Chelsea v Real Madrid v Robinho

Robinho was as good as his word today, proving yet again how cynical I am, by announcing he is ‘unhappy’ at Real Madrid and does indeed still want to play for Chelsea.

Having been left out of today’s opening Primera Liga game against Deportivo, Robinho decided to call a press conference to make his case clear before the transfer window closes tomorrow night. Clearly frustrated by the mixed messages he’s received throughout the summer, Robinho stated “Since May I’ve been trying to renew my contract but they didn’t want to because they were so sure they would sign Cristiano Ronaldo. The club showed little interest in keeping me.”

Fairly honest appraisal of the situation I thought, since Real made it clear during their relentless pursuit of Ronaldo that Robinho would be dispatched with as soon as they got what they always believed they would.

However, despite publicly stating they “would never retain a player against his wishes”, Real continue to refuse Chelsea’s offers. On this, Robinho said “The situation is still the same, I want to play for Chelsea, as I have told the president, the coach and the sporting director. I want to play there – I don’t know what else I can do. Calderon said that if a good offer came in they would let me go. Chelsea have made a great effort to sign me.”

Clearly still upset at Real’s blatant attempts to court his replacement, Robinho went on “The problem is that Real did not manage to recruit. Now, because they haven’t signed anyone, they won’t let me go.” However, when asked whether he plans to strike if held at Real against his wishes, Robinho stated “No. If Schuster wants to keep an unhappy player then the responsibility is his. I want to leave, nothing more.”

Well, as expected, Real were not amused and immediately hit back at Robinho’s statements, saying “Just before an important official match, Real Madrid feels that all of its attention should be focused on the game, a criteria that has been completely ignored by its player Robinho, with the statements he made just hours before the match.” So, they’ll be wanting to see the back of him then? Apparently not, because the statement on Real’s official website continued “The club refers to an earlier statement on this matter, when it said if the player’s final decision was to unilaterally rescind his contract, we would have no option but to accept it.” Smart move, treat the player like shit, refuse every offer coming in for him and yet still manage to back away from any responsibility if he leaves.

Anyway, Real weren’t finished there because unsurprisingly, being the total hypocrites they are, it was time to have a go at the real villains here. At the end of a lengthy summer, in which amnesia has clearly set in, Real state “Real deplore the way Chelsea’s directors have acted despite knowing perfectly well the decision not to sell the player (anyone else spit their drink out at that bit?), making statements and even going so far as to sell shirts with the player’s name on through their official website.” Ok, so we all knew the shirt thing was going to bite the club on the arse eventually, but who are Real trying to kid? They even suggest “All this has done is to cloud the situation and confuse public opinion.” As if public opinion hadn’t weighed that club up a long time ago!

Not to be outdone when the handbags are flying around though, Chelsea have had their say – also via the official club website – in a statement that reads: “There is nothing wrong with publicly confirming our interest in a player when the club involved is well aware of it, has been in receipt of two bids and is negotiating to sell the player. So we completely refute any criticism from Real Madrid.” As for the unfortunate, but still quite funny matter of the shirts, Chelsea state “As for the issue regarding the website, Real are well aware this was a regrettable accident by an external supplier which was rectified as soon as it was brought to our attention and not a single shirt was sold.”

So, it’s probably fair to say there’s very little love lost between the clubs now but as entertaining as all this bitching is, it isn’t actually resolving anything. Thankfully the transfer window will be firmly closed by tomorrow night.

Who’s move is it next anyway?

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Will Robinho’s Statement Really Be One Chelsea Want To Hear?

With Chelsea and Robinho both reported as saying negotiations over a possible transfer are ongoing and Ramon Calderon very clearly stating the club have no intention of letting the Brazilian go, today sees Robinho’s second press conference of this summer’s lengthy transfer saga.

Robinho has called a news conference in the Spanish capital for today and all suggestions seem to indicate he intends to publicly try to persuade Real Madrid to let him leave mid-way through his current contract. This news raises two questions for me: firstly, is he actually going to state his reasons for wanting to leave Real as expected, or is this a u-turn where what he’ll actually do is commit himself to the two years he has left? Secondly, despite my total hatred for Real’s sheer arrogance and the utterly shoddy way they treat players – Robinho merely being this summer’s example of that – should Robinho really be pushing quite so hard to get out of a contract I presume he signed without the aid of thumbscrews?

As to whether he really plans to push for a move away from the Bernabeu, well, it’s not surprising the speculation points to this being the case. The 24 year old was reported to have stated only last week that he feels a move to Chelsea would not only be in his best interests but would be better for Real Madrid as well. However, he was also reported to have said yesterday “A lot of things are being published and they are not the truth. We are working to seal my future, nothing else.” So, read into that what you will.

Robinho was left out of today’s squad for the opening Primera Liga game against Deportivo, although coach Bernd Schuster was very clear this was not an indication of the player being sold to Chelsea. Schuster stated “A lot is going on and today it can’t be cleared up. It will be by September 2nd. For us, he continues to be an important player but we have to look at the player’s condition. In recent weeks the pressure around him has been greater, things have been said and the player is not in the right state. Next week when he comes back from international duty, we will be able to deal with him and everything will change.”

So, what can we take from Real’s certainty that Robinho won’t be going anywhere? Put it this way, Robinho’s agent has made no secret of the fact his client has felt undervalued at Real. Not just because they made it crystal clear during the summer that they wanted a replacement for him (even to the point of trying to use him as a bargaining tool to get Cristiano Ronaldo’s signature), but also in monetary terms. And yet Real must be only too aware that Chelsea have offered the Brazilian a hefty increase on what they’re paying him. However, in their failure to land any of the big signings they really wanted this summer, could it be the Spanish club have decided to give him a substantial rise? After all, the way they see it, they’ll get Ronaldo next summer and probably drop Robinho like a stone then anyway? So maybe that’s what Robinho actually meant when he said they were working to seal his future and negotiations were ongoing?

That’s where my suspicions about this press conference are raised anyway. I’d put nothing past Real Madrid, they seem supremely confident Robinho is staying, despite having publicly stated only a week ago they would never keep a player against his wishes, and knowing the egotistical Calderon – with “the most important club in the world” sinking to the new low of being turned down by all and sundry this summer, he’d like nothing better than for Robinho to show how important Real Madrid are by committing his future to them with full pomp and ceremony.

Anyway, if I’m just being far too cynical and Robinho does genuinely plan to use this press conference to state his desire to leave and the reasons for it, this brings me to the second question: is he right to do so? I mean, I’ve no intention to defend Real Madrid here because their treatment of Robinho this summer has been totally out of order at times, however, he did sign a contract and I’ve no reason to believe he did it under any duress, so why shouldn’t he be expected to honour it? Well technically, he doesn’t actually have to because the Brazilian has been at Real Madrid for three years and according to Article 17 of FIFA’s transfer regulations, any player who signs a deal when aged under 28 is able to unilaterally break that contract after a period of three years. But what about morally?

Surprisingly, there appears to be the distinct absence of comments from Sepp Blatter on this one, despite his statement around players being treated like ‘slaves’ earlier this summer. Although, that was about an English team not allowing one of their star players to go to Real Madrid, which is clearly a special case. However, looking at the argument from the other side of the coin, even the man who’s been courting Robinho all summer and had Chelsea utterly convinced the deal was done has stated in the past “No-one is forced into a contract, we’re expected to honour contracts, and our players should be too. Football has to look at this seriously. You need to be able to think, ‘This is not just my team for this season, but these guys are here two or three years.’ If fans thought next year there would be a new squad of 23 players, the game would lose something.”

Certainly, Cristiano Ronaldo was slated enough over the summer without ever stating he didn’t want to play for Manchester United. So, if this is a case of Robinho making a stand and ironically doing exactly what Real Madrid had failed to get Ronaldo to do earlier this summer (i.e. make a public stand regarding his desire to leave), will the Spanish club admit defeat or simply shackle him to the bench until next summer?