Is Florentino Perez Headed Down A Familiar Road?

Puneet SinghContributor IJune 7, 2009

MADRID, SPAIN - JUNE 02:  New Real Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini smiles flanked by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez during the presentation of the 55-year-old former Villarreal coach at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium on June 2, 2009 in Madrid, Spain. Pellegrini has signed a two-year deal with Los Merengues.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Luis Figo, Ronaldo, Antonio Cassano, Michael Owen. 

In case you didn't catch the trend, these all were players of Real Madrid at one point during their famed "Galacticos" era, which was Florentino Perez's theory of buying ONE megastar player each season to go along with promoting players from their youth academy.

While the Galacticos provided beautiful and entertaining football, the trophies and results were limited. Outside of the La Liga title in 02-03 and the Supercup De Espana in 2003, Madrid went trophy less from 2003-2006. 

In addition to the trophy drought, there was a coaching carousel every year. Vincente Del Bosque, Carlos Queiroz, Jose Antonio Camacho, Mariano Garcia Remon, Vanderlei Luxemburgo and Juan Ramon Lopez Caro all managed Madrid from 2002 to 2006 whether it was on an interim or permanent basis.

It wasn't til the end of the 2007 campaign when Madrid finally had one new piece of silverware by winning La Liga.

Ironically by then the Galacticos era had come to an end, with the last two of the Galacticos, David Beckham and Roberto Carlos playing their last games for the storied club, whilst Ronaldo was sold in that January 2007 transfer window to AC Milan.

At that moment on June 17th, 2007 every last piece of the Galacticos monster had officially be finished. Perez had been removed a few years prior with Ramon Calderon being the man credited and responsible for dethroning Barcelona's reign as Spain's kings and champions.

Real would go on to win La Liga again for the 2007-2008 campaign. Bernd Schuster was in his 1st year as coach of Madrid, and along with the big signings Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, and Pepe, Madrid was able to coast to the Liga title, in part to the falling apart of Barca, but also through semi attractive football that Schuster could conjure.

But again failure came about that year, with Madrid being unable to get to the round of 16 in Champions League play falling to Roma 2 - 1 both legs and 4 - 2 overall on aggregate.

Last year however was a MAJOR step back for Real.

During the summer 2008 transfer window Calderon had signed Ezequiel Garay, the young Argentine defender from Racing Santander to address the thin backline, but immediately loaned him back to Racing.

But most of the summer was surrounded by the saga of Cristiano Ronaldo.

And because of this, Madrid also lost Robinho, who broke all ties away from Real and was trying to manufacture a transfer to Chelsea.

In the end as we all know, Robinho was sold to Manchester City.

When failing to sign Ronaldo, it seems as if Calderon had panicked and signed Rafael Van Der Vaart, who in the first few coming weeks proved to be a steal of a signing at 12 million.

All the while, all Schuster has asked for was a CB to play and help right away and a big name forward. NOT another MF.

Injuries began to hit Real and hard. Van Nistelrooy was done for the year as was Mamadou Diarra, both lost to knee injuries. Wesley Sneijder had injured his knee as well but it would cost him to miss only half the season. 

When it was all said and done, Schuster stepped down as Real Madrid manager on December 9th, 2008, leaving Madrid in a state of shambles; partly his fault, mainly managements.

Upon his departure, Juande Ramos was appointed in charge of Real on an interm basis. During the January window he purchased Lassana Diarra and Klaas Jan-Huntelaar and acquired Julian Faubert on loan.

During the January window it was confirmed that Ramon Calderon, the president of Madrid that time, would be sacked. His replacement would be Vicente Boulda for the rest of the 08-09 season.

While Ramos and Boulda did the best they could to right the ship, Madrid lost La Liga to Barcelona once again, and get demolished in Champions League again, this time losing to Liverpool 5-0 on aggregate.

Although an embarrassing defeat, the worst would come on May 2nd, 2009 when Madrid lost to Barca 6-2 during the "El Classico" derby AT THEIR HOME.

Ultimately, this would be the Barca victory that led to Barca winning La Liga, deflating the sliver of hope Madrid hung onto.

So here were stand today on June 7th, 2009. 

Madrid have entered a new regime yet again but this time with a familiar face: Florentino Perez.

On June 1st, Florentino was once again appointed the president of Real Madrid. Perez wasted no time making his presence felt, bringing a new coach with him in Manuel Pellegrini formerly of Villareal, within 24 hours of his appointment.

Perez has once again promised a clean house and big names.

He has already said, big players such as Robben, Van Nistelrooy, Sneijder, Van Der Vaart, Saviola, Gago, and Mamadou Diarra all could be headed for the exit, so Perez can continue to build his new Dream Team.

And if the rumours are true, Perez may have already delivered.

Reports from all over are claiming that Kaka has agreed to join Madrid and that Silvio Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani have agreed with Perez on a fee to acquire him.

But are Madrid doing the right thing? Is buying marquee players the correct philosophy for Madrid?

The answer is Yes and No.

The No comes from the fact that Madrid should just address the backline of theirs and buy a forward and they should be right on track. No need to clean house and break down an entire squad.

The Yes wins though. And here's why:

Madrid need a new image. They need to bring the flair of Figo, Ronaldo, Beckham and Zidane back into their lineup.

Now while Madrid have many great players, do they have WORLD CLASS Players? In short: no. Outside of Robben, Sergio Ramos and the emerging Gonzalo Higuain, there is no one else who is considered a World Class talent. Very good, but not world class. 

While Madrid have won a few things here and there over the past 2-3 seasons, have they advanced further in CL play? This is where big game experience kicks in.

This is why the signing of Kaka is so big. He is a professional. A professional athlete and human being. This is what Florentino bought when he bought Zidane from Juventus.

He can build the type of legacy that Zidane had built while plying his trade at the Bernabeau. That is partly why Zidane wants him to don his old number 5 should he arrive to Madrid; almost as if to follow in Zidane's footprints.

Along with Kaka, Franck Ribery, David Villa, Karim Benzema, David Silva, Xabi Alonso, Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrihimovic and Maicon are all being wooed to play for the Blancos. Florentino has stated on numberous occasions that out of this bunch, there will be one more to arrive at the Bernabeau this summer.

All have played in the Champions League over the years and have featured heavily for their respective countries during International Tournaments.

Given Perez's track record and ability to sign any player like it is FIFA or Football manager, I would not put anything past him.

In the end we will have to see for ourselves. Can Galacticos 2.0 do what the original Galacticos couldn't do; Conquer Spain and all of Europe and give Madrid the glory that Barcelona is receiving this year for their accomplishments.

Is it possible? Only time will tell if Florentino can finally put the right pieces to the Madrid puzzle this time around.


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