Contracts often seem worthless in modern football. Luis Suarez appears to be a case in point: when a player, especially a top one, decides he wants to leave a club he usually gets what he wants.
It’s one of the less palatable aspects of the beautiful game that ‘gentlemanly conduct’ goes out the window when mega salaries and ambition come into play. And it’s frequently queried what contracts- generally mutually beneficial agreements between right-minded adults- are even for in the first place.
And so one cannot help but feel admiration for Borussia Dortmund, after they told want-away striker, Robert Lewandowski, that he is not allowed to join Bayern Munich before next season.
Dortmund were already reeling from the loss of Mario Gotze to Bayern, who forced through the young midfielder’s move to the Allianz Arena by triggering his release clause.
They were then significantly second best to the brawny Bavarians throughout the season, culminating in painful Champions League final defeat, which Gotze conveniently watched from the stands.
It must have hurt badly to hear Lewandowski then claim that Bayern are his “dream club”, and for his agent and half of Bavaria to suggest a deal with the Treble champions was already in place.
Lewandowski is heading into the last year of his contract at Dortmund, and so it does make sense for them to sell him now.
But perhaps simply because they are tired of being made to look powerless by Bayern Munich, they have cut off their nose to spite their face in a sense, by telling the striker he cannot join their biggest rivals.
"We have communicated to the player and his advisers that we will not agree to a transfer to FC Bayern this summer," Dortmund’s sporting director, Michael Zorc, told kicker at the weekend.
"There will be with him now perhaps a small phase of disappointment. But then he will deliver his usual performance, as does a professional with character."
Lewandowski may still be flogged to one of his suitors in England, Italy or Spain. But seeing as his preference was very publicly Bayern, he will surely be one unhappy camper.
It is a risk Dortmund have chosen to accept, as they seek to clarify their status as a major force in German football, and not just Bayern’s doormat.
It remains to be seen of Dortmund’s stance is naïve or pragmatic, but one way or another, it will prove to other clubs that ‘player power’ does not have to hold sway when a contract is in place.
What do you make of Dortmund barring Lewa from joining Bayern?