Wednesday, 11 July 2007

The Twin Towers

Christoph Metzelder has known for some months that he would be joining Real Madrid in the summer. Today, he was finally officially presented as the first signing under the new Bernd Schuster régime. This marks the second (after Schuster himself) in a week of new signings, as yesterday's surprise announcement, Pepe, passed his medical and will be presented tomorrow, and Javier Saviola, who finished his contract with Barcelona on June 30th, is expected to agree terms and be presented on Friday.

Metzelder himself has been working hard to make a good first impression and demonstrated at his presentation that he has been learning Spanish in recent months. His formidable height (1.93 metres) and cool demeanour won him the title of 'Best Young Player' in the 2002 World Cup and will make him a very valuable addition to the centre of defence. He has suffered more than his fair share of injuries, missing the entire 2003-2004 season with an achilles tendon problem, and, more recently, he had a knee cartilage operation in September 2006. These injury problems have made him seem a bit of a gamble for any club to take him on, but his obvious talent, and the fact that he is a free agent, probably decided Real Madrid to take the chance. It should be noted that he has only signed on for three years, instead of the usual four or five for a player of his age (26), so this is perhaps another instance of the club hedging their bets.

The signing of two tall central defenders (Pepe is 1.88 metres tall), who are good in the air and can also play the ball intelligently supports Schuster's intention to play with defenders in more advanced positions and speed up getting the ball to the forwards. Real Madrid has also reinforced the view that Sergio Ramos is one of the top players in his position by doubling his salary and increasing his buy-out clause. With Cicinho recovered and also covering the right wing, things don't look too good for Salgado this season. The left wing is presumably Miguel Torres's to keep, with Marcelo as possible cover, although there have been plenty of rumours about the club looking to reinforce this position with young Dutch sensation Royston Drenthe.

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