It’s been an absolute whirlwind of WoSo transfer rumors of late but things truly got wild today. There are a number of big-name Man City exits on the horizon, with Georgia Stanway having wrapped up terms with Bayern Munich, Lucy Bronze desiring the NWSL, Khadija Shaw being linked to PSG as a Katoto replacement, and our very own Real Madrid appearing to be the frontrunners for Caroline Weir’s signature.
And those are just some appetizers: Sara Däbritz has signed with Lyon while Barcelona star Lieke Martens has apparently agreed to transfer to PSG.
Madrid got thrown back into the rumor mill when David Orstein (The Athletic) reported that Las Blancas are in talks with West Ham over winger Adriana Leon, which feels somewhat out of left field given that she isn’t necessarily rated that highly. On top of this, the Sun soon claimed that Barcelona had also expressed interest in her.
Real’s possible pursuit of Leon maybe makes a little more sense given this bombshell that emerged a few hours ago from journalist Carlos Alvarez:
Atleti junto a Cardona. 98%— Carlos Alvarez (@CarlosTuilla) May 16, 2022
Managing Madrid can confirm that there is truth to the news that Cardona is currently at odds with Real over a contract extension and is considering a move elsewhere, with Atlético being a distinct possibility. After that, the details get muddier and we will know more as things develop, but it appears that money is the central issue.
Madrid have tended to stand firm on their offers to key players, being unable to come to an agreement with Sofia Jakobsson in 2021 before Kosovare Asllani accepted a smaller salary than she initially wanted to in order stay on another season. Misa seems to have been an exception, given her young age, potential, and marketability, and that may be a motivating factor in Cardona demanding more after it appeared like she was set to agree on terms.
From a pure footballing standpoint, Cardona can certainly feel entitled to club-leading wages. She was Madrid’s best performer in the 2020/21 season and was arguably the most impactful attacker in the league (discounting anyone from Barcelona).
Replacing her is far from an easy task — as evidenced by this random-seeming connection to Leon, who is either being floated as a replacement for leverage or as a legit substitution — and may not even be possible if the top wide attackers from around the world are content with their current situation.
However, Cardona was also injured for the vast majority of this season, sustaining damage to her meniscus in preseason, which required surgery. The soon-to-be 27-year-old then injured her quadriceps after attempting a comeback in the middle of the campaign and only rejoined the squad for the final matchday of Primera Iberdrola.
In total, Cardona picked up 7 league appearances and scored 1 goal in 2021/22, understandably looking well off her usual level in that paltry sample (though not from a standpoint of explosiveness).
These facts weaken Cardona’s negotiating position.
Additionally, Managing Madrid has been told that the club was annoyed with her alleged desire to speed up her recovery process, which apparently contradicted the timeline of club doctors and may have contributed to re-injury. If true, this probably further incentivized Madrid to hold their ground.
It all amounts to somewhat of a bizarre situation given how both stand to benefit from maintaining the status quo. Marta Cardona and Real Madrid seem like a match made in heaven. The former is a ridiculously fast, athletic, and skilled wide player who doesn’t shirk defensive responsibilities and is versatile enough to play as a second forward or receive between the lines. Her teammates look up to her as a leader with high standards, given that Cardona’s attitude to imperfection has been comically endearing at times.
She famously sat away from the rest of the squad and sulked next to Misa when Madrid lost a friendly to Real Sociedad. Prior to that, Cardona had done the same — this time, all on her own — in a draw vs. Granadilla on the final day of the 20/21 league season (after the team had already qualified for Europe and the result was meaningless).
If there is anyone that embodies the Merengue “winning mentality,” it is Cardona.
All of this is why it may yet work out, as well as the fact that Atlético will not play in the Champions League next season in contrast to their city rivals. Both Cardona and Madrid have a lot to gain by maintaining this marriage and a lot to lose by annulling it.
Nevertheless, things do not look all that promising as things stand. Salaries are pitiful in women’s football (think: 40-100k PER YEAR for most players) and are, thus, rightfully even greater dealbreakers than they would be in the men’s game.