Ravel Morrison has been the subject of much discussion this week after Fulham had a bid turned down for the mercurial midfielder by his current club West Ham, though this isn’t the first time the 20 year-old has hit the headlines in recent months.
Morrison first came to prominence as a highly touted youngster while at his hometown club Manchester United, and as a result featured for many of England’s age groups as he progressed. However Morrison often found himself in trouble both with the law and with his club and as a result manager Sir Alex Ferguson soon tired of Morrison’s unprofessional (to put it mildly) attitude and was more than happy to sell him to Sam Allardyce at West Ham United in January 2012. Fast forward two years and Morrison has finally established himself as a Premier League footballer with the Hammers following a season long loan spell with Birmingham in the Championship last year, his first prolonged exposure to first team football during his short career.
So far this campaign Morrison has gained recognition for his skill, athleticism and ability to produce goals like his superb solo effort at White Hart Lane against Tottenham – all of which has led to speculation a full England call up is on the horizon with the World Cup in Brazil just around the corner. However all of this makes the fact that Morrison is reportedly keen on a move to Premier League strugglers Fulham more than a little peculiar. A young, talented English player with the kind of x-factor clubs crave, someone like Morrison should be on the radar of all of Europe’s leading clubs; the Barcelona’s of the world, the Manchester City’s. So why is he currently on the verge of swapping one relegation dogfight for another? There have been no reports recently to suggest that his behaviour has been troublesome as it was frequently in years past, and his form throughout the seasons first half was at times as spectacular as Ross Barkley’s, Everton’s own young English midfielder who’s had a £50 million price tag slapped on his head to ward off Manchester United’s potential interest. According to the Daily Mail Morrison is Fulham’s so long as they stump up £8 million during this transfer window. Something doesn’t quite add up with Morrison’s present situation, but what is it?
Perhaps it’s his contract. There has been much speculation regarding his current deal and the weird and wonderful clauses it contains, from a £19 million buy-out clause (probably true) to a £20,000 appearance fee West Ham have to pay Manchester United every time Morrison steps foot on a pitch (probably not). There has also been rumours that if a club bids £10 million for Morrison and it’s turned down West Ham must up his wage to £60,000 a week – another clause that beggars belief if true and would represent a job well done by his agent. While all of those clauses are speculative it is known fact that Morrison has just eighteen months remaining on his deal at West Ham, which is a real problem for the East London club. With each passing day their prize asset becomes less and less valuable – something Karen Brady, David Sullivan and David Gold will be well aware of.
Off-field issues such as Morrison’s complicated contract and his history of run ins with both management and the law could well be a factor in the lack of pursuit from Champions League challenging teams, although there’s another factor that could well be impacting their decision making process. As skillful as Morrison is – and he has match changing ability with both feet – his selfishness and lack of awareness of those around him has often had a negative impact not just on him but on his team. It’s not rare to see the midfielder run from one side of the pitch to the other without giving one of his teammates but a glance, despite them often being in far better positions than he is himself. It’s a worrying trait and something Morrison will have to address if he’s to play with better players than the ones at West Ham, whether or not he’s able to adapt remains to be seen. If not then the likes of West Ham and Fulham – and potentially the Championship – may well be as good as it gets for Ravel Morrison.