Wigan recruitment drive on course

Jonathan Jackson

Jonathan Jackson

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WIGAN Athletic’s summer recruitment drive has not been affected by the ‘will-he-won’t-he?’ drama surrounding the future of Roberto Martinez.

That’s according to chief executive Jonathan Jackson, who insists Latics have been ploughing on with their squad strengthening despite constant speculation regarding their manager.

“Before he went on holiday, Roberto identified a number of players who we are looking to recruit,” Jackson told the Evening Post.

“And we have been working hard to secure those deals as we speak.

“The season has only just finished, but you have to move quickly in these situations. And if Roberto wants a player we’ll do everything we can to make it happen.”

Before his future became the major talking point of the summer, Martinez admitted he was looking for ‘four or five’ new players to bolster his squad.

That was to offset the departures of Steve Gohouri, Henry Thomas, Chris Kirkland, Hugo Rodallega and Momo Diame, who all became free agents after their contracts expired.

Of that quintet, Latics did try to retain the services of Rodallega and Diame, but Jackson believes the club were right not to overstretch themselves on the wage front.

“Hugo and Momo are both top-quality players, and we don’t like to see top-quality players leaving the club,” he acknowledged.

“Having said that, neither played very much in the last few weeks of the campaign.

“Would you say either were fundamental to the success of the club in the second half of the season? No they weren’t.

“And we need to make sure the football club is run as a business. We have to be sensible about it.

“Unfortunately when players do well, bigger clubs are going to want them.

“But players come and go, and we’re no different to anyone else in that respect.

“We tried very hard to retain those two players, but both wanted to keep their options open and they were perfectly entitled to do that.”

Of the five players to depart, only Kirkland has so far managed to get himself sorted elsewhere, penning a two-year deal at Championship new-boys Sheffield Wednesday.

Surprisingly, the anticipated hive of interest in Rodallega’s signature has failed to materialise.

Diame, meanwhile, has admitted he was hoping to join Liverpool before Kenny Dalglish’s sacking earlier this month.

“I met Kenny Dalglish and we talked about next season, but God decided to finish this situation,” the Senegal international said.

“It is true I was very sad in my head, but that is OK as I think I have got other opportunities to go to another club.

“I have offers from Spain, from France, from Turkey, but I want to stay in the Premier League.”

Meanwhile, the vacant Liverpool managers’ job seems to be a straight fight between Martinez and Brendan Rodgers, with bookmakers last night struggling to separate the two in the betting.