These are words that should never, ever be written, but it is possible to have some inkling of sympathy for Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez.
Actually, scrap that. Perez, with a rebellious Sergio Ramos on his hands, is merely suffering the kind of brusque treatment that he has inflicted on countless players in the past.
One of the strangest stories of the summer keeps on developing in Spain. The Sergio Ramos saga began as an apparent method of keeping up website hits, selling papers and filling the airwaves of Radio Marca for 24 hours.
The Madrid defender and de facto captain was thought to be angling for more money in contract talks with the club to extend a deal that was set to run out in 2017. The expected result was the signing of a new agreement in July and smiles and handshakes all round.
But then things started to get a little messy. The Ramos camp was aggrieved that there was supposed spinning from the club to friendly media sources – pretty much all of them – that the player was a bit of a money-grabbing mercenary. Indeed, there is suspicion that the claim from one of the candidates in the Barcelona presidential election that Sergio Ramos had been offered to them was the work of someone in the Santiago Bernabéu. These claims were strengthened by Real Madrid failing to officially deny the possibility outright.
A stormy meeting between Ramos and Real Madrid bigwigs ensued where the defender apparently demanded a move away from the Santiago Bernabéu before heading off on his holidays to the States. On Monday, a very credible source in the English press reported that Manchester United had made a bid of £28.6 million for the player.
Of the three Real Madrid figureheads in the camp, rebellion from Ramos was the least expected. Whilst Iker Casillas has had one foot out of the door for the past two seasons and Cristiano Ronaldo is always sniffing out his final European move, Ramos was the ever-present. He had been at the club since a move from Sevilla in 2005 for £20m; this was a keeper. The defender was also close to Perez, one of the few Spaniards signed by the current president during both of his tenures.
Although the 29-year-old is Andalusian through and through and will always be close to Sevilla, Ramos was Real’s on-pitch leader, tub-thumper and rabble rouser for the cause. He was the player who desperately hurled himself towards the ball in the 2014 Champions League final to keep Real Madrid in the clash against Atlético Madrid.
With supporters already unhappy at the loss of Carlo Ancelotti and the subsequent appointment of Rafa Benitez, the departure of Sergio Ramos would be a huge blow for the team. Whilst it is true that Ramos is not always the best defender in the world, and that a more solid, dependable replacement could be found, a Real Madrid without Sergio Ramos feels unthinkable, especially if Casillas was to depart too.
What Ramos brings to the pitch is dedication, energy, enthusiasm and incredible physicality. If ever there was a team assembled with the same footballer in all 11 positions on the pitch, Ramos would be the leading candidate. It is no wonder that former Real Madrid president Ramón Calderón referred to the player as ‘Tarzan’.
Somehow, it seems that this package, a player who still has a good five years left in its legs, can play across the backline and even midfield, is to be lost to the Premier League and Manchester United.
The sudden and arbitrary selling of star players is something that Florentino Pérez has specialised in over the years, from Arjen Robben to Angel di Maria. Now it seems that the Madrid president is set to be on the receiving end of some roughhouse treatment with one of the club’s figureheads on the brink of walking out. And only one man really knows why.