Pérez’s final roll of the dice: Galácticos V3.0

Garath Bale CompositeIn the end, the expected rival to his fallible presidency never materialised.

No promises were required: Florentino Pérez won his fourth term as Real Madrid president at a canter in June.

This anticlimax was a far cry from outbidding Barcelona and delivering David Beckham in 2003.

Yet, to be fair to Pérez, his actions always speak louder than his words and he has not rested on his laurels upon being granted another four-year term.

José Mourinho was, effectively, ousted; Carlo Ancelotti was finally landed after several failed attempts in the previous decade.

Spain’s hottest young talents, Isco, Daniel Carvajal and Asier Illarramendi, were snapped up  – reviving Pérez’s Zidanes y Pavones fantasy.

After all, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Özil and Karim Benzema already at the club, Pérez, surely, must have been tempted to add another Galáctico, such as Edinson Cavani.

Instead, that €68.5 million was spent on three Spaniards with Pérez recognising the need to move away from the Jorge Mendes bloc that Mourinho had shrewdly assembled to solidify his position.

With Ricardo Carvalho having already left the club and the futures of Pepe, Fábio Coentrão and Ángel Di Maria still uncertain, Pérez, clearly, is keen to build a different kind of project.

Always aware of the value of marketing, having, potentially, six of his players making up Spain’s squad for the 2014 World Cup would be a perfect retort for Perez’s supposed foreign bias

Also, following the Mourinho and Iker Casillas Iberian divide and the incredibly bad press Madrid endured during Mourinho’s reign, it is the perfect way to bring Madrid back to the Spanish people under the placid Ancelotti.

Then, there is the small matter of the potential signing of the 24-year-old Gareth Bale.

In truth, Bale does not fit the traditional Galácticos’ profile: Ronaldo, the Brazilian, was 26; Kaká was 27; Xabi Alonso was 28; Luís Figo was 28; Zinedine Zidane was 29; Beckham was 31.

Cristiano-Ronaldo-Karim-BenzemaYet, with the signings of Cristiano Ronaldo (24) and Karim Benzema  (22) in 2009, there was a tangible shift in policy: long-term contracts, peaks not yet reached, and long-term marketing appeal.

Indeed for all the criticism Benzema has endured in the past four years for his fitness and off the field ventures, the Frenchman remains one of Pérez’s most cherished players – who Ancelotti will certainly build the team around.

After all, so desperate was Pérez to sign Benzema, the Spaniard, personally, visited the striker’s family in Lyon to convince them that Madrid, rather than Manchester United, would best serve Benzema’s interests.

Pérez seems similarly fixated with Bale – seeing similarities with not only how Benzema carried Lyon in 2008-2009, but, also, with Ronaldo.

It is not just down to Bale’s hairstyle, stance, and flashy boots; Bale is the same age as Ronaldo when the Portuguese joined Madrid in 2009.

Like Ronaldo, too, Bale is at a crossroads of sorts: the Welshman feels he could become a Ballon d’Or winner at Madrid and with Pérez prepared to pay a world-record fee for him, there would be little doubts about a starting berth.

Bale, too, knows that the world will always point to that performance in the 4-3 defeat to Internazionale in the 2010-2011 Champions League as his Tottenham epitaph; without the platform of the Champions League at White Hart Lane, Bale’s long-term career will be stunted.

Then, given how Wales are unlikely to play in a World Cup during Bale’s career, competing on the continental stage seems even more important.

It is not just a one-way street: Bale’s marketability as a similar superhuman specimen to Ronaldo would give Pérez a potent billboard combination.

Then there is the fact that Pérez has always held a soft spot for British talents, with Jonathan Woodgate, Beckham, Steve McManaman and Michael Owen having all played for Los Blancos in the past decade.

Make no mistake, Pérez does not want to channel the above-mentioned out of sentimentality; the Spaniard is desperate not only to deliver La Décima, but, also, his most successful presidency.

After all, three league titles, three Copa del Reys and one Champions League is a fairly paltry return for over €750 million worth of player investment in the ten years Pérez has served as Madrid president.

Thus, with a more realistic Zidanes y Pavones policy – with proven young talents like Isco and Illarramendi, in tandem with a star like Bale who will only develop further – the next four years may prove landmark in Florentino Pérez’s association with Real Madrid.

The Author

Ciaran Kelly

Sports writer and author of José Mourinho: The Rise of the Translator, featuring exclusive interviews with key figures not synonymous with the traditional Mourinho narrative and Johan Cruyff: The Total Voetballer, an ebook which peaked in the Top 40 of Amazon's top 100 Sports Books' chart. I have also written for Britain best selling football magazine, FourFourTwo and other British publications. I am a fully qualified reporter with an NCTJ Diploma in Journalism and a Masters degree in Sports Journalism from St. Mary's University, London.

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