Nathan Ferguson is playing West Brom waiting game

He joined the club when he was just eight years old and has enjoyed an outstanding start to the campaign.

Nathan Ferguson (AMA)
Nathan Ferguson (AMA)

But it’s difficult to know where Nathan Ferguson will be playing his football next season – despite a new five-year-deal being on the table at The Hawthorns.

When news first broke the 19-year-old had been offered fresh terms, it seemed it would only be a matter of time before he signed.

That was back in September – and since then it’s all gone very quiet.

Tottenham, Crystal Palace, Juventus and Atletico Madrid have all been linked with the defender, who is out of contract in the summer.

The two Premier League sides certainly need a right-back.

But it’s the interest of the two foreign clubs that is particularly interesting – and is the reason why a host of other promising youngsters at Albion have also been linked with moves away.

Fifa compensation tariffs mean teenagers can move abroad for very little.

Albion have already had it with Louie Barry who – as a 16-year-old – left to join Barcelona for just £235,000.

And if Ferguson moves abroad, the Baggies will again receive less than £300,000.

Those fees – minimal in football terms – make the players very attractive to European clubs.

Not only are they cheap, the buying clubs also know there are huge margins to be made selling the player back to an English club in the future.

But the fees also make it very easy for an agent to move their client on.

Agents tend to earn more in fees when the transfer fee is low. They also know if their client doesn’t settle or isn’t a success abroad, it is highly likely an English club will bring them back to these shores.

It is possible of course that a player – Ferguson or otherwise – may just want to play abroad.

Jadon Sancho has certainly been a huge success since leaving Manchester City for Borussia Dortmund.

But using Ferguson’s case as an example, the fact he has been linked with Juventus and Atletico Madrid also helps Tottenham and Palace.

The reality is Albion have to sell the defender in January if he doesn’t sign a new deal. They cannot simply let a multi-million pound asset walk out the door.

But clubs can use that interest to drive down the price knowing full well the Baggies won’t want to settle for Fifa’s compensation figure.

Ultimately, the decision is Ferguson’s. And if he believes he will develop into a better player by moving on, he has that right.

But at Albion, he has a manager in Slaven Bilic who trusts him. He has a lucrative contract on the table.

He is also likely to be playing first-team football and can continue to be surrounded by his friends and family who live in the West Midlands.

It should have to be a heck of an offer to get him to leave.

Sadly, though, money talks in football.

And Fifa’s compensation rule has given cash-rich foreign clubs as well as player agents a lot of power.

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