Dean-Richards: Dortmund's value not measured in trophies, but in the transfer market price of its players
Posted by Ethan Dean-Richards under Uefa Champions League, Bayern Munich, Football Finance, Borussia Dortmund on May 24, 2013
The Champions League final has been about adverts since its inception. If you’re looking to be convinced to buy beer, a television sports package or anything else you can think of to help feel masculine, spending a couple of hours tuned in to coverage of Borussia Dortmund versus Bayern Munich will do you very little harm, aside from the fact that all of these are terrible, terrible products. But this year’s final has an added bonus: the game itself is actually going to be an advert this time, with most of Dortmund’s exciting young players being linked to other, less successful, but financially rolling in it clubs.
Pick a newspaper or television channel right now and their transfer roundup section will be full of Dortmund players. The Guardian’s football page is full of match previews and bland chatter about the game; alongside all that is the ‘buyer’s guide’ to Dortmund. Rather than being able to celebrate the moment – the brilliant achievement – of playing in the Champions League final, the most exciting team in Europe this season is being discussed as a set of assets, ready to move on to bigger things. Not bigger footballing achievements – they’re at the pinnacle there – but bigger pay-days.
Mario Goetze isn’t playing because he’s injured. Or ‘injured’, depending on how you want to think about the world. Dortmund’s best player, whether he’s not playing for this reason or because he really is injured, is playing for their opponents next season. Dortmund’s reward for bringing him up through the ranks is having him taken off their hands as soon as he starts looking a bit handy. ‘Let’s play a game. Us against you.’ ‘Okay.’ ‘Before we start, we’ll have all your best players’ ‘That doesn’t sound like a great game’ ‘You’ve missed the point of this game.’
Watching Dortmund play tomorrow should be fun, but instead it’s miserable – spelt ‘F-U-C-K T-H-I-S’. I mean, Juergen Klopp spoke about the process he’s working against earlier on in the week: “Shinji Kagawa is one of the best players in the world and he now plays 20 minutes at Manchester United – on the left wing! My heart breaks. Really, I have tears in my eyes. Central midfield is Shinji’s best role. He’s an offensive midfielder with one of the best noses for goal I ever saw.” Kagawa was nicked from Dortmund last season, now he’s being wasted by United. The teams Dortmund are being picked apart by have so much money that they literally can’t spend it all on a first eleven, they’ve had to start putting together entire squads of talent made elsewhere. So rather than getting to see it every week at Dortmund, the talent gets bottled up. What fun!
None of this is new, it’s just an extreme example of a footballing culture gone bad. Teams like Dortmund take all of the risks on players, either developing them for years or picking them up when they aren’t certain to be worth the money, and then get no time to enjoy the reward when those risks come off , or rather when the result of careful calculations come off. Teams like United and Bayern, on the other hand, incur none of the risks, because they’ve got the money to buy guaranteed talent. Why’s this bad? Well, if you think things being this unequal and this unfair counts as bad, which I do, then it’s bad. But even if you don’t care about those things – even if you regularly masturbate over images of famous capitalists – you’re going to have to agree that this process is just boring, and that makes it bad too.
When Bayern play Dortmund we don’t get to watch Gotze, one of the most talented players in the world, maybe because he’s already been bought by Bayern. Worse, we don’t get to see this Dortmund team grow together, because it’s going to be picked apart by clubs who have been far less astute than Dortmund, but, largely, happen to have more money than them. And that all takes away from the spectacle of what, in terms of ball-kicking alone, could be a great final. It has to take away from it. We’re watching one long advertisement. BUT I DON’T WANT TO BUY A F*CKING ELECTRIC RAZOR.
Christian Benteke is being linked with a move away from Aston Villa and the same principle as just described applies. When Villa signed him last summer, I remember people saying that he wasn’t even that highly rated given what Villa were spending on him. They got one season of reward for that risk and now a bigger club will take him off their hands. Booooorrrrriinnnng.
Posted by Devang Desai under Tennis, Fanatico Guides, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal, French Open on May 24, 2013
The French Open has always held a sacred place in this tennis fan’s heart. Parisians aren’t like you or I. Fact is, they’re better. Whether it’s smoking cigarettes in the stands or vociferously booing players for no discernible reason, they do things their own way. Refined jerks add so much more to the sporting landscape with their hooting and demonstrative sighing than the casual fan. The game – nay, the world – would be worse off without them.
Here’s looking at you, Satan.
We head into the second major of the year with less questions to answer than expected. Rafael Nadal’s knees have withstood the rigors of the European clay court season. Serena Williams dispatched Victoria Azarenka with ease in Rome, proving the only person who stands a chance of stopping Serena from winning her second French Open title is Serena herself. The favorites have made an impressive case, one so strong that seeing someone other than Nadal and Williams leave Roland Garros with a garish trophy and fat check in hand will be quite surprising.
It’s the ‘others’ that will intrigue in Paris. The others being the group of players that have a shot – however fleeting – at knocking off the overwhelming favorites. On the men’s side three names come to mind, all with their own personal demons when it comes to taking down Rafa on clay, let alone at a major. Roger Federer will need divine intervention to win it all, and no, Robin Soderling is not walking through that door. Novak Djokovic is the only hope for the anti Rafa crowd and he’s coming off an uncharacteristic loss to Tomas Berdych. The Czech big man could be this year’s Soderling. Unfortunately the words ‘could be ‘ have been synonymous with Berdych’s career up until this point.
On the women’s side there is slightly more belief. Serena bowed out in the first round last year, losing to Virginie Razzano in one of the biggest upsets in French Open history. Azarenka will be there at the end, as will Maria Sharapova. Unfortunately for those two their head-to-head numbers against Williams are terrible (4-25 combined).
Two weeks in Paris awaits.
There are few things in this life Ray Lewis can’t do. So if he wanted to physically move Mount Kilimanjaro to the United States and then climb it, I don’t doubt that would be entirely possible. Alas, he’s become a more modest man in retirement, and he’ll travel to Tanzania instead.
The now former Ravens linebacker announced his intention to climb over 19,000 feet to the Kilimanjaro summit next month. It’s a journey into the skies which will satisfy both his athletic and charitable urges, as his mission is to raise money and awareness for the clean water projects in East Africa (he’s accepting donations through a website, and he’ll be giving away an autographed helmet).
Lewis is only a few months into his post-football life, and he’s already climbing mountains. I give it two years before he’s the first NFL legend to become an astronaut.
Posted by Joseph Casciaro under Masai Ujiri, GM Search on May 24, 2013
As it became clearer and clearer that Masai Ujiri was targeted by Tim Leiweke and MLSE as the preferred General Manager of the future in Toronto, the only question remaining was whether the Nuggets would grant the Raptors permission to speak with Ujiri. Well according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, that permission has now been granted “and a meeting is expected to take place within the next 24 hours.”
Posted by Trey Kerby under Milwaukee Bucks, Whoops on May 24, 2013
Posted by Scott Lewis under Riffin' And GIFfin' on May 24, 2013
Hey, it’s time for your weekly feed of looping images. Come and get it. We lead with Andre Ethier and his ‘hold me back’ stare directed at home plate umpire Dan Bellino. Ethier was upset with a call during his at-bat, or maybe it was the pitch that may or may not have been directed at his head by Mike Gonzalez. Whatever the case, that’s a cold ass stare.
We got spitballs, beer toss, terrible swings, and more staring after the jump.