And just like that, silence sweeps over Barcelona.
Their rivals Real Madrid, in disarray the past two seasons with managerial switches and questionable signings, turned to the win-at-all costs supremo Florentino Perez to lead the club again. His last time in charge about a decade ago, he brought in one-name wonders Zidane, Ronaldo and Figo.
This week, he has outspent himself twice in a week’s worth of work. Monday it was Kaka for what’s was then a world record $90 mil, beating Zidane’s $77 million price tag. And today, Cristiano Ronaldo, for a new world record of $131 million (plus a salary of $15.7 million over the next five years with a 25% increase each year).
To say Madrid will be unbeatable is an understatement, especially once they begin clicking. That task shouldn’t take long with the unselfish Kaka servicing the goal-hungry Ronaldo as he tears through porous Spanish defenses and the Diarra boys (Mahamadou and Lassana) cleaning up behind them. And they can just as easily pluck midfielder Xabi Alonso from Liverpool by Sunday.
Manchester United is now $131 million richer, but that money will be spent paying an enormous debt. They’ll still have money for a couple of world-class players and some should be spent buying workhouse Carlos Tevez on a permanent basis. But if they play it cheap, the club might end up in a situation similar to when they sold another No. 7 to Madrid: from European pace-setters to playing second-fiddle in England to a London club (then Arsenal, now Chelsea). A younger nucleus (Anderson, Welbeck, Macheda) might help things turn out differently.
The certain loser? Nike. The jewel in their footballing crown, Ronaldo will be wearing Adidas threads in Madrid. And, it could get worse. The footwear giant also could lose Inter striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic to an Adidas-based club, as he could be in Madrid by Monday.