Since agreeing a deal with Real Madrid for Cristiano Ronaldo, rival fans have looked for any possible way to have a pop at us about it. Considering we’ve won three league titles, the European Cup, the FA Cup and two League Cups with Ronaldo in our squad, it really is hard to argue that we haven’t got value for money on a player we bought six years ago for £12.24m. After helping us to win all those trophies, we’ve gone on to sell him for over six times what we paid for him. Christ almighty, will there ever be a better deal in football? The lad wanted to leave and we still totally smashed the World record transfer fee and made close to a £68m profit!
But of course, this is Manchester United, so it stands to reason that everyone else will be getting off on something they see to be our misfortune. It’s been the same whenever any big player has moved along. Lest we forget the last time this amount of fuss was seen was when David Beckham was sold to Real Madrid. Do you want to remind all these ABUs that our replacement for Beckham turned out to be the Best Player In The World (TM), or shall I?
So, to try and make themselves feel better about the fact they’re not English Champions and we are, the fact that we’ve got £80m for a player we spent £12.24m on and they haven’t, and the fact that we’ll still be favourites to win the title again next season and they won’t, with or without Ronaldo, the jokes start to roll, like the one this Arsenal site.
Manchester United are Real Madrid’s feeder club.
We’ve sold four players to the Spanish club in the past six years and they weren’t just any old players, they were good players, so maybe this ‘feeder club’ tag is accurate.
First it was David Beckham in 2003 who we sold for £24.5m, all at a profit as he came from our youth academy. He was 28-years-old, having seen out the best days of his career and helping the club win six league titles, two FA Cups and the European Cup. His love for the game was at a low point, too consumed with fame and financial success, so it was the right time to sell. He was ready for a new challenge and it was time to part ways.
Next it was Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2006 who we sold for £11m after paying £19m for him. We had him from being 25 to 30, the very peak of his career, scoring 150 goals in 219 games, winning the league, the FA Cup and the League Cup. We still got a respectable transfer fee for him though, which was good going considering he wanted out and was now in his 30s. He played in just six league games in his third season, kept out all year with injury, and has now been linked with a £1.25m return to the Premiership this summer.
Then Gabriel Heinze in 2007, who did the unspeakable and tried to leave the club to join Liverpool! Clearly Ferguson wasn’t having that and would have sold him to anyone who asked. We had bought him for £6.9m as a 26-year-old, then sold him for £8m as 29-year-old. In his first season he managed just 20 league games and in his second season just 24 league games, suffering injury after injury after injury.
Now the most recent deal to be agreed is £80m for Cristiano Ronaldo. I’ve already looked at what a fantastic bit of business this is.
I hate Real Madrid but in reality they’re only a worse version of what we are. It’s all relative. Conference sides might look at teams in League Two the same way, just as League Two may look at League One teams, and League One teams may look at Championship teams etc. If you have more money than another team then you stand a good chance of buying their player. For example, Mathieu Flamini verbally agreed to sign professional terms with Marseille, the club whose youth team he belonged to. But Arsenal came in with more money and he left his boyhood team, committing “beautiful treason”. It was no surprise when four seasons later he did the same thing to Arsenal that he did to Marseille, moving up to an even bigger club, AC Milan, on a free transfer. Ouch, but that’s football these days.
So if we’re going to rip a club off, make them pay way over the odds for players whose careers have certainly come to an end with us, then I’m glad it is Real Madrid. Whilst City have more money than Real, the Spanish club also have the history and reputation to bring in the best players, and they take full advantage of that. They have spent £274.3m on (Ronaldo), Kaka, Zidane, Figo, Ronaldo and Beckham. That is insane. So if we can get our mits on some of their money then great, particularly when you consider that the four players in question had enjoyed successful years with United, all four of them winning the Premiership with us at least once, and all four of them seeking a move. You can’t make a player stay at your club if he wants off but if you can make a profit on him then you’re doing well for yourself.
Over six years, we’ve had £127.7m from Real Madrid for players that we paid £38.14m for! That’s a profit of £89.56m and an average income of £20.45m over the six years.
So, are we their feeder club? Personally, I’d argue we’d robbed them blind and I’m sure Arsenal are one of the many clubs who wished Real Madrid used them as a ‘feeder club’ when you get to rake in the money United have from them. We have players whose United careers have run their course and then we get to sell them off at a profit! It’s fantastic business! But I’m happy to smile and laugh along with their joke. Don’t be cruel. You know we’d be making the same jokes if we were in their position and if Real Madrid continue to give us £20.45m a season for players whose United career is over, I’ll be more than happy to continue being their ‘feeder club’!