Too often in world football players are written off long before they are afforded a fair chance to prove their worth. A player can make a horrendous start to life at a club and become a permanent fixture amongst the subs or reserves, with such a lack of patience being massively detrimental to their growth as a player.
One of the most infamous examples of such an occurrence is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s tenure at AC Milan. The Gabonese striker spent three years on the books at the club, yet never made an appearance for the Rossoneri, instead being loaned out to Dijon, Lille and Monaco, before eventually making the switch to Saint Etienne in 2011 for €1.8m.
For the French side, Aubameyang was a revelation, scoring 29 goals from 54 games, proving his worth as a player, subsequently catching the eye of Jurgen Klopp in the process and earning his move to Borussia Dortmund.
Since joining Dortmund, Auba has notched 93 goals from four seasons in black and yellow and has shown no intention of slowing down, leaving the hierarchy at AC Milan kicking themselves over the unfathomable mistake of letting one of the world’s finest strikers leave for such a paltry fee.
— Borussia Dortmund (@BVB) September 23, 2017
This is a prime example of a club being made to rue their decision to not give a player the time they need to achieve their potential.
A much different tale is that of Alberto Moreno at Liverpool; the Spaniard had a rough start to life at Liverpool, culminating in a disastrous performance in the 2016 Europa League final, resulting in him being exiled from the Reds’ first team.
Throughout the 2016/17 season it seemed Moreno couldn’t buy a game at Liverpool, James Milner playing in his stead. However, through persistence on his part and patience on the part of the club, Moreno has returned to first team football at Anfield and is looking twice the payer he once was.
Naturally the Spanish defender still has a long way to go with regards to developing his game, though it seems patience has paid off and made a questionable Liverpool defence that little bit stronger as a result.
But when should the patience of a club run out and accept they are working with a lost cause? It’s a hard question to reasonably answer. A player may show bags of ability and potential in training, yet it may be lost in translation when it comes to getting on the pitch.
No matter how much potential a player may have, if they are costing their side valuable points with underwhelming, lacklustre performances, there comes a time when their manager must make the decision to cut their losses and hope they haven’t turned away the next Aubameyang, Suso or Alvaro Morata.
Happy! On my way to Singapore and very excited to be with the team! // Muy feliz y con ganas de estar ya con el equipo!! pic.twitter.com/dCvq8yWU7p
— Álvaro Morata (@AlvaroMorata) July 21, 2017
Whether or not a player deserves more time is a tough problem to work around and quantify as it is purely subjective in numerous cases. However, we have seen time and again that patience is a virtue, especially in the world of football.
To see high profile players under-performing this season, the likes of Federico Bernardeschi, Victor Lindelof and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain struggling to shake off their price tag and live up to the hype, will worry some fans.
Though it does seem apt to mention that the multi-million-pound performances will likely come in time, as they have in many other instances in the past.
Of the three aforementioned players, each have only just arrived at their new clubs in the summer, and it will inevitably take time for them to settle and adapt into the players they are capable of being.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) August 31, 2017
A combination of media hype contrasting with poor from, as well as the outing of raw emotions and derision from fans can well and truly knock a player’s confidence, only setting them back further.
And in some cases, the clubs can yield to the pressure and choose to cut their losses and sell someone on, rather than persisting and working to mould them into a better player.
It can be particularly difficult to understand and come to terms with the reasons why a player has been sold, especially when they haven’t been given ample time to prove their worth to a team.
It is these aspects and instances that clubs, fans and the media should think on more often. After all, as it has been evidenced in the past, a little patience can go a long way.