Ferran Torres is finally a Barcelona player. The 21-year-old decided to leave Manchester City once Barcelona made their interest in him known.
It was then a matter of whether or not Man City would sell a prized asset to a European rival when there was absolutely no pressure to do so. But with Pep Guardiola’s well-publicised position on players’ freedom to leave if they are not happy, the door was wide open once Torres made known his desire to head for the exit door.
And so it became an easy deal for Barcelona to make. The Spanish giants made a €55m deal for the winger without any obstacles. As is quickly becoming the norm, the Catalan side has slapped a ridiculously high release clause on the player.
This will serve many purposes. One of them will likely be to remind Manchester City that they simply didn’t know the value of what they had. A €1b release clause on a player says clearly how much the owners think he’s worth.
So while the hierarchy at the Etihad Stadium are still trying to convince themselves they made a good deal with a tidy profit on a player they got just over a year ago, Barcelona tells them to think again.
“Maybe you need to value your players more based on the current market,” one can imagine them saying.
Leicester City have been the surprise package of the Premier League since storming to an unexpected title in 2016. The Foxes are now coached by Brendan Rodgers and have played European football in the last few seasons.
But that will be almost impossible if they didn’t hold on tight to their top players. All of Chelsea, Manchester United and even Man City paid premium prices to get N’golo Kante, Harry Maguire and Riyad Mahrez respectively.
That set a precedence that ensures big clubs think twice before targeting a Leicester player.
Even the players know they should be prepared to honour their contracts as the club will not let them go easily. And so they get down to work and focus on the long-term project of the club.
Pep Guardiola is trying to do the opposite by playing Mr. Nice Guy.
The problem with that is once it becomes a habit for the club to sell it’s best players just because they changed their minds overnight over the newest shiny object, the club can easily become prey to other European heavyweights.
So the policy can become counter-productive in the long run. No club should be saying to it’s players, "...once you are unhappy, you can leave." Otherwise, there’s no need to sign any long-term contract.
They should all be on rolling one year deals that allow them to jump ship at the slightest opportunity to be happy elsewhere.
As a matter of fact, there’s no club where all the players are happy to be there at every point in time. But that doesn’t mean they should move once there’s interest from another club.
They ride through the rough times and usually things get better. If not, they leave at the expiration of their contract. But where there’s a total breakdown of relations, they can move elsewhere.
However, coming out to drum it into the players’ ears that once you’re not happy, jump ship could do more harm than good to the club in the end.
It creates a scenario where every player is looking around for the next available opportunity to move. Other rivals and player agents could also take advantage of this to unsettle the squad in order to secure more lucrative deals elsewhere for players.
Bottom line is if you don’t like the club, don’t join. But once you’re in, be ready to honour your contract.
We’ll definitely let you go if things don’t work out for both parties. But we won’t open the exit door just because you’re not happy at the moment.
Sure, your happiness is very important to us. And that’s why we need to know why you’re not happy so we can work things out.
But if you need just a bigger club or more money to be happy, chances are you’ll never be happy anywhere.
Maybe if Guardiola got to the office one day and saw a long queue of his best players looking to leave the club because they are not happy about something, he’ll realise just how counter-productive the idea can be.
If every player left just because they are not happy at the moment, no club will enjoy any stability.