I was initially shocked to see James Tomkins complete a £10million move to Crystal Palace aft er 20 years at West Ham. But, in my opinion, the positives of the Basildon-born man’s move to South London to link up with the boss that gave him his fi rst big break, far outweigh the negatives for both player and club. Over the course of last season, the 27-year old fell down the pecking order at centre-back and had limited game time at right-back when Carl Jenkinson was out injured.
But, while he did relatively well there, the emergence of Michail Antonio and the signing of Sam Byram, Tomkins would’ve found opportunities limited this season. As such this represents a brilliant deal for Slaven Bilic and the board. However you look at it, the club have received a heft y transfer fee for someone who was clearly seen as a fringe player. For Tonks himself, the move will hopefully rejuvenate his stuttering career.
Palace have splashed the cash this summer and Tomkins can go into the season looking up the table rather than down it. Th e centre-half will also stand a far better chance of gaining a fi rstteam place under Alan Pardew – who has been a long-term admirer. For West Ham, the £10m received for Tomkins will boost the transfer kitty and the extra cash will go into player recruitment. Th e club will now be able to give youth prospects like Reece Oxford and Reece Burke a chance. With European football, domestic cup competitions and the Premier League, Bilic has a busy schedule ahead of him, and he
will need to utilise his squad.Last season Tomkins took a place up on the bench and rarely appeared; now Oxford, Burke or Lewis Page can take up that place. Th ey won’t play every week, but it will be vital for the future of the club to give younger players the experience of being around the fi rst team on a more regular basis. Burke excelled during his award-winning spell at Bradford and he will now be looking for a chance to impress in claret and blue. Th anks Tonks – but West Ham were right to fl og you this summer. BBM