Thursday, 14 August 2008

Bye Bye Brazil, Hello Holland

Real Madrid's love affair with Brazilian footballers seems to be slowly coming to an end. At its height, back in Florentino Pérez's last season as club president, the squad boasted five Brazilians in its ranks: Roberto Carlos, Cicinho, Baptista, Robinho and Ronaldo. As of today, with the sale of Julio Baptista to Roma for €12 million, this number now stands at two: Robinho and Marcelo. If you listen to the sports press, and Robinho does end up in Phil Scolari's Chelsea, it could soon be just one.

There could be two factors at play in this changing trend: the most plausible one is that, Marcelo aside, all of the other Brazilian players were signed before Ramón Calderón's ascent to power at Real Madrid. And, apart from Roberto Carlos, they were all signed in Florentino Pérez's era. Calderón has not bothered to hide his dislike for his previous boss and has even gone so far as to accuse him of meddling in the affairs of the club following his resignation. He may be thinking of putting his own stamp on the squad by getting rid of those who arrived under Florentino. The second possible factor is the growing perception at Real Madrid of Brazilians as "problematic". In other words, a fondness for the party life and complaints when not selected in the starting 11.

It is no secret that Robinho is unsettled at the club. Marca goes so far as to suggest that he has told Calderón in person that he wants to leave, although the president has so far refused to entertain any offers from Chelsea. This contrasts interestingly with some of his statements during the Cristiano Ronaldo saga to the effect that he would never keep anyone at the club who was unhappy there.

The focus at the club, quite possibly heavily influenced by Bernd Schuster, has now shifted towards players perceived to be more solid, more reliable. This has resulted in an unprecedented number of Dutch players being signed. Van Nistelrooy was signed in 2006 (under Capello), followed by Robben, Sneijder and Drenthe last summer. The recent addition of Van der Vaart to the squad brings the total number up to five. The only nationality with a larger representation is, obviously, Spanish.

The Dutchmen have all, so far, integrated well at the club, and there are no obvious cliques being formed. Without generalising about national traits (a futile exercise, in any case), there is a feeling that these signings are contributing to building a more compact, resilient squad. More of a team than a bunch of talented individuals, in other words. And that can only be a good thing in the long run.


estoverao said...

I definitely agree with you that Calderon has it in for anyone that can be traced back to F.Perez. Remember last year when Ramos was complaining about lack of support, I don't think thats a coincidence since Perez brought in Ramos & Robinho as his banner youth players to develop into superstars. Ramos, being Spanish, has the press on his side and can get away with being a reminder of Perez's eye for talent. Robinho on the other hand, as an out of favor 'brasilero' doesn't have that luxury and will probably be on his way out to he premiership and Chelsea even though, as the readers of your blog decided, he was Madrid's best player last year. As far as the influx of dutch players I think Van De Vaart, Robben and Sneijder are enough, get rid of the rest of them including Ruud. Under Calderon they keep saying they are bringing in less individualistic players and more team minded players(just propaganda bullsh*t to cover for a boring team with two old tired extremely slow strikers as the stars, ask Calderon why he wanted to spend so much money on the most selfish egocentric player on the planet if he is focused so much on "team players"). Madrid is becoming more and more pedestrian and boring. I love Madrid because it is supposed to be the side which plays the best free flowing QUALITY 'futbol'. I'll make a prediction, if Robinho goes, you can forget about 'la decima' this year because Madrid has no other gamebreaker or 'rompe esquemas' on the team.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. What you've said does seem to be true. But I dont think Calderon will let Robinho leave as long as Schuster intervenes. It would only create him a problem if he does so. My opinion is that Robinho must be kept no matter what happens.

And, about the Dutch colony, well I am just happy. They are the best set of youngsters that we can possibly get. If only we can add to it by getting Huntelaar. :)


You say you want free flowing football. You say that we are preventing that by going for C.Ronaldo but in your blog you make him one of the top 4 flowing players from last season. And about Ronaldo not being a team player, well, that was ages ago. Not now for sure. He makes quite a few assists compared to the number of goals he scores every time he plays. Have I misunderstood something here?

Anonymous said...

Calderón so far has contradicted himself publicly in numerous occasions. It would be too boring to go through the CR7 saga but loads of contradictions there, he has promised to 'Spanishfy' the team and has only signed foreigners. The only way the supporters would sanction the sale of Robinho would be if he brought in Villa (probably too conflictive with Raúl), The general feeling was against the purchase of Ronaldo at such an extortionate price and to lose Robinho as a result of such mismanagement would be suicidal for Calderón and Mr hair gel.

estoverao said...

realmadrid200708, I agree that Schuster and his teammates(especially the youngsters-Ramos,Casillas,Gago,Sneijder,Higuain,Marcelo etc.) are what may keep him in Madrid if Calderon and Pedja decide to pay him the money he deserves.

About C.Ronaldo, I definitely think he was the best player on the planet last year even if his clutch performance in big games wasn't that great and his national team performances for Portugal have been pretty terrible recently. C.Ronaldo would definitely help with the flowing soccer on Madrid. But greatness always has a price, the same attitude that makes C.Ronaldo and even Robinho pains in the @ss off the pitch, make them gods with a soccer ball at their feet. Unless you want boring soccer, you will have to put up with egocentric individualistic players. If you don't think youre the best, then you definitely never will be.

Anonymous said...

estoverao, yeah, we want to see flowing soccer and we want Ronaldo. But I don't think this is the right time. All I want now as a Madridista is that we try and keep Robinho by paying him not a penny more than what he deserves and by getting a good striker now that the beast has also left.

Gonzalo said...


on egocentric, individualistic players I have but one word for you: Zidane ;)