More significant, though, he has quashed almost any outlet for criticism. It has been instructive, for instance, to read the accounts in much of Madrid’s news media of the Mbappé deal. Slightly than a defeat for Madrid, Mbappé’s decision has been solid as that of a mercenary and a traitor, a turncoat who gave his word to Pérez after which betrayed him.
Mbappé’s family has been so distressed by that depiction that his mother moved to correct it publicly, asserting on Twitter that her son had never “given his word” to Real Madrid.
That he selected “El Chiringuito” for his first appearance to debate the Super League was not an accident, either. The show frequently features outstanding Madrid-supporting journalists who’ve been known to interrupt down in tears over the club’s successes, or rail against those — Gareth Bale, Eden Hazard — who’re deemed to have dishonored the club.
The show is just not, in that, an outlier. Pérez oversees an unlimited network of pliant news media, dependent not only on his grace and favor for information and access but cowed, too, by the sheer scale and heft of his business interests. Pérez has all the time claimed that he’s powerful only because he’s president of Real Madrid, but that is just not quite true. He’s powerful in lots of other ways, too.
That has allowed him to run Real Madrid as he sees fit. Despite its size, the club’s hierarchy is comparatively tightknit, with many recruitment decisions overseen by Pérez; his chief executive, José Ángel Sanchez; and his chief scout, Juni Calafat. Real Madrid is, in that sense, something of an outlier, almost a throwback, in an era when most of its peers have diversified and deepened their staffs.
Pérez would argue, after all, that it really works: five Champions League finals in nine years is all of the evidence he needs. That, perhaps, is his biggest gift. Irrespective of what he does, regardless of how unlikely it seems, Pérez has a remarkable ability to emerge triumphant.
This may need been the yr that destabilized the dominion he has so painstakingly built. It might, as an alternative, prove to be the yr that cemented it for good.