In 2003 Florentino Perez as President of Real Madrid tinkered with a successful side selling Claude Makelele opting to bring in ‘Galacticos’; high profile players with an attacking style of play. As President again in 2014 Pérez sold one of the most influential players in the successful La Decima Champions League campaign in Angel Di Maria and bought players who were deemed to have a more successful individual World Cup, including Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez. The Galacticos in the early 2000’s were considered as a failure but this season could well recover the reputation of the Los Blancos President.
Results and trophies aside the man who was at the head of Real Madrid transfer policy between 2000 and 2006 and again from 2009 until now, Florentino Perez, has created two of the greatest on paper XI’s of all time. In the early 2000’s the Santiago Bernabeu was graced with the names of Zidane, Beckham, Figo and Ronaldo. Today the Spanish giants again field some of the worlds finest with Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema, Bale and Modric but a side sprinkled with youngsters such as Varane and Jese Rodriquez. The Galacticos players in Perez’s first reign as President cost the club £141.7 million twice breaking the world record transfer fee. Perez re-joined Real Madrid to spend vast amounts of money again and with expensive failures such as Brazilian Kaka in 2009, it appears that the formula at the club is finally right with the current crop costing more but transfer prices are vastly increased from 14 years ago. Jose Mourinho didn’t fit well into the clubs structure as most would have envisaged but the Italian Carlo Ancelotti has managed the big names towards success. The problem is there certainly is a precedent with Perez; spending big money in his last reign as President didn’t give the level of success expected and led to the domination of world football by bitter rivals F.C Barcelona.
The problem with the original Galacticos was Perez’s view towards defenders who didn’t deserve the pay cheque of more attacking players and bringing youth into the squad on low wages to fund the likes of Zidane and Figo. This led to clear splits in the squad and with a constant change of managers the club continued to come off second best to Barca. The funding of players today has raised even more eyebrows after selling those who were pivotal in the 2013 Champions League win and the sale of some of the club’s most promising youngsters. Di Maria was crucial to Real Madrid winning their tenth Champions League last season especially as he floated through the Atletico Madrid defence before crossing the ball to Bale to secure the final win. Xabi Alonso since signing from Liverpool in 2009 became not only a fan favourite at Madird but key to the side with the incredible range of passing the Spaniard possesses. Morata was given the obvious tag of a new Raul for the club as a youngster coming through the ranks and was indeed successful last season. Despite the love from the fans and their reluctance to be sold, all were gone for a combined fee of £75.7 million with the Alonso deal to Bayern Munich being an undisclosed fee. However, at this stage of the season the sale of such key players doesn’t seem to have affected the team both at home and in Europe.
Madrid will play Schalke in the first knockout round of the Champions League after a 100 per cent winning record in the group and sits in the number one slot in La Liga. The man pinpointed with the praise for the success is not the one buying the players but the one selecting and coaching the team, Carlo Ancelotti. A manager known for his incredible man management with players has been able to not only deal with big names but tricky players. With the pressure from Perez to play the likes of world record signing Gareth Bale he also has to deal with the on-going Casillas situation which blighted Mourinho’s reign and continue to play the likes of Isco because of fan pressure. Then there’s the fact the Italian is manager at the biggest club in the world so has to win or be sacked. Last season, despite failing to win the league, Ancelotti won both the Copa Del Rey and the tenth Champions League trophy, a landmark that had become an obsession for Madrid fans since last winning it in 2002.
Despite the incredible start this season, including winning the first Clasico, Carlo must continue to maintain the high levels of morale despite external sources influencing team selection. For example, Asier Illarramendi cost the club in excess of £25 million but has only played 194 minutes of football this season as it approaches December. Now World Cup winner Sami Khedira coming out of a difficult injury spell has to break his way into the team past the inform midfield duo of Toni Kroos and Luka Modric which appears extremely unlikely. Now with Bale back from injury a player that cost over £80 million is difficult to leave out but Isco has had a brilliant start performing very well home and away against Liverpool for example. Rotation is key but nearly all at Real Madrid are expensive, big name players so all want game time. Carlo Ancelotto has the world’s biggest balancing act on his hands.
Is the 2014-2015 crop of Madrid players Galacticos? They certainly possess the price tag but £5 or £50 million only results will matter come the end of the season. Perez has the power and money to build an all-conquering football machine. If last season or his previous reign as President is anything to go by, he’ll manage to sack Ancelotti and sell players key to any success. Whatever happens with Atletico Madrid as reigning league champions; Barcelona with new manager Luis Enrique and new signing Luis Suarez and with Real Madrid’s acquisitions this La Liga season will certainly be exciting.