Friday, 10 August 2007

Drenthe-d for success?

Official confirmation of Royston Drenthe's joining Real Madrid finally came yesterday evening, though the story had been one of those on/off culebrones since June, when he impressed a number of scouts in the European under-21 championships he won with Holland. Both Chelsea and Barcelona were reportedly also following his progress closely.

Negotiations with Feyenoord stalled over price, and, in a surprise move last week, Drenthe announced that he was willing to take Feyenoord to the Court of Arbitration to be released from his contract. He argued that Feyenoord was setting an unrealistic price for the transfer (around 18 million euros) and thus preventing him from plying his trade freely. Interesting argument, that. After all, who decides what constitutes an unreasonable price? I don't know whether he would have had any success in court, but he was under contract (recently renewed) and more "insane" prices have been paid for players with the same or less level of experience (the case of Pepe springs to mind). Real Madrid's role in all this is unclear, but it does add to their reputation for unsettling players in order to force their clubs to negotiate.

The big question mark at the moment is where Schuster will play him. He said last night, after Real's defeat to Deportivo in the Teresa Herrera tournament, that Drenthe's arrival, made him "happy as if it were Christmas", but gave no further clues as to how he intends to use him, other than he is still hoping for some more arrivals. Ostensibly Drenthe is a replacement for Roberto Carlos as left back, given Marcelo's relative inexperience and the fact that Torres, although he has covered that position well, is not a naturally left-footed player. Drenthe has played in all positions on the left flank, but, more recently, for the Dutch under-21 side, has been playing further up front, where he has particularly impressed with his pace and technical ability. If no other left-sided players arrive this summer, Drenthe may get to play in midfield, but otherwise, he may be asked to display a more defensive nature. One wonders what his expectations are.

The club will most likely wait until after the first leg of the Spanish Supercup against Sevilla this Saturday for the official presentation.

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