|Did you know that you can get from London to Hoffenheim and back for around 168 euros? That includes a flight from London to Frankfurt and then a convoluted bus and train combo to the hometown of the Bundesliga leaders. A round-trip beginning in Manchester will cost you 338 euros. A journey originating from Liverpool's John Lennon International Airport will set you back even more, totaling a tasty 501 euros due to Easyjet's nearest air destination being Berlin.
While this may be useful information for the average man in the street who may have a passing interest in jetting over to catch Hoffenheim in the flesh at the Dietmar-Hopp Stadium while their star is still in the ascendency, it will be just a bunch of useless filler for those who have more tactical reasons in mind.
For these people, navigating time-consuming travel Web sites and working out complicated itineraries are what the plebs do when they want to escape their dreary, non-diamond-encrusted lives. These people have their own transport and won't spend precious time sorting out their own travel. Oh no…they'll just Learjet off or set a luxury yacht's course for Hoffenheim with their pockets full of cash and their eyes on a cut-price soccer superstar.
Unsubstantiated rumor has it that Arsenal's Arsene Wenger has already ignored Ryanair's super cheap flights from Stansted to Frankfurt in favor of a club sanctioned sortie to the home of the German league leaders. If the highly unlikely stories are true, Wenger has trumped any luxury scouting mission by a certain Russian billionaire and his cronies and left a certain ruddy-faced Knight of the Realm on the tarmac in Manchester, not to mention grounding a strangely-bearded Spaniard in the murky grayness of Merseyside.
News travels fast in the world of soccer and managers and chairmen wanting to get the jump on rivals over a potential bargain move even faster. Hoffenheim's fairytale ascension to the summit of the Bundesliga has been reported with unconstrained glee around the world –- and rightly so. Everyone loves the fact that a little village team is heading one of Europe's top soccer leagues (while conveniently forgetting that an entrepreneur's millions are easing the passage). But while the celebrations continue, the vultures of world soccer have taken to the air unnoticed and have the smell of blood and cut-price transfer deals in their nostrils.
Victory, in whatever form, creates lustful envy. If a team is enjoying a winning streak, you can rest assured that those who see the accumulation of winners as a way of assuring their own success will want to pick the best from that bunch and install them in their own collection. It isn't always a recipe for domination but what does that matter? Players themselves can be trophies even when a combination of any number of them isn't winning any.
All of which adds credence to the rumors that the Arsenal supremo has been spotted running his eye over the understated riches at Hoffenheim's disposal. Wenger might not need a new playmaker like Carlos Eduardo or a striker such as Vedad Ibisevic but because these players are big news right now, he's probably not willing to let anyone else have them either.
How much further ahead would Manchester United be if they pinched Demba Ba from under Wenger's considerable nose? Would Liverpool make the Gunners choke on their dust if they snatched Chinedu Obasi from the Frenchman's bony clutches? Would more bragging rights in the capital go to Stamford Bridge if Abramovich were to steal Sejad Salihovic away from a potential move to North London?
With so much at stake these days, who is willing to take these kinds of chances?
I am a subscriber to Deutsch Welle, and enjoy and appreciate your publication.
I also follow Bundesliga and thank you for your Ball Speil blog.
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|Cy Quinn | Homepage | E-Mail | 03.11.2008, 13:31|