It's all a question of priorities isn't it.
As millions around the world clambered in front of their TVs to tune in to the highly anticipated new Premier League season, there wasn’t a single part of me that had any motivation to join them. You see, long gone are the days of being an excited adolescent collecting Panini stickers and spending weeks in the build-up to kick-off thinking of different formations and players for that ever-important Fantasy Football deadline. The Pr£mi£r L£agu£, despite being widely recognised as the best league in the world, no longer has my undivided and devoted love.
Everyone has an opinion on it, and here’s mine. Take Samir Nasri as an example. Here’s a guy who grew up in the ghetto suburb of Septemes-les-Vallons in northern Marseille. His mother is a housewife and his dad used to be a bus driver. Having clinched a ‘dream’ move to England with Arsenal back in 2008, our friend Samir has now decided that the pitiful £65,000-a-week he currently earns isn’t enough. Neither is the reported improved offer from Arsenal of around £90,000-a-week, how dare they offer such a meagre salary. No, Samir has been hypnotised by the pound signs from Manchester, and if we are to believe the media, is on the verge of securing a move to the blue half of the city with Roberto Mancini’s men reportedly offering around £185,000-a-week. Countryman and former team-mate Gael Clichy has already followed the fifty-pound notes up the M6, despite now facing competition from the likes of Wayne Bridge, Pablo Zabaleta and Aleksandar Kolarov to name but a few for that left-back starting berth. Everyone knows Arsenal haven’t won a trophy for six years, and the Citizens are heading in the right direction. However, I hope the Frenchman has a change of heart and remains in the capital, showing us ordinary folk there is still a sense of loyalty in the game.
This is all a far cry from someone of the moral stature of Alexis Sanchez. Here’s what the new Barcelona man had to say at his press conference after joining the Spanish and European champions. ‘I came to Barcelona to learn from the best in the world like Xavi and Lionel Messi. I want to tell my grandchildren about how many trophies I won, not about how much money I made’. Granted, not every footballer is as lucky as the Chilean in being courted by the Catalan giants. However, it is love for the game, not the love for money that drives him to become a better player, and a better man. Some will argue that a footballer’s career is short and when the opportunity arises to cash in on a big payday they have to seriously consider it, an argument that is completely understandable. However, as a football fan seeing the likes of James Milner move to Man City, lose his place in the England side as he struggles to cement a place in Mancini’s starting line-up having enjoyed an almost ‘untouchable’ aura at Villa Park, it’s a tricky one to get your head round. It also reignites the English national team debate, with De Jong and Toure on team-sheets instead.
This isn’t just an attack on Man City, even though it may sound very much like it. Paris St Germain are now releasing a French version, while Anzhi Makhachkala are putting a Russian spin on things. Next on my greedy hit-list is Inter striker Samuel Eto’o. He recently told reporters that he wants to remain in Milan as he ‘hopes to win the Champions League one more time’. Fast forward a month and the Cameroon international is now close to sealing a mega-money move to Anzhi. Those Champions League dreams replaced by Ruble signs bouncing around his head at night, as reports claim he would earn close to £17.8 million per year with the Russian outfit. This is another prime example of ambition being replaced by 0s on his payslip.
Money talks in football, and it is becoming increasingly apparent in leagues across the world. The English Premier League is still seen as the Holy Grail, and I’m probably in the minority of football fans whose interest is beginning to wane in the sports most valuable franchise. Sure UEFA’s financial fair play regulations are coming in to force soon, but that’s like telling, yes you guessed it, Man City that you can only spend £50 million on a player today, but tomorrow you can just sell the naming rights to your training ground to Etihad too in order to nullify the loss. Nevertheless, it’s a sign of the times, one of which makes it more exciting for some fans while having the opposite effect on others. The question we’re now asking is what’s more important, trophies or money? Either way, this is football. Despite the above rant, I’ll undoubtedly be back down the local when Arsenal and Liverpool lock horns on the big screen this weekend. It’s a funny old game isn’t it...
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