When I heard Ricardo Quaresma had made the cut for Paulo Bento’s provisional 2014 World Cup finals squad I thought about my most vivid memory of the winger. It was February 2007, in a friendly against Brazil at the Emirates. Another money-spinning game between two Nike sponsored teams. Quaresma along with a 22-year old Cristiano Ronaldo were simply unplayable tearing into Gilberto, Maicon, Lucio and company that night.
There’s consolation goals and then there’s ‘scant’ consolation goals like the one Klass Jan Huntelaar scored against Real Madrid. In any other circumstance, the Dutchman’s volley was worthy of winning any game if it wasn’t for the Benzema, Bale and Ronaldo blitz in the previous 89 minutes.
La Liga is officially a three horse race. Not since Javi Irrueta’s Deportivo or Los Che under Rafa Benitez have we really been able to say it without real conviction.
Gareth Bale didn’t choose the figure Real Madrid paid to take him away from Spurs, but like it or not, the world’s most expensive footballer will spend his time in Spain having to prove he was worth the money.
The invitation to take part in the Juan Gamper trophy no doubt sweetened the deal to bring the pin-up boy of Brazilian football to the Camp Nou. A deal that has been in the making since 2010 when Sandro Rosell succeeded Joan Laporta as Barcelona president. The former Nike exec finally got his man and Neymar will line up alongside Messi, Xavi and Iniesta in the famous maroon and blue jersey.
The best things in life are free but don’t forget the six-figure contract or the agent fee. Okay, so Janet and Luther didn’t quite sing it like that but when Monaco is flashing the big bucks along with PSG, Manchester City and Chelsea like spoilt rich kids, it’s left to the rest to strengthen on a budget.
If Marcelo dreamt of making his debut for Brazil, he probably envisaged a backdrop more glamorous than a dreary Tuesday evening in North London. White Hart Lane will now forever be in the memory of the Real Madrid left back as the ground where he first laced those boots up to step out for the Seleção. I was there that night in 2006 to see the Brazilian supporters out in full force and a game that Brazil were worthy of a 2-0 win.