There is no lead in. No amusing anecdote with a beautifully transitioned sentence to mention the topic at hand. No backstory of watching a Los Blancos match and noticing faint similarities. No. Simply put, Real Madrid of Spain’s La Liga are the New York Yankees of soccer.
Their similarities are uncanny, they’re virtually identical. Not necessarily with the players, but with the management of the team. The owners are joined at the hip.
No, not the current Yankees owner, (Yankee Global Enterprises LLC,) but rather their former owner George Steinbrenner, may he rest in peace.
Steinbrenner and Madrid president, Florentino Perez are one in the same, in that, they have the same philosophy towards managing their team, bringing in big established names in hopes of “buying” a championship.
For nearly four decades, Steinbrenner bought, or traded for huge names all throughout Major League Baseball in hopes of capturing baseball’s most coveted prize: the World Series. He’s lured athletes like Reggie Jackson, and Catfish Hunter in the 70s, and Kevin Brown, A.J. Burnett, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, and Randy Johnson in recent times. The list could go on for miles.
In this past decade, Perez has done the same. He’s bought established names from all over Europe, trying to buy every edge possible in hopes of beating archrivals Barcelona and capturing their domestic and Champions League Trophy. He’s bribed players like: Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Angel di Maria, Sami Khedira, and Xabi Alonso.
The biggest name to defect Madrid’s way came last summer when Head Coach Jose Mourinho signed with the Merengues.
The Yankees may not be very vocal of their big name doings, but that’s where the two teams differ. Madrid has branded these signings and aptly titled them, Galacticos. That’s what a Galactico is, a well-established player or person that defects to Spain’s capital for big money. They, like Steinbrenner, pride themselves in these big name signings.
In the past decade and a half, Madrid has produced two names of international status, forward Raul and goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
Iker sprang from the Madridista’s young ranks; as for Raul, they lucked out with him. Raul was originally destined to be with the cross town rivals, Atletico Madrid. But due to their youth ranks disbanding, Raul had no choice but to seek help from Real Madrid.
Raul stated countless times that he did not like the concept of the Galacticos. But they kept winning, which pleased management, and the Madridistas.
Steinbrenner had a short lives success in the 70s after acquiring Reggie Jackson and others, then again in the late 90s.
In Ken Burns’ “The 10th Inning,” Burns explains the success of the Yankees in the late 90s was due to Steinbrenner being ill, and not being able to play with his roster. Had he been fine and well, speculations are he would have gotten rid of Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, and other home grown players that were the reason for their success.
Before the transfer window opened, speculations were that Madrid was going to bring in another Galactico, Fernando Llorente of Athletic Bilbao.
Though Steinbrenner is long gone, his legacy lives on. At the start of the offseason the Yankees tried to offer, then, Texas Rangers pitcher Cliff Lee a huge deal to come to the big apple. But due to his wife being spat on by Yankee fans, Lee opted otherwise.
It’s amazing how two separate organizations from different venues, and from opposite sides of the world can be so similar. Steinbrenner and Perez, one in the same.