Pace Is King & Arjen Robben Is Most Regal.By: The Offside | August 31st, 2009
It’s so easy to cherry pick the day after such a barnstorming debut (two goals), but we might be able to make a case as Arjen Robben, not one of his ever so brief Galactico 2.0 teammates, for “a mere €25m” as the transfer of the summer.
First of all, I think we’re all in the same boat on Arjen Robben: exquisitely talented, tragically afflicted with all sorts of ailments. His pace makes lightning blush in awe and he has the technical skill to make it all the more deadly. But he’s not really healthy enough to use it for an entire season.
In fact if we’re to break it down by numbers….
Total career (Groningen, PSV, Chelsea, Real):
24 game per year.
64% of team fixtures.
Last five years (Chelsea, Real):
In other words, he’s going to play about 21-22 games this year, missing 12-13 – perhaps playing a few more in that the Bundesliga is an 18 team league rather than 20. Not exactly the desired for a coach. His high watermark is 33 with PSV – yes, Arjen Robben went through a season missing only one game…swear – but that was way back in 02-03.
And yet as players go, there are so few like Robben. When healthy, he’s in Cristiano Ronaldo territory and can carry a team on his back, as he did with Real for a stretch last year. And this makes it so easy to see just why Manuel Pellegrini wanted to keep Arjen. Can you imagine an attacking line of Robben, Kaka and Ronaldo? The insanity! Real could sit 7 men back and let those three run at, around and through defenses all day long.
Of course it’s also easy to see why he was let go: Robben could bring in the most money while not selling shirts. And that’s Florentino’s MO, one which displays the disconnect between football and club priorities.
But now he gets to run at and by Bundesliga defenses, which he will do all year long until he’s hurt. The difference in Germany being that as wonderful as the Bundesliga might be, it’s not quite La Liga. His pace and skill will tear the open league to pieces and suddenly Bayern, having thrashed champions Wolfsburg 3-0, are a different animal than the one which awoke Friday morning.
With the transfer window nearly closed, I’m going to stick my neck out and say Arjen Robben is the transfer of the summer – of this I’m 63% sure.