Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughThe Big Pay Cheque - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough The Big Pay Cheque - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

The Big Pay Cheque

On the 10th September, Asamoah Gyan joined United Arab Emirates side Al Ain from Sunderland on loan for a rumoured £6million fee being exchanged between the two clubs to acquire the Ghanaian’s signature. Gyan, is not a player past his best and wanting to live out his final career days having an easy life funded by Middle Eastern oil money, he is a player in his prime at 25. The decision to turn his back on a club who entrusted faith in him, after spending a rumoured £13million on the African only a year earlier, has shocked many. The fact that Gyan had shook Sunderland manager, Steve Bruce’s hand promising his ambition to stay at the club and fight for his place only 24 hours earlier makes the saga all the more remarkable. The clear incentive for Gyan is the incredible wages on offer from Middle Eastern clubs, a sad mentality considering his age and the standard of football in the region. A fiasco such as Gyan’s raises an intriguing debate about the mentality of our current crop of football stars and puts into question the direction the beautiful game is going.

Boss Steve Bruce could have done with the Ghanaian striker this season, which has seen the Black Cats score just two goals in their opening four games (See more football stats.)

One point of consideration is to put moves like Gyan’s into context. If you were in an office job and you got offered a much better wage at a different company, possibly a less well-known company, the majority would welcome the move. So why is it different in football? Loyalty is a big part of our game, the fans give their loyalty to their respective clubs every weekend by showing up through thick or thin; owners and investors put loyalty into the club by frequently financing different projects; some managers as well show their loyalty by sticking with a club for extended periods; so why do an increasingly number of players feel justification for jumping ship at the first time of asking?

In Gyan’s case, Sunderland broke their transfer record when signing Gyan in 2010, and put both their money and trust into the deal for a player unproven in English football. In many ways it was a gamble and Gyan’s profile indeed rose considerably due to the move. He surely is in debt to the North-East club. At one time having the opportunity to play in England’s top league would have been the aspiration of all budding footballers, regardless of the pay. Gyan’s focus was, however, to seek an increase to his already impressive £40,000 a week wage. Some sources are rumouring that Gyan’s new contract in the U.A.E is in excess of four times his Sunderland salary.

Are we losing our way in football? Focusing purely on Gyan would be unfair, because he is by no means the pioneer of money driven moves. Gyan’s move looks meagre compared to the recent Samuel Eto’o move to Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala. Again a player in his prime with the world at his feet has shunned the option to play for one of Europe’s top clubs in the Champions League for a club in the war-torn north Caucasus region of Russia who only achieved 11th in their national league.

You also have to question the ambition of a number of players who move to a big club, in the knowing that they are likely to be very low down the pecking order or used solely as back up. A good example is Hamit Altintop who recently moved to Real Madrid. Altintop is by no means a bad player, but he has signed up to a club who have Khedira, Ozil, Kaka, Alonso, Di Maria, Diarra, Sahin, Callejon and Granero all fighting for the midfield positions. Some of the players are clearly more established and will be picked ahead of Altintop, yet he still proceeded to move when there were other (first team) opportunities available to him in other leagues.

The manner in which money is dominating the beautiful game is becoming rather worrying and there seems no end to the transfer sagas concerning players and their motives for moving clubs. Not so long ago footballers played football for the love of the game, not for the love of the cash the game brought. The players who are giving up the opportunity of playing in some of Europe’s top leagues to play in minnow leagues abroad on large wages should look at players like David Busst of Coventry or Alfie Haland of Leeds, whose careers have been ended due to injury. These unfortunate players would do anything to return to playing in the Premier League at Sunderland or in the Serie A at Inter Milan. They, however, do not have the luxury due to career ending injuries and in turn must be shouting profanities at the tv screen when they see players like Gyan and Eto’o giving up the opportunity of playing in some of the world’s top leagues.

Most men and boys would give their right leg to be a professional footballer in a top league, it is a shame that many of the current crop of professionals do not realise how lucky they are.

David P Harrison

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