Football, just like the characters of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic The Great Gatsby, has always looked down on new money, and one V.League 1 side has certainly been throwing the cash around lately.
Topenland Bình Định made a splash over the weekend with the signing of national team defender Trần Bình Trọng on a free transfer, with an eye watering salary package as part of the deal.
Trọng was just the latest in a string of splash signings the Quy Nhơn-based club have made, following Adriano Schmidt, Mạc Hồng Quân, Lý Công Hoàng Anh and Hà Đức Chinh in the door, to name a few.
Bình Định are very much new money, having spent most of the last decade in the second tier and will now find themselves firmly in the crosshairs of every side they face, just as Newcastle United have found themselves since their Saudi takeover.
There is, however, one way Bình Định can turn the conversation around and mask the scent of new money.
While most football fans are aware that Manchester City have bought their way to success thanks to Qatari oil cash, I would say the brand of football they play under Pep Guardiola has shifted the narrative somewhat.
When City are on form no one can deny they are a joy to watch, and if Bình Định want to be known for more than having a fat wallet, they should be looking to follow in Pep et al’s footsteps.
Now, not for a minute am I suggesting that Trọng should be capable of spraying passes about like Joao Cancelo does, but I do feel Bình Định have to play a more elevated style of football than we’re used to in the V.League.
Let’s face it, long balls and agricultural defending (to be polite about it) are a feature of most V.League games and while Hà Nội FC and Hoàng Anh Gia Lai are known for playing some silkier stuff, they are the exceptions rather than the rule.
If Bình Định can prove that getting the ball down and passing it is a route to V.League 1 success instead of relying on the physical prowess of an imported striker and defender, they’ll turn their matches into must-watch events for all the right reasons.
What’s more, the league and national team by extension will only benefit from having more teams willing to knock the ball around and let’s face it, the Vietnamese national team is never going to prosper on the international stage when the ball’s in the air.
So I’m reserving judgement on new-money Bình Định for now, as long as they keep the ball on the deck. — VNS