In the current era of football, the majority of players are desperate to feature in the highest level of competition, particularly the Champions League. The major European title is one of the most prestigious in the game, and often a deciding factor in where players choose to move during transfer windows.
It therefore comes as a surprise to see stars bucking the trend this summer, with Georginio Wijnaldum snubbing a chance to play in the Champions League and choosing to join Liverpool instead. The Dutch winger decided against moving to Tottenham Hotspur,despite the fact that the Reds failed to qualify for even the Europa League next season. Wijnaldum is quoted as saying that he was impressed by Jurgen Klopp, and that ‘straight after’ a conversation with the manager, he wanted to immediately complete the deal.
Nor is Wijnaldum’s decision an isolated case, as the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea continue to conduct business as usual. While some players have snubbed the ailing Premier League sides, the bosses have enough influence by themselves to tempt high-profile targets. Jose Mourinho has convinced both Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to walk away from Champions League teams, even with interest from ever-present Arsenal. Similarly, Antonio Conte pulled off the remarkable transfer of N’Golo Kante, prising him away from the Premier League champions for a team that finished down in 10th position last season.
It would appear that during the ongoing transfer window, it is the allure of the Premier League managers that could be the most influential, rather than the prospect of top-tier European football.