Having seen the unfancied Italians see off the very much fancied Belgian’s last night, my first thoughts (perhaps inevitably) were towards supposed ‘big name’ players not performing, as well as the hype that surrounds them going in to international tournaments.
I find internationals competitions a very strange bubble of football when it comes to players and their perceived value. We see scenarios where players don’t want to talk about domestic matters because they want to focus on their international side. Personally I don’t get those kind of statements, but perhaps I’m different to most other people who love the game, but I do find it a little weird. You’re never truly going to switch off what’s happening in the rest of your life. You’re a human and by your very nature you are prone to natural human emotions.
I wonder if that’s happened to Lukaku? After all, he’s been intimating to the world that he’s offski from Everton, but there’s no announcement yet because he’s focused on the Euro’s. Apparently. You wouldn’t know it though after Belgium’s display against the Italians. He was one of many Belgian’s to disappoint yesterday evening. Italy didn’t look amazing, but I guess they never really do, but the Belgium team looked like a collective of players who all believe their own hype and the amount of money they’re valued at transfer-wise.
It then struck me last night whilst watching Lukaku; this posturising over your future, if it is intended to use this tournament as a platform, could go completely the opposite direction for you if you replicate that kind of performance. Rather than a summer of big clubs fighting over you for a megabucks transfer fee, you could find yourself priced out by your existing club, with other clubs seeing the increased outlay as a gamble on a player who has just been ‘hit and miss’ on a big stage.
Most of the players will see this tournament as an opportunity to put themselves in the shop window, but with plenty of them, it’ll probably do more harm than good for their options.
I remember how Arshavin’s stock skyrocketed after Euro 2008 and the players agent quite happily touted interest in Real Madrid or Barcelona. He didn’t get an instant move, but we pursued him in to January 2009 and he got that big deal he was hoping for. Despite an initially impressive start to his Arsenal career, his decline seemed to be quite rapid, if I recall. He was the very definition of a luxury player and in the Russian team of 2008 they accommodated him in the team at every opportunity. Arsenal at the time simply couldn’t have a luxury player in the team that everything had to be build around in the attacking positions; we had Fabregas who was at his Arsenal peak at that time and that was who the team was built around.
Arshavin had traded off his good Euro 2008 showing to get a big money move, But perhaps his is a story that the brightest shining star in a European competition, doesn’t always go on to replicate domestically and often doesn’t provide the greatest value.
Perhaps it’s all just about the cash. Perhaps it’s just about the agent fees and signing on fees. Any £60million deal for a player is going to command plenty of kick backs for the individuals involved, so perhaps that’s the main reason players wait until after the tournament, like Morata is doing now. But I just think it’s short-sighted. It’s looking for the buck now instead of picking the right club that will suit who and what you are as a professional footballer. Choose wisely and raise your value by performing domestically, then use international tournaments as experiences, rather than more opportunities to feather your own nest.
Anyway, just some thoughts, from a football fan who is perhaps getting a little too old and cynical these days!