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At least Manchester City aren't playing the loan system

by 16/07/2017 19:52:00 0 comments 1 Views
  •  Manchester City have made Kyle Walker the world's most expensive defender
  • However, there is another way at looking at the eye-watering transfer fee 
  • Other clubs, such as Bayern Munich, are trying to play the loan market instead
  • Sir Mo Farah has shown we all need room to make innocent little mistakes 

By Martin Samuel - Sport for the Daily Mail

Published: 17:30 EDT, 16 July 2017 | Updated: 19:52 EDT, 16 July 2017

Kyle Walker is, by popular consent, nobody’s idea of the world’s best defender. When Danny Rose was fit, Walker probably wasn’t even the best full back at Tottenham. Nor is he the finest footballer this country has produced. Walker wouldn’t make the top 500 on most lists and, in previous eras, wouldn’t have been England’s regular right back. He wouldn’t have got in ahead of Gary Neville or Phil Neal in recent years, that’s for certain.

His transfer fee, however, suggests greatness. Unsurprisingly, then, his £54million transfer to Manchester City is being interpreted as a sign of the madness at the heart of the English game.

There is another way of looking at it.

Kyle Walker is the most expensive defender in the world after his move to Manchester City
Kyle Walker is the most expensive defender in the world after his move to Manchester City

Kyle Walker is the most expensive defender in the world after his move to Manchester City

That, as ludicrous as Walker’s fee may be, at least City paid it. At least the owners pulled out a chequebook and made Walker their player, permanently. They didn’t balk at the transfer outlay, the wages, the signing-on fee or an agent’s dues.

They didn’t attempt to get Walker on the cheap or on hire. They stumped up, and smiled politely as the rest of football mocked them. And some will say it is easy to look big when the owner is one of the richest men on the planet. Sheik Mansour’s patronage means City can always afford to go the extra million or 10.

Yet that is true of the rest of the Premier League’s elite, too. Nobody can plead poverty anymore, not with the new television deal.

Even so, when West Ham went to Manchester City to negotiate a deal for Joe Hart, they did not want permanence. They wanted a loan. A year or so, and then see. And Hart is not a young player whose career path could go either way.

He’s a 30-year-old with 71 England caps. There is nothing about Hart that a buyer cannot know. So, as West Ham want a goalkeeper and City want to sell, why a temporary move? Doing it this way takes Hart out of West Ham’s team for two matches, minimum, this season.

Why would any ambitious club suffer that? Because it’s cheap. West Ham want City to pick up some of Hart’s salary, and they don’t want to pay a loan fee. But loans were not supposed to be about bargain basement trading.

Loans were introduced to provide emergency cover in unique situations. Injuries to every striker at the club, for instance.

Loans were a way of showing mercy and avoiding the financial waste of buying a permanent player to cover a temporary situation. Loans were a compromise solution.

Over time, loans have evolved to be a way of giving young players experience — although this has stunted development as much as encouraged it, and led to clubs such as Chelsea using their academy as little more than an additional revenue stream.

West Ham are looking to take England international Joe Hart on loan from Manchester City
West Ham are looking to take England international Joe Hart on loan from Manchester City

West Ham are looking to take England international Joe Hart on loan from Manchester City

Crystal Palace, Huddersfield and Swansea are among those who will benefit from Chelsea’s largesse in leasing them players this season, while Watford and Bournemouth have now gone on to buy players that were previously on loan from Stamford Bridge.

It is a trading arm of the business, helping to finance a first team that is wholly imported. Without the loan system, Chelsea would have to give their young players experience themselves.

So it is flawed, but at least there is some benefit from the policy.

Young players might no longer get a break at Chelsea, but at least they do somewhere. Romelu Lukaku has ended up at Manchester United, having first made a significant impression as a Chelsea player on loan at West Bromwich and later Everton.

Yet, as the Hart transfer demonstrates, the loan system has morphed into something more. Emergency cover or youth development are no longer the motivations. We have been hoodwinked into thinking this is how small clubs catch a break, but look at the size and wealth of some of the clubs in the loan market.

Any Premier League club is among the top 50 brands in football. They shouldn’t need loans to survive.

Not that it is greatly better in Europe. Moussa Sissoko, previously Walker’s team-mate at Tottenham, is in limbo because Daniel Levy wants him off the books — having paid Newcastle £30m last season — but Marseille want a loan deal.

This is a big club, or certainly a club that considers itself big. And they can’t afford a Tottenham reserve?

Tottenham are looking to offload Moussa Sissoko, but Ligue 1 club Marseille want a loan deal
Tottenham are looking to offload Moussa Sissoko, but Ligue 1 club Marseille want a loan deal

Tottenham are looking to offload Moussa Sissoko, but Ligue 1 club Marseille want a loan deal

Without doubt, loans add to the feeling of intransigence in the modern game. The idea that players, managers, even some owners and executives, are little more than passing through. And what chance do young players have when a club can simply hire internationals?

Last week Bayern Munich, one of the richest clubs in the world, took James Rodriguez from Real Madrid on a two-season loan.

They immediately put shirts with his name and number 11 on sale, and they sold out within two days. Munich confirmed they reserve the right to buy him when his loan ends.

Yet, why not now? One look at Munich’s commercial partners is a clue to their size. T-Mobile, adidas, Audi, Lufthansa, Allianz, Siemens, DHL. This is the powerhouse football club in the powerhouse European economy and they will only get bigger now Munich have helped ensure the traditional elite get an even bigger slice of Champions League earnings.

Bayern Munich have taken James Rodriguez on a two-year loan deal from Real Madrid
Bayern Munich have taken James Rodriguez on a two-year loan deal from Real Madrid

Bayern Munich have taken James Rodriguez on a two-year loan deal from Real Madrid

Yet, despite this, they can’t buy a player who was the star of the 2014 World Cup, and whose transfer to Madrid was the fourth biggest in history. They can’t afford that pedigree, or perhaps they prefer to cleverly work around what remains of financial fair play — a carve-up they helped create.

Munich are quite possibly the biggest snobs in Europe, much given to lecturing their rivals — particularly the newly rich — on business ethics.

Yet when it comes to James, they are quite happy to run their shop with another club’s stock. They’re working the system, or maybe they’re just not as big as they think; or as big as Manchester City.

 There's no value in trophies

Anyone who wonders why there sometimes appears a disconnection between Arsene Wenger and a section of Arsenal’s fans only has to study his statements last week. Again explaining his philosophy, Wenger said: ‘You cannot live inside a club thinking we want to win the next trophy, and if you don’t win it then you have lost. The club is bigger than that and has a stronger basis than that.

‘A club is firstly about values. One value is to win trophies, but more importantly it is to know who we are and what is important to us in the game.’

In other words, there is no such thing as a bad season at Arsenal as long as the club stays true to its values. Wenger’s values.

It is a noble approach, but there will always be those who prefer a more finite measure of success, and they tend to be the unhappy ones.  

Don’t look back in anger over Mo 

Sir Mo Farah went to a U2 gig last week and, as often happens in the world of celebrity, felt the need to tweet a photograph of himself with a person he’d clearly never met before, simply because they are both famous.

‘Chilling with my boy Liam Gallagher,’ wrote Farah. Except, as the picture clearly showed, his ‘boy’ wasn’t Liam Gallagher, but his brother Noel.

Now, we can all laugh at what was simply a case of mistaken identity, but imagine a slightly different scenario. Say the athlete was a white guy and his ‘boy’ was a black pop star. Say he got him confused with another black pop star, maybe even his brother. Hey presto, race storm. All manner of significance would be read into the failure to distinguish between two black faces, not to mention the unfortunate use of the word ‘boy’.

Mo Farah had his picture taken with Noel Gallagher at a U2 concert in Twickenham
Mo Farah had his picture taken with Noel Gallagher at a U2 concert in Twickenham

Mo Farah had his picture taken with Noel Gallagher at a U2 concert in Twickenham

When he linked to the post from Twitter, he mistook Noel for his brother Liam
When he linked to the post from Twitter, he mistook Noel for his brother Liam

When he linked to the post from Twitter, he mistook Noel for his brother Liam

In January 2015, Charlie Nicholas confused Fernando and Fernandinho of Manchester City while describing a goal live on air. He confessed he couldn’t see the shirt number of the scorer and it was hard, in real time, to tell them apart. Social media erupted — when doesn’t it — and Sky buckled and apologised.

Fernando and Fernandinho are tall, slim, black men, with close cropped hair, playing in central midfield and wearing identical kit. In action, they’re hard to call. So were Thomas Gravesen and Lee Carsley at Everton. So are the Brownlee brothers. We need to lighten up about this stuff. Fortunately, Farah got away with nothing more than looking a little daft. We all need room to make innocent mistakes.

Wayne Shaw, the former Sutton United goalkeeper, has been charged with breaching FA rules over his pie-eating escapade during the FA Cup tie with Arsenal. Shaw has already lost his job and now faces further sanction.

He really has been the patsy in all of this. What is inescapable, though, is that a fledgling betting company — Sun Bets — hungry for publicity, messed with the circumstances around a football match in a way that was wholly self-serving. That Shaw had to be seen to eat the pie on television for the bet to come in is evidence enough of that.

This explains why he stepped outside the home dug-out to commit the act — and why he sourced the pie at half-time, when he should have been in the dressing room listening to his manager, because the score was only 1-0 and he could have been called upon. Charging Shaw is real butterfly-on-a-wheel stuff, but if it stops dubious novelty bets, and bookmakers who see sport as a vehicle to promote their interests, it won’t have been the FA’s worst work.

Former Sutton United keeper Wayne Shaw has already lost his job and faces further sanctions
Former Sutton United keeper Wayne Shaw has already lost his job and faces further sanctions

Former Sutton United keeper Wayne Shaw has already lost his job and faces further sanctions

Lewes are the first professional or semi-professional football club to afford equal pay to their men’s and women’s teams.

‘We believe there should be a level playing field,’ said Jacquie Agnew, a club director. ‘We hope to spark a change across the UK that will put an end to the excuses for such a deep pay disparity.’

Of course, it helps when the men’s team draw crowds of 474 and play in the Isthmian League.

Matching that has limited fiscal impact. For a serious professional club, Liverpool for instance, to offer wage parity between Sadio Mane and Sophie Ingle would be a shortcut to financial ruination. This is not an ‘excuse’, but an economic fact.

Liverpool’s women drew crowds of 724 on average last season. How could they possibly get wage parity with a men’s team that generates hundreds of millions? The men at Lewes will be paid in washers by comparison. Gender equality around the minimum wage is not so hard to achieve.

 Andy Murray could barely score a point in his final two sets with Sam Querrey, but it was different when a reporter remarked that his opponent was the first American to reach a Grand Slam semi-final since 2009. ‘Male player,’ Murray corrected. 

Well, of course male player. As the singles events are separate for male and female, it is absolutely implicit in the question that it is men’s tennis being discussed. Just as it was in 2015 when Novak Djokovic won the US Open and a certain British tennis player tweeted: ‘Congrats to Novak on his tenth Grand Slam. 

Now the third player in this era to reach double digits. Incredible.’ Indeed it was. Djokovic joined Roger Federer, at the time on 17, and Rafael Nadal, then on 14. Yet Serena Williams, very much of this era, had 21 singles titles when Murray tweeted. 

She was omitted because he was referring to men’s tennis and, like the reporter, considered this fact implied; as it was. 

Andy Murray was quick to correct a reporter in the aftermath of his Wimbledon defeat
Andy Murray was quick to correct a reporter in the aftermath of his Wimbledon defeat

Andy Murray was quick to correct a reporter in the aftermath of his Wimbledon defeat

Alexis Sanchez says his dream is to play in the Champions League, and win. The threat is plain. He cannot do so at Arsenal and wishes to leave. Yet Sanchez has had the chance to play in, and win, the Champions League pretty much his whole career.

He spent three years at Barcelona, but couldn’t get in the team and was eventually sold, leading to three years at Arsenal, each season in the Champions League and eliminated at the first knockout stage.

Who can forget Sanchez’s disgruntled body language as Arsenal sunk to another defeat against Bayern Munich last season? Would he win the Champions League if he left? He would need to show greater commitment to the cause than that.

Alexis Sanchez's disgruntled body language was easy to read during defeat by Bayern Munich
Alexis Sanchez's disgruntled body language was easy to read during defeat by Bayern Munich

Alexis Sanchez's disgruntled body language was easy to read during defeat by Bayern Munich

 

 

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