Portsmouth fight off Ipswich to land Luton midfielder Joe Morrell on day of drama at Fratton Park
Pompey capped a dramatic day at Fratton Park by signing Joe Morrell.
Danny Cowley this evening finally secured his long-running midfield target for an undisclosed fee from Luton.
However, earlier in the day it appeared the move had collapsed after Ipswich had staged a last-minute intervention.
At his afternoon press conference, Cowley feared the Tractor Boys had won the race for the Welsh international’s signature, reflected by the head coach’s downbeat interview on The News’ Facebook page.
Portman Road boss Paul Cook offered a far more lucrative financial package for Morrell – yet, ultimately, the 24-year-old’s desire to work under Danny Cowley again proved decisive.
It capped a topsy turvy day on the south coast, with Cowley’s earlier mood hardly helped by Ipswich pulling out of a transfer for Michael Jacobs.
The Pompey midfielder successfully passed a medical on Friday ahead of a Portman Road move – only for Cook to scrap it in favour of signing West Brom attacker Kyle Edwards.
Ironically, Cowley had been anticipating Jacobs’ sale to provide the financial power to recruit Morrell.
Nonetheless, there proved to be a late twist in the saga.
And Morrell drove to Fratton Park late this evening to complete a three-year deal with the club holding the option for an additional 12 months.
Although the newcomer will not be considered for tomorrow night’s Carabao Cup clash at Millwall (7.45pm).
It signifies quite a coup for Cowley, with Morrell starting all four games for Wales in this summer’s European Championships.
Pompey’s head coach previously had him on loan from Bristol City at Lincoln for a season.
That relationship, and the midfielder’s respect for the head coach, proved pivotal in choosing Pompey over the more attractive wage tabled by ambitious Ipswich.
Cowley told Pompey’s website: ‘Joe will bring a really infectious energy and enthusiasm to our team.
‘He’s the type of boy that’s always the first to get the footballs out in training and as a coach, he’s the kind of person you look forward to seeing in the morning.
‘We first signed him on loan from Bristol City when we were at Lincoln and he transformed our team.
‘That was his breakthrough season in League One and it allowed him to be called up into the Wales senior team.
‘It was great to watch him in the Euros over the summer and he’s a really talented player, who will offer calmness on the ball.
‘He’s willing to pick the ball up anywhere on the pitch and is always so brave because there’s trust in his own ability.
‘Joe brings with him a real tenacity against the ball and although he’s small, he’s spiky. I think the supporters will enjoy watching him.’
Morrell came through the ranks at Bristol City, spending time on loan at Sutton United, Margate, Cheltenham and, of course, Lincoln.
In October 2020, he joined Luton, making 11 appearances for the Championship side last season.
However, the Ipswich-born player wanted regular first-team football this season, prompting him to look elsewhere and attracting the attention of Cowley.
Now he becomes Pompey’s 11th signing of the summer – and arguably the highest profile.
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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