At last, it's actual Chelsea transfer news. We've been very short on that since the Hamburg/Arnesen raids, but unfortunately this is a move in line with the departures of Michael Mancienne, Gokhan Tore and Jacopo Sala. As you've assumedly gathered from the title, 22-year-old Jack Cork is leaving the club he's been with since a schoolboy to move to Championship side Southampton for a fee reported to be in the region of £3M.
Cork had never made an appearance for the Blues, being loaned out something like seven and a half billion times in the past few seasons, and there wasn't much reason to expect him to ever make it into the first team at Stamford Bridge. Despite him being a solid performer with Burnley over the last couple of seasons as well as the England under-21s, it was pretty clear he didn't have the quality required to get a place as anything more than a utility player for a Champions League side, and everyone's been anticipating a permanent transfer for some time.
And yet, for some reason, this deal's making me sad in a way Michael Mancienne singularly failed to do. Most football fans have at some point dreamed of playing at the very top level, and for the vast majority of us, that dream dies early when we realise that we have all the innate footballing talent of a chair*. That, of course, didn't happen to Cork. In order to make it this far, he had to be phenomenally talented, work supremely hard and push through all sorts of setbacks.
*Quite a good chair, mind.
Cork was a Chelsea FC player. No matter what, he was affiliated with one of the best teams in the world. He was tantalisingly close to making that breakthrough and playing at the top level. He very nearly touched that oh-so-familiar dream, and now it looks as though he'll never quite make it. Yes, he's still a professional footballer, and that's hardly a bad life, but now he's a professional footballer who wasn't quite good enough to touch the sky, and that makes him something incredibly human.
I've always been fond of Cork, and I think one of the reasons I rooted so hard for him to succeed is that I knew that this moment would come. I don't know why I feel for him more than I felt for Mancinne (Sala and Tore are both young enough to make huge breakthroughs, so they don't count), but this whole thing just makes me immensely sad. Good luck at St. Mary's, Jack. Don't be afraid to keep dreaming.