Following the sale of Jack Rodwell from Everton to Manchester City, City manager Roberto Mancini commented that Rodwell would now be playing for a team who “plays to win.” Some offense was taken as Everton are a fiercely competitive side, and it’s generally regarded as bad form for a moneybags club to make derogatory comments about the ambition of a club just scraping by. It could be that Mancini’s quote was lost in translation, but it brings up the notion of clubs that are ‘selling clubs’ versus those who are ‘buying clubs’.
With Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspurs losing Robin Van Persie and Luka Modric, respectively, it would seem that even these relatively wealthy and well-run clubs are selling clubs when the price is right. The same could be applied to titans Liverpool (Xabi Alonso) and Manchester United (Cristiano Ronaldo), who found the price too good to stop selling their talent to Real Madrid. Obviously with all four of the players I mentioned, the owners/managers had to weigh up the cost of having a disillusioned player with diminishing value stinking out the place should they turn down the big checks waved in their faces.
You could stretch the ‘selling club’ theory even further. Chelsea spent over £80m this summer and now have 14 midfielders—a maximum of whom only five will start each game. Not all 14 will be expecting to start, but there will certainly be some disillusion (I’m looking at you: Florent Malouda, Oriol Romeu, and Yossi Benayoun) and some agitating agents about the place. It could be that the owners and manager want a nice big, strong, and competitive squad, but some players will want out, will sow discord, and another club will wave a big fat cheque in your face (Paris St Germain, Shaktar Donetsk, or West Ham, probably) and even though you want to keep John Obi Mikel for those tricky league cup ties, you may find yourself ‘having’ to sell him. The same theory could be applied to Man City and the 724 strikers currently on their books.
In the right situation, every club is a selling club…well, perhaps the only two clubs in existence who aren’t selling clubs are of course Barcelona and Real Madrid. Real have bottomless pockets which means they are more than happy to get rid of players they’ve grown bored of playing with, they’ll take a loss every time. As for Barça, well they’re the club that every player in the world wants to play for (even the Real boys), and no one wants to leave (except Zlatan of course, but he’s such an outlaw). So if your club lets go of your star player, try not to feel too bad about it, you’re in good company.