Real’s Rodriguez signing might be Galacticos part 2, but not a success

By Hilton Yip Source:Global Times Published: 2014-7-28 22:48:02

The biggest soccer signing last week was Real Madrid's capture of Colombian James Rodriguez for 63 million pounds ($107 million). It's a good reward for the 23-year-old who starred for his ­country and was the top scorer at the just-­concluded World Cup. But yet, I dislike it. Not because I have anything against Rodriguez, but because I think it's obscene when a rich star-laden team goes around spending enormous amounts of cash to buy yet more stars. 

Real Madrid, the defending European Champions League titleholders, are a fabulously wealthy club that, according to Forbes, is the most valuable sports club in the world. They already boast stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale who Real made the two most expensive players ever in soccer when it went out and bought them (Rodriguez is the fourth). In addition, they've got a bunch of other lesser stars too, such as Argentinian Angel di Maria, French striker Karim Benzema, German midfielder Sami Khedira and Spanish starlet Isco. And for good measure, right before Rodriguez, they went out and got another German star Toni Kroos.

When a team has so much talent, of course it can be exciting and attractive, especially for neutrals. But there is something that is lost in terms of competitiveness in the domestic league when big teams can buy their way to success by accumulating the best players. Spain's La Liga has seen two teams - Real and Barcelona - dominate the past decade, though Atletico Madrid disrupted this two-team hegemony last season by ­winning the league. Even so, they've lost their best striker and one of their main defenders, to Chelsea, another of those wealthy clubs that are always buying up good players.

Instead, more clubs should nurture their own talent and maintain a steady core. That might seem an idyllic stance, but the great Barcelona and Manchester United teams in the last decade and the late 1990s-early 2000s respectively were built on a solid homegrown core of ­players.

Unfortunately nowadays, you have cases like Southampton, a small club which had a good young team that finished eighth last season, but has had many of its players lured away by Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal.

However Real's latest moves may not pan out successfully. Adding more offensive players, no matter how talented, will create an imbalance that may ­weaken the team defensively. It will force changes in team tactics and formations and ­affect the playing time of various players. Real only have to look to the past decade to see that buying the best offensive talent does not necessarily work out.

Some people see Real's current collection of big-name players as the second coming of the Galacticos. The original Galacticos happened earlier last decade when Real brought together Brazil's Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo and David Beckham, arguably the best players and biggest names in the world at that time. Meanwhile Real already had Raul, Roberto Carlos and Iker Casillas. Yet the Galacticos won nothing with those four players in the three seasons they played together, coming up short in the domestic league, domestic cup, and European Champions League.

Real and its fans should hope that these modern-day Galacticos will fare much better though I wouldn't mind if they didn't.

The author is an editor with the Global Times.

Posted in: Extra Time

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