Whenever a player decides to leave a club for a higher pay deal at another club, fans always label him a "greedy, money-grabber" who should have shown more loyalty to his current club. The latest big transfer of Fernando Torres from Liverpool to Chelsea is a prime example.
At Liverpool, it is believed that Fernando Torres was earning in the region of £110K per week. A large sum of money, but now that he has made the move down south to Chelsea, he has increased that dramatically to an enormous £175K per week.
The response of former Liverpool striker John Aldridge today sums up the oft-taken view of many people:
“Torres is simply a mercenary who has gone for a huge pay rise. Liverpool fans stuck by him this season. They made excuses for his poor performances, about his injuries still affecting him. But all the time Torres appeared to be taking the club and the fans for a ride.
“Once he had put in a transfer request Liverpool were right to let him go. There's no point keeping someone who doesn't want to be there. Maybe Liverpool are better off without him.”
Aldridge then goes on to praise Andy Carroll and says that he is the right type of player for Liverpool and could give a lot more than Torres did. However, surely the same argument could be made against Andy Carroll that Aldridge made against Torres.
Should players show loyalty to their clubs?
Carroll has said in the past that he is happy at Newcastle, but when it came to it, he was happy to make the move to Liverpool where he has over doubled his wages. He put in a transfer request when push came to shove. Yet, Torres is a mercenary whereas Carroll is progressing his career.
In his entire career at club level, Fernando Torres has only ever won one trophy, the Spanish Segunda Division back in 2001/02. For a player of his calibre, it is a fair desire to want to challenge for trophies, and only the most deluded of Liverpool fans will claim that he would be more likely to win trophies had he stayed.
Even ignoring the ambition part of it, why should a player show loyalty to their club? Unless they have an actual link to the club, then at the heart of it, the club is merely an employer.
Why should Fernando Torres show any loyalty to Liverpool FC? A career in football is fairly short in the big scheme of things, so you have to make the most of it while you can.
If a high-flying lawyer was offered the chance to double his salary by switching to a rival company, he would and nobody would even think that he should have shown loyalty to his previous employer. So why exactly should a footballer be any different?
Loyalty also works two ways. It is difficult to argue that players should show loyalty to a club when the clubs so often show no loyalty toward the players. Liverpool showed little loyalty to the likes of Paul Konchesky, Albert Riera, Ryan Babel or Alberto Aquilani in recent months, shifting them onto other clubs because they weren’t in the club’s plans anymore.
If the club will show so little loyalty to players, then it is difficult to argue that the players should show any great loyalty in return. You are required to be loyal to your club, but only if you are able. They will certainly not be loyal to you when you are not able.
It is interesting to hear this from the wife of former Cameroon international footballer, Lucien Mettomo. She described how she had been shipped out to a dozen cities over a few years with no control over where she lives or how long she will live there.
People look at the likes of Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard as being role models for being one-club men throughout their careers. Further afield, we see the likes of Paolo Maldini at AC Milan, Iker Casillas at Real Madrid and Francesco Totti at Roma. All players who have spent their whole career at the same club.
These players have a close affinity with the clubs, having come through their academies, and in most cases, being supporters of the club since they were young. However, there is also a common theme amongst those players. They are all playing at the top clubs in the world.
Do people seriously think that if Paul Scholes had been at his hometown club, Oldham, he would have shown the same loyalty? Of course he wouldn’t. He is a top player and wants to win trophies and succeed. To do this, you need to play for the top clubs.
For top quality players, the only time they will show loyalty is if they have an affinity with the club and are already at a top club. But then, can we really call it loyalty? Could they really find a better deal and be more likely to win trophies elsewhere? Or are they just already at the peak of their chosen profession?
In the end, fans have a great loyalty to their own club. They automatically assume that the players at the club should show the same loyalty. But offer almost any of those fans the opportunity to switch jobs in exchange for doubling their salary, and I can guarantee that 99.9 percent of them would jump at the chance.
For professional footballers, football is their job and the club is their employer. There is no more loyalty from them than from any other professional to their employer. So we should not expect them to show any great loyalty to their club.