I don't know, mate. Don't you think its a risk if we sell all of Dirk, Maxi and Bellamy in the same window? We would bring some new players and all but there is a high chance some might need time to adapt. I think its necessary to keep at least one of Maxi or Bellamy.
Sure, it's a risk just not a big one in my book. We weren't good last year. We're not breaking up the '27 Yankees or Kenny's '87-'88 side here. We're talking about a player who's 33-years-old next month, has questionable fitness, and tailed off badly the last three months of the year. It's not a huge leap to see those three things as related. Conversely, he has some attributes to his game that we genuinely lack, he's a good character, and he loves the club. The most important factor for me, though, is he's just about guaranteed to leave next summer. So the choice is to pocket ~2m now or have him play 20-25 games next year while spending ~4m and receiving nothing when he leaves. So for me it comes back to what type of role he's going to have in the squad for that one year and what we could do with that ~6m total we'd make/save.
If we think he's the type of player whose contribution will tip the scales between fourth and not-fourth then it's an easy decision. 4m is nothing in that discussion. I don't happen to think he's that player, though. More importantly, I think we could get a decent approximation of his contribution/role from Sterling/Eccleston/New Signing. The most important factor for me, however, is that each of those three alternatives to Bellamy, unlike Craig, have a chance to contribute to our squad beyond next season. With that in mind I can understand a decision to save a decent chunk of change, reinvest it into the squad, and turn the keys for that role over to the new triumverate.
He scored 9 goals last year of varying importance. That's a decent return, but it's not earth-shattering and I think it's fair to assume that's the very best we could hope for next season. In fact, I think it's wise to expect less than that considering Father Time's role in things. Could we get 7 or 8 goals in ~35 games from Sterling/Eccleston/New Signing? I don't think that's an overly-optimistic expectation. I'd say it's probably reasonable and may even be extremely pessimistic depending on who that new signing turns out to be. Again, we're not talking about replacing Digger circa 1988. It comes back to that cliche of selling a player a year early rather than a year late. Unfortunately that cliche is usually related to selling someone we like and could use, not just the Poulsen's of the world.
I'm not sure what people expect from Craig next year. If you're expecting 15 goals and 40 appearances then yeah we should probably keep him, but I'd brace for some disappointment. If, like me, you're looking for something around 5+ goals from 25-odd appearances then you need to ask yourself if that is something we can get from other members of our current squad. If so, then I think you save the 6m and turn to those other options. If not (or if you expect a greater return from Craig) then we should keep him. Like I've said before, I don't think there's a wrong choice here.