What do you think the hardest teams to play for as a pro are? Being a professional footballer isn’t as easy as many people think. Yes, they earn truckloads of cash every week, but the pressure usually gets crazy, especially when you’re playing for certain clubs.
These are the 7 hardest teams to play for as a pro.
1. Real Madrid
First is Real Madrid. Who else? That club and their fans are just brutal. No matter how good you are, you’d always be scared of the immense pressure that comes from the fans. These guys boo and whistle at their own players when they’re not playing well. Karim Benzema, Alfredo Di Stefano, and even Cristiano Ronaldo have all been booed by Real Madrid fans while they were still playing for the club.
If these Ballon d’Or-winning legends of the club could get booed, then who are you?
The president of the club is also pretty brutal, so even when you think you’re the most important person at the club, it could all just change in a second. You can ask Zinedine Zidane or Cristiano Ronaldo.
Moreso, there’s pressure to always succeed. Real Madrid cannot afford to go trophyless for two seasons in a row. It would be hell for everyone involved.
Barcelona is another club that holds their players to the same standards as Real Madrid.
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Having been spoiled over the years by Ronaldinho, Messi, Rivaldo, and Ronaldo Fenomeno, no matter what state Barcelona is in, they always expect trophies. Xavi won two trophies last season and he’s already under a lot of pressure while being third on the league table and in the knockout rounds of the Champions League.
Lewandowski won the Pichichi Trophy last season and fans are already asking for him to be sold. These are crazy levels of pressure.
In fact, in Barcelona, you could be winning and still be under pressure. Last season, on their way to the league, Barcelona fans complained that, although they were winning, they weren’t sticking to the identity and philosophy of the club. They want to win in every metric possible – possession, shots on goal, everything.
Imagine having a record-equalling title-winning season but still complaining about how the players are playing. It’s insane.
Add this to the rate at which they sign players nowadays, there is no way to feel safe at this club. You can ask Aubameyang why he left and he’ll tell you that it’s just because they got Lewandowski.
3. Man City
The blue half of Manchester is also a very hard place to play but for a different reason. Fans don’t really care about how they win but the same cannot be said about Pep.
Right now, standards are at the highest at Man City, so you either deliver for him or you are dropped. It doesn’t matter how much you were bought for, if you don’t deliver, you’d be replaced. You can ask Jack Grealish.
Playing for City is so hard these days that Cole Palmer who couldn’t break into the first team is now the main man for Chelsea.
A whole Sergio Aguero was dropped to the bench. Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling were regarded as surplus to requirements at City but they went to Arsenal and Chelsea and became their main men. That’s how hard it is to play for Man City right now.
The funny thing is, you can deliver and still get dropped if Pep wants to tweak his system. No one is safe. One time Cancelo was the best fullback in the world – in a matter of weeks, he couldn’t even get a look in.
It’s equally hard to play for Liverpool because the club is just too demanding, both physically and mentally. Klopp’s style of football is extremely physically demanding. That alone is hard for footballers to keep up with.
And then the fans expect hard work, loyalty, and consistency. These guys turned on Suarez because they claimed he only used them as a stepping stone to move to Barcelona. Rarely has an in-form player left the club with goodwill. Coutinho, Wijnaldum, Mane, Emre Can, Shaqiri. The list goes on and on.
5. Manchester United
Another club where the pressure is insane is Manchester United. There’s pressure from fans, pundits, the media, and even former players. The club still has that reputation of being the biggest club in England, so a lot is expected of them naturally, and this is where the pressure comes from.
Look at the likes of Pogba, Lukaku, and Maguire; they were under a lot of pressure from the fans, the media, and even ex-players, and you could argue that that was why they struggled. Even the great CR7 was under immense pressure in his second spell at United, so again, who are you?
It’s also difficult to play for Chelsea because there’s hardly any consistency. They’re always changing coaches, bringing in new players, or making some major changes which is always so difficult to cope with as a player.
We heard about how there were too many players in the squad last season. It can’t be easy to play in a team like that. Also, last season alone, the club employed like four different coaches; how are players supposed to play well with this sort of inconsistency?
Finally, playing for PSG is difficult because the Ultras over there are just crazy. They demand a lot from the players and they are never pleasant about how they show it. We saw how these guys continued to boo Messi and Neymar and even showed up at Neymar’s house to tell him to leave the club.
Two of the greatest players the sport has ever seen insisting on leaving the club in the same window should tell you all you need to know about how difficult it is to play for PSG.
The ownership also does not mind chopping and changing players and coaches as they see fit. The roster of coaches that have been in Paris since the takeover is just insane.
But in your opinion, what’s the singular most difficult club to play for as a professional footballer?
Tell us in the comments.