Jürgen Klinsmann won the World Cup and European Championship with Germany in a brilliant career in which he played for Inter, Tottenham and Bayern, among others. As a coach, he led Germany to third place at the 2006 World Cup and headed the US men’s national team from 2011 to 2016. In addition to an ESPN.com column, he is a regular guest on FC Daily.
With national competitions and the Champions League scoring crucial points, it’s a busy time on the football field. Meanwhile, transfer speculation increases as the summer window approaches. For example, one of the big stories of the recent international break had nothing to do with games as Erling Haaland’s agent Mino Raiola and father Alf-Inge had meetings with Barcelona and Real Madrid.
I hope that Haaland will stay with Borussia Dortmund for at least another year and continue to mature as the heart of a team that can only get better. It would be a shame to see it dissolve. But his situation is one that many players at all levels of the game face throughout their careers: when is the right time to change clubs and what factors determine where a player should go?
As a young player, it is very difficult to describe in detail where you will fit best. From a technical, tactical point of view, you can analyze clubs pretty well, but you don’t know it from the human side, which means how to deal with new teammates, coaches and employees, as well as the culture of the club and the city.
– Marcotti: Evaluation of the Haaland Roadshow
– Hamilton: Haaland for $ 125,000? Play your card right
– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN + (US only)
In Haaland’s case, he’s influenced by his father, a former professional, which is wonderful. Parents play a huge role, especially at a young age, while having a good agent is essential in order to get the right offer for you, and your trainer can honestly talk to you about what’s best for your career.
I didn’t even sign my first professional contract because I was only 16, so my dad did that for me, but even after joining the Stuttgart senior team, I wasn’t mature enough and would rely on others for advice to get. As I wrote in my last column, my coach Arie Haan told me to go to Inter in 1989, but that was two years after the club turned down an offer to sign me.
Arsene Wenger was the new manager in Monaco and made a huge offer, but Stuttgart President said no and basically gave me a lecture and explained that I was not ready to go anywhere! I used this experience positively and included a buy-out clause in my next contract.
What drives me is that I was so curious. When I started my career in Stuttgart, all of my friends went to university and had a great time. I was always a bit jealous of them, but I realized that my university would be the life I led and that would gain experience in different countries and cultures. Additionally, as Haan told me, it was time to test myself at the next level.
What does it mean for Haaland to move this summer compared to the next? At 20, he still has to adjust physically and mentally to a game every three or four days. He has to play in league and cup games and appear for his country. It can take years to find the right balance. Every time he plays more than one game without a rating, the criticism that may affect a player begins.
Erling Haaland seems sure to leave Borussia Dortmund at some point, but timing is important. Getty
Missing even a season in Champions League football wouldn’t be very detrimental if your overall game improved because it stays where he is longer. In the meantime, timing is also important to the club you are joining. For example, what will the roster look like in two or three years? You can’t get these answers today.
Perhaps the image of the team will change and the coach who signs you will be fired! It happened to me in Sampdoria; Cesar Luis Menotti was an idol to me and wanted me so badly but I got injured after two months and when I came back he was no longer there! And then you find yourself in a different situation and you are faced with a step that did not work out.
Everything goes back to the idea of risk calculation. When you go to a new club the challenge is performing in a place you don’t know. In addition to the playful side and the installation in a new changing room, you may not speak the language, or you may not know the politics of the club. You have to be ready to act if it doesn’t work out the way you hoped it would.
I was super, super lucky when I came to Tottenham in 1994 because I felt at home from day one. I scored goals straight away, my new teammates respected me and the fans were down-to-earth people who took me for who I was. After a week I felt like I should have played there my whole life!
When I came to Bayern Munich next year, on the other hand, it was more of a challenge. It was a time I’m very grateful for – I won the Bundesliga and the UEFA Cup – but I just didn’t feel like I was in Tottenham. There were constant media discussions, there were arguments between the players, the lifestyle was different. Timing was also important here. Maybe Bayern would have been perfect five years ago or later.
When I left Inter for Monaco in 1992, Matthias Sammer came from Stuttgart to Milan and took over the entire infrastructure that I had built there. My apartment, the restaurants, the language teachers, everything you need. But after a few months he called me and said he wanted to go back to Germany. He performed well on the field but could not get used to life in Italy and was not happy. He told the club and moved to Borussia Dortmund, where he had great success.
As you get older, you feel more comfortable making decisions for yourself, but the factors behind them can change. When I moved to Tottenham, I was also interested in one team from Italy and another from Spain. The conversation with my wife spoke no numbers; It was more about where we as humans have the best experiences and have a football style that is good for me.
A player like Haaland has only been with his club for a short time, but others have to decide if they want to leave a place where they have legendary status. One of the other big transfer stories this summer will be whether Lionel Messi will decide he achieved everything he can with Barcelona or stick to what he has and what has brought him so much luck and success?
At 33, Messi can plan the rest of his career and think about what to look back on. For him, it could be more about success with Argentina than what he could win in Barcelona or Manchester City with Pep Guardiola or anywhere in Paris Saint-Germain. With a Copa America and a World Cup in the next 20 months, he has two chances to emulate the great Diego Maradona as his nation’s hero.
Whether young or old, the decision to change clubs depends so much on your personal environment. Everyone is different and you won’t get the answers until you’ve done it and later realize it! But having the right people around you is just as important as a willingness to fully embrace a new life on and off the field.