Friday, August 20, 2010

Thoughts from the Revolving Door


Valdano presents Real Madrid's 'Last' incoming player for the 2010 summer transfer season: Mesut Ozil
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As our (my) favorite Martian from the World Cup (Ozil) lands at Madrid… I’ve finally gotten the feeling that Real Madrid has seen its last incoming player of the coming season. The revolving door will continue to turn of course as the arrival of new players will mean the departure of some of our current ones. Having said that, let’s go through the ones who have gone in and out the revolving door.
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Out (as of 2010-08-18): Raul, Guti & Metzelder
My more sentimental thoughts (more like feelings) on the departure of club legends are captured in my ‘tribute posts’ to Raul & Guti posted in the last couple of weeks. Seeing it from a footballing perspective however, it’s a bit different.
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Raul (to Schalke 07 – forget the ‘04’ bit)
Perhaps I’d have to say that it was the loss of Raul that was a bit of a blow as his departure leaves the club with only 2 pure strikers: Higuain & Benzema. Despite that fact that we no longer live in the age of the 4-4-2 (or the 2-striker formation)… having 2 only strikers in the squad leaves the team threadbare up front. To have the ageing-but-still-effective Champions League’s all-time leading goalscorer and club talisman in the role of 3rd striker would have been great. Sadly however, it was not to be.
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Guti (to Besiktas)
Despite the rush of sentimentality due to his departure, I’d really have to say that having Guti in this squad would’ve likely turned into a match made in hell between him and Jose Mourinho. His bad temper, primma donna tendencies & slack attitude in training would’ve surely caught the ire of the Portuguese disciplinarian. When you couple that with the backing he receives from many of the club’s loyal fans, you get a PR nightmare for the club. His departure gives the midfield a bit of breathing room given the glut of central midfielders we have at the moment.
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Christoph Metzelder (to Schalke 04)
Highly-paid, injury-prone & slow. To his credit, he was a model professional despite getting superglued to the bench in his years in Madrid – hardly making a fuss to the press, management or the coaching staff. And when he played, he was decent. His departure doesn’t make much of a difference.
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In (as of 2010-08-18): Canales, Pedro Leon, Di Maria, Khedira, Carvalho & Ozil
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Sergio Canales (from Racing Santander)

The FUTURE of Spanish Football: Sergio Canales
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When news broke out that Real Madrid had signed Sergio Canales from Racing Santander but was going to loan him out to Racing On Loan, I went ‘Oh shit… here we go again.’ I questioned the wisdom of his signing yet another attacking midfielder over a few highlight reels (which smacked of ‘impulse buying’ to me). When I saw him play wearing a Real Madrid shirt for the first time (against Club America) however, I went ‘Oh Shit… this KID is amazing’. He looks like the real deal to me and has already convinced the known-to-favor-veterans Mourinho. If we take good care of this kid and allow him to develop steadily according to his potentials… we might actually have ourselves a Spanish Kaka… or better… a Spanish Zidane!
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Pedro Leon (from Getafe)

Pedro Leon: He just might turn out to be the steal of this Transfer Season
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The truth about Getafe will come out soon enough: that one day it will be renamed to either: Real Madrid Castilla Senior or Real Madrid Lite. Their survival in La Liga and even their European success has been driven in large part by their relationship with Real Madrid: as the Test Bed for Real Madrid’s most promising canteranos (among them: Dela Red, Soldado, Granero, Parejo, Codina, Adrian, etc.). They get to field talented young players trained by one of the word’s best youth academies, while we find out if our boys are the Real Deal. If they are, we then pay Getafe with a ‘Finder’s Fee’ (the buyback clause). What’s great about the Pedro Leon deal is that it brings us one of THEIR top young (only 23) players, at a position we were lacking on in our roster. At 10m euros, I’m not sure you can get a 23-year old winger with his quality in the market today. That he’s Spanish is also a big bonus.
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Angel Di Maria (from Benfica)

I 'discovered' Di Maria as a top class player in the Beijing Olympics.
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The 22-year old Argentine left winger was the most expensive signing this summer at 25m Euros plus reportedly another 11m from incentives. With Pedro Leon on the right, CR96 as a natural winger and Marcelo having shown us that he’s much better without being burdened by the obligation to defend… I wasn’t of the opinion that we needed yet another winger: especially one at 25m Euros (plus reportedly another 11m in clauses which can total to a Robben-like figure of 36m!). Don’t get me wrong: Di Maria is a wonderful player and I’ve been a fan of his since the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. I’ve no doubts about his abilities… only his price. If the reports are true however that he came from Mourinho’s shortlist… then maybe it’s not so bad as it tells us that the one thing we all hoped for: that for once, Florentino would hire a coach / manager and listen to what he asks.
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Sami Khedira (from Stuttgart)

If he plays like the midfield beast that he was in the World Cup: The World better watch out for Real Madrid
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This is a signing that’s got Jose Mourinho’s fingerprints all over it: a strong, workhorse-type box-to-box midfielder known to plug the holes and do well enough with ball distribution. I’ve read quite a few comments in the blogs that I follow raving about Khedira. I saw for myself during the World Cup. After last season, where we struggled perpetually to find a suitable partner for Xabi Alonso, a 15m Euro purchase for a 23-year old player of such caliber is a great signing. With the ‘transferables’ in this position being: Diarra (last year of his contract), Lass (with the cosndierable interest in him by a host of different clubs), Gago (given his can’t-do-anything qualities) & even Granero (a forgettable past season), it’s looking likely that the next movements of the revolving door will see one of them being greeted out.
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Ricardo Carvalho (from Chelsea)

Ricardo Carvalho: Top Class
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Under Jose Mourinho at Porto, he became one of the World’s best Central Defenders. Mourinho brought him to England, tried (but failed) to bring him to Italy and now Jose Mourinho’s prodigal footballing son has rejoined him once again. At 32 years old, 8m Euros is a bit steep. Unlike Metzelder (who came for free) however, he won’t have Madridistas losing sleep at the thought of him filling in for an injured or suspended Pepe/Garay/Albiol/Ramos… or even starting ahead of them. And here’s the best part: we didn’t have to spend 30m on the 30 year old Maicon (a brilliant Right Back with a greedy agent).
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Mesut Ozil (from Mars… err... Werder Bremen)

This Half-Turkish, Half-Alien German was my favorite player in the 2010 World Cup. I never thought he'd end up in my favorite club though...
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There are many reasons to look at his signing and scratch one’s head: don’t we already have Kaka & Rafa Van Der Vaart (who proved to us last season that he has the quality and the mentality to be in Real Madrid) in for the position of attacking midfielder? Don’t we already have Sergio Canales as their understudy? And what about the return of Dani Parejo? But at a “mere” 15m Euros, the player already dubbed the ‘Turkish Messi’ whose talent can actually turn him into the future ‘Messi of Madrid’ is a deal too good to refuse (an opportunity that won’t come again). And with Mourinho publicly declaring his support to sign the player, then we can all only hope that he will know how to get this Real Madrid to play with possibly 4 attacking midfielders in the squad. Upon seeing Germany play in the World Cup, I told my wife the next day ‘They Germans have this alien-looking creature of a player called Ozil who looks like only being a couple of years away from becoming a Real Madrid-calibre player. I take much comfort in the fact that Mourinho thinks he’s
ALREADY a Real Madrid-calibre player and Florentino has already made him a Real Madrid player.
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More thoughts on the additional departures when they finally leave…



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