As an Arsenal fan, one of the most bizarre departures, was Robin van Persie to Manchester United. I remember seeing a couple of tweets about a contentious statement the Dutchman had released – which of course made his position untenable. Now, as much as I would have loved RVP to stay at the Emirates, he clearly had other plans. At 29, his age clock winding down, he knew it was the point he had to make a career-changing decision. Manchester United missed out on the League on goals difference the season before, Van Persie finished the season as highest goalscorer. The marriage was perhaps inevitable.
Every summer comes with its circus. This year, the hottest properties in football have been Edinson Cavani, Radamel Falcao, Cesc Fabregas, Gareth Bale, Luis Suarez and Wayne Rooney. Cavani and Falcao’s transfers were conducted rather swiftly. Few teams in the world can stand up to the financial might of Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco these days.
For Bale, Rooney and Suarez, the drama is twisted and about to get ugly – especially with the latter two. Both have expressed their desire to an extent publicly to leave their respective clubs. Their managers response has been similar and firm: They are not for sale. How many times have we heard that and few weeks later, the player had moved on?
It’s becoming a worrying trend in football. Players are mercernaries. There is nothing like loyalty. Only few players see out their careers with one club in modern football. The lure of money, fame, environment and bigger platform, is always a bait too tempting to turn down. Bale wants the glamour of Madrid, Suarez wants Champions League football, Rooney wants new surroundings away from Old Trafford. Of the trio, only Bale is close to achieving his ambitions, while Manchester United and Liverpool hold on unnecessarily to their strikers.
I said unnecessarily, because no manager should keep a player who wants to leave. David Moyes has not said a lot recently about Rooney, but Brendan Rodgers has almost become a clown talking about Suarez staying. The Uruguayan’s body language has been terrible ever since he returned for pre-season training and he ignored the Anfield crowd, even though they cheered him. Both managers have big seasons ahead of them. Moyes is clearly coming to terms, with what it means to succeed Ferguson, while Rodgers must ensure Liverpool return to the upper echelon of football in England. It will be better if they got rid of their unsettled men early and brought in replacements. We are getting irritated with sermons of loyalty. These days, only one thing matters: desire.