Peterborough chairman Darragh MacAnthony believes he could sell his Irish midfielder Chris Forrester for ‘millions and millions’, but he is not planning to cash in on his star man just yet.
Forrester has emerged as a kingpin of the Peterborough midfield this season, as he has grown into his role as the club’s captain to become the fulcrum of their team.
The Dubliner made his mark with a solid display in his side’s 4-1 FA Cup defeat against Chelsea on Sunday, with the club’s Irish owner MacAnthony convinced his star man has what it takes to play at the highest level.
“Chris Forrester is the best midfielder by a mile in League One and plenty of big clubs are after him right now,” MacAnthony told us.
“If you saw Chris playing against Scunthorpe earlier this month, you would appreciate what a talent he is.
“Against a team that was sitting at the top of League One, he basically ran the show from midfield on his own.
“He was that good and I’m sure he would dominate games if he was playing in the Championship as well.
“Chris will go on and be sold for millions and millions and good luck to him if that happens because he has come to England, worked his socks off and turned himself into a top player.
“We bought him as a No.10 and turned him into a No.4 who dictates the play in front of the back four. It has been fantastic how he has grown into that role and it has been a joy to watch his development.”
While Forrester has been on the fringes of Martin O’Neill’s senior Ireland squad in the last few months, the chance to shine on the international stage has yet to come his way.
In the opinion of the Peterborough chairman, O’Neill’s eagerness to select players plying their trade in the Championship is misguided, as he is convinced Forrester is ready to make his mark at international level as he compares him to a rising star of the game who was operating at the same level as Forrester not so long ago.
“Martin O’Neill has sent scouts to watch Chris, but his focus is very much on players operating in the Premier League or the Championship,” he suggests.
“The difference with Chris is we are talking about a player who is head and shoulders above the rest at the level he is playing at.
“When I look at what Dele Alli is doing at Tottenham now, it highlights what is possible when top League One players get a chance at the higher level.
“Alli was playing in League One for MK Dons not so long ago and a few clubs showed an interest in him.
“Now you see him now at the age of 20 and he is the match winner in a top of the table game against Chelsea and that should give all players in League One belief that they are good enough to make that jump up in class.
“Trust me, Chris Forrester is good enough and he should be in the Ireland squad right now.”
MacAnthony’s insight into the deal that took Forrester from St Patrick’s Athletic to Peterborough makes for fascinating reading, with the lack of financial rewards on offer compensated by the chance to prove himself in English football.
“I had been watching Forrester for two and a half years and last summer I got together with his agent,” reveals MacAnthony.
“We had an honest discussion and I told him we didn’t have much left in our wage budget and I could only pay him what he was getting at St Pats.
“His agent came back and said; you know what, he will back himself to make his mark and earn himself a better contract, so let’s give this a go.
“Well, he has certainly taken that opportunity. We have given him a new deal since then and now he is worth millions after the form he has shown in League One this season.
“What I like about Chris is his honesty and his desire to do well for himself and our team.
“We have seen a lot of greedy little sh*** come through the door at Peterborough during my time here and some of the stories I could tell you would just blow your mind.
“What you have with Chris is a guy determined to make the most of his career and that initial deal he signed with us proved as much.
“I think I paid £20,000 to sign him, which looks like a ridiculously good deal now.
“St Pat’s will do well out of any move Chris makes because they have a clause in the contract that will give them a cut of the deal.
“My hope is that moment is not imminent as we want him in our midfield as we try to get promotion this season.”