Javier Mascherano wants to leave Liverpool. He has decided he no longer wants to be at the club, and the disappointing aspect of today’s game is that there is very little Liverpool can do about it. Player power is still as strong now as it ever was, and loyalty to a club is becoming a far rarer thing. Loyalty still exists: Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Steven Gerrard, John Terry and Jamie Carragher are the most high-profile examples of one-club players, and perhaps Gerrard is the best example as he has had the greatest opportunities to leave. Over the last decade certain clubs have believed they might be able to prize the Liverpool captain away, and he has resisted any temptation. I’d be surprised if Manchester United have ever received an offer for Giggs in his time at the club, given the affiliation he has with the club and manager and vice versa. These player have however, spent the vast majority of their careers enjoying their time at their clubs. When a player is unhappy, they can play prisoner, and find the quickest escape route.
Managers do not want to keep players who aren’t happy at their club. If a player publicly states that they want to leave, and there are other teams interested, then the deal is effectively done. Previously, when a player signed a contract, that was the end of the matter. Contracts now can count for very little in terms of commitment to a club; they are now more a case of dictating how much a club will receive in a transfer fee.
When Robbie Savage decided that he no longer wanted to play for Birmingham City, he made sure a move away was the end result. What had been a healthy relationship between player, manager and fans was destroyed in the sequence of events that led to his departure. He was three months into a four year deal at Birmingham, but eventually, it counted for nothing.
Despite being adored by his fans at Manchester United, and depended upon by his manager, Cristiano Ronaldo decided that he would much rather play for Real Madrid. It took him a year to get his move, and by the time the deal was done, most Utd fans were glad to see the back of him – no fan wants a player who doesn’t care for their club, regardless of how good they are.
Both Joleon Lescott and Gareth Barry engineered moves away from their clubs to join Manchester City. The latter had to make do with another season at the club that had nurtured his career since he was a boy, after missing out on a move to Liverpool the previous summer, and to be fair he played well, but he was not the same player in the eyes of the Villa fans, and a move away remained on the player’s mind. That last season at Villa had barely finished before he was having a medical at Eastlands. Lescott simply stuck his heels in the ground and maintained his desire. Everton got a hefty sum of money for him, but the season had already begun by the time he left and David Moyes would have much preferred a player he rated highly to money that he couldn’t spend.
Mascherano will get his move. He has served Liverpool well in the time that he has spent there, but then shouldn’t all players serve their club well – isn’t that a basic demand of all contracted players to their clubs? It will be interesting to see what happens to Cesc Fabregas because it would appear that he has a real affection for both Arsenal and Barcelona, and that he is genuinely torn between the two. It would be difficult to accuse Fabregas of being disloyal, but if he reiterates that he wants to leave, how long can Arsenal try to keep him. As with Javier Mascherano, if he wants to leave, the cold reality is, that he will.