World Football Quotes of the Week: Bale Nearly Failed and Balotelli's No Killer
Although it’s the excitement on the pitch that undoubtedly fuels one’s love for the sport, what happens off of it can sometimes be just as much of a spectacle.
This week brought managers, players and pundits alike their chance to take centre stage through the wonders of communication, though not all to good effect.
Bad boys claiming innocence of murder, retired legends in disbelief over their fame and a certain European manager claiming his side aren’t fit to challenge for the Champions League.
All that and more lies ahead in this week’s world football quotes of the week.
Gareth Bale’s Agent: “Real Move Came Close to Falling Apart”
The most expensive transfer of all time was clearly the highlight of this summer’s conducted business, with Gareth Bale finally completing his highly anticipated move to Real Madrid.
However, the Welshman’s agent, Jonathan Barnett, confirmed earlier this week that his client almost moved elsewhere, claiming that an unnamed club offered “a lot more money.”
Speaking to Spanish football show Jugones (h/t The Independent), Barnett commented:
The signing of Bale came close to falling apart. Tottenham made a bid for Bale to stay. Meetings were not always peace and love, some were harsh with disagreements.
The Spanish press didn’t understand why Tottenham weren’t agreeing to the money, but if Tottenham needed money the deal would have been done the first day. Moreover, there was a club that offered more money than Real Madrid. A lot more money.
In these circumstances, the words of agents often need to be taken with a pinch of salt, but given that Bale is already one of the world’s highest-paid players, Barnett presumably has little reason to exaggerate the truth of the matter.
Just who the more lucrative offer supposedly came from is still unknown and may not become apparent for some time, but Sky Sports have already reported Manchester United’s David Moyes as denying it was his club.
Mario Balotelli: 'I Didn’t Kill Anybody'
Don’t worry. Serie A’s wild child hasn’t gone to an extreme that even he can’t come back from, but Mario Balotelli merely used the example of murder to illustrate just how minuscule his most recent “crime” was.
Last week, Balotelli missed the first penalty of his professional career after developing a huge reputation as being Mr. Reliable from 12 yards out, before then being sent off against Napoli.
The Azzurri’s Pepe Reina was the man who played judge, jury and executioner to the Italian’s spot kick record, but it was the fallout of the red card performance that proved equally as interesting as Balotelli’s forgettable outing.
Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Goal.com), the Italian international stated:
First of all I am sorry for my team-mates. They train and work hard with me, so with this gesture I left them alone. I also feel guilty for the fans, who care so much, and of course the club. I also apologise to the referee, as I should not have reacted that way. I do realise I have to resist in certain situations.
But against Napoli it was the same old story, the fouls against me don’t seem to count, but as soon as I do anything, [it’s a foul]. I just want others to be punished for fouling me the same way I am for fouling them.
Mario got it wrong and Mario apologises, but I don’t want to apologise to everyone because it’s not as if I killed someone.
The announcement shows a side of the striker that hasn’t been seen all too often in his controversy-laden career thus far and is a refreshing change from the boy who set fire to his own house back in his days as a Citizen.
Balotelli is of course right in saying that he hasn’t committed a mortal sin in earning his red card, but time will tell to see if the player has truly learned from his mistakes.
Dennis Bergkamp: 'I'm in London...I'm on Teletext. Me!'
For those among the football masses perhaps a little young to remember Teletext, the television application was a format long before the days of wi-fi and 3G internet being so readily available.
In 1995, Ceefax was one of the quickest ways to find out the biggest news on the go, and Dennis Bergkamp was as surprised as any to see his name in the multi-coloured lights.
It was then that the Dutchman completed his £7.5 million switch to Highbury, but Bleacher Report weren’t always around to give up-to-date transfer news.
The Daily Mail’s Adam Shergold reports the Dutchman’s humility, and Bergkamp was then as overawed as any to find his name in the Ceefax headlines:
As normal, I look up the sports headlines on teletext. We get the BBC in Holland so I know about Ceefax. I call up page 301 and I'm shocked. The first two lines are in huge letters: "BERGKAMP JOINS ARSENAL."
For the first time it hits me: "Woah! What's going on here?" I'm in this big country. I'm in London... I'm on teletext. Me! They must rate me here, they still expect me to be like Van Basten or Gullit. I don't think of myself like that.
Quickly, I go to page 302, the football page, and there it is in more detail: 'DUTCH STRIKER GOES FOR £7.5MILLION.’ 'It was the first time it really hit what people expected of me. I looked at Henrita [his wife]: 'This is amazing! I have to step up.'
And step up the player, of course, would. In over 400 games for the Gunners, Bergkamp scored 120 goals and was an omnipresent force in the most fruitful period of Arsenal history.
In a way, it’s unfortunate that no player of Bergkamp’s profile is likely to ever feel that kind of joy again, merely due to the fact that we cover just about every inch of the game in so much depth these days.
Pepe Reina: 'It's Difficult to Think About Being a Liverpool Player'
Although currently on loan at Napoli, Pepe Reina will have another two years to run on his Liverpool contract when he returns to Merseyside next summer.
That being said, it doesn’t seem like the Spaniard will have much of a Reds career to return to after claiming that it’s difficult to see himself back at Anfield.
In Naples, Reina has linked back up with former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez and is not only enjoying Champions League football but the promise of challenging for Serie A honours.
Matt Barlow of the Daily Mail spoke to the 31-year-old, who admitted that the fashion in which his loan to Napoli came about was a shock:
It did come as a surprise. It was the club [Liverpool] who made the move. I was on my holidays and nobody told me anything. Suddenly Napoli called and said they were agreeing terms with Liverpool and Liverpool just rang me two days later and said the same. They probably had their own reasons.
At the moment it's difficult to think about being a Liverpool player next year. They have a young goalkeeper in Simon Mignolet and the manager prefers him to me. That's the reason why I'm here and he will be at the club next year as well.
Mignolet is, after all, another who’s been in fine form for his new side at points this season, but there remains a fairly unsavoury tone about how Reina’s stay at Liverpool was cut short, or at the very least put on hold.
There's no reason to think I'll be a Liverpool player from now on but we'll see where the future takes us. It's been a good move so far and I don't regret what happened. I would have preferred to say goodbye in a different way.
Having spent the least eight years with the Merseyside club, it’s difficult to blame the goalkeeper for feeling slightly sentimental.
Diego Costa: 'How Could I Say No to Del Bosque?'
For some time now, the Spanish national team have struggled to boast a reliable striking asset among their ranks for a variety of reasons, even going as far as to pioneer the 4-6-0 formation that won them last year’s Euro 2012.
Diego Costa has been in mercurial form for Atletico Madrid this season, scoring eight times in seven La Liga outings, including the sole finish in this weekend’s 1-0 landmark win over Real Madrid.
A subject of great debate in recent weeks has been whether or not the 24-year-old, who is indeed a Spanish citizen, can and should switch national allegiances for Spain in time for next summer’s World Cup.
Costa has already turned out for the Brazilian national team on two occasions, but could be eligible for La Furia Roja due to the fact that both those appearances came in friendly outings.
With the likes of Neymar, Hulk, Alexandre Pato and Fred forming his attacking line for much of World Cup qualification, Luiz Felipe Scolari has continued to overlook the Atleti forward, fine scoring form or not.
Earlier this week, Costa was reported by Brazilian website Lance! (h/t Goal.com) as saying:
If Del Bosque calls me up, how could I say no? I am going to choose the national team with which I feel most comfortable, I am not going to be false. I am relaxed and if the offer comes one day, then I will think about it.
It would be an honour if Spain looked at me, but I am not thinking about that - I am only focused on the derby on Saturday [against Real Madrid].
For every professional footballer, playing at the World Cup is the pinnacle of their profession and if Costa—with Atletico since his late teens—isn’t getting international recognition with his native Brazil, it’s understandable that he might seek it elsewhere.
Scolari is reported by FourFourTwo as saying that his squad isn’t complete yet and that “any Brazilian player in the world can join the national team in 2014.”
If that is indeed the case, I, and I’m sure many others, will be scrambling to find some loophole in sorting out Selecao citizenship as soon as possible.
Moyes: 'We Haven’t Got It'
True to current form, Manchester United’s chances of maiden campaign success under David Moyes are already being written off by the man himself.
In the wake of the Red Devils’ most recent result, a dismal 2-1 loss at home to West Brom, the Scotsman was quick to point out the lack of star quality in his side.
The Mirror support Moyes as saying:
To win the Champions League you have to have five or six world-class players.
If you look at Bayern Munich, they have five or six really world-class players, and to win it you might have to have that in your squad. Look at Barcelona, who had it in the past, and Real Madrid have maybe got it now.
That’s the level you have to get at to win it. We’ve not got that yet. What we have got is experience and several players who are in that category or close to it.
It’s news that won’t come as particularly encouraging to the Old Trafford faithful but a bitter honesty that perhaps needs to be realised.
Following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, there was always going to be a period of settling in for Moyes, but United perhaps weren’t expecting their worst Premier League start for 24 years.
What Moyes added was a message to the club’s fans, noting: “Support your team and club. In football, there is no guarantee that you are going to win games.”