Thursday, August 10, 2006

Argentina stars find it difficult at club level

With the season already started in several countries and about to start in Germany, England, Spain and Italy, there are still a lot of Argentine footballers, who represented their country at the last World Cup, struggling to secure a place in the starting lineup at club level.

Different reasons. Various clubs. Unique situations. But there is one thing in common: they don't know if they will play regularely this season and so their future as international footballers look not so bright anymore.

Let´s take a look at some of them:

Javier SAVIOLA: The 'Little Rabbitt' is still uncertain about his next moves. After a great World Cup and a summer of endless rumours and 'interested clubs' (PSV, Bolton, Newcastle, Arsenal, Panathinaikos, Sevilla, Mallorca, Villarreal and so on) he joined FC Barcelona's pre-season tour of Mexico and USA and the latest news is that he scored in the last friendly against America (4-4 draw). If he stays, he will face a hard competition for places in a very crowded Blaugrana attack but at the moment he is presenting his credentials. Will Rijkaard use him? Will he stay despite not featuring in the starting 11? Will some of those clubs finally put the money where their mouth is and take him for good?

Roberto AYALA: Crisis. His excellent World Cup performances are a distant memory now. At least for people in Valencia. They are accussing him of 'money-seeker' (like no other footballer, right?) and he was rumoured to be leaving for Villarreal. The Valencia board is not happy with him wanting to leave and yesterday one of the possibilities for AYALA was to sit down for a whole season waiting for his contract to run out and then leave the club with his fate in his own hands. But he re-joined Valencia for their training camp and there are question marks all over the place. It'll be hard to keep AYALA at Valencia with clubs the like of Torino (newly promoted to Serie A) and Tottenham Hotspurs desperately wanting to sign him up for this season.

Juan Pablo SORIN: Sam ALLARDYCE wanted the Argentina skipper to join his Bolton side for the season. They got in contact with Villarreal and both clubs agreed a fee for 'Juampi'. The Yellow Submarine have signed Robert PIRES and the Frenchman will play in SORIN's position. So the Argentine went to Bolton to talk with ALLARDYCE and they failed to agree on a weekly fee. Bolton offered 25.000 British pounds per week, SORIN wanted 35.000.
Bottomline? He is back at Villarreal and now faces a difficult destiny being relegated to a back-up role. Will he be happy? Will another club come after him after all the money he is asking?

Lionel SCALONI: Virtually at war against Deportivo La Coruña's board and manager. He said this week: 'If the manager doesn't want me, that's fine by me. But they have to pay me up to the last penny they owe me'. SCALONI played 6 month on loan at West Ham but when he was to re-join Deportivo, the manager Joaquín CAPARROS decided he doesn't want him. Now it remains to be seen what will happen to him.

All these cases led me to a question I can't answer: Just how important is for a player to perform at a high level in a World Cup?

In SAVIOLA and AYALA's cases, it doesn't seem to be crucial. They played at a very high level, even scoring important goals, but they are still struggling to find a spot in a European club.

SORIN had a decent World Cup but he didn't shine. He is, however, a great option. A player with experience in many leagues and with a lot to give. He can play in defense and midfield and he can also have a presence in both areas.

SCALONI is a different kind of animal. I'm not surprise he is not taken into consideration by many big clubs, but still, he should find a job somewhere.

It's sad to see these things happening as I think it affects the general status of Argentine football and in consequence, our national team. I don't see the same with players from the Brazilian, Italian, French or German national teams.

On the other hand we've got high-profile players and new arrivals to Europe and they provide us with a good balance and hopes for a bright future. Will we have 22 or 23 of them in four years time?

6 comments:

joey said...

General speaking, Argentina players were never as successful as Brazilians in Europe. In the last decade, Rivaldo, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka won numerous European footballer and World footballer honours, along with tons of league and European titles. I couldn't see any Argentine names on the success list.

For Argentina players, after Maradona, they often started well and quickly faded out of picture. Ortega, Riquelme, Aimar, Saviola...when they first came to Europe they were hailed as the next great thing but very quickly delegated from the best clubs (Barcelona being the most notable one) to middle or even low-level clubs. Many of them dumped out of the major leagues well before 30.

I am really sad for Saviola and couldn't believe his bad situation. And I was very angry to see those stupid Valencia fans and club treating Ayala so cruelly. You still have Messi and Kun, but the truth is Argentina players are no longer popular in Europe.

If Arg actually won this world cup, will things be different? I believe so. Remember what happened after France 98? Not only Franch players, but their coaches became hugely popular throughout the world.

One thing that is worth noticing is that Pekerman dropped the three most successful players in Europe (Zanetti and Samuel in Inter and Demichels in Bayer Munich). He sent a message that the national squad doesn't care if one player gains all recognision and honour in Europe. So, I guess the Europe doesn't care if the players play well or bad in the national squad.

By the way, Scaloni is the worst defender I have ever seen so I am not surprised that he be dumped by whichever club he belongs.

joey said...

French players were NOT popular before 1998.

And you can not compare South American players with English, Spanish, Italian or German. They already have the highest quality domestic leagues in the world (what we call the 'big four leagues'), so they players could always play comfortably at home. Actually I believe the whole Italy squad comes from their domestic league.

So the only comparison is really between Brazil and Argentina. And you have to admit - generouly speaking, Brazilians are not necessarily technically superior but they are physically a lot taller and stronger - more European, that is. You compare Rivaldo, Ronaldo, Adriano with Riquelme, Aimar and Saviola and you got my point.

Sebastian said...

Joey is spot-on with his comments. I think it is one of the greatest mysteries in football why Brazilians do much better in Europe than Argentinians. OK, you can say that Brazilians are physically stronger, but on the other hand I would say that Argentinians are culturally closer to Europe. So it should be easier for them to accommodate themselves in Europe... And yet, something (too) often goes wrong. Maybe there is a problem with the football league in Argentina? I'm just speculating here, but perhaps the way, in which the players are coached in Argentinian clubs does not prepare them for what is required in Europe? Saviola, Riquelme, Aimar, D'Alessandro were big stars in Argentina, then they came to Europe and it all fell to pieces. I'm unable to watch the league in Argentina so I may be wrong, but there must be reasons behind this situation.

Saurabh Bhattacharjee said...

I suppose Brazilian football has become more Europeanized over the years. While aknowledging the flair of their players, I must say that their game is now based on quick counter attack - a ploy adopted by most European coaches.

The individual ball-skills, short passes and patient build-ups which albicelestes are adept at, are not virtues favoured by most European coaches. After all, Riquelme needed a Pellegrini to understand his style.

Another factor could be the early transfers of Argentina players after impressive showing at Youth World Cups. Most such players who went early languished in the benches and reserves of large clubs when they would have grown as footballers with more games. I was very disappointed with non-inclusion of Paletta in the Liverpool squad for the Community Shield game.

By the way, I cannot hide my joy at Saviola's goal scoring feats on Barcelona's pre-season tour. He could combine very well with Messi, Ronaldinho and Deco with his runs and he can provide a different option to Rijkaard.

..and India is playing Saudi Arabia in Asia Cup qualifiers today in Kolkata, my home town. I hope torrential rains just creates some trouble for Saudi Arabia. Hoping for a good start under a new coach. Anyone interested in Indian football can check this piece on one of the reasons why so many foreign coaches have achieved little with indian team at http://law-society-and-sports.blogspot.com/2006/07/of-alien-coaches-long-balls-and.html

Anonymous said...

Argentina players are doing excellently.
Messi.
Crespo.
Zanetti.
Riquelme.

Boca has won the world club cup a few times in the last 5 years.
Boca has been ranked around 11th overall in the world
for a while.

I think europe has money and great players , but I don't
think that if you look at world cups in the last 50 years
there is evidence of europeans being better players,
and brazil has done fantastically, I think Argentina has more trouble with coaching/politics.

Many are seeing Messi as the next big thing in europe
and yet he was not in pekermans "youth system" seems
fishy.

anyway i think there doing great!

i do hope Saviola finds his team to shine in!

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