LUKE THE PART - Hartlepool Utd’s James is ‘final piece in jigsaw’ for Peterborough Utd

Luke James applauds the travelling Poolies at the end of the game Cheltenham Town. Picture by FRANK REID
Luke James applauds the travelling Poolies at the end of the game Cheltenham Town. Picture by FRANK REID

LUKE James was the “final piece” in the Peterborough United jigsaw according to their chairman who insists Hartlepool United have done well out the deal.

The 19-year-old swapped Victoria Park for London Road on deadline day, with the deal confirmed live on television by Posh chairman Darragh MacAnthony.

James has signed a four-year deal for an undisclosed fee, although it is believed it could be worth up to £1m.

A sell-on fee has been included in the deal and MacAnthony insists Pools won’t lose out.

Initially the Posh statement said Pools would be getting two players in return but that was swiftly removed and put down to a mistake.

In a radio interview, MacAnthony admitted the negotiations weren’t easy but said “common sense” prevailed in the end for the transfer of James, who had handed in two transfer requests and missed three days of training.

Posh turned to James to fill the void left by Britt Assombalonga who joined Nottingham Forest for £5m and MacAnthony revealed they were looking to sign James next season but decided to bring it forward a year.

MacAnthony said: “The worst thing that can happen is if they go last minute and that is what happened with Britt [Assombalonga].

“That happened really last minute and it caught us out a little bit and then we had to start putting a plan in motion.

“Luke [James] was always in our mind that we were possibly going to buy in a years time so we decided to move it forward a year.

“It was really difficult and I’m not having a go at anybody.

“Nobody wants to lose their players and I know the Hartlepool fans aren’t happy that I’ve taken Luke James but the majority can see the benefits to the boy.

“We have given them a hell of a package and they are not going to lose out.

“If Luke goes on to be a success Hartlepool are going to do very well out of it, as they have and will, with Jack Baldwin.

“That’s football and we have been victims of that ourselves.

“Credit to Hartlepool that they are producing these players.

“It is a club now known for producing good young talent and I have no doubt they will go on and have a good season and hopefully start going back up the leagues.”

He said the negotiations weren’t easy, adding: “We dug our heels in and we never changed our stance, we never moved from where we wanted to be and in the end common sense prevailed and everyone was happy and we move on.

“Unfortunately it was done last minute.”

The 19-year-old had a medical at the League One leaders on Monday morning and was in the squad for their Johnstone’s Paint Trophy match last night against Leyton Orient.

There was widespread anger from upset Pools supporters as once again the club had sold a big-name player to Peterborough on deadline day.

But MacAnthony was delighted to get his man, who they had been chasing for almost all of August, after their initial bid was rejected.

The Posh chairman added: “I don’t want to build him up too much but he has everything in his locker.

“If you watch him, and we have seen him enough times, he is only 19 but has already played nearly 100 times in the Football League.

“That tells you he is a fit player, very productive and has a great work ethic and can score a goal.

“He can score with his right and a left foot but for a little fella he also scores headers as well.

“In our team, we like to play football and we create opportunities and I think he will flourish.

“I don’t want to put too much pressure on him. At 19 he has the whole world at his feet now and it is now up to him.

“The gaffer and coaches at the club will give him the platform to perform and we will be very patient with him, like we are with all our young players.

“It is win, win and good for everyone.

“Luke was just the final piece of the jigsaw for our team and hopefully Luke will go on to have a very good career with us,” added MacAnthony, who was speaking to BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

James finished top scorer last season for Pools, netting 16 goals and went onto be named player and supporters player of the season for the 2013-14 campaign.