Since the English season ended in May, Tom Ince had been linked with a move to one of his father’s teams, with Inter Milan reportedly interested in bringing the 22-year-old midfielder to Italy. Today, however, Ince committed to staying in the Premier League, signing a two-year deal that will take him from Blackpool to FA Cup finalists Hull City.
Ince, who had been with the Tangerines for the last three seasons, spent the second half of the 2013-14 campaign on loan at Crystal Palace, where he made eight league appearances as the Eagles fought off relegation from the Premier League.
With his move to Hull, Ince will be joining the fifth club in his young professional career, having spent time with Liverpool and Notts County before joining Blackpool in the summer of 2011.
Now Ince secures a permanent move back into the top-flight, with the relationship Hull manager and former Manchester United star Steve Bruce had with Ince’s father Paul part of the process that put the midfielder in black and orange. From Sky Sports News, via the Press Association and The Guardian:
“I’ve known Steve Bruce on a personal and professional level for quite some years, being in a former team with my old man.
“I also know a lot of the players so it felt like home to me. I didn’t feel like a stranger walking into the dressing room, into the ground …
“To be given an opportunity to play again in the Premier League, it’s a fantastic opportunity for me and one that I’m relishing.”
Over two-and-a-half seasons with Blackpool, Ince scored 33 goals in 113 appearances while being named the Football League Young Player of the Year in 2013. During that time, Ince has also made 14 appearances for England’s U-21 national team, though he’s yet to earn a full senior cap.
With a opportunity to win regular time in the Premier League, Ince’s chances of breaking into Roy Hodgson’s team could improve. In fact, a 5-3-2 formation with Ince playing above Jake Livermore and Tom Huddlestone, behind Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic, doesn’t look half bad. If Ince can build on his strong performances in the Championship, the signing could prove a good fit for both player and club.
How much Hull has to pay to make that happen, however, remains to be seen. Though Ince was out of contract with the Tangerines, his young age means the Tigers will still have to send money to Blackpool. In theory, this compensates Blackpool for investing in Ince’s development, even though in this case, a good deal of that development happened in the Liverpool academy.
Right now, the clubs remain at an impasse, meaning an independent tribunal may have to set the fee. When Daniel Sturridge went through a similar process while moving from Manchester City to Chelsea in 2010, an independent tribunal awarded the Citizens £6.5 million: £3.5 million in initial fees; another £3 million in appearance bonuses.
While Ince is unlikely to draw that type of evaluation, he’ll still be subjected to the same process. If Hull and Blackpool can’t come to an agreement on compensation, an independent panel will decide what the Seasiders get from their investment in Ince.