In Friday’s press conference prior to FC Bayern Munich’s first home game of 2018 on Sunday against Werder Bremen, coach Jupp Heynckes was asked about his thoughts on the current Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang situation at Borussia Dortmund, where the player appears to be paving the way for an early exit from BVB, in order to enjoy a big payday at one of the big clubs — he’s been linked to Real Madrid, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, and anyone else who has more money than his current club.
This is not a new phenomenon
Heynckes pointed out that this type of behavior has always existed, even in his playing days, but he conceded that “at the moment, it’s on a completely different scale,” before proceeding to dedicate five of the roughly 25 minutes of his presser to the subject:
I am very critical of this, because I feel that footballers today are very privileged, when you think how hard it is to earn your monthly salary in the outside world . . . I find that our profession needs to have professional ethics and morals, and that you sometimes have to look at the big picture, as far as what is going on in society.
Heynckes warns: let the buyer beware
What puzzles the Bayern coach specifically in the cases of Aubameyang and his teammate from last year, Ousmane Dembele, who forced his way to Barcelona, but also in general, is the cognitive dissonance of the buying clubs:
The clubs that are bringing in these players have to deal with the fact that these same players might someday do the same thing to them. I’m not demanding a solidarity [between all clubs], that will never happen. But, I do challenge the buying clubs to go ahead and think twice about signing players like this.
Before any reporter could follow up, he added, “I would — I’ll be very honest — decline [the player].”
Just to make sure he was not seen as being overly critical of their direct Bundesliga rivals, BVB, he made sure to push former Liverpool player Philippe Coutinho under the bus as well. The 160 million Euro transfer to Barcelona was “a similar case, but was solved more elegantly.”
Consider the team...and the fans
The 72-year old coach rightly points out that this is a team sport, and that individual players can’t “just egotistically pursue their own goals, but where you have to consider the entire club, the team, and, of course, the fans.” He cautions that you have to pay attention so that “the fans don’t turn their backs on us someday.”
WWJD: What Would Jupp Do?
“Sitting a player in the stands for a year - that’s not feasible”, according to the coach. It’s all about preventative measures.
You have to take care of the players ahead of time, communicate with them and make it clear, what kind of a club they’re playing for, what responsibility they have, namely, not only checking your bank account at the end of the month . . . Clear guidelines at the club, very clear announcements. I believe that’s the way it is at Bayern Munich.
Could it happen at Bayern? Along the lines of “never say never,” Heynckes doesn’t rule out this type of scenario at his current club, but admits that he “can’t really imagine it,” adding, “You just have to have a clear guideline. You have to really show a player that it doesn’t work that way.”