Monday, 28 January 2008

Cashing in on Cassano

Antonio Cassano, that troubled yet talented footballer, has found a new lease of life at Serie A outfit Sampdoria, exceeding all expectations to become a key component of a side battling for a Champions League spot. His goal against lowly Siena on Saturday put Sampdoria 6 points behind the 4th placed team in the Italian league and the Genoese side is now looking to make his loan from Real Madrid permanent at the end of the season. Even more surprisingly, Cassano's performances have not gone unnoticed by Italian national coach, Roberto Donadoni, who hinted he may "take him into consideration for the future".

This is more than Real Madrid could have hoped for. Cassano, with a history of falling out with both team-mates and managers at every club he's graced with his presence, was bought from AS Roma for 5.5 million euros in 2006, during the January transfer window. He's notched up a total of 19 appearances, scoring two goals, hardly justifying either his transfer fee, or his salary, reportedly worth about 4 million euros a year. Getting Sampdoria to take him off Real's hands and pay about 1/3 of his salary seemed little consolation in the summer, given that the spectre of having to "welcome" him back at the end of the season was too horrifying to contemplate.

Reports from Italy suggest Sampdoria are keen to get together with Real Madrid when the Spanish side visit Rome for their Champions League quarterfinal in February. The terms of the loan agreement state that the Italians will have an option to buy Cassano from Real Madrid for around 5 million euros, but that they are looking to negotiate that sum downwards. Frankly, if Real can get even half that for such a troublesome player, they should thank their lucky stars, because 6 months ago they would have had to pay people to take him away. As long as Antonio keeps his temper in check for another 6 months, it may even be possible to make something out of the deal.

There is a possibility, however remote it may seem now, that Cassano could grow up and demonstrate the talent he has always hinted at, a bit like Anelka (another wild child who seems to have finally decided to show us what he's capable of). Real Madrid, however, is not the place for him to do so. There were enough problems keeping egos (and highly inflated salaries) in check during the galáctico era. If he does mature and make a tidy profit for Sampdoria in the future, good luck to them both.

1 comment:

Kevin Fylan said...

I'm really pleased to hear about Cassano doing well, and as you say, it's good for Real Madrid as well. Cassano was a signing made in desperation and he never, ever looked like a Real Madrid player, even though he's clearly a talent. I just hope the desire to get a transfer fee for him doesn't ruin the chances of a deal and lead to him coming back next season. Real should be prepared to let him go on a free and thank their lucky stars.