Reports are that Reiss Nelson is set to sign a new contract at Arsenal.
For me, Nelson highlights a lot of what is wrong with football at the minute.
Here we have an 18 year old who only made his first Premier League start last season. He is already idolised by fans. Being labelled as the “Next Big Thing”. Overhyped by fans who live their life on Twitter, watching YouTube clips.
Some advice. Rarely does the “Next Big Thing” become “The Next Big Thing”. Think David Bentley, Jermaine Pennant, Fran Merida, Chucks Aneke, Benik Afobe, Chuba Akpom and Gedion Zelalem.
For every Cesc Fabregas or Wayne Rooney, there are hundreds of players who look like world beaters at 16/17, but fall away.
I remember Everton having a run of the likes of Michael Branch, Danny Cadamarteri, Francis Jeffers and Nick Chadwick being labelled as the next top England striker before Wayne Rooney came through. Following Rooney was James Vaughan. Then in the midfield the likes of Jack Rodwell and ore recently, Ross Barkley.
In this country, we have a habit of overrating players before they have even got up to double figures in games.
We should be letting players develop at their own pace. Not hyping them up at 16, before writing them off at 20.
And hyping them up leads to point two.
Young players think their s**t don’t stink. They are told they are superstars from before they even sign their first deal.
The parents see them as cash cows, the clubs and coaches playing to their ego’s to boast their confidence.
This then leads to them demanding silly money from clubs without ever having played a game.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek was rumoured to have signed a £60,000 a week deal with Chelsea at just 20 and a handful of Premier League appearances. Before joining Liverpool, Dominic Solanke was holding out for similar before deciding to join Liverpool.
Kids these days demand silly money. And clubs are so worried about losing their teenage star, the next big thing, on a free to a rival, that they often end up paying it.
For every Marcus Rashford who deserves a decent pay cheque, there are countless others who never really justify what they earn.
It always frustrated me that Emmanuel Frimpong got a £30,000 a week deal after a couple of good performances. £1.5m a year. And he never did anything bar argue on Twitter.
Coming full circle, Reiss Nelson has been in a contract stand-off with Arsenal.
It might be reported that he wanted assurances about his future, but this is rubbish. It is all about money.
The days of Tony Adams and Ian Wright signing whatever was put in front of them are gone.
Reiss Nelson has been at Arsenal since he was 9. Instead of signing on the dotted line, earning more a month at 18 than most fans labelling him as the “Next Big Thing”, he would have been advised by his agent as to “what he could get elsewhere”. And then Arsenal have a choice. Match what Chelsea or Liverpool would have paid him (look what Liverpool did with Raheem Sterling and Jordan Ibe) or risk losing him.
And the pressure is on the clubs to pay.
Imagine Arsenal had put their foot down. Told Nelson to not hold the club to ransom. And he went and joined Chelsea. There would have been uproar. People would have been complaining that we had let him go.
Even though he has barely played for the club, and the odds are that he will rarely play in the future, people would have abused the club, abused Arsene Wenger, over it.
Giving players “superstar” status when they are just 16 gives them the bargaining chip when it comes to contract negotiations.
Gone are the days players had to earn their salary, earn their contract. The likes of Nelson could end up doing nothing with his Arsenal career. A 5-year-deal, a multi millionaire before he is 20, and he might never kick a top level ball again.
And it is us, the fans, who pay. Through our ticket prices, through our TV subscriptions.
Players becoming millionaires without having achieved anything.
That is why football fans begin to fill alienated. That is why England struggle.
This started off as a mini blog and has ended up as a full one. Just to clarify, I am not having a go at Nelson. He is just an 18-year-old whose agent has got him the best deal possible.
I am blaming society.