Why I hate the Calciomercato
Years ago, July was my favorite month. Summer was kicking into full gear, vacation was within sight and of course, there was the calciomercato. The Italian sports newspapers and then later their digital versions, were full of stories about players coming and going – everything from the probable to the fanciful, from the obvious to the arcane, the calciomercato had it all.
However, over the years the stories have become more and more outlandish as the sums have escalated outstripping inflation and common sense. I used to wake up excited to sit, cappuccino (or two) in hand and spend an hour reading the reports. I would ride the rollercoaster of emotions as names were tossed out in a frenzy of reports only to be dashed. But it was glorious. The next morning, I would be at it again – the same enthusiasm and usually the same dejection at the end. Occasionally, the deal I had been hoping for would come through and it was a great high. That was the high you chased on the calciomercato rollercoaster. It was an addiction. Now, that is all over. I have come to hate the calciomercato. We glance at one another with an erstwhile sadness, and there are a number of reasons for this.
Partly, I blame the internet. The voices have multiplied and with them the stories. Dozens, hundreds, thousands – they just keep coming. Many of them exaggerated and outlandish – some virtually science fiction. Who are we going to get? Who are we going to lose? It is like a bout of schizophrenia – lots of voices, paranoia and an inability to tell reality from fantasy.
Aside from the pundits, the internet has also magnified the voices of fans, which I normally love. The joy, the anger, the rivalry – it is all very good, except in July (and January) when it all becomes too much. Fans invariably become either Veruca Salt (grasping, avaricious, spoiled brats) or Marvin the Android (sad sack pessimists for whom the world is black). The former tend to support the big teams and they want two of everything right now and they really do not care about economics or understand why smaller teams might drive a hard bargain; the latter are usually fans of the smaller teams and are certain that every player who leaves is utterly irreplaceable and as a result, next season is sure to be a disaster. In addition to everything, of course, everyone is an existentialist. The calciomercato is over a month-long but it might as well be groundhog day.
Ultimately, my disdain for the calciomercato is probably largely a product of being Laziale with a president like Claudio Lotito and director like Igli Tare. Our lot is suffering, why would the calciomercato be any different? I can hear you now – Lazio never sign anyone good, that is why you think like this. Quite possibly. However, Lotito, and Tare have also become rather infamous for their calciomercato tactics. One need look no further than the Anderson to West Ham negotiations currently unfolding. Classic Lotito. Protracted, stop-start negotiations, spiralling demands, niggling details – imagine a symphonic crescendo that goes on for 3 hours. Eventually, the conductor just drops dead of exhaustion. Of course, Lazio have done rather well in the calciomercato. Biglia, Keita, Felipe Anderson, Lucas Leiva, Milinkovic-Savic, Immobile – both in buying and selling, Lotito and Tare have excelled. The reasons for this are exactly why following the calciomercato as a Laziale is so frustrating.
Lazio’s calciomercato is the antithesis of what most people want in a calciomercato; splashy buys, big names, household brands. That is not what you get with Tare. Instead you get promissory notes – players you may have heard of, many you haven’t and the odd forgotten man looking to redeem himself. It is not exactly ‘exciting’. People want Christmas with the furious shredding of wrapping and the gluttony of gifts, but Lazio gives you long-term investment and incremental returns on investment. Sorry, but they don’t have parades featuring mutual fund managers – only Santa gets those.
If you have been a Laziale long enough, this has changed you. You know enough to trust Lotito and Tare (most of the time). That footballer you have never heard of from the team you did not know existed, may very well turn out to be the next big thing. You need look no further than Luis Alberto. It took a year at Lazio for the Spaniard to become a star, but the stock has paid handsomely – if only eventually.
Enjoy the calciomercato, but do relax.
Written by: @imperatoreMCM
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