Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Tale of Two Transfers

This morning, as has been expected over the past few days, it was announced that Ronaldo has been transferred from Real Madrid to AC Milan. While one can question if this transfer will have great effect (Big Ronnie hasn’t played much lately) there is no doubt that Ronaldo will be the biggest name to transfer this month.

Personally, I am on record as saying I like Ronaldo, and I hope he does well. The sport as a whole is more fun when larger-than-life superstars like him are doing well and scoring goals. Hopefully this move will shine a little much-deserved light on Series A and perhaps give Milan the nudge they need to start winning a few more games.

All that being said, I am a little surprised at how things played out for Real Madrid this transfer season. If you had asked me a few months ago what would have happened to Real’s last few Galacticos, I probably would have said that at least one of them would be gone. But I would not have predicted where.

I honestly believed that David Beckham would have stayed in Europe. Believe what you will about Beckham, but he has always been a fierce competitor, and at 31 I thought he was too young to give it all up to come to America. I thought there was a decent chance Beckham would re-sign with Real (and they eventually did offer him everything in the world except playing time) and if not I believed he would sign in Italy; perhaps with one of the Milan clubs or Juve. Instead, Beckham signed with the LA Galaxy. He said it was to open up the sport of soccer to the big time here in America. Others believed he was seduced by the fame and relatively stress-free lifestyle the MLS would promise. I guess time will tell.

On the other hand, if you remember, there were a number of credible rumors that the New York Red Bulls, the Big Apple’s MLS franchise, was going to make a play for Ronaldo. That, to me, made sense. Ronaldo had the reputation as a fun-loving party guy who had become too fat for football but not too big for the ladies. He still loved soccer, but he could play it on the weekends in front of undemanding fans and have fun the rest of the time. On top of all that, it was a much shorter flight to Rio!

But Ronaldo proved me wrong. Aside from the fact that New York probably couldn’t match Milan’s fee, it was obvious that Ronaldo still had something to prove at a big club; for better or worse he still sees himself as a top player, and that is something that is to be admired. While Beckham has taken what could be argued is the easier path, Ronaldo has chosen to test himself again against the world’s best. We will see how it goes in the long run, but I will find myself again rooting for Big Ron.

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