Once you look past the brilliance of Calderon’s appointment of Capello as Real Madrid manager, you realise that this summer could very well be all about Madrid as they would look to reshuffle the squad (you don’t ‘reshuffle’ Madrid without big money being involved).
Think Chelsea were spending a lot of money? Wait for Capello to get started.
Calderon’s primary targets – Kaka, Fabregas and Robben – point to a new galacticos experiment, albeit one that focuses on youth more than on established stars. It’s a slight shift in strategy but is a welcome change from the confusion that reigned in the past couple of years. Madrid will be Madrid, and they must play to their strengths. Their history (and star power) will always attract money, fame and the best players – and in Capello, they have the perfect manager to make it happen.
So the big question now is (since Chelsea has bought who they wanted to buy, and Manchester United can’t seem to buy anyone) – who will Capello buy?
Real Madrid Summer Targets
Kaka – According to Calderon, Kaka is their primary target and a direct replacement for Zidane. His signing will be Capello’s major priority, although Kaka has recently signed a new contract and is expected to stay at Milan for a long time. Could be Madrid’s answer to Barca’s dominance, and if he comes, Madrid may well win the league.
Robben – I wrote earlier that Robben would not join Chelsea unless Madrid restart the galactico project. They’ve done exactly that, and the only thing stopping Robben now would be a stubborn Chelsea. Madrid could soften the blow by sending Roberto Carlos the other way, and Robben’s loss can be compensated with SWP getting more games.
Chelsea’s indignance at Calderon having contacted Robben was put into perspective by Calderon himself when he stated that 1) he talked to Robben / Robben’s agent before he became Real Madrid’s president (in which case Chelsea’s complaint looks silly and pointless) and 2) Abramovich gave them permission to talk to Robben. Regardless of the veracity of the second point, the fact that Calderon had “just held conversations” with Robben will mean that if anyone is guilty of wrongdoing, that is Robben.
Robben for Roberto Carlos could be the summer swap that keeps Chelsea happy.
Fabregas – Yes, he’s a Barcelona supporter and season ticket-holder (and would rather lick toilets than play at Madrid, according to Dixon), but Barca are unlikely to want him back just now. Arsenal want to hold on to Fabregas and Capello has many other midfield options open for him.
Chances are Fabregas will stay.
Ruud van Nistelrooy – Ronaldo is due for a knee operation, and has stated several times that he’s not happy at Madrid (because the fans don’t love him). He could be on his way out, which leaves Madrid with Raul, Robinho and Cassano. Madrid are rumoured to want Nistelrooy (because he still has a few years at the top and would come at a cheap price), and Ruud would definitely head over because of Beckham and the chance to rebuild his career.
However, United may want to swap Ruud for Hargreaves, in which case he might not come (just as Ronaldo might not leave Madrid).
Cristiano Ronaldo – United do not want to lose two of their players to the same club, Ronaldo and Ruud dont get along and Real have Beckham. Three reasons why Ronaldo may not go to Real Madrid. If Robben doesn’t go then it’s definitely a possibility though, as Ronaldo can play on the left as well.
Diarra – Lyon have been waiting for the Madrid elections to finish so that they could allow Real to bid for their prized asset. They don’t want him to go, but they also know that Madrid will pay the 20-25 million asked for him (United were reportedly stuck at 20-21 million). Madrid need an enforcer, a box-to-box midfielder and Diarra fits the bill.
Patrick Vieira – Surprised? Capello is responsible for Vieira’s resurgence at Juventus, and he could still bring the former Arsenal midfielder to Madrid. He’s old, but will give Madrid the stability and experience they need. A very likely buy.
Fabio Cannavaro – Madrid need a top-class defender, Cannavaro has been the best, Juventus is going down and Capello has managed Cannavaro for two years. Possible? Likely.
Ashley Cole – If Roberto Carlos is on his way out (presumably on a swap deal for Robben with Chelsea), Madrid will go for either Lahm or Ashley Cole. Lahm is better at going forward, while Cole is the better defender. My money’s on Cole, because he would allow the left winger (Robben / Ronaldo / whoever) to be as attacking as they want to.
Joaquin – He has been liked with Madrid in the past and rumoured to want to move there. It all depends on Capello.
With Vieira and Cannavaro, it could be that Madrid are bringing in older players instead of their ‘young galacticos’ revolution. The young players will come though, one by one. Who will be first? Possibly Robben, although we’ll know more by next week when Capello has started talking to the clubs.
Watch this space.