Most people have become accustomed to hearing about clubs like Chelsea, Real Madrid, and Manchester United being linked with big money moves for star players.
But two weeks ago, no one would’ve predicted that United’s cross-town rivals, Manchester City, would be joining them on the list of big time buyers.
Following Abu Dhabi United Group for Development and Investment’s purchase of Manchester City Football Club, Mark Hughes’ side have been constantly linked with some of the best players in the world.
But what is shocking is not the fact that a team as unsuccessful as Manchester City is being linked with such high profile players, but instead the amount of cash ADUG is willing to spend.
Dr. Sulaiman Al Fahim, ADUG’s front man and the man mainly responsible for completing the £210 million buy-out of City, has revealed some of the players he hopes to bring to Manchester City.
Al Fahim intends on splashing as much cash as possible to complete his mission of making Manchester City the biggest club in the world.
The Arabian businessman has been linked with a bid for World Cup winning goalkeeper, Gianluigi Buffon, but Juventus insist they won’t even sell Buffon for £65 million. And as if Buffon’s price tag isn’t baffling enough, Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo is reported to be a target for £135 million!
Manchester City’s "planned" bid for Ronaldo makes Real Madrid’s £70 million bid over the summer seem like small change.
Yet according to Al Fahim he will still have enough money to buy Kaka for £60 million from AC Milan, and Liverpool’s Fernando Torres for £50 million. There seems to be no end to his supply of money.
But that is not all.
Al Fahim is pressing ahead with former owner Thaksin Shinawatra’s plans to purchase the City of Manchester Stadium. The stadium is currently owned by the local council, but Al Fahim intends to buy the stadium and the surrounding land in order to build a sports and leisure complex every football team in the world will covet.
It is reported, however, that Manchester City’s new owners will have to spend more than 100 million to buy the stadium, and that doesn’t even include the costs of expanding the 48,000 capacity.
If there is one thing that’s clear, Manchester City has enough money to at least attempt to be the biggest football club in the world. But there is so much more to football than money.
Look at Manchester United and Real Madrid, the two richest clubs in the world and amongst the most successful. They clearly have a lot of money, but their money and success didn’t suddenly just appear one day in the form of an Arabian business group.
The world’s biggest clubs, such as Manchester United, Real Madrid, and AC Milan have all relied on success to gain status as some of the world’s biggest clubs. But there’s even more to it than that.
Take Manchester United for instance. The Red Devils are arguably the most popular club in the world, and can boast one of the richest histories of any football club around.
33-year-old winger Ryan Giggs, who has played his entire professional career in the red of Manchester United, believes United are the biggest club in the world.
“City have the richest owner in the world but I still see United as the biggest club in the world," Giggs said. "United have a status and history that has taken years to build up. It stretches back to the Busby Babes, to players like Bobby Charlton and George Best.”
And despite City’s abundance of resources, Giggs is adamant money can’t provide United’s local rivals with the popularity they seek in order to be the world’s biggest club.
“It will be very interesting to see what happens at City, but what we have at United is very special,” the Welsh winger added. “You see it when we go abroad in pre-season, you appreciate how popular United is. We have fans in India, China, South America. That popularity is a result of our history. Money can't necessarily get you that."
Manchester United have won England’s top division 17 times and have lifted the FA Cup a record 11 times. The Red Devils have also won the Champions League on three occasions.
Sir Alex Ferguson is far from concerned about Manchester City’s newly-acquired wealth.
"I can't be worried,” said Sir Alex. “There are always challenges in football. Some years ago it was Chelsea, before that it was Arsenal. "Wherever the challenges come you just have to accept it. We have a good set-up ourselves. We have been working for years to build the team we have got."
It clearly takes a lot more than money. Real Madrid may be one of the biggest and richest football clubs in the world, but they have won the La Liga a record 31 times to go along with their nine Champions League victories, also a record no club has matched yet.
AC Milan has won the Champions League on seven occasions and also has 17 league titles to their name.
Money isn’t everything, Manchester City. It takes decades for a football club to be recognized as the world’s best. After all, Chelsea has been trying to reach that point ever since Roman Abramovich took over and they still haven’t managed to get there yet.
The Champions League runners-up were already one of the best clubs in England before Abramovich brought his money onto the scene, while Manchester City are a mid-table club who have failed to win a major honor in over 30 years.
So no matter what Manchester City’s new owners do with their money, they will not gain status as the world’s biggest club any time soon. It will be years before City can even consider themselves as one of England’s best, and decades before they can be renowned as the one of the world’s biggest clubs.