Player Power Fails Spectacularly But Has It Changed Anything At All?

Posted: September 3, 2017 in Arsenal, Chelsea, European Football, Football, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Opinion, Premier League, Tottenham Hotspur, Transfers
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(The players may wear the shirts but the owners and chairmen are proving, for the moment at least, that THEY wear the trousers!)

Riyad Mahrez, Alexis Sánchez, Virgil van Dijk and Philippe Coutinho. All players who, in order to try and force a move away from their clubs, handed in a transfer request.

Also all world class players who would be welcome in most teams so why is it that, as the transfer window slid shut on Thursday night, they all remained at their clubs.

There are a few reasons but the overriding feeling is one that player power has been defeated, on this occasion at least.

Mahrez was supposedly going to Roma, Chelsea or Arsenal but, of the three, the only one which was anywhere near fruition was Roma and they couldn’t agree a fee. By the close of the transfer window Arsenal and Chelsea had distanced themselves from a deal for the Leicester City player.

Although Mahrez can, undoubtedly, be world class at times he is currently living on the reputation he gained during the season his club won the Premier League title. Last season he was decidedly average and will have done nothing to justify the fee Leicester were asking for him. So the fact that he is still at the Kingpower is, in the main, down to him.

Alexis Sánchez had another great season last time out but failed to help his team reach the Champions League. He is now 28 years of age with a year left on his contract. All of this adds up to an ambitious player who could have moved at the onset of the transfer window had he been prepared to go to Bayern Munich or PSG. As he only wanted Manchester City he made sure that he frightened the other two off with exorbitant wage demands which would have been impossible to get the other players to accept.

Unfortunately for him, by putting all of his eggs in one basket, he has now backed himself into a corner where the only open door leads straight back to The Emirates.

Arsenal wanted a player plus cash from City. City just wanted to pay cash. Arsenal didn’t have enough time to buy a replacement as they are finding it extremely difficult to attract top players due to their absence from the Champions League. So the deal didn’t happen and this is another one where the fault for this lies mainly with the player.

Alexis Sánchez should never have gone to Arsenal in the first place. Wenger was well into his decline when Sánchez arrived and either he, or his agent, should have seen the signs and steered clear.

Virgil van Dijk wanted to go to Liverpool and, unfortunately, it was Liverpool who blew it for him by approaching him illegally. In fact they only escaped punishment by offering a grovelling apology to Southampton and promising not to do it again!

Chelsea were supposedly interested in him and the fact that a deal didn’t happen there makes the connection rather tenuous. Van Dijk wants a return to Champions League football so, if Chelsea really were interested, why did nothing happen?

The upshot is that van Dijk is still saying that he wants to go to Liverpool. Liverpool would like to buy him but are still embarrassed about their illegal approach so nothing will happen here until January when both parties will hope that all is forgotten and they can reach a normal agreement.

Where the Dutchman was wrong in this saga was that he had only just signed a new five year contract. Why do that and then decide to leave? Well, he won’t be going anywhere in the near future.

Philippe Coutinho seems to be a nice guy. He didn’t want to rock the boat when he heard of Barcelona’s interest in him. He just wanted Liverpool to do, what he thought, was the decent thing and let him go to a bigger club. Maybe even a club he had dreamed of playing for one day.

What he learned very quickly is that business doesn’t work like that and football transfers are all about business, not about being nice.

He is still at Liverpool because he is under contract to them and because they have refused all of Barcelona’s offers, a couple of which were for far more than Coutinho is worth. He is also still at Liverpool because he is valued by them, even though they are winning and playing very well without him.

Whether or not any of these players will settle back into any kind of routine now that their dream moves have been shattered, temporarily at least, is anybody’s guess.

There are reports that the Arsenal players wanted Sánchez sold due to his single-mindedness which some thought was a disruptive influence. Judging by the way he played against Liverpool he will not take too kindly to still being there.

The same applies, to an extent, to Virgil van Dijk, who has been training alone at Southampton but is not seen as a problem in the dressing room.

Mahrez and Coutinho will probably find it easier to return to their teams as they haven’t agitated for moves quite as vocally as the other two. We shall see.

As we mentioned earlier, at least player power has been defeated on this occasion. Will that still be the case in January or next summer?


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