Football has become a very ugly business and it is getting even worse. As soon as any player shows outlasting performances the media and the pundits start leveraging on him and his club and begin fueling transfer speculation. English football clubs have long been a subject to “guerrilla activities” from Barcelona and Real Madrid, the Spanish clubs who have always been pressing to sign the Premier League’s best players.
The club that has been hit most is Liverpool who have lost Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona in less than 5 years. Where could Barcelona stand if they haven’t got Suarez in the summer of 2014? Did they win the trophies the won with Suarez in their team? Those are important questions.
Now the Liverpool, who have showed significant progress in the Champions League, have been put under a new media attack and under the speculations that Real Madrid will be after one of their best players – Mohamed Salah.
Football is both a huge business and a fierce competition and not matter if we blame Real Madrid, Barcelona and Paris Said-Germain for constantly violating the financial fair play rules, they will keep doing that. So, the best response that Liverpool and Manchester United, Arsenal and other English clubs, who have been loosing their best players to Spanish clubs, can give is to start winning Champions League trophies.
Liverpool for example, have an opportunity to silence all speculations about the future of their best players, by progressing to the Champions League final or even win the tournament. This looks a bit unlikely, considering that fact that the Reds still have a lot of room for improvement in their squad and probably need another transfer window level with the best clubs in Europe. So Liverpool have a very hard job to do in the knock-out stages of this years Champions League. They need to go past Manchester City, which will be very hard to do, and then to also win also against Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus or Bayern Munich, if they are about to go all the way to Champions League’s final in Kiev. Can they do that?
I think that any of the two English clubs, the two Spanish ones left in the tournament,as well as Juventus and Bayern Munich is capable of winning the Champions League. However, if Liverpool win it, it will be a huge success, considering the lesser resources the Reds have compared to their competitors and constant pressure that the media, pundits and other clubs put on Liverpool both at home and abroad.
No ethics in football and the media!?
By saying that pundits are putting pressure on clubs and on Liverpool in particular, I mean that most of them talk much more about what would happen around any club, than on what actually happens on the pitch.
Let take the recent Ian Wright comments about Mohamed Salah and Liverpool for example made for SkySports. His comments have been used by SkySports to fuel a speculation that “Real interest could tempt Salah“.
Ian Wright, a great football player himself, a true Arsenal legend, now in his role as pundit, has joined the pack of talking heads who have nothing to do but to fuel speculations and participate to scenarios that put pressure on football clubs, in this particular moment Liverpool. Here is what Mr. Wright said about Mohamed Salah and Liverpool.
“Anyone that has come into the Premier League and scored that amount of goals, you’re going to court that kind of attention. I didn’t think he’d have that kind of impact, but when you have had such an impact, you are going to court attention. What clubs will have seen with Liverpool is that if you keep pressing for one of their players, you might get them in the end. This is the problem Liverpool will have. If Salah continues this kind of scoring next season, they will be courting him. Not being disrespectful to Liverpool, but Salah won’t have grown up dreaming of playing for Liverpool – if Real Madrid come knocking, he’s going to be taking notice of that. Losing Salah would be a much bigger loss than losing Coutinho.”
Does one think that the sentence “What clubs will have seen with Liverpool is that if you keep pressing for one of their players, you might get them in the end” have anything do to with an “football analysis”? It is a fact that both Luis Suarez and Phillipe Coutinho chose to leave Anfield for Barcelona. They have done that probably because they’ve thought that compared to Liverpool, Barcelona is a club which is winning trophies. Both players might have also had a lifestyle reasons to move to Spain. It was the same with Neymar who moved Paris Saint-Germain, however. So, the pressure is on Reds and Jurgen Klopp to prove that Liverpool can return to the level they were in the late 70s and early 80s, when they had been winning against each and every club in Europe.
At the same time speculations on what “would” or “might” happen with any player, based on one’s outstanding form and excellent performances are a no brainer. It makes sense for the fans to talk like that and speculate about anything. Whoever appears on a national and international TV channels needs to do much better. The former Liverpool player and Welsh International Craig Bellamy for example, has been much more precise in his comments on Mohamed Salah by saying that the “potential suitors for Salah will want to see him put back-to-back seasons of greatness together before parting with their cash”.
What pundits like Ian Wright do by fueling such speculations (despite that they shouldn’t be doing this, as that while they leverage on the English Premier League and the UK’s football industry) is to make easier for Real Madrid and Barcelona to compete to the English clubs in the Champions League.
At a time when Real Madrid have no less but disastrous season in La Liga, sitting distant third of Barcelona and just a point ahead the 4th placed Valencia, Mr. Wright simply takes the pressure off Real and puts it on Liverpool.
Los Blancos have very good players, but with Ronaldo ageing. Benzema not at his best and Bale’s future at Bernabeu put on doubt, Real Madrid, the most recognized club in the world football, faces uncertain future both at home and in Europe. Their La Liag rivals Barcelona have got Dembele and Coutinho, and still have Lionel Messi and Lusi Suarez, who will play at high level for at least few more seasons. If Barca manages to keep their midfield and defence at their current levels, it is going to be very hard for Real Madrid to win La Liga within the next two seasons.
Some transfers might help the Madrid club, but it looks like that Los Blancos will need more than two or three players to add to or replace Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. Real need either Zidanne or another manager to create a playing style and a team which does not depend on one player and to prepare them for the post-Ronaldo years.
The Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah looks like he is progressing really fast and it is very likely that in the years to come he would win the highest possible recognition in football. However, as of now this is equally possible to happen in Liverpool and in Madrid. It is both unwise and disrespectful to Liverpool to speculate about their players’ future, as soon as any of them starts showing outstanding qualities. This does not add to football, it hurts it.