Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Two remarkable things happened on Sunday 6th July at the Wimbledon 2008 Tennis Final. One was that Roger Federer’s vice-like grip at the All London Club came to a sudden and dramatic end when he was sensationally beaten by his longtime Spanish rival Rafael Nadal. And two, Real Madrid President, Ramón Calderón, was granted access to the dressing room immediately after the epic showdown where he is reported to have told the new champion that the deal to sign Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United was “done and dusted”. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the skewed business that defines the modern day football transfer market!

To many undiscerning souls, it may have sounded odd, or even absurd, why Calderón would divulge such intricate details to Nadal, a tennis superstar, of all the people. While it maybe unknown to many, Rafael Nadal has always had a deep-rooted relationship with Real Madrid. Over the last couple of years he has become a distinguished guest at the Santiago Bernabéu, especially during those special matches . Ramón Calderón on his part, has always made it his priority to voice support for anyone who hails from Madrid . His omnipresence at virtually all the Grand Slam Finals that Nadal has featured in recently is a strong testimony to this. So now you get the sense behind Calderón’s loud whisper in Nadal’s ear.

So much of the Calderón-Nadal bonding. Of course its an acknowledged fact that the Spanish giants have perfected the art of wooing big names from all over Europe; remember the infamous Galacticos? Recently, the club has had its sight set on Portuguese star winger Criastiano Ronaldo, and for good reason. Despite drawing lambasting reactions from Man United they don’t seem likely to relent any sooner. But then, that’s just business. Speaking of business, the only place where business seems to be running is in the transfer market, with all the big names in Europe shopping out for the best quality available.

Nowadays, no single transfer is complete without a little bit of some controversy. Claims, accusations and counter-accusations have become the norm during transfer negotiations. And this season more than ever, there seems to be a protracted war over whose transfer saga raises the thickest dust. It’s still unknown whether Cristiano Ronaldo’s ankle operation will have done enough to put off his overzealous suitors. The lull in the Ronaldo saga however is likely to be overshadowed by other equally intriguing transfer stories, a majority of them involving Premiership players.

Without sounding too cynical, it has to be said that the zaniest of all is the one surrounding Togolese striker, Emmanuel Adebayor, who for all his inglorious misfiring qualities has managed to raise so much rubble at Arsenal. Honestly, this fellow is nothing but a largely overrated underachiever, his 24 league goals haul last season not withstanding. For him to put so much pressure on the club to the extent of even making ridiculous demands is simply laughable.

Then of course, there is the story of Frank Lampard, who Inter Milan is delicately courting. Typically, Lamps has remained very calm, leaving it to the Inter emissaries to engage in all the talking with his London club which in the past has equivocally stated that they are keen to keep him. As for Alexander Hleb, his doublespeak has left little doubt in the minds of many that his time at the London club could be over. I have a feeling that Belarusian is eager to have a change of scene.

Ironically while some players have continued to draw flattering offers from far and wide, others like Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o have only drawn blank cheques. Rejected alongside Ronaldinho and Deco following Barcelona’s systematic decline, Eto’o has not attracted much attention in the transfer market, strangely so for a player of his stature. While it remains to be seen who is going to end up where, Club President, Chief Executives and Coaches will continue haggling, horse-trading and buccaneering in the intensely competitive transfer market.

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