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Football Transfers- To stay or go?

Beckham & Giggs

In the present football scene, there seems to be no guilt in leaving one football club for another. Football has seen players transfer clubs and cherry hop from everywhere to everywhere in successive years. One moment, he might be your best player in your squad and the next moment he is playing for a rival club, whether at a domestic or European stage.

There are many factors that seem to lure modern-day footballers from place to place.

Playing Time

This factor is the most reasonable, irrespective of a player’s age. Players at the prime of their career would want to play each and every game of the season. Warming the bench would be an utter waste of their time as a footballer. For example, placing players such as Darron Gibson (when at United) on your bench, would most certainly frustrate them by denying them game time. Gibson had just 31 senior appearances for United from the years 2005 to 2012 ( although he did have loan spells at Royal Antwerp and Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2006-07 and 2007-08 respectively).

Nuri Sahin is another example of the kind. Unable to cement a play in Real Madrid’s first team, the Turkish midfielder has resorted to recent loan spells at Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund.

Ultimately, players of this kind tend to seek another club to play for and who can blame them for wanting to do so?

The current scenario also comprises of younger players, who are still in the process of learning the game, refusing to wait their turn for first team action. Paul Pogba was one of United’s most precious and highly rated youth players. Alex Ferguson wanted to make sure that he was properly prepared for first team games as anything short of that would make him a liability. But two had different views about the matter which resulted in the young Frenchman making a move to the Italian champions, Juventus in search of more game time.

Next comes the aging players who would look for game time anywhere out of the desperate need to play the beloved game. A certain example of the case in hand is Michael Owen. The 33-year-old former England international recently joined Stoke City in an attempt to get more playing time and one can respect that. Kaka, hitting the news off late, is yet another player looking for a place to play regular football. Beckham, Henry, etc. this list could go on for a while as such a thing is bound to happen to every player.

Money

You’re lying to yourself if hadn’t just thought of Manchester City. Sadly, football is no longer just football. Money plays a large hand in every single thing that happens in football and this includes transfers.

Players themselves have admitted it that they have shifted clubs purely because of higher wages being offered. Former Scotland striker, Gary O’Connor had publicly admitted that his move from Hibernian to Lokomotiv Moscow in 2006 was purely for monetary benefit. And even if they don’t admit it, it’s pretty damn evident. Former Porto and current Brazilian forward, Hulk’s move to Zenit St. Petersburg smells nothing but a massive bump up in his pay check (of course, Porto got a LOT of money in the deal).

Villa & Silva

Valencia have had to sell stars to cope with financial difficulties. [Photo: guardian.co.uk]

Another reason why players are sold is due to the financial status of the club. Portsmouth were forced to sell/release many of their players due to their highly weakened financial situation. Players like Glen Johnson, Peter Crouch, Sylvian Distan and Niko Kranjcar were all sold to ease either financial situation. Malaga too have let go of some of their good players to help them suppress their financial issues with the sales of Monreal and Carzola both to Arsenal and Solomon Rondon to Russian side, Ruban Kazan. Valencia too sold players like David Silva, David Villa and Juan Mata to calm their financial situation down.

Success

It’s what every footballer wants, isn’t it? Success at a professional level of the game, whether be it a promotion to the top flight, the Mickey Mouse Cup, the league title etc., this is something players have been working for all their lives. Players such as Samir Nasri, van Persie, Ronaldo, etc. are players of the highest classes who have moved to other clubs in search of footballing success (more than they already have in the case of Ronaldo). Moving for success from a neutral’s perspective is completely understandable but when you’re a fan of the losing end of this deal, it’s a whole new thing.

Nasri & Clichy

Nasri & Clichy both turned their back on Arsenal and achieved success with City [Photo: thenational.ae]

Apart from these, there have been plenty other reasons for players to transfer to other clubs. Home sickness, problems with staff or managers, being away from family, etc. Our current footballing world sees players moving so quickly from club to club that loyalty to a single club is one of the most respectable things. To stick to one club through out your career through the ups and downs of that club for long enough and turn down every offer that comes your way is immensely admirable.

Easily making anyone’s list of the most loyal players in the world today is Steven Gerrard. Whether you are a United fan or an Everton fan or a fan of any other club, Gerrard has earned the respect of most people through his loyalty alone ( Him being a world-class player that anyone would want in their team is a whole new aspect). The England captain spent 11 years of his youth career at Liverpool from 1987 to 1998. He went on to break through to the first team where he has been playing for almost 15 years making more than 400 appearances and falling short of 100 goals for the club. Liverpool have been hit hard by a rough patch in recent years and there have been plenty of clubs that would have welcomed Gerrard with open arms. More success and more money are out there for his taking but his loyalty to the club comes first.

Tony Adams, easily one of the greatest Arsenal players of all time, is another example of a one club man. Playing in their youth teams for three years from 1980 to 1983 followed by first team break through and a starting regular from 1983 to 2002, the man to had a statue of himself posted right outside The Emirates made over 500 appearances for the London club. Adams stuck with the club from start to finish of his career earning he won four top flight division titles, three FA Cups, two Football League Cups, a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, and three FA Community Shields. Again, irrespective of who you support, his loyalty is valued.

Now having mentioned loyalty (and being a United fan myself), I shall refrain from the examples of Scholes and Giggs: everyone knows about how they’ve stuck around for a billion years with the same club.

This act of club hopping seems more drastic in recent years but in the past, there have been more extreme cases that people haven’t brought up as much. These are some of the cases of the “anti-one-club-man” if you wish to call it that.

Romario: Brazilian legend and FIFA World Player of the Year in 1994 is an example of a multiple club man and when I say, multiple, it’s more than just a few. Romario played for 17 clubs in his senior career counting the numerous times he kept going back to Flamengo and Vasco da Gama.

Trevor Benjamin: The Jamaican forward’s record beats Romario’s stat of 17 clubs. Trevor Benjamin managed to represent 29 clubs in his time, which included 5 years in the Premier League with Leicester City from 2000 to 2005. Benjamin has played for numerous Football League clubs as well like Crystal Palace, Watford, etc.

Albert Pape: Pape’s senior career began in 1919 for Rotherman County. The English forward played for 14 clubs in his time including Notts County and Manchester United. Not much is known about him due to the inefficiency of record keeping during his time, except for his rather peculiar switch from Clayton Orient to Manchester United.

The term, ‘Journeyman’ has been used to describe players of such kind. Other Journeymen worth mentioning are German goalkeeper, Lutz Pfannenstiel with 24 different clubs to his record, Drewe Broughton with 18 transfers during his time, John Burridge with 29 clubs in his long-lasting career, Jefferson Louis also on 29 clubs and Richard Pacquette with 19 representations.

For a modern footballer, his priorities should be proper growth and training, followed by game time and then success. With money thrown around in that mix, it changes his priorities. Depending on this, a player can decide to be a Journeyman or not. At the end of the day, a player might have earned a lot of money and maybe even earned success but the respect of the people who love football will lie with the ‘One-club man’ kind.

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