Busi and The Future of Barça

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.

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in Germany with his wife and daughter.

103 Comments

  1. Tutomate
    November 30, 2009

    Have you guys seen The Yayas latest comments to a French interviewer? He basically said ‘
    ‘i did not renew to be on the bench I want more playng time I’m in good form and I’m not 30’ his manager added more, ‘ if Chelsea or Citeh call we will negotiate’ but whatever.

    And about Yaya’s H1N1, is It possible that the virus after having contracted Yaya is now more powerfull than ever. I wonder if the Virus The Yaya had has now evolved into a new unstoppable strain.

    To The Yaya: Please don’t go I thought we had something, remember when you waived hi to me in Pasadena? I mean come on.

    • Tutomate
      November 30, 2009

      Or were you just waiving to Alex?:'(

      • Alex
        November 30, 2009

        Speaking of that,

        I am in the process of making a video clip of that hand wave and smile Yaya gave us. I will post a youtube link once its up.

  2. Blow-Granite
    November 30, 2009

    Pep, and Barca’s match calendar, are capable of keeping The Yaya and Busi in the team. Barca has a long season(La Liga, Champions League, Cope Del Rey, World Club Cup, + one middle east on Dec 21st match) which include the ANC, and World Cup. He has only two regular DM’s – Yaya and Busi. I’ve never seen Keita work in the central midfield role. Keita plays more towards the left side(Maxwell could play his role to a certain extent, but not replicate it). Both will stay with Barca barring a catastrophic decision by Pep to only play one DM in most of the games. It is understandable that Busi is getting more time because he needs to be ready for Jan Feb when Yaya and Keita have been gone. Regarding the rumors/press releases, I will start believing them when they start appearing close to the end of the current season in April.

  3. cliveee
    November 30, 2009

    I thought of one explanation about the regular starts of Keita, that is, simply, his role is irreplaceable.

    Keita is a player who has the freedom to go anywhere on the pitch to do his dirty “damages”, be it attack or defend, he has that very freedom to drift from our own box to tackle and run his lung off to chase the ball that is going to the opposition’s corner flag. It is much like Iniesta’s freedom.

    However, Iniesta does not have that power and positioning to do what Keita does. Keita is not meant to play a creative role, he is there to toughen our defense, and to give that stamina to pressure up oppositions. In attack, I have nothing more to add but to mention his 6 goals. Simply, unpredictable. I cannot think of anyone on our team who can do what he does. He is the only player who can do those invisible work. That’s why some of us here find it so hard to rate him. He is a hard worker, a player that does EVERYTHING on the pitch. We cannot underestimate his work, even in the last game that he seemed to be invisible for a large amount of time, his runs and positioning is at the same level as every teammate, which is vital.

    To say The Yaya has a replacement might not be right, but for a lack of better word, there is still a far below par ‘replacement’ – Busquets. He is young, he is inexperienced, he is inconsistent and has a tendency to do fancy tricks that we don’t like to see him do. But he is still a replacement that carried out his duties pretty okay. He showed us he can do it in the match against Man utd last May & recently Inter, just that he has not given us enough confidence. The Yaya is a player who can change the game. He does it effortlessly and can surprise opponent when he attacks! Also his physical advantages are what we need most because I still believe for a team that usually has 4-5 midgets to start, we need a biggie to balance things out. In fact, his strength is one of the reasons why we love him so much and thus gives us such confidence in him. Because if he is not that big and strong, we won’t appreciate his flexibility and skills THAT MUCH.

    Never thought about the money issue, but very valid. I am never good with numbers, so I don’t have much to say… but yeah, homegrowns does $ave us a lot. But for a “irreplaceable” player like The Yaya, I think we should spend.

  4. Soto
    November 30, 2009

    Wow, I got hectored by a post that seems to anticipate some of my comments.

    The boardroom machinations are a good point when considering the transfer rumors. But they do not explain the choice to start Busquets over Yaya. Nor does the need to give Busquets playing time. The only reason I can think of is Yaya’s recovery from the flu. Of course, Guardiola is a much smarter footballer than I am, so he may have a long list of other reasons. In Pep We Trust (though at times shake our head in confusion).

  5. November 30, 2009

    I too found that money breakdown in Lowe’s article very interesting. It showed that player acquisition goes far beyond merit and talent.

    My thoughts on Busquets is that he obviously is talented, very talented. You don’t get called up and START on the spanish national squad these days unless you can bring it, and he does…….sometimes. His inconsistency is apparent and its his greatest flaw, but mind you he is very young, and needs to get more playing time in.

    What I don’t understand is why he is getting SO many more starts than Yaya right now. Before Yaya got the swine, rather, before he decided to wrestle with it in his intestines, he was hardly playing if I recall correctly, but he has not suffered a dip in form from last season. I understand giving busquets time to learn, but also you need to play whoever is better at that time.

    which is why benzema started on the bench yesterday hahahaha

    p.s. can’t get that ibra goal out of my head, so amazing

    • November 30, 2009

      Because this is something that I track closely:

      Starts this season (all comps):
      Busquets: 12
      Yaya: 12

      Subs on (all comps):
      Busquets: 7
      Yaya: 2

      Just remember that one’s impressions gleaned from the talk may not be fully right.

      • November 30, 2009

        I understand those numbers, and I knew that before I typed it, but there’s a difference between starting Copa Del Rey and starting Champions League deathmatch against Inter. If I’m Yaya, and I’m at my peak age and talent as a player, getting starts in copa del rey ain’t gonna cut it. He should have started Clasico and the Inter game imo.

  6. Soto
    November 30, 2009

    For those looking for the Sid Lowe article, here it is:
    *http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2009/nov/30/ronaldo-ibrahimovic-real-madrid-barcelona

    It’s a pretty interesting read.

  7. Hilal
    November 30, 2009

    I think we need to step back a bit and think a little about this whole Yaya situation. First of all, let me say, I love the Yaya and I would be VERY upset if he ever left. However, as much as I value him, no player is worth more than the team. Busi is playing because HE HAS TO. Pep cannot risk playing at least an entire month in Jan, when we play Sevilla, without a capable DM. If the game against RM showed us anything its that he still has a lot to learn and you learn by playing, not by sitting on the bench.

    If Yaya cannot understand that we have to do what is best for the team and not his personal career then quite frankly he can leave. There is nothing more important than winning games. What happens if we play Yaya every single game till he goes off to the ACN and then we lose half the games when he is gone because his spot is not covered adequately. He will probably be gone for even more than a month, because Ivory Coast are pretty damn good and they will prob reach the final. Would you rather have an unfit, unsharp Busquets, lacking confidence and minutes? Or a fresh, sharp, confident Busquets with plenty of games under his belt and plenty of experiences to learn from. Either way he is not Yaya, but Pep cannot do anything about that. The Yaya will be gone for at least a month. Period. We have to make sure we can handle that month. Busi is getting better and even though he didnt have his best game against MAdrid consider that he is only 21 and he was playing against two of the worlds best in Kaka and Ronaldo. He did a pretty decent job cos I have seen those two make much better, much more experienced players look foolish. Not to mention his performance vs Inter Milan, which was very impressive. Compare that to how he started the season and you will see how crucial it is to give him playing time to improve. Yaya was injured vs Inter, imagine Busi had barely played up till then, do you think he would have had such a good game? Doubt it. He needed those minutes in all those games leading up to the Inter game to get him to that level. He will need more games so that he is ready for January when, whether we like it or not, he will be our DM for some big games. He has to be ready and it is a lot more important to make sure he is ready than to please Yaya and his agent.

    It is not Peps fault that Yaya is in the ACN, that is just the way it is. Pep is doing what is best for the team and for the results, he is being smart and thinking ahead and I don’t doubt him for a second.

    • Blow-Granite
      November 30, 2009

      Excellent write up on the whole situation Hilal!!! Hope to see more of your comments!!!!

      • Hilal
        November 30, 2009

        Nice one mate, thanks 🙂

        Also wanted to add that if he were to leave, as much as I value him, he is not irreplaceable. Its not like Busquets would take his place, more likely it would be Mascherano. Certainly if there is a DM in the world who can claim to be as good as Yaya it is Mascherano. Some would even argue he is better, although personally I prefer Yaya for us purely based on his height/strength. However, if the Yaya cannot understand the situation as it is then it wouldnt be the end of the world to get rid of him and get Mascherano instead.

        My hope is that post ACN Pep gives Yaya a lot of playing time and Yaya realises how valuable he is and he stays for a very long time. My feeling though is that wont happen, mainly cos of what Yaya just said to the press. U just dont say shit like that, not with a boss like Pep, Hleb did and look what happened to him. If he has a problem, he should go speak to the coach in private, thats how you do things. If I am to be honest his statements put me off him a bit.

        • Eduard
          November 30, 2009

          That might not be entirely true. I think African players are raised in a culture where that kind of stuff is acceptable, whereas a European player should know better. Look at Eto’o, same thing, Drogba, same thing. I’m not trying to point out a double standard by any means but in this situation and situations similar we should try to be more understanding.

  8. jordi
    November 30, 2009

    Whether or not yaya has received the short end of the stick is debatable. I do agree he should play more, but on the other hand if we start yaya every gane and busi doesnt get time, we’ll suffer in january when hes gone.What i dont agree with is douchebag seluk singleing out players like keita and previously hleb everytime he has to make a point.He does not have the right to it. I believe hes also, Dima’s agent so i can imagine if muniesa gets playing time over dima in the future how he will fire off his mouth.

  9. nick
    November 30, 2009

    If I remember correctly, African players no longer count against the non-EU cap. So it’s just the foreigner working in Spain thing which complicates matters.

    • November 30, 2009

      Really? When did this rule change happen? I was unaware of it…

  10. November 30, 2009

    African players have the same player status as Spanish/EU players in Spain. That’s not the issue really. More the other stuff(Africa Cup e.g.) you mentioned. Also, Busi got a quicker release of the ball while Yaya is better holding it. Depending on who you play, one makes more sense than the other.

    • Blow-Granite
      November 30, 2009

      I agree, Busi has a quicker release of the ball. Busi has lately started playing in triangles with Xavi and Iniesta it is just amazing to see them. I’ve never seen Yaya being able to do that.

  11. ballbeav
    November 30, 2009

    can anyone tell me if the xerez – barcelona match will be televised on wednesday? or will i be streaming?

    • Alex
      November 30, 2009

      Looks like oue best bet is ESPN 360

  12. Ciaran
    November 30, 2009

    Yaya is not taking a non-EU placing. Chygrynskiy and Maxwell are currently our only non-EU players, with Hleb, Caceres & Keirrison all non-EU players owned by us out on loan.
    By my calculations Caceres would be able to apply for Spanish citizenship after 2years in Spain (1 with Recre & 1 with us).
    Henrique has German ancestry so he isn’t any trouble.

    The Yaya is a monster. Busquets has a long way to go

  13. November 30, 2009

    As Isaiah mentioned, the whole ACN excuse doesn’t work because Keita has played almost every game this season. And the swine flu thing doesn’t work either because they’ve been a bunch of games where Busquets has started over Yaya even when the latter is healthy.

    My completely unsubstantiated suspicion is that something has happened behind the scenes that no one knows about. I think Pep is preparing to sell Yaya, for whatever reason, and wants to groom Busquets. Again, this is only conjecture and I haven’t read anything to this effect anywhere. But that’s my guess.

    • Blow-Granite
      November 30, 2009

      Pep needs both Busi and Yaya for the DM role!!! I do not think he is planning to sell either. By the statements that he is making, it appears that Yaya is planning to get himself sold by the club. Behind the scenes I do not think it is Yaya doing most of the talking, rather it is his agent that is creating all the trouble – there are commissions involved when players are sold/bought.

    • Soto
      November 30, 2009

      Whether its Guardiola or Yaya or Yaya’s agent or the club, I agree that there is a dimension to this saga to which we are all not privy.

      By the way, this whole topic seems ripe for another one of Isaiah’s El Banquillo episodes. *Hint, hint. Nudge, Nudge. No what I mean, Isaiah?*

      • SoccerMom
        December 1, 2009

        One point awarded to Soto for a smooth inclusion of the word ‘privy’.

  14. Hilal
    November 30, 2009

    “As Isaiah mentioned, the whole ACN excuse doesn’t work because Keita has played almost every game this season”

    Not sure what one has to do with the other. It’s two completely different positions and two completely different situations. Keita doesnt have to make way to allow a younger player experience. When we lose Keita, Iniesta is there to do the job as well, if not better. We cannot say the same about the Yaya situation. It’s apples and oranges. If Busi doesnt get enough minutes now it will come back and haunt us in Jan, we will lose both Keita and Yaya, we have no idea what injuries crop up between now and then and we need as many players as possible to be fit and on form….especially with Madrid right up our asses. Makes a lot more sense to me to make sure Busi is ready.

    Also, the only reason Keita has played so much is because Iniesta was injured and trying to get back to fitness for so long. This gave Keita the chance to really shine and now he has earned his regular place. Yaya doesnt even have that problem because really Busi is not competing with him, he is not showing him up in any way, he is not playing better than him. Long term Yaya is prob better off than Keita cos Keita is genuinly competing with Iniesta and I think once Iniesta really hits his peak again he will usurp Keita. Once the ACN is over then Yaya is back to being the regular starter with Busi filling in every now and then. Does anybody here actually think Pep wants to get rid of Yaya and replace him with Busquets? That would be insanity. If he wants to get rid of Yaya then its to bring in Mascherano, so either way Busquets is not going to be the starter.

    This ACN business is just an unfortunate situation that Yaya has to accept (or not). He is probably annoyed because he has the ACN coming up and he is not playing enough, which quite frankly Pep shouldnt give a crap about. The ACN is screwing us enough as it is, we dont need a player making it worse by demanding minutes when we are better off giving them to Busi who does genuinly need them. The team always comes first.

    Oh and I dont care what the player thinks, or how good he is for that matter, he doesnt make it public like that. No good manager lets that shit fly (just ask SAF) and I doubt Pep will either. I hope he puts Yaya in his place.

    • Blow-Granite
      November 30, 2009

      Oh Heck Yeah!!! I share the same sentiments as well, the whole comparing Keita to Yaya/Busi situation is like comparing apples to oranges.

      • tutomate
        November 30, 2009

        Well they are both fruits, delicious, roundish, good chopped up with lemon and salt,and a little chili powder. Both have skin, and juice can be made from both. Am I missing something? Is it not more like comparing Apples to Steel-toed boots or something?

        • Blow-Granite
          November 30, 2009

          For me there are two big differences between the apples and oranges. I have a very hard time eating the peel of an orange, but an apple, I can devour everything down to its core. I love apple pies, but I’ve never eaten an orange pie.

  15. Helge
    November 30, 2009

    If we really sell the Yaya to City or Chelsea, I hope we do at least get 30+ Mio. for him… that’d be a deal I could actually accept.

    • Blow-Granite
      November 30, 2009

      I do not think Barca will sell Yaya! He is priceless! If Pep can win 5 trophies(I hope 6) in one season, he is capable of convincing Yaya to stay at Barca.

      • Hilal
        November 30, 2009

        I hope your are right….I just worry that Yaya’s statements have done more harm than good. I am sure his agent is putting him under pressure to speak up, cos that is what good agents do. As I much as I hate it, he is just doing his job and he is doing it well. His agent doesnt give a crap about Barca or how successful we are if Yaya doesnt play a big part. His job is to raise his players profile and make sure he gets the best deal possible, he cant do that with Yaya on the bench so I can hardly blame him for trying. What annoys me more is Yaya speaking to the press and making statements with the sole aim of trying to force his way back in to the team, possibly at the expense of the team. That to me is just not on. Yaya’s job is to play football and do what the manager tells him, that is what we pay him for. If he has something to say he should say it to the manager behind closed doors.

        • PM
          November 30, 2009

          I thought players come out only when they are not happy with the answers that they got behind closed doors. It’s not looking good to me.

          • Hilal
            November 30, 2009

            Yep, that is what usually happens. Not looking good to me either. I would really hate to see him leave, but it looks pretty likely now. As long as we can get Mascherano instead then it wouldnt be too bad. Mascherano is certainly capable of doing as good a job in that position. Not as versatile though….

  16. Hilal
    November 30, 2009

    //www.goal.com/en/news/12/spain/2009/11/30/1657845/yaya-toure-is-ready-to-listen-to-offers-from-chelsea

    “I don’t know if we will continue with Barca or not, but it won’t be on the bench.”

    Unfortunately statements like this make me think he is already out the door. This is basically an ultimatum to the club and you just dont do that. A statement like that actually makes it harder for Pep to play Yaya now because it might appear as if he is caving to what is essentially a threat; play Yaya or he is gone.

  17. Alex
    November 30, 2009

    Anybody know if any channel will have the Ballon d’Or ceremenony live tomorrow?

    thanks

  18. Blaugrana561
    November 30, 2009

    well, the yaya is indispensable to the team, and i do not see him being sold, however it is possible busi is getting more playing time because yaya and keita will be away, thats 2 players that defend and attack well. looks like busi will have to do both their rolls, hence getting more playing time. as long as they give yaya time after acn, it will all be fine 🙂

  19. November 30, 2009

    I now own FIFA10. My Xbox Live name is rockofthune. Add me or whatnot so that you can defeat me.

    • Kevo
      November 30, 2009

      add keboxchinito
      let’s see who is best.

    • Miguel
      November 30, 2009

      i gotta sign up for xboxlive…

      rockofthune?

      • Jnice
        December 1, 2009

        Definitely adding you right now. I’m 50th in the US right now… lets gooooo!

  20. jnelson
    November 30, 2009

    I’m sorry but would our team not look better with Iniesta as LCM? Keita is a great player who has been solid all season, but his skills are defense and box crashing. He has never been a threat outside the box or excellent passer. The connection last year between Iniesta and Xavi was unstoppable. I believe Iniesta – Xavi created MORE goals in the same amount of games that we have played last year than this year. Of course, our defense has allowed fewer goals it seems. So, which end of the Goal Diff. do we like more? More goals scored or fewer goals allowed? I feel like our forwards are starved at times with Iniesta on the wing since he ALMOST NEVER stays in position. Now, if Iniesta played on the SAME wing as Xavi, how would that go? Is Xavi integral to Messi’s success? We would still lack goalpower on Iniesta’s wing no matter what. I simply think the optimum goalscoring lineup has Iniesta and Xavi as CMs and P!, Henry, or Bojan as the LW. That lineup provides width as well as complete midfield control.

  21. November 30, 2009

    2 things:

    1) If Pep doesn’t trust Yaya, doesn’t like Yaya, doesn’t rate Yaya, doesn’t jones with Yaya, doesn’t whatever Yaya, then why on earth did he trust him playing in defense in the 3 most important games of last season?
    2) Chelsea? For real? Chelsea right now will have 4 players(Obi Wan Mikel, Essien, Drogba, Kalou) at the African Cup of Nations. You think they want to have 5 there or make sure their next squad is assembled by the national team of the Ivory Coast? For reala??? I’m just saying…

  22. Tajh
    November 30, 2009

    Its official Messi is the Ballon D’or winner.

  23. zeebarca
    November 30, 2009

    it was nice to read all your insights some very valid points were made on this issue. all i have to say is that no one know whats on peps mind, no one can get in his head as much as we try. So the only thing we can do is see peps selection of yaya post ACN. Would be a really sad day if THE YAH YAH leaves our barca and there is no question that busi needs the playing time … just look at bojan i really dont know his contribution to this squad until its time for copa del rey or its the 88th minute and pep needs to kill some time of the clock.

  24. waleed
    November 30, 2009

    1. Lionel Messi (Argentine, FC Barcelone) : 473 points
    2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Manchester United puis Real Madrid) : 233 pts
    3. Xavi (Espagne, FC Barcelone) : 170 pts
    4. Andrès Iniesta (Espagnol, FC Barcelone) : 149 pts
    5. Samuel Eto’o (Cameroun, FC Barcelone puis Inter Milan) : 58 pts

    well,thats not bad..

    • waleed
      November 30, 2009

      btw Messi scored 473 out of 480 possible points which had never happened before!!

    • Miguel
      November 30, 2009

      mrs. paris hilton outscored xavi??? fucking kidding me.

  25. November 30, 2009

    Totally deserved, I guess. Congrats to Messi! And to Barca for having 4 out of the top 5 players.

  26. Colby
    December 1, 2009

    I decided to look at The Yaya’s playing time, game by game. And what I found is that his playing time has not been nearly as bad as we/he has made it seem.

    Starting with the 3 supercopa games, he started all of them.
    Therefore he was rested at Gijon because it was 3 days after the European Super Cup.

    He then started the next two games in a row.

    Then he didn’t play against Athletico Madrid and Racing. I looked at the reviews but I couldn’t find a reason why he didn’t play.

    He then started 4 of the next 5, and appeared as a sub in the one he didn’t play. This is pretty regular, as he was only rested one game.

    Then he was presumably rested against Zaragoza so he could play in the Copa first leg, which we didn’t want to lose embarrasingly after Madrid lost to Alcorcon. So after he played agaisnt Alcorcon, he was rested on the weekend at Osasuna, so that he would be fresh for Rubin Kazan. Then he started the next two games in a row before he got swine.

    He didn’t start against Madrid, presumably because he wasn’t 100%. Pep isn’t an idiot; he realizes we would have been much better with The Yaya in there.

    So, in summary, sorry for the long post, but the only times that Yaya has been “benched”, and not “rotated normally”, was the two games early on against Athleti and Racing. And considering all the WC qualifiers and travel, he seems to have played as much as one would expect. Pep is just being smart and rotating players to keep them fresh, and more importantly to get Busi much needed experience. So taking everything into account, my argument is that The Yaya has played just as much as he should. Unless he wants to play every match, which is ridiculous considering we play every 3 days and that Busi needs playing time to develop.

    If you want to take a look at his game log on ESPN, here it is. Keep in mind it is incomplete because Copa games and SuperCopa games aren’t included.
    http://soccernet.espn.go.com/players/gamelog?id=69277&cc=5901

  27. December 1, 2009

    Here is the thing…
    Even though Isaiah may ban my IP, but unlike the common belief there is no more automatic starter for the holding midfielder position. Who wants to play there must work for it. Yaya is one of the two options there, not the one and only. Does it mean anything if I said that the other option is an international player?

    Yaya improved a lot for a player who is actually playing out of position, but he still has his weaknesses. When he is on his peak, he covers for it as his good outclass his bad. It was not the case this season. He was outplayed many times, was out of position often and made lot of sloppy tackles and late transitions in more than one occasion. If there is anything that will bring him back to his best, it’s the competition for places. If he welcomes the competition, he will perform better than he ever did- which is for the good of the club. If he can’t accept it then he can move somewhere else. As his only way in this club will be downhill.

    Saying so, it doesn’t mean that he became a bad DM. He is one of the best without any doubt-though not the best. But it’s important to point out that the case is not:”Yaya is perfect, Busquets is a disaster” at the moment. Each one of them has his plus and minus, and it’s the game that dictates who starts.

    Yaya is more the commanding type of players. He is better in the one-on-one when in a static situation. He can mark tightly any player out of the game. He plays more out of trouble now, which is a need for a DM (If you watch some games for Yaya when he started till the first few months of last season, he was more risky in a catastrophic way than this Busquets. I recall the game against RM in the Camp nou last season as an example. Watch that one).

    Busquets in return, cover more space, has more mobility while changing directions. He can switch from putting pressure on Player (A) to putting pressure on player (B) who was originally behind him in a blink of an eye. Yaya can’t do that, he need more time in that manner where time sometime is not available. Busquets passing skills are unrated as well. And he is a hell of the player damaging the offense tempo of the opponent.

    Yes all in all, Yaya is still a better player than Busquets, but he is not better than busquets in everything. Each one has things where he comes above the other, and again it’s the game that decides who starts. Pep does not “like/dislike” any player-especially on discrimination bases like Catalan/non Catalan, Youth products or not. He will never select a player based on Love/hate sentiments. He picked Keita over Iniesta in the first leg against Inter. Back then Iniesta was not injured yet. And if there is a player Pep may “like”, that’s Iniesta. He considered Pinto as his second keeper over the Catalan one last season then he offloaded the Catalan last summer. He bought Chegsomething this summer regardless of the fact that we have a string of youth coming through Barca athletic. He felt they are still not ready and he only select those whom he feel ready to start games. As an excellent ex-holding midfielder, I think at least, this is a position where we can trust Pep when he picks his options.

    Finally, it’s strange that till the moment there is still a trend between the fans to question the reasons why Keita is playing that often. We are overusing our creativity to find answers though the answer is obvious. Keita is playing because he won his place. It’s true that Iniesta injury was a factor, but it was not the only factor. He is not starting because Iniesta is needed in another position but because Keita is needed where he is playing. At the moment he is on the same level in the picking order with Iniesta in the midfield. If he plays more than Yaya or not, is not an issue. I don’t know why is it a must that Keita has to play less games than Yaya. He performed better so far, and he has no real competition in his place-FOR WHAT HE DOES- at the moment. Unless if we start counting Yaya as another option there, which is my hope since last season.

    Bottom of line, Busquets will only get better with time. Which means that Yaya advantages over him in quality will keep declining. And it means that the rotation will increasingly turn to be an unavoidable fact. So if Yaya can’t live with it, I understand. He can consider his options and we consider ours. If I had to pick one of the two players to keep, I will pick Busquets without hesitation. He may not be a better player than Yaya before the following X-mass, but soon he will. He is younger. And he has an invisible agent who causes me no headache every sunset. Having them both is perfect, but unlike many, I am not having any nightmares. As we are not Yaya-dependent, even though we are Yaya fans.

    • Jnice
      December 1, 2009

      Oh NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, Ramzi!

      I’m ducking for cover.

    • cliveee
      December 1, 2009

      We have tried playing Busi-Yaya-Keita against Mallorca on 11/7 in which we won 4-2 at home. I remember seeing The Yaya rummaging forward to crash the box in his Yaya style. Totally impressive as the massive legs marched into the box like king kong. I am first to raise my hands up for Yaya doing the Keita job. Busi was subbed off by Xavi on the 63rd minute in that game.

    • mike in africa
      December 1, 2009

      don’t agree. you cannot assume only busi will improve and yaya will not. as much potential as busi has, he may or may never reach yaya’s peak level or has yaya’s presence. yaya, as we have seen last season, given the playing time and playing with the right mind, is one of the most complete footballers(at least DM) you will find.

    • PM
      December 1, 2009

      Blasphemy Ramzi blasphemy! Get ready for the giant swine bug that Yaya is going to send you next week. Obviously Isaiah will help him to find you out.

      I don’t know man, Busi worries me a lot. Whenever Yaya is playing I’m usually calmer and so is the defense. Keeping Yaya as DM and Xavi-Iniesta as AM we dominated lot of matches last season. If Busquets plays DM we need Keita to be on the field to help him out. Eventually Iniesta drifts to midfield and one side of our attack/width goes with that. I think this is one of the reasons for our poor performances before Inter match. We need to try Yaya-Xavi-Iniesta combo with Pedro/Henry-Ibra-Messi in attack. Experiments or confidence building project for Busquets should not be the excuse for never trying that winning combination again.

    • Phil
      December 1, 2009

      Guess Messi’s current form is a result of the curse of the Balon d’Or? I hope not XD

      • Phil
        December 1, 2009

        Sorry, his goal scoring form. He’s still playing great football.

      • Phil
        December 1, 2009

        And I suck at replying – this comment should obviously be about 3 posts down. I think I’ll just go to sleep now.

  28. Jnice
    December 1, 2009

    BTW, I’m buying this as a Christmas present for my baby sister then claiming it as my own 😀

    *http://www.fcbarcelona.com/web/english/noticies/club/temporada09-10/11/n091130108074.html

  29. Eduard
    December 1, 2009

    That would be great for my Dad, nice link Jnice!

  30. cliveee
    December 1, 2009

    by the way, i have done this…….

    The Grand Starting Lineups of FC Barcelona 2009
    ——————————————————-
    8/31/2009 Valdes – Alves Pique Puyol Maxwell – Busi Xavi Keita – Pedro Ibra Bojan : h(Gijon) 3-0

    9/12/2009 Valdes – Puyol Pique Chygry Abidal – Yaya Xavi Keita- Pedro Ibra Jeffren : a(Getafe) 0-2

    9/19/2009 Valdes – Alves Chgry Pique Maxwell – Busi Xavi Keita – Henry Messi Ibra : h(Atletico) 5-2

    9/22/2009 Valdes – Alves Pique Puyol Abidal – Busi Xavi Keita – Messi Ibra Henry : a(Racing) 1-4

    9/26/2009 Valdes – Alves Puyol Chygry Abidal – Yaya Xavi Keita – Pedro Messi Henry : a(Malaga) 0-2

    10/3/2009 Valdes – Alves Marquez Puyol Maxwell – Busi Xavi Iniesta – Pedro Ibra Messi : h(Almeria) 1-0

    10/17/2009 Valdes – Alves Pique Puyol Abidal – Yaya Xavi Keita – Iniesta Pedro Messi : a(Valencia) 0-0

    10/25/2009 Valdes – Puyol Pique Chygryn Maxwell – Busi Xavi Keita – Iniesta Messi Ibra : h(Zaragoza) 6-1

    10/31/2009 Valdes – Puyol Pique Chygryn Abidal – Busi Xavi Keita – Iniesta Ibra Messi : a(Osasuna) 1-1

    11/7/2009 Valdes – Puyol Pique Chygryn Abidal – Busi Yaya Keita – Pedro Ibra Henry : h(Mallorca) 4-2

    11/21/2009 Valdes – Alves Pique Chygryn Maxwell – Busi Xavi Keita – Iniesta Messi Pedro : a(Bilbao) 1-1

    11/29/2009 Valdes – Alves Pique Puyol Abidal – Busi Xavi Keita – Iniesta Henry Messi : h(Madrid) 1-0

    ———————————————

    You can count it yourself how many times you see Busi-Xavi-Keita in midfield….

    I wanna know if Pep has a clear idea at this point or he is 50-50 or 60-40 or …i donno.

  31. ashu
    December 1, 2009

    My vote goes to the argument that Guardiola likes Busquets for reasons we cannot fathom, for seeing himself in Busi. All other arguments you have aptly summarized in the article.

  32. Helge
    December 1, 2009

    Messi is the first player ever to win the Ballon d’Or with more than twice as much points as the runner-up!

  33. Ethan
    December 1, 2009

    Hey does anyone know a link for the RM game so i can rewatch it, thanks!

  34. Xu
    December 1, 2009

    *http://www.totalbarca.com/2009/news/tension-between-ibrahimovic-and-messi/

    Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet claims that there could be some chemistry problems between Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The star forwards are reportedly not in speaking terms, said commentators from Swedish television channel TV4 with insight into Barcelona.

    • Vj
      December 1, 2009

      Aftonbladet itself has some ‘chemistry problems’ with Ibra if you want to know..

  35. Vj
    December 1, 2009

    Laporta on Toure: “His comments are typical of a high-class footballer who, like everyone, wants to have maximum participation to help the team, so you have to interpret these words as positive.

    “He will be here for many years because no-one wants to lose him.”

    As reported by Tribalfootball La Vanguardia and Europa Press.

  36. Cule
    December 1, 2009

    Back to the original topic I do agree with Yaya if he wants to leave. He has every right to demand an exit without being labeled a “traitor” or anything like that.

    I don’t know what Pep’s deal is this season. He is making poor line up decisions. Not once in the league have we started with Yaya-Xavi-Iniesta, which is hands down our best midfield. He has only used this lineup once in the cl too. It’s irritating. Busquets has 9 starts in the league to Yaya’s 3. That’s shameful. To make it worse Yaya played well in his first season through back pain, and did not complain when he was asked to play centre back in the cl semi and final. There is no excuse for him being second fiddle to Busquets. I have a feeling Pep prefers Busquets because of a reason we are not aware of, and not a footballing one. So if Yaya wants to leave he has every right to. IDK what Pep is thinking.

    Another irritating lineup decision that Pep continues to make is playing Iniesta on the left. If I am not mistaken Iniesta has played ONE game in the midfield. ONE game. Again, I can not understand what he is thinking here. When you have a player of Iniesta’s quality, you use him in the position he plays best in. Why in the world would you not use the Xavi-Iniesta combo? Especially since it rarely fails. In fact, it has never failed in a big game (not counting the 07-08 season and before of course) Iniesta on the left takes away our width and plus he is not a goalscorer. He always ends up dancing around and loses the ball. I am certain had we started with Yaya-Xavi-Iniesta in the midfield in the Classico we would have dominated the game and had MUCH more chances. Instead we had to rely on a long cross and volley to score. We really did not threaten too much, and Madrid’s defence is not exactly great.

    Srry for the rant, this has been bugging me for weeks.

  37. Eklavya
    December 1, 2009

    LIONEL MESSI BALLON D’OR 2009 ☆

  38. Colby
    December 1, 2009

    I decided to look at The Yaya’s playing time, game by game. And what I found is that his playing time has not been nearly as bad as we/he has made it seem.

    Starting with the 3 supercopa games, he started all of them.
    Therefore he was rested at Gijon because it was 3 days after the European Super Cup.

    He then started the next two games in a row.

    Then he didn’t play against Athletico Madrid and Racing. I looked at the reviews but I couldn’t find a reason why he didn’t play.

    He then started 4 of the next 5, and appeared as a sub in the one he didn’t play. This is pretty regular, as he was only rested one game.

    Then he was presumably rested against Zaragoza so he could play in the Copa first leg, which we didn’t want to lose embarrasingly after Madrid lost to Alcorcon. So after he played agaisnt Alcorcon, he was rested on the weekend at Osasuna, so that he would be fresh for Rubin Kazan. Then he started the next two games in a row before he got swine.

    He didn’t start against Madrid, presumably because he wasn’t 100%. Pep isn’t an idiot; he realizes we would have been much better with The Yaya in there.

    So, in summary, sorry for the long post, but the only times that Yaya has been “benched”, and not “rotated normally”, was the two games early on against Athleti and Racing. And considering all the WC qualifiers and travel, he seems to have played as much as one would expect. Pep is just being smart and rotating players to keep them fresh, and more importantly to get Busi much needed experience. So taking everything into account, my argument is that The Yaya has played just as much as he should. Unless he wants to play every match, which is ridiculous considering we play every 3 days and that Busi needs playing time to develop.

    If you want to take a look at his game log on ESPN, here it is. Keep in mind it is incomplete because Copa games and SuperCopa games aren’t included. (Sorry for the double post)
    /http://soccernet.espn.go.com/players/gamelog?id=69277&cc=5901

  39. poipoi
    December 1, 2009

    Do you guys what Mr Xavier Hernadez says about Busi? “Es como una puta de barrio” – “He’s like a hood whore” …. meaning he’s tough, knows it all and sees it all. I heard an interview with Busi and he was very thankful for those strange words Xavi had on him. lol

  40. ZeEbarca
    December 1, 2009

    Hi can anyone help me with stopping emails sent to my inbox when commnets are added my inbox is flooded

  41. BlaugranaDOOM
    December 1, 2009

    My guess is that if fit and not overused, Yaya will play in all of the important games this season. He would have started against Inter and Real if he didn’t come back with swine flu. This would be a big problem for other players as well if the squad wasn’t so short. There aren’t many people challenging for positions outside of Busi-Yaya and Keita-Iniesta. We’ll see what happens in the transfer window, but if we get a right back, left wing and stiker, these problems will spread to the rest of the team. That’s good for the club.

    Isiah, one note about the 20 million in the Sid Lowe article, I believe he was referring to the increase in salary (from about 7–I think– to 10 million) combined with the increase in tax (7*23% compared to 10*45%) which would be over 5 million a season for 4 years plus the 10 million signing bonus.

    Messi, congrats. Xavi and Puyol are the soul of the team, but having a player like Messi gives Barcelona a worldwide appeal that brings more fans into the fold. For as great as Xavi and Puyol are, average fans in China don’t know who they are. Whereas, during the olympics, Messi did a two hour interview for Chinese TV going over his life (ha, what little part he had lived at age 20) and him having fun in the studio doing tricks against some Chinese kid. That’s why Messi makes the big bucks and has a 250 million buyout clause. Plus, he is pretty good on the pitch as well 🙂

  42. Hector
    December 1, 2009

    ZeEbarca- uncheck the “notify me when comments are added box”.

    BTW guys, guess who we get for the Copa del Rey 1/8 finals? Sevilla. Oh boy, January is going to be fun.

    • BlaugranaDOOM
      December 1, 2009

      Really? Damn. I would have liked that in the semi’s maybe, but all in all not that bad. We get the toughest team when CL is not going on. So that’s somethin’.

      • Hector
        December 1, 2009

        On the bright side, we are both on the same boat (seriously competing for La Liga and UCL) so both teams will have their depth equally strained.

  43. Hilal
    December 1, 2009

    According to Goal we have drawn Sevilla in the next round of the Copa. Yipee, another tough draw!!!

  44. fcbfan
    December 1, 2009

    Sevilla have players going to the ACN too right? are we playing them in the liga in Jan as well? exciting!

    • Hector
      December 1, 2009

      Yup. Even more than us. Zokora, Kanoute, Romaric, and Kone will be gone to the ACN.

  45. fcbfan
    December 1, 2009

    and congrats Leo! our homegrown Ballon d’Or.

  46. Vj
    December 1, 2009

    Pique and Milito may not figure in the trip to Xerez tomorrow while Busi is suspended says EMD..

  47. December 1, 2009

    Regarding the Sid Lowe article, Why when Ramzi say it, no one take it seriously, and when Sid say it everyone confirm. I protest!

    Pst: Check the offside debate the period when we signed Ibra, I made a calculation that shows that we signed Ibra for even less than 50 M.

    And for the emotional responds regarding Yaya, I will copy two paragraphs from my previous comment. Link it and drew conclusions:

    1:If there is anything that will bring him -Yaya- back to his best, it’s the competition for places. If he welcomes the competition, he will perform better than he ever did- which is for the good of the club. If he can’t accept it then he can move somewhere else. As his only way in this club will be downhill.

    2:Busquets will only get better with time. Which means that Yaya advantages over him in quality will keep declining. And it means that the rotation will increasingly turn to be an unavoidable fact. So if Yaya can’t live with it, I understand. He can consider his options and we consider ours.

    Conclussion:
    a) No fixed starters, and no guarantees. Both are quality, or at least thats what the coach see. Change the coach, change the team, or adabt with the situation. Thats Yaya decision.
    b) The one who is in the best form and who is the best option to play in a specific game will be selected.
    c) The games will be shared between the players available, not only to keep them satisfied, but also in form in case we lost one, the other will be ready.
    d) There is a time when a player has to tell his agent to shut up. Or else.

    • Vj
      December 1, 2009

      If it makes you feel any better, when I read Sid Lowe’s thoughts about the transfer, I said to myself “Where have I read this before?”.

      As far as Pond Scum goes, he can say whatever he wants but we won’t let Yaya go that easy..

  48. Eduard
    December 1, 2009

    Preview! Preview! Preview! I hope you guys haven’t forgotten that we have a game tomorrow.

  49. Cule
    December 1, 2009

    I don’t know what Pep’s deal is this season. He is making poor line up decisions. Not once in the league have we started with Yaya-Xavi-Iniesta, which is hands down our best midfield. He has only used this lineup once in the cl too. It’s irritating. Busquets has 9 starts in the league to Yaya’s 3. That’s shameful. To make it worse Yaya played well in his first season through back pain, and did not complain when he was asked to play centre back in the cl semi and final. There is no excuse for him being second fiddle to Busquets. I have a feeling Pep prefers Busquets because of a reason we are not aware of, and not a footballing one. So if Yaya wants to leave he has every right to. IDK what Pep is thinking.

    Another irritating lineup decision that Pep continues to make is playing Iniesta on the left. If I am not mistaken Iniesta has played ONE game in the midfield. ONE game. Again, I can not understand what he is thinking here. When you have a player of Iniesta’s quality, you use him in the position he plays best in. Why in the world would you not use the Xavi-Iniesta combo? Especially since it rarely fails. In fact, it has never failed in a big game (not counting the 07-08 season and before of course) Iniesta on the left takes away our width and plus he is not a goalscorer. He always ends up dancing around and loses the ball. I am certain had we started with Yaya-Xavi-Iniesta in the midfield in the Classico we would have dominated the game and had MUCH more chances. Instead we had to rely on a long cross and volley to score. We really did not threaten too much, and Madrid’s defence is not exactly great.

    Srry for the rant, this has been bugging me for weeks.

  50. Helge
    December 1, 2009

    Mmh… we’ll face Sevilla in Copa del Rey twice during the ACN (and once in La Liga, which makes 3 games in 10 days against Sevilla). If we prevail, we are up against either Valencia or Deportivo. Why do we always have so much luck in the drawings? 😀

  51. barca96
    December 1, 2009

    i dont really think that the reason for pep not playing yaya
    is because he watns to groom busi..
    there has to be more than that..
    yaya is only going to be gone for ONE OR TWO MONTHs, not a year..
    in a big match like this(RM) you dont put an experimental player player, you put out your best team..

  52. Jim
    December 1, 2009

    I’m with Cule on this. We don’t have a better midfield than Xavi, Iniesta and Yaya. I want to see them playing a lot more often and then let’s see if they’ve lost the magic touch of last year.

    As I’ve said elsewhere Keita stifles the passing in midfield so I don’t agree, Ramzi, that he should be there on merit although I do agree that it seems that Pep sees it that way. I think Pep is over-reacting to the charge last year that we were too lightweight. Duh, hello, we won EVERYTHING in sight.

    With regard to Yaya it is simple – you start what you regard as your best DM in the 2 most important games of the season. I agree that Yaya hasn’t quite been the force of last year but he certainly is capable of playing the triangles and is better than Busi at the moment.

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