Tag Archives: deco

Benfica Brushes Off Bid

It's a 35 million pound plane ride from Lisbon to London for Luiz

Reports surfaced this week that Benfica turned down Chelsea’s 17-million pound bid for defender David Luiz.  The reign of Mourinho at Stamford Bridge was marked by several acquisitions from the Portuguese Primeira Liga (most of them at the back): Bosignwa, Ferreira, Carvalho, Deco, Hilario, Maniche, Nuno Marais, Tiago.  So you’d be forgiven for thinking Lord Valdemorta was still in charge.

The Brazilian Luiz has been a rock for the Lisbon club. He’s also only 23… that’s fetus years for a central defender.  It may not come as a surprise then that Benfica has valued their young investment at a whopping 35 million pounds.

The asking price may be for the benefit of the prying eyes and deep pockets of  Chelski and Manchester al-Citeh, but it may also speak towards a new attitude at Benfica.

The all-time league champions have been forced to watch as a Northern power — Porto — has grown to dominate Portuguese soccer, winning 13 of the last 20 domestic titles as well as a couple of European titles.  Shades of Liverpool acquiesing to Manchester United over the exact same time frame.

But unlike Liverpool, Benfica has been re-born, winning last year’s title and pipping both Porto and hated derby rivals, Sporting, for a Champions League spot.  Now they are keen to hang onto that new pride.

Except things haven’t been that great lately.  Benfica are chasing Porto in the league, sitting eight points behind them.  It didn’t help that The Dragons humiliated Benfica in November, hobbling them with a 5-0 pounding that may haunt the Eagles if goal difference comes into play.  They have also dropped into the Europa League, which means there could still be an extra showdown with big bad Porto.

Benfica is a young team.  During their last league game, they fielded eight players under the age of 25; three were defenders and a fourth was a defensive midfielder.  They are also very heavily South American.  Again, the last league game featured eight from the continent, including veterans Javier Saviola and Pablo Aimar, as well as World Cup standouts like Paraguay’s Oscar Cardoza and Uruguay’s Maxi Pereira.  In fact, I picked Pereira as well as LB/LW Fabio Coentrao for my World Cup Starting XI.

I think it’s great that Benfica have popped such an exorbitant tag on Luiz. Before the age of television rights, Benfica were a force who could compete with the Real Madrids and Chelseas.  Sure, Luiz’ sale would generate some incredible cash for the team.  But maybe they know that Abramovich is losing interest in his English hobby… and that Manchester City is having trouble dumping salaries.

Or maybe they are just being a little bit selfish and petty.  Good for them.

Brent Lanthier

Luiz in 20 years...

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MLSE’s ticking time bomb

If Saturday’s away defeat to Seattle proves one thing, it’s that Toronto FC has an awful long way to go before the club can justify the support it gets.

At one stage during the 3-2 defeat at Qwest Field, it felt scarily like the men against the boys, providing clear evidence on the differences between the operation of the two clubs. Seattle, resplendent in their attacking, free-flowing style, looked light years ahead of their Canadian counterparts. Toronto struggled to match the hosts for pace, passing and persistence.

Arguably, you cannot blame the players. TFC has something of a reputation for not being aesthetically pleasing but robust, solid and unwilling to surrender. As their form earlier this season suggested, they don’t go down without a fight. But try as they might, they simply don’t possess the quality to compete. So, who is to blame?

Let’s have a look at Toronto’s other teams. The Maple Leafs, bursting with proud hockey history but without silverware in 43 years, frequently fill their arena and subsequently annoy their fans with sub-par performances. The Blue Jays, World Series Champions in 1992 and 1993, produce fine displays in infrequent bursts, and even finished with a winning record against the New York Yankees this season. However, regardless of their fine start, they yet again failed to make the playoffs. As for the Raptors, now without Chris Bosh, they’re really pretty rubbish, aren’t they?

Sensing a pattern yet? All four of Toronto’s sports teams offer so much, yet always fail to deliver. With finance readily available, the sensible application of it is distinctly missing. Money is thrown around and season tickets prices are hiked.

But the biggest connection is ownership. Three of these four teams are run by the Maple Leas Sports and Entertainment. In fact, the one that isn’t is the most recent champion, the Rogers Communications-owned Blue Jays.

MLSE take it for granted that their huge fan base will always come out, regardless of price. Toronto FC charges an extortionate amount for its top tickets. Even more, in fact, than Manchester United charge. Next season, fans will have to fork out even more.

Mark my words, if Toronto FC doesn’t invest in three top acquisitions during the off-season, and I mean top signings, next season will see a mass exodus of support. Already, red seats seem to outnumber real fans at home games. If things keep going like this, TFC will sink without a trace. A revolving door of playerd and management simply doesn’t work.

Do yourselves a favour, MLSE, give Tomas Rosicky and Deco a call and agree a contract. It may seem ludicrous, but who’d have thought three years ago that Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez would be playing for a team named after an energy drink?

Sam Saunders

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