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Here’s a doozie of a sentence

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“He was certainly one of his men, he had wanted to sign him at any cost after being won over by his performances at the World Cup in South Africa, but he had been excluded from his inner circle, because his detractors — probably correctly — say, he wasn’t part of the group of players managed by Jorge Mendes, Mourinho’s own agent.”

Huh?

Which “he” are we talking about here?

The snippet, taken from The Duellists: Pep, Jose, and the Birth of Football’s Greatest Rivalry by Paolo Condo and translated from Italian by Anthony Wright, is referring to German soccer player Mesut Ozil and Portuguese soccer manager Jose Mourinho. The pair crossed paths at the Spanish mega club Real Madrid from 2010 to 2013.

Tough to know if the author or the translator is to blame with this one. I believe it means, “Ozil was certainly one of Mourinho’s men, Mourinho had wanted to sign Ozil at any cost after being won over by Ozil’s performances at the World Cup in South Africa, but Ozil had been excluded from Mourinho’s inner circle…” But even with the advantage of being a serious soccer fan, and with the more complete context from the book, it’s tough to decipher this sentence.

Condo is a legendary soccer reporter and, translation issues aside, this book is really enjoyable, although it’s not exactly for a soccer novice.

Be careful with your pronouns, folks.

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