'Is he worth £10m? The way the game is going absolutely he is' - Lambert on defender Woolfenden's transfer value
PUBLISHED: 10:00 17 January 2020 | UPDATED: 11:45 17 January 2020
Paul Lambert has put a value of at least £10million on the head of defender Luke Woolfenden and has once again stressed his desire to keep hold of the academy graduate.
The 21-year-old has been the subject of reported interest from Premier League Sheffield United during the January transfer window, with Lambert scoffing at suggestions of a forthcoming £3million offer for a player he values significantly higher.
Lambert has spoken to Woolfenden in recent days about the situation and has been impressed with the way the youngster is handling the situation, with the Town boss seeing the defender's value as being well above what the Blades are reportedly keen to offer.
"The way the modern game is? Absolutely, absolutely," Lambert said, when he was asked whether Woolfenden is worth £10million.
"Potentially what he could be, 100 per cent he is. The level of money and the way the game's going, I see players move for money they shouldn't be anywhere near.
"But Woolfy is in the category of what you can buy now and what he will be like down the line.
"I had a chat with him the other day on things and the way he's performing football-wise has been brilliant.
"If he was any more laid back he'd be horizontal," Lambert continued.
"I'm not kidding on that, I've never seen anybody more laid back than him and nothing seems to faze him.
"Sometimes you just need to see if he's got a heartbeat. He's taking everything in his stride."
Lambert again pointed to the departures of defenders Adam Webster (to Bristol City for an initial £3.5million in 2018) and Matt Clarke (to Portsmouth in a swap deal for Webster in 2016) and insisted players of that ability must not be allowed to move on so cheaply. Both were sold by their clubs to Brighton last summer for a combined £25million, with Ipswich receiving sell-ons as part of both deals.
"I know the level of the Premier League and the Championship and there's no way you can allow people to leave here like Webster and Clarke did," Lambert said.
"It doesn't make sense and that can never happen again.
"If somebody came in with £20million or whatever it is that's one thing you can't ever stop. We're not in a position to turn down that kind of money. It's impossible.
"If that happens it happens but hopefully it doesn't because he's playing really well."
Lambert has been impressed with Woolfenden's growth during the season, looking back at a conversation required at Town's German training base in July where the Town boss needed to 'give him a talking to'.
"If you saw him play in pre-season in Germany I thought he was a country mile off it, the way he was playing there and in training," Lambert recalled.
"I had to give him a talking to over there to tell him he really needed to step it up.
"To be fair to the guy he's been exceptional.
"He's comfortable with the ball and that's the big thing for him. He's playing with no fear which is great for any player and the level he's playing at is great.
"His character is to be laid back, which is totally fine, but he has so much in front of him. As long as he keeps his feet on the ground and remains humble then he'll be alright."