Is loyalty officially dead in football?
I don’t intend to harp on one of the biggest transfer sagas of the 2012-2013 season following ex-Gunner Robin Van Persie’s $37 million shock move to arch-rivals Manchester United, as it’s already sent shockwaves amongst Arsenal devotees across the globe.
However, it does throw up the prospect of a debate regarding whether a player is expected to be loyal to a club or be prepared to swap jerseys when the colour of money offered is too exciting to resist.
Has the glorious game turned into a business with money being the prime motive for a player?
Despite the fact that RVP’s spell at Arsenal had been constantly marred with injury over eight campaigns, manager Arsene Wenger continued to put faith in the striker over that entire period, and his perseverance finally paid off in the 2011-2012 season when the Dutchman topped the scoring charts with 30 goals and became a player in demand.
However, the untimely exit of the Dutchman has left the Arsenal fan filled with rage and disappointment, unlike the heart-wrenching departure of Thierry Henry in 2007, who was eventually voted in a poll held in 2008 as the greatest Gunner ever.
Let’s not forget that the business of sport has escalated to unprecedented levels in the last decade and, therefore, shock transfers such as RVP’s are bound to become routine since it’s all about the money.
Another player who made news with his transfer was Samuel Eto’o, who moved from Inter Milan to Russian outfit Anzhi Makhachkala in 2011 for a jaw-dropping salary of $485,000 a week!
This is the player who’s been the subject of relentless ridicule during his stints in both Spain and Italy over the years, and for him to decide to move to the volatile Russian league proves again that players are indeed lured by the size of the salary package offered.
But, on the other end of the spectrum, there are players who epitomise commitment and sincerity to their club.
For instance, Italian legend Alessandro Del Piero stayed at Juventus for nearly 20 years, despite its relegation to Serie B in 2006. Moreover, he proved to be the driving force not only in their quest to qualify back into Serie A in 2008 but also when Juventus emerged victorious in Serie A in the 2011-2012 season.
Carlton Cole stuck with West Ham United despite interests shown from other clubs when WHU was demoted to the Championship in 2011. What was even more fascinating was the fact that he agreed to nearly a 50 percent salary pay cut and deservedly put in a match-winning performance in the play-off final against Blackpool (2-1) to rocket his side back into the Premier League.
Well, it’s not everyday we come across players such as Cole and Del Piero, who have shown tremendous devotion to their clubs over extended periods despite the pit-falls.
While we all chase money in our careers in the professional world, aren’t footballers also entitled to the same freedom to make a decision and go where the big bucks are?
From the passionate fan’s perspective, it’s a hard situation to accept, but maybe we should think more from our minds rather than from the heart.