Luxury players, most often found being carried by title contenders or relegation certainties, are often referred to as "gifted footballers" if their side is on a good run of form. The antithesis of the No-Nonsense player, this player is usually either the best footballer in their team, or the best footballer from their country of birth, but they are determined to do as little as possible. Presumably due to their exploits on the training pitch, they are notoriously successful, commanding colossal wages, ludicrous transfer fees, and revolting personal sponsorship deals.
History of Luxury Players
Traditionally, luxury players were centre forwards or wingers, players graced with good ball control or pace that were encouraged by their manager to take on traditionally resolute but sluggish defenders. Frequently this would result in possession being overturned and a goal conceded. Regardless of the outcome, the player would be guaranteed praise from Andy Townsend who would wax lyrical about how the player tried to "make somefink 'appen". These players were not lazy, and typically fairly hard-working, but lacked the talent in all other key areas. Jesper Grønkjær was a classic example of a pacy winger who could pass full-backs at will, only to repeatedly scuff every cross so badly that the ball rarely entered the 18-yard area.
Most modern luxury players, however, are more aligned with more historical footballing figures, such as Glenn Hoddle. Hoddle was one of the most uniquely talented footballers of his era, but he had a mercurial nature, which was fuelled by his exhaustive extracurricular agendas. These included intensive mullet care, an unparalleled music career, and festering hatred for the physically handicapped. After he was ironically forced to retire due to injury, the mantle of top English luxury player was taken up by Matt Le Tissier, whose extraordinary anonymity led to him being largely discarded by the national side, including when it was managed by an envious Hoddle. These players are labelled as lazy, a quality with the primary upside being that Townsend gets upset whenever he sees one, wishing he could apply a reducer to the offending player.
Modern Luxury Players
It is now considered vital by all clubs who wish to either win titles or be relegated to stock up on luxury players. While most of these are still forwards, some of the wealthiest clubs like Manchester United brought the idea of the luxury defender to the top tiers of European football. Looking to shed United of its image of solid defensive responsibility, the likes of Steve Bruce, Denis Irwin and Gary Pallister were gradually replaced by successively more gifted and more lax stars. The likes of Laurent Blanc and Jaap Stam proved to be among many diabolical signings in Alex Ferguson's hunt for the ultimate luxury player. Finally, he found that player, and signed Rio Ferdinand for £30 billion in 2002. Ferdinand undoubtedly took luxury footballing to the next level. Despite being gifted with ball control skills that should have seen him play as a less-talented Dennis Bergkamp, he took great pains to mould himself as a central defender whose only actions would be to pass the ball back to the goalkeeper, who was usually unmarked, or pretend he didn't see a striker bearing down on him, and look the other way and allow himself to be pick-pocketed 25 yards from his own goal. With a competent defensive partner to do all of the heading and tackling, the only talent Ferdinand ever displayed during competitive matches was during goal celebrations, sprinting seventy yards to join in and pose for cameras while his team-mates obscured the real goalscorer. Ferdinand had a successful television career, and won 243 England caps, with Sven-Göran Eriksson citing his celebratory skills as a core element of the national side's performances. United were also instrumental in promoting the resurgence of the luxury goalkeeper, with Fabian Barthez being an infamously obnoxious 'keeper that made fans forget that there used to be people like René Higuita (El Loco"), Jorge Campos ("I design my own seizure-inducingly-bad goalkeeping clothes"), and José Luis Chilavert ("I take the free kick, and one of you lot foul someone because I'm too lardy to run back"), who repeatedly made it to World Cup tournaments and regularly danced their way into the midfield, only to be shown up by Roger Milla.
Lower-prestige sides have attempted to replicate this with incredible success. While top clubs have been able to successfully carry players like Ferdinand, Lúcio, Gerard Piqué and David Luiz to winner's medals, teams with mediocre squads find that they can't support these players. For the 2013/14 Premiership season, more-money-than-sense Fulham had an attacking front line of Pajtim Kasami, Bryan Ruiz, and "The Incredible Sulk" Dimitar Berbatov. With no-nonsense midfielders behind them in Steve Sidwell and Scott Parker who were too busy daydreaming about reducing their attacking team-mates, and Norwegian relics John Arne Riise and Brede Hangeland in defence, the side was doomed, finishing 19th. It was during this season that the club also indulged in luxury managers, utilising three equally ineffective managers in the same season, culminating in the club suffering relegation with Felix Magath at the helm, a man too obsessed with designer glasses and drinking tea during press conferences to steer his side to safety.
The Future of Luxury Players
With the sharp rise in the proportion of luxury players at top clubs, it is estimated that by 2018, there will only be three players in the Premier League willing to do any defensive work, including goalkeepers. This will only serve to make life even easier for the existing luxury players to work their occasional magic. Zlatan Ibrahimović, who has won titles in every country with exorbitant wealth in Europe, continues to dazzle football fans for about five seconds every couple of matches, despite having been clocked as covering less ground on the pitch than his own goalkeeper. Most of this time was spent talking to opposing defenders about himself in the third person.