Spanish Debate: Why Real Madrid Must Go For Franck Ribery

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    FooSe
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    Spanish Debate: Why Real Madrid Must Go For Franck Ribery

    Post by FooSe on Thu Jan 15, 2009 12:03 pm

    Subhankar Mondal states the case for Real Madrid making a mega-money move for Bayern Munich star Franck Ribery...

    Ashley Young, Aaron Lennon, Antonio Valencia and Jermaine Pennant: what do these players have in common? 

    They all play in the Premier League, play on the wings, have pace and skill, are in their early or mid 20s, are good and in case of Ashley Young, very good but not world class. 

    Another common factor is that all of them have been linked with a move to mighty Real Madrid in January 2009. According to sources, Real were inclined to sign one of them and were reportedly knee deep in negotiations with Liverpool's Pennant only for the Madrid giants to get turned off by Pennant's obscene wage demands.  

    That Real Madrid are in the market for a winger is no secret and the search is set to continue for a little longer, especially since nothing concrete has been decided yet as to which wing player the Spanish champions would sign in the winter transfer period. 

    But president Ramon Calderon and sporting director Predrag Mijatovic might as well try and focus somewhere else for a world class winger; they would be making a wise move if they look towards Germany and precisely Bayern Munich. Franck Ribery's recent confessions that he dreams of playing for the Blancos must be an indication for Calderon and Mijatovic to pick up the trail and take it from there. 

    Why Ribery? 

    Now, Ribery is a world class and proven versatile footballer, not necessarily an Arjen Robben-esque winger but a midfielder who functions as a winger and can cut inside to play in central midfield too. He was voted the best in the Bundesliga in 2007/08 and is also the most important player for Bayern Munich. 

    He has exhibited a very good degree of pace combined with intricate skills, has led the Bayern attack by example and has looked refreshingly energetic and full of ideas, elements that the Real Madrid should be delighted to incorporate. 

    Franck Ribery missed the start of the 2008-2009 season due to a knee injury he sustained at Euro 2008 but since returning has started 10 games in the Bundesliga and five in the UEFA Champions League for Bayern, scoring seven times in total. Just like in the Bundesliga, he has been a key factor in Bayern's surge in Europe and for Bayern to progress further in the Champions League this season, Ribery has to sustain his rich vein in form. 

    Franck Ribery is only 25 (he shall turn 26 in April) and is understandably furiously ambitious, which is why in a recent interview with the "Kicker" magazine, he said that although "Bayern are one of the most important clubs in the world" and that he feels good playing for them, he knows that "there are other clubs that make you dream - Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester United", adding that he likes "Madrid for their story and history".  

    Maybe this is stretching the line a bit too far but wasn't this a subtle come-and-get-me-plea from the French international or at least a demonstration to Real to try and commence negotiations with Bayern? 

    An Important Piece Of The Jigsaw? 

    Ribery's inclusion in the Real Madrid set-up would ensure that the Merengues have a world class player on either flank. A fit again Arjen Robben is arguably the best in the world as his recent upsurge in form, epitomized by that exquisite goal against Villarreal eight days ago, has so aptly exhibited. A left footed player, the Dutch international usually plays on the right flank but does as much harm to the opposition. 

    But Robben is the only recognizable winger in the current Real Madrid side. Roysten Drenthe is a left sided full-back and midfielder, Wesley Sneijder has played on the wing but is not a winger and neither is Rafael van der Vaart or Gonzalo Higuain.

     
    Which is why Real are so desperate to sign a winger in January: to allow more width in their game, something that can then be capitalized on by coach Juande Ramos. Having genuine wingers on either flank would mean more entertainment for the fans and more threats for the opposition.  

    The Best Available 

    Franck Ribery is certainly a better player than Lennon, Pennant, Young or Valencia. While Lennon has tremendous amount of pace and has exhibited enough promise and quality, at 21 he is perhaps too young to make an immediate impact at the Bernabeu. 

    Pennant cannot get any better than he already is and is not world class; Valencia is not Real Madrid material in the same way that Thomas Gravesen never was while Ashley Young, rated as one of the best players in the Premier League and should be a success in La Liga too but is unlikely to leave Aston Villa this month. 

    Bayern wouldn't let Ribery leave this month anyhow and things might be just as difficult for Real in the summer. It is reported that Bayern would negotiate a deal only if the prospective buyer is eager to splash out €60 million, just €5 million short of what Real paid FC Barcelona in the summer of 2000 for the services of another wide-man, Luis Figo. 

    €60 million might be a bit too much but there can be no doubt that Ribery would be a success in Spain. This is the player who was one of the instrumental players in leading France to the final of the 2006 Germany World Cup, a player who in two seasons at Bayern attested that he can play for a big club and play successfully too. 

    Born in the fishing port of Boulogne-sur-Mer, Ribery learnt to play on the streets and has been something of a footballing journeyman, having featured for six clubs in six seasons. 

    This doesn't bear much credibility to his commitment to long-term relationships club-wise. But then again, he had not really found a club or team-mates that would do justice to his talent until he moved to Bayern Munich in June 2007 on a four-year contract. 

    Real Madrid are apparently out of the league race in Spain this season, although things under Juande Ramos can and will improve. But they are very much in the UEFA Champions League and are therefore likely to sign a winger in January who can play for them in Europe. 

    In any case, signing an Aaron Lennon or Jermaine Pennant should be a stop-gap situation and shouldn't be a long term solution. Given what the Madrid giants usually do, they shall be busy in the 2009 summer transfer season again and it should do a hell lot of good if they then try and sign Frank Ribery from Bayern Munich.
     
    Which, let us remind ourselves, is not going to be easy at all.

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