NYT > Sports
In a way, of course, the story of Lionel Messi and PSG is just beginning: the club, as its president Nasser al-Khelaifi strangely said at the press conference on the presentation of the greatest player of all time, has “won” nothing. “Still, it is nice to know that he doesn’t agree that the stream of French titles means a lot either.
But also in a way it’s over. The point of signing Messi for PSG isn’t what comes after: it’s not the games he plays or the trophies he wins. It was the theater of the day itself: the crowd at the airport, the community in the stadium, the countless news teams, the endless content.
No victory – maybe with the exception of the Champions League, but not necessarily – will attract so much attention, will attract so many glances, will inspire the same enthusiasm and awe among the fans as the piece of performance theater that the planets have gone through of the last weekend. A transfer is no longer a means to an end. It’s the end in itself.
It appears that Brendan O’Connor is gifted only with a touch of clairvoyance. “Why did Harry Kane sign a six-year contract? Obviously, it is of great benefit to Spurs to keep their star player in his prime for six years, ”he wrote. “But what’s in it for the player? He has no bargaining power or leverage when trying to force a withdrawal. “
I can’t give a definitive answer, unfortunately, but my reasonable guess would be that his reasoning was a mix of security – players usually assume that longer contracts are safer and therefore better – and three years ago they believed that he was able to fulfill his ambitions at Tottenham. Recall that after two seasons the club was really fighting for the Premier League title; a year later it would make the Champions League final.
As a rule, contracts of this length are likely to become increasingly rare, especially for the best and brightest of the game: partly because the financial obligation for the clubs is too high, partly because the players (and their advisors) know the way to maximize the Earning potential lies in keeping transfer fees comparatively low. Players need leverage. Kane can still stand as a warning of what will happen if they don’t have it.