Is there anything worse than seeing athletes succumbing to injuries? There’s no other situation in sports where everyone loses. The team gets weakened, the fans miss opportunities to see their favourites play, and even rival teams/fans don’t get to gloat about defeating their opponents at full strength – the presence of serious injuries will always adds an asterisk to any victory over an injured squad.
Not all injuries are created equal, and not all sports are prone to the same kind of injuries. Football, boxing, mixed martial arts, even hockey – this is the domain of the serious head injury. Baseball, tennis, basketball and golf get off relatively easy in comparison. For that matter, so does the sport we’re dealing with today, soccer.
Due to the nature of the game, lower body injuries are significantly more common than upper body ones. Ankles, legs, knees, groins, they all get banged up pretty bad over time. Fortunately, soccer players – particularly the players in the big European leagues – have insane amounts of money and access to a top-notch medical staff to help them recover. 30 years ago, a torn ACL might have meant the end of a career, nowadays it just means 6 months off the pitch (sometimes less).
When star players get put on the shelf, the real devastating part of the injuries, at least from a managerial standpoint, has to be the cost. If a striker is on $2 million of wages per year and they sit 6 months of the season out, well, you’ve effectively pissed away $1 million. The opportunity cost of injuries can be horrendous, especially when a team picks up multiple injuries to multiple big players. Then the owners end up paying for the world’s most expensive unit of benchwarmers. This season, the English Premier League has been rife with injuries. These are the 10 teams who ‘lost’ the most money to injuries, calculated by taking into account weekly player salaries and the amount of weeks they've been unfit to play.
10 Tottenham Hotspur – 32 Months, €15 Million ($20.72 Million) Lost to Injuries
9 Sunderland – 33 Months, €16.4 Million ($22.65 Million) Lost to Injuries
8 Hull City – 36 Months, €16.4 Million ($22.65 Million) Lost to Injuries
7 Newcastle United – 36 Months, €16.8 Million ($23.21 Million) Lost to Injuries
6 Manchester United – 37 Months, €16.8 million ($23.21 Million) Lost to Injuries
5 Fulham – 38 Months, €17.3 Million ($23.9 Million) Lost to Injuries
4 Crystal Palace – 41 Months, €18.7 Million ($25.83 Million) Lost to Injuries
3 Aston Villa – 44 Months, €20 Million ($27.63 Million) Lost to Injuries
2 Everton – 52 Months, €23.7 Million ($32.74 Million) Lost to Injuries
1 Arsenal – 66 Months, €30.1 Million ($41.58 Million) Lost to Injuries
What is going on with Arsenal’s medical team? There’s certainly something wrong with their squad management, because it seems as though every season the gunners lose half their squad to injury. This year alone they’ve lost star signing Mesut Ozil and breakout star Aaron Ramsey, as well as Jack Wilshere, and Theo Walcott – all to long term injuries that have kept them out for weeks, sometimes months. Manager Arsene Wenger has blamed the incredible accumulation of injuries on Arsenal’s late season collapse, which has, once again, cost them a chance at the Premier League title. If the fans have any sense, the only resignation they’ll be calling for at the end of the season will be of the team’s head doctor.
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