Well, you know it’s a sign of the non-banter era when the biggest international break debate is whether or not there’s a conspiracy against William Saliba because the club wants to loan him to a Championship team.
A few things I wanted to clarify.
I think he’ll be a top player. The signing, as a standalone investment, was kind of wild, but I think his first season in Ligue 1 showed that he has the tools to make it big for us at some point.
Although I think the deal was bad business, I don’t think it was failed business. This should be a good signing. My overarching point was that signing him was a little bit like spending $16k of your £18k home-improvement budget on beer cooler… before you’ve addressed the fact you don’t have a roof or running water.
Ligue 1 Quality
I 100% believe the Championship slander is off the mark. It’s a very strong league that consistently produces top, top talent. Ligue 1 is superior technically, because France, as a general rule of thumb, does its shit right. However, there’s a reason only one teenage centre back managed more than 300 minutes of football in the last 4 seasons in the Premier League… because it is far more competitive. In France, nine U20 players were given +600 minutes (thank you @GiantGooner), why? Because it doesn’t boast the same pound for pound quality as the Premier League… and I think you’d find that our top Championship clubs would battle it out in the top 8 in Ligue 1.
People keep batting around the notion of ‘generational talent’, it’s the new hot thing to talk about. However, it’s worth reading up on the early years of VVD. Things weren’t going off for him at 19 years old. He was apparently ‘overtired’ from playing a season at Willem II reserves. Even more interesting than that, and something that might be a consdieration for Saliba is this little snippet from when the player was 17 years old.
Van Dijk’s long rise began the summer he turned 17, in 2008, when he shot up 18 centimeters (7 inches) in height. Before then, Van Dijk has admitted to the BBC, he was a slow, short right-back with an unstable knee, not a player who was good enough to dominate as a central defender.
Saliba is 6ft4, has a huge frame, and he’s only 19 (debuted younger). That’s rapid growth. That sometimes comes with challenges that are best ironed out outside a top 4 challenging team in the Premier League.
Back to VVD, things eventually clicked at Groningen. He then moved to… Celtic. He left Celtic at 24 to go to Southampton. This generational talent didn’t make it to Liverpool until he was 27 years old. Why am I telling you this? Because we need to drop the idea that this loan says anything about Saliba’s future, and we need to take seriously the reality that it is VERY hard to make it as a young centre back at a big club.
The Premier League announced that we, the fans, can watch all the games this season. The games that aren’t shown on the normal channels can be purchased for £14.95. Wow, what a treat?!
This is a dreadful decision that reads like it has been made by a group of people that would be more likely to know the exact price of an AP Royal Oak, than that of a pint of milk.
The pricing structure makes so little sense on so many levels. Firstly, shouldn’t the league be looking to draw in new customers, versus hammering people you know will already pay £20 for a ticket (the captives)? The price point is so high, you immediately rule out casual fans from the party, that’s money only obsessives pay.
Also, is that sort of price point not a bit detached from humanity in an era of mass unemployment? There aren’t many places to find joy right now. Food, booze, and sport is where I get my kicks. Making football really expensive right now seems really unfair. It’s also counter-productive, because the thing with the internet, is if people think the price is too high, they simply find it for free. The music industry learned that the hard way, then Spotify reimagined its structure for the internet. I’m not sure why the Premier League thinks gouging fans is a smart move?
£5 would be fair. £7.50 would be pricey. £10 for me would be a monthly subscription. £14.95 is just a rip off… it is especially jarring when you consider clubs just dropped £1.2b on players. Between them, the couldn’t come to arrangement to calm down the pricetags and wages of players… so they just dumped the bill on the fans.
I speak out of both sides of my mouth because the reality is I love the signings and I’ll pay the price of the games… but as always, it’s a losing game to be a fan. Still, at least we can all be skint watching Thomas Partey beating the press.
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