One month ago, would you have imagined that a Brazilian club would make a €40 million bid for the Manchester City captain and still be taken seriously?
When Corinthians announced an offer to bring Carlos Tévez back to South America, they gave rise to the possibility of an improbable wish - that Roberto Mancini's favourite Argentine had been making public for a while - coming true. But, how can a South American team offer such money for the pride of Eastlands? The answer lies in Brazil’s booming economy, and the current status of the football clubs in the land of Samba.
The recent wave of comebacks by Brazilian footballers - Ronaldinho Gaúcho, Fred, Robinho, Ronaldo and Adriano are recent high-profiles examples - can be explained by Brazil's economic situation in the 2000s. In 2008, Brazil was ranked as the ninth largest economy in the world by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), after settling all their international debts, and cementing their position as the ‘second’ nation in America – behind only the United States. The Brazilian Real became the best-valued against the American dollar, which was reflected in the improvement of the financial capabilities of football teams, who could suddenly offer unhappy European stars salaries of the same level as those paid in ‘the Old Continent’.
Ronaldinho, for example, earns €8 million per year at Flamengo, which would place him among the ten highest earners in European football. Santos have been able to hold onto Neymar, one the most promising talents in Brazil, despite a €20,7 million offer from Chelsea; offering the wonderkid a salary described by the club’s president, Luis Alvaro Ribeiro, as one “of a European level”. Tévez, who, according to the Football Finance website, receives roughly the same salary as Ronaldinho, would be an easy fit into Corinthians’ budget, thanks to the rising currency, and increase in sponsor-driven salaries.
Another factor in the improvement of certain club accounts is a new broadcasting deal, signed in 2011. Until last year, the clubs negotiated their TV contract together, under the Clube dos 13 (a company created by the clubs) umbrella. Now, each club is free to negotiate separately, hoping to get more money from the TV companies. As a result, the two best supported clubs– Flamengo and Corinthians – signed an agreement with TV Globo, under the terms of which each one will receive approximately €40,5 million per year, between 2012-2015. This amount can increase to €58,5 million with pay-per-view sales – and this money would have financed Tévez’ comeback. In comparison, Corinthians accounts reveal that they received €24,7 million in 2010, and just €10,3 million in 2007.
Last Tuesday, however, the adventure of Corinthians came to an end before it had even (re) begun for Tévez. The Brazilian club decided to withdraw their offer, because of a lack of time – the Brazilian transfer window closed yesterday. But the message sent by one of the biggest football teams in South America was clear: the days of one-way talent traffic could well be coming to an end.
Felipe is a journalist living and working in Brazil.