I rushed my review out the door last night, which is why I forgot a couple of things that I had originally intended to discuss and which, had I not been attempting to live a normal life wherein I hung out with the woman I love instead of blathering on to you about various maroon and blue clad men playing keepaway on the other side of the ocean, would have kept me from having to write this post now. Since I’m separated from my precious lady for the next few hours by this whole “work” concept, I have the time to go ahead and cover that which I failed to do last night.
There has been some rather rampant commenting about Busi’s current level of performance, not least of which came from me in my review. I’m not above (or below) saying that I’m still not happy with Busi’s performance in the clásico win, despite several commenters making valid points about his contributions.
Yesterday I wrote,
I think that inconsistency is simply inexperience and that [Busi]’ll settle down over the next several years and show off exactly where he stands relative to other DM [sic].
What I should have added is that “exactly where he stands relative to DMs” will be, I think, above the average. It’s been pointed out that in a few years he’ll have the experience to be very Guardiola-esque and while I think such expectations are flattering to the kid, it’s not outside the realm of possibility by any means. I did not mean to come off sounding like I dislike Busi’s contributions to the team because I don’t dislike them, but I do think that The Yaya is a better player at the moment. That’s all I meant there.
The question that some will have, then, is why is Busi getting starts of The Yaya if the latter is better than the former? There are several possible explanations, of course. The first is that Guardiola likes Busi more for reasons that I cannot fathom, but which could very well be valid; Busi’s canterano status can’t hurt his chances in the team and if Guardiola sees himself in the kid, it would be hard for him to separate that out.
Another, more likely option, is that Guardiola is getting Busi more playing time now so that he’ll be ready for January, when The Yaya is gone to African Cup of Nations duty along with Keita. Instead of wearing The Yaya out prior to the tournament in Angola, Guardiola gets to both prepare for the departure of a massive midfield contributor and keep The Yaya as fresh as possible for the second half of the season. That’s a big deal if you consider that Busi will probably not be as capable as The Yaya of keeping himself match-fresh until May. Not only that, but if Guardiola can strike a behind-the-scenes balance with The Yaya where he says, effectively, that the ACN is important to everyone and that this situation can be beneficial to the club as well as to The Yaya personally.
The obvious flaw in that thinking is Keita’s constant inclusion in the lineup and I can’t really explain that away. It’s possible that Guardiola sees Iniesta playing as the third midfielder for the latter part of the season or that Guardiola believing Keita is more physically fit than The Yaya. Obviously the latter is laughable because The Yaya is capable of bench pressing a tank, but hey, we all make mistakes now and then. Guardiola may also be counting on Cote D’Ivoire to play more ACN matches than Keita’s Mali as they are clearly the superior squad.
While the rumors of The Yaya’s imminent departure seem to loom large in the daily rags, I wouldn’t put much stock in anything happening until we see how much faith Guardiola puts in Busi over the coming six months. At the end of May, we’ll be able to make better judgments about Busi’s skill as well as better gauge Guardiola’s master plan. Obviously Busi’s suspension for his red card against RM will force Guardiola’s hand with regards to the coming match against Xerez, but it should be remembered that The Yaya was coming off of what appears to have been a pretty awful case of The Swine. Abidal got extra praise for playing coming off The Swine, so why shouldn’t The Yaya? The severity of the cases might have been very different as well or maybe The Yaya was actually infected with a relatively-sized Swing bug that, had it attacked a regular-sized human such as myself, would have just eaten me alive rather than from the inside-out.
Whatever your opinions of Busi’s latest match, please think about the long-term goals of a man like Guardiola before questioning The Yaya’s place in the squad. There are things at work in practice and in the board room that we don’t quite understand. For instance, take this, from Sid Lowe’s latest article:
…the board pushed for Eto’o to go as well. More, even, than Guardiola did. Forget the truck of cash [sent to Inter for Ibra], Barcelona considered the deal a straight swap. Eto’o’s contract was due for renewal. He wanted €10m net, a four-year deal, and no longer qualified for the 23% tax band. From Barcelona’s point of view, his salary would suddenly leap to €14.5m a year; more than €20m extra over the duration. Then there was the signing on fee, at around €10m. Barcelona didn’t see Eto’o’s departure in terms of a loss so much as an act of good housekeeping, enabling them to secure Ibrahimovic below €50m, the limit they’d set and the price at which they balked over Villa. They’d offloaded a problem too.
While I’m not sure I buy all that (€4.5m * 4 = €18m not €20m, for instance), it should be considered when thinking about the way Barcelona is approaching contract renewals. The Yaya is a non-EU member, meaning he takes a place on the squad and also gets foreigner-working-in-Spain taxation that changes at some point. It’s far more complicated than “Player A > Player B”, though you might not be wrong to say “Hey, we have a lot of money, how about we keep the better player even if it costs a bit more?”
Let me know what you’re thinking in the comments.