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The Clásico, Cristiano, Neymar and Figo

The Clásico, Cristiano, Neymar and Figo

Good old Stephen M. Ross, the man behind the International Champions Cup, seemed a little upset the other day because Cristiano wasn’t going to play in 'his' Clásico. It’s a bit odd that he didn’t know this beforehand. We won’t see Cristiano in the flesh until Monday, when he is due to appear in court in his tax evasion case. We’ll soon find out whether he has forgiven us for who knows what, and I think that if he has forgiven us then he will return to the team’s training sessions. The Cristiano devotees see him invigorated and raring to go to be at full strength to take on Manchester United on the 8th, in Skopje, for the European Super Cup final. It would certainly be a boost for Madrid. It’s just a question of him getting back into full fitness in one week.

Cristiano doesn't make the summer headlines

His tantrum didn’t quite become the big story of the summer, as maybe he had hoped it would. For starters, few took it seriously. And it was soon relegated to the back pages when the whole Mbappé saga took off, and as a result of that, the questions marks hovering over Bale; then there is the whole Neymar affair, which has produced tremendous upheaval at Barça. It’s not clear how the Mbappé situation will unravel. The ideal solution would be Bale joining Manchester United and Mbappé signing for Madrid, but Bale’s agent scoffed at the idea and besides, there is no way that Madrid would run the risk of performing such an operation just days before the Super Cup final. It was for exactly the same reason that neither Morata nor James were allowed to join United with both moving to other clubs.

Neymar and similarities with the Figo case

As for Neymar, in Barcelona they have given him up for lost. It’s bad news for Barça and also for LaLiga, who will be losing a diamond. It was a tangled, messy affair, with Piqué acting as broker, and which has been poorly handled. It’s looking frighteningly similar to the Luis Figo case from several years back: in one fell swoop, Barça will find themselves without one of their key players and with a pile of cash to play with. Something similar happened to [former Barça president] Joan Gaspart who in 2000, in the blink of an eye, squandered the windfall the club had reaped for Figo on bringing in Marc Overmars, Emanuel Petit, Gerard López, Alfonso Pérez and Dani García – to little or no benefit. Bartomeu surely remembers that and he must remain prudent, and not feel swayed to do anything rash to compensate for a player who is almost impossible to replace.