18 June 2015

Real Madrid's rapaciousness is to Arsenal's advantage...again

While our attention has been occupied by the Petr Čech saga, there are doings a-transpiring further afield that could cause ripples far-more meaningful than what's happening a kilometres away. I'm speaking Real Madrid's insatiable quest for galácticos. Having finished behind Barça yet again, they've been heavily linked with David de Gea, Raheem Sterling, Paul Pogba, and Sergio Agüero, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them land at least two of those players for a combined sum of £80m, if not more. Now, even a club like Real Madrid has to at least pretend to abide by something resembling a facsimile of FFP. Much as they've in the past two summer, unloading Mesut Özil and Ángel di María, they might be forced to sell galácticos whose stars have apparently faded.

I've seen worse Photoshop jobs...
Of course, this is a week when the galácticos-concept took on a more-literal meaning when an actual galaxy was named after Cristiano Ronaldo. Whatever. More pertinently, Real Madrid's relentless pursuit of the next shiny bauble means that those whose play hasn't been quite up to Ronaldo's standard will be made expendable. With Real having already splurged £28m on Portuguese defender Danilo, pursuit of just one of the aforementioned four—de Gea, Sterling, Pogba, or Agüero—would push their outlay to £60m at a minimum. After several seasons of orgiastic spending, the club have shown some semblance of sanity last summer. If that pattern is to continue, any further transfers in will have to be matched, more or less, by transfers out.

Let's say that they sign just one. For our purposes, de Gea doesn't matter all that much. For Real Madrid to sign Sterling, Pogba, or Agüero, however, might set in motion a chain-reaction that matters far more. Each of them, after all, plays a position at which we have our own needs. If Real sign one of them, their most logical course of action (not that I'd ever accuse them of being logical...) would be to sell someone who plays a similar position. We might have to set aside any designs we have on a DM; Khedira's free transfer to Juventus suggests that Pogba would be a replacement there. Should Sterling follow Suarez to La Liga, would this make out-of-favor Gareth Bale available? That's almost too scandalous to be true! We could bring in Bale, give him Sol Campbell's #23, and bask in the schadenfreude (and hope he doesn't go on to run for political office later in life).

That scenario is unlikely. Bale was purchased for the astronomical fee of £82.7m and would likely command a similar fee on his way out. Maybe we could settle for Luka Modrić...

However, the player most likely to make way for any new signing might be Karim Benzema. Rumours around his apparently imminent departure have swirled for several seasons. While I'll make no secret of my own reservations around him, he's widely touted as a world-class striker (something I don't deny but do attach asterisks to). For what it's worth, he doesn't outclass Giroud for France, but his transfer fee would likely be four times larger than Giroud's was. For the £40m (and weekly wages, perhaps as high as £200k) Benzema would command, would we be getting the kind of seize-the-match-by-the-scruff striker we crave?