For today's Early Doors, see yesterday's
have failed to sign another transfer target, with Karim Benzema about to sign
for Real Madrid.
United matched Real's £30 million
bid is frankly academic because, as Lyon's
club statement last night pointed out: "Madrid
was always his preference after Lyon."
And this morning, Franck Ribery has said that if he leaves Bayern Munich, it is: "Real Madrid or nothing."
it that one self-styled Biggest Club in the World consistently proves so much more
attractive than another self-styled Biggest Club in the World?
Let's start with financial considerations. Is it the 50
per cent tax rate for high earners in Britain?
Arshavin prompted this discussion when he demanded changes to his
£80,000-a-week contract based on "unpleasant surprises" in his deal with
Arsenal - namely that HM Revenue and Customs was siphoning off half his
He said: "I have a problem with my contract. Certain
nuances emerged linked to taxation and some other things. As a result, I'm getting less money than I expected."
Wenger said he thought it could cause problems for English clubs trying to attract
foreigners, but ED thinks that if Arshavin - who does not appear in any way
stupid - is prepared to put pen to paper before discussing net earnings, then taxation
is probably not high on the list of footballers'
And as long
as most agents get their 10 per cent paid into some shady account in the Cayman Islands, there seems very little incentive for
them to take night courses in accountancy.
case, exchange rate fluctuations have given English clubs a much larger
English club had wanted to pay a foreign player the equivalent of
€100,000-a-week in 2007, they would have had to shell out £66,000. Now that
figure is £86,000.
But as long
as there are clubs seemingly willing to pay Samuel Eto'o
a quarter of a million quid a week, ED is not going to take too seriously any
claims that English clubs cannot compete in the wage market.
It has also
been suggested that life in Spain
is a little cushier for the discerning player. Referees afford forwards more
protection, while training sessions are less rigorous.
It is true
that in the later 'Galactico' years, managerial discipline at Real became so
non-existent that training consisted of little more than a 20-minute jog
followed by a few beers round Ronaldo's
McManaman's book provides some particularly amusing insight into the lack of effort put in by
some of the biggest stars on the planet.
But even the
most bone-idle player would, when pushed, admit that winning things is better
than lazing about eating tapas all day.
And if that
means you have to spend as many as three hours a day at training? Well, you've still got all afternoon on the golf course.
footballers were only interested in money and exerting themselves to the
minimum possible extent, they would all be playing in the Middle-East.
And if weather,
girls and other environmental factors were as important as all that, the UEFA
Cup would probably not just have been won by a team from a dingy mining city in
thinks that footballers are children at heart (in fact some are just children),
and all they want to do is play for the team everybody has heard of.
The biggest, the most
famous, the most glamorous. The best.
Benzema's formative years, who were Europe's most
successful team? Real Madrid,
of course. When Real won their three most recent Champions Leagues, he was 10,
12 and 14.
Who wouldn't want to join the team that was winning it all
during those years?
ED might be
showing its age here, but it has gone through life assuming that the sky is up,
the ground is down, and Liverpool win
taken 15 years and 11 Premier League titles for Manchester United to shake that
assumption that Liverpool are English football's naturally dominant team.
ED expects the 'natural order' to be restored soon. As do most Liverpool
fans, which is precisely what makes them so annoying.
exactly the same delusion that means every young player wants to sign for Real
Madrid, whether he is going to get a game there or not.
- - -
Early in the Bosman years, there was a time when the free transfer market
provided some genuine excitement. Players whose contracts had run down were
available for nothing, presenting the tantalising prospect of a high-profile
fever reached its peak in 2001, the summer of Sol Campbell's sensational move from Tottenham to Arsenal.
clubs have got too savvy. They ensure that players'
contracts are not allowed to get into their last 12 months, and if there is any
danger of losing a player on a Bosman he is simply sold the previous summer,
Gareth Barry style.
years after Campbell's big move, he is once again among the best players
available on a Bosman - only now he is nearly 35 and clearly past his best.
mob of freebies is headlined, of course, by Michael Owen, who could be waiting
a while if he expects anyone better than Hull
or Stoke to express an interest.
Also on the
market are Lucas Neill, who wants £90,000-a-week, his fellow Aussie Mark
Viduka, problem driver Jermaine Pennant and Ross Turnbull.
- - -
QUOTE OF THE DAY: A Sports Illustrated expose on David Beckham's refusal to buy his LA Galaxy team-mates dinner: "When
it came to paying, Beckham didn't
pick up the bill. He put in enough to cover his share and passed it along. Nobody
would have believed it, he thought. Beckham is a cheapskate." Did he also
steal toothpicks from the table?
VIEW: In Colombia,
Atletico Junior coach Julio Comesana has received a five-game ban for using
abusive language against a referee, who has also been suspended.
The Uruguayan was sent off during the first
leg of Colombia's Apertura championship final last week. Comesana
went onto the pitch during the 2-1 defeat at Once Caldas and berated the
referee for allowing a goal he thought was offside.
The referee, Imer Machado, was banned from
officiating for five matches for his mistakes in the match, which included
allowing a goal scored from an offside position, the league's disciplinary commission said in a statement.
"The commission learned from the
referee's report that Julio Comesana
was sent off for using gross and insulting language against the referee and
after his dismissal he entered the field of play and abused him with vulgar
words and offensive terms about his person," it said.
COMING UP: Let's just pretend that it's
not going to be an all-Williams cakewalk in the Wimbledon
Oh, what's the point? They'll both be over within the hour.