Monday, September 16 2019

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Finally, loyalty from a professional footballer, kind of

Update: August, 21/2019 - 22:38

 

ALL SMILES: Philippe Coutinho after signing for Bayern Munich. Photo Bayern Munich FC

Loyalty is a word you hardly hear when talking about professional footballers, unless of course it is preceded by the words ‘doesn’t’, ‘have’ and ‘any’.

No matter how many times a player kisses the club badge, professes his love of all things (insert name of club here), and says he has never been happier, when a team offering a larger pay cheque comes calling, chances are he will pick up the phone.

Take Mohammed Salah for instance. Currently plying his trade with the champions of Europe. Word on the street is that come the end of the current campaign, Mo will sign for Real Madrid, and will be no doubt kissing the crest on his shirt after slotting his first goal at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

But this week I did see a tiny glimmer of hope in the noir world of professional football that maybe, just maybe, there are players in the game who are still loyal. Kind of.

When Philippe Coutinho left Liverpool to join Barcelona in January 2018, I felt it was the right decision at the right time.

The money they sold him for compared to what they paid for him would have made even Donald Trump drool with envy at the deal. It was so good I’m surprised he never tweeted his involvement.

On the pitch, Liverpool never looked back and he wasn’t missed, especially when they were deservedly crowned European champions at the end of the season, ironically demolishing Coutinhio’s Barcelona on the way to picking up the prize.

But for the Brazilian himself, the grass at Camp Nou wasn’t as green as he had hoped it would be, and this summer he moved on, this week choosing Bayern Munich as the place where he will play, on loan at first with an option to buy.

This left many Liverpool supporters wondering why their club didn't jump at the chance to bring him back to Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp, for reasons only Jurgen Klopp knows, decided to swerve the opportunity to sign the little magician.

Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham and Arsenal were all keen on taking Coutinho on loan, Arsenal very keen, but apparently he turned them all down, claiming he could never play in England unless it was for Liverpool. 

Is this loyalty? You could argue not as he isn’t a Liverpool player anymore, but for me, I thought it really was the right thing for him to do.

I’ve no idea how much Bayern will be paying him, but if you look at the pay scale at professional clubs these days, he would have probably made more money if he had come back to England.

When Liverpool signed him in 2013 from Inter Milan not many of the Anfield faithful would have had a clue who he was.

A few weeks and a few man-of-the-match performances later, they were singing his name loud and clear.

My understanding is that during his time in Italy, signing when he was just 18 remember, he felt homesick, isolated and lonely. He was a long way from Brazil after all.

During his early days with Liverpool, his whole family moved to the city with him to ensure no repeat of their boy feeling all alone.

And it worked. Coutinho shone and had a great five years at Liverpool before trying to better himself at Barcelona.

What happened next is well documented and for reasons unknown, things did not work out in Catalonia.

I’m pleased he’s got a move, and I hope he does well. And I’m also delighted that it’s Bundesliga defences he’ll be up against each week and not those in the Premier League, and in particular, Liverpool’s. VNS

 

 

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