The news of Hearts of Oak parting ways with some players wasn’t surprising especially considering their relationship in recent times with some of the players, particularly Bernard Arthur and Christopher Bonney.

But that of Joseph Esso is singularly shocking!

What could have been the reason? Why can, arguably the best players in the club be let go just like that simply with the club making no economic gains?

I placed some calls to the quarters of the player and that of Hearts of Oak. The responses I got all point to one thing – both parties couldn’t settle on the financials.

Esso was demanding for ₵50k for a year, and same for the number of years the club would want him to stay. And a monthly salary of ₵4000.

It’s important to note that Esso joined Hearts in 2017 on a signing-on fee of ₵100k and a monthly salary of ₵1500.

But the Hearts of Oak team responsible for the current negotiation was willing to only pay ₵30k for a year and ₵3000 a month for the player.

Mind u, the negotiations commenced in November last year with the player not accepting the numbers Hearts were mentioning.

Before the player was bid good bye on Friday, he met Opare Addo, Nii Odoom, Sabahn Quaye and Frederick Moore at the club’s Secretariat where he was given just two options: either to accept the proposal of the club and stay on or return on Thursday with all property of the club for his release letter. The player without uttering a word, took the second option and left. The next minute, it was in the media the player has left the club.

When I heard this, I laughed because, first of all, release letter is not given to an individual player. It’s given to a club when the player has been released to the said club. So why even tell the player he must come for his release letter on Friday? And that’s the same situation for all the other players. In any case, how do you give a player whose contract has expired a release letter? This is elementary and the club must know this.

Now, let’s look at the merit and demerits of Esso’s departure.

First of all, I agree with those who say no player is bigger than Hearts. That’s a perfect statement. But we forget that Hearts is nothing without the players. The players the club is bigger than are the same players who play for the club to be bigger. Frankly, Hearts does not respect players.

I think that posture of making every player appear bad in the eye of the public when issues of contracts pop up is bad and Hearts of Oak must desist from that practice.

Today Hearts fans are mentioning Kofi Kordzi, Abednego Tetteh, Kutin, Dizan and what have u claiming they are better players. The fans should not assume that these players aren’t observing what their fellow playmates go through. Give yourself just two years, the same fans will run down the Kordzis, Abdegnegos, Kutins and Dizans.

Vincent Atinga had issues with Hearts before leaving. Claims were that he was ‘a nobody’ and the club made him ‘somebody’ under Frank Nuttal so even when his contract was running out, he had no right to make demands.

I won’t mention Gilbert Fiamenyo since his time is a big longer. But I remember Sabahn Laryeah was also a victim of the same situation. What of Inusah Musah, Sahmudeen, Akrofi and Akurugu?

I also remember Thomas Abbey, Leonard Tawiah and Patrick Razak nearly suffered the same fates.

The list is endless, and almost all of them have suffered similar vilifications.

Now, back to the Esso issue.

Dealing with the case dispassionately, it’s within the rights of both parties to hold to their positions since it’s negotiation and every party puts their interest first. But who loses in the end?

I think Hearts will be the big losers. Yes, the club stands to lose and not the player.

Before Esso came to Hearts from Dwarfs, he was their top scorer and best player. So the player joined the club with a certain image, and trust me he has succeeded in building on that image to a better standard.

Esso is now inches away from the Black Stars, he’s an integral member of the Black Stars B and, certainly one of the best eleven players anyone can name from the Ghana Premier League.

We forget to appreciate the fact that as the player joined from Dwarfs, and kept playing games for Hearts, his value appreciates and so in negotiating further contracts, he will demand for a better figure compared to his previous value. So for the club to value him inches lower from the previous transfer fee, certainly the player will not stay.

So for a player of his status, it will make financial sense for Hearts of Oak to accept his demands and get him contracted so the club will make gains when he’s leaving.

One key thing I’ve always maintained is that Hearts of Oak do not buy players based on the economic reasons of the game. Because if they do, what was the plan for Esso? How did the club plan to prepare him and transfer him for a bigger fee that will help the club to recover their investment?

Check Manchester United and Cristiano Ronaldo, Chelsea and Eden Harzard, RB Leipzig and Timo Werner, and the list goes one. Each of these players was specifically prepared for the market and the clubs made huge financial gains when the players were leaving.

Modric wanted to leave Tottenham. The club knew the player wanted to leave, yet they managed to hold on despite their poor relationship until he moved to Real Madrid to the huge benefit of the club.

So Hearts should have had a special project with Esso for which reason the club buys him from Dwarfs and make him one of the huge sources of revenue for the club.

The whole thing was that he was a striker and is a good player so the club needs him. For this reason, the club buys the player. Can you imagine?

I’ve spoken to some top officials of the club and my conclusion is that, they expected Esso to accept the figure because the club has ‘helped’ him. That is not bad if the player decides to do. But if he decides otherwise too, he must not be demonized and be tagged ungrateful.

He was contracted by the club to work and he worked. It was not his fault that Anas Exposé came. It was not his fault that there was no proper league during the Normalization Committee period. It was not his fault that COVID-19 broke out. So for the club to expect that the player must accept whatever they place on the table because ‘we’re not in normal times,’ is not reason enough to convince the player to stay.

This can’t continue to be the case anytime players contracts end at Hearts and they are leaving.

It must be handled professionally and the mantra of being grateful or ungrateful must be eschewed.

Esso must not be demonized. It was within his right to negotiate and he did. If the club does not need him, allow the player to go in peace. The claim of being ungrateful is unfair.