23 June 2014

Falcao to Real Madrid= Benzema to Arsenal?

As the rumor-mill turns, we now have reports that current Colombian and former Atleti star Falcao may ditch his Monaco digs to return to Madrid, this time as yet another galáctico because, after all, Real Madrid suffered an ignominious and inglorious campaign, having to endure La Decima while finishing third in La Liga while scoring only 104 goals. Why, that's hardly a campaign befitting a club as bedecked with baubles and cubic zirconia as is Real Madrid. What's this world coming to when you can't simply go out and buy trophies but have to, you know vie for them? Not content, apparently, with having Ronaldo and Bale, it seems like Florentino Perez is not sated and must have a new plaything. Enter stage-right one Radamel Falcao. Should he return to Madrid, this might render Karim Benzema superfluous to Real Madrid's needs. Just as Bale's transfer paved the way for Özil to come to Arsenal, might Falcao's tranfer do the same for Benzema?

According to beIN sports,, Falcao has "agreed personal terms" with Real Madrid, and his super-agent Jorge Mendes also represents other madridistas such as Fábio Coentrão, Pepe, Ángel Di María, and Cristiano Ronaldo, so the tea-leaves are highly suggestive. Falcao would likely cost Real upwards of £60m, not that they'd bat an eye at such a fee after having paid close to £100m for Bale. Still, appearances must be kept up, and, as such, the sale of other players might become necessary. Sure, purchasing one player at x and selling another at ½(x) might add up to some fuzzy math, but who's UEFA to quibble over such sums? It's not as if an ostensibly rigorous series of financial sanctions meant to ensure some kind of, um, financial fair play was recently implemented.

Still, I'm not here to lament the profligacy of the likes of Real Madrid. I will say that it's a bit pathetic to perhaps go on a buying spree when one's chief rivals seem to be crumbling to OzyMessian dust. I could care less what happens over there. Instead, I'd rather contemplate what that kind of financial recklessness, and the flimsy fig-leaf attempts at covering it, might mean for us over here. At some level, Real have to at least pretend to balance the books, and bringing in a center-forward like Falcao might push Benzema out the door. In the past, I've resisted the urge to pursue Benzema, worrying that competition with Giroud for both club and country might explode and that Benzema is a bit of a pill in the locker-room and on the pitch.

However, France's exploits thus far in the World Cup suggest that there is room for both Benzema and Giroud in a squad. Now, it's just the one match against Switzerland that we can consider, but Benzema and Giroud were like peas 'n carrots there as France steamrolled the Swiss en route to a 5-2 rout. Could they maintain the same kind of bonhomie when the going gets a bit rougher? We'll see as France progresses to the next round to face Argentina, Nigeria, or Iran (depending on Tuesday's results). It's tantalizing to think of how well Benzema and Giroud partnered against Switzerland and to see that as a template for how well they might play together for Arsenal. Giroud's shown a willingness to share the load and to take turns, and even Benzema, for all of his apparent petulance, platooned with Higuain a season ago, has deferred year after year to Ronaldo, and has to the do the same with Bale. All of this suggests that Benzema could rotate with and play alongside Giroud—although the latter would all but require us to switch to a 4-4-2, something Arsène has only seen fit to do in times of extraordinary need.

Still, he's French. His market-value has dipped a bit, if only slightly, and it's possible he could be had for something in the £30m range. That's a right bargain for a classy striker, what with Costa and Falcao and others commanding twice that. The question then becomes, would Benzema be a discounted, bargain buy, or would he be the "world-class" striker we really need?

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