I’m a bit of an odd duck when it comes to the issue of footballers and their careers. I’m generally supportive of players moving to another club where they know they’ll get paid— even if that means leaving one I support. While I believe that Raheem Sterling could’ve been less of a jerk on his way out the door, I was basically fine with his decision to go, because he’s an elite footballer and careers don’t last forever. Get Money, young man.
But I realize a lot of fans vehemently disagree with this sentiment. Which is why there will almost certainly be some blowback to Simon Mignolet’s recent comments about the lucrative contracts being doled out by Chinese Super League clubs.
“You would be a hypocrite to say we don’t speak about it because it’s a big topic. Everybody’s speaking about it. You see the money and of course you talk about it. I’m a keeper and I don’t think they want any keepers. I know the next question is would you go to China - and the only answer you can give is that you don’t know unless you get an actual proposal. You can’t weigh up the pros and cons until you actually receive an offer.”
I mean, he’s not wrong about this. Players may be motivated by a love for the game and loyalty to a club (or clubs), but football is still a job. It’s a job that takes years of training, some measure of natural talent, and a bit of luck to earn enough success to make a living at, much less reach the summit of elite football. Careers can end swiftly and unceremoniously, derailed by injury or a manager who doesn’t favor you, and even in the best case scenario you’re still forced into retirement in your mid-30s. Not everyone can (or wants to) go into coaching after they hang up their boots, and Sky Sports doesn’t have many vacancies for studio pundits. Players need to get what they can while they can.
Migs will no doubt catch some flak for suggesting that he would take an offer from China seriously. Some fans will rage against his so-called lack of loyalty, even as they themselves angrily insist that he’s not good enough to play for Liverpool. Nevertheless, Mignolet is right— any player who says they would never consider moving to China, or anywhere else, for a fat paycheck is lying.