The Neil Taylor transfer drama appears to be nearing its conclusion - for better or for worse - as it was announced Tuesday that a Premier League arbitration panel will hear arguments from both sides over the next couple of weeks. The dispute between Newcastle United and Swansea City centers around 22 year-old left back Neil Taylor, whom the Magpies covet as cover for Jose Enrique Sanchez - or perhaps even as a replacement should he leave as long speculated.
Approximately two weeks ago, Newcastle bid £1 million (or £1.1 million, depending on the source reporting the news) for the services of Taylor, believing that bid would activate a release clause in his contract. Swansea rejected the bid, claiming that the clause only guarantees clubs the right to speak to the player. Newcastle representatives were later quoted as saying that they would leave the fight up to Taylor's lawyers (as Taylor is keen on joining the club), and it appears that the result will be the aforementioned hearing.
Not all release clauses are created equal, and it would be irresponsible to speculate on whether or not Swansea is acting appropriately without knowing exactly what is written in the contract. One can certainly understand why they are fighting for the player, as he acquitted himself well on his first season in the Championship and seems to be a solid player on the way up.
One thing is for certain, whether this case breaks Newcastle's way or not - there's somebody in the front offices that has been doing their homework. Last month Lille officials seemed exasperated when the Magpies activated a £4.3 million release clause in Yohan Cabaye's contract, a clause Lille believed they had successfully kept a secret from the rest of the football world. There has been a lot of hand-wringing on Tyneside over Mike Ashley's seeming unwillingness to spend the £35 million supposedly made available during the transfer window, but if chief scout Graham Carr and company can continue to unearth quality players on the cheap, supporters will have less and less to complain about.