ZZ off - it's no big deal
Zinedine Zidane has become the world's most expensive player
of all time after he completed his £50m switch to Real
Madrid. Anotnio Labate looks into the details of the move and
why the Italian outfit decided to let him go.
|Zidane will be entertaining
the fans at the Santiago Bernarbeu after his £50m
switch to Real Madrid.
Real wanted Zidane and Zidane wanted Real. This is the simplicity
of the situation which turned the Frenchman into the world's
most expensive footballer of all time. It was a move that was
on the cards for some time once everybody realised that the
Spanish side were seriously willing to part with close on £50m.
"It's an honour for me to be able to wear this shirt",
said a slightly shy Zidane as he held up the white No 5 top
that will adorn his back for the next four years. "I
was becoming a bit impatient waiting for this great moment
to arrive. I've spent five years with Juventus, but this is
the best time for me to play in Spain."
Real President Perez, who last summer had to break the transfer
record to land Luis Figo from Barcelona, was delighted to
have finally signed the player he had been promising the fans
for some time. "Zidane is one of those players born to
play for Real Madrid," he said. "In the year of
our centenary we aim to be even more spectacular. Zidane,
we thank you for accepting our offer, you will continue to
write this club's history."
Admittedly Real's offer wasn't too difficult to accept -
both for the player and his now former club. The Madrid side
will pay Juventus close to £47m of which £2m will
be in interest alone accumulated over the three-year payment
schedule. The former Bordeaux midfielder will net himself
just over £3.5m a season after tax for the next four
years and has an option for a fifth season included. And should
someone want to buy Zidane from his new club, the Spaniards
have included a buy-out clause of £112m.
|Zinedine will be chasing
his long sought-after Champions League trophy with Real
"As everyone knows, what may at first appear expensive
is often cheap in the long run," defended Perez. "As
well as being profitable from sporting terms I have absolutely
no doubt that Zidane will be profitable from the economic
perspective." Within an hour of his presentation the
club had sold over 200 replica shirts with Zidane and the
No 5 blazoned on the back. Even though money was obviously
an incentive for Zidane, there were other factors to why the
Frenchman wanted to turn his back on Italian football. "I'm
delighted to have signed because I think this is the best
club in the world," he said in from of 350 quote-hungry
journalists. "Here I can win the European titles that
have eluded me in Turin and I can finally play at the Santiago
Bernarbeu for the first time in my life."
The lack of success that Juventus have endured in the last
three seasons hit Zidane hard after his triumphs with France
in the 1998 World Cup and last summer's European Championship.
When Roma moved comfortably clear of Juventus in the title
race last season Zidane hinted that if they didn't win the
title then it was time for the club to make changes. Zizou
already seemed to have one eye on Spain. His Spanish wife
had two. Veronique was not overly keen of foggy Turin and
the 29-year-old was desperate to realise his dream of winning
the European Cup - the only trophy on which he has yet to
lay his successful hands.
He'd come close with Juventus in the past after they were
beaten finalists in two successive seasons when they lost
to Borussia Dortmund in 1997 and Real themselves a year after.
The odd thing is that had he stayed in Turin Zidane still
may have realised his dream as the club have added some major
reinforcements the season in Gigi Buffon, Lilian Thuram, Pavel
Nedved and possibly Christian Vieri.
But the fact is that he felt it was time to move on and so
did Juventus. Zidane later revealed that the initial plan
was to leave for Real next summer before the Old Lady of Italian
football had a re-think. "Everything happened so quickly,"
revealed Zizou. "Because it wasn't supposed to happen
this year. Juventus reflected on the situation and changed
|Zizou was set to join Real
after another season at Juve when the Turin club decided
to release him right away
So why did Juventus release Zidane to a potential Champions'
League rival? Luciano Moggi provided some of the answers.
"After the last game of the season we had words about
his future," revealed Juve's general manager and transfer
guru. " Zidane wanted to stay with us for one more season
but wanted a deal on his conditions - a deal that would have
seen Zizou join Real next season but for a reduced price.
"But here at Juventus it is the club who negotiate the
deals and not the players. We considered the fact that he
wanted to go to Spain and we went ahead with it. He was asking
for a different agreement, evidently agreed upon with Real,
but equal to a third of what we wanted. So by letting him
go, both parties are satisfied."
It seemed pointless for Juve to keep the player knowing that
he had his mind on his future destination. If they really
wanted to keep him they could have, but these are changing
times in Turin. The club are taking an alternative route into
the future after sacking Carlo Ancelotti for the deadly sin
of finishing second in Serie A for two consecutive seasons,
suddenly splashing out on some quality players. Parma netted
£32m for Buffon and £23m for Thuram. Lazio received
close to £25m for Nedved. The only major income was
from Pippo Inzaghi's move, but even then Juve agreed a player
plus cash deal in order to get rid of the striker with young
Cristian Zenoni coming in from the San Siro. The money offered
by Real for a 29-year-old midfielder in the end became too
tempting. Let's not forget that the Bianconeri signed Zidane
from Bordeaux during Euro '96 for somewhere around £3.2m.
Selling him for over 10 times that amount is a great deal
- even if you're sacrificing one of the world's best players.
Once over the playful banter of "if they give us Figo
plus cash we can talk," Moggi and Co met with Real officials
in Switzerland to iron out the deal. Within days Zidane was
being secretly flown in to Madrid to undergo a medical. It
was all wrapped up in 72 hours.
|Zidane has repeatedly been
accused of not producing his best for Juve as he has for
his national team
Zidane may have flown the nest, but Juventus and Italian
football will undoubtedly live without him. The fans haven't
taken to the streets to protest against the sale because they
know that the club can survive and even strive to greater
things. On his day there is no doubt that Zizou was the best
around, but when he didn't feel like it he was largely anonymous.
And let's not forget that Juventus have sold similarly high
profile players in recent times but still continued to be
as competitive as their history has suggested. In the mid-1990s
they sold Roberto Baggio because they had faith in Alex Del
Piero. Maybe it's down to Juve's true No 10 to help the club
fill Zidane's considerable class at the Delle Alpi.
The only real reaction in Turin was one of disappointment
regarding Zidane's behaviour. He only mentioned in passing
his time spent in Italy, an act seen as disrespectful by tifosi
the length and breadth of the country. The Turin daily Tuttosport,
which was bombarded with letters about his loss of Juventus
memories, wrote: "Zidane flees Turin - five years
of Juve washed away in a second."