Florentino Perez is arguably the football world’s most recognizable club president. Over two separate terms at Real Madrid, Perez has presided over the growth of the club as a global icon. However, it can also be said that Perez’s personal fame is more or less down to the mistakes he has made during his tenure. The architect of the ‘Galactico’ policy has learnt quite a lot of things the hard way. Here are the six biggest mistakes he has made during his presidency at Real Madrid.
#6 Selling Sneijder and Robben
It was the summer of 2009 and Florentino Perez had just been elected unopposed to the post of Real Madrid president again, three years after his resignation. Fans had been waiting for this; they were hoping Perez the Saviour would lift the club back to the top after the dominance of the Pep Guardiola-led Barcelona the past season. Perez duly came and did what he knows best: buy the best players. In came Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Xabi Alonso and Karim Benzema.
Now the issue here isn’t whether the four players named above are great players or not; it’s to do with who had to leave the team in order to accomodate them and balance the books. Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben were two of the most outstanding players in the Real Madrid teams that won the league twice after Perez’s departure in 2006. In these two Dutchmen, Real Madrid had world-class quality. Most importantly, these were two men who desperately wanted to stay in the team. Why did they have to go? How much of a say did Manuel Pellegrini have in these decisions? These are questions that still occasionally pop up in Madridista discussions. Apparently, despite the fact that Sneijder and Robben were determined to continue in Madrid, they were not ‘Galactico’ enough for Perez’s liking. Having sold them off to Inter Milan and Bayern Munich respectively, Perez may have felt that he was doing the right thing. However, he couldn’t be more wrong: the point was spectacularly driven home when Madrid’s Champions League campaign faltered in the round of 16 as usual, while Bayern Munich and Inter Milan went on to the final, to be played in the Santiago Bernabeu of all places. That Sneijder and Robben were the leading players for their teams would be a proper slap in the face of Florentino Perez, showing him exactly what he had missed.