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Neymar escapes, Messi still to sign


It was said by Atlético president Enrique Cerezo and nobody can deny it: players play where they want to play. What's more, they do what they feel like doing, literally. It is no longer a question of trying to put a stop to their whims. I remember when Di Stéfano told me, upon signing for Real Madrid, that then-president Santiago Bernabeu would not let him buy a car. He told him that the vast majority of people who went to football were modest citizens, who travelled by metro. In the player's third year, already a star by then, his parents came to visit him, via La Coruña. It was then that Bernabéu helped him to buy two cars: a Mercedes, to drive to his people across Spain, and a Seat 600 to go to training, so as not to be pretentious.

Alfredo di Stefano's modest Seat 600.
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Alfredo di Stefano's modest Seat 600.

Rebellious: Ronaldo, Costa, Dembélé, Coutinho

Other times, other attitudes. These days the clubs have lost control. It is the top players who do what they want, benefiting from a 'star system' that the clubs themselves feed into thanks to their lack of solidarity. It was not so long ago that Ronaldo ('El Gordito, the true one') was rebelling in order to sign for Madrid. Now the one doing this is Diego Costa, with a mutiny against Chelsea, determined not to return from holiday if guarantees are not made for him to get what he desires, to sign for Atlético. Similar situations exist in the cases of Dembélé at Borussia Dortmund, and Liverpool's Coutinho, although more disguised, who aspire to fill the void left by Neymar at Barça.

Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian forward Neymar.
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Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian forward Neymar.THOMAS SAMSONAFP

Neymar to PSG started it all

Neymar, the piece of the puzzle that shook everything up. What can I say about him? Nothing, well except that he is the best example in all of this. He left Barça to fulfil his own desires, as he would say, and arrived triumphantly in Paris, to a, with the greatest of respect, small league. Before departing he toyed with Barça, he was insincere; he messed around with the resentment (curiously ‘piqué’ in Spanish), before flying from the nest when it pleased him. Now, in a much more inferior league, he will look across as if on a distant planet at the worries of Barça. Right now those are focused on one, that Messi finally signs his renewal, which seems assured but the final seal has not yet been stamped. And that delay just creates a snowball effect.