Vito Corleone has a memorable line in the 1972 film The Godfather, where he promises his godson Johnny Fontane that he get the lead role he craves in a new film. Corleone says he will speak to the film’s producer and “make him an offer he can’t refuse”. In this particular instance although the film producer vehemently states there is no way that Fontane will ever get the role, he is soon persuaded to change his mind when he wakes up with the severed head of his prize stallion in his bed.
Reigning English Premier League champions Manchester City decided to forego the severed head and instead agreed a fee of £28 million with Swansea City for Ivory Coast striker Wilfried Bony. The move makes perfect sense for Manchester City as they increase their striking options from three to four as Bony joins Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Stefan Jovetic.
City’s strikers have all suffered from various injuries during the first half of the current season, and manager Manuel Pellegrini is anxious to ensure the team has sufficient options to continue the team’s challenge for silverware. City are still in the hunt for three trophies – the league, FA Cup and Champions League. Pellegrini mentioned:
“The injuries were part of the decision, because we had too many. It’s normal strikers are injured more than other players especially here in England where you need strong footballers and it’s physical football. That’s why I said last year, and this year also, we need a fourth striker.”
Whilst the move is great business for Manchester City, does it make sense for Wilfried Bony?
Bony is currently a starter at Swansea, made 48 appearances in the 2013-14 season (scoring 25 goals in the process) and has made 22 appearances in the current season (scoring 9 goals so far). As a squad player at Manchester City he is likely to be used more sparingly and will probably spend more time getting familiar with the view from the bench.
It’s not all bad news because Bony is moving to a big club where there is a strong likelihood that he will end the season with some silverware, and of course he will probably receive a fairly tidy salary from his new employers. Let’s also not forget that it is a big ego boost for players to receive interest from some of these big clubs and it probably represents a dream come true or the opportunity of a lifetime for an African player to achieve this sort of recognition of his talents.
However, the English Premier League is littered with once-promising players who made the big club move and ended up being used for the odd League Cup outing and then languishing in the reserves. After their contracts expire, these players then end up as the definition of a journeyman footballer. The list of such players includes Scott Sinclair, Shaun Wright-Philips, Scott Parker, Steve Sidwell, Francis Jeffers and Jack Rodwell. Daniel Sturridge, Scott Parker (and arguably Glen Johnson) have managed to resurrect their careers following their less-than-impressive big money moves.
Another example of a player who moved to a big club in recent years was Alex Song, who transferred from Arsenal to Barcelona in the summer of 2012. As previously noted on this blog, I don’t think that Alex Song had much to lament about during his time at Barcelona as he won the league with the Spanish club and I’m sure he enjoyed the Mediterranean lifestyle plus the money he earned while at the club. However, the fact that Song agreed to a loan move to English club West Ham in the 2014-15 shows that he was more interested in first-team football than in sitting on the bench in Spain.
Every football player is motivated by different factors. For some it may be money, for others it may the certainty of first team football and, more rarely in the modern game, it may be the excitement of playing for your hometown club.
It’s not clear what Wilfried Bony is motivated by, but I hope that he continues to improve as a player and doesn’t end up on the journeyman merry-go-round.