Dimitri Payet and to a lesser extent Diego Costa have become the pantomime villains of the Premier League. Both have been painted as disrespectful and disloyal to football clubs that have made them rich and elevated their status in the game.Why? Because they have expressed desires to leave. It’s the same thing that Manchester United fans threw at Wayne Rooney for handing in a transfer request in 2010 (and allegedly doing so in 2012). Rooney surprisingly stayed the course, becoming United’s all time top scorer and is now being lauded for his apparent “loyalty”.
Let’s focus on Dimitri Payet. The French play-maker joined West Ham from Marseille just over 18 months ago for about 10m pounds. It took less than half a season to set the league alight before he agreed to a bumper contract with the Hammers. It must feel ironic to West Ham supporters that this new contract came with a loyalty bonus considering his want-away status. This season, Payet’s performances have been shockingly poor. Ever since he came back from the Euros, the man has not been the same. Now he’s handed in a transfer request, West Ham fans are up in arms and literally walking all over him. What did Payet do to deserve this treatment?
Dimitri Payet handed in a transfer request while West Ham were struggling for form, giving fans the impression that he was not up for the fight. Maybe that is the case but surely there’s more to the story than that.
French journalist Julien Laurens said that Payet has not settled in East London and that his family want to return to Marseille. Word on the street is that Payet is more than willing to take a pay cut to make this happen. This sounds like a more than acceptable reason for a player to want to leave a club that has put so much faith in him. It seems that the West Ham fans and players (who allegedly removed Payet from their Whatsapp group) do not see it this way. They see football players as objects that are owned by the club and designed to do their bidding. This is hypocrisy at it’s finest as no one would begrudge the common fan switching jobs in order to better take care of their family. It’s not as if Payet is moving to China for the money.
Speaking of China, the uproar over Diego Costa’s head being turned by a mega bucks Chinese offer is unsettling. Perhaps Costa should have been more professional but who wouldn’t have their ‘loyalty’ tested by a chance to triple their wages? Oscar wasn’t getting a game at Chelsea and wouldn’t have gotten a game at any worthwhile European club so he accepted an insane deal in China. As a result, the English media pilloried him with accusations of disloyalty and lack of ambition. Absolute bollocks! If someone gave a pundit like Jamie Carragher the chance to triple his Sky Sports salary he’d be on the first Cathay Pacific flight out there.
A football player’s career is short. One major injury can ruin everything – just look at Stewart Holden, for example. So that being said, how can we blame the truck load of Arsenal players who left for either money or the chance to win a championship? Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure and Samir Nasri came from humble beginnings so should we be surprised that Man City were able to tempt them away from cheapskates (at the time) Arsenal? Cesc Fabregas wanted to return home and after years of Arsenal underachieving, feeling like a winner must have been front and centre of his thinking. Then there’s Robin Van Persie who left for Manchester United. The “little boy” in RVP wanted to go to Man United as he could work under the greatest British manager and possibly win the league title that had up till that point eluded him. Van Persie achieved just that in his first season. He’d definitely had regretted it if he passed up the chance to make the move. Let’s not forget, he was 29 when he made the switch.
All in all, human beings have to look after themselves and last we checked football players are human beings. They play football not just for the love of the game but for many it’s about their livelihoods and to satisfy their families. Just because Giggs, Maldini and Totti remained at their boyhood clubs all their careers does not mean that the Vieris and the Zlatans of this world are any less admirable.