clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Real Madrid And Sanitas: A Disturbing History Of Medical Blunders

Is Mourinho hurt also? He might not want to be treated by Sanitas (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Is Mourinho hurt also? He might not want to be treated by Sanitas (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Getty Images

During the Ramón Calderón era, Real Madrid signed a contract with the private medical enterprise, Sanitas. This contract ends in 2013, and I am certainly looking forward to it, since Sanitas have done a horrible job treating our players.

Sanitas pays Real Madrid (the amount is unknown) for appearing in every checkup our players take, even in those that take place before the signing of their contracts. I don't think Sanitas is giving us a lot of money (I don't think that it's over 5M€), so I encourage Florentino Pérez (maybe he is reading this blog, you never know!) to break this contract unilaterally with them, no matter how much we need to pay them in compensation.

Let's start this review with one player that I love, Ruud 'Van the Man' Nistelrooy. I know the Dutchman was a fragile player--he got injured a lot while he was at Manchester United--but he only got hurt pretty badly twice while playing for Real Madrid. Van Nistelrooy didn't trust the medical services of Sanitas very much; for example, when he injured his ankle, he had surgery in the United States rather than with Sanitas. I believe Sanitas told him something he found suspicious about the injury, so he decided to go to a prestigious doctor for a second opinion.

Later on, he injured his knee so badly that he missed quite a few months of Juande Ramos's season as coach. He made his debut with Pellegrini a couple of months after the next season started, scoring one goal. During the goal, he earned himself another injury and Real Madrid decided to let him go to Hamburg for free, since we didn't think he was going to come back the player he had been.

Injuries happen, that's the nature of the sport. I am not picking on Sanitas because Van Nistelrooy got injured. But if your medical team is good enough, those injured players should recover well enough so they can play again without any risk of re-injury

Barcelona has a great medical staff; when a Barcelona player gets hurt, they usually say the player should be out for a logical amount of time, but they always come back earlier. If Xavi or Piqué gets an injury that should keep them out for three weeks, they'll be playing in the second. That's absolutely essential to a team, because injuries happen very often in this sport.

The second player I want to discuss is Cristiano Ronaldo. In his first year with Real Madrid, Cristiano injured his ankle during a game against Olympique Marseille. Well, technically, Diawara injured Cristiano's ankle. He was predicted to be out for about three weeks. Sanitas cleared him to play with Portugal, since they considered him ready and the game was really important for Portugal to qualify for the World Cup.

Ronaldo lasted 20 minutes on the pitch, re-injuring his ankle almost immediately. Then he thought it would be better to go see a Dutch specialist, Niek Van Dijk, who gave the Portuguese instructions to treat his sprain. He came back a couple of months later and has not had another ankle injury.

Pepe sprained his knee during a game against Valencia in the Pellegrini season. He didn't even see the Sanitas doctors, and went instead to Portugal for surgery. They gave him a timetable for the recovery, during which time he worked in the Valdebebas' gym. There were doubts about whether he was going to be able to play during the World Cup, but he didn't run into any problems.

Gonzalo Higuaín's case is dramatic; he forced his back so much that he finally got a hernia. Sanitas first recommended rest, so Pipa didn't need to have surgery. He should have been able to play in a couple of months. When Higuaín didn't feel well after some weeks, he went to Chicago for a check. They said Pipa needed to have surgery, and that he had to miss another four months. We could have enjoyed a healthier and fitter Higuaín during the last months of the season if Sanitas hadn't recommended that he skip the surgery.

And now we have Nuri Sahin. He injured his knee while at Borussia, but recovered well and started the preseason with the team. Two days later, he injured his other knee in practice (this kind of thing can happen). He was supposed to miss three to four weeks. We all expected to see Sahin in Madrid's games in China, but his pain didn't go away in time. Before the Bernabeu Trophy, he started to train with the team again (so he was cleared by the medical staff), but re-injured that knee. Reports say he should be ready to play by the end of October.

I would send Sahin to the doctor that repaired Ronaldo Nazario's knee. Nobody expected the Brazilian to play soccer again, yet he came back and played at an amazing level for Real Madrid. I don't think Sahin is going to be completely recovered by the end of October, but Sanitas will probably declare him ready and fully healthy. Therefore, we all need to cross our fingers, because if he is not really healed, it's possible that he will re-injure himself again.

Real Madrid needs to either break tiesto Sanitas or keep them, but send our players to true specialists. Let's hope all of this doesn't end badly!

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Managing Madrid Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Real Madrid news from Managing Madrid