Many players today seem to be moving to lesser leagues like the MLS for instance in order to ‘see out their careers’. However many of these players in fact still have a few years left in the tank to be able to play at higher levels and in fact sell themselves out by moving to inferior leagues, just because they can give them higher paychecks.
The main motivation for this is simply greed and nothing else, players will often try to defend their reasoning for moving to these leagues but saying they want to help develop it but it is purely for the few extra zeros they take home. Unfortunately until you can convince the majority of people to dislike money then greed will drive everybody, granted there are some players who don’t care about it as much as others but a lot of footballers today would sell out easily given the chance. Personally I don’t see there being a problem with players going to these leagues when their career really is at end at about the age of 35, but it’s when they move at fairly young ages when they still have a lot to give that annoys me. David Beckham is the prime example of this, he decided to move to LA Galaxy at the age of 32 when he was still playing for Real Madrid, and in fact he proved to be vital in the team winning the title in his last season at the club. He was also a regular for England as well at the time and Real Madrid offered him a new deal and Inter Milan and AC Milan both expressed an interest in signing him.
He isn’t the only one to have made a move to the States with plenty to offer still, Freddie Ljungberg moved to the Seattle Sounders in 2008 a few months after he played for Sweden in the Euros. Although he may not be the player he once was at Arsenal there is no way a player of his quality could have decline so rapidly. Another player who has made the move to a lesser league is his former Arsenal team-mate Gilberto Silva. The former Arsenal midfielder signed for Panathinaikos in 2008 but was still a regular for Brazil’s national side and even played in every minute of Brazil’s World Cup campaign this year. He was a great player for Arsenal and has shown that he is clearly still at the top of his game, so why has he been wasting his time in Greece?
Some players have made the move to lesser leagues but truly when their career is at an end, Fabio Cannavaro has recently signed a deal to move to Al Ahli in the UAE but the Italian defender will be turning 37 in September. Marcel Desailly also made the move to the Middle East but at a slightly younger age of 35, however players that do wait until the end of their career before these kinds of lucrative moves are a rarity.
Sadly I don’t think that the trend of players moving to inferior leagues for money when they have a few top-flight years left in them is going to decrease. In fact I believe the opposite will happen and we will start to see more and more players make the move to places like the USA and Qatar when they could still easily be playing in the top leagues in Europe.