x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Real still search for answers

The Reals of Madrid and Mallorca meet tonight in the Primera Liga's only clash, yet it's announcements about Madrid's future which occupy the media.

The mood in Barcelona contrasts sharply with that in Madrid. While the Catalans anticipate Wednesday's Champions League final in Rome with feverish excitement, attention in the Spanish capital is focused on Real Madrid's upcoming presidential elections. The Reals of Madrid and Mallorca meet tonight in the Primera Liga's only clash, yet it's announcements about Madrid's future which occupy the media.

Amid rabid speculation, Real issued a statement denying that they had a pre-agreement to buy Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United this summer, saying: "In relation to stories appearing in different news media, referring to the supposed signing of Manchester United player Cristiano Ronaldo, the club categorically deny the reports." Former president Florentino Perez is the favourite to win the elections on June 14th. Whoever triumphs will inherit a club shorn of success, style and identity. Perez has hinted at big-name signings like Kaka and Frank Ribery, yet he would be foolish to repeat the 'galactico' policy which yielded headlines but not trophies.

While Barca's success is built home grown talent and stability, Real have used seven coaches in eight seasons. They did invest and develop home-grown talent like Alvaro Negredo, Esteban Granero and Juan Mata, only for them to be discarded and allowed to flourish elsewhere as Madrid filled their ranks with expensive and less than spectacular imports. Former president Ramon Calderon spent more than ?250 million (Dh1.28bn) on new players between 2006 and 2009.

Barca's players like Lionel Messi, Carles Puyol, Xavi, Victor Valdes, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets didn't cost a penny. Is it time Real learned a lesson from their greatest rivals? amitten@thenational.ae