wengerAfter Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat away to Sunderland in the Premiership this weekend, manager Arsene Wenger reaffirmed his stance that club should come before country. He declared:

“We do not pay players to go to the World Cup – we pay the players to do well for Arsenal. The first pride of a man is to do well for the guy who pays you in life, not to go to the World Cup.”

This brings back a seemingly unending debate amongst football fans – what is more important, club or country? As a supporter of both, I like to take the middle ground and say that both are indispensable components of the game. However, there is no denying that the World Cup is the biggest stage of football, the one that garners the most passion, emotion and drama. Anyone who grew up loving the sport has dreams of playing in the competition, and it is understandable why many players around the world right now are more concerned about impressing their country’s manager.

Arsenal have a number of players who are either fighting for a squad place or even a starting 11 one at the World Cup, and it is not hard to understand Wenger’s frustrations. It is true that players obviously have a responsibility to their employers, but the World Cup will always hold a certain irresistible aura. Fans of the club will hope the manager can find a way to use his players’ motivation as energy to sustain their title-challenge, instead of trying to restrain it.


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