How Baldini used the Italian press

The Guardian ran an interesting story on Wednesday around the question who was the most expensive 30+ year-old player to be transferred but it gave an insight into another side of football.

How Baldini used the Italian press

The answer by the way was Argentine striker Gabriel Batistuta who moved from Fiorentina to Roma for £23.5 million in 2000 and won both the Italian title and Italian Cup that year. It was the first time Roma had won the league in 18 years and they haven't won it since.

Zlatan Ibrahimović was part of a £51 million transaction when signing for PSG from Milan in 2012 but he was valued at £15.7 million as part of that deal.

It was a piece a little later that caught my eye about Franco Baldini and then Roma manager Fabio Capello, who wanted to sign 31 year-old Batistuta. His president Franco Sensi told Capello it was beyond his monetary means.

Undeterred Capello and Baldini got in contact with Mario Sconcerti, the editor of Corriere dello Sport. They went out to dinner and Baldini explained the situation, telling him that if his paper printed the story everyone would be talking about it, newspaper sales would go through the roof and they would force the presidents hand.

Two days later the story ran and everyone in Rome was talking about it, Sconcerti couldn't go out without anyone shaking his hand, slapping him on the back or even getting rounds of applause. The man said to be linking up Francesco Totti, Vincenzo Montella and Gabriel Batistuta.

Loan radio stations talked about the story all the time, phone-ins covered it, he was left with little choice but to sign the player or have the public turn on him. Roma signed him, he scored 20 goals and they won the title and the cup.

It just goes to show that you can't believe everything you read in the media, that players, clubs, managers, agents all use it for their own ends. A false rumour here and there to imply a player wants to leave when in fact all he is after is a pay rise or the way Real Madrid use the media to try and force clubs to sell them players.

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Any story should be read with you asking yourself why. Why is this story being run, does it have any truth in it, does it in fact stack up, would it make sense if it happened, does it fit within club transfer policy?

The press is full of stories saying Tottenham are mystified why Eric Pickles is taking so long to decide on a Compulsory Purchase Order for an iron works who it seems want to hold the club to ransom over the building of the new stadium. Undoubtedly these stories are the club saying to Eric Pickles hurry up, we were expecting this to be sorted in March, then April, it's now June and you are still sitting on it.

Reading stories is one thing, figuring them out is quite another, but for the national press the only criteria is will it sell more papers?

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