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Loyalty in football is dead – and why should we care?

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Loyalty in football is dead – and why should we care?

Reservedness is not often a character trait attributed to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who appears to have a knack of saying, or doing, the wrong thing.

The mercurial AC Milan striker is never too far away from some sort of controversy, and now risks attracting the ire of Arsenal supporters after his latest comments.

Ibrahimovic inspired Milan to a 4-0 win over the Gunners on Wednesday night, and will further unsettle the north London club after claiming Robin van Persie should quit Arsenal in order to further his career.

The Arsenal captain is out of contract at the end of next season and, so far, has yet to provide a clear indication that he will remain at the Emirates Stadium.

After a quite incredible 12 months or so in front of goal, Van Persie will surely have no shortage of suitors as his deal with Arsenal nears expiration.

And Ibrahimovic believes the decision that Van Persie should make is perfectly clear.

“When you don’t win anything for years, people understand why you leave like Cesc Fabregas,” Ibrahimovic told The Sun.

“Football is all about winning. If you don’t win you want to go. I don’t know Robin personally but I remember him from Holland and what a talent he was and now he is complete.

“I don’t know what he is thinking but I know what I would do.

“I have made a lot of moves in my life. I take it as a challenge, an adventure.

“And I have won eight titles in eight years with different clubs in different countries.

“But if you stay in one place all your life it is easy to play football.

“You are at home, you are in the comfort zone.

“But if you move to five different places it is a real test. If you succeed that’s when you become a real champion, that’s when you get more respect.”

Although this may be the opinion of only one player, it serves as evidence that loyalty in football really is a thing of the past – and why should that be a surprise?

Even though he has not expressed his opinion in the most appropriate of manners, Ibrahimovic does make an extremely valid point when it comes to the aspirations of a professional football player.

The key motivating factors for an elite player are clear: winning and making as much money as possible. And who can blame them for that?

The career of a player at the top level rarely lasts any more than a decade, so striving to achieve as much as possible – both personally and professionally – in that time is often what marks out the great from the good.

It is, perhaps, very much an English mentality that as soon as a player aspires to success away from his club he his branded disloyal, in spite of previous achievements.

But the need for loyalty is not a pre-requisite of becoming a professional footballer, and those with the greatest ambition are often those who achieve the most.

As far as Van Persie is concerned, he will need to make the decision that suits both him and his family best, and this summer could prove to be a pivotal time for the 28-year-old.

And, should he decide that his future is away from Arsenal, the surely he should be admired for his ambition rather than castigated for unfaithfulness.

Loyalty in football is dead, and it’s time everyone got used to it.


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