Thursday, August 07, 2008


C.Ronaldo said: I'm Staying!

DieHardX replied: Thank goodness! The world record transfer fee will not be broken yet! May a more worthy future footballer legend who plays beautiful and spectacular football broke Zidane's record instead. Someone like Messi or Fabregas will be more worthy and not an actor and diver!

I like this article which is trying its best to compare CR (€90m) and VDV (€9m).

Spanish Debate: Van Der Vaart - A Better Signing Than Ronaldo?
6 August 2008 09:44

Real Madrid completed their first true signing of the summer yesterday by landing not Cristiano Ronaldo, but rather Rafael van der Vaart.

Indeed, Ronaldo-mania has taken something of a back seat in recent days, with even the ever-excitable Madrid president Ramón Calderón proclaiming that the Dutchman might well be the only new arrival before the end of August.

In other words, prepare for a Ronaldo-less season at Madrid, contrary to the hype and counter to the blancos' hopes. But one can't help but wonder if, in a way, they might have got themselves a better deal in landing Rafa.

Better Or Best?

First of all, though, there needs to be a mention of who is actually 'better'. It's alwayts tough to compare players whose positions and roles don't precisely match up, but nonetheless we can attempt to do so.

Let's start by looking at what they have in common: both are, in simple terms, attacking midfielders; both get on the scoresheet with something approaching regularity; both have taken on leadership roles (after a fashion) for their respective club sides; both are young; and both are prominent on the international scene. In these ways they can be rightly compared.

In short, if you weigh up these factors then Ronaldo is superior. His goalscoring record would be phenonemal for an out-and-out striker; that he managed such a 40+ despite playing wide last season was only just short of miraculous. Van der Vaart's 20-odd Bundesliga goals in the past three seasons, while respectable, pale in comparison. Even in terms of set-pieces - a Rafa specialty - Ronaldo is perhaps even superior.

In terms of dictating play, Ronaldo may also have the edge. From his wide position he can either play the killer pass or, even more often, cut inside and use his blistering pace to fox full-backs and central defenders. Van der Vaart, too, can breach the back line, but he is not quite so adept in doing so; his through ball ability and ability to hit with both feet (yes, although it is his left that is famous, he is ambidextrous) are impressive, but insofar as they are compared to Ronaldo's he falls inches short, although his tendency to play more centrally means that he's no stranger to seeing plenty of the ball.

Ronaldo has been criticised for his form with Portugal, and all but the most die-hard fan would have to admit that his detractors are onto something. Try as he might, he can't quite replicate the world-class aura he has with United in the red-and-green of his country, whereas Rafa has arguably had some of his finest ever performances for the Oranje. However, for the sake of this debate this is quite irrelevant: Ronaldo is signing for a club, not a country, and at the absolute pinnacle of the club game he has proved his worth time after time. Van der Vaart, playing at second-tier clubs for his whole career, has yet to do so.

In other words, it would take a brave person to argue that Madrid have landed a better player on paper, for Ronaldo is not only better, but probably the world's best. Nonetheless there are compelling reasons as to why they Madrid, despite failing to land him, have made a better signing for their squad and for their pocketbook.

Positive Attributes

For one thing, he brings to Madrid the kind of range of passing that they need to feed forwards in Raúl and Van Nistelrooy. As I said on Monday, with Wesley Sneijder out medium-term it is important that someone else come in to deliver the killer pass, especially if Guti is injured, and in van der Vaart they have a cheap yet continental-class player just itching to do so.

Second, the ex-Ajax man, who sat in the stands with a furious expression on his face when stricken by injury at Ajax, has said that the occasional spell on the bench doesn't bother him. In a side so laden with midfield expertise this is no small matter, and even if his statement was to play up to the cameras and the fans, well, he's said it now and he can't take it back!

In all seriousness, though, Bernd Schuster is going to have a nearly impossible task in keeping his squad happy this season, and if Ronaldo arrived at the club he would (through absolutely no fault of his own or even Ronaldo's) have a player whose talent and cost necessitate a place in every single line-up for which he is available. Van der Vaart, having cost so much less, does not put this sort of pressure on his boss.

A Man Has His Price (Tag)

That brings us the deeply obvious, and perhaps most important factor: his price tag. At €9m VDV is something of a steal: that he was itching to leave Hamburg and he'd apparently set his heart on Spain meant that Madrid had an edge in negotiations, but even so a starting fee of this amount is some fine business for the Spanish side. Often only players at the end of their careers leave for such sums - Deco, approaching retirement, cost more to Chelsea - but despite being relatively young Rafael left Hamburg for quite little.

Compare and contrast this to the amounts being thrown in the media for Ronaldo. €90m? For the world's best player such a price may be considered "fair", insofar as such astronomical sums hold any meaning whatsoever, but is it prudent to spend it at all? One wonders if a single man can make such a difference that a price tag of this magnitude is appropriate. Fans of Luis Figo would argue that it is, but those with an eye on Madrid's financial future, not to mention the wealth of other players available for a third of the price of Ronaldo, may state otherwise.

And finally, it may now mean that Robinho remains at the Bernabéu. Regular readers of this column know of my admiration for the Brazilian, even aside from his off-the-field indiscretions, and I've also said in the past that for Madrid to punt an aspiring great in favour of a 'Galactico' would be short-sighted and self-defeating. Robinho could perhaps one day match Ronaldo - maybe he will, maybe he won't, but if he's sold now Madrid will never know if the wannabe best player in the world could outmatch the current best player in the world.

In short, there is no doubting that Cristiano Ronaldo would walk into any team on the planet, and almost certainly improve it. Definitely he would be an asset to Real Madrid. But whether or not his price tag and his influence outweigh such benefits are open to debate when another fine player is available is just a tenth of the price. I've said my piece: I now leave it, dear reader, to you.

Ewan Macdonald,


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