13 June 2009

A global recession?

£59,000,000
£80,000,000
£34,000,000

If Spanish outlet Marca (I’m linking Google News, but only because it’s in English) is to be believed – which isn’t a huge stretch considering it’s basically Real Madrid’s PR department – David Villa will sign for the Madrileños next week.

As the list above hopefully suggests (which, as you’re probably aware, are the fees for Kaka, Ronaldo, and Villa – about £170m spent and we’re not even midway through June), I’m not writing to lament that Villa’s not signing for Liverpool. As marvelous as he is, I’ve written that Liverpool should stick to the 4-2-3-1 more than enough. I’m just stunned by Real’s spending spree, and that’s bearing in mind we knew Perez would return to his Galácticos roots.

Maybe it’s just Liverpool and Setanta that are struggling financially. I mean, we’ve already seen City pay £12m for Gareth Barry in the final year of his contract and strongly linked with a £25m Carlos Tevez (Really? From United to City?), among countless others.

It didn’t take long for United move for Luis Antonio Valencia as Ronaldo’s replacement, at least positionally. Whether they buy the bigger names mooted – like Ribery or Benzema – depends on whether the indebted Glazer family will release any more of that £80m. Nani looks likely to be sold as well, so there should be further holes. But the mountain of stories (e.g. this one) about how Fergie will definitely get the money, and the proceeds unquestionably, honestly, for sure won’t be withheld to pay off the £650m debt makes me skeptical of those stories’ veracity.

Ferguson’s been clever in the transfer market before, and is never afraid to cut ties when he feels it’s time: Stam, Beckham, Roy Keane, van Nistelrooy, etc, etc. But I’m not sure how much of this is of Fergie’s accord – like those aforementioned deals were – or player power. United pretty much admitted Ronaldo wanted out in their statement (I’d rather not link to that lot’s website), although, of course, that could just be shifting the blame. If former Real president Ramon Calderon and the papers are to be believed, this deal’s basically been done for months now. Evidently Slur Alex would sell that mob a virus.

But back to Real Madrid. This article – from Foreign Policy of all places – is fairly illuminating, as is this one from 2001, which reminds how Madrid’s city council basically subsidized Real to the tune of over £200m. Which, naturally, occurred under Perez’s first tenure, and partly paid for the first Galácticos project.

On paper, Real Madrid is absolutely frightening. Casillas, Ramos, Pepe, Diarra (Mahamadou a bit more than Lassana), Sneijder, Gago, van der Vaart, Kaka, Robben, Ronaldo, Villa, Higuain, van Nistelrooy, Huntelaar, and Raul. Obviously, sales will be made, but that roster reads like Real should play the dreaded 0-6-4 formation. No matter how many attackers they buy, there are still glaring holes in central midfield and defense.

Which is why Perez is pursuing Xabi Alonso so intently (which we’re still not contemplating, no matter the paper talk), and why Real will probably pilfer Albiol from Valencia, or someone similar (Vidic! Buy Vidic!), as well. I saw the rumors about Arbeloa (not linking, discussing further, or believing because it originally came from that dogshit rag which doesn’t get named on this site), but that makes no sense. Ramos may be a defensive liability, but the right back position is his.

I’ve a hunch – it’s only a hunch, and I’d like to remind of the many times I’ve written that I know little about finance – there are only two teams that’ll be spending silly money this summer: Madrid and City. With mainly Barry and Tevez in the news, City’s been quieter than expected, but the £120m offer for Kaka in January couldn’t have been an aberration. Hopefully, that Kaka turned it down and went to Madrid for less than half that fee six months later demonstrates City’s true transfer muscle.

But, in contrast to United’s promises, Milan probably won’t be spending their profit. Kaka’s quote said absolutely everything about the situation for most clubs: “I wanted to stay on at Milan, but the global economic crisis has affected many clubs, especially those like Milan that run as a business. I spoke with the directors and we agreed that the transfer would be in everybody’s interests at this moment in time.”

The divide between the Haves and the Have-Nots is growing, and there are going to be fewer and fewer Haves. This is why it’s such a crucial time for Liverpool, and why Hicks and Gillett are so dangerous. The sword of Damocles really is hanging over the club. And yes, I write that fully aware that I cautioned against believing the media’s dire predictions about Liverpool’s debt only eight days ago.

It goes without saying that Real will be a better team next year. With those additions, they have to be, even if there are bound to be problems bedding in all those stars. La Liga will assuredly be more competitive than it was last season; a two-team race is better than one. But the Galáticos project wasn’t a panacea last time around, and the only place Real will be unbeatable is on FIFA 2010.

Nevertheless – and despite how much I loathe that winking, sashaying, diving prat of a man – I still think Ronaldo is a phenomenal footballer, up there with Messi as the most creative force of this generation. And his sale will make United less potent no matter who they replace him with. Which can only be a good thing for the rest of the Premier League.

9 comments:

Mike Georger said...

I keep hearing about how United fans are happy because they didn't like Ronaldo and now they can build around Rooney. I haven't heard this kind of delusion since the last time FIFA ranked the USA high. I don't remember Rooney rescuing United from shit performances against middling teams and pulling wins out of the bag that essentially proved the difference the past three seasons. I do recall Ronaldo doing it several times though.

No other team in the world could sell their best player and top goalscorer and get made out to be the good guys.

Mike Georger said...

Well it's official, I give up on humanity

nate said...

ahahahahahaha yeah right.

the same torres who flashed five fingers at the stretford end when he equalized in the 4-1 victory? the same torres who consistently talks about how much he adores the club, city, and fans?

i wouldn't do it for £100m, and i guarantee that this does not happen.

Mike Georger said...

Yeah. I was waiting for the inevitable 'Liverpool must sell Torres!' articles to start this summer, like they did with Chelsea last year. I swear to God the media hates us.

Imagine if this shit happened with American sports.

Starting11 said...

Yeah, you gotta love the Man U. folks crapping on Ronaldo as he swishes out the door into Paris Hilton's arms and Perez's bank vault. Awesome.

Starting11 said...

http://startingeleven.blogspot.com/2009/06/starting-eleven-football-blog-roundup_15.html

steven. said...

there's no way Torres will leave .. i think Rafa would sell his wife / kids into slavery before he let him walk out the door ..

Anonymous said...

Nate,

Your site is fantastic, I never miss a post. Best Liverpool site on the web, in my view.

But methinks you overpraise Ronaldo. He's like a football version of Dominique Wilkins -- aggressive, skillful, very good at scoring. But he doesn't play creatively in the sense of elevating the overall performance of his team; Messi does. And I think that will limit how posterity rates ol' C-Ron.

nate said...

Fair enough, and the Nique comparison is an amusing one.

But 43 goals from midfield last season was an awe-inspiring total. And I've seen that prat do things with a football I didn't think possible. Deadly from free kicks, strong as hell, confident as hell, and an absolute flat-track bully.

He doesn't do it enough in big games, and the whining/diving is an enormous problem. If he had his head on straight, he really could be the best player in the world. He's strong and fast enough to be an excellent tackler, and clever enough to run the game.

But, he does not do it enough, and I probably go overboard in praising him due to the potential he shows. It's odd using a word like "potential" with Ronaldo considering his accolades, but I really do think there's no ceiling with the boy. Whether he achieves it is another thing entirely, and that I don't remember often enough.