There was some surprise amongst Portsmouth supporters this past week when long-serving centre-back Jack Whatmough opted to swap Fratton Park for the north west of England as he joined Wigan Athletic.
The Latics are Pompey’s League One rivals and considering he had been linked to Championship clubs previously, many thought Whatmough would be heading to the second tier.
Whatmough held much promise as a teenager – he was capped by England at two different youth levels and made his Portsmouth senior debut aged 17, but future seasons would be ruined by knee injuries.
Three serious setbacks to his knee had forced to cut short his career but Whatmough fought back to full fitness this season, making 34 League One appearances as Pompey just missed out on the play-off places.
With his injury struggles behind him, Whatmough was offered a new deal at Fratton Park but it was not as long as what Wigan had on the table, and it’s believed that Portsmouth offered him reduced terms wage-wise which may have played a part in his decision.
But now officially confirmed to be departing the south coast club, Whatmough has revealed it was never about salary but more about security.
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“Some have said I left for the money – and it’s a load of rubbish,” Whatmough told the Portsmouth News.
“It was nothing to do with wages at any point. It was always to do with the length of the deal. Always.
“I know I can rest easy having not left Pompey for the wrong reason.
“It was just the length of the deal. I wanted to do it, Danny wanted to do it – the club didn’t.
‘That was Pompey’s decision and one I fully respect. I will never hold anything against the club, they have done so much for me. Not a bad word will come out of my mouth about what has happened.”
“I wanted a contract right for me in terms of length of deal – and Wigan offered that with their first offer. For me, that was a no-brainer.”
Whatmough confirmed that he did indeed want to remain with the club he joined as a 13-year-old, but once Wigan’s deal was on the table it was all over in his eyes.
It seems like the Latics have performed a bit of a coup to bring the centre-back in when there seemed to be interest from clubs higher-placed in the pyramid, but now backed by Bahraini owners, Wigan seem to be trying to build a promotion-winning squad.
Will Whatmough be a massive loss to Pompey? Well Cowley wanted to keep him but supporters were split down the middle on his 2020-21 performances, with some believing that his departure isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Time will tell as to who comes out of the deal better between Wigan and Pompey – it can be judged on the respective league positions in 2021-22 with both gunning for Championship promotion.