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Rants & Raves – Soccer in Summer 2009

Since we’re in the thick of soccer’s transfer season, it’s time for me to kick off a section I’ll be calling Rants & Raves.

Rants

Why does Javier Pastore have to be “the Argentine Kaka”? Can’t we just say he’s a really good playmaking midfielder who carried Huracan to a title run despite being only 20 years old? I’ve watched his highlights and he’s good, but there are many average players out there that have great highlight reels. Kaka is one of the top 5 players in the world, let’s not give this kid a crown just yet.

I really don’t understand why teams sell their best players to rivals within their own leagues. Not only do you weaken yourself, but you beef up your biggest competition. I understand that it can make sense financially, but you’ve still got to replace that player. For example, Arsenal sold Emmanuel Adebayor to Man City and now might sell Kolo Toure to them as well. I understand that Adebayor might be a bit of a headcase and they made great money selling him, but why not sell him to a Spanish or Italian team instead, just in case it comes back to haunt them. Don’t get me started on the Toure sale. So, in short, they’ve just given up their top scorer over the last 2 years and now potentially their number 1 defender – to a main rival for the Champions League. Wow.

I don’t think there has ever been a better example of why UEFA needs to impose some sort of financial restrictions on teams that want to compete in the Champions League or the Europa League (that still sounds strange). I don’t care if it’s a salary cap, a transfer fee cap, a 6+5 rule or a luxury tax. How can Real Madrid spend more money (180M pounds) so far this transfer period than some teams have spent in the last 5 years? With that kind of spending differential, the smaller clubs have no shot. While it’s great if you’re a Real Madrid fan, how is that fair to the fans of Real Zaragoza or Espanyol? The playing field isn’t level, so why pretend it is. It’s the same issue that exists in MLB. The NFL, NBA and NHL have figured it out and their leagues are more competitive.

Why hasn’t anyone put up the cash for Klaas-Jan Huntelaar or Rafael Van Der Vaart from Madrid? Both of these players were considered world-class players when Los Merengues signed them. Suddenly, no one wants them despite their level of play being good enough to finish 2nd in La Liga last year. If I was a manager at a mid to top level club, I’d be drooling over those 2 like a trucker over a plate of cheese fries.

Question: Is there a team stupid enough to have paid the 3 highest transfer fees in their league so far this summer and all of them be at the same position? Absolutely. Welcome to Manchester City. They have purchased Tevez, Adebayor and Santa Cruz to add to their forward stable of Robinho, Bellamy, Benjani and Bojinov. Not sure what kind of formation they’re shooting for, but I look forward to seeing Stephen Ireland and Shaun Wright-Philips playing as holding mids.

Finally, I have a rant that might not matter to most, but frustrates me to no end. Hertha Berlin narrowly missed a Champions League spot last year on the final day of the Bundesliga season. They relied on a very stout defence (2nd fewest goals allowed) and some timely goals from Andriy Voronin, Marko Pantelic and Raffael. Unfortunately, they let their best defender, Joe Simunic, sign with Hoffenheim, saw Voronin return to Liverpool and Pantelic (45 g in 114 appearances with Hertha) is still a free agent after falling out of favor with coach Lucien Favre. Without a single significant signing, I see Hertha falling hard this season.

Raves

As much as I hate to say it, Juventus has done the best job of any Champions League bound club in the transfer market this summer. I don’t include Real Madrid due to the insane amount of money it took. Juve haven’t lost anyone important, but they’ve added two top-notch players in Diego and Felipe Melo. That’s how you build a team that wins the Scudetto and challenges for the Champions League. They keep the team together to ensure chemistry and teamwork but add a few outstanding pieces to put them over the top.

Let’s all raise a glass and toast the departure of Emerson from the San Siro! From the day he arrived in Milan, he has been overpriced, out of shape and generally useless. I hope Santos can get more use out of him. Good luck with that!

Buzz it!

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1 comment to Rants & Raves – Soccer in Summer 2009

  • Anonymous

    I love those Kaka comparisons…remember when Kun Aguero was the new Maradonna? Good player but come on?!? Not many Maradonna's gonna be playing during our lifetime.

    Also a fav of mine is the brazilian Eder, nicknamed the Kaka of serie B by the press. That is a terrible moniker. Any "kaka of serie B" would be mediocore at best in Serie A so why bother with a nickname? I am sure Eder doesn't want that title.