The Napoli players celebrate the victory against Roma at the Diego Armando Maradona.
CIRO FUSCO (EFE)
The January transfer market, which closes this Tuesday in most of the European leagues, once again highlights the dialectic between spending, spending performance and the responses of some clubs to deal with the wealthy. In the middle of the season, some teams with limited resources and excellent ideas have found formulas to survive in the great soccer casino.
In Italy, Napoli, who last summer transferred Koulibaly to Chelsea (40 million), Fabián Ruiz to PSG (23 million) and lost Lorenzo Insigne, leads the standings with a 13-point advantage over the second. The very modest Unión Berlin, not long ago a member of the regional leagues, occupies second place in the Bundesliga. Still haunted by the memory of a decade of waste and failure, Arsenal, which is not short of money, flies towards the title with a handful of youngsters. Lens, the pride of mining football in northwestern France, is closely following the PSG of Mbappé, Messi and Neymar.
Whatever happens this season, neither of these clubs were destined for their current positions. The alarm spread in Naples after the departure of three great references, the classification of Unión Berlin for the Europa League was considered circumstantial and the merits of Arteta at Arsenal were discussed. He was rushed by three years of absence in the European Cup. Nobody remembered Lens.
In these clubs, and in others such as Real Sociedad, Villarreal, Brighton or Atalanta, the trust in stable and effective models stands out, although it is difficult to include Aurelio de Laurentiis, president of Napoli, among the managers with temperament. calm and long gaze. But there is something. First with Maurizio Sarri and now with Luciano Spalleti, Napoli have established themselves as one of the most attractive teams in Europe.
The evidence of how substantial these clubs mean will not prevent the unstoppable drift of football, which is heading full steam ahead towards a scenario where merit does not count. In the dominant message, merit is an ancient thing, without moral or economic value, a hoax from a pre-digital time, destined to disappear in the paradise promised by a brigadilla of privileged people.
This kind of discriminatory thinking is summed up in a memorable statement by Gianni Agnelli, the former Juve boss recently disbarred for his participation in the capital gains fraud case that has led to the loss of 15 points to the team in Serie A. “I have him Much respect for Atalanta, but they have entered the Champions League without international history and with only one great season”, he stated in 2019, when the Bergamo team finished in the top four and savored the economic returns of the European Cup.
Since then, Atalanta has played in three editions of the Champions League and is in fourth position in the Italian League, while Juve faces the sporting and economic abyss of its unfortunate decisions. It is not very different from what happens to Barça, drowning in debt. They are transient vertigo. To the rescue of Juve and Barça —of all those who paid more than 100 million euros for Coutinho, Dembélé, Pogba, João Félix, Grealish, Hazard Lukaku and Bale, seven of the 11 players who have crossed the sound barrier in the market— will come a system that claims to be modern, but has a semi-feudal vision of soccer: exclusive benefit for a small caste, survival for the rest. Just in case, an example. In this January that ends, Chelsea, currently owned by an American consortium, has spent 200 million like who washes. For the rest, it is tenth in the Premier League.
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