It's maybe a little disconcerting when the president of the richest club in the world—the brains behind all significant player transfers coming in and out, a man so determined to fulfill his dream of a star-studded lineup that he'll jettison the one player that makes his team work in favor of a bigger name that doesn't really fit at all—basically comes out and says, "Eh, I don't know anything about building a team, but I sure do love shiny things!"
That's the gist of one key statement Real Madrid's Florentino Pérez made in a doozy of an interview today. Here's that quote, referring to the questionable fit of new signing James Rodríguez, via ESPN FC:
Asked specifically whether James suits the 4-3-3 shape favoured by coach Carlo Ancelotti as well as [Angel] Di Maria did, Perez appeared to not think the question entirely relevant.
"I do not know how James plays," he said. "But he had a great World Cup and we wanted him here."
… Florentino, buddy, you're the guy who "wanted him here," don't you think it would be wise to have some semblance of an idea how the kid will fit? Of course, it's just as likely that what Pérez is actually saying there is, "Look, I don't have to trouble myself with how James plays. I bought him, he is here, and he will play. The rest is up to Ancelotti." Neither interpretation is all that laudable.
But there are rumors swirling in Madrid that James transfer actually doesn't neatly boil down to Pérez's longstanding love of flash.
In his non-sporting life, Pérez is CEO of ACS, a multi-billion-dollar construction company that has enormous contracts all over the world. One such contract, fortuitously signed this summer, was a €692 million deal with Colombia to build roads in the country. And, wouldn't you know it, it was just around that time when Pérez's eye was caught by a young Colombian superstar at the World Cup by the name of James Rodríguez.
Some of Real's fans have found this a little too coincidental, and have accused the club president of using one business to placate the interests of another. Pérez has no time for such baseless remarks:
"Thirty-five percent of ACS' business is in Australia and there is no Australian in the squad," Perez said. "This is information put forward by the thugs [Ultras Sur]. While I am president, the thugs and delinquents are not going to return. Many are not socios and what they want is to dominate Madrid as happens in France and Italy."
"Damn thugs, accusing me of ulterior motives in signing a player I admit not knowing where to play. The nerve!"
Don't worry about Pérez, though. He'll be fine. The club still rakes in ungodly sums of money every year, and he has bought the most talented—if not (yet) cohesive—side in Europe. No one's going to fire him. And he damn sure isn't resigning:
"The more they call on you to resign, the more motivated you are to continue," he said. "I will stay on here. What most feeds that motivation are those who want to take over the club and who try to intimidate me."
Florentino Pérez: he may be an asshole, but you've gotta respect the hustle.