This is another episode of transfers gone bad. They are a dime a dozen. But this time it involves a powerful national federation whose ire is being directed towards Chelsea, one of the richest teams in the world for its cavalier and bewildering treatment of Michael Ballack, Germany's captain.
However it also highlights the contrast between the kinetic and richer Premier League which works on an adrenaline drip, makes the club a priority, and barely tolerates national duty and the more staid world of the Bundesliga with its less hectic scheduling and greater willingness to release players to their national squads.
This saga actually began when Michael Ballack turned up his nose at Bayern and decided to go to Chelsea last season much against conventional wisdom. Most fans soured on Ballack as the move was seen primarily to line his pockets. At 130,000 pounds per week they could be forgiven. The Bayern establishment led by Franz Beckenbauer and Uli Hoeness also saw this as a move predicated by money.
Ballack was sparingly utilized by Mourinho in Chelsea's line up and along with Shevchenko and Bouhlarouz became a bust, although he did have his moments. To make matters worse, Ballack sustained an ankle injury in April at a crucial time of the season which the Chelsea doctors downplayed, coming under pressure from Mourinho. Against the clubs permission Ballack flew to Germany where the doctors correctly diagnosed the seriousness of his injury and operated to remove a chipped bone. A furious Mourinho then turned his ire on his doctors once he realized that the ankle surgery was inevitable.
Ballack after undergoing rehab the last three months has been given the green signal by the German doctors to resume playing. Not so fast say Chelsea. He has not been included in the team to play the CL fixtures till November as he is not match fit according to club doctors. The conflicting fitness reports have baffled German coach Joachim Low who is hoping for Ballack's return to Euro duty. Low now wants Jose Mourinho to explain the situation.
Ballack's non-inclusion has stirred the ire of the most powerful German figure in soccer, as Der Kaiser is now calling Ballack's move to Chelsea a mistake, saying that he would have been a better fit at Man Utd. To make matters worse, Ballack was not released by Chelsea until too late for the photo shoot that featured the German team and Adidas, their main sponsor. This time it was Oliver Bierhoff who reacted with annoyance.
"That's not how you treat a German international, especially the captain of the team who is highly respected internationally," said Bierhoff. "It's not correct that they treat us and their partner Adidas in this way. It seems the club has other methods."
Even if you read Bierhoff's words within its context, the effect this will have on future German transfers to the Premiership, will be a chilling one.