The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, they say. We may be in love with Italian calcio, but there’s more to football than what happens south of the Alps. In our “The Grass Is Greener” column, we discuss what’s up with international football and its trending news.
Right before last summer, Real Valladolid unexpectedly won the playoffs of the Spanish Segunda Division, getting promoted to play in La Liga. After struggling for four seasons in the second tier of Iberian football, the dream of a city, the dream of a region became true.
Valladolid is an historic club from an historic city, that in the 17th Century was the capital of the Kingdom of Spain and now belongs to the region of Castilla y León. Some linguists even claim that Valladolid has the best spoken castellano (Spanish language) in the world. World class footballers have played for this great club, including René Higuita, Diego Costa, Gabi Heinze, Kepa Arrizabalaga, and Luis García.
As the new season approached, fans, players and managers of the club were counting the days to the first fixture against Barcelona at their José Zorrilla home ground. However, the game turned out to be a shameful publicity for the club and the city itself. Barcelona won 0-1 with a goal by Ousmane Dembélé, but no one talked about the result, as the home side started setting the new turf on their pitch only three days before the game, which made it extremely unstable and dangerous for the players. The only good thing for Real Valladolid turned out to be the fact that none of their players got injured.
As the club officially had 25 million euro of debt, Chairman Carlos Suarez promptly started to look for new investors. Who would have thought that Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima – Barcelona, Inter and Real Madrid’s former Fenomeno – could show some interest in buying the club?
Negotiations started in August and on September 3, the Brazilian superstar officially became the majority owner of Real Valladolid after purchasing 51% of the club’s stake, investing some 30 million euro. Carlos Suarez will still act as Chairman.
Supporters obviously started to dream at the announcement, and suddenly Valladolid made it to the first pages not only because of the terrible condition of their pitch anymore. And, as Ronaldo paraded through the streets of the city to get to know his new fans, they started demanding him to buy some new players. The first move might indeed take place in December, with the coming of Real Madrid’s young star Vinicius on loan.
Too bad that yesterday Vinicius decided to introduce himself to his potential future fans by scoring a goal against Los Pucelanos, in a match that ended 2-0 for Real Madrid and put an end to Los Blancos’ horrible non-winning streak in La Liga.
The game at Santiago Bernabeu indeed left us an image that many will see as a possible transition between the past and the future of Los Blancos: Ronaldo walking with Florentino Pérez on the pitch before the game, and the two sitting close to each other during the match together, definitely conveyed the idea that the Brazilian legend is getting closer to “home.”
Will Ronaldo be the successor of Florentino Pérez at the Casa Blanca? Only the time will tell whether he has landed in Pucela (the nickname of Valladolid) to stay long term and make the club financially successful, or this is just a first step towards something more ambitious.
But so far, the future looks bright for Los Pucelanos, which are currently in the 9th position of the league table with 16 points, in the season of their comeback to the top-flight of Spanish football.