Mercato Mercato – Cristiano Ronaldo stays at Manchester United: The summer of the great rejected, the summer of big projects

Mercato Mercato – Cristiano Ronaldo stays at Manchester United: The summer of the great rejected, the summer of big projects

In 2022, no one wants Cristiano Ronaldo. Reality risks hurting the idol of the past decade, but the transfer window leaves no room for feelings: in 2022, CR7 is simply old-fashioned. The player remains one of the European references and would start in any team in the world, that is not the question. But, precisely, no team of the rank of the Portuguese wanted to give him this place. A situation that says a lot about the current European panorama.

The Portuguese’s financial demands obviously held back the world. But it is above all because the clubs able to afford the fivefold Ballon d’Or had other ideas and other projects. Beyond its strict salary policy, Bayern Munich preferred to offer Sadio Mané to Julian Nagelsmann, a player whose characteristics stick much more to the total football of the German. If Chelsea looked into the file, it was more to politely satisfy the requests of Todd Boehly, its new owner looking for a shot, than a request from Thomas Tuchel.

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The transfer window of coaches

Cristiano is as much a victim as a symbol. Because in 2022, the era of superstars is definitely dead. Make way for great projects. Today, the heads that stick out, those that embody, are those of the managers. The biggest transfers of the summer were initially the wishes of technicians rather than the whims of management.

In City, Erling Haaland looks like the missing piece of the puzzle patiently built by Pep Guardiola for years. In Barcelona – the very team that was Messi’s for a long time before being that of his coaches (Valverde, Setién, Koeman) – everything now revolves around Xavi. He demanded a contract killer to immediately grow his recovery project and Robert Lewandowski’s debut inspires optimism.
At Arsenal, we continued in the path traced by Mikel Arteta with intelligent investments and second knives from City. In Liverpool, we trusted the process started by Jürgen Klopp to bet big on Darwin Nunez and letting Sadio Mané go without fear, or almost. Even Manchester United has decided to place its destiny in the hands of Erik ten Hag, without this protecting him from cracks in order.

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Chelsea’s epic in 2021, Bayern’s victory in 2020, the Reds’ coronation in 2019: the recent Champions League record has prompted the big clubs to embrace the long-term project model, with targeted reinforcements at key positions rather than building around individuals. This summer, the hype of three-man defenses has panicked the center market. Again, the coaches had to be satisfied.

Even Paris gets involved

Proof that times are changing, Paris has followed suit. After a summer of 2021 built on names more than on needs, Luis Campos has set the course to never deviate. Admittedly, he is not the coach but the thinking head of PSG, it is now him. It was he who imagined this 3-4-3 and drew up the Parisian needs around this change, it was he who chose Christophe Galtier to put it to music and it was still him who found outlets for the plague victims. Parisians before Antero Henrique finished the job despite a cold relationship between the two. For once, we know where Paris is going.

There remains the exception that proves the rule: Real Madrid. Here, no omnipotent coach, no omnipresent sports director. But the biggest club in the world responds to its own logic and begins a new era, without its magic trio in the middle but still with weapons capable of making Europe tremble. Ironically, it was in the Spanish capital that CR7 took on the dimension it has today. In August, Florentino Pérez had also been questioned on the hypothesis of a return from CR7. “Again? He’s 38,” the superpowered Madrid president replied mockingly. Obviously, times have changed…

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