‘Euro 2008 star Daniel Guiza is the real deal’

Ex-Spain striker Daniel Guiza may set the M-League alight next season. (AFP file photo)Ex-Spain striker Daniel Guiza may set the M-League alight next season. (AFP file photo)

COMMENT

Johor's recent stunning capture of Daniel Guiza on loan has no doubt made the ex-Spanish international the marquee of all marquee footballers in the region.

Other ex-internationals have played in Malaysian football before — England internationals Tony Cottee and the late David Rocastle had both played in the Malaysian league in the late 1990s, but neither of their CVs was as impressive as that of Guiza.

Guiza is a Euro 2008 winner with Spain. In fact, the deadly striker's contributions were significant in that tournament as he found the net twice en route to their famous victory.

He was also the top scorer in La Liga in the 2007-08 season, making him the last Spaniard to hold that honour. That season, he managed to outscore superstars like Sergio Aguero, David Villa and Raul Gonzalez.

At 32, Guiza is also a few months younger than Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, so he has at least a couple of seasons of top-level football left in him.

The A-League season in Australia recently kicked off with a trio of "marquee" signings — Alessandro Del Piero, Emile Heskey and Shinji Ono. All of them are older than Guiza and are considered semi-retired. Not Guiza.

BUT WHY NOT SINGAPORE?

The successful signing of Guiza says a few of things about LionsXII's opponents in the Malaysian Super League (MSL) next season and presents a guideline for our local S-League clubs as well.

Firstly, Guiza's arrival highlights the financial prowess of some of the other teams in the MSL.

Johor is owned by the Crown Prince of Johor and the signing of Guiza is by and large funded by his own coffers. His willingness to splurge is clearly a good thing not just for the two clubs under his ownership (Johor FA and Johor FC; which will be Johor United and Johor respectively in 2013), but for the entire Malaysian Super League.

Secondly, it goes to show that with the right amount of investment, any Malaysian Super League team have the capability to attract top marquee players to the league.

By any benchmark, Johor is not considered the most successful and or the most well-supported team in the league.

Kelantan FA and Selangor FA, for example, are by far more established and illustrious entities. Perhaps with the same level of financial backing, the rest of the clubs may be even more well-poised to make big named signings.

Also, according to some reports, Guiza's annual salary is close to RM 1.6million (SGD 640,000) on top of any undisclosed sign-on bonuses.

If those reports are correct, Guiza is expensive but not astronomically expensive by current standards.

This amount serves as a good financial guide to our local S-League clubs, whom may be interested in bringing in marquee players for the 2013 season.

One of the changes to the S-League is the increase of the number of foreign players in a team from four to five. It has also been explicitly stated that the league will support the clubs in their attempts to sign a foreign "star" player.

It does look like it will take at least half a million dollars a year for any of clubs to bring in a top quality player. But realistically speaking, even that is too costly for any of the current nine local clubs in next season's S-League on their own.

By the look of things, either the S-League has to come up with a huge pool of money to "support" the clubs, or that the clubs have to obtain huge corporate sponsors over the course of the next few months.

The "Guiza effect" on next season's Malaysian Super League campaign remains to be seen.

However, judging by the fanfare and the buzz in the media, the Spaniard can be expected to be a crowd-puller as long as he stays fit.

The challenge now to S-League CEO Lim Chin and his team is whether any of the S-League clubs can attract any foreign "star" of such quality.

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