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De Ligt deal
The transfer of Matthijs de Ligt to Juventus has justifiably created a lot of excitement in Italy and Europe in general. After all, when was the last time a young star moved to the Serie A when he was being chased by the big clubs of Spain, England, France, and maybe even Germany?
But, quite clearly, this is a compromise of a transfer. In fact, it is a type of transfer I usually make in Football Manager while managing a second or third-tier club. I “find” an exciting prospect in the top division in Brazil, Argentina, Portugal, or Holland and offer him a great wage packet. However, despite playing in the Premier League, albeit not fighting for the league title, the player wants to treat my club as a “stepping stone” and insists a release clause be inserted. Now, I can imagine this happening when I am managing Nottingham Forest and it’s just the first/second season back in the PL (circa 2014 Bernardo Silva and Stefano Sturaro, I am looking at you). But to do this to Juventus? De Ligt and Raiola have played a blinder here.
Sure, the 150-million-euro release clause only becomes active in 2022. But De Ligt will only be 21 (almost 22) in July 2022. Assuming nothing disastrous happens to him injury-wise in the next three years, 150 million will be a bargain for a world-class centre back. A 22-year-old centre back, let’s not forget.
De Ligt, clearly, wants to play for Barcelona or Real Madrid in his prime. But, he does not want to enter the cauldron that is the Barca-Real rivalry at such a young age. Smart, I think.
As a result, De Ligt’s transfer to Juve is a win for multiple parties:
1) Ajax get an insane amount of money. Sure, they would rather have him, but its great money nonetheless.
2) Juve get the hottest talent in world football for a reasonable amount of money (this vs Harry Maguire for 90 million pounds?)
3) Juve are as good as guaranteed that De Ligt will stay at least until the summer of 2022.
3) Juve will pocket 150m euros should De Ligt move in 2022. At the time, De Ligt’s book value will be in the region of 34m euros. So, the Italian club will make a profit of roughly 116m euros. Good business, that.
4) Also, by 2022, Barca and Real will know if De Ligt is the “real deal”, and the past 18 months have not been merely a biggish fish bossing it in a smallish pond. If they, or any other club, want him, 150m euros for a world-class 22-year-old centre back will be a bargain considering the annual inflation in transfer fees plus the premium youngsters command.
5) De Ligt and Raiola will ensure one of two things over the next four years. If Juve offer him an improved deal before the release clause is activated, the wage hike will have to be immense as Juve will quite likely want the clause to be raised substantially/removed altogether. If Juve don’t offer him an improved deal (although they could, as Ronaldo will most likely be off their books by 2022), De Ligt has the pick of the top European clubs, which means he gets a hefty wage hike and Raiola pockets a humongous fee.
6) Finally, by 2022, Real and Barca will be in a far better position financially to make such a deal.
Like I said, a win-win for those not even involved in the transfer. The only downside, sentimentally, I see is that De Ligt and Raiola have treated Juve, and the Serie A, as a stepping stone to bigger things. If Juve win the Champions League, which they so desperately want to, great. But the way this contract has been set up means De Ligt’s future path, assuming he stays healthy, has already been charted.
Also: why don’t Manchester United swap Paul Pogba for a few players from Real Madrid? A few which come to mind: young CB Jesus Vallejo, Dani Ceballos, and one of Isco or Asensio? Would this be a fair deal, considering Real want to get rid of these players too?
Siddharth (De Ligt can’t play at full-back).
Was pretty surprised to read that Young got booed when he came on the pitch? Why? What did the man ever do? He’s never disrespected the club. He’s played where and when he’s been asked to, and hasn’t thrown a fit when made to sit out.
Utterly butterly ridiculous (sorry. Stolen from the ads for Amul butter that were made when I was a kid)
Can someone please tell me why United are pissing about haggling over Harry Maguire for £70-£100 million when Toby Alderweireld is available for £25 mil?
The Empire Strikes Back
So one season where Premier League clubs dominate the CL and Europa Leagues, and what does La Liga do? Well how about spending £700m between the top 3 clubs with half the transfer window still left? So much for the Premier League spending its way to glory! Also, anybody remember La Masia and how it was set to dominate the talent supply for Barcelona? And I’m guessing the FFP boys at UEFA are going to have a mysteriously quiet season. Meanwhile, judging by the pre-season, Greenwood, Chong and Gomez look set to join Rashford, Lingard and McTominay for significant first team minutes this season at Old Trafford to continue an 80 year old academy tradition. Not bad for a commercially focused, cynical, corporate behemoth of a football club, eh?
Ved (calm down, it’s only pre-season) Sen
So in the vein of what makes a World Class player, and how many there are or one team can have, what about ‘wonderkids’?
While I know its really all about super-clicks, I am still stunned at how many wonderkids Liverpool have recently been associated. Given Liverpool and Klopp’s recent pronouncements on no major purchase* it looks like the media have gone into overdrive on wonderkids now.
We have French ‘wonderkid’ Bilel Hassaini, French ‘starlet’ Enzo Valentim, German ‘star’ Kai Havertz, Brazilian ‘starlet’ Reinier Jesus and not forgetting prospective ‘superstar’ Harvey Elliott. I know I’ve missed a bunch.
Seems to me that if you are 20 or under and your agent wants a higher profile, get a startet/wonderkid/superstar article linked to one of the top teams and job done. So what else does the player have to have done to get a tag like that. While a couple have scored a few goals and assists, a bit early to be thinking the next big thing, right?
* Of course, what he actual said was ‘this summer wouldn’t be the biggest spending spree’ which was a great bit of political mumbo-jumbo.
Just the ticket
Just a note on the LFC ticket situation, as it drew a lot of attention on Twitter with many fans voicing their disappointment. I wasn’t overly bothered at not getting tickets as I knew it would be almost impossible (50,000+ people queuing, sold out in 50 mins). What disappointed me most was the amount of people blaming fans like me (who are trying to buy tickets for the first time) for making it harder for ‘real fans’ and calling us ‘glory hunters’. I have been a fan my whole life; the reason I’m only just trying to go now is because my dad (Evertonian) wouldn’t take me as a kid (I’m still only 17) and now I want to take my grandad to a game as a massive thank you for all the things he does for me. Not because we just won a trophy. Even if you’ve got no excuse for never going before, nobody should be discouraged from trying to go to watch their team play. These ‘real fans’ don’t seem to realise that the people that get hold of tens or even hundreds of tickets and flog them online for 3x the price are a much bigger issue, not genuine fans who will keep their tickets and appreciate that they can go to a game. For a fan base that like to say they’re the best (personally, I don’t see how you can judge if some fans are better than others – we all support our clubs in some way, which is all we’re supposed to do), these fans are not doing a great job at even being half-decent. Do fans of other clubs have this sort of problem too?
I was of the opinion that Sarri should have stayed, but knowing what Chelsea are like, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see him sacked despite the league position and the Europa League. I think the Juventus offer was a blessing in disguise for the Chelsea board, they could replace a seemingly unwanted manager without having to sack him. I wish him the best of luck, and to the boo-boys at Stamford Bridge, don’t be surprised to see Juventus become a stylish steamroller in both Italy and Europe.
Lampard, of course, is an unknown entity. I bloody love the guy for everything he’s done, but no one knows whether he’s gonna be the new managerial Zidane or G. Neville. What can be said though, is that he’s likeable, a bit of a clever cogs by footballers’ standards, and he played under almost every manager under the sun, so presumably he has some ideas on how to manage a team. He was also a player whose success was based on footballing intelligence and working on his game. He wasn’t a naturally gifted footballer, but played to his strengths and worked on his weaknesses, and I believe this ethic will rub off on the famous loan army. Hopefully we’ll see some big improvements in the midfield areas. Just think what he could do with a technically gifted but otherwise sterile Kovacic!
I’m often asked what would constitute a good season under Frank, and without wanting to sound like Johnny Nic, a good season for me would be not to get relegated and have a fun run in the cups, particularly the champions league. It’s true, expectations lead to disappointment. But you also have to be realistic, and according to the league table, Chelsea are the third best. So given there’s no more Eden (sob), I think top six seems fair. As long as I’m not bored when I’m watching, as I sometimes was during the lowest points on the Sarri season, I’ll be happy. Bring on the (meaningless unless you’re in it) UEFA super cup! Up the chels!
Juanito (Hazard will absolutely destroy La Liga. Cheeky bet on him being pichichi)
Stop the pretense
While on pretensions…
I’m going to file Alex Keble’s piece on Pretending Arsenal and United Are Shambolic under ‘interesting’. And while I’m about it, here are some more things we should stop pretending.
Let’s stop pretending that human rights matter because of course, it’s fine for Man City owners to fund the club, the jersey, the stadium, and it’s aquariums while we remain wilfully ignorant to their treatment of people.
Or for that matter, let’s stop pretending that we care who owns clubs or what their provenance is as long as they come with bottomless pockets.
Let’s stop pretending that clubs like Chelsea might be considered Shambolic because of course having hundreds of young players farmed out on loan and with stalling careers is fine as long as you throw enough money at the next Hazard.
Let’s stop pretending that all other clubs from Everton to Bournemouth are anything but shambolic because look! They make losses, and they don’t win anything either! Losers!
Let’s stop pretending that we want clubs to pay off their loans and be financially independent (because that’s how leveraged buyouts work!).
Let’s stop pretending that it would be any any way difficult for Arsenal to somehow replace Wenger and miraculously spend their way to the top of the league.
And finally, let’s stop pretending that we are all somehow above commerce and money making as we debate on this great website that is owned by BSkyB / Comcast who are also a profit focused business, the last time I checked!
Ved Sen, MUFC.
On Friday night I dodged the rain and went to the City Ground to see Nottingham Forest take on Crystal Palace in a preseason friendly.
*Both teams put out fairly strong teams, as far as I could tell. For the hosts, this was a chance to impress new manager Sabri Lamouchi who, I’m reliably informed by the matchday programme, played for Auxerre against Forest in 1994. As you might expect, they mixed players who played regularly at the end of last season with their new signings.
For the Eagles, this was a very familiar lineup. It wasn’t quite full-strength – I’d suggest the best XI would have four changes, as this side featured none of Vicente Guaita, Mamadou Sakho, James Tomkins or Wilfried Zaha – but it was a decent team. They lined up in 4-5-1 with Christian Benteke up front and Jeffrey Schlupp as the most advanced of the central midfielders. Yes, really.
*Forest dominated the early exchanges, but eventually Palace were able to get a foothold and looked assured in possession, though neither side created many clear cut chances. That changed on 31 minutes, when the home side sent a cross in from the right, and the header that met it produced a good save from Wayne Hennessey. Unfortunately, he palmed it straight in to the path of Adomah, who slotted home for a lead that, on balance, was probably deserved. Palace responded strongly; Arijanet Muric denied Benteke before the Belgian striker was hauled down en route to goal. Luka Milivojevic bent his free kick round the wall, but unfortunately, he also bent it round the post. As that was virtually the last kick of the half, the teams went into the sheds with the score Nottingham Forest 1-0 Crystal Palace.
*The second half was almost all Palace. They came out like a team on a mission and dominated possession and chances – albeit that Tiago Silva hit the post with an otherwise superb free kick for the hosts. Benteke had a header saved and then Andros Townsend had Muric at full strength to keep out a shot from outside the box – a great attempt and an even better save. Another corner saw the ball cleared off the line twice before Milivojevic put the ball narrowly over. James McArthur was put in the clear only to see his shot beat the keeper and bounce away off the post. Most amusingly, Townsend saw the ball dropping out of the sky and lined up a spectacular volley, only to miss completely and pirouette.
*Ultimately, as a Palace fan, this was a disappointing result for a friendly, but not a disappointing performance. Nottingham Forest have long been a curious side, capable of turning on the style against the biggest sides and stumbling against the bad ones – last season they took points off all three sides promoted to the Premier League, but dropped points against Ipswich and Rotherham. In Albert Adomah and Joe Lolley, they have two very exciting players capable of terrorising any defence. Sammy Ameobi looked good when he came on as well, as did Matty Cash, who started at right-back.
For the Eagles, though, some familiar problems reared their heads. Last season’s big tactical issue was whether to play Michy Batshuayi, for whom you had to work the ball into the box for him, or Benteke, who would do all the hold-up play but lacked the mobility to get into another phase of the attack. The way Benteke plays, he needs a clinical finisher with him to feed off his knock-downs. Palace didn’t have that, they had Schlupp who, for all his industry, is not a prolific scorer. There can’t be many teams who play friendlies but don’t make any substitutions at all, but that’s exactly what Roy Hodgson did on Friday. With this as an example, bringing on academy product James Daly would have posed a different problem to an inexperienced Joe Worrall or an ageing Michael Dawson.
*Even though it was only a friendly, being in the away end was fun. Everyone should try it.