The happiest man in English football right now? How about Fitz Hall's agent.
Christmas came well and truly early for the 26-year-old's 'Mr Fixit' last week when Latics boss Chris Hutchings decided that this summer's arrival at the JJB of Titus Bramble allowed him to let the one-time Chesham United defender out on loan.
All of a sudden and the world and his Championship wife were beating a path to Hutchings' door in the desperate hope that 'One Size' would fit all their defensive needs.
Cue the chance for Hutchings to sit there and set the bar for a loan 'fee' at, say for purely argument's sake, ?500,000 – with interested parties then required to pick up the better – if not total – part of Hall's weekly wages.
And that's just the club end. Next stop will be Hall's agent, who can sit there and sift through the offers on the table and decide just which best fits with the needs of both his client and himself. Appearance fees, arrangememt costs, all that kind of stuff…
In many ways it is a damning indictment of the lack of quality alternatives out there that Hall's potential signature should prompt such an almighty bun-fight.
From the start, the Wigan Observer had him linked to both Cardiff City and Stoke City; The Sun had him Hull-bound; The Daily Mirror insisted he was off to Charlton. On the South Coast, it was to Southampton; on the east coast it was to Ipswich and, of course – or rather, apparently – Norwich. In Yorkshire and it was Sheffield Wednesday that was monitoring the situation closely.
Dig a little deeper and if you are Hall's 'Mr Ten Per Cent', you see Hull breaking their transfer record to bring in Caleb Forlan for a ?1 million and paying Jay-Jay Okocha a reported ?15,000 per week and you think: 'Mmm, they've got money….
Cast your eye to South Wales and with Darren Purse sidelined with this knock and that niggle, you see Jimmy Floyd and Robbie picking up their weekly whack out of Peter Ridsdale's coffers and you think: 'Mmm, they've got money…'
Little wonder that, when quizzed about the loan situation on the back of that Cardiff defeat, Peter Grant's tone was drifting towards the exasperated.
?The fee that people are wanting for a loan is like a transfer fee – to assess that, and the wages and everything else that goes along with it, makes it a little bit more difficult,? said the City boss, with little or no immediate sign that the situation was about to be resolved in the next 48 hours.
Lucien Mettomo's arrival and departure last week may actually offer more clues as to which way the manager's thoughts are turning than simply the fact that it is a centre-half being offered a trial at Colney – Mettomo is a free agent; unattached after being released by Lucerne this summer, he doesn't come with a loan fee or an existing Premiership wage packet to match.
Whether it was simply a case of being polite, but equally the fact that Grant did not slam the door firmly in his face but offered the one-time Cameroon international a second bite at the cherry if he could drop down to rather nearer his fighting weight in the meantime again suggested that the free agent market could be City's best bet. It was, after all, where they found Dion Dublin this time last year.
Evidence that Norwich are not alone in their desperate hunt for a new centre-half is not hard to find.
Owls boss Brian Laws has been left pondering whether or not 33-year-old Steve Watson could do him a job there after finding the Hillsborough cupboard bare of centre-halves.
“I've been checking on the fitness levels and availability of potential targets and have watched games this week. But if I bring in a player, he's got to be better than what I've already got,? Laws told The Star this week.
“We know we can use Steve Watson at the back. We might have to put him there. He has a calmness. And he's already shown he can play at the back or in midfield.?
In Wales, Ridsdale wasn't shy in telling everyone that Cardiff had made a bid to bring Hammers centre-half James Collins back to Cardiff as he drops down the pecking order at Upton Park.
That's a no-go, it seems. The player himself this weekend was quoted as saying that he was determined to stay in the East End and fight for his place.
“We did enquire about James three weeks ago regarding the possibility of bringing him in on loan,” Bluebirds chairman Peter Ridsdale told the Western Mail last week. “But West Ham told us there was not a cat in hell's chance of doing it.”
Switch to St Mary's and last week's news that Saints skipper Claus Lundekvam could be out for up to six months following further surgery on his ankle leaves George Burley flicking through the same player videos that must litter the desks at Colney.
Southampton's only alternatives are Darren Powell and the on-loan Alan Bennett – the fact that the former is unable to train right now merely adds to the same sense of urgency that grips Carrow Road given Jason Shackell's own ankle problems.
“There is no doubt if we are looking to strengthen the defence and if we can bring in a loan player in the next few weeks it will be great,? said Burley. “With Darren Powell not training at the moment it leaves us very short”.
Why are Saints short? Because the Premiership came a-calling for Chris Baird this summer and the club's Player of the Season took the money and ran off to Fulham. Why are Stoke in the market for a Fitz Hall type character having already snaffled up Ryan Shawcross on loan out of Manchester United?
Because Sunderland came a-calling for Danny Higginbotham and Shawcross' central defensive partner in the Potters' 1-0 opening day win at Cardiff was away to the Premiership – Stoke's offers of a new and improved deal swiftly rejected.
That's the beast that is the Premiership – it consumes anything and everything that the Championship puts before it.
And that's not about to change.