The next few weeks could contain Koby Arthur’s Sliding Doors moment, the choice he makes about his future at Birmingham City will affect the direction his entire career takes.
Does he sign the new contract being offered him by Blues or does he take his undoubted talent to the open market and start afresh somewhere else?
There is a lot for a 19-year-old to consider, he doesn’t need a football as much as a crystal ball.
In most contractual situations there are two main considerations, one is financial, the other is career development.
He may wish to ascertain whether Blues are offering the going rate. But football doesn’t do ‘most contractual situations’, in reality the wages question is a red herring.
Arthur must understand that success at first team level is guaranteed to bring the riches top footballers accrue – but without one he cannot have the other.
For a young man the only issue should be whether his vision of his career path is shared by Birmingham City. Assuming his vision is based in reality and not fantasy.
In truth the only question he has to ask himself is ‘If I stay at Birmingham will I get to play regularly at the highest level possible, or are my chances of first team football better elsewhere?’
If there is Premier League interest, as some would rather oddly have you believe, he must decide whether the odd League Cup match, training with top professionals and playing Under 21 games or, if he is lucky going out on loan, is better than what Birmingham can provide.
If there is Championship interest he must decide whether it is worth changing many key variables in his life, home, work, friends, on the off chance it might be better than what he’s got at the moment.
If it’s League One or League Two he must decide if being a champion further down the ladder is better than being at contender at St Andrew’s.
It is almost unfair that such enormous decisions arrive when you have so little experience on which to draw.
No doubt will have an abundance of advisors, all of whom I am sure will be doling out impartial counsel with only his best interests at heart.
Hopefully they will point out exactly what he has at Birmingham. The possibility of job security for the next two years in a club that has an good track record of bringing youngsters through and a supporter-base that is sympathetic to the learning process.
In recent seasons Jack Butland, Jordon Mutch and Nathan Redmond have all thrived at St Andrew’s and gone on to climb football’s ladder.
Arthur’s friend, Demarai Gray, could be the next in line to do just that. Gray was given the chance of first team football and while he is nobody’s idea of a finished product, he ended the season looking at a very, very bright future.
Arthur is the next in line and his decision to take up his place in that line should not be based on who’s ahead of him because at this stage wherever he looks there will be someone older or more experienced to displace.
There are some who think he is obliged to do that at Birmingham, after they plucked a 17-year-old Ghanaian from obscurity and gave him his chance.
For me the loyalty card doesn’t really come into play. Blues did not bring him from youth football in Northamptonshire simply as an act of charity.
They brought him to Wast Hills because they thought they could help each other, that Arthur could develop into a fine senior footballer and that they could benefit along the way, first through his performances, then – way down the line, through any potential re-sale value.
Nevertheless it would be a shame to see that process interrupted on the basis that the grass might be more green in another field, particularly given the fact there are no guarantees it will be.
At least at Birmingham the path to stardom has already been trodden and the club’s ability to turn potential into players is good. It is a lot on which to turn your back.
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