Friday, 24 August 2007

How not to build a new squad

With the arrival of Heinze (12 million euros) and Robben (36 million euros) from Manchester United and Chelsea respectively, Real Madrid have taken their summer transfer spending spree to a staggering 119 million euros. This, just on five signings (Pepe, Drenthe, Sneijder, Robben, Heinze). A further three (Saviola, Metzelder, Dudek) came 'for free', or at least for no transfer fee. Add to these the two returning from loan (Soldado, Baptista) and you find yourself with an almost brand new starting eleven (and almost all positions on the pitch would be covered, too).

A strange strategy for a club that has just won the league championship, you might think. Well, you would not be alone, but this is Real Madrid and normal rules never apply here. If you take as a given that the club needed an infusion of fresh talent and a change in playing style, then there are still several issues which suggest the whole thing just has not been planned at all:

  • Replacing the manager took far too long; consequently the club was late getting the transfer strategy under way. The signings have come so late they have not had time, for the most part, to integrate into the squad. The manager has not yet instilled a recognisable style of play either.
  • Paying well over the odds for an unknown central defender, thus signalling to all and sundry that Real Madrid was in the market to get fleeced. Even if Pepe turns out to be the next Paolo Maldini, the damage was done, hence the ridiculous sums of money that have been spent this summer.
  • No clear direction in the signings. The left side certainly needed reinforcing, but they then went and signed three left-footed players (Heinze, Drenthe, Robben) and got rid of a young right back (Cicinho), leaving that position half-covered (Salgado should probably have gone and Ramos is better in the centre).

Neither Robben nor Heinze will play in tomorrow's league opener against Atlético. Torres and Higuaín are still injured, and Cannavaro picked up a knock in training. It looks like Casillas might be fit in time to see whether Reyes makes good on his promise to score against Real.

2 comments:

linda said...

I was astonished in particular about Robben ('they paid how much?') and Heinze (who was being offered to clubs around Europe for around 10 million). To be honest, though, they are very good players, and after the team beds in properly it might all work out quite well. It's just amazing the amounts that Real are willing to pay, that's all.

Gonzalo said...

Linda,

It's a staggering amount of money for someone (Robben) who spent most of last season on the sidelines. His class is not in dispute (although there are questions over his temperament). I just hope he doesn't turn into another Woodgate (who, incredibly, was let go just as he was getting back into form, so we could spend 30 million on an unknown).

Heinze is good, but I think his heart was in Liverpool, not Madrid, so we'll see how well he adapts.