Maybe Rafael Benítez felt that Florent Sinama Pongolle was a better prospect, or was simply wowed by the Chicago Fire striker’s break-dancing. But given the current need for a goalscorer at Anfield, the former Liverpool manager’s decision not to sign Wilfried Bony after a trial in 2007 looks questionable in hindsight. The Ivorian was the Premier League’s top scorer in the 2014 calendar year and is reportedly close to a $45 million move from Swansea to Manchester City.
(Chew on that, Financial Fair Play fans!)
Say Bony had signed a deal with Liverpool back in the day. Would it have stopped him moving on? Not necessarily in a world where contracts are more about setting the terms of departure than dictating the length of employment. After all, Bony signed a one-year contract extension with Swansea, taking his deal up to June 2018, way back in the mists of … last Nov. 19.
“These types of players are ones that we do our best to keep at the club for a long time but it’s also important that we see commitment from that player towards the club, his teammates and the fans,” Swansea manager Garry Monk said at the time. “Bony has shown that he is very committed to this club by signing an extension here.”
Apparently two months is “a long time” in Welsh soccer. But every player has his price, and the longer his contract, the bigger that price. According to the BBC, the extension removed a 20 million pound release clause – good news for Swansea, since the 26-year-old Ivorian is clearly worth more.
Hypothetically speaking, it makes financial sense for a club to hand an in-demand player a generous new deal when it means that the extra outlay in wages is going to be more than covered by the rise in his transfer fee.
More than anything, though, this prospective move is indicative of the cold financial realities that make the the top of the EPL standings so predictable year after year. A progressive small club in ninth place in the table is likely surrendering any prospect it may have of approaching the top six by selling its star to an ultra-rich powerhouse, reinforcing City’s dominance and underlining its financial power despite UEFA’s recently-introduced regulations.
That’s the way of the soccer world, of course, and maybe Swansea will unearth a Bony replacement who’s as good or even better. But the switch — assuming it happens — will most likely boost City’s prospects of a third EPL title in four years and send Swansea sinking back toward mid-table.