At the start of the summer Ricardo Carvalho claimed he had an agreement with some important figures at Chelsea that meant he could leave the club this summer. Such an announcement was considered strange but after a couple of weeks with no transfer developments involving him it was considered to be a ploy. It appeared he merely wanted a new contract with Chelsea. As it turns out, on Tuesday we realised he was actually being factual. Ricardo Carvalho did have an agreement, of some type, in place which allowed him to leave Stamford Bridge this summer. Nobody knows if the agreement was with owner Roman Abramovich, the manager Carlo Ancelotti or the recently departed de facto managing director Peter Kenyon.
The agreement was seemingly linked to his decision to stay at Chelsea last season in spite of the advances Internazionale Milan were making. Interestingly enough Jose Mourinho, now coach of Real Madrid, was then the coach of Internazionale Milan. Ricardo Carvalho played under Jose Mourinho at Porto, in Portugal, then at Chelsea, in England, and now he will resume the partnership at Real Madrid in Spain. Each admires the other and knows how the other operates. Chelsea will suffer without Ricardo Carvalho. The first choice central defensive partnership will obviously now be Alex and John Terry, with Branislav Ivanovic in reserve. Considering John Terry’s woeful form, this departure could not have come at a worse time for Chelsea. Perhaps they have a new signing lined up but at the moment it appears not.
For his new employers Ricardo Carvalho will offer the type of defensive example that Jose Mourinho wants his other players to respond and react to. Carvalho is indeed a capable player on the ball but first and foremost he knows how to defend. For too long Real Madrid defenders, since before even the days of the Real Madrid legend Hierro, have been culpable of trying to control the ball and find a pass when it would be far wiser to just clear the ball from the danger area. Carvalho will demonstrate there is a time to only defend and a separate time to control the ball. More pertinently he will demonstrate when is the time to do both. Real Madrid have often alternated between the two, never finding the golden mean, and therefore struggling against better teams.
Real Madrid’s defence only infrequently struggles against the teams who occupy the mid-table and lower positions, yet against the better teams Real Madrid offer a different story. Unbalanced in defence, uncomfortable under pressure and always prone to panic these problems flow on to the midfield which in turn loses its composure. At £6.5 million, Real Madrid might never have made a more important pound for pound signing, literally.