25 June 2013

Tell Higuain that Juventus was raided by Italian police

According to a story in The Independent, Italian police have raided the offices of 41 football clubs in Italy, including 18 from Serie A such as Juventus, AC Milan, Inter, Lazio, Napoli, and Udinese, the top six finishers this past season and the entire cabal of qualifiers for European competions next year. The warrants "list conspiracy and money laundering, as well as international tax evasion and false invoicing" and allege that "clubs have evaded tax payments by listing bogus costs connected to non-existent players' contract negotiations". Player contracts were among the documents seized. The full story is here (although I've pretty well covered by this point).

If that doesn't tip the scales further in our favor, I don't know what else will. A few hours ago, Juventus could rightly point out to la Pipita that they are the champions of Serie A and can offer the very likely prospect of repeating next year. I don't know how long the investigation will drag out, what if anything Juventus might be found guilty of, and what sanctions would come down, but the last time this kind of stuff happened in 2011-12, teams had points deducted for the following season, had to pay fines, some were relegated to lower tiers, and players were banned for up to five years.

Whatever doubts Higuain may have had about where to go should all but disappear. Between this and the naming of Carlo Ancelotti as Real Madrid's manager, I'd say our chances of finally getting Higuain to sign have spiked dramatically. Transfermrkt, to whom I turn for odds, has him at a 72% chance of signing for Arsenal and 47% for Juventus. Not enough? Go to betvictor, the only salon still fielding bets for Higuain anywhere, and of you bet  £10 on him signing with Arsenal, you'll get  £10.50. Bet on him going to Juventus, and you'll win  £90. In other words, it's nearly nine times more likely, according to betvictor, that Higuain will sign with Arsenal.

When will Higuain sign?

In a previous post, 52% of voters suggested that Higuain's signature would be announced by June 28th. I've re-added the poll here for those curious to cast a ballot in the wake of the Serie A scandal. Juve may still be able to talk of scudetto, but we can simply whisper "scandal". Yes, everyone should be presumed innocent until proven guilty, but it's awfully hard to swim in water without getting wet. 41 clubs have been targeted. This isn't a few bad apples playing fast and loose; it appears systemic. Those famed black-and-white kits of the bianconeri might earn a new nickname--maybe the carcerato, or "inmate". I don't mean to suggest that any Juve players are actually involved; more likely, they're unwitting pawns in a larger game.

Far be it from me to wish ill on a competitor, but actions have consequences. If it turns out that Juventus or other clubs in Italy have actually done what they're alleged to have done, the contrast between that kind of financial skulduggery and our history of financial prudery (so prude as to enrage factions of our own fan-base) could not be more striking. I was going to make a pun on "striking" but just couldn't bring myself to it.

Long story short, Gonzalo, you know what to do.