Rajiv van La Parra: Treading the fine line of Professionalism

Just two days after netting the fourth goal in Town’s 4-1 win over Bournemouth on Sunday, Rajiv van La Parra has this time made the headlines in controversial fashion as questions have been raised once again about the Dutchman’s conduct. He continues to tread the fine line between honesty and professionalism.

I’m sure you’ve all read them but if not here’s the extract of his interview with The Sun which is causing all the debate.

“My ambition first of all is to stay in the Premier League with Huddersfield and then after that to play in a bigger team.

“The club understand that. Huddersfield are more a selling club who buy cheaper players and let them improve and sell them for more money, so of course they 100 per cent understand.

“They give us the opportunity to show ourselves and if we do well the club does well as well.”

His comments have certainly divided opinion but one thing that everybody seems to be in agreement about is that what Rajiv has said is almost shockingly honest.

From the banalities and mundanities of modern footballers who offer very little insight into what they’re actually thinking, Van La Parra’s comments were stark in comparison.

It must be said, this is all based on the assumption that the quotes are verbatim, that nothing has been lost in translation and that The Sun hasn’t created a false story out of nothing (which is difficult to be certain of, of course) but let’s take the comments at face value.

Having had time to think and reflect, my personal stance is the same as it was upon discovering the interview this morning. In truth, I lost a certain amount of respect for him.

That may seem a strong statement but let’s face it; the comments are definitely somewhat disrespectful to a club who have put a lot of faith in him. He may have said that his focus is on keeping Huddersfield Town in the Premier League but in the next breath he reveals his desire to move on. Either way, he doesn’t see himself at the club next season, so why should we believe the first part of that statement?

Rajiv has basically admitted he’s looking for a way out. His job is to be a professional footballer and he’s blatantly disregarding the first part of that. Every player harbours ambitions of course but to say you’re basically looking to move on while we are in the middle of a relegation fight leads to questions of his commitment to the cause.

I’d be interested to know whether van La Parra did the interview off his own back or whether he was advised to by his agent and exactly what the line of questioning was. Detaching yourself from the situation entirely and removing any slither of emotion towards Town or towards Rajiv, a player has put himself in the shop window while his teammates are scrapping for every point to stay in the division.

Thinking for himself hasn’t exactly always gone well. During his time with Wolves he changed his Instagram bio to read: “One week they love you. Next week they hate you. Both weeks I got paid.” In the process, he alienated an entire fanbase.

Even if you commend his honesty and admire his ambition, where Van La Parra treads the fine line of professionalism is the timing. People proclaim that they want honesty from players but the moment that clashes with professionalism a conflict of interest emerges. A conflict of interest between the individual and the collective and in a David Wagner side, self-sacrifice isn’t expected, it is a necessity.

The comments were made pre-Bournemouth; if we had lost do you think people would be quite so accepting?

As my friend quite rightly said, Rajiv wanting to better himself has already arguably seen him put himself before the team. How he acted on Sunday, claiming that penalty to deny Steve Mounie what was at the time going to be a hat-trick, is not only putting personal gain before the team but it is a demonstration of that conflict of interest emerging on the pitch.

I understand that we are a selling club (although the past year-and-a-half does go against that with a net spend of over £35million) but it isn’t the kind of thing a player should be declaring in public.

Of course, there is the added layer to the story that many have picked up on; the fact that the Dutchman’s inconsistent performances since joining us and his lack of production hardly lends itself to a top club swooping in with a big-money bid.

To be perfectly clear: I do not blame him for being ambitious and for trying to have the best career he can. Comparisons have been drawn with Nahki Wells and his contract saga – but the difference between the two is that Nahki didn’t go to a national newspaper and cause a huge stir at a vital time.

The moral of the story is that answering a question with total transparency isn’t always the best course of action.

The bottom line is this: whether you admire honesty in the game or not, every Town fan should admit that they would prefer him to say nothing rather than say to a national newspaper that he views us as a selling club and a stepping stone, regardless of how true it is what he’s saying.