by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (August 12th 2013)
Is there any industry other than football where contracts are so worthless? A crazy off-season is set to get worse. Uruguay’s Edinson Cavani had a poor Confederations’ Cup, but his transfer set the tone. Courted by Real Madrid and seeming to be headed to the Spanish capital Cavani let others do his talking for him. It was no secret that he would leave Napoli, but Cavani offers an important lesson for his compatriot Luís Suárez.
Napoli’s most sought after player had a huge price tag placed on him, but had suitors aplenty. Eventually, backed by Qatari money PSG won the race for his signature. A cool £55m in the coffers saw the Uruguayan striker leave his beloved Naples for Paris. But Cavani’s departure had unforeseen consequences.
Rafa Benítez Maudes took over at Napoli and now had money to spend, so Arsenal saw their first major target of the season Gonazalo Higuaín slip through their fingers, even though a price had been agreed along with personal terms. New Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti talked Higuaín up, claiming that he wanted the Argentine striker to stay, but money talked.
According to some reports Arséne Wenger delayed closing the deal at a bargain price in order to pursue a cheeky bid for Suárez, but Liverpool did not want to sell their talisman. Meanwhile, Cavani’s departure and that of another South American striker, Colombia’s premier forward Radamel Falcao to Monaco for €60m inflated the market value. Real Madrid’s President Florentino Pérez Rodríguez decided that Argentina’s centre forward was worth a few million more. It worked. £23m turned to almost £32m as Napoli and not Arsenal got their man.
Falcao’s move is interesting. The former Atlético de Madrid striker moved to France two months ago, yet efforts to unsettle him and Monaco are already in overdrive. First he was forced to prove that he was not in fact two years older than he claimed and now the tax situation in France has put other clubs on notice that he may be open to another move. Falcao has rubbished the claims as has his manager Claudio Ranieri, but these transfers have inflated prices.
Both Cavani and Falcao got their moves without souring relations with their previous employers. Higuaín probably had to go as he had made it clear that he wanted to leave. Despite that the Argentine did nothing to force an exit and remained popular with his former club’s fans. The relationship was not the love-affair it had once been, but the process was was positively pleasant compared to the shenanigans at Anfield.
Liverpool’s owner John Henry made it clear that Suárez was not for sale. There’s no doubting the Uruguayan’s talent on the pitch, but a litany of other offences seem to be ignored. His agent Pere Guardiola, brother of Barçelona legend and current Bayern München coach, Pep, appears to have made a complete hash of Suárez’ exit plan.
A clause that the Uruguayan thought was a release clause, turned out not to be worth the paper it was written on. Liverpool were obliged to inform the player of any bid from a club in the Champion’s League over £40m. Arsenal cheekily bid a pound more than that to trigger the clause. Suárez believed that he had to be sold for that price. Liverpool stood firm and told him he was wrong. The Professional Footballers’ Association was called in, but could not fault Liverpool’s interpretation.
Suárez was banished by manager Brendon Rodgers. Ordered to train on his own as Rodgers demanded an apology to his players and the club, Suárez had few options. Rediscovering his love of Liverpool’s fans who had stood by him through thick and thin, Suárez announced that he would stay. He should perhaps have spoken to former Valencia striker Roberto Soldado before launching his ill-judged escape attempt.
Valencia had announced that every player was available for sale apart from Soldado. Los Ches’ star-strriker, who was born in the historic city – a former capital of Spain in its glory days – stayed silent, but he wanted a move. Their prize asset and captain hankered after a move.
He had carried the last La Liga winners to break the duopoly on his shoulders for too long, but not even his prolific scoring could give Valencia Champion’s League football. Los Ches missed out by a point and it resulted in an exodus that included its prize asset.
Triggering a Buy-out Clause
Tottenham Hotspur were interested in signing Soldado. Valencia said that they did not want to sell, but that he could go only if his buy-out clause was met in full. Spurs triggered the buy-out clause and Soldado left for North-London, launching a parting shot at his former employers as he left. He no longer trusted them and did not believe in the project any more. There was nothing Valencia could do as Soldado – Spurs’ record signing – settled in quickly, or so it seemed.
Meanwhile, Suárez is left to rue his own clause that proved not to be worth the paper it was written on and claim that he decided to stay because of the love shown to him by Liverpool fans. “I love playing football in England,” he told us exclusively at the Confederations’ Cup. “I can remember all the times in Liverpool. I am very happy there. I always say thanks for the fans from Liverpool because they are in my heart.”