Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wednesday Links

Just a Wednesday tour around the football world.

The rich get richer? Ribery's agent says he favors a move to Real Madrid.

Barcelona targeting Javier Mascherano, will he stay or go? Benitez says he's staying, Mauricio Pellegrino thinks he may move on.

In more positive Liverpool news, Glen Johnson has joined the squad from Portsmouth. It seems likely that Arbeloa will move to Spain. Some are worried that Liverpool overpaid, but Benitez defends the signing.

The Guardian's Andy Hunter defends the cost.

Liverpool owners Gillett and Hicks are selling other pieces of their sports empires to be able to pay the debt for Liverpool. It certainly looks as though the Americans are here to stay. Here's Phil Holland's take over at ESPN.

Atletico Madrid attempted to squash the Manchester United-Sergio Aguero rumors (or at least drive up the price for their star).

Robinho would like Manchester City to sign Eto'o. And Tevez. After already signing Rogue Santa Cruz. No one has ever won anything defending anyway.

Casillas insists he's staying at the Bernabeu.

And finally, a very interesting take on the death of Italian football from Dominic Raynor.

If you're too lazy to read the article (seriously, it would take two minutes), the basic premise is that Italian football, both at the club and international level, is losing its luster. Not a hard case to make after the national side failed to advance out of the group stage in the Confederations Cup, and no Italian side managed to make the Champions League quarters. Oh, and the best player in Serie A just went to Madrid. And Pato might leave too. And Ibrahimovic. And Maicon. And Pirlo.

I don't really enjoy the deeply tactical Italian football, but I also appreciate diversity in quality sides, particularly in the Champions League. But in the era of money in football, so far the Italians are not able to compete. The last two years have featured three British sides and Barcelona in the Champions League semis. Can anyone really claim that there are more than six sides (four British and two Spanish, you know who they are) with a realistic chance to win the Champions League next year? Porto's magical run seems like a long time ago. Who else could even make a case? The Italians were nowhere close to good enough last year, and the best players in Italy are being poached by those "Big Six" world clubs (and Man City I suppose, but that's a topic for another day). Bayern were humiliated last year when they still had Ribery, which they surely will not next year. Porto? A lesser Spanish club? Hard to imagine.

I appreciate titanic Champions League clashes among the big clubs as much as anyone. But it would be nice if the rest of the clubs felt like they had a reason to show up.

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