Jac has written a few pieces for the Gonzo team (can a team be one man? I don’t see why not, Manchester United were for a lot of last season but anyway) but now he’s moving on to pastures new. This will be his last for a while in all probability; he’ll be sorely missed as now I have to write my own stuff. Here he examines whether or not money has ruined football. You can find him here on Twitter @Jac_Talbot, or here – www.jactal.wordpress.com – on his very own shiny new site. As ever publication doesn’t imply endorsement or agreement.
How money corrupts our football ideals
In 1996, Alan Shearer broke the British transfer record, with Newcastle paying just over £15million for him. Now 20 years later, Shearer’s a dull pundit and a 22-year-old Frenchman going by the name of Paul Pogba is about to smash the record again, with Manchester United set to pay £110million pounds for the midfielder.
Some will begrudgingly understand the climate of the modern game, whilst others will surely scoff and proclaim that this is just getting too much.
When the Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll transfers went through in January 2011, for a combined £80m+, there seemed to be a dawn upon the game; no more would a £10m transfer seem a hefty price, nor would the idea of the £40m sum swoop seem particularly devastating.
Nowadays it is customary to spend such large amounts on players with just a high-quality potential. There is also the added factor that many of the top-top teams (think of your Barcelonas, Real Madrids and Bayern Munichs), have formulated a habit of keeping the world’s best in their own circles.
Pogba is another instance of this. What’s been highlighted before is the fact that he now faces a year without Champions League football – the must-do stage for the stars to shine. As a man destined to be the world’s best he has, in actuality, sold himself short for monetary gain.
Lionel Messi, one of the world’s highest paid footballers, recently got a suspended jail sentence for tax fraud. The £200,000 weekly salary should have been enough for the Argentine superstar but seemingly it wasn’t.
Money also has a nasty habit of sabotaging ideals within football; passion, love, loyalty… all rendered essentially insignificant by cold hard cash. The unbelievable Premier League win by Leicester City spawned, as Claudio Ranieri put it, a dream-like-reality to which all the fans and players of the Foxes could be a part of.
This did not stop N’Golo Kante, the heart of Leicester’s team, jumping ship to mid-table Chelsea. This transfer epitomises the era we live in. For me, the singular reason for Kante’s transfer was for higher wages – like Pogba, he misses out on Champions League football as a result of the move.
Professional footballers, have only one thing in mind; money. They do have a very short career span which averages to between 11-15 years. Post retirement there is not much they can do apart from coaching and punditry, and even then there are a very short amount of positions available.
Perhaps we should stop putting our faith in individual players and save our love purely for our clubs.