Robbie risks sacrificing his net worth by not playing
W hat a year it has been for Robbie Keane. On the one hand, he achieved the remarkable feat of winning his 100th cap in the first international at the Aviva stadium. On the other hand, he had a spell playing in the Scottish Premier League. It appears the gap between his club and international careers is ever-widening.
It seems a long time since a transfer window approached without speculation linking Keane with a move. With no likelihood of playing regularly anymore for Spurs, his future once again lies elsewhere. It's not a scenario to which he is unaccustomed, nor is he without advisors to guide him through, but the upcoming month will put to the test his consistant assertions of just wanting to play football. Having started only two games in the Premier League this season, a transfer is his only hope of doing so.
While his decision to play for Celtic last season was an indication of how low his stock had fallen, reports linking him to the poorest team in the Premier League would indicate that trend looks set to continue. Despite his stated eagerness to play regularly, talks on a proposed loan move to West Ham are said to have collapsed due to financial demands made on his behalf. I don't doubt his frustration at not playing, but if wage expectations aren't reassessed, he may well scupper any chance of that changing soon.
If a buyer can't be found in January, Spurs are said to want any interested clubs to take him on loan until the end of the season, covering all his £65k a week wages. A fee of £6m would then be paid to make the move permanent on a three-year deal. The reason West Ham may not pursue him is due to reports that either Spurs or Keane -- or even both -- were seeking an additional bonus of £1m if West Ham avoided relegation, bringing the total outlay to almost £20m. Such an investment in a 30-year-old would make little sense to a lot of clubs.
Harry Redknapp has continually praised his attitude in training and highlighted the qualities he brings to the dressing room. That he uses him so sparingly on the field when it matters suggests those comments are designed purely to help offload him as soon as he can.
Both Keane and Spurs are obviously looking to maximise their earnings from the deal, but unless one or both of them reduce their expectations, he may remain at the club a little longer. A fee of £6m would not be deemed good value to many, certainly not for one who has played so little in so long.
The 'I'm just a lad from Tallaght who loves the game' line was produced again last week when Keane reflected on surpassing 100 caps. The wealth he has accumulated since those days make that difficult reading for some. It may be hard for supporters to wonder how a multi-millionaire can claim to love playing yet deny himself that chance by demanding too much money, but the reality is he's in a relatively strong position.
Redknapp needs to raise money from sales if he is to have money to spend in January, so a generous pay-off may well be heading Keane's way. Regardless of public comments about commitment and character, his departure is Redknapp's goal, so Keane is in no rush to accept an offer from just anyone. The closer it gets to the close of the window, the stronger Keane's hand will become.
But if his advisors get it wrong and Keane ends up remaining at the club, the comments about just wanting to play will no longer wash with anyone.
There are other Irish players seeking a change of fortune in their club careers and know a move next month is needed to do that. Shay Given is in a similar position, but both he and Keane are of an age where they may feel their next contract could be their
last big one. Their advisors will be stressing this to them, but striking a balance between playing opportunities, competing for trophies and maximising their earnings will be their aim.
Birmingham City have emerged as the likeliest destination for Keane next month, offering no possibility of adding to the solitary medal he won in the Carling Cup at Spurs. Given has yet to win a trophy either, so both may finish their careers looking back with most pride on what they achieved with their country rather than their clubs.
Injury permitting, Keane will surely finish his international career as Ireland's highest capped player as well as Ireland's record goalscorer. His goals tally is unlikely to ever be bettered, and few, if any, will ever be transferred throughout their career for more money.
He is a phenomenon, but last week showed that these days people are more likely to be stunned by his financial demands than anything he does on a football pitch.
Sunday Indo Sport