Being called up to represent their country on the world stage is a dream come true for any player. But for the clubs who employ the best of the best, it’s a risky business.
It wasn’t only Brazil coach Tite who felt every kick, shove and tug as his £198 million superstar Neymar was fouled 11 times against Switzerland when they started their 2018 World Cup campaign with a 1-1 draw.
The management at Paris St Germain, where Neymar plays his club football, would have experienced panic symptoms each time their talisman crashed to the floor or bent to massage his ankle or knee. The same will have been the case for any owners or coaches who may be considering a move for Neymar should he decide to bring his brief sojourn in Paris to an end.
Neymar played against Switzerland on his return from a foot injury and even Tite admitted that he was not match fit, potentially making him even more vulnerable to being put out of the game for an even longer period or, perhaps, permanently.
That is a chilling thought for any player but the World Cup and other international games hold a particular horror for managers and owners of the clubs that pay the massive transfer fees and wages to employ the world’s top talent the rest of the year.
The question they face is how to replace that talent should a top player sustain an injury that puts them out of action for a prolonged period or ends their career. This is a question faced by every club, not just those super-rich teams loaded with Galácticos, which dominate Europe’s major leagues.
Further down the leagues, more or less every team has its own superstar, whose value may not match that of Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or Neymar but who remains massively important to their club, where they are likely to be both the biggest expense and the biggest asset.
And with a transfer market fuelled by ever-increasing media rights deals, the current and future value of those major assets tends to increase significantly during the most productive period of a player’s career.
Final thoughtSo, with the World Cup focusing attention on the potential dangers players face while away from their clubs, it’s a good time for those clubs to evaluate their approach to the issue of insurance. At present, different clubs take different approaches, with some going to the market to cover the whole value of a loss and others taking different paths – there is no rule of thumb!
In the end it comes down to an individual club’s appetite for risk, but they should all ask themselves much the same question; if your star player and key asset is lost, what is the likely impact on the club in terms of performance, cost and progression on the field.
It’s really only when that question has been fully and frankly answered that insurance needs can be realistically addressed.