Welcome Back Tito: Dreams or Tickets Out

A short little video recorded Tito Vilanova’s return to Barcelona early yesterday morning, accompanied by Jordi Roura, Aureli Altimira and their wives who had flown to NYC as a thank-you for all their efforts and to escort El Mister back home.




The club reports that Tito will be “gradually easing” his way back into his duties over the next few weeks, while Roura and Altimira continue bearing the brunt of the daily load.  At least it will be easier now that they are all in the same timezone.

Up for discussion in the next couple of months will be the formation of the First Team squad for next season and, man, Tito & Co have their work cut out for them.  There will have to be a lot of movement out of the club at the end of this season, that’s for sure.


Here’s the current situation.

The Current First Team

In the First Team are the following players:

Valdés – has not renewed but Rosell is optimistic that VV will stay once our GK has spoken to Tito.  (N.B. the last time that Rosell was optimistic, about someone staying, was with Pep.  Yep – that worked out well.)
Pinto – renewed for another season until the end of 2014.


Dos Santos


That’s 23 players.

On Loan
The following players are on-loan, and due to come back at the end of this season:
Fontàs – bench-warming at Mallorca more than he is playing
Cuenca – at Ajax with injury problems still occurring
Afellay – at Schalke in a similar situation to Cuenca
Bojan – at AC Milan with sporadic duties on the pitch

In B Team but Already Promoted
Muniesa – recovered from injury (however is now rumoured to be exiting the club because his contract is due to expire)

Possible Promotion from the B Team
All 4 following players are rumoured to be promoted this Summer, and some are currently negotiating contracts to have promotion written into them:
S. Roberto

Shopping List


Can you see Tito’s problem?

If all these players return from loan or are promoted, the team count will be at 32, without the possible Neymar, Center-Back or Goalkeeper purchases.

25 is the maximum, and ideally Tito would like the squad to be around 22-23 players.



1. To keep the squad at 23, whose names would be on your Squad List for next season?

2. Of the players to be off-loaded, which players (maximum of 4) would you loan rather than sell?


  1. Dear M. Lovely read as always.

    Going out:


    Puyol should retire. He has served and should bow down with his head held high. He has had too many operations.
    Abidal should retire as well. My wife does not know of a professional athelete who has made a full recovery after a liver transplant. And she is internal medicine.
    Adriano should be sold because of his injuries


    Dos Santos needs to go.


    Villa Alexis and Tello, all can up put up on the chopping block. Pedro will be unlikely to leave because he is Cantera.

    Defence: One centre back to replace Puyol. One winger to replace Adriano.

    Midfield: Dont need anyone here. Sergi Roberto can be a spectator on the bench if there is a pressing need to replace Dos Santos for the numbers sake in midfield.

    Forwards: Jackson Martinez and Neymar.

    On Loan: All the four players being promoted can go out on loan.

    1. Jackson Martinez’s agents comments on Barcelona Interest: *https://twitter.com/barcastuff/statuses/311410002206261248
      Fiore (agent Jackson Martinez, Porto): “I can confirm Barcelona are strongly interested. A team from Madrid also follows him closely.” [tmw]

  2. My team would be:
    Valdés, Ter Stegen, Pinto
    Alves, Montoya, Piqué, Puyol, Mascherano, Hummels, Alba, Adriano
    Xavi, Thiago, Cesc, Song, Busquets, Iniesta
    Pedro, Alexis, Messi, Villa, Neymar and Deulofeu (and then loan him for the next season)

    I would loan:
    1. Tello
    2. Cuenca
    3. Rafinha
    4. Sergi Roberto

    Abidal would retire and work for FCB as a mentor/ambassador.

    1. Yup. If he hasn’t played yet, it means that the coaches don’t believe in his abilities. He’s taking up space.

      I’d sell him with a sensible buy-back clause.

    2. Thats pretty much exactly what my team too would look like.
      But I then tend to think stuff like how would a lone German cope in a completely Spanish talking team? Especially for a position that requires good communication and understanding. I am sure chygrynskiy had issues here.
      Then we come to Neymar. Sometimes I feel its more of a presidents signing than a coach’s signing.

    3. Hummels speaks excellent English:

      He can communicate with at least Masch, Pique, Cesc and Song, and chut da ball with VV!

      Yeah – Neymar – I felt pressured to include him because it’s likely that his signing is inevitable. Whether it’s this Summer or next remains to be seen.

      If he signs this Summer, Santos will make money on the deal. If he signs next Summer, they get nothing.

    1. Only because I thought it was about Tito. I’m not ready to deal with transfer madness. The posts start out OK, then they get more and more ridiculous…GAH.

  3. We really have 9.5 backs instead of 11 because Adriano, Puyol and Abi can’t really be expected to be available for most of the season. That’s why we need 25 players on the roster instead of 23.

    Abi looks like he really wants a comeback and if he is the first liver transplant to attempt to do it – why not? Mes que un club.

    I say sell Valdez when you can still get some money for him before he leaves on a free. Of course, FCB’s position is shot with regard to negotiating with another team since he’s leaving anyway. I don’t really follow enough GKs to know who would be the best replacement.

    Instead of getting a new CB – play Bartra. dos Santos obviously has no future in the club. Sergi Roberto will have more chances of getting some game time. Thiago needs more game time or he might well leave in the future. Cesc still a work in progress and Xavi needs to take more games off.

    Get Neymar. Loan out Tello. Keep Delo in Barca B but start putting him on as a sub in the appropriate first team games. I don’t think any of the loanees are ever coming back for good save for Cuenca if the club determines his injury problems are not chronic.

    More rotation please. With Neymar, we might even see Messi sitting for a complete game or two.

  4. Are we gonna publish WWTD bumper stickers? 🙂

    GK: make VV finish contract, Pinto

    D: Dani, Monty, Pique, Puyol, Masche, Hummels or Agger, Alba, Adriano, maybe Muniesa should get a chance—loved how he went back with the Bs
    ABI? Well it all depends on the next 3 months.

    M: Busi, Song, Xaviniesta, Thiago, Cesc, S. Roberto

    Forwards: MVP, Alexis, Neymar, give Cuenca half a season to prove himself.

    Sold, JDS, Affelay, Fontas
    Loan: everyone else

    And reconsider the wisdon of the automatic promotion thing!!!

  5. GK
    Valdes/replacement, Pinto

    Puyol, Piqué, Bartra, Mascherano, new CB
    (Abidal retires, Fontas sold, Muniesa leaves)

    Alves, Adriano, Alba, Montoya

    Busquets, Song
    (sell Song if World class CB is bought)

    Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Thiago
    (sell JDS, loan Sergi and Rafinha)

    Messi, Villa, Pedro, Tello, Cuenca or Deulofeu, Sanchez/Neymar/other new signing
    (sell Cuenca or loan Deulofeu (one more year in B team would be ideal), sell Sanchez if a new striker is brought in, sell Afellay, sell Bojan

  6. a few points:

    Pinto is 37 and while not exactly a liability, he’s not the keeper he was when he won the Zamora 6 years ago. yes his sense of humour and dressing room presence is stabilizing to the squad, but i think it’s past time we started to bring in a quality young keeper to begin blooding for when/if Valdes decides to leave or gets injured. our Barça B keepers Oier and Mino don’t appear to have the confidence of the club, so that says all we need to hear right there.

    we need, desperately, at least 1 world-class center-back. i personally want one of those AND a player who can play either on the left or right and in the center as well. Hummels SEEMS to fit the bill on the first point, and his price wouldn’t be extravagant so that should be our first target. a player like Jan Vertonghen would be optimal as well, one who can play both as a center-back and on the left (or right). or, barring that, Montoya should stay. we simply can’t count on Abidal being available, Puyol’s injuries are piling up faster than his aging body can cope with and Adriano has a penchant for getting injured as well; REAL defensive cover is absolutely necessary.

    midfield is an interesting proposition. if, as i advocate, both Song and dos Santos are moved on we’d be down to only 5 orthodox midfielders. Sergi Roberto moving up, as he hopefully does, would help rotate Xavi a bit but i think a better policy might be to move Alexis Sanchez infield, closer to the area in which he played to such effect for Udinese. a front 6 of Busquets, Iniesta/Xavi, Sanchez, Messi, Neymar and David Villa is the thing footballing dreams are made of.

    if Neymar IS coming, our front line will be the most potent in Europe provided we have the sense to hang onto David Villa. i’d wager if you surveyed all the leagues in Europe you couldn’t find a player better adapted to play in our system than Villa; the thought of the club letting him leave is ludicrous (at least at the prices talked about thus far). Tello also should stay, and frankly be getting more minutes than he has to date; his skillset of frightening pace and sharpness in front of goal is something our forward line could use in variation.

    we do have to move on some of our youngsters who aren’t making the cut (Bartra, dos Santos, Muniesa), as well as Alex Song who’s transfer has been, i would say, an abject failure considering what he was brought in to do. and someone should tell the board to stop using Arsenal FC as our feeder club; their “star” players aren’t up to our quality.

  7. Whether or not I like to speculate about the Incoming transfers,(and I’m not sold on Neymar like everyone else), for me the Outgoing transfers are always clearer.

    Tello (with a good buy back option)
    Cuenca (buy back included)

    Sergi Roberto
    Marc Bartra

    1. The world’s best team does not have room for the Gudjohnsens, Hlebs, Jeffrens and Bojans of the world, which is why they made way for quality in depth in players like Alexis, Cesc, etc. Pulling off the above outgoing transfers will relieve the club of a lot of deadweight to make way for quality while ensuring proper development for the special ones.

    2. Here is a game in which Bojan scored two goals, was never offside, supported play…. *http://youtu.be/2pcJcXgCdZU

    3. We cant Sell Muniesa, his contract end at the season end, and i doubt he would sign a new one if he is going to be sold.

  8. Oh NZM, you just got me in trouble…My list is controversial. A scalpel right through the team is needed.

    1. Goalkeepers: Valdes and Pinto have to leave. Pinto because he is old. Valdes because he really isn’t as great as everyone wishes he was. His competitive advantage was playing the ball from the back. Lately, he is either scared or playing for himself by kicking the ball forwards. I hate that because most of the time, we lose that possession and an attack is relaunched. And he wants to quit? Did no one tell him you don’t quit barca, they quit you. (besides Pep, and he is no Pep) Anders Lindegaard and Maarten Stekelenburg (sp??) Would be my choices to replace them.

    2. Defense. Alves should be sold. His value will not be higher than it is now. I have nothing against him other than an absolute stud is waiting in line. It’s Montoya’s time now. He has better control in his game and his defensive skills will only improve. If we get another defender, Mascherano, Abidal, Adriano, Puyol and Bartra should be back-ups.

    3. Midfield: This one is harder. Ideally Song and Dos Santos should be sold, but it seems as if the team is determined to not use Mascherano as a DM, therefore Song might stay, as long as he is ok riding the pine. If we had guts, Fabregas would go too, he only complicates things in midfield, but his case is too political, so he will stay.

    4. Attack: Villa has to go, especially if we get Neymar. It’s really good that Villa has scored some, only because we can sell him at a good price. His overall contribution has been really lacking. People praise him for occupying defenders, but any good attacker worth his salt can do that. He is average when closely marked, he rarely creates goals out of nothing, his overall contribution in a game is underwhelming but the worst of all, he ball watches too much instead of constantly moving into dangerous areas and makes good runs only on occasion, giving up as soon as the ball goes somewhere else. Did I mention offsides?
    Bojan, Cuenca, Affelay and Fontas need to stay on loan for 1 more season. The rest of the spots should continue to be reserved for B team.

    1. Oh Bill – you’re a hard, hard man!

      Corporate head slashers have nothing on you! 😆

    2. Alves is an interesting case, as he is on huge wages and would command a big transfer fee that will only diminish over the next couple of years. Earlier in the season I would have agreed with you to sell him, but his resurgence in form along with tactical variations tell me he is too important to the team to sell.

      I think Montoya has a bright future but he’s not ready to be starting every game of the season.

      Really disagree about Valdes, but that is what it is.

      Villa is currently our second most important attacker behind Messi because of his ability to play as a 9 in front of Messi. He is the only player on the team who can do that and losing him without an undoubtedly more expensive replacement would mean the team loses a lot of tactical flexibility (the tactics that saved our season against Milan would no longer be possible).

    3. Alves brings a lot of energy, but he is still woefully inconsistent, especially with his deliveries. The only thing I would miss about him is his lively interplays with Messi. I would have kept him if we didn’t have someone like Montoya waiting.

      I really like Montoya and Thiago. Those two guys would be considered bright young superstars on any other team. Montoya hadn’t been getting minutes because the coaches have to consider both Adriano and Alves. I don’t think Alves would be ok with staying on the bench, plus PSG want him badly. This might be the only time we can do great business with them.

    4. Ah that explains it. You seem to be thinking about $$$ a lot 🙂

      I wouldn’t sell Alves at all. He deserves to be paid a lot as he is a key player and the best in his position. He is actually covering 2 positions. No other player will be able to give us what he gives us.

  9. My quad list would be as Follow:

    Marc-André ter Stegen (i c/c it it’s hard to remember -_-)





    To loan:
    Sergi Roberto
    Dos Santos

    To sell:

    To retirement:

    As for the whys:

    Ter Stegen is my favortite for the GK job, he is young and very talented.
    Oier is also good, he should take Pinto’s Place, and give competition to Ter Stegen.

    Planas is like Montoya, doesnt get on the radar but is actually very good and versatile, he can play as LB or CB with the same level.

    I’m not a big fan of Neymar, and his games against european teams didnt exactly prove me wrong, i would rather go with Deulofeu than him, at least we know the later wont have probelems with the systeme or the players. as for the talent i wouldnt say Neymar has more than Deulofeu.

    I’m actually not sure if the best option would be to fully promote Deulofeu and Planas, or just call them regularly, and keep then with the B team, so they get to keep playing, when there isnt room for them with the 1st team.

    Villa, is our 2nd Scorer and he hasnt even played that much, and he gives us a lot of options up front, we can get another striker, but will we get one with Villa’s qualuty’s? i dont think so, we should keep him until Deulofeu is prepared to be a starter.

    Everybody knows how good Cuenca is, and he proved it at Ajax before his injury, and we could use another true winger other than Pedro.

    Rafinha and Sergi Roberto are so good, one would cry, unfortunately, our midfield is so good, that Fabregas, Thiago and Song, arent considered to be starters, what chance have they got to get time?
    Dos Santos seems to have finally understood he should leave, but he’s got talent we should loan him for a couple of years and see what happens.
    Muniesa, is a very good CB/FB, but we will hardly have enough time for Bartra, lets loan him and then bring him in for the retired Puyol.

    Adriano and Mascherano were first used not because they are good but because we needed them, and when a CB like hummels is bought we wont need them anymore, and quite honestly i’m fed up with them getting all the rotation time from our youngsters, especially Adriano, he doesnt only rotate with Alba, he does with Alves and even with the CBs, which left Montoya and Bartra on the bench or even in the stands most of the time, i even read Montoya asked out, can you believe that?

    Alexis is a good player, but he obviously needs to be out.

    Fontas isnt good enough.

    Afeelay and Bojan dont have the needed stability.

    I’m really happy for Abidal, but i dont think he should risk playing anymore, i read somewhere, the club will make him the club ambassador, and i think he should take the opportunity.

  10. Off topic:
    Heres a good comment from Pique
    “Sometimes we may seem untouchable, oblivious to everything but it’s not true … one day I would like to invite someone to visit the locker room and he would be surprised. […] Well, there is a guy who hunts for mushrooms, another visits Warner Park with friends on his day off, another goes to a restaurant to have dinner for 20 euros so he can go with all his crew … we are 26 years old guys, [we] are not so unusual. We try to do normal things, because we do not want fame to make us idiots, we go to the movies, for a walk with our partners and kids, go to the cinema … normal things, because that’s what we like.”

    nzm, please help, who is this Warner park player and 20E player. hunter is Xavi, of course.

    1. Was Pique talking about the Spanish NT or Barca?

      If it is at Barca then, Warner park, could be Messi.

      The 20 Euro player is a really cool guy I’m telling you!!!
      Hats off to him!

    2. k thanks. Didnt know at all Warner park person is Messi.

      20 E, is the most interesting. have no idea who it is. My intution says its Alves…?

    3. I wouldn’t have a clue, but Parque Warner is in Madrid, so you could check to see which Barca players travel to Madrid for play.

      The park is about to hit harder times (financially it was a disaster from the outset) as the Madrid Communitat is closing down the train route to the park, and only a bus route will remain, as of April.

  11. So many fans out for Abidal retiring, quite surprising! I would see how he return from the liver transplant. You simply cannot replace Abidal and Puyol. Abidal is the fastest CB out there and I would seriously will try to see whether he can reach his earlier form and fitness. If he is sold or retires(which looks unlikely as the club and fans don’t have the call on this), then we need to get a pretty fast CB.

    As far as Puyol, he is not going to retire. He will continue to play either at Barca or some other club. So the option of selling is the only one we have.

    Villa should be sold. I have a feeling we will buy someone like Neymar which will limit his playing time. So it’s better for him and the club to sell him. Should get around 12-15 million for him, Arsenal may be interested. But if you are selling then you have to buy a center forward like him. The team does work better with a center forward like Eto’o or Villa.

    I don’t think the likes of Batra and Montoya should stay with the club. They should look for clubs where they could get regular playing times. Staying at Barca is a total waste of time and talent as we never give a proper try-out for defensive players.

    Since Neymar is going to be signed Tello, Pedro and Cuenca maybe even Duelofeu should look for other options.

  12. ter Stegen in, VV out

    Hummels in

    JDS out, everyone on loan out, except Cuenca (depending on injuries)

    Villa out if funds are needed.

    No Neymar.

    Do the Tello thing with the four up for promotion – I don’t see how they should be part of the first team without even a few appearances this season to gauge them.

  13. So we have Puyol out, Adriano, Alba, Pedro and maybe Xavi in the past 2 weeks. Anyone else?

    1. Yeah, it is ridiculous that we might lose out on the CL so Spain NT does not have to bother with a playoff for a WC spot. Xavi, Alba and Pedro are probably out for the Paris game. And there’s still a Liga game this weekend shortly followed by the CL with our South Americans having to fly across the Atlantic this week.
      If we are ever going to start the likes of Montoya, Bartra, Abidal, Song, Tello, the Celta game this weekend should be the one or else just sell (or retire in Abi’s case) all these players.

      Btw, it’s a bit improper to talk about it, but what about Tito? I don’t think the club leadership and he will want to take the risk that the same thing could happen next year.

    2. I’m betting that Tito resigns at the end of the season on his own accord. Of course it would be uncouth for us to discuss new coaches until that happens.

    3. Why? People can’t come back from cancer? They’re supposed to retire from their jobs in case of a possible relapse?

      Strongly disagree with you here. Tito showed us during the first half of the season that he was an excellent head coach. I say we stick with him.

  14. Isn’t Hummels only weakness his lack of speed?

    No matter how good he is, a slow central defender will not work for us.

    1. I’m with you there. A bit of pace in our back line would go a long way, and I don’t think Hummels is the one to supply it.

      I think we need a more sweeper type of player to complement either Pique, Mascherano, or Bartra – all of whom are in the mold of the ball-playing defender that is currently so in style.

      Of course, there is this: Crujff “What is speed? The sports press often confuses speed with insight. See, if I start running slightly earlier than someone else, I seem faster.”

  15. I have a feeling Abidal’s target is to prove a point and return to the first team for maybe one or two games. Then I prophesy that the horrible Rosell will offer him an ambassadorial role with the club world wide.

    I just can’t believe anyone still rates Bojan as a top player. What does it take to convince? He didn’t make it with us, got uppity about lack of playing mine despite being overplayed by Pep imo, went to Milan and isn’t hacking it there. He has no outstanding area of his game and will never make a top player.

    As I’ve said before I can see a financial argument for selling Villa in the summer but who do we replace him with and how much would it cost us – to buy in effect a poorer version of Villa?

    I think CB is a genuine problem. If Puyol has been carrying the current injury for some time it means the last surgery didnt really cure very much and that is ominous. My thoughts on Masch or Song there are well known, we don’t seem to have a ready made youngster o it looks like we’ll have to splash the cash on this one. However, although some of the names bandied around here are decent players from the little ive seen of them I’m not convinced any of them have the ball skills to play for us. Pace is a desirable not essential quality imo although it would be nice 🙂

    1. Meant to say, for me Neymar is the real deal. Anytime I’ve seen him he has lightning quick feet, great first touch and plays with his head up, a sign of an intelligent player. The fact he plays on the left is a bonus although it probably signals the gradual demise of playing time for Villa.

    2. If Bojan had been given the same amount of patience as Villa and Alexis, if agree with you. I don’t believe he got it. And I don’t think his move to Milan served him well either.

    3. Not sure where we showed Villa any patience either. He had a great first season followed by a complete injury nightmare season then when he came back we didn’t play him until we were deep in the doo do then we play him and he saves us.

      I don’t think there was anyone here who wouldn’t have liked Bojan to make it but I have memories of time after time him getting pushed off the ball or going missing and this at a time when we were steamrollering teams.

    4. I agree with Bill, Bojan was never given a full opportunity to prove himself. First there were Eto Henry and Messi as the front line. Then Ibra came along. I have a feeling Bojan was frozen out by Pep and he lost his motivation to play by being on the bench for 3 or 4 seasons.

    5. To be fair, he was benching Ibra at one time, but then he lost his touch.

      As Jim says above, he was getting pushed off the ball way too easily and just not getting into the games at all.

      He actually should have gone out on loan the year before he did.

      If he was any good still – and I mean excellently good – he’d be in one of the Spanish Rep teams, but he isn’t even considered anymore.

      The last time that he played in a National team was in 2011 (U-21) and I recall that he was just as bad in the NT as he was at Barca. Ended up sitting on the bench and being subbed in for cameos until he was dropped.

    6. The coach of that U21 side said that he benched Bojan because he wasn’t giving 100% in training and had a poor attitude. Same reason Pep benched him, frankly. I don’t think Del Bosque has given even a moment’s consideration to calling him up for the senior team–there are just too many more talented players ahead of him.

    7. Bojan was called into the Men’s NT Squad by Aragones in early 2008 for the Euros, but declined, stating tiredness and personal reasons.

      After the Euros was won by Spain in June, Del Bosque called Bojan into the Men’s NT Squad in September 2008.

      His only appearance was in a World Cup Qualifier vs. Armenia when he replaced Santi Cazorla for the final 25+ minutes.


      He also played a total of 21 games for the U-21 and scored 4 goals.

      His most successful stint was in the U-17s – 20 games, 16 goals.

      Self-cooked goose.

  16. If Neymar does come, wont we have to reorganise our defence, maybe to a double pivot, because we wont have much of a press left. It will be thrills and spills.

    1. A lot will depend on Neymar’s attitude I suppose but he won’t be cut the same slack as Messi on pressing. If he carries enough threat we can maybe allow Alba to concentrate more on defending. Always thought it was a nonsense to have two attacking FBs at the same time anyway.

  17. Wow! So many who want to sell Villa, Mascherano, Adriano, and/or Alves?

    Villa, who has barely been given time to prove himself after his injury but is still the team’s second-highest scorer, a guy who has marked a goal every 117 minutes—which is better than most of the world’s forwards and strikers? Are we just spoiled by Messi’s goal every 69 minutes?

    Mascherano, whose stops have saved so much trouble, particularly in big games, and whose precision passes have led to bundles of goals on the other end? There’s a reason he was put in the Milan game over Puyol—and came up big. Sure, he made one mistake that was nearly enormous, but his countless beautiful stops and distribution far outshined.

    Adriano, who’s having his best season ever—certainly in terms of goals scored and possibly in defense too? If the logic is we trade him because he’s not on the FIFA Dream Team, then we need to get rid of half the team. If the logic is we trade him because he’s injured a lot, then ditto. Barça needs solid journeymen, guys who are OK with limited playing time, guys who’ll be there and put in quality performances when the superstars are hurt or suspended. Adriano is the quintessence of this.

    Alves, who is for good reason regarded, nearly universally, as the best at his position in the world? Sure, his salary is big. There’s a reason, which has been evident in his stellar passing, pressing, and movement as the season has come along. It’s absolutely true that the first part of his season was below his standard. But you don’t trade a player based on half a season’s less-than-stellar performance. Every athlete—with very, very few exceptions—goes through slumps. Tito and Roura stuck with Alves through his bumpy months (I wouldn’t even say it was a total slump), and they’ve been reaping some lovely rewards of late. To the argument that he’ll never be worth more than he’s worth now, so the club should trade him, there’s a whiff of an assumption here that players are widgets. You don’t just take Alves’s salary, buy player X, plug him into system Y, and get result Z—result Z being something as fantastic as what Alba has been doing. You may get result F—something more like Sánchez. The risk that a purchase won’t work out is far higher than the risk that Alves won’t keep performing in years to come. (Barcelona’s problem, incidentally, is not money. The club can buy any free player it wants, and a few of them at that. The problem is ensuring that the money spent guarantees the player will be good when playing Barça’s brand of football.)

    I’m not saying sell no one. Sánchez could stand to move on if he doesn’t find his confidence and Tito doesn’t find a role where he can thrive. Puyol’s retirement date is certainly nearing. Dos Santos, Bojan, Afellay, and perhaps a few other youngsters who’ve never fulfilled their promise need to be released. We sure as hell need another center back. But I’m a little surprised at how many people want to fix want basically ain’t broke. We’re not 13 points up in the league for nothing. We’re not in the quarters of the Champions again for nothing. (Ask Madrid how hard that is.) And if the Milan game showed anything, to me it’s less that the personnel need a radical overhaul than that they “just” need to do more consistently all the things they do well—high pressure, velocity on the transition to attack, lots of movement, etc. (I omit for the moment using the right tactics against the right opponent.) Of course, the coaching that’s needed to ensure that they do this is a delicate balance. But that’s another discussion.

    1. 4 people say Villa to go
      2 (+ Jim!) say Masch to go
      2 mention Adriano
      2 mention Alves

      I’d hardly call that “many” – and some of those are the same people!

    2. A fair point, though perhaps I’d quibble that 3 or 4 on a blog of this size is many. I should perhaps clarify that I’m probably influenced as well by other social media and similar chatter, where similar arguments against these players have been advanced.

    3. In the interests of absolute clarity I’ve not called for Masch to be sold. He just shouldn’t be anywhere near the first team CB partnership for big games. I’d actually like to see him rotated with Busi in less important games.

    4. Sorry, Jim – just ribbing!

      Did you see him in the Venezuela game at mid? He was awesome! He was everywhere closing down play.

    5. I didn’t, no. I’m not sure what happened with him at Barca tbh. I wasn’t a fan of his because of the way he left Liverpool but I did feel he could do a job as our hard man at DM if we didnt have Busi for whatever reason. Then he was played at CB and everyone went wild about him and he became defined by that position which was never going to be his natural berth given that his strong point is winning the ball back through do or die tackles and his lack of height.

  18. Really looking forward to Tito being back! Really hope he has it licked this time!

    Read a lot of interesting comments and I think I probably am just combining a bunch of stuff people have already said.

    On Valdes, 1st hope tito convinces him to renew, but otherwise there are a couple problems in my opinion. As people have said, assuming he is going, the bargaining power isn’t all that high. This also has to be weighed against the potential for him to settle or unsettle the new keeper. For me you wait to see who is signed and then decide whether his presence would help or hinder. Also, you would be bargaining from a different position and with a successor in place valdes and his agent might be in a different position. ALso, needs to get done this summer to have flexibility and don’t want to do it next year when it has to happen.

    For me you have to keep pinto especially is valdes goes. Think he would be a major plus in settling in a new keeper. Seems like oier is gonna be the third keeper, which is a whatever to me unless either pinto, valdes, or the successor get a longterm injury, then you have to move to get somebody else.

    Obviously, must buy a new CB. Hummels seems a reasonable and popular name, but i’m betting for a less well-known and cheaper name. Otherwise puyol isn’t going anywhere, but barca should put itself in a position to use him judiciously. Likewise with Abidal, assuming the end of the season isn’t a cameo. Neither can or should be counted on to together equal one CB in rotation. Pique and Smasche are staying etc. Fontas is gone. Bartra could potentially be working his way into more minutes next year or out the door. Muniesa fits in that he can play center and left, but think he’s gone for free. Adriano is gonna get a new contract, but likewise can’t be depended upon. I’d say sell him, but who would replace him? Dani is playing brilliantly, facilitating tactics, and showing to be an important personality on the team. Montoya can take his place in the lineup, but can’t replace him. So, as with many of the supposed guys on their way out. Who can you get to replace him? Even with an additional CB, especially assuming some bedding in time for him, it’s not a ton of depth.

    Midfield stands pat. Think the staff is seeing that there are some things that could be done playing song and busi together and that whilst he won’t be the CB they wanted he could provide more in the midfield than just a busi sub. I personally agree with that, but even if he’s only that, it’s a requisite. Dos Santos is gonzo. If Sergi wants to be next year’s 2santos then i guess it’s his choice. Personally don’t think he is good enough to push anyone in front of him. Don’t like the rafinha and deulo autopromotion business. Think they are trying to avoid loosing them for free, but hasn’t worked for fontas, 2santos, or bartra. Think they both have better shots than sergi, but don’t see minutes for either next season. Right now i don’t see playing with B developing them much more, but loans don’t help them fit in with the first team much either. The benefit of time riding the bench with the first team is learning how to be a barca pro and some humility. (I’m looking at you gerard.) Anyway, can’t see them anything but promoted, best might be a loan in January to get some time.

    The front line is the most complicated…To Neymar or not to Neymar. I think he’s coming and i look forward to seeing him in the kit, but when? Based on the needs at CB and GK i’d kinda prefer he come next summer. Because, based upon rosell’s transfer record i doubt that he will take care of those two needs w/o the Neymar distraction/spending let alone w/ it. I think the current crisis at the back bears this out just a little. So what about the rest. The easy ones…Afellay is done, whether he got a fair shot or not the injuries on loan have been the final nail in his coffin at barca hopefully not for his career. Tello, keep him. Not sure he will ever be a consistent starter, but that speed off the bench is a huge asset. Cuenca, better skillset than Tello, but what about the knee? Think the best is preseason w/ barca then goes out for a loan to see if he can play consistently. Villa, keep him! We have seen how hard it is for a quality front line player to adapt to barca. Villa already has adapted. Why send him out only to have to spend more on another player hoping he will fit in. Think Villa’s declining minutes fit in well with bringing in players to the front line. Pedro obviously stays. I think that Sanchez is the most likely to go based on age and value. I don’t think he should, especially if Neymar doesn’t come. I think he adds something to the squad. So it looks something like…

    3 of Valdes, New Guy, Pinto, Oier?
    Alves, Montoya, Pique, Smasche, New Guy, Puyol, Abidal, Alba, Adriano
    Busi, Song, Iniesta, Xavi, Thiago, Cesc
    Messi, Sanchez, Tello, Pedro, Villa, Neymar

    is 23
    rafinha, deulo, and/or sergi as filler

  19. Been waiting for a post like this. Thanks for the neat n’ tidy list.

    Trust me, cutting this list will be easier than you think.

    -Bit disappointed by the decisions made here. Pinto’s contract extended, so he’s a lock? Still negotiating Valdes, and I think that’s fruitless. Rumors about GKs throughout Europe are a bit disappointing–De Gea is good but I can’t get too excited; Reina is a downgrade as far as I’m concerned. Most exciting rumor is Ter Stegen but it doesn’t seem likely, does it? Frankly, none of the rumors seem too plausible at the moment.
    -I’m pretty confident that Rosell and co will do their darndest to keep Valdes on board, and if they don’t succeed, scramble for a replacement at zero-hour (no bueno).

    -Mixed feelings about Puyol’s long-term contract. There’s wisdom in it–I certainly cannot and will not argue with it–but it limits our options.
    -Alves, Pique, Masch, and Alba are locks for next season. Management will have one eye on finding a replacement for Alves in 2014–contract expires the following summer, and he is turning 30 soon after what will be his sixth season with the club.
    -Abidal is as good as gone, I’m sorry to say. Barca must let the contract expire, he is way too risky to re-sign. Hope Abi stays involved with the club, and God bless the guy for the glorious work he’s put in. For me, he was the best left-back in the world, certainly in our historical XI.
    -I think Adriano will get at least a short-term extension. Frankly, I think it’d be foolish to sell. I wouldn’t call him injury-prone–I’ve seen injury-prone players, Adriano’s just a dude who has been getting injured more often. He looks old (I think), but he’s really only 28 and in his prime. For awhile he looked like he’d nailed Alves to the bench. And he prefers to play on the left? Sold. He’s as good as a starter as far as I’m concerned.
    -There’s room for a center-back purchase, and management is certainly committed to one.

    -Any questions? Xavi, Iniesta, Thiago, Busquets, Cesc, and Song all stay. Iniesta and Thiago will have contract talks next season, barring the improbable.
    -dos Santos will need a talking-to. He’s never shown any inclination to leave, but he’s just got to go.

    -I think the key to Villa getting an extension, surely wiping out the possibility of a sale profit in the future, is the increasing evidence that Alexis and his agent are negotiating a way out. I can’t complain.
    -Pedro, the most under-appreciated player around, is oh-so-quietly the only lock-down keeper alongside Messi in the forward line.
    -Neymar? If they sign him, they will make room. I don’t envision that directly leading to sales this summer, but certainly after a season of, say, Tello on the bench, he would leave.

    The rest:
    -Does anyone really believe that any of the remaining name really have a future with this Barca squad? Oier, Rafinha, Deulofeu, Sergi Roberto (these four I believe have promotion written into their contracts for this summer), Montoya, Bartra, Fontas, Muniesa, Afellay, Cuenca, Tello, Afellay, Bojan–all except one or two will certainly be sold or loaned/remain on loan. And in truth, I don’t see much hope for those one or two remaining with the team long-term.
    -I’m certainly not the first to criticize Barca’s policy of promoting youth players too quickly, but I don’t read too many comments on the irony of our management, renowned for its integration of academy players into a world-class side, wasting so many promising players on bench roles that ultimately turn into loans or sales to make room for the next hotshot.
    -I’d like to think that Sergi Roberto will be our midfield maestro in eight-to-ten years, but it’s far more likely that he spends the next two years on the bench, the following year on loan, and before you know it, we have the next Xavi getting promoted from the B-team and the loanees will be forgotten. He’ll just never get a fair crack.

    See how easy that was?

    -Valdes/some other keeper

    -Another CB



    -Add Tello or Cuenca, Sergi Roberto, Bartra or Montoya or possibly both, maybe Deulofeu for appearances more than anything…and the rest are loaned or sold!

    1. They played Xavi because Spain still hasn’t learned how to win without him. Not against good teams, like France, anyway.

    2. Though it goes against the grain I have to admit I liked the way Alonso played the quicker vertical ball. He was just a couple of interventions away from setting Villa free that way and you could see him looking for his early runs. The advantage being that even if he loses a ball that way from DM you still have most of your team behind he ball.

    3. Meant to add it’ll be interesting to see if over the next season or two we start experimenting with Busi and Cesc as the two holding players with Cesc tasked with playing the Alonso role of starting attacks with a longer ball. We might have to face the possibility that Xavi is in fact irreplaceable and that with just Iniesta we can’t continue to the same extent our throttle them with the possession model.

    4. However more often than not, Alonso couldn’t release a diagonal pass on the right as Arbeloa was non existant.

      I really don’t understand how Arbeloa is a 1st choice RB for Spain or Madrid. Are there no better RB’s out there?

  20. To be fair to Del Bosque he did say that Xavi himself would decide. No way was Xavi going to miss that game. He will be needed against PSG though so I hope he makes it.

  21. Sorry about spamming with so many posts but just sitting here watching golf on TV on the first day of the holidays relishing the lack of noise of high pitched voices 🙂

    I think we need to be careful in any clear out of the younger ones that we keep our wits about us. I hope nobody doubts that this guy is a keeper despite any quibbles about current attitude.

    From Barcastuff
    Video: Gerard Deulofeu – The Future – Best goals and assists 2012-2013 youtube.com/watch?v=85g-GL… [by @HeilRJ] #fcblive

    1. Heh – but are you still hearing them in your head? 😆

      I included Deulofeu in my line-up, as I think that he’s dynamic going forward. Defensively not so much. Compared to Tello, he definitely has more flair, agility, is a quick thinker and has a better head for creating plays.

      If he comes of age and settles down so that his head can fit through doorways without him having to enter sideways, he’ll be a great player to have in the Barca First Team.

      I see him as a keeper for his talent alone, but am wary that he may also go the Bojan path if not properly managed and advised. Certainly, he’s a couple of years older than Bojan was when he was promoted, but the propensity to want too much too soon is still there.

      I think that it was Tito who said in an earlier interview this season that they were going carefully and slowly with Deulofeu, not wanting to rush things, and I hope that Deulofeu and his management team can see the sense in this also.

  22. There is one more player that I really like. Giovanni Dos Santos.

    He is always brilliant for his country, possibly their best player. I believe there was some mismanagement in his career. It would have been amazing to have him show his qualities in NT at Barca on the left wing. His injuries did not help his case either.

  23. Speaking of “Welcome back”, Mascherano just tweeted that Abidal has been included in the squad and will travel to Vigo with the team.

    Brilliant news. Not gonna lie, I’m crying a bit right now. 😀

    1. Link from El Mundo Deportivo regarding this:


      Prob deserves its own post though

  24. First. Anybody on loan isn’t coming back. Yes, that includes Cuenva. So tje squad shrinks quite a bit. Muniesa is also gone. That’s another one.

    If Neymar comes,.you will have him,.Messi, Villa,.Pedro, Sanchez, Tello, and Deulogeu if we are stupid enough to promote him. That is a lotta too many. Two will leave, most likely Tello and Sanchez.

    So ….

    GK: Pinto and Ter Stegen(?)
    FB: Alves, Adriano, Montoya, Alba (Abidal retires at the end of this season)
    CB: Hummels(?), Puyol, Mascherano, Pique, Bartra (I think he stays)
    MF: Xavi, Iniesta, Thiago, Busquets, Song (appearances by Rafinha Alcantara)
    F: Messi, Neymar, Pedro, Villa, Deulofeu call ups

    That is 20 first teamers. Don’t be surprisex to see a transfer or two come under the wire, Song types that will make everyone say “WUT?!”

    1. i’d submit that 20 first team players simply isn’t enough. we have 23 this season, including J.D. Santos who’s played 6 minutes in the league, and we’re wracked with injury and have already suffered from a lack of rotation as it is.

      these are the numbers of players who’ve played more than 270 minutes (3 full matches) for these teams in their respective leagues this season:

      Us – 19
      Juve – 22
      Man United – 22
      Real Madrid – 22

      to pare that down even further puts serious strain on our squad, particularly Xavi, who CAN keep playing with us for awhile if we manage his injuries properly through more and better rotation, and Puyol. both of whom i think we would agree are still vital for us.

      on that note, we desperately need more than 4 center-backs, even if you count a player (Bartra) who’s played a whopping total of 74 minutes in the league this season. Puyol will be 35 in April. the idea that we’re going to get through an entire season with a kid who doesn’t play, Pique/Mascherano (who himself, i resolutely state, is *not* a center-back but a converted midfielder) and a 35-year-old, injury-prone Captain Carles is madness. investment must be made in that area. Rosell is going to have to spend some of his ill-gotten oil money.

    2. You’re selling Cesc, Kevin???? 😆

      I really hope that Alexis doesn’t go. Pedro has been susceptible to injury these past 2 seasons and Alexis is the closest to a Pedro replacement that we’ve got.

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