HUNGER. A word whose meaning expands far beyond what we know. Everyone on this planet is a victim of this hunger. Some are hungry for food, some are hungry for money, some for money, while others are for love, respect. etc. Right from the summit of Everest to the depths of the Pacific, everyone is trapped in this cycle of hunger. This insatiable hunger hasn’t spared our football either. The GOATs are hungry for the World Cup, the Zlatan is hungry for UCL glory, Lewandowski is hungry for the Ballon d’Or, Dembele is hungry for money and Florentino Perez is hungry for domination. Ever since CR7 has left Madrid, Los Blancos haven’t been able to exert their domination as they are used to. While Real has a lot of great players, they lack a match-winner, a game-changer, a superstar whose mere presence in the match-day squad can rattle the opposition. Cristiano filled that spot perfectly. Benzema and Vinicius have been brilliant this season taking La Liga by storm, but none of them seems a perfect fit to fill the void left by CR7.
Perez loves to bring in talented and expensive players, whom they proudly label as the ‘Galacticos’. Perez started this policy back in 2000 when he first became the President, to sign at least one Star player every summer. He brought in Luis Figo, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo, David Beckham, Fabio Cannavaro, and Zinedine Zidane during his first term. After Galacticos went their ways, Real was held together by Raul at front and Casillas at back. Perez brought in the second generation of Galacticos, consisting of Cristiano, Benzema, Di Maria, Mesut Ozil, Gareth Bale, Luka Modric, and Toni Kroos. Led by inspiring Sergio Ramos, this team went on to win 3 consecutive UCLs. It seems now that the time has drawn closer to bringing in the 3rd generation of Galacticos, and it seems Real already has assembled quite a set-up there. Eder Militao, Vinicius Jr., Camavinga among others. All they need is that one player who can change the game in a matter of moments. Perez already seems to have found his star in PSG’s Kylian Mbappe. The Summer Transfer Window 2021 has already confirmed the story that Kylian is headed to Madrid in 2022.
But it seems that isn’t enough for Papa Perez as he has set his sights on Norwegian striker Erling Haaland. Borussia Dortmund’s no.9 is currently the hottest property on the market. Known for his phenomenal finishing and strong physique, Haaland is a ferocious scorer. Real Madrid has already displayed their intentions to bring the super striker to Santiago Bernabeu.
While it does sound good, it’s a lot more complicated in reality. Haaland and Mbappe are popularly considered as the heirs for the GOATs debate. Both have demonstrated their abilities and have shown the potential to be the best in the next few years. Things can be a lot more confusing for them if they play for the same team. Neither can completely express themselves. Just like how both Messi and Ronaldo pushed each other, Haaland and Mbappe would have to push each other, not help each other if they want to get anywhere near that level.
Gerard Pique has been the latest advocate of this debate. In a chat with Ibai Llanos on Twitch, Pique said, “If I were Haaland and I wanted to win the Ballon d’Or, I wouldn’t move to the same team as Mbappe.” He clearly stated that if Haaland and Mbappe play together, neither can win the trophy because it would be hard to stand out. While Pique did send Haaland thinking, whether or not to join Madrid, he also sent a message that FC Barcelona would be happy to accommodate the striker as the main lead for the side. We all know it was a move by Joan Laporta to convince Haaland to sign up for Los Cules in the 2022 Summer, there was an element of truth behind it. Let’s see that truth or coincidence as you might say.
From the very inception of Ballon d’Or, never have a team had both of its players win it consecutively. Right from its early days, when Alfredo di Stefano dominated the award, winning it twice. Ferenc Puscas and Raymond Kopa’s contributions were often overshadowed by the Argentine forward, and only an injury to di Stefano could let Kopa win the award in 1958. Fast-forwarding a few decades, Ballon d’Or was heavily criticized by pundits in 1988 and 1989 to be in favor of attackers as Marco van Basten won on both occasions, when his team-mates Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard, and Franco Baresi were equally deserving. The point is Marco’s performances completely overshadowed the selfless efforts of his teammates.
In 2010, a similar instance was seen again, when Lionel Messi won the award ahead of teammates Andres Iniesta and Xavi, who put in fantastic performances at the club level and also played a key part in Spain’s World Cup triumph. Another such instance is the popular Galacticos. Galacticos won everything there is to win, but either of them won a Ballon d’Or? Not exactly. The only instances of winners are Ronaldo Nazario in 2002 and Fabio Cannavaro in 2006, both of whom surprisingly FIFA World Cup in the same year.
This proves the point that a player can’t win the Ballon d’Or if they play with a player of similar or higher ability. Haaland has expressed his desire to conquer the Ballon d’Or and so has Mbappe. If both of them are compelled to play alongside each other, it might damage their playing style or suppress their abilities. While Mbappe is driven by his childhood desire to play for Real, Haaland doesn’t have any special attachments towards the Madrid outfit. Given his agent Mino Raiola’s good relations with FC Barcelona, the Norwegian striker might make a move to Catalan giants. This can let the fans witness another golden rivalry between the clubs. What do you think was Pique’s advice on the point?