This time of year brings about worries and stress like no other, no it’s not the impending A-level or GCSE examinations, nor is it the anxious wait to see if your phone has been hacked by the local papers – it’s the football summer transfer window.
Now even if you’re not a lover of the ‘worlds greatest game’™ there is a lot you could learn from watching and observing the mad few weeks that bridge the end of the previous season and the next. There is also a lot of patience needed. Especially if you’re an Arsenal fan this year. Like me.
This year, just like in 2010 and in 2009, Arsenal’s captain Cesc Fabregas has been linked with a transfer to Spain’s Barcelona. Now transfer stories are nothing new, players are linked regularly with other clubs, but Fabregas’s potential transfer* has an extra dimension to it. Loyalty. For those not in the know, Cesc Fabregas joined Arsenal (below right) at 15 from Barcelona (below left) and has since matured into one of the world’s greatest midfielders. Arguably the Premierships best centre midfielder (check the stats fact fans, he led on pretty much all of them last year) he is also Arsenal’s captain and their highest wage earner (reportedly over or near £100,000 a week).
For the last two years however, Fabregas has been linked with a move back to the club he came from, Barcelona. Indeed Barcelona want him to return ‘home’ and a few of the players have been a bit naughty in speaking to the press expressing how much Fabregas wants to return to Barcelona. One of their players Xavi even told Barcelona's official website: "I spoke to Cesc in Ibiza and he said he was suffering because he wanted to come.”
Herein lies the dilemma. Fabregas has a contract at Arsenal till 2015. He happily signed it a few years ago. Arsenal don’t have to sell him, but probably would if Barcelona offered over £40 million for him. Barcelona won't do this (they’ve offered £35 million max), claiming that they shouldn’t have to as Fabregas wants to move and that his loyalty lies with them. Should Arsenal keep Fabregas against his will? Is it possible for someone who earns £100,000 a week to suffer?
So what should happen in this situation? What does loyalty look like in football? Is it with the current club who you’re under contract with (or at least until they decide to sell you)? The local club from your hometown? Or the club who’ll offer you the most money (interestingly Man City have a reported wage bill for a selection of players whom they see as surplus to requirements running to a total of £30 million for the next season!).
Arsenal’s own Jack Wilshere recently stated on his twitter account, 'Cesc showed he is a real man by staying and being loyal last season and hopefully we can have a few more players like that'… So what is loyalty in football? Does it even exist any more or do players go where the money is? What sort of message does this send to the young people we work with? Why not use my footballing pain and use the summer transfer window to generate great conversations with young people about money, ambitions and loyalty? Happy talking!
*This was written Mid July so it may be a completed transfer by the time you read this – but lets hope not!
Tom Wade is an RE teacher and volunteer youth leader based in Harpenden. You can follow Tom now @Batman_Wade