The New York Yankees of Europe

Is Real Madrid becoming the Evil Empire of European soccer?

The team confirmed that it had reached an agreement to buy star forward Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United.

Ronaldo came at quite the price, though. Forget Steven Strasburg, the Number 1 overall pick of the Major League Baseball Draft, and his expected colossal signing bonus with the Washington Nationals. Real Madrid spent a world-record $131 million on Ronaldo’s transfer fee, and that’s just to buy out his Manchester United contract. It doesn’t even include his season salary!

Real Madrid didn’t only break open the piggy bank for Ronaldo. The team had already set the record for the highest transfer fee ever just last week, when they acquired Brazilian star Ricardo Kaká from AC Milan for more than $94 million. Ronaldo’s buyout just re-set the record once again.

That’s a $225 million spending spree in a matter of five days. Maybe it’s just me, but if you look closely enough and squint your eyes, you can almost make out pinstripes on Real Madrid’s white jerseys. Maybe the Steinbrenners relocated to Spain.

Ronaldo and Kaká are two of the most skilled scorers in the Champions League, and surely they will make an immediate impact. The money they dropped on these two stars, however, highlights the problems with UEFA spending rules: basically, there are none!

Florentino Pérez, the Real Madrid president, has actually taken out millions of Euros in bank loans in order to pay for his big-time players, who are called Galácticos (superstars) in Spain. Pérez says he views the transfer fees not as expenses, but as investments.

The investment he made on these two Galácticos is more than any American professional sports team’s payroll. Maybe it’s time the UEFA put some control on this kind of spending, because $94 million for some Kaká just doesn’t seem (or sound) right.

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