“We’re just the pawns here, he’s (Florentino Perez) the king.” Sergio Ramos’ comments accurately sums up the situation at Real Madrid. At the heart of this circus lies Florentino Perez himself, the chief orchestrator who is the one constant force at the club. Players and managers are merely leased from other clubs. They are to be initially wooed and plucked in admiration and then subsequently vilified and discarded at the merest hint of trouble.
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At Real Madrid, Florentino Perez reigns with an iron fist.
The President has once again come under the scanner following FIFA’s decision to ban Real Madrid (along with Atletico Madrid) for two consecutive transfer windows for allegedly indulging in fraudulent transfer practices. This brings us to the question — Is it time for modern football’s grand villain (with due apologies to Sepp Blatter) to leave his office at Real Madrid?
While these decisions aren’t ours to make, the article seeks to compile a list with the sole purpose of highlighting the manner in which Perez has damaged the club. However, to list all his mistakes at the helm of the club would be a herculean task. Such has been his reign at Real Madrid. For brevity’s sake and that of the reader himself, this article will only look at the events that unfolded following Real Madrid’s triumph over Atletico Madrid in the Champions League finale in 2014.
Following a highly successful season with Real Madrid, Angel di Maria, who was credited with leading Real Madrid’s rise in 2013-14 was allowed to leave the club due to his damaged relationship with Florentino Perez.
Di Maria’s attacking prowess and indefatigable spirit made him one of the most lethal attacking midfielders in Europe. Despite his on-field exploits, Real Madrid clashed with the Argentine international over his ongoing contract negotiations with the club’s official diktat to the midfielder to miss the World Cup finals proving to be the final nail in the coffin. While Real Madrid and Di Maria took turns to blame each other for his eventual departure to Manchester United, his farewell letter left no doubt as to who was to be blamed for his unceremonious exit.
“Many things were said and many lies circulated. They always wanted to pin the idea of leaving the club on me, but that’s not how it was. Unfortunately, my football isn’t to someone’s taste.”
This however, isn’t the only time Florentino Perez was personally blamed for the departure of a Real Madrid player. Club legend Iker Casillas was dumped out of Real Madrid as the club chased David de Gea unsuccessfully over the summer. Without questioning the rationale behind the sale, the manner in which Casillas bid farewell to the club highlighted Perez’s demonic stature at Real Madrid.
The goalkeeper bid a lonely goodbye in a press conference that wasn’t attended by any official representative from the club, as his parents explicitly blamed Florentino Perez for his departure. Unsurprisingly, the comments were subsequently retracted as Perez eventually invited the goalkeeper to an official ceremony to commemorate his achievements with Los Blancos.
“I have watched him suffer for many years. It is Florentino who is pushing him out because he wanted to end his career at Real Madrid.”
A lot of successors with little or no success
Ancelotti’s dismissal at Real Madrid and the subsequent appointment of Rafael Benitez makes United’s decision to appoint David Moyes as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor seem a wise decision in comparison.
Despite protests from players and board members alike, Florentino Perez removed Ancelotti from the job, replacing him with a new project that was destined to highlight the greatness of Gareth Bale at the club.
The absurdity was further highlighted when AS revealed that it was Ancelotti’s decision to substitute Gareth Bale at Mestalla that led to a ‘loss of confidence’ with the president.
The president told his directors that Ancelotti had not extended good treatment toward Gareth Bale, “a strategic player for us”. “Once he removed him and I reproached him and Carlo didn’t understand it. Since then he lost my confidence”. That reproach was made after Bale was substituted in the 71stminute at Mestalla. Sources close to the dressing room revealed that Florentino said something like this to Ancelotti: “To remove Bale is to attack me.”
Needless to say, Rafael Benitez learnt to toe the line early on in his role as the manager at Real Madrid. The Spaniard publicly hailed Gareth Bale as an equal to Cristiano Ronaldo as the Welshman was promoted to a No 10 role in the starting eleven. The project however, did not last long as Benitez was subsequently replaced by Zinedine Zidane just seven months after his appointment.
Paperwork? Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Despite making room for David de Gea at the club, Real Madrid were left red-faced as negotiations with Manchester United collapsed during the dying minutes of the summer transfer window. While the two clubs took turns to blame each for failing to complete the necessary paperwork in time, the fault eventually must lie with Real Madrid.
Why did Florentino Perez wait till the last day to initiate transfer proceedings when the player was identified as a target early on in the summer? Rumour has it that the president intended to achieve a significant bargain on the goalkeeper and hence refused to play ball with Manchester United. This decision came back to haunt Perez as United were able to retain their star player, while Real Madrid earned the wrath of many for the manner in which they packed off Iker Casillas to Porto.
Paperwork, complicated or otherwise, is definitely not Real Madrid’s forte under Florentino Perez. The club was booted out of Copa del Rey this season after fielding an ineligible player (Denis Cheryshev) in the competition. Florentino Perez however, did what he does best. He started off by issuing an official statement that absolved the club of all sins in the matter. When this didn’t suffice, he appealed against the decision to disqualify Real Madrid from the competition. A month later, Real Madrid remained disqualified as the petition was promptly dismissed by the authorities.
Fast forward to January 2016, Real Madrid are in the process of filing an appeal against the sanctions imposed by FIFA with regards to improper transfer activities.
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