In September 2010, I wrote a little note about Tiago Manuel Dias Correia, known as Bebé, the man Sir F Word signed for £7.5m for Manchester United with the statement that although he had not seen him play, and had not even seen a video, he had signed him because “sometimes you just have to go with instinct”.
I was interested at the time because the Guardian ran a piece saying that the player’s “performances in training were deemed so poor he was not even considered for a reserve fixture last night.”
So I did a little digging. Estrala da Amadora, Bebé’s team, are in the third division in Portugal, which is about the same as the league below Conference South. They got into financial troubles and did not pay their players, so Bebé left on a free, and went to Guimarães. A few days later Man U signed him from there.
My focus at the time was what the AAA would have said if this had been Arsenal. Buying an unknown for £7.5m, who had left his previous club days before on a free, and then finding him so poor you wouldn’t even risk him in a reserve game? “Wenger finally loses it,” “he’s destroying the club,” “get this madman out” – and that would just be in the first five seconds.
Anyway, after a long silence (two season’s silence in fact), it seems the judicial police national unit for combating corruption, part of the Justice Ministry based in Lisbon, want to question Manchester United officials about the transfer in relation to a “criminal investigation”
As with anything odd in football, there is an agent in there somewhere. This one is Jorge Mendes, also agent to Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, Mourinho [note the Real Mad connection here], and Anderson. The players in that list all moved from Portugal to Very Old Trafford and indeed Manchester United did well out of the deals. Mendes made £2.89m from the Bebé deal, made up of an agent’s fee, commission and a fee for part ownership of the player.
On 10 April, the anti-corruption police told Bébé’s previous agent, Gonçalo Reis, to attend a hearing as a witness in criminal proceedings relating to the transfer of “the professional football player Tiago Manuel Dias Correia (known as ‘Bébé’) from Vit. Guimarães to Manchester United (England).”
Reis was interviewed and said to the press that others would be interviewed too. Reis himself is now making the allegation that he had a contract to represent Bébé from 25 August 2009.
Now here’s a funny thing. The player just played in pre-season friendlies for Vitória before a story appeared in Marca, (a football paper), that Real Madrid, [note who his agent is] were interested. Manchester United then moved in on the recommendation of Queiroz, (also represented by Mendes).
Bébé is now on a three-year contract on wages reported to be around £1m a year, assuming the tax is being properly paid – since his salary is quoted as net of tax.
For 2010-11, Bébé started two Carling Cup games and the FA Cup match against Crawley Town, and also played four times as a substitute. In his second year, Manchester United loaned him to Besiktas in Turkey. He has been injured for quite a bit of the season.
It is hard to put much more together on the transfer itself at this moment, but it is worth pondering the approach to transfers at Manchester United. At the moment of signing Bébé, Manchester United also signed Javier Hernández, and Chris Smalling with Sir F-Word saying that the transfer market was over-priced and there were no quality players available. At the same moment, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, bought Yaya Touré. Manchester United then brought out Scholes.
- Denilson (Sao Paulo)
- Wellington (Alcoyano)
- Samuel Galindo (Gimnastic de Tarragona)
- Kyle Bartley (Rangers)
- Nic Bendtner
- Rhys Murphy (Preston)
- Vito Mannone (Hull)
- Benik Afobe (Reading)
- Craig Eastwood (Wycombe)
- Henri Lansbury (WHU)
- Andrey Arshavin (Zenit)
- Pedro Botelho (Leavnte)
- Carlos Vela (Real Sociedad)
- Joel Campbell (Lorient)
- Chuks Aneke (Preston)
- Ryo (Bolton)
- Nico Yennaris (Notts County)
Of course many of them will not play for Arsenal, or will not play again, but whatever you think of some of those players (and I know many fans don’t rate Denilson, Bendtner, Mannone, etc), none of these players are in the same situation as Bebe.
It is a really strange case at every level – why buy a player for that much money, put him on that much salary, if the all-powerful top-dog manager has never even seen a video?
I know that a major part of the AAA campaign is the endless statement that Arsenal is run by idiots and dolts. I disagree of course – but I do begin to wonder what has happened at Manchester United – at least over this very odd case.
Published with permission from Untold Arsenal: Arsenal News. Supporting the Lord Wenger; coach of the decade.