ten words or less #62

With tomorrow being Thanksgiving here in the States, it’s the time of year when many reflect upon all of the things in their lives for which they should be thankful. Things are no different here at WSOTP. And while I’m especially thankful for a wonderfully patient wife, a loving family, and that Spurs’ UnderArmour kits aren’t as hideous as I had anticipated — among other blessings — amongst other things too, of course — I do have one gripe I want to air about the holiday.

Thanksgiving Turkey Soccer

The dearth of usable Thanksgiving-themed soccer images on the internet is roughly equivalent to the amount of soccer normally on TV on Turkey Day.

Between the NFL and NCAA, the American-flavored version of football seems to go hand in hand with Thanksgiving. Games will be on all day tomorrow, and many families across the country will gather around their TV’s to watch as a part of their annual holiday tradition. But as my fellow soccer fans will attest, we’re normally left in the dark on Turkey Day by the major networks. This year, we’re lucky enough to have Europa League matches to occupy us, but they’re typically not high-profile matches. And while that’s enough for me, that doesn’t mean everyone else in my family will prefer round football to egg football this year. But since the festivities are being held at my house this year, the rules will be different… a new dawn for Thanksgiving traditions is in the cards.

But if your family won’t budge from their normal traditions, here are some links to help keep you from feeling neglected. Happy holidays everyone!

This article convinced me to subscribe to Howler quarterly. – whatahowler.tumblr.com

I want prints of these for my [imaginary] office. – 8bitfootball.wordpress.com

Or “Why fading European stars like to play in MLS.” – metro.co.uk

Old Italian men are weird. – dirtytackle.net

Little cheer at Wolves this season, except this brand refresh. – weareraw.co.uk

More Howler: maybe the USSF wants to forget its past? – theoriginalwinger.com

Next, bring this to the States. – fantasista.co.uk

Foolish man records tornado hitting soccer ground… for our enjoyment? – youtube.com

This defense of American soccer culture hit close to home. – sbnation.com

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a winter abroad

Two months. Eight weeks. Sixty days. It’s not a whole lot of time no matter how you look at it. But it seems to be the magic time span these days, at least for MLS players it seems.

aston villa's robbie keane and everton's landon donovan

by allowing its most prized possessions to go on loan each winter, is MLS playing with fire?

Whether urged on by Klinsmann’s pleas for American players to get more time in competitive playing environments, or spurred on by the past successes of the short-term moves of MLS-bigwigs, the growing fad in American soccer is to get yourself a two-month, winter loan to Europe.

There have been no shortage of temporary moves to Europe this MLS off-season. Of course there have been the hyped moves involving the loans of high-profile players like L.A. Galaxy duo Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane — who have moved to Everton and Aston Villa respectively — and Red Bull’s Thierry Henry return to Arsenal. But there have been lesser heralded moves too, such as West Ham’s move for F.C. Dallas defender George John and L.A.’s Omar Gonzalez heading to Nürnberg.

A number of other players are trialing or training with European sides to gain some experience, and hopefully attract a foreign bid or two. I’ve written a good deal about Brek Shea’s two months with Arsenal, but there have also been shorter training stints for at least fifteen MLS players. That’s included youngster Juan Agudelo at Stuttgart and Liverpool, Robbie Rogers and Kyle Beckermann at Kaiserslautern, and Tim Ream at Bolton and West Brom, just to name a few.

With the temporary moves coming for players all over the MLS spectrum — from established stars to up-and-comers — it’s promising that there appears to be a growing demand for the league’s improving talent pool. It’s a sign Europe’s elite sides are starting to at least consider that we’re a country capable of producing a decent amount of quality players worth having a look over.

However, I do have to wonder if all of these moves are the greatest thing for MLS.

For most of the young players, the moves will end up being nothing more than glamorous learning opportunities. Their goal will be to make the most of the time training with a different class of players, therefore raising their game or at least picking up the habits of higher level professionals. They’ll get the extra competitive football experience that the Jürgs says our country’s set up is lacking, and hopefully they’re return to their MLS clubs with a sharper knowledge of the game, and everyone will be happy.

But while MLS seems content to allow it’s shining gems to go out and grow themselves, it feels like they’re turning a blind eye to the fact that it’s also a great opportunity for the finest young talent in the league to showcase themselves to other, wealthier employers. I mean I can’t imagine a single one of those players not going into those trials/loans/trainings thinking: This is the chance I’ve been waiting for… I better not blow it!

This open door policy has already seen Robbie Rogers turn his brief spell in Germany into a transfer to Leeds United. Tim Ream’s time with Bolton also looks to have paid dividends, as the Wanderers look set to spend their Gary Cahill money on a transfer for the ginger-tinged Red Bulls defender. George John’s loan terms with West Ham have an option to buy if he manages to impress during his two months at Upton Park, so he could be off too.

They’ve got a name for this type of issue: talent drain. And with MLS seemingly giving its blessing for foreign sides to take a free look at their best players, it comes off as them accepting their place as a stepping stone league. This flies in the face of the Commish has stated on several occasions, which is to turn Major League Soccer into one of the preeminent tournaments in the world.

robbie rogers at leeds united

it seems that robbie roger's short term move to europe this winter has paid off... for now at least.

Now maybe MLS does a much better job reinvesting the millions in transfer money they rake in during these sales than I’m giving them credit for, and if that’s the case, I’ll happily eat my words. But in the mean time, I’m going to assume that it’s still a bit of a risky strategy.

And all of that only takes into account the youngsters. What about all of the veteran, star players tacking two months onto their seasons; how can their departures possibly hurt the league?

First, Klinsmann’s desire to see American players securing loans or training spells in Europe is centered on his belief that the MLS season is too short. That does hold true for many players who teams don’t make the playoffs, or exit them early. Problem is, all of the high-profile loans have involved players whose teams made deep playoff runs. Keane and Donovan were both directly involved in the MLS Cup game winning goal. Hell, Keane hasn’t really had a break from training since the beginning of the last European season when he was still with Spurs. So none of them are in a position where they’re lacking for matches or sharpness, especially when you consider that Donovan and Keane are also still logging serious minutes with their respective national teams.

Ultimately, star players being loaned out during the MLS close season does nothing but put extra miles on their valuable legs. And extra miles on (mostly) older legs usually end up leading to one of three outcomes: 1) increased susceptibility to injuries, 2) burnout or 3) both.

Don’t believe me? It’s already happened, twice.

The gigantic risk MLS exposes itself to is best embodied by David Beckham rupturing his Achilles tendon playing for Milan two winters ago. Beckham’s move was supposed to help him earn a place in the following summer’s England World Cup squad — something MLS considered of great benefit at the time — ended up costing the league dearly when he was forced out of the entire MLS season. Regardless of the size of potential media-exposure gains the league would have received from Beck’s participation in South Africa, it was likely dwarfed by the lack of match-day ticket revenue the league missed out on by not having him play.

For those saying “Well that was over two years ago,” this isn’t something that only occurs in the past. As it turns out, MLS has already suffered one winter-loan casualty so far this season. And ironically, it’s not even one of their big guns that’s gone down injured. Instead, it was L.A. Galaxy’s Omar Gonzalez, a younger player who should have become a regular feature in the USMNT’s back line in 2012. But thanks to a collision with “American” teammate Timmy Chandler during his first training session after signing a 2-month loan with Nuremberg, the MLS Defender of the Year will now be out for at least the next seven months… a.k.a. most of the upcoming MLS season.

an injured beckham on loan to milan

losing beckham for a season apparently hasn't phased MLS at all. but, will lightening strike twice?

And though the loss of Gonzalez won’t really hit MLS in the pocketbook the way Beckham’s absence did, it will undoubtedly be a big hurdle to overcome in the Galaxy’s defense of their crown. But if MLS end up losing Donovan, Henry and/or Keane to injury during their loan spells, it will hurt them both on the field and off.

Let’s assume the trend of taking MLS players on loan continues to grow next season (I’d be willing to wager that it probably will), the amount of risk they’ll expose themselves to each off-season will go up exponentially. I’m not sure how great of a scenario the league could be getting themselves into unless the think about these types of moves in a bigger picture.

Look, these loans and trials are ultimately a good thing if they lead to the development of better American players. I’m all for them leading to more American players playing in more competitive leagues in Europe, and the added benefit we could see from the increased levels of experience. But I want to make sure that such moves aren’t undercutting MLS’s mission and efforts to develop better American players. We need to protect the investments we’ve made so far, and that protection requires a wide variety of issues to consider. Here’s hoping MLS and US Soccer did their homework before allowing this policy to become more common place.

In the mean time, we can’t do anything other than sit back and see how this season’s off-season MLS moves shift out. Obviously, I’m hoping that nothing but great news. Trust me when I say that there is nothing I want less than for me to look back in two months and say “I told you so.”

panic attack

I’m not having a panic attack. I swear… I think. Maybe I am having one. Well, wait… no I’m probably not having a panic attack.

luka modric during tottenham preseason training in south africa

apparently the saga over this man's signature has distracted levy and redknapp from getting any transfer work done this summer.

But with just a few days remaining until the Spurs’ delayed official start to the Premier League’s 2011-2012 season, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is officially making me lose sleep.

I know that last season was a bit of a mixed bag for Spurs and their fans. We were all enthralled by our magical European adventure, but also all rightly disappointed that the team couldn’t consistently put in the type of domestic performances that were earning them worthy praise on the continent.

As this post clearly points out, Tottenham were a team that could hang with the big boys. But on the flip side of the coin, they were decidedly average against team’s they should have been beating. The rigors of the Premier League, regardless of the competition faced each weekend, were too much to heap on players who were already being asked to carry heavy Champions League loads.

One thing that is certain is that the lack of activity in the January transfer window played a decently-sized part in the club’s eventual shortcomings.

The squad clearly needed reinforcements (in particular at the front end of the pitch) to continue battling on multiple fronts, and yet the only area they reinforced was the one area of the pitch that didn’t need that much help (although, a midfielder like Pienaar was a deal at the price we landed him for). Long story short, thin as the squad was, it couldn’t cope with a multi-competition battle.

So when Tottenham relinquished their short hold on a top four position back in the spring, both Levy and Redknapp admitted that big signings would be necessary to get the club back on track with their grand aspirations.

tottenham's brad friedel and michael dawson

friedel should help lift tottenham's defensive acumen, but he's not the impact signing that we had all hoped for.

Initially, long-term “dream” targets came back to the forefront. Forlán, Falcao, and Rossi were all floated in the deep pool of summer transfer rumors. But for various reasons (too old, too expensive, and too not for sale) none were realistic solutions to the Spurs’ striking woes. It appeared that Tottenham would either have to pony up and spend like the club has a super-rich foreign owner, or unearth a diamond in the rough.

Fellow Ohioan Brad Friedel was the first signing of the window, and though he was also a bargain-buy that addressed a weak spot in the team, his arrival was hardly the “big time” signing that we all wanted and the team needed.

But I remained optimistic; perhaps Friedel’s signing was the beginning of a torrid of transfer activity at White Hart Lane. After all, we don’t just need to buy at Tottenham: we also need to trim. With one of the largest squads in the Premier League last season, Levy remained (rightly) insistent that arrivals at the club would necessitate cash from sales.

Yet Friedel, to this point, remains the only transfer dealing of this extremely crucial off-season. One free signing, and only two paltry sums coming in after the Lillywhites finally disposed of serial-loanees Jamie O’Hara (to Wolves for £3.5m) and Robbie Keane (to LA Galaxy for £3m)… nothing official about Jenas, Hutton, Dos Santos, Bassong and Palacios being sold off to raise the all important cash.

So while Tottenham Hotspur seem to be twiddling their thumbs, all of their direct competitors have been busy strengthening their squads.

kun aguero at manchester city

though they bid for him in january, spurs never had a realistic shot of landing kun.

Manchester City, the club that’s recently been Tottenham’s biggest rival (as far as league places are concerned) over the last few years, have continued to spend astronomical sums on players they may (Stefan Savić) or may not (Clichy) need (Agüero could be unneeded if Tévez doesn’t leave). Sadly, additional devastating signings this window seem imminent. If they’re not competing for silverware on all fronts this season with the talent in that squad, then Mancini will have proven himself a moron of a manager.

Liverpool, the club that Tottenham displaced in the Champions League last season, look to have finally gotten back on track with new owner John Henry and new (and old) manager Kenny Dalglish aiming to return to their rightful place as an English power. The signings of Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson, and José Enrique on top of the January signings of Suarez and Carroll, mean that the Reds have dropped a reported £94 million on getting themselves back in the top four.

Manchester United, the club that doesn’t ever have a down year, also look primed to continue their run of dominance over English football after finally dolling out a big chunk of the Ronaldo-sale money. Ashley Young, David de Gea and Phil Jones have arrived on the back of £50 million, plus there is emergence of Tom Cleverly and the possible arrival of Wesley Sneijder from Inter to further bolster their ranks. When Sir Alex said Tottenham could compete for the title this season, he must have forgotten that his team were competing in England this season.

Then there’s Chelsea, the club that’s played the part of Luka Modrić-stalker all summer long. To be honest, they’ve not spent much on players so far this summer (Lukaku and Romelu)… most of their outbound cash was to pry away Mourinho-lite Andre Villas-Boas from Porto as their new temporary manager. Their lack of player spending has definitely been surprising, as the club’s senior citizen squad looked in the most need of reinforcements. However, I fret that they might not quite be finished for understandable reasons.

And then there’s our North London rivals, Arsenal, the club that… well, thank god at least one of our rivals is looking to be in worse shape than us. Serves them right, that scum.

I sit and watch world-class players arriving at those clubs, and I think to myself: “Those are the types of players we need.” But then I remember, the reality of it is, we can’t afford those players.

Stuck in an undersized stadium that’s unable to generate the necessary revenues to truly invest in a squad, Harry and Daniel have openly admitted that we can’t compete with the big boys when it comes to wages and transfer funds. So, now we’re having to make do with less ambitious targets.

fc twente's bryan ruiz

ruiz would be an ideal, (relatively) cheap signing for tottenham. but is there enough time to pull it off?

Blackburn sweeper/striker Chris Samba‘s name keeps coming up, though improving the back four isn’t and shouldn’t be near the top of the club’s priority list. There have been links to another central midfielder in Real Madrid’s Lassana Diarra, which would make some sense if Palacios leaves. I’d love to see Twente’s Costa Rican striker/shampoo-commercial model Bryan Ruiz get bought, but with so little time left in the window, a deal like that would be tough. Maybe a loan move for everyone’s favorite mercenary, Emmanuel Adebayor, seems the most likely, but do we really want a player that nobody else wants?

And that’s not even touching on the possibility of Modrić leaving and how that could blow everything to hell. Levy seems to have the kid in a vice grip at the moment, but who knows what Chelsea’s millions could persuade the chairmen to do.

Look, my club’s biggest adversaries have spent over a combined £185 million pounds to solidify and/or improve their places in the league. Tottenham have spent zero. Everyone knew that Spurs needed to improve if they wanted to achieve their dream of becoming one of the big boys, and yet the club has done practically nothing to this point to show any of that necessary transfer ambition.

Sure, Harry Houdini could have another late-breaking, wheeling-and-dealing transfer that he’ll pull out of his sleeve like he did with van der Vaart. Maybe he’ll deliver the striker we so desperately need at 11:59pm on August 30th. But if he’ goes that long without a signing, I’d be more willing to bet that it will be another midfielder than a striker… ‘Arry seems to love those center of the park ballers.

And if that’s the case, someone call me a doctor… I’m going to need a prescription for Xanax that will last much longer than just through the remainder of this transfer window.

you have to give to take

the problem with this season and last for tottenham? they set the bar too damn high. make it to the quarterfinals of the champions league, and suddenly everyone expects you to do it again next year.

such are the risks of success, i guess.

luka modric and gareth bale of tottenham

i like to imagine that, in this picture, bale and modrić are pleading to stay at white hart lane.

despite turning in a massively entertaining –if not cardiac– first half of the season, the bruises one takes for such success looks set to be cause of their demise. a thin and ultimately not that talented squad (and perhaps manchester city’s oil-drenched billions) mean spurs find themselves again staring enviably back up at the perch they had worked so hard to reach and capitalize upon this season.

in order for tottenham to even consider the thought of a top four finish next season, they have to spend big on world class talent. harry said it. the pundits are saying it. the fans demand it. i’m assuming the players problably want it too.

at least one striker, a right back, and a goalkeeper are not just desires, but necessities.

yet keep in mind that there will be no champions league money rolling in next season. honestly, they’ll be lucky to get europa league money at this point. so while redknapp said they need to open the checkbook this summer, he also knows that money will be tight at white hart lane.

so how can spurs possibly spend big with lower revenues next season? unfortunately, the answer to that question is every fan’s most hated phrase around transfer windows…

“we’ll have to sell to spend.”

it strikes fear in the heart of supporters because we know that means you have to sell valuable assets to be able to buy more potentially valuable assets. none of us want to see our star players go, but that’s usually what that means. spurs faithful the world over know this story well, with the somewhat recent departures of berbatov and carrick to manchester united used to fund the building of the current squad.

sure, they could trim the fat in the squad instead. hutton, jenas, palacios, bentley, keane and maybe even defoe could all go as they aren’t really up to the grade that a champions league level club should expect. pavlyuchenko (himself on the edge of the previous “list of insufficients”), cudicini and kranjcar are all wanting to leave. not all will go. but the sale of a majority of them combined might be enough to snare one significant signing.

so that means a big gun will have to be sold if there’s going to be any “big” investment in the squad. bale, modrić and van der vaart have all been heavily linked with the usual suspects(united, chelsea, madrid, barcelona, inter), so it’s safe to assume that the three of  them would give spurs the most leverage in the transfer market.

but as everyone is keenly aware, they’ve all been crucial to tottenham’s recent successes. how could they possibly let them go?

tottenham's luka modric

the little croatian is the heartbeat of tottenham's attack.

modrić is the best of the three and the one who’s loss would be felt the most, despite the fact that he hasn’t received as much hype as bale and rafa. he would have absolutely no problem slotting in at united or barcelona. tottenham literally have nobody who can replace him in the current ranks, as is visible every time he doesn’t play (or even played out of position on the left). even if they pick off charlie adam from a relegated blackpool in the summer, that wouldn’t be enough to fill the void. in my opinion, luka is virtually unsellable.

bale is a trickier proposition. whether he deserved the pfa player of the year award or not, he has had one hell of a 18-month run. from the transfer list to the hot list, he’s rightfully earned himself all of the speculation he now garners with some glittering performances. he’ll be tough to hold on to for that very reason. he’s been one of the club’s brightest stars in the last two seasons, and you never want to sell off a young player that is one of the best players in the world (or my favorite player!)

but i’ll also be the first to admit that his gareth’s form has dipped recently. it’s possible that is due to his injuries and not regaining full fitness from them, or it could be that the world has finally learned how to neutralize him. while i certainly wouldn’t claim that he’s a flash in the pan, i do worry that he could be. maybe it would be better to cash in on him now while his value is at it’s peak. however, his recent injury could also dent his appeal.

and that leaves rafael van der vaart. the dutchman was the catalyst for spurs’ early season red hot form, as his goals kept us all from noticing that tottenham’s forwards don’t know how to score them. he brought the fire, flare, and excitement that seemed to be the missing piece in tottenham’s quest to break into the english elite. we all wanted to believe that anyway. regardless, the way he played in the fall no doubt  raised his transfer value

it didn’t take long, though, before the praise inflated his ego. he couldn’t seem to get a lodge a full 90-minute match, and soon publicly vented his frustration of being subbed off so often by ‘arry. sometimes he morphs into a dribble princess, keeping the ball to himself when he has it and throwing his hands up in frustration when his teammates don’t give it to him. though often started as a right-sided attacker, he often drifts wherever he pleases during the course of the match, murdering the team’s shape and crowding the space of central players. sure, he’s better when he get’s to play the much desired “rover” role. but is it really worth the affect it has on the team’s performance?

so long story short,  if you have to sell one of the three, make sure that it’s van der vaart.

don't cry rafa. it's nothing personal.

look, redknapp wants to play in a 4-4-2. after all, he is english and loves the long ball (right peter crouch?!). tottenham never played particularly well in the 4-5-1, and that’s the formation they had to play with vdV in the line up. it provided enough cover in the midfield to allow the former gypsy to roam the field at his whim. but by selling him off, spurs will have enough room on the pitch to play another striker, and thus justify buying a world class forward.

the dutchman also appears to be one of the only players in the squad with a huge ego (at least one that affects the squad), and has a penchant for biting the hand that feeds him. mabye letting him go would be a boost to team chemistry too. i don’t know; i’m just speculating here.

————————————–

we all know that someone has to be sold to take this team back to the promised land. there’s no denying it. nobody wants it to happen, but then again, none of us really wanted dimitar or michael to part ways either. look how well that turned out.

who ends up on the chopping block, or whether it will happen at all, remains to be seen. van der vaart makes the most sense to me, but then again, it’s all just a toss up anyway. because if things continue on this way, we’ll probably be fighting relegation next season anyway.

round up #13

a busy christmas schedule has my mind spinning, wondering what to write about and what to leave out. i’ve watched a lot of football, and talked about even more… although my family probably would have preferred a different subject matter to dominate my holiday plans. oh well, they should know better by now, right? and, as always, the best way to keep up with the craziness is to post another round up. let’s see if i can keep this one under a thousand words!

jose mourinho: spilling awesome word vomit since 2000.

telegraph best sports quotes of the year 2009 – telegraph.co.uk so not all of these are football quotes, but some of the best on the list are. the usual suspects are there as always (mourinho, wenger, ronaldo) and there are even a few wildcards (definitely check out arsenal’s andrei arshavin’s quote about midway down the list). my favorite though came from inter milan manager jose mourinho, which also just so happens to be at the top of the list:

“even jesus christ wasn’t liked by everyone. what hope is there for me?”

i swear, i would volunteer to be his personal assistant for free just so i could hear all of the awesomeness that spills from his mouth on a near daily basis.

redknapp reprieves spurs partygoers – independent.co.uk
tottenham manager harry redknapp has long frowned upon in-season drinking by top class footballers, so it came as no surprise to me when i read that ‘arry was banning his side from having a christmas party. it also came as no surprise to me when i learned that club troublemaker captain robbie keane organized a pub-crawl christmas party, disguised as a “golf outing,” in his native ireland for sixteen of the spurs first teamers. even less surprising was the fact that the sun tabloid broke their cover, noting that several of the players had even booked a private jet to get them there and back. obviously, redknapp was not pleased by this news and vowed to bring down a stern hammer of justice on any player who went against his wishes. a week later on though, ‘arry softened his stance and backed off the yid stars: instead of a club fine, each participating player must now donate around £2,000 to a charity of the clubs choosing. that, and it’s unlikely the manager wanted to ruin the good atmosphere created by the club’s recent run of good form.

chris rolfe to aalborg – bigsoccer.com
yes, i know that this is extremely old news. but while surfing the tubes the other day looking for a way to score an aalborg jersey (which, is apparently impossible unless you live in denmark), i ran across this interesting message board posting. a linguistically gifted poster by the name of “ForZaAaB” had translated a video interview of AaB director of football lynge jakobsen heaping huge praise on my buddy from dayton. trust me, you’ll want to click on the story to read the translation, unless of course you can speak danish. i found it particularly interesting the the only video footage the news station could dig up of rolfe was from youtube. but either way, it seems that the club has high expectations for the former MLS star. i, for one, firmly believe he can reach and exceed the lofty praise he’s received.

how will football tactics develop over the next decade – guardian.co.uk
there is no doubt that the beautiful game has taken on some interesting changes in the last ten years, especially in the realm of tactics. a decade ago it would have seemed ridiculous to put out a starting line-up in a 4-5-1 formation, yet it’s commonplace in today’s game. it’s a fact that the game’s tactics are ever evolving; a chess-match of changes where offensive strategies change to take advantage of defensive frailties, defenses adapting to exploit weaknesses in offensive schemes, and so on and so forth. the guardian took on the intimidating task of trying to predict how the tactics of football will change in the coming years, and it came up with some rather interesting points. well worth the read, at least if you’ve got a half an hour to blow.

real rubbish reports of bid from man city’s owner – soccernet.com
in the world of real madrid, bid’s of audacious nature are as regular as the sunday paper. but £1 billion bids to buy the club? now those are rare events indeed. but let me tell you now that without having even read the full story, i knew these reports were complete BS. and i’ve got three reasons:

  1. real madrid are the only super club in the world that are owned by the club’s members, and in spain that is almost the norm. president florentino perez loves pulling off big money moves, but he loves the power and prestige of running the people’s club more than he loves money. there is no way the club’s members would be willing to sell the club to a single owner.
  2. £1 billion is equal to about 12.5 ronaldo’s (at least with ronaldo valued at around £80 million), and i certainly doubt that the club view themselves as worth only the same as 12.5 of just one of their players.
  3. sheik mansour, who owns city, is legally not allowed to own another club in europe since he already owns man city. running two super clubs in europe who compete against one another is, by definition, a conflict of interests. he would have to sell the citizens before he could even consider purchasing madrid… which will never happen anyway.

sorry rumor mill, i’m not buying this one. not for a second.