I do not, at all, watch or follow the English Premiership.
As an English-speaking person interested in football and spending time on the football-ish internet, the chatter of fans of English clubs is somewhat unavoidable. I don’t mind hearing most of it. It’s still mostly football-related, and I even occasionally catch something that makes me read more.
But the most pervasive and unwanted intrusions of the English game into my social-media space is when the name of a Bundesliga player catches the ears of Premiership fans. There is a giant flock of them who think that once a foreigner has gotten good enough at the game for them to have heard of him, then that player is naturally on his way to England in an upcoming transfer window.
Such things should be a minor annoyance, at best. They almost always turn out to be wrong, just the way you know they will when they arise. Yet, you can’t help but find annoying the idea that there are those who look at the Bundesliga as little more than a developmental league from which to occasionally pluck a star when one is identified. How many times has Marco Reus been on his way to the island?
I remember when a famous sports writer and broadcaster, who is an unabashed fan of the Boston Red Sox, discussed with his New York Yankees-fan buddy in a very matter-of-fact way how their two teams would be battling to trade for Miguel Cabrera and possibly Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers. It wasn’t even them admiring the players for their abilities, rather an arrogant notion that rosters of teams outside those two cities are but a menu from which to choose your desired players.
As a lifelong Detroit Tigers fan, I was seething at their nonchalant assertions that the Tigers would never be able to keep players of such quality, as if we simply didn’t deserve MVP-level talent because we were not Boston or New York. Such is the arrogance, quite often, of those teams’ fans.
This is probably why I’m going to be a little overly sensitive about the idea that Schalke 04 might be looking into poaching Jonas Hector from our roster. My message for Schalke, if I can keep it polite, would be for them to take a hike.
Hector has become something more than a solid-plus left back for a club that has ridden its defense to a good portion of its point total thus far. He was first a pleasant surprise in the second division, succeeding almost instantly upon being moved from his central midfield spot to a fullback role. Hector has seemed an unassuming sort from the very beginning. Even after becoming the first Köln player to be chosen for the German national team since the beloved Lukas Podolski, he still seems comes off as the type who brings his lunch to work, does his job well, accepts praise with a smirk and a shrug, and then goes home afterwords. He has not launched a self-promotional internet campaign to raise his public profile and peddle clothing, as has our Prinz Poldi. What would a man of few words want with the internet and social media?
We like our Jonas right where he is, okay?
This week is also a particularly touchy time to be inquiring about Hector, too, because it has a bit of a dampening effect on the jubilation of his wildly celebrated goal that turned out to be the game-winner Sunday against Hoffenheim.
So, yeah, we got ourselves a bit of a gem from our rebuild in the second division. We plucked a kid out of Auersmacher and helped him develop into a national-team player.
Now, you have Schalke, a team continually replacing parts on a pretty good team in the hope that they’ll find the right changes to take them to the next level, suddenly taking notice. “National team player, you say? Oh, that is quite a nice run he made there to score that goal. How much do you want for him?”
NOTHING, you lazy bastards! Your father was a hamster, and your mother reeked of elderberries! Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time!
Of course, Jörg Schmadtke and Alex Wehrle see things quite differently. Management has been fairly open about there being no such thing as a priceless player. If you offer the right sums of cash, you could have anyone, national-team player included. Already, central defender Kevin Wimmer seems about to be flipped to an English side for a tidy profit on his original purchase price.
“It could be that inquiries come,” says head coach Peter Stöger. “Nobody is ‘not for sale.'”
Unlike the aforementioned Wimmer, however, who actively pursued interest from Tottenham Hotspur, Hector seems disinterested in making a move right now.
“I see no reason to transfer,” said Hector in an interview with Sport Bild. “I feel at home here and have a long-term contract. If you play well, it gets noticed. Then the larger clubs will pay attention to you. Clearly, that’s a nice feeling, but, again, I feel very comfortable at the FC.”
Now, Jonas Hector would not be the first player to say such things on his way to meeting some other team’s representatives. “I see no reason” is not the same as “there could never possibly be presented to me a very good reason.” Nor is “I feel very comfortable” the same as “this is my home and I could never leave it.”
At the same time, Hector’s demeanor leads one to think he delivered those sentences very plaintively and punctuated them with a slight shrug and his trademark smirk-smile, which I’d optimistically translate into “What more can I say? I’d like to just get back to work.”
But as he says, bigger clubs will continue to take notice as Hector’s star rises. If the club’s rise can match that of their star left back, there really will be no reason to transfer.