Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho says money does not buy a club’s history and is not the answer to keeping hold of its star players.
Clubs such as Real and Barcelona, whose ownership is shared between thousands of members, must try to combat the threat posed by teams bought by Russian or Arab billionaires.
Mourinho, however, believes the world’s best footballers want to play for clubs with many years of history that consistently win the top competitions.
“Madrid, Barca, Bayern…these are clubs that have a capital that is unique, which is their historic capital, and this cannot be bought with money,” declared Mourinho in an exclusive interview with AS.
“The trophies, European Cups, tradition, history, fans…these things can’t be solved with money. The best players want to play for these teams, the three I’ve mentioned and others that have cabinets full of trophies and almost 100 years of history.
“It still plays a part with players and then you have to be aware that Financial Fair Play is coming soon. This will impose restrictions, and the difficulties will be for clubs that are not so well structured, even those with lots of money.
“Obviously, at Madrid, which is my club and the one I know, the structure is prepared for this and we will be entering a new era.
“Real Madrid has the potential and history to keep the best players like Cristiano [Ronaldo], [Iker] Casillas, [Gonzalo] Higuain and [Karim] Benzema, in fact all our squad. It’s the same for Barca.
“Even so, clubs that live solely on investment will not have it so easy because they will face difficulties as they are not historically structured.
“In that sense Financial Fair Play will be good for football,” added Mourinho.
The Portuguese does, however, concede that the financial landscape in football could be altering and cited the examples of Hulk and Axel Witsel, players signed by Zenit St. Petersburg from his native country this week.
“Right now the market is changing. For example, Zenit have signed Hulk and Witsel for €100m, players they got from two of Portuguese and European football’s historic clubs, Porto and Benfica.
“They are both players we could think that short-term should be playing for the top clubs in the Champions League, but they have ended up in Russia.
“Money is still important for footballers but mainly for the middle class of player. Those earning €5m a year will not go if you offer them €5.5m, but a person earning €12,000 a year who is offered €40,000 is certainly going to move.
“It’s logical because it changes your life, but it depends on the quantities [involved]. With the amounts the big stars earn this is not the case.
“In Hulk and Witsel’s case, two of the best players in the Portuguese League, this will be repeated in the next few years, but with the big stars from a historic club it will not be as easy.
“Nonetheless, it’s a new reality to which we must all adapt,” he explained.
The former Porto, Chelsea and Inter tactician was asked about Barcelona’s dominance of recent seasons, something that was broken by Los Blancos’ title triumph last term,
“It’s not for me to say but it’s clear we have broken Barca’s triumphant run, with one title after another. It has now alternated and we’ll see how things end up.
“Anyway, you have to be honest. We are talking about Real Madrid and Barcelona, two very good teams, really good teams. If you chose any other team in the world they would not finish second in La Liga because it’s difficult.
“If you play in another League it’s easier to win and with any other opponent than Barca things would be much easier here. I also say that if Madrid got to where they did last year it is because of Barca, who had raised the bar.”
Mourinho also felt it was because of the Catalans, who had taken the game to a new level, that the Madrid players were forced to elevate their own standards in order to compete with or surpass their eternal rivals.
“To be champions we had to move into another dimension, so the La Liga title was a source of pride, although it’s something that is not over. What is over is Barca’s infallible sequence of victories, but the high quality of both teams is not.
“Things will continue and football fans, not only in Spain but all over the world, will enjoy the Madrid-Barca games to come.
“Madrid-Barca is a blessing for football and all supporters. I don’t have any figures but I’m sure the Supercopa de Espana had a bigger global audience than many Champions League games last season.”
Finally, Mourinho was pressed to comment on Cristiano Ronaldo’s situation at the Santiago Bernabeu, although he was somewhat evasive.
“Let me think a few moments…it’s something I don’t want to talk about. This has been an interesting interview and I’ve been willing to talk about everything.
“I’ve answered everything thoroughly and honestly but don’t ask about Cristiano.
“You should understand me and I’m asking that you do not insist,” he concluded.