A tale of two footballers

This is a tale of two footballers. Both among the best in the world. One is nominated for the FIFA Ballon D’Or award the other should be. Both are rumoured to be leaving their clubs next summer – one is a free agent the other has apparently fell out with his current club. One suspects most clubs would sign these players if they could.

There is one difference between them. One is a man – Cristiano Ronaldo who needs no introduction from me. One is a woman – Amandine Henry of Lyon and France. For those who don’t know she is a midfielder who was voted the third best player in this year’s Women’s World Cup but for some reason best known to the voters is not among the top three contenders for the Ballon D’Or. She is out of contract with Lyon after this season while there are rumours that he is fed up with Real Madrid manager Rafael Benitez and might want to leave in the summer. Real fans were not happy when after a Champions League tie against Paris Saint Germain (PSG) he greeted the French club’s owner “like some lost friend” according to Keith Jackson in today’s Daily Record. So it is at least possible Amandine and Cristiano could be looking for new clubs this summer. And while it is a dead cert that Cristiano’s wage packet will be bigger than Amandine’s – it is reckoned Cristiano earns more in a week than Amandine earns in a year (gender equality football style!) it is interesting to see which clubs would be in contention to sign Cristiano and Amandine if they wanted to move. And the answer is surprising.

First Cristiano. While every club on this planet would want to sign him I reckon the only ones that could afford to are Barcelona, PSG, Manchester United, Manchester City and perhaps Bayern Munich. But as a Real player I cannot see him going to Barcelona ( though compatriot Luis Figo did move in the opposite direction back in 2000). Nor as an ex United hero can I see him in the blue of Chelsea or City. Since I don’t think Bayern can afford him that means if he does want to leave Real it can only be for United or PSG. But Real and United get on about as well as David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn as the farce of David de Gea’s non transfer showed. No wonder Keith Jackson is not alone in thinking that Cristiano will be in Paris next year(and NOT just for Euro 2016!)….

Now Amandine. Again like Cristiano there are few clubs she could go to if she decided to leave Lyon although this time it is because very few women’s clubs have any money at all. Again every club on this planet would want to sign her but I reckon the only ones that could afford to are Bayern Munich, Wolfsburg, PSG, and perhaps Chelsea or Manchester City (interesting to note the overlap with the big male clubs that would not have happened say ten years ago). But like Cristiano I’d be surprised if she joined her current club’s main rivals and the two UK clubs are handicapped by the salary cap in the Women’s Super League (WSL) – a pity as I’d love to see her play here. So at first glance it looks like Amandine will be in Germany next year if she leaves Lyon.

But in her case it is not that simple. For despite the difference in salary Amandine has an option Cristiano does not. There is no league outside europe which is rich or competitive enough to attract elite male players. But in the women’s game there is an other option. Namely the American Women’s National Soccer League (NWSL) the league where the mighty World Champion US players play in. Although the wages are low it won’t be a huge difference compared to europe and she would be playing with and against the best players in the world. In fact Amandine recently begun to follow the NWSL’s best supported club the Portland Thorns on Twitter which may (or may not) mean anything…

So Amandine despite the sexism and wage inequality in football actually has more future career options than Cristiano. An ironic twist to this tale of two footballers….

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