Martin Dowey’s weekly column: Are players lacking ambition?

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ONE thing in life that I believe it is important to have is ambition.

If you don’t have any then you end up trudging along doing the same thing week-in week-out, in a less than entertaining existence.

Ambition has to be a key part of any footballer’s make-up, at any level you want to be playing for the best club you can and with the best players.

Not so, it seems in the current climate.

This is despite the fact that the top-flight players in the European game earn enough each week to make any normal person cry. They now want to jet off to the far corners of the earth to earn even more obscene amounts while playing for teams that would struggle in the Blue Square Premier.

David Beckham started this ball rolling in 2007 when he left the glamour of Real Madrid and signed for LA Galaxy.

He was signed up as the figure-head for North American football, but in my opinion, it has been a total waste of the dying embers of a glittering career.

He could have played for any club in Europe, as he demonstrated when he signed on loan for AC Milan, yet instead, he opted to turn out for a team of American nobodies, with a smattering of journeymen internationals just for luck.

Maybe Beckham has a different mind-set to me, or maybe his wife Victoria does, but surely you’d want to turn out in a top competitive league against top players, rather than winding down as he has done?

Robbie Keane had the right idea, joining up with Galaxy when he was no longer good enough to cut it at the top level.

Beckham, in contrast, sacrificed an international career with England and the chance to make a glorious return to Manchester United or any other Premiership club he picked.

More and more of these big-money leagues have popped up in the last few years, the UAE Pro League and the Chinese Super League being the biggest examples.

We also have a Russian side called Anzhi Makhachkala, who are trying to sign every top player in the world.

Who in their right mind would go play their club football in Russia, where you will have to travel for thousands and thousands of miles to play in the snow.

I wouldn’t, but the likes of Samuel Eto’o and a quartet of Brazilians have. I wonder what persuaded them?

At the start of the season we had Sunderland’s Asamoah Gyan joining up to play for Arabian side Al Ain, for whom he scored six goals in six games. I bet he really relished the challenge of tackling a bunch of players from a country who are ranked 120th in the world of football. Again, I doubt it was the play-boy lifestyle of Dubai that twisted his arm.

Nicolas Anelka has now leapt on this bandwagon by joining up with Chinese League giants Shanghai Shenhua on a reported contract of £270,000 per week.

While the wind was swirling and the rain was drenching his former side Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge on Monday night, Anelka was planning his move to the far east where he will become one of the strangest figure heads in the history of football.

A player, nicknamed le Sulk, who has had more clubs in his career than I have had hot dinners, isn’t the perfect example for a league bidding to pull away from recent tarnishes, which include a major match-fixing scandal.

Again, he is a player at the age of 32 that could select from a number of European clubs, or even continue being a bit-part player in one of England’s top sides - something that Michael Owen has decided to do for the past two and a half years.

But instead, the pull of money and the big fish factor was too much.

They say that a change is as good as a rest. It appears that Anelka will be having both this season.