Strange case of star player caught in middle of chairman-manager transfer standoff
There is a manager in the Premier League right now, a manager who is causing problems for his club.
The manager wants to sell one of the club’s star players. He hasn’t been playing him but, for everyone on the outside looking in, he should have been.
It doesn’t make sense, right? Read on …
Apparently, the player has been training well, according to reports that I’ve heard. He’s got his head down lately but that might be because it’s January and he wants to leave. In fact, I know he wants to leave.
The players in the changing-room tell me that he wants to leave and they tell me that they want him to leave because he is a troublemaker. That isn’t a secret, either, because his reputation is that of a troublemaker.
But he’s a good player. And the club could really do with him right now.
The chairman doesn’t really want to sell him as he sees the player’s involvement as integral to the club’s Premier League survival. But the manager doesn’t.
But why would a manager want to sell a player who can help him to survive in the Premier League? Well, as you might have guessed, there is a reason for that.
The club in question could expect a transfer fee of around £30 million if they decide to cash in. But the chairman sees the bigger picture, namely that £30 million up front does not make up for £100 million lost if the club goes down.
However, the manager sees that he could have £30 million to spend on new talent. He can get three, maybe four, new players.
But January isn’t a friendly month for recruiting top talent. It is a stopgap month. It is a month that fills in the blanks with “ifs, buts and maybes”.
A cover in the centre-half position in case the first-choice pairing get injured? Sure, why not? For £5 million, it just might save the day.
A striker to come off the bench during the run-in to score a couple of vital goals? Sure, free transfer and a year’s contract on £75,000 a week, easy. It stacks up and makes sense.
It’s a bet that you can’t really lose so long as you can get rid of him if the worst should happen and you’re not massively overexposed for any length of time.
But this player isn’t a stopgap, he is a future star for a big club. Everybody knows it.
But this player isn’t a stopgap, he is a future star for a big club. Everybody knows it
And that’s where the problem is. The chairman knows what is happening. He knows what his manager is doing. He knows that if he gives in and sells the player, then the manager will spend the money.
That’s not an inherently bad thing. His problem is that he knows where that money is going.
He knows that if the manager is given the money, he will only buy players that are brought to the club through his agent and, in the process, he will pocket a wacking great windfall through cuts of the transfer fee that he’ll split with his agent.
The chairman knows this and is digging his heels in. Everybody in football knows this.
The chairman knows that the manager will spend the money for the sake of spending it because he may not be there in the summer, anyway, and he wants as big a slice of that £30 million pie as he can get before he’s gone and a new manager comes in and the opportunity is lost.
And this is the problem that chairmen up and down the country have when they employ managers who they know to be stopgaps themselves.
Those managers go in, make hay while the sun shines, do the best they can tactically and take anything that isn’t nailed down with them when they are inevitably fired and the managerial cycle brings about the return to the club of the five-year-plan manager a year or two later.
At this moment, there is no trust between the club and the manager.
The chairman does not want to give him any proceeds from a sale of the player because he wants to maximise his return.
And the manager is trying every trick in the book to have the player sold by making him sit very publicly on the bench while telling the world what a great lad he is and that, at the moment, he just doesn’t fit into the style and shape of the team.
The problem for the chairman, besides having a very expensive asset sat on the bench that he is neither leveraging financially or benefitting from on the pitch, is that it will look incredibly odd if he sacks his manager now.
The manager has actually done OK for the club and, in terms of results, it is certainly a case of better the devil you know when it comes to securing Premier League status this campaign.
The player will be sold one day, probably in the summer, but my guess is that it won’t be while this manager is in charge.
In the meantime, we have to watch the starvation of a talented player caught between the stars and the personal agendas of unscrupulous people at the highest level, at the heart of our game.
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