THERE ought to be a magic formula by which a valued player who wishes to leave a club can be persuaded to stay. But there isn’t.
Pound notes might do it, a better contract or simple persuasion have been known to succeed, but when a player is determined enough, he usually gets his way.
I have had one or two cases in my career, the most upsetting being Dimitri Payet in 2017.
His determination to return to Marseille resurfaced and after he made it clear he wanted to go, we decided with the utmost reluctance to let him.
He said about his departure from West Ham that “It’s what I wanted. It was clear from the start”.
It’s hard to swallow, especially as he really was that seductive a player, among the best we’ve had in my time.
Payet was a victim of one of the causes for demanding a move.
His family were stubborn about not wanting to move from Marseille and the separation increasingly affected him.
In some ways I had sympathy for him but it was his decision to join us and Slaven Bilic, our manager at the time, thought he would settle.
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It didn’t work out and Payet’s stylish inventiveness was badly missed.
Some of our fans called him a “traitor”, emphasising the level of passion such a move generates.
I imagine that degree of emotion will be repeated at Tottenham should Harry Kane be sold.
There are many reasons why a player should wish to find another club.
I’ve heard most of them, ranging from pay to prospects, from homesickness to discontent with the manager.
The most laughable was Robbie Savage’s claim that he wanted to leave Birmingham to be closer to his parents by joining Blackburn, even though it is further away from his parents, who lived in Wrexham!
But he got his way after admitting that to force the issue he decided to “go onto a football pitch and not try”. It worked, but even he admitted it was not a nice thing to do.
Once a player has announced that he wishes to go, he regards it as having packed his bags with a taxi waiting outside the changing room.
Usually, he has his way because there is no point in keeping a player who lusts for elsewhere.
Maybe he will, as they say, fulfil his ambitions, but this doesn’t always work out.
It doesn’t appear to have for Marko Arnautovic, who left West Ham two years ago after a shortish but successful stay — successful in goals terms at least.
The Austrian and his feckless agent-brother decided riches offered by Shanghai SIPG overbid the recent contract he had signed at West Ham and consequently there was a bad atmosphere around. Again, we were forced to let him go.
Arnautovic has now done his Marco Polo exploration to China and wants to return home.
A football club is actually a delicate mechanism, built on trust and team integrity. Every man or woman must pull their weight or the edifice falls, sometimes to the division below.
Nothing cracks the walls like the fakers of injury and non- triers whose disruption stems from wanting their own way.
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Team-mates know who they are and soon there may be havoc in the dressing room. I have heard of fights in the showers and even a punch-up involving the manager.
The trick where possible is not to let it get to the point where a player wants to leave.
This is not always possible and is particularly the case when a star is not tempted by wealth.
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