Reports emerged toward the end of last week that Spanish legend Raul was considering moving to America to play for New York Red Bulls in the MLS. With a lack of game time it was rumoured the Real Madrid star was looking to move on. Surely Raul should take heed from former teammate David Beckham and steer clear of the MLS.
After the reports emerged they were quickly denied by New York themselves but very few transfers are conducted without a bit of intrigue and denial. Even if there is no truth in the rumour the issue over players such as Raul being linked to play in America is an interesting one.
The move of David Beckham to LA Galaxy was expected and intended to spark a renaissance in the league and football in general in America. With this new interest in the sport, big name players would flock to the MLS and the league would go from strength to strength. Even Beckham’s incredible pulling power has been unable to achieve this and fellow big name players have been slow to follow the Englishman. Even the players that are linked like Raul are in their twilight years, and do little to dispute the claim that big-names in MLS are ‘retirement signings’.
The reason I hope that Raul does not ever move to America is an emotive one. A colleague of mine recently wrote an article about ‘one club players’ and Raul was a prominent feature. He has been a stalwart for a fascinating era in Real Madrid’s history. He has won everything in the game and scored countless goals along the way. He epitomises Madrid and although he is no longer a star attraction in the team the fans still hold him in the highest regard.
Players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka now rightly start matches, which has reduced Raul’s game time. He is still however a key part of the squad and his experience will be vital in guiding a new squad to success. The desire and passion in his game means that he still wants to play every week, and this will be the same when he is well into his old age. He will always want to be playing and his desire for more games is admirable. I do feel however that this hunger could be better satisfied elsewhere.
In America Raul would be one of many old players, picking up pay cheques and competing at a level far below their own. Raul is too good for this and he will miss the challenge of Europe’s elite leagues. I would love to see Raul stay at Madrid until his contract expires in 2011, competing at the top and then to move to a smaller Spanish side and become the focal point of the team for a few more seasons. He would guide young players and ultimately be groomed as the future manager. If he wants to become a manger he will walk into the Madrid job but a bit of experience as a player/coach and manager at another club would serve him well.
He is in no need of the money offered by America and he does not seem to be obsessed with fame, a factor which affected the Beckham family’s decision to move to America. The very fact that Beckham is so keen to return to play at AC Milan on loan should be all the warning Raul needs. Beckham can clearly still cut it at the highest level yet he has wasted his time in America. Many great players have tried in the past to take the game to America and have blotted their careers. It would be a shame to see yet another star of world football, make the same mistake and waste his last good years in America.
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