Deadline Day: Helping new overseas stars feel at home in the English Premier League

When Kepa Arrizabalaga signed for Chelsea from Athletic Bilbao, few fans will have been thinking about where...

Posted: Aug 9, 2018 11:44 AM
Updated: Aug 9, 2018 11:44 AM

When Kepa Arrizabalaga signed for Chelsea from Athletic Bilbao, few fans will have been thinking about where their newest recruit is going to live.

Most won't concern themselves with whether the player had time to pack a suitcase before their move, or how he will adapt to driving on the other side of the road.

Football (Soccer)

Premier League

Sports and recreation

Sports organizations and teams

These responsibilities fall on the shoulders of the player liaison officer, the person hired to make sure new signings feel at home in their new club and city.

"Sometimes a player can give the impression of having a lot of bravado," Lorna McClelland, widely considered the English Premier League's first ever player liaison officer, told CNN Sport. earlier this week.

READ: Arrizabalaga pays $91 million release clause

READ: American billionaire Stan Kroenke makes $777m offer for 100% ownership of Arsenal

READ: Usain Bolt earns 'indefinite training period' with Australia's Central Coast Mariners

"It's a very macho environment and it's important for him to feel that he can function in that environment. But players do need help behind the scenes, things happen in their lives as they do in everybody else's lives," added McClelland, who worked for Aston Villa between 2002-2016.

"Sometimes they come from abroad, sometimes they've had the benefit of a good education, but some haven't and so the whole package is quite difficult for them to get to grips with when they first come.

"A good player liaison officer and a good club will help him to achieve that."

Chelsea paid $91 million to Bilbao for Kepa's services, a world record fee for a goalkeeper.

Though there is clearly the need to look after the player in a personal capacity, McClelland emphasizes the importance of the player liaison officer given the investment clubs make in players.

"Anyone with a modicum of sense who's looking after a financial asset will make sure that they're cared for," McClelland also told the Guardian in a recent interview. "If a player's unhappy, he'll leave.

"For me it's always been important for someone to be there if a big issue comes up in a player's life. Perhaps someone in their family has died or there's been an emergency.

"I was there if they wanted to phone me."

Support network

While they now be commonplace in the sport -- some clubs can hire multiple player liaison officers at any one time -- this hasn't always been the case.

When Premier League club Aston Villa signed striker Juan Pablo Angel for a club-record fee in 2001, family issues upon his arrival were seen to hinder the Colombian's performances on the pitch.

Then-manager Graham Taylor decided to appoint a player liaison officer, McClelland, to help future signings settle in easier at the club.

"It's very stressful, sometimes they don't know they are coming until the very last minute and they're told to get into a taxi in 20 minutes' time -- sometimes they don't even have a chance to pack a suitcase," McClelland, who founded and now works for GCSportsCare, an organization which provides advice and support for athletes, explained.

"I've dealt on many occasions with players who have just come from abroad -- again, this doesn't just apply to foreign players but particularly to foreign players -- and come without a suitcase.

"They've got no toothbrush, they've got no clothes and suddenly they're parachuted into a new environment, into a different culture, different climate, different languages, his family is not there, his friends aren't there and all his support network that he's used to had gone, so the club has to provide that support network."

While players moving to top-level clubs are provided extensive support, sometimes, for a multitude of reasons, a certain transfer won't work out.

One of the most common barriers when switching countries is the language, something which reportedly hindered Iago Aspas following his transfer to Liverpool in 2013.

Gilberto Silva, a former Brazilian footballer and part of Arsenal's "Invincibles" season, now acts as a consultant for current professionals and says learning English was the first piece of advice he gave to compatriot Fred before his move to Manchester United.

"Learning the language was key to make his life easier in his new home," Gilberto told the Guardian in a recent interview. "I can say he arrived in Manchester with much better English than me when I went to London.

"Now he should take advantage of what he already knows to seize the great opportunities the country has to offer, mainly related to cultural learning."

Watch CNN World Sport's full interview with McClelland above.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 443562

Reported Deaths: 5918
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin921721468
Ramsey39534730
Dakota32680325
Anoka30733358
Washington19904223
Stearns17728184
St. Louis13503239
Scott1185394
Wright11519102
Olmsted1031671
Sherburne813664
Carver689336
Clay646678
Rice597866
Kandiyohi551571
Blue Earth536333
Crow Wing478173
Otter Tail451362
Chisago447932
Benton416085
Winona384546
Douglas371566
Nobles366346
Mower360127
Goodhue342857
Polk327056
McLeod322244
Morrison309343
Beltrami307446
Lyon299035
Itasca281543
Becker280638
Isanti280640
Carlton278042
Steele27019
Pine264413
Freeborn238720
Todd230529
Nicollet222636
Brown212634
Mille Lacs212145
Le Sueur207615
Cass204723
Meeker198233
Waseca188015
Martin168826
Wabasha16802
Roseau165216
Hubbard147638
Redwood138827
Renville136339
Houston133613
Dodge13244
Chippewa130732
Cottonwood125618
Fillmore12135
Wadena118214
Rock109412
Sibley10767
Aitkin106733
Watonwan10598
Faribault103814
Kanabec96818
Pennington96715
Pipestone93423
Yellow Medicine92614
Murray8625
Jackson85010
Swift83017
Pope7355
Marshall70115
Stevens6968
Clearwater68314
Lac qui Parle65416
Lake62615
Wilkin6219
Koochiching58410
Unassigned49468
Lincoln4811
Big Stone4523
Grant4257
Norman4218
Mahnomen4077
Kittson36819
Red Lake3154
Traverse2443
Lake of the Woods1771
Cook1130

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 302245

Reported Deaths: 4203
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk45206441
Linn17616270
Scott15300161
Black Hawk13616228
Woodbury12927175
Johnson1198649
Dubuque11275148
Pottawattamie8896112
Dallas879569
Story860433
Webster467269
Cerro Gordo461966
Sioux453151
Clinton447161
Warren436237
Marshall425161
Buena Vista391129
Muscatine384375
Des Moines379140
Plymouth348667
Wapello340097
Jasper317855
Lee312528
Marion300452
Jones269149
Henry262630
Carroll252833
Bremer241648
Crawford227822
Boone215316
Washington213831
Benton207943
Mahaska190636
Jackson190531
Tama185357
Dickinson183526
Delaware171836
Kossuth170141
Clay165519
Wright162324
Fayette159022
Buchanan157820
Hamilton157728
Harrison153862
Hardin153729
Winneshiek153019
Clayton150448
Cedar150019
Butler146123
Page143515
Floyd137436
Cherokee137325
Mills135516
Lyon133332
Poweshiek131424
Hancock128524
Allamakee126327
Iowa122522
Calhoun12189
Grundy119422
Jefferson119123
Winnebago118029
Madison11789
Mitchell115034
Louisa114129
Cass112141
Chickasaw110511
Sac110115
Emmet109931
Appanoose109038
Union108122
Humboldt104219
Guthrie102124
Shelby101126
Franklin100918
Unassigned9180
Palo Alto9009
Keokuk84225
Montgomery84022
Howard82119
Monroe80418
Clarke7757
Pocahontas77211
Ida73730
Greene6867
Davis68421
Adair68220
Lucas6458
Osceola6349
Monona62916
Worth5943
Taylor5909
Fremont5025
Van Buren49412
Decatur4784
Ringgold4269
Wayne41421
Audubon4118
Adams2933
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 23°
Mason City
Cloudy
24° wxIcon
Hi: 27° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 12°
Albert Lea
Cloudy
23° wxIcon
Hi: 26° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 12°
Austin
Cloudy
27° wxIcon
Hi: 28° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 17°
Charles City
Cloudy
27° wxIcon
Hi: 29° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 14°
A quiet weekend ahead
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

John Marshall ready for 2021

Image

Is the City of Rochester paying men and women equally?

Image

LWVMN asks for "truth and consequences" for state lawmakers

Image

Sports Overtime Part 2

Image

Sports Overtime Part 1

Image

Plans for polar plunge

Image

Equal work and equal pay.

Image

Aaron's Friday Night Forecast

Image

Mega Millions jackpot soars to $750 million

Image

Increase in 2021 travel plans

Community Events