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Modern Football & the Issue of Transfer-itis

Dave Gantly speaks about the recent cases of ‘transfer-itis’ that have plagued modern football.

This summer’s transfer window has once again been dominated by talk of high-profile player departures. Last summer we had the Robin Van Persie transfer saga that dragged on for months before a phone call from Sir Alex to Arsene Wenger saw the prolific Dutchman join the Manchester giants.. The rest is history.

Van Persie’s contribution to Manchester United last season cannot be understated. He now has 32 goals in 49 appearances since his switch from the Emirates. Arsenal received £24 million for their want-away captain while United captured a world-class striker, albeit at 29 years of age. Van Persie’s case of ‘’transferitis’’ had been cured and he was now in a position to challenge for top honours every season. What a world-class player at his age deserves to be doing.

Three world-class players have dominated this summer transfer window thus far.

1) Wayne Rooney

At Manchester United, Wayne Rooney seems discontent with life at Old Trafford and his deafening silence has done nothing to quell the rumours. When Rooney last edged towards a move away from United, he cited a lack of ambition by the club as his reasoning behind his determination to leave. A lack of top quality signings by United left Rooney wondering whether Old Trafford was the place to be.

Sir Alex Ferguson had a meeting with Rooney and his advisors assuring them the club had every desire to continue competing at the top and that world-class players would be arriving sooner rather than later. Rooney accepted United’s offer of a new five-year contract and later admitted his decision to hand in a transfer request was the biggest mistake of his life.

Such was Van Persie’s amazing contribution to United last season; Rooney was left disgruntled, kicking his heels on the bench on numerous occasions. The most high-profile exclusion being when Sir Alex Ferguson decided to leave him on the bench for arguably the club’s biggest game of the season against Real Madrid in the quarter finals of the Champions League. This seemed to confirm Rooney’s position as second fiddle to Van Persie, the new star player in the team. Rooney’s performances that followed lacked the usual tenacity and hunger that the Evertonian usually epitomises.

Recently retired Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed on the last day of the season that Rooney had once again asked to leave the club. His wishes back in 2010 of high-profile signings had come back to haunt him. Van Persie was now the main man at Old Trafford. Having failed to play a pre-season game this season, Rooney has been the subject of two rejected bids from Chelsea. Manchester United are adamant he is not for sale. To sell to a title rival would be a massive mistake. A big money bid from a foreign team would be interesting however; would United grant Rooney his wish in this case? Probably not, considering the lack of top quality replacements. What would be refreshing to see would be for Rooney to come out announcing his desire to continue at Old Trafford and to fight for his place in the team. He is one of the top strikers in world football and can fulfil his ambition at the Theatre of Dreams. For a club who have given him so much, Rooney should accept that United do not want to sell him and show some loyalty.

Loyalty is something that is quickly disappearing in the soccer world.

2) Gareth Bale

Tottenham’s Welsh wizard Gareth Bale is another player who has been the subject of intense transfer speculation not just this summer, but also all of last season. Bale had an absolutely terrific season, scoring some magnificent goals and frightening Premier League defenders with his abundance of strength and speed. Constant links with the Spanish heavyweights Real Madrid and Barcelona refused to go away.

Bale did not let the speculation distract him and frequently declared his intention to stay at Spurs, fighting for that coveted Champions League spot. With Spurs failing to secure a top four finish, questions over Bale’s future increased rapidly while the player himself stayed quiet. No surprise then that in the last few weeks, Real Madrid have supposedly made a world record £85 million bid for his services. Spurs have taken the same stance as United; the player is not for sale.

With Bale now coy on his future plans, Spurs supporters must surely be worried. It is hard to blame Bale for wanting this move, which may only come around once in his career. With his style of play, you could see him becoming a massive success in La Liga. He is just the kind of player Real need, especially following Brazilian wonderkid Neymar’s arrival at the Camp Nou. For a player who has shown so much loyalty to Spurs, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy should grant Bale his dream move and let Andre Villas Boas invest the massive sum back in to the squad. Spurs have already broken their transfer record with the signing of striker Roberto Soldado from Valencia for £26 million, along with the signing of Brazilian midfielder Paulinho from Sao Paulo for £17 million. More investment in high quality players such as these could be the push they need to break in to the top four this season. With or without Bale, Spurs will surely be back challenging for those top spots. No team is a one-man team.

3) Luis Suarez

Lastly, but certainly not least, is the topic of Luis Suarez’s obsession with a move away from Anfield. This highly controversial world-class striker has not exactly kept quiet in his determination to switch clubs. Suarez insists that last year he had an agreement with Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers that if Liverpool did not secure Champions League football, he would be allowed leave with the club’s blessing. Liverpool representatives have categorically denied these comments, with Arsenal circling around waiting to pounce.

Arsenal’s bid of £40 million + 1 pound which was supposed to activate n apparent clause in Suarez’s contract allowing him to speak to other clubs, was rejected immediately. How Arsenal knew about this clause is still unknown; has Suarez’s agent been working behind Liverpool’s back? It would hardly be surprising. So many agents these days are advising players based solely on their own cut from the deal. Look at Wayne Rooney back in 2010, his representatives are said to have been a major factor in him wanting to leave for Manchester City.

There is no doubt Suarez deserves to play in Europe’s elite club competition – he is a world-class player. But the way in which he has gone about paving the way for his exit is what is wrong with soccer at the moment. A contract does not seem to matter any more. If the player wants to leave, it is near impossible to keep him against his wishes, without affecting the club. Luis Suarez is not bigger than Liverpool Football Club and Brendan Rodgers has outlined this stance on several occasions, dealing with the problem in an exemplary fashion. Banishing Suarez to train with the reserves is the right call – ensuring it does not affect his side’s preparations for the upcoming season.

Suarez’s stance is all the more puzzling considering the loyalty Liverpool have shown to him, with high-profile incidents such as racially abusing Patrice Evra resulting in him being banned for eight matches by the FA and fined £40,000. Liverpool stood by the player. What followed is the now infamous bite on Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic arm during the sides Premier League fixture back in April. As a result, Suarez was banned for ten matches and the football world was in shock at such an incident. Many called for Suarez to be fired, and for Liverpool to give up hope on their controversial Uruguayan star. Liverpool did not give in, accepted the ban and reminded Suarez of his responsibilities as a Liverpool player.

It is now rumoured that Suarez will refuse to apologise to the squad and coaching staff for his recent actions. Brendan Rodgers has said he will be excluded from all first team matters until this occurs. Liverpool owner John Henry has confirmed he will not be sold at any price, and certainly not to Arsenal. Where Suarez goes from here is anybody’s guess, but Liverpool will, rightly, have the final say. It could be a long season for the striker, as he already misses the first six games through suspension.

So the issue of ‘’transfer-itis’ refuses to go away, no doubt most managers will be looking forward to that September 2nd transfer deadline when the window slams shut.

It should make for a few very interesting weeks.

Sport Is Everything. Dave Gantly.

You can read more of Dave’s articles via his personal blog.


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