HARTLEPOOL UNITED last night sold centre-half Jack Baldwin to Peterborough United for £500,000.
The talented 20-year-old was tied to a long-term contract at Victoria Park after making a superb introduction to professional football.
But Posh boss Darren Ferguson yesterday made a move and Baldwin travelled to London Road yesterday afternoon to complete a four-and-a-half-year deal.
The sale equals the second biggest transfer fee Pools have received after Tommy Miller moved to Ipswich for £750,000 in 2001 and Adam Boyd was bought by Luton for £500,000 in 2006.
“We didn’t want to sell Jack but when the approach was made by Peterborough earlier this week he made it clear that it was an opportunity he was interested in,” revealed Pools boss Colin Cooper.
“We have spent time trying to encourage him to stay but once his mind was made up to progress his career in League One, our job was to get the best possible deal for Hartlepool United.
“I spoke about it with the chairman and chief executive and we all agreed that the deal we’ve been able to finalise tonight after several days of negotiation was in the best financial and beneficial interests of the football club and the player.”
Posh chairman Darragh MacAnthony announced on Twitter: “I am delighted to announce the signing of the best young CB in the FL Jack Baldwin for £500,000. Posh fans will love this young man, trust me!’’
Ferguson added: “It is a really good signing. He is a young centre half and I think he is going to be a really top player. We have managed to get it done. Most of the Championship have been watching him and a Premier League club too, but we really like him.
“He is going to be a really good player for us. He has played a lot of games, he has played in midfield too, but we will work with him as a centre half. He has good ability on the ball, he is very elegant, reads the game well and he is the one we have been after for a while now. I am delighted to get it done.’’
Baldwin was due to miss today’s game with Scunthorpe – and next weekend’s trip to Dagenham through suspension, after collecting his tenth booking of the season in the midweek defeat at AFC Wimbledon.
His place will be taken by Sam Collins, with Cooper having no qualms whatsoever about pitching the 36-year-old into his side - because it’s a situation he’s been through himself.
Collins has, up to this season, been a constant in the Pools side since moving from Hull four years ago yesterday.
But Baldwin and Christian Burgess have been Cooper’s preferred choices at centre-half as he opted for youth over experience.
Collins last start came in the emphatic 4-1 win at Mansfield in October. Since then, he’s made sporadic appearances from the bench.
Off the field, Collins has taken a greater role, getting hands-on coaching experience with the club’s younger players and reserve side.
And after going through a similar scenario himself as a Middlesbrough player towards the end of his career, Cooper knows Collins can be relied on.
“If you are talking of consummate professionals you think of Sam,’’ said Cooper.
“If its any consolation for Sam, I was in the same position as him. I was given the chance to look from the outside in and started to work with and help the younger players.
“That is what I have tried to do with Sam, get him to use his brain and see what might come next in his career.
“He has taken that on board and is taking extra time to develop his skills on the coaching side. Not only is he being a good professional and working hard to keep himself fit, he recognises that if Jack and Christian are fit and available he probably wont play.
“But, and I’ve been through this myself, what I have also said is that your main focus still has to be being a player.
“There is the disappointment of not playing but he has something else to get his teeth into. I was conscious of that in my career and Sam has proved a very good experienced professional on that front.
“He is getting his teeth into the off-the-field stuff while keeping himself very fit just in case.
“I have no qualms about playing Sam in the team. When you get to that point in your career there are certain things you have to your advantage.
“You may not have the pace, legs or the turning ability of a younger player but you have the nous. And that nous puts you into positions earlier than some younger players.
“By using your brain and communication skills you can actually get players to do the job for you. I was doing that at the age of 36 and 37. If you are fit enough, it’s not an issue.’’
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