Once upon a time, there was a world in which footballers got paid pennies, not pounds, and they were able to walk down the street without anyone noticing them, before they went home to scrub their boots, feed their families and try and keep fit.
Now, they live in a world of mega-millions, Bugatti Veyrons, houses in Monaco and dinners with royalty. Money pours into their pockets and they can't move quick enough to spend it on ridiculously expensive items. Not bad for 20-something men who do their job for a maximum of 180 minutes a week.
There's a hell of a lot of money involved in football. If you combine the estimated wealth of the five richest owners of clubs in the Premier League (QPR, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham & Arsenal), you get a grand total of £74.9billion. That figure alone is more than the 2010 GDP figures of the entire country of Bangladesh. There's a massive gulf opening, not just between the Premier League and other football leagues, but between the Premier League, and the world - and that's not necessarily a good thing.
The money being pumped into English football will, eventually, dry up, and this rather lavish, premium expenditure we see within the Premier League will become a thing of the past. Which makes the rumours of players asking for mega-bucks whilst still in the reserves and academy of a club rather grotesque, to say the least.
I am, of course, talking about the trials and tribulations of the ever-growing story of Ravel Morrison.
Ravel is just two months older than me, and grew up in Greater Manchester. He joined the United Academy back in 2009, and became a professional footballer player at the club in early 2010. The backroom staff at Old Trafford believe he is '...as naturally gifted as Paul Scholes.' Which makes what is supposedly going on with young Ravel all the more tragic.
He made his first-team debut at the tender age of 17 in the Carling Cup, and was part of the 2011 FA Youth Cup-winning side, contributing two goals to the 6-3 aggregate win over Sheffield United in the final. However, his off-field behaviour has been the catalyst to restraining him to just three substitute appearances in the Carling Cup in his short time at United.
Morrison has been arrested twice for assaulting his girlfriend - on both occasions being acquitted as she refused to give evidence against him - and has also been arrested for assaulting his mother, for which he received a police caution. These court cases led to him receiving a 12-month court referral order, meaning should he get into trouble with the law again, the only option would be imprisonment for a year.
There has also been a witness intimidation case brought against him, after two of Morrison's friends were involved in a robbery trial in 2010. Supposedly, whatever Morrison said to the boy involved led to he and his family being so traumatised that they 'wished to leave Manchester.' Later in 2011, he was also interviewed by police in regards to a harassment case.
Ravel has obviously had trouble with the law in the past, and Ferguson and the team at Old Trafford have stuck by him to ensure that this great talent doesn't go to waste. But with his contract running to an end at the end of June this year, negotiations have taken place between the club and Morrison's agent, to no avail.
According to the club, Morrison was offered a contract, which was immediately rejected as he wanted more money. According to Morrison, the club have never offered a contract. Depending which report you read, he's been offered anywhere from £5k to £12k a week, whilst others say he is after upwards of £30k a week - an astronomical sum for an 18 year-old who has played three times for the club.
Because of the private occurrences behind the scenes, the club have told Ravel and his agent to find a new club - Newcastle supposedly being the front-runners for his signature. They've seen the likes of Morrison before - most notably, a young Paul Gascoigne. However, speculation has been rife that United would rather sell him abroad, to avoid English clubs gaining an upper-hand on them, with PSG, Barcelona and Roma all clubs mooted.
There were rumours again earlier this afternoon that Ravel was the subject of a £4m bid from Newcastle, and was at Benton, the training ground, for talks. This was dismissed, bearing in mind that Newcastle are in fact at a training camp in Tenerife. There were also whispers last week that United were holding out for £5m, which were also denied, but it says a lot about the situation that these rumours are bound about the internet, and could very well be legitimate.
My gut instinct is that Ferguson is finding it very, very difficult to let Ravel leave the club. If he really didn't want him to stay, why would he put quite a substantial price tag on his head, and allow for the situation to be ridiculed on social media by Ravel? There seems to be quite a big gap in this story - Ravel wants more money because he's talented; United want him to develop his talent to earn more money. Very little middle ground is described in the public eye, currently, and therefore the missing link to the story is yet to be found.
I can see Morrison becoming a world star, and being one of the best English players of all-time - I really can. He has a big hunger to play well on the pitch, and has the talent to beat even the best. But his work ethic is appalling - missing training sessions because he doesn't want to go; calling the end-of-season dinner 'shit' on Twitter; reportedly moaning because he's not featured on the pitch and the bench enough. It is all getting a bit tedious.
I also understand where people and fans are coming from with suggestions to cave in to Ravel's demands. For what purpose - to destroy the wage structure the club has worked tirelessly to develop and maintain? £30,000 a week to maybe become a good player isn't worth the risk. Ferguson knows what he's doing, but media like to portray him in a bad light, and make the player the victim. There's an issue lying a lot deeper than meets the eye, and Sir Alex, I believe, would like the challenge of turning the young, truant, crime-committing Ravel Morrison into a worldwide international footballing superstar. And I really can see it happening.
But until Ravel pulls his finger out, and earns the money his payslip entitles him to, there'll be no superstar. No international great. No Manchester United footballer. Just Ravel, and the demons that continue to play havoc with his brain.
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