How close did Wigan Athletic come to bringing Will Grigg home?

Will GriggWill Grigg
Will Grigg
Administrator Paul Stanley has revealed how close Wigan Athletic came to re-signing club hero Will Grigg during the January transfer window.

The 29-year-old has endured a difficult last couple of years since joining Sunderland for a deal rising to £4million in January 2019.

But Latics were put on red alert when he was made available for loan last month – only for another of his former clubs, MK Dons, to win the race for his signature.

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Despite landing Tendayi Darikwa, George Johnston, Corey Whelan, Zach Clough, Funso Ojo, Scott Wootton, Jamie Proctor, re-signing Dan Gardner, Will Keane, Curtis Tilt and Viv Solomon-Otabor, and bringing Callum Lang back from loan at Motherwell during a hectic transfer window, Stanley was left to reflect on the one that got away.

“I thought the transfer window worked out very well as far as we’re concerned,” Stanley told Wigan Today.

“The manager got every single player he wanted apart from one...Will Grigg. And we did try to go as high as we possibly could for that one, we even went back for one last go.

“The issue was Shrewsbury, Oxford and MK Dons were all in for him, and we just couldn’t get him. The issue wasn’t money – bearing in mind he’s still being paid by Sunderland, who are covering the lion’s share of his wages.

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“We were prepared to match whatever any of the other clubs were paying, and ultimately it came down to the player. I know Leam has a very good relationship with him, and he’d been speaking to him throughout the month.

“From a football point of view it would have been fantastic to get him back, because he’s obviously a proper cult hero here.”

Stanley also admitted Latics refused to initially take no for an answer.

“Leam actually said to me: ‘I didn’t think we’re going to get him’,” the Latics administrator added. "I went back to him and said: ‘Find out how much he’s getting elsewhere’.

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“All of the clubs are working to a salary cap, we’re nowhere near ours at the moment, so we did have some room to move.

“If it wasn’t a big difference, we were prepared to go to it. But whether Sunderland decided where he went, or the player made the final decision...I don’t know.

“I don’t know if Sunderland would also have had an issue with it being Wigan...having paid so much for him two years ago...effectively paying him to come back here.

“I don’t know, I’ve not spoken to Sunderland or Will, I just know Leam was keen, and obviously it would have given the place a massive lift.

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"It wasn’t to be, but we wish him well and we’re very pleased with how our squad looks for the rest of the season.”

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