At what point as a player do you sacrifice club loyalty for personal success? That is a huge question that surrounds football today as we see a huge number of players leaving clubs that helped shape them into the footballer they are today, with the prospects of more success.
As football fans we all have our favorite club, and when we see a great player leave our club it is never a happy time. But to understand why they leave you have to step back from being a fan and look at the transfer from an alternate perspective. Most players that are in their prime leave their clubs with ambitions of winning trophies and realizing their dreams. And when you leave a club, you will be touted as a villain for trying to do what is best for your career. So at what point should we accept that a player isn’t leaving the club because they don’t love the club, but because they want to win?
The most notable player that left a club that molded him into the player he is today is Robin Van Persie. When RVP moved to Manchester United last summer, he was being portrayed as a villain in the minds of Arsenal fans. To draw somewhat a comparison, Robin Van Persie leaving Arsenal was similar to LeBron James snubbing his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers and choosing to go to Miami. Jersey’s were burned, James was booed when he returned to Cleveland. Any of those things sound familiar with RVP’s situation? But can you really blame Van Persie for leaving a club he devoted a big chunk of his career to and was getting little to no help to win a trophy? As an Arsenal fan I have to admit at first it was upsetting knowing Van Persie was leaving, especially to Manchester United, but when I step back and look at the lead up to it, it makes sense. As I said before, he was getting no help. Arsenal had been selling many of their top players to big clubs, and those players were going on and winning trophies and having success while RVP was stuck trying to single-handedly win Arsenal its first trophy in almost a decade. But many thought Van Persie would stick through the tough times at Arsenal, but a player can only watch his best teammates leave and see no quality replacements be brought in for so long. So do I blame Robin for pursuing success after he tried for so long to guide Arsenal to the top on his own? Not at all.
There are players out there now that have the chance to not become their clubs Robin Van Persie. Let’s highlight one of the most highly sought after players in the world this summer, Gareth Bale. Bale has over the past few seasons thrust himself into the discussion as one of the worlds best players, yet is stuck on a team that has had one Champions League appearance in his tenure at the club. The prospect of big wages and playing for world renowned teams could sway Bale to leave Tottenham this summer, but should he? Does he owe anything to Tottenham and it’s fans by staying at the club this summer and turning down possible moves to Real Madrid, Barcelona, etc? I say no. If Bale would decide to leave it would not be a surprise. The lure of Champions League football would be something hard to turn down and the prospects of winning titles wouldn’t be too bad either. But do I think Bale should leave Tottenham? Not at all. I personally feel if he stays with Spurs this summer, they will continue to bring in the world class players he needs around him to really give him the help he needs.
Club loyalty is something that is a touchy subject for lots of fans. Fans of teams all over have seen the fan favorite player leave for bigger and better things, and if you’re not able to step back and look at reasons why they might have left, you run the risk of just sounding like a hater towards anyone that leaves your team. With the summer transfer window approaching we are sure to see lots of players loyalty to their clubs tested. So I will ask the question again, at what point does a player sacrifice club loyalty for personal success?