Often forgotten in the case of high-profile transfer wrangles are the lower-league clubs who put blood, sweat and tears into nurturing the player being chased by the nation’s elite sides.
But this won’t be the case on Wednesday night at Oakwell, whose attendees will know only too well the background involved in the case of John Stones, who might make his first appearance back at Barnsley since leaving for Everton in January 2013.
The Barnsley-born 21-year-old has been the subject of many reports linking him to Chelsea, with Jose Mourinho believed to have targeted the 6ft 2in defender as a long-term successor for the ageing John Terry.
With reports of bids upwards of £30m rejected by Everton and a transfer request being submitted, his value now represents a 1000% increase on his original purchase price of just £3m from the League One side.
The good news for Barnsley is, with their club accountants having wisely added a 15% sell-on clause to any future sales, The Tykes could be on for a windfall of around £5m.
That’s no small fee for a club looking to get back to the Championship following their relegation in 2014 which, by coincidence or direct result, was the first full season after they cashed in on their prized asset.
It would make a pleasing circular narrative then should the additional money they receive for their former player propel them back to the division they were in before he departed but, before they even consider such a scenario, they must first come up with a way of getting the ball past him.
Assuming Stones isn’t rested – and he has announced himself available to play – he’ll be looking to stop his old side recording any Capital One Cup second-round upset against his current employers, with the Tykes 19/4 to beat Everton.
Barnsley have started the League One season fairly solidly, winning two and drawing once from their first four games. With only one loss from their last ten at Oakwell stretching back to last season, the home side should be confident, though they will do well to banish any lingering memories of last season’s Capital One Cup effort, when they went out limply in the first round at home to Crewe.
Everton boss Roberto Martinez will be expected to give some of his fringe players a chance to impress, though the home crowd will be hoping that their returning hero is given a start in front of his former adoring audience.
The Toffees are rightly standout favourites at 3/5, with a recent loss to high-flying Man City not likely to knock too much wind out of their sails after a stunning display in their 3-0 victory at Southampton a week prior.
As for what Barnsley would prefer more – a big-money John Stones move to Chelsea or surprise progress to the next round to face Reading – it all depends on who is asked.
No doubt the fans attending tomorrow would love to add an “I was there” moment to their list of football memories, but given that the Capital One Cup will bring with it only £100,000 in prize money to the eventual victors, then the £5m on offer for a Stones sale is likely to be the overwhelming wish of the club directors.
Given the respective abilities of both sides, not to mention Chelsea’s previous ruthlessness in the transfer market, it is the Barnsley moneymen, and not the fans, who can count themselves as favourites.