Let’s be clear from the start. Florentino Perez probably knows as much about football as the Barbie doll does about the offside trap. We are after all talking about a man who refused to give a pay hike to Claude Makelele, the lynchpin of his first generation Galactico team, thus allowing him to sign for
But while Florentino knows very little about football, he does know about business and he knows how to be successful.
The 62-year-old is a self-made billionaire, and as president of the construction and engineering company ACS, he is the sixth richest person in
As Perez battled to knock Manchester United from the perch as the world’s wealthiest club, he did so by investing millions bringing in the best players. His mantra then, as it is today, is simple. You have to spend money to make money.
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He has frequently claimed that Zinedine Zidane was his cheapest signing, as he made back his transfer fee, and much more, from merchandising, shirt sales and sponsorship deals. And the same would apply to David Beckham’s case. Perez quickly saw what English clubs were doing with regards to expanding overseas markets, and thrust his team onto planes on far flung tours of the
And while Florentino brought in financial stability and dragged the club into the modern world in a marketing sense, he was also giving fans what they wanted on the pitch. In his first stint as president, he made breathtaking signings taking stars from his biggest rivals.
Luis Figo walked out of Barcelona, Zidane became the most expensive player in the world when he left Juventus, Ronaldo joined from Inter, Beckham from Manchester United and Michael Owen from Liverpool, although the pint-sized striker he had a less than successful spell in the Spanish capital. But such was Perez’s pulling power that he can lure emblematic heroes from rival clubs.
Madridistas were not just thrilled to have the best wearing all white but that they had come from the biggest teams around
In June 2009, when Perez came back in to start his second era, he promised an even more outrageous project than the one before. And didn’t he deliver.
Within a week,
But in truth Perez is doing nothing new. If anything he is simply going back to the ideology of the club’s founding father, Mr. Real Madrid himself Santiago Bernebeu. In 1953 Don Santiago instigated the first Galactico policy and turned to foreign players by signing Alfredo Di Stefano. Ferenc Puskas then followed and the rest, as they say, is history.
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Senor Perez’s predecessor, Lorenzo Sanz, and his successor, Ramon Calderon, had their fair share of successes on the pitch, but neither had the ability nor the charisma to replicate Bernabeu’s grandiose philosophy.
This weekend at the club’s General Assembly, while announcing that the club has a debt of €327 million, Perez also talked of plans for a Real Madrid theme park in their sprawling state of the art training complex at Valdebebas, which Perez built in his first tenure as president. He also plans to revamp the Estadio Santiago Bernebeu.
This week, former Merengue striker Emilio Butragueno is in
Yes, they may have a whopping debt, as do most of
It’s back to business as usual for Florentino and Real Madrid. And as he said, it’s as if he never left.
Ashish Sharma, Goal.com