After being involved in football and other sports for more years than I care to remember, I realize there’s something drastically wrong with the way the press has turned sports reporting into nothing more than an ongoing soap opera. This is especially true in football with the recent rumours regarding Germany’s Lucas Podolski and Arsenals’ Flying Dutchman Robin Van Persie.
To set the record straight. As of 8 pm GMT on March 1oth, Podolski hasn’t signed a contract with or been sold to Arsenal and Van Persie is still a Gunner. There’s one simple rule that journalists should follow and that’s to report the facts. So much rubbish has been written over the past week that stated Podolski had indeed agreed to personal terms with Arsenal and Cologne had agreed to Arsenal’s offer for him. However, the plain truth is that he hasn’t. Arsene Wenger has come out and said this as has Podolski himself.
Now this isn’t to say that he won’t end up at Emirates Stadium since there’s a good chance that he could. But to report that it’s already happened is misleading and nothing more than sensationalism. So much garbage is written on a daily basis about football, and you may regard this article to be a prime example of that if you choose to. But sitting around the pub and then putting pen to paper to start new rumours is hurting the game. Just think back to all of the prospective football transfers you’ve read about over the years and how many actually came true.
Also, there’s something unsettling with a sport where players who are under contact are allowed to openly make deals with other clubs. There’s a strict rule in North American sports, such as the NHL, NFL, NBA, MLB, and MLS, where anybody caught contacting a contracted player is charged with tampering. This results in a very large financial fine and in some leagues it could also result in the loss of future draft picks. You’re not even allowed to admit that you’re interested in another team’s player if he’s already under contract.
This allows the leagues to be operated professionally and they don’t become a circus with rumours hitting the headlines on a daily basis. One of the main reasons this disease has inflicted football is because many of the writers aren’t journalists. There’s nothing wrong at all with letting your opinions and feelings be known, but they shouldn’t be presented to the public as hard facts.
The latest rumour, which again could end up being true, is that Manchester City has already come to an agreement with van Persie. This one comes courtesy of a newspaper called the National in the United Arab Emirates. According to this publication, van Persie is going to be the fifth Gunner to join City after agreeing provisionally to terms with the English Premier League leaders. It also claims that the Dutch striker will become the league’s highest paid player.
The article goes on to state that sources who are close to City and van Persie have confirmed that a deal has been made and the striker will be paid £10.9 million a year. This is reportedly more than what Carlos Tevez makes, but he’s supposedly going to be sold in the summer anyway. Of course, it says Arsenal will have to agree to a transfer fee, but since van Persie will be entering the final year of his current contract next season the Gunners will be placed between a rock and a hard place, the same way they were when they sold Samir Nasri to City.
Wenger reportedly wanted to hang onto Nasri, but the board didn’t want to lose him for nothing the following year when his contract expired and he would have become a free agent, so agreed to the deal. Even if this specific rumour with City isn’t true, it’s a fact that there will be several teams offering the 29-year-old van Persie lorry loads of money to jump ship during the offseason and Arsenal will either have to sell him or risk losing him with no compensation when his contract expires.
After scoring 25 goals so far in 27 league games, losing him would obviously hurt the club, but if he’s sold at least they’d have money to sign a replacement, which could turn out to be Podolski. If van Persie stays and Podolski is also signed, it clouds the future status of Gervinho, and rightly so, with just four goals in approximately two dozen games, he hasn’t been the scoring revelation many expected him to be. Wenger said the interest he has in Lukas Podolski is genuine regardless if van Persie stays or goes. The Gunners tried to buy the 26-year-old during transfer window in January, but didn’t have any luck.
Van Persie has stated publicly that he isn’t going to enter any contract talks with Arsenal or anybody else until the season is finished and he thinks things over. City manager Roberto Mancini has admitted that he admires van Persie and ranked him up there with Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and City’s own Mario Balotelli and Sergio Aguero.
Mancini said he’s always interested in good players that want to leave their current clubs, but if they want to stay there then so be it. He said he feels van Persie will stay with Arsenal by signing a new deal. He added that the Gunners will have a huge problem if he leaves. But if those are his sentiments, I’m not sure what the point of the National’s article is.
So far, Wenger has lost the services of Nasri, Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure, and Gael Clichy to City and has made some decent money in the process. He recently said he doesn’t intend on losing anyone else to City or any other team for that matter since he plans on keeping his players, especially their leading scorer. He added that the club will try to do everything it can to re-sign van Persie and other than that there’s not much he can do to control the rumours.
While rumours about Podolski and van Persie sell newspapers and get people’s tongues wagging. I just hope the next stories regarding their new deals aren’t published until AFTER they’ve signed on the dotted line.