I read a report the other day that Western Sydney Wanderers’ striker Tomi Juric had gone from being the $10 million man to a likely also-ran. The article said that five weeks after Juric’s rejection of an eye watering three-year offer from Shanghai Shenhua, the 23-year-old had been left facing an uncertain club future.
Since rejecting the move, Juric’s club form has been poor. In fact, it had been marginal even before he was offered the Chinese deal, which has prompted me and other Wanderers fans, to wonder why a foreign club would spend such a vast sum of money on a player lacking in confidence and incapable of scoring goals with any consistency.
Admittedly, his effort to set up James Troisi’s injury time match winner in the Asian Cup Final was pure class, but in three A-League games since that glorious night, Tomi’s efforts have been lukewarm and unconvincing. Needless to say, despite the pundits reporting that Juric and his gallant Socceroos’ teammates would receive plenty of offers from the big leagues, it simply hasn’t happened. Not a bite. Only the grand master, Tim Cahill has improved his bank account after signing a one year $6.5m deal with Shanghai Shenhua, the club that Tomi Juric rejected.
As a Wanderers season ticket holder, it has been a disappointing season. And Tomi has been a major part of that disappointment. But this whole circus about the multi-million dollar deal in China seems to have had a negative influence on the young man and it makes me wonder why he received advice to reject a once-in-a-lifetime offer to sign a deal for $10 million. In fact, it makes me sad for the boy.
As we all know, a football career can be a precarious way to earn a living. Not everyone can be a Messi or a Ronaldo, raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars a week for their performances on the world stage. Careers can be short and players are aware that they’re just one injury away from the end.
If my 22-year-old son was offered to sign a $10m contract to play football in China for three years I’d advise him to take it. I’d tell him to set himself up and invest wisely. He’d have nothing to lose. I’d tell him to do his best to assimilate into his new environment and to embrace the opportunity to learn. Embrace a new culture and gain an education that only football can provide. He’d still be on Ange Postecoglou’s radar, China is a mere stone’s throw away, and in my mind, his relative youth would still offer him enough time to pursue ambitions in the major leagues sometime in the future.
Having been advised by Socceroos management and players, including a number of ex-internationals, that his career would be better served seeking a move to Europe, Juric turned down a multi-million dollar opportunity that may never come his way again. I can’t help but think that all those people who advised Tomi to stay put and to seek greener pastures in Europe may have done the young man a great disservice. Their silence as he struggles to perform at club level is deafening.