Here's a question that wouldn't have made sense a few weeks ago: How much does it cost to not throw a birthday party?
The answer, it seems, is a talismanic Ivorian midfielder capable of leading a Premier League team to title glory.
Last week, it became abundantly clear that Yaya Toure was displeased with employers because they did not shake his hand and wish him a happy birthday. His agent, Dimitry Seluk, went on Sky Sports News to emphasise that his client felt disrespected and in need of more "attention."
Evidently, the adoration of thousands of fans and a grotesque six-figure weekly salary are not respectful enough.
Many saw the bizarre birthday complaint as a thinly veiled attempt to leverage a better contract or to cushion the blow of a transfer request. Now, the latter appears to be true, as Toure has been metaphorically fluttering his eyelashes at Paris Saint-Germain.
"Given the goals of Paris, how could you not be interested in a club like that?" the City star told France Football (quotes translated via The Guardian). "PSG have become one of the strongest teams in Europe. It would be a honour to one day play for a club like that. If I can be of service [then good]."
This is a textbook "come and get me" plea, and a gesture for which Toure should be thoroughly ashamed.
The 31-year-old is not out of contract—he is bound to the Premier League champions for another three years. When he re-signed his new contract last year (which could be earning him up to £240,000 per week), Toure told the Manchester City website how happy he was with his employer. "Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to finish my career as a Manchester City player," he said.
Respect is clearly an important issue for Mr. Toure, so to go from pledging his career to a club to openly expressing interest in a (equally rich) rival seems to slightly contradict his values.
His contrived plea is the football equivalent of marrying a girl and then, for no real reason, trying to see if you can have a better wedding with one of her colleagues.
Or, to put it in less romantic terms, it's the equivalent of being given a big promotion in your dream job, then loudly telling everyone how much you would actually like to go and work in the office across the street. "Who would not be interested in an office like that? They have a nicer view and a free vending machine!"
In essence, this kind of conduct is completely unprofessional.
When a football club tries to tempt a player contracted to someone else, it is called tapping up. When they are caught, they are fined for this behaviour.
Why should it go unpunished when a player tries to "tap up" a club that he wants to move to? It's basically the same principle.
Such open flirtation shouldn't necessarily be dealt with by football's governing bodies, but clubs should fine their players for stepping out of line in this manner. These pleas are usually motivated by an agent looking to make commission from a move, so denting their pay cheque would be an appropriate course of action.
Toure needs to know that his comments to France Football were much more disrespectful than improper celebration of a birthday. They are the words of a fickle man who no longer wants to honour a contract that he signed and should not pass without retribution.
Of course, the City midfielder is by no means the first player to issue an overt come-and-get-me plea. Luis Suarez made several last summer while making his deplorable attempts to leave Liverpool, and Dimitar Berbatov abandoned all subtlety in the last winter window when he posted a video entitled "Dimitar Berbatov could fire Arsenal to the title" on his Facebook page.
Evidently, there is a culture of top players trying to force moves through the media. A fine for this cynical act may not exactly improve relations between the club and their player, but it would make one message perfectly clear: Statements should be made on the pitch, not in the newspapers.
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