TO MAHREZ, OR NOT TO MAHREZ. THE QUESTION!

It seems that has become the question. Of course I am referring to Riyad Mahrez and his current ongoing strike at Leicester City football club where he is currently under contract. After being denied a move to Manchester City on transfer deadline day, Mahrez has not returned to the club. He is nowhere to be seen and sources close to the player have been quoted as saying the player is “depressed”.

Normally I am not one to judge quickly when it comes to a persons depression. It is a subject very close to my own heart. However at the same time I become irate when I think the term is being “used” incorrectly or to gain some kind of advantage. And in the case of Riyad Mahrez I believe this to be the case. If I could speak to Mahrez right now, I would very firmly explain to him the differences between severe disappointment and depression. And believe me there are clear differences.

Anyway, this article is not about that. In this article I want to get to the bottom of this player vs. Club vs. transfer window vs. contracts vs. everything else situation, because it’s really getting out of control. In some ways it has become even more of a spectacle than the football itself. I would like to start talking about players and their contracts. Because there is a lot of hypocrisy going on here. Player power has become far too great and it is very unhealthy for football overall.

Let me give you an example. Let’s look at Phil Coutinho, who was another recent contract rebel. In January 2017 the Brazilian signed a contract extension with Liverpool Football Club until 2022. This contract almost doubled his existing wages at the time. Of course he was more than delighted to sign it, who wouldn’t be. He was going to earn DOUBLE. So he was more than happy to put his stamp on the contract when it favoured his financial situation. A huge, very long, grand total of 6 months later, the player hands in a transfer request. Apparently, Barcelona want to bring the player to Spain. All of a sudden, because it no longer suited him, the very generous contract he was happy to sign just months earlier meant F*** ALL. He wanted to go to Barca, so he was more than happy to not respect his contract.
Contract
Unfortunately , these days, football contracts are more useful in the wiping of ones arse

Liverpool, well within their rights, stood firm and did not allow him to leave in that window. During the later stages of that window, Coutinho developed a “mystery” muscle injury which kept him out until about a week after the window shut. Huge coincidence that. 😉

As we all now know, the next transfer window came, Coutinho threw his toys out of the pram, again, Liverpool got fed up and gave in. Player power once again flexing its muscle. And this is the whole screwed up situation as it stands. Players delighted to enter into a contract when it favours them financially. Only to not give a s*** about their agreement as soon as “something better” comes along. It’s a very distasteful side of the business of football today. In fact I bloody hate it.

In my opinion, if you sign a contract you are giving your word. You are happy with the terms on offer and willing to commit to the project. That is what a contract is all about. I am sure some legal eagle is going to disagree with me here, but I will stick to my guns. A contract should be binding, and football players should be more grown up about it. Unfortunately the majority of them act like immature, spoilt, elitist children. Simple as. The same can go for the Van Dijk situation. I am a Liverpool fan admittedly, but we did to Southampton and Van Dijk exactly what Barca did to Liverpool and Coutinho. It is the way football works and in my opinion it is kind of immoral.

Now you could arguably say that both Liverpool and Southampton made a great deal of money from these deals. And that would be true. But I am pretty sure that both clubs, who had the players under long term contract, would have much preferred to keep the players and continue building. Thus player power wins and the clubs unfortunately take a step backward.

Let’s now go back to the situation with Mahrez. He has been in a similar position with Leicester over the past 18 months or so. On a long term contract, but desperate to leave for pastures new. Leicester to their credit have held firm. They do not want to let the player go, however if he must, their valuation has to be met. And no one has met that valuation. Leicester want about £90 million, which considering Coutinho went or £145 million, seems about right. Manchester City came in late in the window and tried to get him for around 50-60 million. Leicester said no, Man City pulled out. Deal off. And no other club has come in at a decent value.

It all seems rather simple. But in reality it’s not and Leicester now have to deal with the fallout which is substantial. For one, while Mahrez is on strike they are missing undoubtedly their most influential player which will clearly affect their campaign. Secondly, you have the obvious unrest that develops within a squad when these situations occur. I mean think about it. Some of the average players who get paid substantially less and have to go in to train and grind hard just to get a shot at some first team football. And then this overpaid, spoilt, unprofessional trouble maker decides he’s going to strike. It hardly seems fair, and is pretty down right disrespectful.

Power to Players
Mahrez on Strike…
Will he picket outside the King power stadium?

Beyond that it is a behavioural pattern that is indicative of this huge shift towards player power. Its counter productive and sure to end in disaster. At some point in time something is going to go BOOM and the market will crash. We will either have some kind of general strike across the board like what happened in baseball’s MLB a few years back. Or there will have to be a massive change in the regulations for contracts, fees and transfers. Either way, something will have to give.

So what is the solution? Well it’s a difficult question to answer, but there are options. The first idea that comes to mind is making the release cause a standard in all contracts. Upon the signing of any professional contract a release fee will have to be agreed upon by both player and club. And it needs to be in black and white. No debates, if the fee is met and the player wants to leave he goes.

I also believe that the January transfer window would need to be scrapped completely. And the summer window to be shortened to close before the season starts. It would have to be as standard for all European countries under UEFA law. It will the responsibility of all teams to do their home work, and their business in that two months period. And prepare the squad for the full season ahead. If a club is unlucky with several injuries, then give some of the younger players a chance, thus also helping to promote youth development, which of late is at an all time low.

As a final point, I think that it should be standard in the business of football for all players to have a 6 months resignation period in their contracts. That would mean that they will have to notify a club 6 months before they would have any intention to leave. This means they would be in their rights to leave when they want, but the club will have ample time to prepare for it. Under these circumstances, transfer dealings should be more amicable, controlled, diligent and much less disruptive to the development of both clubs and individual players. Until we have a system like this, or any other system that could work,  I am afraid things are only going to get worse.

I would be very interested to hear all your thoughts on this one, so please use the discussion box below. Whether you disagree with any of my sentiments or have a better solution for the problem. Always great to get your feedback. 🙂

 

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Discussion

  1. Colin Mallia

    Great piece mate. Agree 100% with your arguments and that something has to be done. However the move has to come from the governing bodies because if an individual club took that initiative, no player would sign for them..unless they are called Real Madrid or Barca, who are the mecca of football. Having said that, the clubs are not powerless, maybe it is time that some club stands up to player demands to leave, tells him you have a 5 year contract with us and u either give 100% or you will rot 5 years in the reserves. 5 years is half a player’s career. The club would be suffering too, but it would be making a huge statement. However in reality, in for examples Coutinhio case, I can assure you that Liverpool were delighted with this business and it all fits in the master plan. Buy for cheap, sell for a profit, and buy more promising players…similar to Juve.

    1. davidoziborg

      Hey Colin. Some very interesting points there. You are spot on when you say that it has to come from the governing bodies. That is the only way. Sadly they are all a bunch of fat lazy white men, traditionalist with there heads firmly jammed up their asses. So I do not have hope. You will never see the club take such a stand as you have suggested. Whilst I would love to see it, no club is going to pay someone 100k a week and then have them in reserves. Sad but true. Regarding Liverpool, man I hope you are wrong, but that certainly has been the plan since FSG came in. I think they even know now that the strategy needs to change, whether they do it or not though is another matter altogether.

  2. Rachel Williams

    Well said. The only people who benefit from this are the lawyers and agents responsible for negotiating and drawing up contracts. Perhaps there should be inserted a clause that if a player leaves before a certain lapse after signing of contract they should be made to pay back a sum. The way that contracts are no longer respected only promotes irresponsibility. Conte was probably not sacked yet as he has a hefty compensation fee of circa GBP30 million (I stand to be corrected). So let’s do that to players too. Not fair to all the fans who buy the merchandise too.

    1. davidoziborg

      Some very good comments and ideas there. I agree totally. It’s sickening the way things are. Something has got to change.

  3. Nogger Norris

    Fantastic piece.
    I think he was banging out of order. If I was Claude Puel, he’d be in the reserves and wouldn’t play for Leicester City again, being sold in the summer without ever pulling on the shirt again.
    These players should be routed out and shamed, with all other English clubs refusing to buy them out of solidarity.
    I’m a Man City fan who didn’t want Mahrez, we didn’t need him, but for him to behave the way he did was despicable.
    The same applies to Coutinho but I cannot understand why Liverpool didn’t snatch Barca’s hands off in the summer.
    He’s not worth 130-146 million and if sold in the summer, they could have strengthened their defence.
    I don’t understand why clubs want to keep player’s who don’t want to play for them.

    1. davidoziborg

      Thank you very much for your feedback. It is a part of the game that I hate, if we can even call it a game any more…. rather than a business.

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