November 14, 2020
With individualists such as Özil and Pogba sadly marginalised, Atlético’s £110m man shows the classic No 10 still has a place
João Félix’s thrilling emergence halts decline of football’s Superfluous Men | Barney Ronay
In 19th-century Russian literature there was a recurrent figure known as The Superfluous Man. The Superfluous Man was talented, aimless, wealthy and pretty much redundant in society. He wrote poetry and wore finely stitched britches. He lounged on silken pouffes and was pointlessly good at pointless things. The world coddled and cosseted him. But it didn’t need him any more.
It isn’t hard to find a few of these, our own Superfluous Men, in modern day football. This has been a constant note in the last year, the trend for a certain type of player, individualists with non-standard skills, to find themselves marginalised. And not just marginalised, but demonised too, with a sense they are somehow being deliberately effete and decadent. So we hear that Paul Pogba is lazy. Riyad Mahrez is decorative and brittle, a kind of wedding cake figurine in Football boots. Mesut Özil doesn’t want to play, but is instead intent on bankrupting Arsenal Football Club.
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