spend enough money to sustain their Premier League status, but that is a myth, especially when you factor in the considerable sums they invested in the Sala deal. It represented a considerable statement of intent and a huge investment that they are expected to honour, unless a ruling deems otherwise.
So those people that were hoping or expecting Cardiff to shell out a comparable sum on another striker this summer were always destined to be disappointed. The club cut their cloth accordingly and there was never any suggestion that they would spend any more than the reasonable sums reserved for Aden Flint and Robert Glatzel.
It was not really a surprise to see Cardiff ultimately turn a profit, presuming that Bobby Reid’s loan at Fulham is made permanent, as expected. There were a few sizeable transfers in the Championship, headed up by the £11m Huddersfield paid Montpellier for Isaac Mbenza and the £8m Cardiff received for Kenneth Zohore, but Cardiff were no slouches on the spending front, relatively speaking.
Fulham committed no money to transfer fees, but managed to bring in an array of impressive loan signings, with impressive loan fees you would imagine. The intention is clearly to retain them permanently should they bounce straight back up to the Premier League. It may prove a smart move, or alternatively they could be back to square one next summer.
Sala is not the only obstacle in Cardiff’s way either. They identified Gary Madine as their only option when they had designs on bringing in a striker during the winter window 18 months ago and paid a premium as a result. The transfer has proved an Andreas Cornelius-sized disaster and they have struggled in every window since to get shot of him. The fact that he’s still there must be a source of great frustration, as he can only move to League One or Two sides now, so any loan deal agreed will have to be very heavily subsidised.
Relegation from the Premier League hits you in a number of ways. There is a huge revenue deficit that needs to be countered, there is a hangover that needs to be shaken off and there is inevitably a squad rebuild of sorts to complete. When you consider those caveats, plus the emotional and financial difficulties relating to the ongoing Sala situation, Cardiff have probably had a far better summer than most have given them credit for.