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No one knows how good Tom Ince is

Can Tom Ince play for a Champions League club? Tottenham? Liverpool? Palace? The Premier League at all?

Jan Kruger

Thomas Ince was allowed to walk from Liverpool to Blackpool for pennies in August of 2011 because Liverpool didn't see a short-term route to a first team place for him. His market was that of a decent young player with a high Championship or low Premiership ceiling, which is why he went to Blackpool for peanuts. Then he scored 26 goals in 88 appearances for Blackpool as a winger and started getting linked to everyone.

Ince has been linked to potential moves to Tottenham Hotspur and back to Liverpool, but apparently a different caliber of club is interested. Take this with a giant heaping mountain of salt given the source, but The Sun is reporting that Crystal Palace is also interested in Ince. According to Charlie Wyett, Ian Holloway wants him to replace Wilfried Zaha and has made a £4m bid.

With no disrespect intended to Palace, they are a newly promoted club with limited financial means and a handful of Premier League quality players. They have the talent to stay up if they sign a few new players, but that's about all they can hope for next season. They're a team whose goal is staying up. Tottenham and Liverpool, meanwhile. are teams with gobs of cash to spend and their goal is the Champions League.

These are clubs with very, very different short-term ambitions and capacity to pay high wages. Spurs and Liverpool fans might be delusional about the size and drawing power of their clubs, but at least they've never started Aaron Wilbraham at Wembley. They shouldn't be competing for anyone. If there's a player that is wanted by Palace and one or both of those two clubs, Palace should simply be out of the running.

This has me considering three conclusions that I feel are equally likely:

1. This report from The Sun is inaccurate
2. Ian Holloway is a nutter
3. Tom Ince isn't actually good enough for the Sky Six and a lot of people, including Ian Holloway, know it

The third is a scary one if Daniel Levy, Andre Villas-Boas and Franco Baldini (if he's relevant, we'll find out soon) are three of the only people who don't know that Tom Ince isn't that great. A lot of people on Merseyside would probably put their money on No. 1. Put a gun to my head and I put my money on No. 2.

In any event, these Tom Ince rumors are really stupid and we're no closer to knowing how good he is, if he's actually worth a significant transfer fee, or where he's going.

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