So far in the 2015 edition of the summer transfer window, we have seen a host of top players leave their boyhood clubs. This week alone, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Iker Casillas have left Bayern Munich and Real Madrid respectively, moving on to pastures new. The likes of Xavi and Steven Gerrard have left their beloved clubs too, calling an end on their stellar club careers.
Circumstances differentiate between each move, with former Liverpool captain Gerrard and Barca icon Xavi looking to see out the autumn of their careers with a lucrative pay day and a fresh challenge. Two players who looked certain to add to the ‘One Club Man’ tradition have spurned the chance and moved abroad to see out their playing days. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this and both players thoroughly deserve such an opportunity after providing such a service to their employers.
However, the ‘One Club Man’ is now a dying breed. Less often are we seeing one player devote his entire career to a single senior team. Perhaps football is losing its sentiment. The Anfield skipper was seemingly rooted to the pitch on Mersey side, but after losing his place in the side, he has decided to move on to the MLS. Last year, Frank Lampard called an end to his Chelsea career and ended up at Manchester City. That particular move may have been forced on the player by New York City FC bosses, but the two former England internationals will this year line up State-side.
The most obvious factor in a move of this ilk is the pay day. It is a short career, and although top players earn eye watering sums a week, one last big contract abroad may be all too tempting. From this perspective, it seems to make sense for all parties. Captain Fantastic will (probably) never have to line up against his former charges, unlike his former England colleague, Mr Lampard.
However, the departures of two World Cup winners from their clubs this week does indeed point to the dwindling sense of sentiment in the beautiful game. Madrid icon Casillas has been ripped from the Bernabeu goal, leaving his gloves wrapped still wrapped around the post. A stalwart between the sticks who presided over 18 trophies during his time at the club has been shipped off to FC Porto in a move his mother isn’t all too happy about it. The move has followed a dip in form over the last few years. Unlike the Gerrard and Xavi deals, Madrid have made a callous sporting decision.
The margins in top level football are so slim; head honchos at top clubs are losing the chance to remain sentimental. A player with the track record of Casillas has been forced to leave his beloved Bernabeu in tears. That’s football for you.
Schweinstiger’s move to Manchester United is perhaps the biggest indicator of this dying tradition. Spanish icon Iker has been linked with a move away since the Jose Mourinho days at Real. However, Bastian seemed to be a Bayern bastion. The German captain had not been often linked with a move away from the Allianz Arena, and his move has come as somewhat of a surprise. After 17 years at the German giants, his sale seems to have almost slipped under the radar.
It is hard to blame Bayern for letting him go. At almost 31, his best days may be behind him. Even if they are not, they are numbered. To get a reported £15m for a 30 year old who suffered injuries last year is too good to turn down, no matter how much he might mean to the club. No time for sentiment here, just pay the money and you can have whoever you want.
A number of different factors now dictate the dying days of top players. Decisions from the top can rip them away from their boyhood teams, and the offer to see out your career in a different corner of the globe may prove to be all too lucrative.
So cheers Stevie, adios Iker and danke Bastian. Time to move on.