I was afraid something like this would happen. Saudi Arabian clubs, mostly the ones backed by the PIF, have been throwing money at footballers this summer in a bid to beef up the Saudi Premier League. We’ve seen a number of Premier League players, mostly aging or near the end of their careers, but also prime players like Wolves’ Ruben Neves, opt to move to the Middle East for incredible paydays.
But now it’s become personal. According to ESPN’s James Olley, Saudi club al-Ittihad is preparing a €60m (£51.2m) bid for Son Heung-Min, and the club would offer him a 4 year contract with wages of €30m/year (£490k/wk).
I am not rational about this.
Look, I know. I’ve been public about the idea that Spurs really do need to sell one of Harry Kane or Sonny if they’re serious about actually doing a rebuild. Both are on the wrong side of 30 now, and Sonny in particular is pace-dependent and has always been somewhat streaky. He’s also coming off a bad year, albeit one with a HUGE caveat that involved playing through a sports hernia for nine months. In that context, £51m is good money for Sonny. It’s unlikely we’d get more from him next summer, even if he plays significantly better than he did this past season. And nearly £500k/wk in wages? Whoa. That’s enough money to give any professional athlete pause.
That’s my rational brain speaking. Now excuse me while I channel my lizard brain.
NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO HELL NO NO NONONONONONONONONONONONO F**K OFF NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO YOU CAN’T HAVE HIM HE’S MINEEEEEEEEEEEEE NO NO NO NO! NO! NO GOD PLEASE NO! NO! NOOOOOOOOOO!
Son Heung-Min is, I think, my favorite Tottenham player of all time. I don’t want him to go. It’s not fair. It’s not okay. He needs to stay for us forever and stay and get his coaching badges and rise to head coach and smile his way to a Champions League trophy.
I am not okay with this happening.
But it’s football. (Get back in your cage, lizard brain!) This is part of the Faustian deal we, as fans, make with our clubs and with the sport in general: we fall in love with players. We enjoy watching them play for our chosen club. And then, eventually, they leave. Pathos. Rare is the player who retires with the club they love — it just doesn’t happen much anymore. And after years of ruthlessness in the transfer market, Spurs have spent the past few years trying to cosplay a “big club” by keeping their biggest stars, and, generally, failing.
Will this offer actually materialize? I dunno. Will Spurs even entertain it? Well... they probably should. But that doesn’t mean they will. In fact, there are already indications that Spurs are categorically rejecting any interest, foreign or domestic, for Son Heung-Min, which might not mean much if Saudi comes back with an even bigger offer. And maybe Sonny would reject that kind of cash to stay with us. I think that’d be a pretty silly reaction, but in a world where James Maddison can (possibly) opt to spurn Newcastle because his wife wants to live in London, I’d understand if Sonny says no to working in Saudi Arabia, and it’d make me love him even more.
But boy, I dunno. A smartly run club would seriously consider selling Son for that kind of money. As a rational fan who has temporarily smothered his lizard brain under a pillow, I’d probably even agree with that decision. But oh my heart — would it ever make me sad.