18 luglio 2013

What a World Class Player really is? Is there any World Class Player out there?

How many summers did we spend waiting for Arsène Wenger to sign a World Class Player?

According to many supporters, too many: while rivals seemed to spend ridiculous amounts of money on this or that player, Arsenal manager didn’t make a single move and looked to be happy to sign players available for free and kind of second-choice players from lower leagues or cash-strapped Clubs.

And youngsters, many youngsters.

Promising, talented, gifted, inexperienced, error-prone, fragile youngsters.

Many supporters didn’t stop moaning, pointing the finger to that greedy, stubborn, non ambitious manager who did only care for his job and should have been sacked long ago.

However, only a few years later, the same supporters were throwing bitter attacks to the same manager who did sell this or that World Class Player playing for Arsenal: how is it possible?

How can a Club that didn’t sign World Class Players actually sell World Class Players?

The only explanation is that the Club has a great manager, who turns a very good player into something special.

I am not saying that Arsenal do not need any signing this summer (or did in the past seasons), I am just wondering if there’s any absolute World Class Player available in the market.

In my opinion, an actual World Class Player is someone who performed at the highest level for many years and – if possible – in different environments: to my eyes there are only a few World Class Players out there and none of them is available.

I am thinking about Lionel Messi, obviously, and even if he didn’t repeat so far the amazing performances he produced in Barcelona while on international duty and even if he’s never been tested in another league, the boy has 4 Ballons D’Or and kept scoring goals for fun in the past five seasons, looking unstoppable for long periods.

Another one is Cristiano Ronaldo: love him or hate him, the guy is the only human being who looks close to rival Lionel Messi in the world football’s dominance and has been able to leave a huge mark at both Manchester United and Real Madrid.

Who else?

Gianluigi Buffon and Iker Casillas among goalkeepers, Andrès Iniesta and Cesc Fàbregas among midfielders and maybe Thiago Silva among defenders, even if the Brazilian can sometimes make very silly mistakes for someone as good as he definitely is.

Personally, I put Zlatan Ibrahimovic together with this illustrious fellowship even if the Swedish never starred in the Champions League. The former Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona and AC Milan forward is a unique striker, gifted both technically and physically, who won in five different leagues and often as the top scorer of the country.

Marking him is a pure nightmare for every defender, at times he is unstoppable even if a different way compared to Lionel Messi. Sign him and you get goals, plenty of goals – 100% guaranteed.

A late add is Robin van Persie and it doesn’t make me happy to include him in the list: the man had to overcome a long line of injuries before showing how good he is, we would have all preferred to see him doing it at the Arsenal for much longer than he did, especially after the support offered by the fans, the manager and the board during the years spent as a bit-part player who used to spend months on the treatment table.

For me, the list ends here.

Those players are the perfect mix of experience, skills, talent, focus and – most important thing – reliability.

Anyone can have a bad day, those guys seem to go thru it once every two seasons and when it happens they look just average – never below that.

Even Neymar is not (yet) a World Class Player, despite an amazing potential.

One or more steps below we have plenty of excellent footballers who could be World Class Players, some gifted players who have all the ingredients to leave a mark but – for one reason or another – lack the extra something to reach the very top.

Some are inconsistent, many still have much to prove, others look happy to stay in their comfort zone and in the end it’s always the environment which makes all the difference: when a very good player feels the support, is played in the best position and has a team working hard around him, the gap to close before reaching the top becomes very short.

Given the fact that none of the World Class Players I listed above look to be available in the market, I am more than happy to have Arsène Wenger on board because he proved to be the best man to take the best out of each player he trained so far.

If many of you were complaining about the sales of Cesc Fàbregas, Robin van Persie and some even those of Alex Song, Emmanuel Adebayor and Samir Nasri is because our manager did an extraordinary work in turning a few good players into outstanding footballers, a couple of them into World Class Players.

Do you want big signings? Wait and see.

Remember what happened with Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Laurent Koscielny, Santi Cazorla, Kolo Touré, Kieran Gibbs, Ashely Cole, Robert Pires and many other players.

Trust Arsène Wenger, trust his knowledge, his work and his judgment for once, try to alienate yourself from the ridiculous equation “expensive player=excellent player” and judge footballers for what they can produce on the pitch.

Support them when they become Gunners, create the best possible atmosphere around them and see the result – sometimes it’s just World Class.


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