Are Madrid now the Real deal?
It has been the talk of the summer as the Galacticos 2.0 era burst into life and threatened to smash every transfer record in sight. We all expected some sort of fireworks when Florentino Perez returned to the Bernabeu with lavish promises of a return to an era when the world’s best players made an annual migration to the Spanish capital. Many expected Ronaldo to follow in the footsteps of Beckham, Zidane et al but the transfer fee, even by Madrid standards, took me by surprise, especially coming immediately on the back of Kaka’s £56 million move to Spain.
But the noises coming from Perez were one of work beginning, not ending, and the two deals merely signalled the start of spending. No doubt fuelled by the success of rivals Barcelona, who swept all before them last season, Perez has stated he wants to do three years work in one and spend up to 300 million Euros in order to compete with Barca. He has duly delivered s far with deals for Raul Albiol and most recently Karim Benzema set to be completed.
But will this galacticos policy work? Well last time it did bring success, with three Spanish titles and two Champions League trophies between 2000 and 2006. But the drought then began when the likes of Figo, Zidane and Ronaldo began to show their age. With so much money spent on their marquee players the others around them couldn’t carry the side when things stated to go wrong. But the main difference between now and then is age. Figo was 28 when he signed for Madrid, Zidane 29 and Beckham also 28. Players at their peak yes, but also only three or four years away from fading out. Compare that with Ronaldo, 24, Kaka 27, and Benzema, 21 – Younger players with their best years ahead of them. Therefore if success isn’t instant there are plenty of years ahead of them in order to win things for Real.
However how much time will the team have? With substantial investment comes expectation and if new coach Manuel Pellegrini fails to get results quickly he could soon be out of the door. On the other hand with the players at his disposal he could kick off a new magical era for the club.
So what about Barca?
Well the European Champions have been silent in comparison, though admittedly they already have a world-class squad. Much of the talk has involved Samuel Eto’o, linked with a move to the other big spenders of the summer, Man City. It had been reported Barca boss Pep Guardiola didn’t see Eto’o in his plans for next season though he has since been offered a new deal.
Incoming much of the talk involves Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas, again. Much like the Ronaldo to Madrid story the Gunners midfielder has been perennially linked with a move to the Catalan club, who he left for London as a 16-year-old in 2005. Barca President Joan Laporta admitted this week that he wanted Fabregas at the Camp Nou, though again this one could run and run for longer than this summer.
Fabregas or not Barca have been forced to sit up and take notice at events at Madrid. Their majestic 6-2 win in El Clasico at the end of last season highlighted the gulf in class between the two sides. But with an unprecedented spending spree underway Real are doing their best to close the gap. A ‘Harlem Globetrotters’ star-studded approach doesn’t always work – a glut of new signings need to gel and the team needs to better than the sum of its parts.
But if it works at Real, the likes of Kaka, Ronaldo, Sneijder, Benzema, Raul and Huntelaar all clicking together will be a sight to behold.