Cardiff City chairman Mehmet Dalman has told manager Neil Harris nothing but a real promotion challenge to the Premier League will do as he outlined how they managed to bring Liverpool’s Harry Wilson on board.
The final day of the transfer window saw Cardiff sign Wilson, Croatian international defender Filip Benkovic from Leicester and highly-rated Charlton goalkeeper Dillon Phillips.
That trio of players supplement Kieffer Moore, Sheyi Ojo and Jordan Osei-Tutu, who had already come on board this summer.
The six new players have greatly strengthened Harris’ hand and Dalman and owner Vincent Tan expect to see the Bluebirds climbing the table and challenging in the top six by January.
Dalman explained some of the detail of the ambitious move to bring Wilson on board, telling the BBC: “We structured something we believe is competitive. The numbers being thrown around are nowhere near the mark.
“I think it’s a very good win-win situation and for the player.”
Cardiff beat off challenges from arch-rivals Swansea City, Derby County and Bristol City to pull off the Wilson coup, with the other three also keen to land the talented Wales international.
The deal Cardiff put together sees them pay a loan fee to Liverpool which Dalman insists is below the £1m figure which has been widely reported, while the Bluebirds are paying a proportion of Wilson’s wages.
But they have still pushed the boat out enough in troubled times, with owner Vincent Tan’s leisure business having taken a hit in the far east.
Dalman has had successful previous dealings with the Liverpool hierarchy to bring Marko Grujic and Ojo to Cardiff and he did the negotiations again with the Premier League champions for Wilson.
“As far as getting this transaction done, I think we’ve done very good business. Liverpool were very supportive,” said Dalman.
“Obviously we have a good history with Liverpool. It was easy to have that conversation. Harris has a good rapport there, Ken Choo too.
“We’re very pleased. In fact we’re thrilled to have him on board. If you actually look at our forward line-up at the moment, it’s not a bad one. You could argue it’s one of the best in the Championship.
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“Big thank you to Vincent. Without his support we couldn’t have got this over the line. At the end of the day he writes the cheques and I’m very grateful to him for that. He has very strong views and he was very pleased by the transactions we carried out. He deserves a lot of credit.”
But, spelling out a message to the manager, Dalman went on: “We’d be very disappointed with this team if we’re not in the top six by January.
“Let’s not be diplomatic about our start. It’s been quite disappointing. I’m just hoping the team will gel better than they have done in the past.”
Dalman went on: “I think a lot of fans were a little puzzled at the beginning of the window when we got a lot of our outs out quite early. Then there was a period of inaction. And then obviously in the last few days, we’ve begun to reshape the team.
“So I hope the fans will go home and realise that this club does have ambitions and does have intent. It’s now whether these players can gel together and form a winning team.
“It’s not just bringing just one player in. I think it’s the shape of the team, it’s beginning to look very different and Neil Harris is executing his strategy and his philosophy. We’re here to support him.”