“Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end; then stop.”
---Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
Only a quote from a Lewis Carroll book could do, ahem, justice to the nonsensical saga starring Franck Ribery this summer. Rumors, hard statements, false quotes, exorbitant sums of money, comical posturing, hush-hush negotiations? This tale has it all.
We start in late April…
“It would be difficult for me to stay if we do not reach this goal,” Ribery says about Bayern qualifying for the upcoming Champions League season. Drool spontaneously erupts from the mouths of several leading European managers--- and Ribery’s agents. Inter shows interest. (I had to get the “Special One” in there.)
On in to May…
El Mundo Deportivo claims representatives from Barcelona and Bayern have met with Ribery’s agents and agreed to a cash plus player deal. A few days later, Manchester United denies putting together a record deal for the Frenchman (Although, this is when they thought they were still going to have Ronaldo.)
“For 70 million Euro, we will not let Franck Ribery leave,” Uli Hoeness states. One wonders what took him so long to jump in to the fray. Soon after, Zidane makes his first appearance; stating that he’d like Franck to follow in his footsteps and join him at Real Madrid. (Just don’t head-butt anyone, OK, Franck?) Chelsea is reported to be interested as well.
Then, Uli brings out the big guns. “It will not be so difficult to keep him. Ribery has a contract for another two years and there is no buy-out clause.” You tell ‘em, Uli! Meanwhile, Mr. Ribery has yet to respond to the flotsam and jetsam of rumors floating about him. And Patrice Evra pipes in, “Of course I talk to Franck about it, I tell him ‘You had better come here.’”, speaking of United. (Perhaps he should be out practicing penos?)
Towards the end of May, Bayern state that a 40 million British pound offer from Chelsea is untrue. Hoeness says that 45 million pounds will not buy one of Franck’s legs. (How about a breast? A 3-piece bucket?)
Stay with me, we’re in June…
Real Madrid president, Florentina Perez, signals his intention to take over the world… erm, I mean, win something this season, by his intent to sign Ronaldo, Kaka and Ribery. Next up, we’ve got Franz Beckenbauer stating that he doesn’t want a summer-long Ribery saga. (How’s that working out for you, Franz?) Then, Franck goes on French TV and says that his situation isn’t “easy to deal with”. You don’t say…? And, Perez finally “admits” to a reality check, and says he respects Bayern’s right to keep Ribery. (Mmmmmhmmmm…)
Zidane says the exact same things he’s been saying all summer. Karl-Heinze Rummenigge gives us the news that United, Barcelona, Chelsea and Madrid have made offers (Really? Shocking!), but is coy with the amounts being bandied about.
Then, “The FC Bayern Munich AG board of directors have made the overwhelming resolution that the player Franck Ribery is not for sale.” That would seem to settle that. Or not. Real is now thought to be offering Van der Vaart and Sneijder, which is only a little different than the previous speculation that they were offering Sneijder and Robben. (It’s all Dutch to me.)
"The player has talked with Zinedine Zidane and he wants to play for Los Blancos for him.”, says Ribery’s agent. All hell breaks loose. Of course, Rummenigge says, “Franck is irreplaceable.” A day later, Bayern re-re-re-re-reiterates that the Frenchman is not for sale. “Franck will be on our training field July 1.”
And now, July….
Rummenigge is still only entertaining “crazy” offers. And then the bomb drops. L’Equipe quotes Ribery as saying, "I have made up my mind, I want to leave. It will be Real or nothing." Bayern retorts along the lines of: You’ll get nothing and like it!--- “We will keep Franck come hell or high water.”
Now, van Gaal starts to put together a fining system to keep wayward mouths in check. And yes, he’d like the saga to end as well. (Wouldn’t we all?) "The rumors are not good for Franck, not good for Bayern Munich and not good for me."
Next, a back-pedal: “"I feel misunderstood, I never said I desperately want a transfer to happen,“ Ribery told a Munich daily. “I do not want to say anything wrong right now.” Oopsie.
Ribery doesn’t show up for practice! Renewed speculation runs rampant! In reality, he’s got a blister on his foot.
Chelsea’s Ancellotti is finally resigned to Ribery staying in Munich. Meanwhile, Barcelona seems intent in joining the madness. And Real’s director general says, “Bayern Munich have found many ways to say no - sometimes exhaustively saying no and sometimes talking about 80million Euros, which is another way of saying no.” (Am I the only one wondering what a “director general” does?)
Franck’s blister heals, but then he knocks his knee. The rumor mill begins yet again. Franz Beckenbauer, strangely, launches an attack on Ribery. “He doesn’t give a damn about Munich.” Franz then sets Ribery’s price tag at 94 million Euro. Meanwhile, Rummenigge and Hoeness break from Beckenbauer stating they understand Ribery being lured away by Real Madrid. (Duh!)
Finally, we’ve hit August.
The midfielder’s still not training. A bit of the speculation has begun to die. And with Ribery out for the Audi Cup, Bayern fans get to see what life might be like without him. (Not too shabby, eh?) Then AS reports that Real Madrid have locked up Franck for the 2010 season.
Franck finally (!) gets to run out for France, and fans of die Roten, this weekend, get to see what life will be like with him back in the line-up. And just when you would think it’s all settled, a little rumor comes out of London stating Roman Abromovich is on his way to Munich. Chelsea’s back in the game? (Don’t get your knickers in a twist--- it’s about Bayern signing Bosingwa.)
And here we stand today.
“If it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be: but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.”
---Through the Looking-Glass, by Lewis Carroll
Or is it?