Strengthening the opposition

Hello, good morning sports fans, my name is Ayyaz Malik aka The Sports Buff. I hope you’re well, in good health and are looking after yourselves as well as keeping safe.

Sports fans, we need to talk, we need to talk about strengthening the opposition. For example, I am referring to when Andrea Pirlo was ludicrously let go by AC Milan, to then turn into a Juventus legend.

Whoever was the decision maker, that oversaw that decision, should be banned from football. In the case of Pirlo, when he left the San Siro, he arguably got even better, making a mockery of the Rosaneri’s statement that Andrea Pirlo is too old.

In SerieA the big clubs regularly buy players from each other, in fact, the two Milan clubs, who are fierce rivals, seem to do it quite often. The aforementioned Pirlo was one, as was Clarence Seedorf, as was Ronaldo and Zlaten Ibrahimovic too.

I am sure there are names I am missing out on. In the other top leagues, it’s a practice which is also practised. The two Madrid clubs have many players who crossed the city to play for the cross-city rival.

In recent times, players such as Thibaut Courtois, Marcos Llorente, Alvaro Morata and Theo Hernandez come to mind. Of course, there are examples of a crossover of players between Atletico and Barca.

Memphis Depay is one example and Louis Suarez being another. The example of the Uruguayan Suarez is one of the main reasons why this article is getting written.

When the Gremio striker was sold by Barcelona at the time, the 36-year-old would go on to top score for Atletico to help them win the title, an example of strengthening the opposition to devastating effect.

In Germany, as Bayern Munich are the main force, many of the other clubs are powerless to stop Bayern from buying their best players, so the opposition are strengthening Bayern.

Red Bull in recent years have been the victim of this. Players such as Marcel Sabitzer and Dayot Umpecano have been the players signed by the Bavarians.

Bayern weren’t done there as the highly-rated Konrad Leimer has signed a pre-contract agreement to join the club and even then Leipzig manager Julien Nagelsman was poached.

If you thought Bayern Munich only target RB Leipzig players, they famously signed Matts Hummels, Mario Gotze and the most famous of them all Robert Lewandoski.

The French league have also seen clubs strengthen a direct rival. The transfer of Kylian Mbappe comes to mind when he moved from Monaco to PSG. With as many examples I have given of European clubs signing rival players, this doesn’t happen too many times in England.

Manchester United did sell Mikael Silvestre to Arsenal as well as Danny Welbeck to The Gunners too, but there haven’t been too many occasions of strengthening a direct rival.

With the greatest respect to Man City, they had a period where they did buy a lot of Arsenal players, but I argue this Manchester City team isn’t the same as this one.

The City team at the start of the Abu Dhabi takeover was like how Newcastle are now, they’re building something great. Arsenal at the time felt it was viable to sell players like Samir Nasri, Emanuel Adebayor and Bacary Sagna.

Man City at the time, with the greatest respect to them, weren’t in a Premier League title race, so it turned out such a move was not detrimental. With the tables turned and City selling players to Arsenal it appears that has been detrimental.

Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus swapped East Manchester for North London. Their former club City are looking to win three Premier League titles on the bounce, but it looks like former players Jesus and Zinchenko will do as their club Arsenal have a five-point lead over their former side Manchester City, with a game in hand.

That gap could grow to eight points, but the top two do need to play each other. In the dress rehearsal, if you like, both sides were drawn against each other in the FA Cup fourth round, where Manchester City edged the game 1-0.

Will that have a bearing on the season? It appears to be seen, but I did raise my concerns when City were strengthening their rivals;

If I am right, it will be a case of I told you saw, if not, I already have my I am sorry, but I got it wrong article ready. Nottingham Forest and Fulham look like they will be featuring in that.

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