There is a race on.
The race to build the world's greatest squad, offering the hope of European dominance for a many years.
Why is it so important to win this race when it seems to be re-run every season? Well, there may not be the same freedom to buy in the coming seasons as UEFA and FIFA are looking at how they could control the debt-based spending, particularly of the top European teams—that could mean that the team with the best incumbent squad holds all the aces for many years.
So which teams are in the running to gain that priceless advantage and who is likely to win the race?
Real Madrid—Galacticos II—the new batch is a project already in the making but with debts already standing at about $1/2 billion, it's going to be interesting to see how far Calderon will be allowed to extend the clubs borrowings.
The previous Galacticos era was covered by a strange financial retrenchment involving the sale of the training ground and a few raised eyebrows. That option is no longer available, and with no other family silver to hock are we seeing the last hurrah of Madrid?
Manchester United—already massively in debt, United are already showing signs of limiting their spending. The proceeds from the Ronaldo sale and the lack of a Tevez deal perhaps mean that they are already taking themselves out of the running?
Arsenal—Prudence is the watchword at the most successful of the London clubs, add that to the faltering re-development of the old Highbury site, and long term investment is off the table. Very unlikely to even try to compete.
Barcelona—Unique in many ways, not driven by profits or buoyed by debts in any way like Real Madrid, Barca also seem reluctant to get involved in the spending frenzy. As laudable as the Barca model is, it may leave them lagging in the coming several years.
Liverpool—Debt, bad management, and bickering owners is likely to mean implosion rather than the building of an expensive squad. Very much the outsiders of the English contingent.
Bayern Munich—As with all German clubs, they have a different view of spending and team development. A membership-owned club with a strong revenue base, they do, however, lack punch in financial terms. Last year's €2.1m profit will not go very far in the coming race.
Chelsea—A wealthy owner with a history of spending hides the fact that the glory days of squad building are now in the past. Several managers have NOT been backed by the Rubles of Abramovich. Likely they peaked too early in spending terms and are very much NOT ready to take on...
Manchester City—The world's wealthiest club by any measure, they have every chance of capturing the best players in the next few transfer windows. The penny is likely to be dropping in the minds of the best players. There only seems to be two places offering to pay now, Real Madrid and Manchester City.
Starting way behind the others on the list, it appears to be set-up for a massive spending spree, which may well mean the best squad in 2011 is found in the blue hald of Manchester.
It is interesting to note that the transfer activity for this summer is pretty low key.
If you take out Madrid and City, it has been almost deathly quiet.
Even clubs such as Spurs are not making any moves; perhaps they are all waiting for City and Madrid to finish spending.
Perhaps City simply won't.