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Gazzumped

The Kaka-to-Real Madrid transfer was the biggest story in world football for less than 48 hours.

This morning, it has been confirmed that Manchester United have accepted a world-record £80m bid from Real Madrid for Cristinao Ronaldo, after the player again expressed his desire for a move.

While nobody ever wants to sell their best player, the transaction makes perfect sense for United. Ronaldo has been openly talking about his dream of playing at the Bernabeu for the past 12 months, and although he has just completed an excellent season, he rarely touched the stellar heights he did in 2007/8 and he was frequently petulant towards opponents, referees, teammates and even Sir Alex Ferguson. And £80m is very much at the top-end of market value, even for the reigning World Player of the Year. With that cash, Ferguson will be able to reinvigorate his squad with two or three world-class players, with a central midfielder, a winger and possibly a goalkeeper high on his shopping list.

With the best part of £140m – or whatever is left after all the intermediaries have taken their cut – of Real Madrid’s cash flowing into the market, it’s not so much the transfer window as the floodgates which are now well and truly open. There are always many behind-the-scenes factors which make transfers drag out into late August – a player’s personal terms, his agent’s fees, haggling over how and when the fee will be paid – but I think we will now see a significant number of deals being finalised in June/July rather than August this year.

It is only the story of the Kaka transfer which has been gazzumped here. With the large and early moves that Real have made, few clubs will want to risk their big summer signing being snatched away from them by a cash-rich rival for the sake of a few hundred thousand pounds or a deferred payment. Expect a flurry of activity soon, and don’t be surprised if there are some eyebrow-raising, over-inflated deals as a result.

Madrid may have shelled out a king’s ransom for Kaka and Ronaldo, but the panic this is likely to create in the market – and they themselves may not be done yet – may well mean that we look back at the end of the summer and congratulate Fiorentino Perez for getting his shots in early.

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