On September 1, 2013, Real Madrid announced the long-awaited arrival of Welsh machine gun Gareth Bale. ‘Madridistas’ all around the world were dying to watch Gareth and Cristiano play together, and the amount of firepower they would produce. Of course, it can be nothing but good for the Spanish powerhouse, but a question must be asked: was signing Gareth Bale more important than signing a true no. 9 who could end Real Madrid’s drought to a prolific goalscorer? Can Bale be the solution to this troubling saga?
Ever since Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain became two of the most inconsistent players in the world, the capital-based club went out hunting for a reliable finisher. First, it was the Colombian ‘El Tigre’ Radamel Falcao. Radamel had everything to make him pull down a ‘Los Blancos’ shirt: character, finishing, speed, unstoppable headers,… With such high qualifications, the then-Atletico Madrid star was a target for almost every club in the world…Well, clubs who could actually afford him, to be precise. Chelsea and Manchester United seemed to be leading the race, but this was shortly denied. Florentino Perez is a man known for his habit of rubbishing transfer rumors – even if they were true, confirming them might make a transfer harder, or possibly more expensive. In the AS awards ceremony, however, Perez broke his own rule. He was spotted handing over a white kerchief to Radamel Falcao. English: He wanted him in Madrid. The WHITE part of Madrid, for that matter.
Speculation started to build up more and more – Falcao’s departure was inevitable, as he was becoming too ‘big’ for ‘Atleti’ – but where was he going? Real Madrid? Chelsea? Manchester United? Bristol City? (Well, maybe nobody expected Bristol, but he was sure linked to A LOT of teams). Surprisingly, however, Falcao completed a shock transfer to French moneybags (no, not PSG): AS Monaco. Monaco had just been bought by Russian ‘zillionaire’ Dmitry Rybolovlev (yes, I did copy-and-paste his name), and he wasn’t joking about turning them to a great team once again. The fee of the transfer is believed to be around â‚¬60m – one of the highest ever.
After missing out on Falcao, Real Madrid simply moved on to the next choice, and they were heading towards Serie A this time. It was Edinson Cavani’s turn. In Serie A, Cavani was the biggest headache for goalkeepers, defenders, and even referees. He was someone who you could sense the killer instinct in his eyes. His pace gave him the ability to slice through ANY defence. If Edinson Cavani finds his way to the box, then fans can start celebrating. Aurelio De Laurentiis, S.C.C. Napoli president, fueled speculation linking Edinson to a move to Real Madrid and Manchester City when he said that they were the only teams in for him. It was no surprise that he would be linked to such major teams. He was also linked to Manchester United and Chelsea, but they never really showed real interest in him. Suddenly, Cavani was in Paris to undergo a medical for PSG. He was later revealed to the media, and PSG smashed the Ligue 1 transfer record fee, which was previously held by Monaco for signing previous Real Madrid target Radamel Falcao, as the fee was estimated to be around â‚¬64m.
Cavani had to move on after failing to complete a switch to Real Madrid, which he described as a ‘dream’ move, and so had Real Madrid. They had to look for another striker. And who was it this time? The man who knocked them out of the UEFA Champions’ League: Robert Lewandowski. Robert Lewandowski wasn’t just any striker â€“ he was a complete striker at a very young age. He was the perfect hunt. And, just like other teams who missed out on Cavani and Falcao, Real Madrid insisted on signing ‘Lewa’. Despite the fact that he had scored five goals in four matches against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions’ League, ‘Madridistas’ could only hope he would join them. Unfortunately for them, Jurgen Klopp, Borussia Dortmund’s manager, confirmed Lewandowski will leave for Bayern Munich next summer for FREE when his contract expires.
Real Madrid seemed to be running out of options, and thus were forced to return to a long-term target: Sergio Aguero. Real Madrid had been chasing Aguero ever since he made a name for himself at Atletico Madrid, but they just couldn’t make an official move for the Argentine due to an unofficial agreement between the two teams forbidding them from signing players from each other. And, with that obstacle removed, Real Madrid were expected to make their move at any moment. Despite his ability to play for any team in the world, Sergio wasn’t linked to a lot of teams like Falcao or Cavani. This was because the striker never demonstrated discomfort at his current team, Manchester City. Real Madrid were shortly snubbed after Aguero reiterated his happiness at the ‘Citizens’ by signing a one- year extension, tying him the the English club until 2017.
Real Madrid didn’t leave the Premier League seeking their no. 9, as they were on alert by Luis Suarez’s strong desire to leave England. Suarez had received his share of hatred from English media due to his controversial actions. He was first banned for racist actions against QPR’s Anton Ferdinand, Rio Ferdinand’s sibling. Suarez did not deny his mistake, but believed an eight-match ban was too severe. He explained his anger by demanding an explanation on John Terry receiving only a four-match ban when there were lip-readers and video footage proving his racism, while there was no solid evidence on Luis Suarez committing anything wrong. Also, the English media were in rage after he literally bit Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic. Luis later apologised and did not deny that this was ‘un-explainable’. ‘Iva’, on the other hand, said he doesn’t want an apology, but an explanation – just what Suarez couldn’t offer.
In spite of Suarez’s insistence to leave England, this desire slowly faded as the Uruguayan was persuaded to stay with Liverpool. Arsenal and Real Madrid were the only teams to have made a move for him, and he ended the saga himself by confirming he has turned his head away from leaving the ‘Reds’.
As the summer transfer window slowly passed, Real Madrid didn’t seem to be even considering any strikers. They were working day and night to secure their primary objective, Gareth Bale, and they finally did. They finally got their man. Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas and president Daniel Levy were extremely reluctant to sell, but, as the Portuguese coach explained, the Welshman had put them under ‘intense’ pressure to force a move to the Spanish giants. His desire to leave made a move inevitable. But the question is: have Real Madrid been distracted with Gareth Bale’s character from signing a top-drawer striker? Of course, both Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale could play as strikers, not to mention promising starlets Jese Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata, but with Ozil off to Arsenal, Higuain off to Napoli, and Di Maria and Benzema still unable to recapture the form by which they gained the applaud of all the Santiago Bernabeu, will Real Madrid find themselves with a negative transfer market?
IMAGE:Â By James Boyes (Flickr: Brighton v Spurs Amex Opening 30/7/11) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons