Transfer window open! What the summer may hold for Wigan Athletic...

With the summer transfer window officially opening today (June 10), Paul Kendrick looks at where Wigan Athletic will be looking to strengthen between now and September 1.

By Paul Kendrick
Friday, 10th June 2022, 10:27 am
Updated Friday, 10th June 2022, 11:22 am

Incredibly, it's already six weeks since Wigan Athletic's players were passing around the League One trophy on the pitch in front of a jubilant away end at Shrewsbury.

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Since then, it's been quieter than a mouse convention in a library, with precious little happening - at least in public - in terms of squad reshaping.

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Chief executive Mal Brannigan and chairman Talal Al Hammad

As expected, Gavin Massey has departed after five years at the DW Stadium, with James McClean and Scott Smith seeing options in their contracts wisely taken up by the club.

Loan men Kell Watts (Newcastle), Tom Bayliss (Preston) and Glen Rea (Luton) have returned to their respective parent clubs following the expiration of their deals.

And it remains to be seen what the future holds for Jordan Jones, who spent the second half of last term on loan at St Mirren, after failing to make much of an impact following his much-heralded arrival last summer.

That leaves at least four spaces in the squad to fill from last term, before boss Leam Richardson even thinks about strengthening his pool.

And it would be a real surprise if the Latics boss hadn't already been on the phone to Newcastle to enquire about the possibility of keeping Watts for another season.

The 22-year-old made a huge contribution to the promotion effort, making 35 appearances both alongside Jack Whatmough and in a three-man central defensive backline during the run-in.

He only recently signed a new deal with the Toon but, with Eddie Howe expected to again spend big this summer, his immediate chances of first-team football on Tyneside would seem slight.

That would open the door to another loan - he's had four already - but, crucially, his first in the Championship.

It would be a repeat of the situation which saw then-Brighton goalkeeper Christian Walton stay on for a second year after helping Latics to the League One title in 2017-18, and would appear to be a no-brainer for all three parties.

Otherwise central midfield would seem to be the area of most concern.

Scotland international Graeme Shinnie didn't play as much as he'd have liked following his January arrival from Derby.

But having got his feet under the table, and with experience of the second tier, he's expected to make much more of a challenge for a first-team spot.

There looks to be room for at least one more incoming in that department, especially given the manager's penchant of switching Max Power to right-back in certain situations.

Another wide player is also a must to replace Massey, whose ability to cover right-back, right wing-back and right wing made him a very useful three-in-one asset.

Even more so if Northern Ireland wideman Jones' temporary exit in January were to become permanent this summer.

The name of Fulham's American right-back Marlon Fossey - who spent the second half of last term on loan at Bolton - has been bandied about.

It remains to be seen if that is primarily agent-led, but Preston are also believed to be potential long-term admirers.

There's also been speculation north of the border about whether Jamie McGrath could find himself on the way back to Scotland, with Aberdeen reportedly monitoring his situation.

The 25-year-old has slipped out of the Ireland picture after finding game-time hard following his January arrival from St Mirren.

Like Shinnie, though, he's voiced his intention to hit the ground running in pre-season, with a view to showing Latics fans what he is capable of.

In the striking ranks, much will depend on how Charlie Wyke continues his recovery and rehabilitation following his well-documented health scare.

Even in the best-case scenario, it would be foolish to place too much responsibility on him too soon, meaning Richardson will almost certainly be on the look-out for an experienced frontman to add to Josh Magennis and Stephen Humphries.

Last season's top two goalscorers Callum Lang and Will Keane are, of course, also more than able to play the lone striking role.

But the latter has been the focus of some unwanted transfer interest which Latics will hope to ward off first.

As ever, it's expected most of the business will be conducted towards the end of the window, once other clubs have a better idea of their own squads, and who will be made available.

Latics will again look to utilise the ever-growing ocean of free agents, as well as the loan market, which tends to be one of the last pieces of the market jigsaw to fall into place.

That won’t help to satisfy the end of the fanbase who are desperate for news – any news – to alleviate the summer boredom.

But as long as the jigsaw is complete come September 1, and on budget, boss Richardson – along with Mal Brannigan and Talal Al Hammad – will be content.

One thing's for sure...it certainly won't be anywhere near as hectic as the necessary mass recruitment drive from 12 months ago.

Given how well that went, fans can be forgiven for setting the bar high for the latest round of acquisitions.