Monday, 19 May 2008

Garay in, but who's out?

With the Bernabéu not yet cleaned of the many tons of confetti poured from the stands following Sunday night's celebrations, Real Madrid have been quick off the mark announcing a new signing. Ezequiel Garay, Racing de Santander's highly rated Argentine central defender, is set to join Real for a cool 10 million euros in cash. What is currently not clear is whether he will be joining the squad this season or the next; the reasons for this will probably become clearer as the summer progresses.

Real Madrid currently has a potential surfeit of players in the central defender role: Pepe, Metzelder, Cannavaro, Heinze (who also doubles up as left back) and Ramos when there's noone else. Buying a new, young player (Garay's 21) makes sense if you're thinking of easing out one of your veterans, or someone who's simply not working out. Of the five above, it looks like only Cannavaro and Metzelder fit the bill. The Ballon d'or and World Cup winning Italian captain has one more year left on his contract. Metzelder, on the other hand, has a further two years left to run on the contract he signed last summer, plus he's had a bad run of injuries this season which have prevented him from really showing whether he will fit into the squad.

So it looks like Real will either try to sell Cannavaro over the summer and try to recoup a portion of the 15 million euros spent on him, or else see out his contract and pick up Garay in 2009. For his part, Garay joined Racing de Santander for a measly 2 million euros in 2005 as a 19-year-old and has proved to be a regular starter for the Cantabrian club, scoring several goals per season. He has been capped once with the senior Argentina squad, in a friendly against Norway in August 2007.

Garay was the subject of transfer speculation earlier in the year, when clubs like Manchester United, Liverpool, Lyon and Tottenham reportedly interested in bidding for his services. It then looked like a done deal with Barcelona as Racing president Francisco Pernía claimed that "he would be really surprised" if Garay joined any other club over the summer. However, the 18 million euro price tag proved too rich for Barcelona and the deal collapsed. With Manchester United still in the hunt, it's somewhat surprising that Real have managed to close a deal for 10 million euros, although perhaps this has something to do with the fact that it's "cash in hand" rather than over several instalments.

The signing of Garay was recommended by both Pedja Mijatovic and Miguel Angel Portugal. Portugal has a much lower public profile than Mijatovic, but as much, or possibly even more influence at the club. He is also the former coach of Racing de Santander, which means he has first-hand knowledge of Garay's abilities. Jpx, calling Portugal's approach 'the art of silence', argues that it makes a refreshing change to see someone being signed for a reasonable price (given the market) and without all the speculation and fanfare that ussually accompanies these things. I couldn't agree more.


jpx said...

I think the answer will be Metzelder, but I'd rather choose Cannavaro.

Why? The age of Cannavaro and the close end of his profesional career may take him to Italy again (Maybe Napoli?). However, if any team is interested in Metzelder and offers a good deal...probably he will leave. a very great signing for us, I think. His left foot is really dangerous. A defense with him, Ramos, Pepe and really strong. We'll see what happens next year.

john said...

I'd choose Metzelder. Too slow for a pressing defense, which is what Schuster's after. The same could be said about Cannavaro, but his tenacity and positioning make up for his pace. He's solid, I like him, I hope he stays one more year while Garay continues to develop.

I'm wondering which of the two options would be better though - loan him back to Racing (where he gets more first team experience, and with a UEFA cup contender, none the less) or take him in and get him accostomed to Madrid's game, as a back up.

Overall, though, Garay and Pepe should make a fantastic combination - their speed will allow us to press more and threaten. I can't wait.

Gonzalo said...

Not knowing Garay well, I will defer to Miguel Angel Portugal (who knew him when he was coaching Racing). I have more faith in his abilities to spot a good young player than in Mijatovic's, plus we also seem to have got a reasonable price for him, considering what we paid for Pepe last summer.

On the Metzelder vs. Cannavaro issue, I am split: Cannavaro has his off days (who doesn't?) and Metzelder has not really had the time to show what he's capable of, so maybe the 'wait one year and see' is the best option unless we can get an excellent offer for either of them.

Linda said...

Garay is an excellent young player - what a deal for you guys. I'm a bit envious. :-)

Even if Garay is joining for 08-09 he won't be there for pre-season, though, as he will mostly likely be playing for Argentina at the Olympics.

john said...

According to Corey at the RM offside, Canna stays, Garay goes on loan and we're after Careces as depth should Metz go. This sounds just right to me. I'm telling you Gonzalo, I'm not dogging Metzelder's skills, I just think he's all wrong for the system Schuster's trying to employ. He'd be better off elsewhere, and sitting on the Madrid bench for another year won't increase his value (will it?).

Gonzalo said...

It now looks like Garay will be playing for Racing next season after all, so either the speculation about who leaves can stop, or perhaps John is right about Cáceres being the next in line.

On the subject of Metzelder, I'm not sure how he doesn't fit Schuster's scheme. He's good in the air - maybe not the speediest - but I would like to give him one season while fit before giving him the boot. But then again, maybe the technical staff know something we don't

realrock said...

i trust portugal. if perez had listened to him and given the youth system some funds when he was in charge we would have had c.ronaldo wid our club right now. the guy (portugal)himself said in an interview that we had a chance to snap up ronaldo nd messi as youngsters but no funds were given to the youth program.neways all d sites r saying dat garay is staying on loan wid racing for the next season.

Merengue said...

I'm quite happy with Garay staying one more year on loan with Racing where he'll get time to further develop. He's shown a great eye for goal for a defender but I think he needs to refine his defending ability and staying with Racing another season will help him do that, then in 2009-10 he cna come to Madrid and replace Cannavaro when he either retires or returns for a swansong to Italy.