When Real Madrid and Barça sign for non-sporting reasons
Not infrequently, behind the arrival of a player, there may be certain motivations that are rather vague. Assisting a friend’s agent with recruiting his foal is a relatively common practice, especially in center or bottom of the table clubs. Among the big teams, we know we look a lot at the marketing side, and some popular players are also able to generate additional sources of revenue apart from the simple sporting aspect, through the sale of derivative products or certain commercial agreements. On the part of Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, this second exercise is very common. Florentino Pérez’s illustrious galactic recruitment policies of the early 2000s were heavily based on it, with David Beckham as the best example, while in Catalonia it was known that certain recruits like Neymar, who certainly had a sporting logic, would also pay off. big off the field.
But over the past decade, the two giants of Spanish football have sometimes carried out some operations that go beyond sports and classic marketing aiming to sell lots of shirts in country X or on continent X. On Real Madrid’s side, for example, the arrival of James Rodriguez, a brilliant player in the World Cup 2014, enabled ACS, Florentino Pérez’s group, to land a construction site and put it into operation in an estimated 820 million euro operation in Colombia. . A big blow for the multinational led by Real Madrid’s president, who is used to such blows, as the American tour of the reigning European champions also coincides with several contracts signed by ACS in California. Same case for Keylor Navas and Costa Rica. As such, Real Madrid does not hesitate to recruit players from a country to facilitate relations and contact with the government authorities of the country concerned. Pérez can then manage his activities there more easily.
Brazil, Barca’s hunting grounds
Less disturbing and farcical, Edwin Congo’s arrival in Madrid in 1999 from Once Caldas. During the Libertadores match against River Plate, the young Colombian striker crushed the Argentinian club, in a double lock. That did not escape the young Real Madrid fans, who wrote letters to the merengue management praising the quality of the player and convincing them to sign him. And the player arrived well in Madrid, even if he failed miserably. The arrival of Take Kubo in 2019 also responds to the clear financial interest in Japan, where the people of Madrid know that there is a lot of commercial potential to be tapped. Compatriot Pipi, 19 and still young at Real Madrid, recently signed a colossal contract with Rakuten Sports, a mega agency that will manage his marketing and advertising rights in his home country. Which logically will have a positive impact on the club in the Spanish capital.
On the Barcelona side, there is an operation package that is somewhat problematic. We think of the infamous Pjanic-Arthur swap with Juventus in 2020, which really wasn’t the only one. The Catalans will pay 60 million euros for the former OL, while the Turinians will put 72 million euros on the table for the Brazilian. An operation that primarily serves to disguise the balance sheets of the two teams, and which is a concern for transalpine country justice. What happened around Paulinho, who arrived in 2017 from Guangzhou Evergrande, also questions many on the other side of the Pyrenees. The Brazilian midfielder, signed for 40 million euros, returned to his hometown club a year later, for 42 million euros. What to ask…
We rinse friends!
It must be said that Barca and Brazil are a beautiful love story. On the pitch, with Neymar, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo or Romario, but not only that. In January 2020, Barca signed an unknown player named Matheus Fernandes for 7 million euros. The midfielder would never play for Barcelona and was already on loan at Valladolid upon his arrival, playing just 3 games in La Liga… before leaving for free at Palmeiras in 2021. A simple signing blunder, some would say, but the close relationship between Barça and Palmeiras in the past and the presence of André Cury, the club’s unofficial adviser, in the operation, was not very encouraging in giving Barça the benefit of the doubt. In the past, the traffic agency Cury works for has managed to place many of his Palmeiras players, such as Keirrison (14 M€) or Henrique (10 M€), within the Catalan club, and all have failed. A very strange transfer, but not the only one, because after that, Barça will again sign Danilo, another big failure who belonged to Traffic but evolved at São Paulo, or Colombian defender Yerry Mina, who evolved well at Palmeiras and cost 12 million euros in Barcelona. Players like Gabriel Novaes or Robert Gonçalves also arrived in Barça’s B team before leaving Catalonia without pain or triumph.
The repetition of certain names – Palmeiras, Cury, Bartomeu/Rosell, Traffic – in all of his operations logically leaves little doubt that there is interest outside the sporting framework, especially since None of these players have shown they are of the same level. substitute in Barcelona. In an article published in 2020, we specifically linked all of these sections: “Sandro Rosell, Josep Maria Bartomeu’s predecessor at the head of the Ciudad Condal club and a former Nike employee, was also the start of the contracts signed between the American equipment manufacturer and the Brazilian selection in the 90s and where Traffic had hit the big jackpot. A deal that was later investigated by American justice in depth. The Catalan leader later went to jail following a case where we still find the two common denominators, Traffic and Brazil. This is bribery and money laundering (20 million euros) in order to obtain the image rights for the Brazil selection match..
Cury put Barça in the sauce
Cury’s double cap is also a concern for Barça, because if he participated in Neymar’s arrival in 2013… he also participated and received a commission in his departure for Paris four years later. We also know that some deals were made thanks to and because of him. In 2018, Emerson was offered to FC Barcelona, it was unsure at the time. Today’s side at Tottenham then changed agents, enlisting André Cury. Six months later, he was unveiled as Barça’s new player. André Cury was also behind the arrival of Igor Gomes for the FC Barcelona U19 team, at least under suspicious circumstances. The Catalans set, in 2019, a player training allowance of €300,000 at Cohimbra Sporte. Unless that player plays for Volta Redonda, a humble club in Rio de Janeiro. The license exchange will take place shortly before his departure for Barcelona, where no one will recognize the player upon landing at Le Prat airport. The player returned to Brazil last summer in complete indifference.
Not only in Brazil, Barça has made some mistakes. In January 2019, FC Barcelona announced that it had signed Frenkie de Jong, one of the highest rated players at the time. The Catalan team beat PSG and several big European clubs in this case. Barely a few months later, the La Liga club’s B team announced the arrival of Mike van Beijnen, a 20-year-old right-back from NAC Breda. An operation that would have gone unnoticed had Van Beijnen not been the son of Ali Dursun… agent Frenkie de Jong. Way to thank him for bringing his client to Barcelona. Unsurprisingly, the player lacked level and did not last long in Catalonia, leaving the club after six months, without having played a single minute with Barça B in Spain’s third tier. And there is no doubt that on the Barça side like Real Madrid, and like in most clubs in the world, there are many operations where we can also find some gray areas by digging a little…