by Panos Bletsos
They are world football’s top money makers. They are the UEFA Champions League’s most successful club. Despite the recent rise to prominence of their arch-enemies Barcelona, they are still Spain’s most decorated club. So why is it so hard for the mighty Real Madrid to find a regular right back?
The question becomes even more pronounced if it is taken into account that the estimated total market value of the Merengues squad rises up to more than $610 million! Nonetheless, on the way to claiming that long-awaited Primera División title last season José Mourinho used no less than seven different players in the right-back spot!
It seems bizarre to say the least, considering the wealth of talent the Portuguese mastermind has at his disposal, including the likes of his vice-captain, Sergio Ramos. Primarily an exciting right-sided fullback, the 26-year-old star proved equally capable of filling at defensive midfield during his early days in Madrid, but really impressed at the heart of the back four over the course of the past year or so. Playing either alongside Pepe for the Madrid giants as cover for the injured Ricardo Carvalho or to the left (!) of Gerard Piqué in the national colours deputizing for the unavailable Carles Puyol. Ramos deservedly won his place among the world’s very best centre-backs.
Despite having also played under Mourinho at Porto and Chelsea 34-year-old Carvalho is set to leave the Spanish capital, which means that The Special One has made up his mind: Ramos will maintain his place at central defense. But who will play at right back?
Still only 29, Álvaro Arbeloa has already tasted FIFA World Cup and twice European Championship glory with Spain. He is the regular right-sided defender of one of the best national sides the Beautiful Game has ever known. Besides a two-year spell with Liverpool on his résumé, he’s also a Real academy graduate and even forced the club to buy him back for some 7.8 million. But by the looks of it Arbeloa will NOT be Mourinho’s undisputed first choice come next season either.
After heavily experimenting throughout the previous campaign by fielding several players out of position (Raúl Albiol, Fábio Coentrão, Lass Diarra) or testing others who have since left the club (Hamit Altıntop, Pedro Mendes), the Real Madrid boss finally decided to act in the true Real Madrid fashion: spend. And you don’t have to be Archimedes to do the math.
Maicon enjoyed a fantastic two seasons under Mourinho at Internazionale, he is no more deemed irreplaceable in Milan and even a sum just above the 9-million-dollar mark could seal the deal. Remember, the Brazilian international is still widely regarded as one of the best in the world in his line of business and will only turn 31 at the end of the month. A Real bargain, right?
But you know what they say: money can’t buy you happiness. After Chendo, who spent his entire career with Real Madrid notching up 497 appearances from 1981 to ’97 and Míchel Salgado, who succeeded Christian Panucci in ’99, the three-time Intercontinental Cup winners have tried everything, but still failed to ensure stability on the right of their defense.
In the summer of 2005 Real paid Argentine giants River Plate 6.2 million for the then highly rated Carlos Diogo. The Uruguayan only appeared in 20 matches and left some 12 months later. In the mean time the Spaniards had invested another 5 million in recruiting exciting Brazilian wingback Cicinho from São Paulo, who was also unable to prove his worth largely because of an anterior cruciate ligament injury. During the ’08-’09 campaign, under Juande Ramos, Real even brought in Julien Faubert on loan from West Ham United – the Frenchman only put on the famous Blancos outfit twice. And you can get the full picture if you add to the mix Real’s inability to accurately evaluate its own talented youths. Back in 2005 they offloaded Juanfran to Espanyol. Today, still at 27, he’s a Spain international and a UEFA Europa League winner with bitter city rivals Atlético. And there’s a similar story starring Miguel Torres, who raised a few eyebrows coming seemingly out of nowhere in October 2006 to feature in no less than 66 games until August ’09, when he was surprisingly allowed to join neighbours Getafe.
In any case, Real Madrid is not just any club. Even if they are the reigning Spanish champions, they’re always looking for high-profile reinforcements – for example Luka Modrić, even though they already have the likes of Mesut Özil and Kaká within their ranks. But in football it’s what you need and not what you want that matters the most – and Maicon is certainly the kind of player they need.
The new PUMA evoSPEED 1.2 FG. A great new soccer cleat with classic look and first time for PUMA to be on the cleat.
Ajax has released their away soccer jersey for the 2013/14 season. Get in the Gear.
The push for more color on their cleats, adidas has added the infrared colorway to the adiZero f50 Line.
One of the top soccer cleats for control the Nike CTR360 will not let you down on the field in tight spaces.
The adidas Nitrocharge is the most talked about new cleat in years. It was released on May 15 and will take your pitch by storm.
Chelsea won the Europa League on Wednesday. The Blues defeated Benfica 2-1 on injury time goal from Ivanovic.
The Juventus jersey for the 2013/14 was released earlier this week. Be the first to wear the colors of the Old Lady.
Borussia Dortmund hears Wembley Calling and are headed to London for the Champions League final.
The Liverpool 2013/14 soccer jersey is available for pre-order. The Reds are eager to compete for silver next season.
adidas has added some color to the Predator line with this new colorway. Released on May 17. Be the first to own a pair.