Categorized | Barcelona

Barça 4 – Málaga 1, as twenty-two beats one hundred

This review was supposed to be about the game. About how Lord Tito sent out eleven knights, namely Pinto, Montoya, Piqué, Mascherano, Jordi Alba, Busquets, Xavi, Cesc, Iniesta, Villa and Pedro to fend off the Andalusian invaders. About how we dismembered the enemy at our doorstep with three quick goals before they could even raise their swords. About how el Cerebro, P! and el Guaje combined to strike first, how Fábregas moved and grooved for the second and how Montoya swashbuckled in a third (and his first). About how tiki-taka was once more in full effect and making quality opponents look like practice cones. About how Ghostface buried the dagger in their heart to get the second half underway. About how Masche smashed anything that came into his path and how Pinto picked off the survivors.

But 1) I don’t want to talk about that and 2) I suspect you don’t want to read about that.

The first thing I want to talk about is one hundred points, an achievement fully deserving of capital letters, ONE HUNDRED POINTS. The last time we had such a good league campaign was never. In hindsights this is easy to say, but I knew we had it won after the 8th round, in which we climbed the rollercoaster at El Riazor and got off with three points despite conceding four goals. A merengue friend texted me after that game, “partidos así ganan titulos”. Games like that win titles, indeed. It was also the game that inspired me to write my first review.

After round 8 our lead over M*drid, against whom we had drawn at the Camp Nou a week earlier, was already significant. Strangely so, one might add, because while our rivals needlessly dropped points, we miraculously avoided doing the same. We had already escaped from Pamplona by way of Messi, slept through Granada before Xavi woke us up with ice water and who could forget the Houdini act we pulled off in Sevilla? We were on the way to our best start ever and we hadn’t even started playing well yet. I guess that’s the secret, and one that is actually not kept all that well. Winning games you are not supposed to is how leagues are conquered.

The thing that remains with me most of this season is the hunger we started with. Losing the league to M*drid seemed to have hurt our players even more than the fans. With the determination of a bloodthirsty ferret, they fought to take the title back right from the start, demoralizing our rivals to the point of giving up after nineteen games. The tears of last season were transformed to steel, as we found ways to win points that we would have lost a year ago to bring us back a league that in the end could not even be threatened by the potentially fatal diseases of our coach and our best defender. And in these last couple of games, even as the title was all ready and served, we still ate as if with empty stomachs. In the face of accusations of not wanting it enough after losing to Bayern Munich in the Champion’s League semis, let these one hundred points remind you of the hunger and resolve of this group of players, as amazing a group of players as we have been blessed with as fans of the most beautiful club in the world.

Visca Barça!

Thank you for the hundred points that brought us our 22nd league title. And don’t forget, if things seem too good to be true, it is probably because they are. Our 22nd title is dedicated to our no. 22, Eric Abidal. At first, even though I was very disappointed that the club did not renew his contract, I felt that the reactions of culés both here and elsewhere were too emotional. Then I watched the press conference and got emotional myself, so I slept on it. I still didn’t think the club has treated him as badly as some had made it out to be. I actually wished my employers would treat me as well as F.C. Barcelona has treated Abidal. I still do, but that’s besides the point.

The next day Tito Vilanova gave a press conference in which has left me perplexed:

“They (Rosell and Zubi) already explained it. The fact that he does not continue leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. We will not find a central defender and left back like him. It is a club decision, agreed by all. We sat down and talked about this a lot of times. People would not have liked any other decision we could have made either.”

Any other decision? So if the club had decided to give Eric Abidal, a central defender and left back of the likes our coach says we will not find elsewhere, a contract extension it would have been received badly (or literally no hubiera gustado – people would not have liked it). Who would not have liked it? The fans? The players? Eric Abidal? The coach? A contract extension that was ready since December and merely waiting to be signed after he played his first game, according to Josep Bartomeu…

So our board, whose president sure loved the word “transparency” while he was still campaigning, is proving to be anything but. Not to the public – why did Abidal’s contract not get renewed? How much did we pay for Neymar? Twenty million? Thirty million? Twice that amount? Not to the players – Muniesa was only the last in line of those who did not know if he would stay or go until last week. Hell, there hasn’t even been any transparency between the technical director and his staff as we now risk losing Thiago for only 18 million euros because of a clause in his contract that our coaches did not even know about. I guess that for some people transparency means that things are transparent for only them. For the rest of us it is like following a Ferrari through a storm without windshield wipers.

This was supposed to be a review. But sometimes the game is bigger than that. Just like Abidal’s send off, the one that should have taken place one or two years from now when he retires with our club, was bigger than anything else last week. Because right now, how I feel about things, 22 trumps 100.

Visca Barça! Visca nostre equip! Visca Abi!

And down with Rosell!

Merci Roi! Come back soon!

“I will always carry you in my heart” Eric Sylvain Abidal

 

NOTES:

I will possibly elaborate on my stance against Rosell in the future. For now let it suffice to say that it is my personal opinion and as such does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the other members of our team. Almost a season ago, inspired by what, together with our demolition of Milan, remains my favorite game of the season, I wrote a review of how we beat Depor with five goals to four and sent it to Kevin as an audition. Had I known then how many more hours and hours of writing would follow, I might not have sent it in. Nevertheless it has been very rewarding. I want to thank Kevin, Isaiah, NZM, Blitzen, Euler, Calvin, Luke, Linda and SoMa (my dumb ass is probably missing a cherished BFB mod) for letting me be part of the team. I want to thank our readers and commenters for the feedback and discussions. Most of all I want to thank my favorite reader who never comments but follows the blog avidly, my loving and lovely girlfriend. She now shares me not only with Football Club de Barcelona but with Barcelona Football Blog as well.

 

 

 

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219 Responses to “Barça 4 – Málaga 1, as twenty-two beats one hundred”

  1. replayed says:

    Thanks, Levon.

    I’m a fan.

  2. BA says:

    Rosell’s shortsightedness and greed is getting found out in spades at last. unfortunately it’s coming at the expense of the club.

    his “austerity measures”, so arbitrarily put in place last summer when we REALLY needed to splash money to revitalize the squad and particularly on 2 players who got away from us as a result, have been utterly abandoned now that Neymar (for Neymar read: marketing rights for Nike) is on the table.

    the opportunistic abandonment of Abidal happened just as abruptly. we’re in desperate need of quality central defenders who are comfortable on the ball, and Abidal on a purely footballing level gives us that. it would be vastly cheaper to keep him, at least for a season and even if he was only able to give us 20-odd games, than to attempt to purchase a stopgap player even if we can find one (we can’t). that’s notwithstanding the positive image that Abidal presents and the example he sets for the rest of the squad; his inclusion (predicated on the fact that he can PLAY, which he evidently can) adds as much dignity to our club as his exclusion for monetary reasons diminishes it.

    Tito, of course, is getting run roughshod over. i’m now more convinced than ever that Pep’s leaving was as much to do with his lack of interest in the odious power struggle with Rosell and his creatures at the club as it was for footballing reasons. Tito simply doesn’t have Pep’s standing, and Rosell will make whatever decisions he wants without anyone to gainsay him (Zubizaretta being little more than a yes-man, without the nous or energy of a Txiki Begiristain).

    in short, i hope the Catalan socis who voted Rosell into power, to the exclusion of the foreign socis who overwhelmingly voted against him, are happy in their mini-nationalistic bubble now that their man has undermined the once-untarnished worldwide image of the club at every serious turn. he excluded us because through recent experience we saw him for what he is: just another technocratic politician using pseudo-nationalism for corporate interests (read: personal enrichment). and over the last few years we’ve seen how the institutions who put such people into power end up…

  3. Jim says:

    No cynicism for me at the moment. Enjoyed a record breaking league season and now settling down to watch our latest acquisition :)

  4. xdxm says:

    Speaking of bad presidents this is an excellent article by Garreth Nunn on Florentino Perez–the real failure at Real Madrid.

    http://sabotagetimes.com/reportage/mourinho-may-be-leaving-but-is-president-perez-the-real-failure/

  5. Jim says:

    Nice to see nothing changes with Dani’s crossing :) Nice attempt from Neymar though.

  6. alpinegroove says:

    Looks like Neymar is playing as a forward in a 4-4-2…

  7. Jim says:

    Brazil 12 places below England in FIFA rankings ???

    • replayed says:

      I would never want to defend the FIFA rankings, but those standings make sense given how they’re computed. Looking at recent history, England has had the Euros and various qualification campaigns to help their cause. Meanwhile Brazil haven’t been playing a lot of competitive features given that they’re hosting the next World Cup. The Olympics don’t count and they didn’t do that well in the 2011 Copa America.

  8. Jim says:

    Ok, scratch David Luiz from any list of potential CBs.

  9. Jim says:

    This is shooting practice at Joe Hart.

  10. alpinegroove says:

    Neymar’s skill and potential are obvious. Passing always seems to be his last resort, though he has made a few good passes so far.

  11. Jim says:

    Really enjoying watching Brazil.

    • Jim says:

      Worst cross yet from Dani …… By a mile !

    • G6O says:

      I don’t see that much to enjoy – the same problems that have been plaguing them for the last few years are on display. It is a testament to the talent of their attacking players that they have created so many chances so far, yet their game still leaves much to be desired – the two defensive midfielders are not providing sufficient creativity and they have serious trouble rapidly transitioning from defense to offense. There was the customary Thiago Silva throwing his hands in despair due to having nobody to pass to, then passing sideways to David Luiz moment that has come to define that team. England are very poor and with the addition of just a little bit of speed and midfield creativity would have been torn apart completely.

      This is also why people who have been saying Neymar has not impressed for Brazil against serious defenses are missing an important detail – the Braizlian NT as a whole is not playing in a way that would allow him to fully shine. That would hopefully not be the case next seasons – we are not a fast team, but we do circulate the ball quickly and it should be a different situation.

      • Jim says:

        I’d actually say the opposite. They are totally dominating England and I’ve been looking for that bit of sparkle up front. England at the moment are meant to be the 7th best team in the world.

        It’s not really the job of DMs to be the creative ones. Also the one thing England can do is defend.

        • G6O says:

          I clearly said they are dominating. The problem is it is not up to the needed level. It is the job of the DMs to be more creative than that, especially if you have two of them.

          • Jim says:

            I’d agree that there’s no way they need two DMs which would add to the creativity. Wouldn’t have taken Oscar off.

  12. nia says:

    Watching the Brazil game just to see how Neymar plays. He can be kind of selfish huh? Pass the ball young one, don’t try to do everything by yourself. He does have flashes of brilliance though. Unfortunately, in Europe, he will be playing against many parked buses. Like todays team, kkk ;) It’s a red double decker.

  13. Jim says:

    Can’t believe they’ve gone to three at the back. Have they? Should be interesting now at both ends.

  14. Kxevin says:

    Inferences we can draw from today’s friendlies:

    –Ter Stegen isn’t Barça quality
    –Neither is David Luiz
    –Is Neymar?
    –The U.S. is a better football team than Germany.

  15. alpinegroove says:

    I am not sure that NT performance is much of an indication of club play. Look at how Messi has struggled with ARG while triumphing at FCB.

    • Jim says:

      I’m assuming there was an element of sarcasm in Kxevin’s comment about the US national team ….. But maybe not :)

      • alpinegroove says:

        I agree. It was mostly a response to people criticizing Neymar for his performance today.

        • Kxevin says:

          Yeah, I was kinda being a wisenheimer there. The 10 spot isn’t Neymar’s best nor most natural position, mostly because it doesn’t fully utilize his absurd acceleration.

          I also have to say that I like David Luiz’s skill set as a CB. But Brazil is crazy right now. Notice how, like us, their defense retreats, ceding space in that crucial zone rather than closing out, as defenders such as Luiz will for their club sides.

          As far as Ter Stegen, that was just a mess of a play. Dude’s too comfortable with his feet and as Euler pointed out on Twitter, his defense left him exactly zero passing options, and he lost focus. Won’t happen with us.

          I was watching Neymar run around, take ENG defenders 1v1 to create space and thinking “Yeah, we could kinda use that.”

          I have no idea who our keeper is going to be, only that if we are truly in austerity, NOT selling Valdes this summer is madness.

  16. Messiah10 says:

    I didn’t have a chance to see Abi’s send off. How was it? Did he get the ovation from the Camp Nou faithful that he deserved? What did the players do? Did they surround him? Give him a guard of honor?

  17. ElJefe says:

    Amazing season, we should all celebrate and truly reflect on what we have. The only thing that make this season not perfect, besides Champion’s League, was BEIN Sports and the Abidal fiasco.

    I leave you with one additional takeaway from tonight’s Brasil/UK match…when did Brazilians cease to have awesome names we were all jealous of, and become Sesame Street characters?

    Oscar, Fred? What’s next, Cookie Monster? If he plays CB, I’ll still take him.

    • Kxevin says:

      Whoa, what was the problem with BeIN, the cablenet that not only gave us all of our Barça matches, but BarcaTV and Carmen Boquin on the anchor desk. My sole issues were with Comcast, who waited until two matches into the season to get religion, and still won’t give me my BeIN in HD.

      • ElJefe says:

        I guess Fios then for not offering BeIn until the last week of the season. I wasn’t able to watch a single game live this season vs. every match in previous seasons.

        Just googled Carmen…now I’m even angrier!!!!

  18. Kxevin says:

    Can’t recall the year it last happened, but NONE of Barça’s sporting clubs are European champions. Handball went down today.

  19. Kxevin says:

    So. We led the season wire-to-wire, equaled a points haul set by our fiercest rival, won the Liga with a record-setting gap over second place (The Big One?) and set a record for wins.

    My chest is puffed out, I have to say.

    I know that many will focus on the European “failure,” but I have to say that if you’d told me the injuries we were going to have to deal with, as well as in effect not having a coach for crucial weeks of the season, an injured Messi, etc, AND told me we would make the CL semi-finals? My reaction would have been “Sheeeeeittt!”

    The season finale, I think, showed off the club. The press was back, as was movement. Malaga wasn’t playing like crap, either. I haven’t seen Villa moving like that since before he broke his leg, and Pedro was electric. Montoya also made a case that his demise might be greatly exaggerated.

    All in all, a very enjoyable match and a portent for next season. I also like how well the team was playing in league without Messi. That is always a useful thing. And I hope that people have reacquainted themselves with movement.

    Calvin was asking on Twitter why it seemed that Xavi was less influential this season, and for me it had to do with not only how opponents were attacking us (isolating Xavi AND Busquets), but mostly static forwards. Movement should dictate the pass rather than the pass dictating movement.

    Yes, space helps. But this team thrives in making space with defenders in close proximity. But its roots are in movement, on and off the ball, to facilitate triangles of the sort that we saw against Malaga. The way you could see them form was just beautiful, and reminded me so much of the lovely way that we used to play.

    Also fascinating was how intermingled with those triangles was very direct play, with Pedro on bust-outs, but intelligent ones.

    I am super excited about next season, for so many reasons that I actually have to sit down and put into post form, for a season wrap-up series that (I hope) we will all be doing.

    • Rami says:

      About what happened in Champions League, We embarrassed many teams our selves, Bayern was one of them not so long ago, Madrid twice, The two finals against MU, Were technically a ‘thrash’, 2 goal margins, And made them look like amateurs in those 180 minutes, We shamed so many teams, We brought tears to so many fans, It was inevitable that our turn will finally come.
      The greater the rise, The greater the fall, As we raised as high a football team possibly can.
      I’m not pessimistic about the future, It’s the exact opposite, Bayern after getting thrashed by us, Came back the next season and reached the CL final, Madrid after the la manita, Came back the next season and won the same competition we thrashed them in, defeated us in front of our own fans, They broke records and made history, In 2008 we made a ‘pasillo’ for real madrid, The next season we won a sextuple and embarrassed them in front of the whole world.
      I can’t wait for next season, It’s going to be a long summer.

  20. PrinceYuvi says:

    I dont think club treated Abi badly,
    but It was just plain stupid to let him go.
    We needed proper defenders, badly.

  21. barca96 says:

    Nobody excited enough to watch the presentation? Just got home. Was curious to watch it since people actual queued up for it since last night.

  22. BA says:

    i’m watching it. haven’t heard a figure for how many people are attending.

    Neymar’s friends all wearing the No. 11 jersey… a bit presumptuous given that squad numbers haven’t gone out yet, but i’m sure Nike will ensure he gets what he want/is most marketable.

  23. BA says:

    that Qatar Airways logo shit across the front of our shirt looks so out of place. and it’s in WHITE.

  24. BA says:

    this presenter, however, is stunning. rrroaw.

  25. BA says:

    and she mentions that Neymar is there “to help Barça, *and Messi*, stay the best in the world”.

    there’s your place, kid. keep that in mind.

  26. barca96 says:

    Now that he’s actually here, Im quite excited. Hopefully the pressure won’t get to him.

    • barca96 says:

      Quite liked how excited he looks. And it seems that he’s even taken Catalan classes. And he’s been saying the right things.

      Neymar to Barca and Mourinho to Chelsea are the worst kept secrets :)

      Why does he have a Jr at the back? Can’t remember seeing that on his Brasil and Santos jerseys. Hopefully it’ll just be Neymar.

  27. Jafri says:

    I’m sensing some Neymar-Messi based devastation against the lesser teams. But will he help Barcelona beat the big guns? That’s something they were notoriously bad at this season. I dunno, there’s something of the big-game bottler about him…

  28. blitzen says:

    Official: The transfer fee of Neymar is 57M, his buyout clause is 190M.

    And people were trying to tell me that we only paid 28M for him.

    • ciaran says:

      I thought that they were not going to release that info. Its a lot for a player with only 1 year left on his contract but lets hope it turns out to be a bargain. Also he has immense marketing potential

      • Kxevin says:

        Surprised the club released that information, as well. Less than I thought. We might well have paid 28m for the player. Then with signing bonuses, agents’ fees, who knows?

        Unless you heard that the official number was 57m to Santos. Dunno.

      • TITO says:

        We had to buy him. It was either us or RM, and imagine him wearing their jersey and punishing us on the field.
        You have to put the “panic buy” detail in the purchase.

        • BA says:

          that’s the kind of thinking i just don’t get.

          so what if Madrid had bought Neymar? what does he do for their team? i certainly didn’t fear him when we played against Santos, why should i have feared his acquisition by Madrid?

          unless of course you just mean our defending is far worse now than it was a few years ago, in which case you’d be right.

          • Kxevin says:

            BA, I think it’s because a lot of knowledgeable observers who are disinclined to “hate the playa,” say that his talent potential is almost Messiesque. That makes it worth the risk.

            I didn’t “fear” him when we played Santos, but I did worry about what he could do. The overall talent level of their club as opposed to ours diminished that worry over time.

            I think he is a remarkable talent, one that I am very pleased we purchased. This club needs a left winger. Bad. That we are getting one of that quality …. that’s going to cost what it costs.

          • BA says:

            as needs go for a left winger, after our battering by Bayern i’d rather have gotten Gareth Bale.

            a worrying statistic for me is that Neymar only weighs 142 lbs. and at 5’7, that gives us yet another player who can’t compete in the air.

    • Rami says:

      They also said that the coaching staff requested him in 2010, AKA guardiola

  29. CuleToon says:

    What a pleasant surprise! This guy Neymar has a good head on his shoulders, and an incredible stage presence. I’m quite confident that he will reflect this personality on the field. Great times await us…

  30. Kxevin says:

    For me, that the first words out of his mouth were speaking Catalan, tells me that if he doesn’t have a good head on his shoulders, he has excellent advisers, which is the same as having a good head on his shoulders.

    Apparently everyone who has worked with him in setting up the debut has said that he is as humble and self-effacing as they come. They were all surprised by that. Saying that he is here to help the club and Messi excel just ices that cake.

    Yes, people running around him were wearing the number 11. That is his marketing deal, but not necessarily his number with FCB. The player is quoted as saying that he would take whatever number was vacant and available, rather than specifying a particular number that he wanted. So don’t read anything into that number business. It’s easy to design a new corporate logo around whatever number. That stuff is all based on his Santos number, as his NT number is 10.

    Stage presence and charisma are huge, and the kids were positively woozy. He is doing and saying all the right things, even to a greater degree than Ibrahimovic.

    It’s also worth noting that Neymar is younger than Tello. He has been on the world stage for so long that it’s easy to think that he might be older than he in fact is. What he is is a young player trying to fit into the best club in the world. Let’s give him a chance.

    • BA says:

      given that we paid twice as much for Neymar as we did for Alexis, does that mean he has half as much time to perform before the knives come out as they did for Alexis?

      i refuse to be optimistic at this stage over such a massive purchase, and frankly i don’t think any of us have much idea what to think of his attitude given that he’s basically a corporate (particularly Nike) sock puppet. let’s see how he does in training, how well he integrates into the team, and if he can perform on the pitch; we’ll have plenty of time to get optimistic when and if he starts banging in goals and playing 1-2s with Iniesta.

      if those things DON’T happen, if he gets benched against big opposition and his handlers start coming out in the press and demanding more playing time, if he throws a strop over not getting to take a penalty, if he enjoys the Barcelona nightlife as Ronaldinho did at the expense of training…. we just don’t know yet.

      many of us, me included, at first thought the Ibrahimovic signing looked great too. and how did that work out?

      • Kxevin says:

        Without risk ….

        Ibrahimovic would have worked had he not gone rogue. Recall the first part of that season, with he and Messi raising hell, scoring for the fun of it and destroying defenses. People often forget about that part, and remember the nastiness.

        Nothing that Neymar has said leads me to believe that such things will happen, for the simple reason that he isn’t stupid, and neither are his handlers. If he becomes a problem child, it hurts his marketability, his current place in the team and his ability to go to another big-money club with an existing superstar.

        He will do and say all of the right things. As for the thinking that he might not be good enough …. from what I have seen, he is already good enough. He will improve in our system, as well as helping the system run more effectively.

        He has shown no signs of being a partier, and has matured since the tantrums, etc. But yes, it’s still a risk.

        That said, I see no down side to this purchase, which is a lot for me to say, because I am skeptical. It will bring results, marketing money and eventually I think, silver.

        • ooga aga says:

          thats not quite how i remember that season. ibra scored some goals, but most of the time i didnt like the way we played when he was out there. many of us were never believers, but i admit that i for one was against it partly cos i didnt want sammy to go.

          • ooga aga says:

            though maybe that^ was getting away from the point…whatever expectations around ibra might have been maybe doesnt matter here…i simply cant say if the hype and excitement around neymar is justified. maybe for that price yes, you want to see something right away to justify it. you dont wait until after a season and say…jurys still out…

            im wondering how his pace will stand up against the best defenders in europe. we’re not in brazil anymore, toto.

          • Ryan says:

            If memory serves, the big Swede scored 11 games in a row. Not too shabby I’d say.

            It’s true that his goals really dried up (remember when Messi donated him a penalty?) and he eventually got benched by Bojan of all people, but he did quite well before the winter break.

      • Jim says:

        No, we don’t but why think the worst? He has done everything right so far so at least save the knives until he fails to perform. What’s with calling him a “sock puppet” ? Where’s your evidence for that? If he’d been after money he opulent have ended up at Barcastuff.

        This guy is the real deal for me.

      • lea_terzi says:

        Don’t know about the partying, but apparently he doesn’t drink alcohol and refused advertising offers for alcoholic beverages.

  31. Rami says:

    What a humble guy, I wish him all the best.
    I can’t wait for the pre-season :)

  32. TITO says:

    As for the money paid for him i wouldn’t worry at all. We’ll recuperate that amount and maybe double it in one or two seasons just from selling the shirts with his name.

    • Levon says:

      Will we? Won’t Barça shirts get sold regardless? As for Brazil, why would someone buy an official shirt for 4 times the price of a bootleg one?

      • Kxevin says:

        If the images from the official store are any indication, Neymar shirts will sell very well, probably better than any other player on our roster except Messi. Barça shirts will sell regardless. But generally, folks like me buy basic shirts. Fans of a particular player are usually above and beyond people like me. Neymar will sell shirts. Already is.

        This is a sporting AND marketing purchase. Even if the shirt sales in Brazil will, as expected, remain mostly counterfeit, the Neymar purchase will open that market to the club in other ways, from advertising and partnerships to friendly opportunities.

        If the Brazil v Argentina animus is to be believed (and it is real), the value of having this not only be Messi’s team for Brazilians, should be significant.

  33. CuleToon says:

    For me, the most impressive thing was how he endured a full hour of questions —many of which were nasty traps, and not only laid out by the Madrid media— without hesitation, with confidence, and with a smile. Sure he’s used to cameras, to being the center of attention, to star in commercials and soap operas, but, nonetheless, I felt pleasantly surprised and full of hope at the level of maturity he showed.

    By the way, he not only said his first words in Catalan (more words than expected and more than necessary to please us Catalans). He also said that he grasps Catalan better than Castilian! (because Portuguese and Catalan resemble each other much more than each one of them resembles Castilian). You can’t even imagine the flood of infuriated comments (or better, insults) that are pouring in As and Marca websites from so-called «spanish patriots» because of this!

    In sum: If he shows in the field the same attitude that he showed today, we’re going to have a very, very good time!

  34. Gogah says:

    Well, Obviously I am excited about this signing, mainly because so many people are excited and so many clubs seem to rate him so highly.. I wonder what a Tello has to say about this buy though. Who cares? I hear you say, But If I had to really think about what I feel about this purchase, I don’t know, for me, I still feel like taking the 40M penalty gift and investing in real sporting needs, wouldn’t have been the worst thing. It feels (felt)like the more attractive option. Hopefully I’ll be proved wrong.

    • Kxevin says:

      Tello is even more of a badass on the right, is what he is thinking. Note that his last outing was on the right, and he was very, very good. There is also versatility. I wouldn’t mind seeing Tello play as a striker in the middle. Neymar can also play as a 10, or as a striker.

      And for me, Neymar isn’t a luxury purchase. He meets a need. We haven’t had a threat on the left side that didn’t come from an overlapping fullback, since Henry left. If we want to legitimately widen the pitch, you don’t do it by having Villa hugging the touch line. You do it by having a talented left winger out there, who can beat defenders, cut in and shoot or make the incisive pass.

      • Levon says:

        I agree that Neymar meets a need, and a very obvious one.

        However the price we are paying might mean that other needs will not get properly addressed. Therefor I look at this more as an acquisition for the future than for next season.

      • Gogah says:

        I get what you are saying.
        But on some level, I suspect that the supportive Cule in you wants to piece together a believable (to yourself first and in turn others) narrative to justify that this was a sporting purchase first. The skeptical Cule in me believes (now) that this is a marquee and marketing signing first. Of course we can always figure out how to use a skillful player. But all those things you spoke of- pace, quality on the wings, ability to cut in shoot / pass. I’m thinking Tello can do that stuff. Has done that stuff. Point is he simply doesn’t have that marketability. Funny thing is, inspite of barca’s incredible sporting success over the past few years, we have had very few marketable players. one or two tops. This changes the game quite a bit.

        • Levon says:

          In terms of raw talent, Tello is simply not on the same level as Neymar.

          • Kxevin says:

            Well, there is no supportive Cule in me. I support what is best for the club. You have been reading my writing long enough, and seen enough match ratings to know that I don’t coddle anyone.

            Is it a marketing signing? You bet. But if you watched the England match, and saw him skip past experienced Premiership defenders of the type that stymied us via Chelsea, it would be hard not to view this as a sporting signing first and foremost.

            Rosell wanted his show pony. Absolutely. Every president does. Laporta got Ronaldinho, and people didn’t know how HE was going to work out. And the next president will want his show pony. I’m just advocating patience, and giving a player who is wearing the colors of the club that we all love so much, a shot, as we would any other transfer. The amount of money paid shouldn’t negate that need for patience.

  35. Kxevin says:

    I confess to not seeing why so many are trying to find fault with a purchase that we don’t know anything about. The risk is significant. It’s safe to say that Rosell is staking his presidency on it, as well as a substantial chunk of the club’s revenues. (The over 3 years part of deal, however, means that any cash outlay, should Neymar fail, won’t be too daunting. Good business.)

    It is a sound marketing purchase, and on paper, a sound sporting decision. If the player turns out to be the next Robinho, you know what? That’s still a darn sight better than we have had on the left wing since Henry left. But for me, he’s already better than Robinho.

    I almost want to nickname him “Wait And See.” I know the price tag seems high (recall that Ibrahimovic was higher, and included Eto’o), and the risk is huge. But if his talent pans out and he becomes what he has the potential to become, the club is set for years to come.

    For this cule, that is worth the risk.

    • Levon says:

      57M is a lot of money for a player you want to nickname “Wait and See”, Kevin.

      For 57M I would expect “Oh Wait. You’re Gonna See”

      Personally I’m going with with “O Ney” Let’s hope he lives up to it.

      • Kxevin says:

        But IS it a lot of money? Would have been twice that at auction, and we would have lost to the likes of PSG and Citeh. And if he panned out, it would have been “We should have bought him, or maybe used Rosell’s Brazilian connection to make an early deal.”

        We did.

        Any transfer is a risk. Was Afellay worth 3 million, given how much he played for us? Hleb worth 17? And the marketing value of those players is, combined, about zero. So as with any transfer, we wait and see.

        People think that for 57m it should be a sure thing. But there are no sure things. How would Messi have turned out had he not come from La Masia, but instead was this guy we purchased from Boca Juniors? Would it be, “Oh, great …. another player with no aerial skills.”

        Messi would have cost significantly more than a signature on a napkin and some medical bills, and would have been just as uncertain, if we can envision that scenario outside of what we know about Messi at present.

        There would have been YouTube highlight reels, and people saying “Yeah, he can do it in Argentina, but he’s so small. Can he take hard fouls, and punishment! How many goals can he get?”

        With Sanchez, it was the same thing. Wait and see. We still don’t actually know what Fabregas can do, even as some want HIM gone. We are a difficult club to play for, and any transfer will require time, with the rare exception, such as Alves, who slotted right in, but that was because he did the exact same thing he was doing at Sevilla.

        Outside of those rare cases, they need time. What if, as many advocated, we’d dumped Henry after his first season? Or Abidal? You can only tell with time, which is true of any transfer, big or small.

        • 86ed says:

          I appreciate your optimism, Kevin, but 57mil is a grotesquely huge amount of money to pay for any player, let alone for a 21-year-old with nothing but hype and YouTube clips behind him.
          I find it scary how closely to Robinho the vibe I get from Neymar is.
          It is useless to mention Messi in this. Messi came for free, so we’d never know what might have happened had the same thing happened to him. There are no sure things, but 57mil on a ‘wait and see’ player with the defense in such a poor condition is worse than irresponsible, it’s mad.
          I hope Neymar succeeds, but I remain skeptical. At least the positive in all this is that, should Neymar fail, Rosell will go down with him.

          • Kxevin says:

            “Nothing but hype and YouTube clips behind him.” I ask you if that hype is what has him as an automatic starter for Brazil. He also has 29 goals for his national side in two seasons with them. In that same period, Messi has 19. He also has 8 assists, to Messi’s 7.

            No. He isn’t Messi. No way, no how. But he is a bit more than hype and YouTube clips, I daresay.

        • BA says:

          for 57m + 17m (Alex Song’s transfer fee), we very likely could have acquired both Thiago Silva and Javi Martinez last summer.

          that would have been a vastly better bit of business.

          i think i speak for at least a few when i say i’m opposed to the Neymar transfer on a few grounds:

          1. the money. 57m is a huge amount of money to spend on a young (Brazilian, with all the eccentricities and baggage thereof) player who’s even never played in Europe before. Ibrahimovic commanded a huge fee, but he was a proven winner in Europe and despite his dickishness a hardened professional. Neymar, by contrast, was the best player on a sub-par team in a league known for hype and without top-quality opposition. when was the last time a big club spent that much money on a player who’d never played in Europe? it’s unprecedented in the modern era.

          2. the priorities. given the amount of money spent on this player by a notoriously austere administration, i seriously worry that we’re not going to get the investment we need in our defense. by the end of the summer i hope to be proved wrong on this point, but we can ALL recognize by now that our defense, at least within the system Tito is apt to play, is simply not good enough. quality new defensive players are required and such a large outlay on a player who’s brought in to score goals, when we already have players capable of scoring goals, seems at least on the outset superfluous. unless Rosell is planning on a 100m summer, it also seems to mean we’ll have less investment in that area than many of us would like.

          3. the player himself. none of us know the lad, and it may be that he’s a model professional with a level head who can meet the pressure of being a big player for Barcelona and thrive. but as we’ve seen lately with Victor Valdes, that pressure is huge. if he underperforms, with all the expectation on him and after being told by a crowd of sycophants that his life (read: career and money) is on the line, how will he react? the notorious penalty incident with Dorival gives me pause: how will the club react if a struggling Tito is opposed over such an incident by Neymar, with all his monied interests behind him?

          i also worry about the circle-jerk of Nike “businessmen” behind this deal. Rosell being a corporate whore of the highest order and risking his legacy on Neymar’s signing means that he’ll be working hand in glove with his old employers at Nike to ensure Neymar is treated like royalty. i worry about potential divisions within the squad over preferential treatment and the strain it’s going to put on an already-tenuous relationship between Tito and the administration. i’m not Tito’s biggest fan but he deserves to be allowed to coach the team without such off-field pressures.

          4. the squad. we’re already set to lose David Villa as a result, something many of us have come to terms with but still seems a shame given that he so infrequently showed his immense talent. will Neymar displace Tello, our player with the best goals-to-minutes ratio last season? will he unsettle Thiago, who by common consensus had a solid season and is certainly a player for our future? what will happen to Alexis Sanchez, another player for our future who’s just starting to come good but who’s been playing in Neymar’s position?

          and the biggest question is: can he, on the pitch, both acquiesce to and work to benefit the best player in the world and undisputed center of our team, Leo Messi? these are massive, as-yet-unanswered questions.

          and until many of these factors are resolved or dissolved by time and achievement, i’m going to remain deeply skeptical of this transfer.

          • 86ed says:

            Ahhh, BA, Martinez, who had Iniesta under his thumb in the CL, and T. Silva would have been brilliant, but we don’t really need defenders, you see? We already have the best defense in the world, that hardly leaks goals in the league. It’s the attack that needs to be reinforced: 115 goals in a league season is way too low.

          • Kxevin says:

            If we don’t fix the symptoms that created imbalances at the defensive end of the pitch, it isn’t going to matter who we buy.

            Villa is gone, and should be. No offense to a great player, but his time with us is finished. As for Neymar displacing Tello, there is a slot on the right. Tello can play there, and does very well there. No problem with that, though Sanchez usually plays on the right, rather than the left, which will most likely be Neymar’s side as he is a left winger when seen at his best.

            As for Thiago, if he is unsettled and wants to leave, that is his right. But we can’t not take a chance on a player such as Neymar because someone might get their knickers in a bunch. Neymar isn’t a midfielder, so Thiago will be fine. His biggest problem will be meeting a standard set by Xavi and Iniesta.

            Sanchez is staying. The club has assured him that he is staying. Sanchez right, Messi center and Neymar left is an excellent attack.

            As for him working to benefit Messi, I hope that isn’t the case. If that is, we are just as Messidependent as we were before spending 57m on Neymar. No, I rather hope that his addition to the squad means a diversification of attack, which is vastly more important to me than even more goals for Messi. Messi doesn’t need more goals. Other players need more goals. Messi is just fine.

            What the TEAM needs is for Messi to not be the undisputed center of our team, but rather the team’s most dangerous attacker, buttressed by a world-class midfield and flanked by a pair of dangerous attackers. That is what I crave. Whether we get that for our 57m, we will just have to see.

          • htMillBay says:

            I sense a distressing bit of Eurocentrism. Brazilians know football. The hype around him is much more than it was with Robinho.

            Neymar is celebrated in Brazil because Brazilians know a transcendent football player when they see one given how many others they have seen grow up since the 50s.

            I can’t wait for all the euocentrics to eat crow.

      • lyd says:

        For me he costs 10+16M for now.

        Technically we got 24M to buy a CB, assuming no more players leaving (or no money made from sell) and the transfer budget being 50M.

        Unless the infamous Barca injury plague consumes him, the transfer looks like a brilliant piece of business and from a sporting one, its even better.

        No better place than Barca for an uncut gem like him.
        Wish him all the best!

  36. Alex says:

    Wanted to clear a few things up that might have been dubious, according to the presser, according to Bartmoeu:

    We paid a total of 57 mil. No more, no less. That includes the 10 mil “down” payment from last year. There was no personal fee paid to Neymar’s father. The 57 mil sum was split between 4 parties (Santos, DIS, TEISA, and one more I am not sure of). The exact split cannot be revealed at the request of those 4 parties. Two friendly matches were also part of the deal, one in Brazil against Santos and one in Barcelona against Santos (gamper maybe?), all proceeds will go to the aforementioned 4 parties.

    Neymar does not think he is worth 57 mil…..I bet Sandro cringed when he heard that.

  37. ciaran says:

    They are saying that the payments are spread over 3 years so it wont affect any of our other transfer plans. I am still expecting a huge push for Thiago Silva or David Luiz

    • htMillBay says:

      It only looks bad if one does not take into account sales of current and on loan players. I don’t see any of our on loan players coming back.

      As for sales, I’m a Villa fan but he will be gone. So might Valdes. Don’t be surprised if Alexis is sold too. His late season flourish might just have been enough to raise his price. Delofeau is waiting in the wings.

      Thiago might be sold if he really wants out. Cesc may be a surprise but not improbable. Then I see us going after Isco.

      There might still be enough left in the kitty for a Marquinhos. Would not be the biggest surprise in the world to me if Pique gets sold.

      We might end up at the end of the summer with quite a different squad.

      • Jim says:

        Not sure you sell the current CB of the NT in our position . When you add that he’s the only one with any height or idea of how you play CB it becomes even less likely.

      • Alexinho says:

        Chicken and the egg type of thing, the Thiago/Cesc situation and those rumors, which started several weeks ago, about Isco.

        Was surprised to hear those rumors, and even more that Cesc and Thiago are apparently weighing offers, though the latter does seem to validate the former. They know something we don’t?

        I like Isco but I think it would be disastrous if either Cesc or Thiago left, inconceivable if they both leave. Disappointed that so many of the sale rumors, with Villa being the huge exception, are Masia graduates, and that the purchase rumors are mostly expensive superstars. Doesn’t feel right.

  38. Jim says:

    I’m not sure. Thiago Silva is a great defender but doesn’t have age on his side for the money talked about. Never liked Luiz.

    My money is still on Marquinhos. Still what, 19? Will grow physically and as a player yet seems to be a little like Puyol in his approach. Fires his team up, full of energy, two footed, can tackle, pretty good in the air, quick enough for us, can hit a long ball. Occasional awkwardness on the ball but nothing that can’t be coached out of him. Final benefit would be that he wouldn’t expect to play every game which gives us a chance to give some mine to Masch.

      • BA says:

        i’d argue that we need TWO center-backs this summer. Abidal, remember, is gone; that leaves us with Pique, Puyol and Mascherano as “orthodox” center-backs (no, i don’t count Adriano). Barta may or may not have the confidence of the coaching staff, so we can’t count him either.

        that’s 3 established center-backs. three. that simply IS NOT ENOUGH for a team who plays 60 games a season, even notwithstanding the fact that one of those players is 35 and will be coming back from long-term injury. look at our competition in that area, in terms of defensive players who are comfortable at center-back:

        Madrid: 5: Varane, Pepe, Carvalho, Ramos, Albiol
        Bayern: 5: van Buyten, Dante, Boateng, Martinez, Badstuber
        Man. United: 5: Evans, Ferdinand, Vidic, Smalling, Jones

        see a pattern here? center-back is likely the most-injured position on the pitch, due to the reactive nature of the work they’re doing. we MUST have serious investment in that area if we’re going to be competitive, because despite what our technical staff seems to think, you DO need natural defenders who can defend in order to not shed goals left and right, as we’ve done this season. it’s utter madness to be as light in that area as we are already.

    • Levon says:

      I’m with Jim. If we spend the rest of our transfer kitty on Marquinhos I’ll be one happy camper.

    • lea_terzi says:

      I’ve been following Roma after LE’s stint there. Their fans consider Marquinhos one of their top three players, maybe even the top performer this past season. They are not thinking about selling, and the player is comfortable there (starting, learning, growing) for the moment and willing to bide his time before the big move. We might have to pay the full buyout clause for him (about 30 mil, if I’m not mistaken). Of course, if we’re seriously interested and use the full force of Barca charm on him, he might be unable to resist, especially considering our CB situation and real chances of starting CL games.

  39. 86ed says:

    I really can’t understand this administration. So much money used for fluff. Another light winger is brought in when that’s not at all what we need. I hope he succeeds, but I doubt it.
    Does this mean that the defense will once again be ignored?

    • Alexinho says:

      It sure feels like it to me.

      The CB situation now feels a lot like last summer’s–the rumors are frequent and ongoing but the quotes consistently make them sound impossible.

      Thiago Silva and Javi Martinez were both passed on because their buyout clauses were too expensive, which was the case from the get-go. What happens? PSG and Bayern respectively pony up and get their man. Both had great seasons.

      Now Thiago Silva is the main transfer rumor? Impossible. And all the “news” reinforces this, though the rumors will continue all summer.

  40. The__K__Man says:

    My 2 cents…I don’t care how much we payed for him…If we payed 20 million and he flopped I’d be disappointed at the amount money we wasted, if we payed 150 million and he was one of the main reasons we win 1 or 2 champions leagues in the coming few years, he’d be bargain of the century for me…Only his performances and his hard work will decide whether he was cheap or overpriced..so friggin WAIT AND SEE everyone, before you judge.
    As for people who think he doesn’t fill a need..COME ON!!! Did you even watch our games vs Milan, Bayern and PSG? We need someone like him who’s not afraid to take on his opponent and try an ambitious attacking move..We’ve been so toothless this year, it’s been sickening to watch.
    Also, Tito already confirmed we’re looking for a CB, so calm down!

  41. lyd says:

    Frankly, it gives me immense pleasure to go one up over Flo-Pee and by extension EE! This doesn’t happen quite often.

    Neymar is a star signing alright, but certainly not the “galactico” type, as he is yet to prove himself in the bigger stage. EE wanted him for the same marketing issues as Rosell did, (See I put Rosell and EE in the same sentence! hah!) but also to prevent us from becoming into a stronger team.

    This new kid do not guarantee success (success translates to CL win for most cules it seems) of course, but what he does, purely on sporting terms, is that he adds variety to the front 3. Much needed! Doesn’t bring Plan B (which doesn’t exist like Cesc’s natural position) into the table but strengthens Plan A. He ensures continuity of the away form we showed this season, compared to last season, where games are won with moments of genius and tactical ploys. Hopefully, we’d be much better on the counter attacks as this raw-Mar has superb brain speed already, I think. Also, we don’t have to ever see Don Andres on the left wing. And in games without Messi, we can play Alexis on the CF and raw-Mar on the left and Pedro/Tello/Cesc on the right to create a lethal attacking front.

    Having said all that, it’ll certainly take him a while to adjust to the general homogenous game of ours. But more I think about the prospect, I become more optimistic regarding the overall outcome.

  42. KEVINO17 says:

    Hell, Barca will probably make an extra 10 – 20 mill just in merchandising before the next season starts (just making up figures here). That means they didn’t pay much more than 40 mill. Sounds like a bargain to me (economically, at least).
    I think his great contribution will be his ability to drive into the box (like Iniesta). Once Barca get into the box, with the ball at someone’s feet, their lack of size suddenly becomes an advantage rather than a disadvantage.

  43. Kxevin says:

    Retrospect is a game that can always be played with transfers. Let’s say we’d paid the price for Javi Martinez, or Thiago Silva. They would still have been caught by the Keystone Kops kraziness (see what I did there?) of our defense this season, as the biggest complexity wasn’t CBs but the exploitable corridor presented by a roaming quokka, and teams finding a way to directly attack Busquets. No two-man back line, I don’t care who is in it, is not going to concede goals.

    Further, cules almost wet themselves when the Alves price came down the pike. History has shown that number to be a bargain. 45m for Silva or Martinez, and people would have flipped their flops. But their teams got their prices, because they said “It’s a bidding war. First one with the money gets the player.” Bayern and PSG ponied up. We tried to negotiate. And there you go.

    I don’t believe that had we purchased Silva or Martinez, that our results would have been materially different this season, because all of the rest of the issues would still have been in place, most notably the Messi injury. Sure, the aggregate might have been 4 or 5-0 instead of 7-0. Still a loss.

    So what now? Ideally, I would like to team to purchase not one, but two defenders. We have to get CB depth, and replace Abidal, not to mention Puyol, who I am doubting right now will be all that useful this season. I have no idea who those CBs will be, but I will tell you one thing: if we get Marquinhos, he will come at a fee that will make people blanch again.

    But that’s life at a big club. Fact of the matter is that Rosell did a nice piece of business, particularly by spreading out the payments over three years. Not only does it not have us all in at the beginning, but it leaves the club with fiscal flexibility in the coming summer. We had a 50m budget, exclusive of the 10 that we already paid Santos, which was already accounted for. Add sales to that and with the right kinds of deals, we could be looking at close to 100m this summer.

    50 in the kitty now
    10-15 for Valdes
    10-15 for Villa
    10-15 for all the players on loan right now, if we’re lucky.

    That kinda money does a lot of business, in a world where we need a defender or two, and a keeper.

    • 86ed says:

      Are you telling me that you think even with Silva and Martinez instead of Song and Bartra against Bayern we would still have lost 5-0? That would have been a managerial problem. Any team that could have had both Martinez and Silva in the team and still manages to ship 5 goals has not hired the right coach. The problem is the defense, Kevin, and it will continue to be unless Barca signs competent defenders. We missed the train last year because it was too expensive, so we spent almost that exact amount of money on fluff.

      • Kxevin says:

        Yes I am. People are assigning superpowers to players.A I note above, if tactics collapse, the defenders matter not. If we are caught out with a two-man back line, we will leak goals. Thiago Silva is not an octopus. Nor is Javi Martinez.

        Silva shines in the context of a more traditional back line. We saw it at Milan, saw it at PSG, see it at Brazil. If he is so amazing, how did we advance agaibst PSG with a gimp and some associates? Javi Martinez couldn’t stop us from owning Athletic when he was there.

        The difference is the surrounding players as well as the tactical situation they find themselves in, a situation that would be different than what they would be getting with us.

        You assert that Neymar is “fluff.” Let me ask you this: How do we get goals from the left wing next season, if we don’t want to keep leaking goals because Alba is caught out and chasing? Silva isn’t the answer. Nor is Martinez. Neymar is. We have tried all sorts of ways to get goals from the left since Henry left, without sacrificing a defender to the attack. None have worked. What if Neymar does? He is the answer to a more pressing need than a CB, but for my money, people are insisting that buying defenders will stop leaking goals, instead of looking at precisely HOW the goals were leaked and assessing the root cause of the deficiency.

        • 86ed says:

          Well so long as we’re clear: You’re willing to spend 57mil on the possibility that Neymar might help the left side. I’m saying that we should have used that money to reinforce the defense. We won’t reinforce our defence by signing another light-weight winger. Goals were leaked because our press doesn’t work. We are no longer pressing the opposition by docrtine. So why not sign defenders and get back to the traditional defense?

          • Jim says:

            To my mind goals were leaked because
            1. We were caught upfield with only two defenders back
            2. We had a different CB pairing every week so no idea. Of cover or where to hold the line
            3. Lack of height led to being unable to clear properly
            4. Some downright bad defending where players didnt go with their man.

            The press would have helped but not having it didnt mean that we had to concede.

      • Rami says:

        Our problem isn’t defense, It’s Defense and Offense, Looking at 7-0 and saying this is a defensive problem, Is literally like seeing with one eye, Because there is a very shocking number just next to it, It’s ZERO.
        In san siro, With messi there, We didn’t get a single shot on target!, With bayern were just as pathetic, If not more, Same thing against RM in camp nou, If it weren’t for alba, It would’ve been 3-0.
        Defense and Offense are both interrelated, When the offense fails, It forces the defense to commit more players forward, Exposing even more holes in an already damaged defense, And when the defense fails, It puts more pressure on the team, And they’re also forced to commit more players forward and exposing more space, It’s positive-feed back, Like rolling a bowling ball down a surface balanced by a pivot, The more the ball rolls down to one side, The more it tips the surface to that side, The faster the ball moves in that side, Repeat, Repeat, Until the whole thing collapses
        Offense and defense They both need fixing, Nothing is black and white.

        • 86ed says:

          It all starts with the defensive side of the game. Bayern went and signed both Martinez and Dante and they won everything there is to win. It’s the strength of the defense that gives confidence to the attack, not vice-versa. It won’t matter how strong your forward line is if the D sucks, for tough teams will keep it tighter than we. Bayern won because their defense was stonger than our attack, and their attack made mincemeat of our defense. But they signed the players they needed. We won’t fix the attack with Neymar, but we could have helped the defense with a good signing there.

          • Rami says:

            “It all starts with the defense”
            “Defense that gives confidence to the attack, not vice-versa”
            So when our forwarders can’t create a decent chance, And tito is forced to push alba and alves even more forward to support them, That’s not affecting the defense?
            No hard feelings, And no disrespect, But the fact you’re insisting taking an ‘extreme’ or one sided view on this issue, It seems to me your more interested in looking ‘right’ than getting to the bottom of the team’s hinderments, With some balanced views.
            I say it again, Both the defense and offense need fixing, Solving just one of them, Won’t get us far.

          • Kxevin says:

            Wholeheartedly agree with Rami. It’s what I have been saying from the start. Most teams begin with defense. We begin with attack. Always have, always will. Our defense starts with attack and possession if we aren’t attacking. So we will always fix the attack first, then focus on the defense. Always.

          • 86ed says:

            Times have changed, Kevin, and we must change with them.
            Same old same old won’t cut it for much longer. I refuse to be bound by ‘always’. We shouldn’t ‘always’ attack first, ask questions later. We should instead adapt to the situation. It’s especially naive to play that way against teams like Real and now Bayern, who know what we’ll do and can counter it with their eyes closed. Hell, even Milan knew what they had to do but lacked the personnel to carry it off completely. This is precisely the reason why we stank against important teams. We played against those teams the same way we did against the smaller teams.
            I know it will make no difference what I write. Nada will change, really, though radical change is needed.

        • Alexinho says:

          Great point, probably captures my sentiment best.

          If our, let’s call it unique, defensive approach was possible because of indirect, short-distance play that allowed all players to press and a deep-lying position for Busquets that allowed him the most space possible, sometimes I feel like we sacrificed this and scapegoated our CBs to play a more direct “vertical” style that gives Messi a poacher-like amount of goal-scoring opportunities. Is it regressive to say that I’d like to see a return of the kind of style that allowed for a six-second rule? Is it still possible with today’s squad?

          I would perhaps say that our defenders are fine, perhaps one warm-body short of sufficient and nothing more–but on the other hand, there was only one key difference personnel-wise between Guardiola’s Barca and Tito’s: Eric Abidal. That’s the one thing suggesting to me that we need a better quality of defender, not just a tactical fine-tuning.

  44. Nick says:

    I too think it’s a lot for Neymar even if we really needed him. Hopefully what they’re saying about our remaining transfer budget for this summer is true.

    Can someone please explain why we kept Adriano “The Glass Man” Correia?

    • lea_terzi says:

      Basically, to be a good influence on Neymar.

    • Alexinho says:

      Adriano’s a beast. First half of the season, when we looked like we could win the treble again, he played his God-loving mind out, honestly looked like he was about to bench Alves.

      Adriano isn’t the glass man. Abou Diaby is the glass man. Give me a shout when he misses half the season and has the qualities and squad competiton that would otherwise warrant him a starting spot, not, what, ten matches? and he’s competing with a player who has been the trophy-winning starter over the last four seasons.

      Given the other transfer priorities, it would have been a disaster to have to find a two-in-one LB/RB as good as Adriano. The days of Puyol filling in at either position in a pinch are gone.

  45. TITO says:

    I don’t see anyone anywhere (not just here) complaining about 100 mill paid for Ronaldo at that time.
    Everybody is talking only about the goals that he scored over these 3 years in RM.
    No price is high enough if it serves it’s purpose.

    • garry says:

      ^True that.
      Lets just “Wait and See”…

      • Kxevin says:

        Actually, were I am RM supporter I would be complaining about the price. A couple of Ligas, a Copa, no Champions Leagues. That’s a lot of money to still not triumph in Europe.

        • yassir says:

          @kxevin: What do you mean by a couple of ligas, its just one.

        • lea_terzi says:

          Can’t blame Thong Boy for the systemic failure of EE. To give credit where it’s due, he was a top performer and professional during his time there, not to mention all the shirt sales. A lot of galacticos lost hunger and let themselves go in the circus that is the capital, but not Ronaldo.

        • barca96 says:

          Kxevin, why would CR7 be a failure when he won La Liga? Do you consider out season a failure? Or *touch wood * we win La Liga again next season but not the CL next season, would this Neymar purchase be a failure to?

          And football is a team sport so it’s really hard to judge THE CR7 transfer on his team team success which relies on 20 odd other players.

          If we solely look at his productivity during his time at Madrid, then I would say that it’s been worth every penny!!

          • BA says:

            Ronaldo, odious as he is, has scored 201 goals in 199 games for Madrid. pretty hard to fault numbers like that for the team’s lack of trophies.

            in fact, i’d say most Madrid supporters would say that Ronaldo has been the only worthwhile expenditure of the New Galacticos era. Ricky Kaka and his €65 million, however….

          • Kxevin says:

            Uh, where did I call Ronaldo a “failure?” What I said was, “Were I am RM supporter I would be complaining about the price.” It was a staggering number. No, one player can’t change everything, and money doesn’t buy championships. But everyone is riding the Neymar deal like a swaybacked mule, for the price we paid. But as with Ronaldo, the price was what the price was. The question becomes value for dollar. Is one Liga for all that money fair value?

            Put another way, Ibrahimovic is widely considered to have been a failure at Barça. Yet we won a Liga with him, and he was a big part of that. So was he a failure, or is the value question at issue here?

            The biggest problem with the Neymar price is that we don’t know what the value is. It’s all risk right now, and people seem averse to that risk. The original comment, that nobody batted an eyelash for the astounding price paid for Ronaldo by RM, now gains some context in the trophy count.

            Individual player or not, a player will be judged by silver. Look at the people saying that Messi won’t be truly great until he wins a World Cup, by way of example.

            It’s why I say wait and see with Neymar. If he flames out, we can all sit around and chatter about why. But if he succeeds, that 57m will seem like a bargain, just as people say that the Ronaldo transfer fee has been justified by his production. It’s a knife that cuts a lot of ways, right?

        • barca96 says:

          Ah famn my bad kxevin. One of my beefs with typing on a mobile is that I would have to exit first in order to scroll up. Due to lea’s comment being below yours, what I read there was more in my memory than the original comment (your comment) itself.

  46. Reaper says:

    I completely agree with the acquisition of Neymar – 57M may sound like a astronomical amount of money at the moment but his upside is just HUGE to say the least.

    As long as he keeps his head down and fulfills even 80% of that potential, we will have acquired a super super football player.

    On the defenders topic – the only names that keep coming up are T. Silva, Hummels and Marquinhos. T.Silva is clearly the best defender in the world at the moment IMO because he fulfills the 3 key requirements needed to play in any defense (including ours) –
    1. Height (AND being good in the air),
    2. Quick (especially the initial burst of pace that goes a long way between nipping an attack in the bud versus running after an attacker), and the most important,
    3. Having the vision to sense danger (Abi was outstanding here) and using 1. and 2. to thwart the danger.

    IMO, even if we have to pay over the top for T.Silva, it would be worth it because he is an athlete like Abi and should hold on to most of his pace for the next 2-3 years.

  47. Judas Pissed says:

    Rumours here in the UK that Barca have offered Chelsea £40mil for David Luiz AND Branislav Ivanovic. I would be pleased if that deal went through.

  48. ooga aga says:

    this might be another sad off-season in which ROBBIE KEANE does not come to the camp nou.

  49. Ultraculé says:

    I confess that I too, am not sold yet, on the Neymar purchase, but will definitely give him the benefit of the doubt and all the patience and support (now that he IS a Barca player).

    As for Rosell’s and the staff’s ideas for the future of our sporting project, I think we may have to wait until August to really see where all this is going. As Kevin notes, we need not one, but 2 CBs (Abidal gone and Puyol ageing). I am more excited to see what kind of defenders we will sign, because we Must sign them, atleast now, a couple of years too late.

  50. lea_terzi says:

    Reading all the comments here gave me a new perspective on what’s happening to the club.
    The Bayern series showed we are a team in transition. The unprecedented success of the years past left the team (including the coaching staff and core players) mentally and physically exhausted (but not less hungry), while other clubs around Europe have been investing, catching up and catching on tactically. Changes in tactics and personnel are need to stay on top.
    The historical Liga run was really a blessing, extending the window Tito and Co have for an evolutionary (phasing some players out while trying out youngsters / new signings + tactical tweaks) rather than revolutionary (breaking up the team) change.
    Xavi, Puyol, Villa, Dani Alves, King Eric, Vitor Valdes, the cornerstones of our 2011 Champions League run, are leaving / becoming less influential (their situations are different, but our defense, midfield and attack are weaker and need adjustment as a result). Messi is played differently by defenses. The blueprint needs to change, because there will never be another Xavi or Puyol (or Pep), and it’s just impossible to find replacements for the best players in the world, have them adjust to the system / adjust the system around them and expect the same transcendent level of play during one or two or three seasons. Let’s not forget that we don’t have quite the same level of quality in La Masia, and less room for trial and error for the youngsters. The team will never be the same, but I think it is evolving and will still be great to watch for years to come.
    We all know how great Valdes Abidal Puyol Pique Alves Busquets Xavi Iniesta Villa Messi Pedro starting lineup was.
    The jury is our on Ter Stegen Alba Marquinhos Pique Montoya Busquets Thiago/Cesc/Iniesta Neymar Messi Alexis, or variations of it. What I find promising is that we got Alexis and Cesc in 2012 and gave them ample time to adjust. We got Alba and Song (who is a great player, but should’ve been a defender) the following year. Signed Neymar and are linked to a young defender and goalkeeper this year. Gave chances to Thiago, Tello and to a lesser extent Montoya and Bartra. We passed on Thiago Silva and several experienced strikers. The average age of our signings tells you that we’re not exactly in a win now mode, but building for the future.
    (FYI, I’m aware of all the failed signings, systematic overpaying and criminal inability to sign a defender through the years. I also get this nasty slimy feel from Rosell, he of the shady deals. But our transfer record under him has been, mostly, top young talent below market price.)
    It’s impossible to predict whether a signing will work out, how a youngster will develop, and what the future will bring. But I salute the direction this club is moving in and its ability to get me excited for every season. Barca is stubbornly sticking to its credo of style, flair, football IQ passing, attacking, sparkling game. And I cannot fault it.

  51. lyd says:

    Thiago Silva, Martinez or Superman/Flash/Hulk were never going to solve our defensive problems dramatically this season.

    We need to address the relevant issues regarding how we used to play during ’08-’11, how the opponents adjusted to our game ’11-’13.

    It is generally accepted that no system is perfect but Pep’s Barca reached a near perfection during ’08-’10. During the ’11/’12 season, I recall many cules complained about the over use of rotation and formation/tactics, the everlasting obsession with possession resulting in the lack of verticality, which hence resulted in the dip of the away form in liga&Cl, especially liga. Many questioned the desire/hunger of the players who’ve won everything (concrete and the abstract from fans and professional footballers) that there was to win. We ended up with 91 points, 29 goals conceded only, way better than EE this time. lol!

    Now this season we dramatically improved things to win the liga by a record margin. But seriously guys, adding verticality with two full backs for e.g., were going to cost us defensively, right? You can’t expect a team, any team for that matter, to be defensively sound if they keep on losing possession and concede corners at regular intervals. So ask yourselves why are we losing possession often? (Hint: Pressing problems)

    Remember we started well vs Bayern, even though the center of pitch was flooded (intentionally?). Its only when we conceded those needless corners in succession, they smelled blood. And the fact that we made it seem like we were only playing for a draw, or Spain-esque 1-0 win with an injured Messi, didn’t help our cause. And the two wrongly allowed goals. Jeez!

    And the collective fitness, my goodness! What’s up with the fitness scheme, anyone? We generally peak in Nov/dec, and then go through Hlebuary to peak again for the last stages. What happened to all that? Although we did peak in March with that 4-0 Milan but I strongly feel the games vs Fra and Bol hampered things a way too much.

    Did the height, physique of Ramos, Pepe, Varane made EE invincible in set pieces this season? EE conceded 42 goals this time under a coach who is known for his defensive approach. Till March 20th, EE have had conceded 48 per cent of their goals from set-pieces (the second highest in La Liga) and 22 per cent from corners (the highest in the division).

    Yeah so coming back to the point, just buying world class defenders isn’t the solution unless we don’t address the points I stated at the beginning of this comment.

    Say if you catch a fever and immediately decide to take anti-biotics. Sure it would cure the fever immediately but at the cost of immunity. You don’t want to lose that, for the sake of continuity and the greater good!

    Additional thoughts: Call me crazy, but can’t we hire Bielsa (if Athletic don’t want him anymore) for a 1-2 month master class and advisor, to work with our pressing game? Maybe he and Tito might work well together! *wishful thinking*
    I also hope for Jurgen Klopp to come here around ’15/’16 when his contract expires at BVB. In that way we can have our very own “galacti-coach” era with Van Gaal > Rijkaard > Pep + Tito > Tito > Tito + Bielsa > Kloppo. :)

    • lea_terzi says:

      Bielsa is known for building teams that press furiously and burn/fizzle out after a season. Do we really want that?

      • barca96 says:

        @ lea

        Did you come to that conclusion from his career or just from his time at Athletic. I. I’m not sure of his past so I would be curious to know.

      • lyd says:

        lea, no. I didn’t imply that. btw Bielsa is known for many things. Good things. Saying that he burns teams off is just harsh.

        I’d hire him as a an analyst (short term, half a season perhaps at best) to address issues and suggest improvements and variations. Tito needs a talented assistant.

        Where is Oscar Garcia?

        • barca96 says:

          He left Israel. Don’t think that he or Lucho would like to be an assistant though as they left to be the no. 1. And I’m not sure they would even look up to Tito as they both were professionals unlike karanka and mourinho. Karanka must be mad at Mourinho for not taking him to London with him. Lol.

          Would love them to be the no. 2 though.

          • lyd says:

            Barca needs a genuine no2 (who is ready to take over from Tito in due time) more than they need a CB! That’s my opinion (controversial, I know!)

            Lucho/Oscar G. would be great as no2! Worth having either of them for a season, as we are still unsure about Tito’s potential health.

            Whose Karanka again? :P
            Moumou did something very different this time, you know. He broke up with Carval-ho. He’s off to Monaco, which means an end of an era for Mou-val-ho.

    • barca96 says:

      @ lyd

      When I read Superman = Dwight Howard. When I read Flash = Dwayne Wade. When I read Hulk = Hulk? Usually you give these names to marquee players but Hulk…Haha.

      • lyd says:

        Hulk = Givanildo Vieira de Souza!

        • barca96 says:

          I know who Hulk is but he’s just not at that level where you give that type of nick names too, yet. You gotta earn it.

          I wish they never gave Messi the flea. Doesn’t sound super human at all lol.

          • lyd says:

            They called him Hulk at Japan as he looks like one. haha! He earned it there. btw you don’t really want a superhero Hulk in a football team. Hulk loses temper, creates carnage. Really counter-productive!

            I love La Pulga/The Flea nick for Messi. Very appropriate with how he changes directions/accelerates in short space and time.

  52. barca96 says:

    Oh and the players at Athletic and Barca are of different caliber. Pep used the aggressive pressing method from 08 to 11.

    • lyd says:

      Aggressive pressing is not the only type that there is. Great tacticians can adjust their game, introduce variations, with the set of players they are given with.

      Oh the Bielsa of Barca would be of a different caliber. Oh yes!

  53. Archie says:

    Buy Ter Stegen while price is depressed by unfortunate event.

  54. Kxevin says:

    Physio Emili Ricart is leaving the club. For those wondering who he is and why it isn’t the best news in the world, he brought back from injuries Villa, Iniesta, Abidal, Xavi, etc. It’s a weird one.

    • Kxevin says:

      The club is also not going to use the buy option on Luis Alberto, who is on loan from Sevilla. Apparently he has a very good offer from Liverpool on the table.

      Speaking of B, Eusebio still doesn’t know if he is staying or going.

      • blitzen says:

        Luis Alberto is a fantastic player and has had a terrific season with the B team. I would have loved to have seen the club use the option to buy him & promote him to the first team. He’s not that expensive and would have had a lot to offer. But since we have spent an insane amount of money on Neymar, there was obviously no question of that happening. Sevilla may well opt to keep him rather than sell. Unai Emery came to see him play at the Mini Estadi and reportedly likes him very much. He will do well wherever he ends up.

  55. CuleToon says:

    Something is rotten in the club…

    Some of the players —heavyweights— have already expressed their strong disagreement with the dismissal of Emili Ricart, his physical therapist, «physical recoverer» and «emotional shoulder». Apparently, his sin is that he came with Pep.

    Even the media supporting Rossell —specially RAC-1 sports programs— have criticized what they see as a heavy-handed interference in the locker room.

    Such manoeuvres don’t bode well…

    • Rami says:

      The reports suggest that ‘Emili Ricart’ is going to bayern, The most likely explanation is that bayern offered him a better deal than he already has with us, And our club wasn’t willing to improve his contract.

      • CuleToon says:

        I’m sorry I’ve talked of «dismissal», Rami: What the Catalan media —mainly pro-Rosell— say is that Rosell & Co don’t want to renew Ricart’s contract, not that Ricart doesn’t want to renew it, and the unease of the players in view of this decision seems to confirm this.

        What I don’t doubt, as you say, is that Ricart will end up with Pep at Bayern. The same will happen, it seems, with two Barça «scouts».

        Other related rumour (I’ve looked just a little for confirmation but found nothing so far) is that la Masia staff is being «renewed» (following the departure of Òscar Garcia last year and of couple of other Masia managers the year before).

        As a well respected sports journalist-analyst says (Martí Perarnau), Rosell’s takeover as a president has lasted three years, and now we’re beginning to see were he’s going to. One thing es clear, though: He wants to get rid of anything/anyone having to do with Laporta/Pep/Cruyff.

        Oh, and «El Mundo Deportivo», one of the most pro-Rosell papers (part of the Godó media group, together with RAC-1 radio and 8TV), has intensified recently its efforts in what seems a long-term strategy (until the next election) to discredit Pep.

        I’m sorry that I sound like a bird of ill omen with my last posts, but I fear the coming of a dark period in our Barça (and watching the «Red Wedding» last night hasn’t cheared me up!).

        • blitzen says:

          I’m not disputing that the players are very unhappy about Ricart not being renewed, I’m sure they are, as many of them have a close relationship with him, but I haven’t seen any quotes from them talking about it. What are your sources?

          • Jim says:

            Yeah, I follow most of the English speaking news about the club and something like this would be news but I haven’t seen it anywhere. I’d be keen to know who had said something and where. Doesn’t sound like something our first teamers would do openly.

        • Rami says:

          I don’t think anyone should take any thing as true before hand, When it comes to media and papers, I like to deal with facts, The part where there is uneasiness with the players about this decision, Did that come from statement from the players themselves?, I don’t think so, The more we stick to facts and evidence, The better.
          About this Pep/Cruyff vs Rosell, Conspiracy thing, While it’s no doubt a hot topic between most cules for a while now, But unfortunately, It’s baseless, And without any real evidence, Apart from some good imagination, Here is a statement from pep himself saying he had a good relationship with rosell and laporta:
          http://www.europapress.es/deportes/futbol-00162/noticia-futbol-copa-guardiola-he-tenido-maravillosa-relacion-laporta-rosell-20120524230140.html

          And i emphasize again, This is directly from pep guardiola mouth, Not through a middle man journalist, Of course there is no reason why pep hadn’t lied about this, And there were serious problems with rosell, But there is no reason for me to believe that pep would lie, Unless there is a proof, Which there isn’t any, So i just have to take his words for it.
          By the way, Pep once had to also deny bad relationship ‘rumors’ with laporta, But most cules don’t second question pep words about laporta, But they do when it comes to rosell, And that doesn’t sound fair or logical.
          http://www.superdeporte.es/futbol/2010/01/22/guardiola-niega-mala-relacion-laporta/84788.html

        • barca96 says:

          @ Cule toon

          Can you give me examples of Rosell discrediting Pep? This sounds like another conspiracy theory to me.

          And you do know that Zubi was part of the Dream Team which included Pep… And about the staff leaving us to join Pep, it could be just because they prefer to work with Pep and perhaps they sensed that Bayern will have more success than us in the near future.

          There are many ways to look at it other than just pointing the finger to Rosell for everything that’s not rosy.

  56. K_legit in Oz says:

    Anyone got links for the revista season review?

  57. blitzen says:

    Speaking of Neymar, apparently his 40% stakeholders are threatening to sue Barça. And also, that 10M prepayment Bartomeu admitted the club made? Not allowed under FIFA rules.

    http://www.marca.com/2013/06/05/en/football/barcelona/1370414067.html

    • Kxevin says:

      Idle threat from a disgruntled third party whose pound of flesh wasn’t big enough. This is why these kinds of deals are skanky.

      If the club was stupid enough to do an advance in a way that ran afoul of FIFA dictates, they deserve whatever they get. But I’m guessing that our lawyers weren’t that silly, since the news/word of the 10m payment has been bounding hither and yon for months.

  58. Kxevin says:

    Ter Stegen says that he isn’t going anywhere this summer, and that’s all there is to say about that.

    • Kxevin says:

      And EMD says we aren’t signing Silva (cost), Marquinhos (height) or Luiz (batshit crazy). The Mathieu rumors are picking up steam, and you’d better believe any player who can, is trying their damndest to get out of Valencia.

      • BA says:

        Mathieu is 29, and we have adequate cover for left-back. what on Earth would we possibly want him for?

        i’m looking around Europe and just not seeing anybody with the qualities we need in defense right now. it’d be nice (and i know the BFB staff has alot on their hands at present) to have a comprehensive post on some possible transfer targets, either via rumour or as fit for our squad.

        oh, and another BFB request: add Twitter handles to the About section for our contributors?

  59. CuleToon says:

    blitzen, barça96: I’m sorry I can’t record-transcript the daily evening and night sports programs on RAC-1 («Primer toc», 19:00-21:00 BCN time, and «No ho diguis a ningú», 23:00-01:00 BCN time) and what their various «tertulianos» (regular guests-commentators) say. There are also Catalunya Ràdio sports programs, mainly «El club de la mitja nit» (23:00-01:00 BCN time) with some regular guests-commentators in common with RAC-1 and a lot of their own.

    Although they call themselves «sports» programs, 80-90 per cent of them are devoted to Barça. And they have a lot of air-time to fill: RAC-1 sports programs amount to 4 hours and 15 minutes every day of the week (more on weekends), and its morning and afternoon magazines talk A LOT about Barça as well (surprise! with some of the same guests-commentators). As for CAT Ràdio, it has to fill about 3 hours of sports programs every day (more during the weekends), and its morning and afternoon magazines also talk a lot about Barça.

    So, blitzen, I’ve heard those comments about the players and Ricart recently on those programs, specially on the night ones (I change stations on the fly). Of course, to believe me or not is up to you.

    Barça 96, I don’t recall Rosell discrediting Pep directly. He has no need to, having, as he has, the whole Godó group doing it for him; here’s just a sample, the last piece on Pep —that I’m aware of— from El Mundo Deportivo Director himself, Santi Nolla:

    http://www.mundodeportivo.com/20130525/fc-barcelona/pep-no-ha-felicitado-al-barca_54374377635.html

    This same «theme» or message about «how nasty Pep has been with Tito» has been duly repeated several times these last weeks on the main RAC-1 (Godó group) sports programs, «Primer toc» and «No ho diguis a ningú».

    Anyway, seeing that two BFB respected veterans like you give Rosell the benefit of the doubt, maybe I’ll have to reconsider my stance towards him (Mmmm… on second thoughts, I think not; but it goes without saying that I respect absolutely both you and your opinions. This is BFB after all).

    • blitzen says:

      That’s a pretty hostile response for such a simple question. I never said I didn’t believe you, just the opposite. But I would like to know who said what, so if you had a link to a newspaper article, for example, I would have liked to read it for myself.

    • blitzen says:

      And I notice in your detailed response you still didn’t mention any specifics of players making statements about Ricart. They are mostly off with their NTs right now, not in Barcelona.

      • CuleToon says:

        Blitzen, really, I didn’t mean to sound hostile! Please forgive me if I gave that impression to you (perhaps a couple of :) here and there would have worked better).

        As for some player speaking publicly against the non-renewal of Ricart, I haven’t heard any, nor do I expect to hear one. I don’t expect that any player makes a public statement against such club decisions, and, frankly, I’m a little surprised that you do.

        What they do in such cases is speak through their friends-contacts in the press, which then pass it on in those mostly gossipy programs saying something like, «I’m told that some important players are very discontent with the non-renewal of Ricart’s contract». Then it’s up to us to give more or less credit to what they say according to their history and/or their perceived credibility. That’s all.

      • CuleToon says:

        Oh, and since I don’t want to give links to Marca or As for obvious reasons, here’s a link to an article by Rut Vilar, a Catalan —and veteran, although young— journalist with strong links to Catalunya ràdio (but she puts the Blame of Ricart’s departure on Tito, go figure!).

        http://deportes.terra.com.ar/equipos/espana/barcelona/tito-borra-las-ultimas-huellas-del-guardiolismo,5ea47c06a631f310VgnVCM5000009ccceb0aRCRD.html

        Please note those words, «Fuentes del vestuario apuntan que…» (Sources inside the locker room comment that…). Very typical.

        Now, wether this people is to be believed or not, is another question. As I said, that depends on the credibility you give to them (in this case, and based on what I know of her, I’d give Rut a credibility of 7 in a scale of 10; just a way of saying, of course, since credibility is not something you can quantify).

        • blitzen says:

          Interesting. She very specifically blames Tito for not wanting people close to Guardiola at the club.

          • CuleToon says:

            Just this morning, at 7:58 am BCN time, in his daily comment on sports, the head of sports at Ràdio Barcelona-SER Catalunya (Cadena SER, which pertains to the same media group as Canal+ Spain, El Pais or As) has mentioned explicitly Andrés Iniesta as one of those heavyweight players really pissed off by the non-renewal of Ricart.

        • fotobirajesh says:

          Friend, I would like to thank you for all your comments and info you are giving here.
          I have had this feeling for long, ever since Rosell sued Laporta and took away that honorary position of Cruff, that Rossell would go to the extremes to erase the Cruff/Pep/Laporta legacy/style/hallmark/whatever they can, and bring upon his own legacy. Appointing Tito and signing Neymar for this big sum should be part of it. I, as a fan, hope Neymar is successful.

          It is easy to say all this is conspiracy theory and bla bla. But, Pep departure, Valdes announcement – wasnt there something like club denying him the coach he wanted or something like that, Keita, not signing Thiago Silva last season against Tito wish, Abidal, all these B players treated shabbily – eg. Muniesa etc, is differently a change in attitude. As Kxevin stated, we are hardly Mes que un club, under Rossell. What would be the end of all this.

          You seem to be another person, like Nzm, to give us info from Barcelona. Thank you friend.

          • CuleToon says:

            Thank you for your words. The truth is that I wish as hard as anyone that our team keeps amazing us with its play and winning silver (and I also wish Neymar to be successful; I can’t wait seeing him and Messi in action!).

            But the thing is that, due to my own experience with things Barça (since the 70′s) I feel uneasy about all these recent symptoms. I’m not talking conspiracy theories here: I’m talking about the age-old struggle among political and economic powers in Catalonia to gain control of our club, because Barça is the main civil institution in our country.

            Many of us saw this coming —again— when, amidst all the manoeuvres against Laporta during the end of his term, this photograph began to appear in some underground media (although it ended appearing in mainstream papers); just scroll a little to see it:

            http://www.racocatala.cat/forums/fil/131044/conspiracio-dels-onze-artur-mas-participa-reunio-estrategica-aturar-lindependentisme?pag=1

            The caption talks about the meeting of the catalan powers-that-be with Sandro Rosell, prior to 2010 Barça election. Among them: Artur Mas, now president of the Catalan government; Enric Lacalle, a real power behind the throne and one of the heads of the Partido Popular (Spain’s right wing) branch in Catalonia; José Antich, one of the heads of Group Godó (strongest media group in Catalonia); Josep Cuní, the most important anchorman in Catalan TV, today at 8TV (Group Godó); Antoni Brufau, president of Repsol-YPF (the biggest spanish Oil Company), and Joan Maria Nin, CEO of La Caixa, today CaixaBank, the strongest bank in Catalonia and one of the top three in Spain.

            By the way, when questioned about the rumours on this meeting —before this photo was leaked— some of these people denied that it had taken place.

            Again, in the light of Barça recent history I feel very uneasy when I see the current symptoms. I fear that this dream we’ve been living ends up crumbling. As I said some days ago, I don’t accept all this «We lost our soul» shit. It just hurts to see that Rosell & Co do not cherish it, do not care about it.

        • fotobirajesh says:

          Thats more than interesting, isnt it. Thank you.

          I remember a long post by nzm, in which she explained how Rossell ignored the income out of some other means and went for the Qatar foundation deal. She also spoke about Rossell organising the board meeting somewhere out of the city, while all the austerity talks were going on.

          What do the general Catalan public and the socios think about all this now. Do they smell something wrotten, or they dont care? What do people talk about all this in Barcelona.

          • CuleToon says:

            First, the hard facts: 1) President Rosell was elected by a vast majority of the voting socis, with the greatest number of votes and with the bigger diference, IIRC. 2) There’s a very deep cleft thas has divided Barça socis since the days of president Núñez, a cleft which still is very much alive.

            Now, some speculation:

            a) According to readers comments on sports web sites, it appears that the feeling against Rosell is a little —just a little— on the rise.

            b) It seems that Laporta is capitalizing on this with an eye to the next election (he just stated that Rosell must not call for early election, probably fearing that Rosell will capitalize on Neymar’s signing and will not wait, fearing an eventual loss of support).

            c) The Catalan political scene has changed A LOT since 2010; that photograph I directed you to was seen as an «antiindependence» alliance. But the festive and colorful demonstration of last 11 September for the independence of Catalonia, the greatest ever seen here, with about a million and a half persons —families with children and grandmas— caught Artur Mas and his party totally off guard, so, in order to stay on power, he had to climb on the bandwagon of Catalan independence… Go figure! That picture would not be exactly the same today from a political point of view.

            d) Rosell is still backed up by the powers that be through the powerful Godó media group; I do not doubt that, if due to the changing circumstances, they don’t have any more use for him, they will bring him down as easily as they brought him to power.

            e) Laporta never was backed by such powers and I’m sure he’ll never be; the only way for him —or his/Cruyffs people— to reach again the presidency of Barça is if Rosell & Co make a mess comparable to that of president Gaspart.

            And that’s enough for today!

          • fotobirajesh says:

            Thank you friend.

  60. TITO says:

    From another forum:

    Jose Mourinho in 2007 :”Ronaldo doesn’t show maturity and respect. Maybe a difficult childhood, no education, maybe it is the consequence of that.”

    Mourinho in 2011: “Ronaldo in the best professional I’ve ever come across. He’s a role model for young kids.”

    Mourinho in June 2013: “Ronaldo thinks that he knows it all, better than me, better than all coaches and that the coach could not help him become any better.”
    :D :D :D

  61. Jafri says:

    The formation that’s tickling me the most is Neymar cutting in from the left, Messi cutting in from the right, Cesc bursting forward from the false 9, with Dani and Jordi providing width on both sides :D

  62. Ultraculé says:

    Agree 100% that unless we sort out the gaping tactical issues, buying this or that defender will not help one bit. Having said that, with Abidal given the boot and Puyol’s injuries, we need to sign some real defenders.

    There have been many names linked, But were it for me, I’d sign
    Eliaquim Mangala AND
    Neven Subotic (or) Marquinhos

  63. Kxevin says:

    Wondering how long it would take for Laporta to chime in. He said to Sport that the current board did everything possible to make Guardiola leave.

    http://www.sport.es/es/noticias/barca/joan-laporta-actual-junta-hizo-todo-posible-para-que-guardiola-marchara-2410410

    • Rami says:

      So all the reasons pep publicly stated for his departure were nothing but lies, Stuff like he’s tired, Can’t add more to the team or motivate.
      When making such a statements, One should back it up with some sort of evidence, Or does laporta think we should just have ‘faith’ in what he says.
      The laughable thing, Is not only it’s baseless, It’s against logic, Weather someone is a president, A board member, Or anyone at an administrative job, Will always try to associate ‘success’ to his name, And laporta wasn’t any different when he was the man, And since this is a football club, Success will mostly be tied done to trophies, So when we’re supposed to believe that rosell and his gang ‘kicked’ out the most successful coach in FCB history, And jeopardize the club’s success, And his presidency period Yep, That’s as illogical as something possibly gets.
      I can’t imagine pep happy that his same is being used as a political attacking tool by laporta, Just to he can damage his nemesis.

      • Rami says:

        I can’t imagine pep happy that his name* is being used as a political attacking tool by laporta, Just so* he can damage his nemesis.

        • Kxevin says:

          In the endless squabble between those two, anything will be said. Nothing makes enemies like former friends.

          Best would have been an intervening president, like that first relationship after a bad breakup. Instead, the back-to-back quality means that one will spend all his time crapping on the other. Then if Laporta runs and wins, he will spend all him time crapping on Rosell.

          Politics without pettiness is so, so rare.

          • Rami says:

            With all the known dirtiness of politics, Yet cules allow themselves to drawn into it’s vortex.
            You can’t go into a forum, A blog or news site without reading heated political arguments between the fans regarding the club, Rosell this, Laporta that, And like all political arguments, It ends with no tangible outcome.
            I can’t help but to feel sad and even frustrated when you say the fans are more focused on the politics of their club than the sporting side, Because in the end all of us feel in love with the football of barca, Not a president, Not a sporing director, And not a coach.

          • Kxevin says:

            And the thing is, both of them are flawed. Laporta had great sporting success, by just writing checks. “Yeah, sheeeit, we’ll pay for it later! No worries!” Everybody likes a party, especially when the money, cava and trophies (not to mention bonuses) are all free-flowing.

            Presidents always take the blame for stuff. Recall the Oriol Giralt-led ouster movement, that found a rock to crawl under after Guardiola’s first season. The “victory” margin was uncomfortably snug for Laporta at that time, less a mandate and more of a “Watch yourself, now.”

            It’s like when a coach gets fired, even if the players perform like crap. Well, you were the coach, so ….

            I just hope that a viable alternative to the two presents when it’s time to stand for election. The truth is somewhere in the middle of those two.

  64. Kxevin says:

    So. MD says that we aren’t signing Marquinhos (too short); Luis (financial and sporting reasons) and Thiago Silva (financial reasons).

    Marquinhos is an inch taller than Puyol. And TWO inches taller than Mascherano.

    • Jim says:

      And he’s only 19 so could still be growing ?

      • Kxevin says:

        Shush, blasphemer!

        Meanwhile, Mathieu’s name didn’t just come out of nowhere. His price is right, he’s skilled and can play CB (oh, that phrase again ….) and is 6’4″ tall.

        And you better believe he wants out of Valencia.

        • Jim says:

          We need to be careful here. What we’re looking for is someone who compliments Piqué, not replicates him. For me, one of the major elements is that I want a puyol -like winner who will fire the team up.

          Don’t know enough about Matthieu but I’m not keen on the “price is right” phrase. I’d rather the skillset was what we focused on. No more than around 25 to grow into his prime in the team, quick, tall, an actual CB, decent but not outstanding with the ball at his feet and reasonably two footed. Can’t be that hard can it? :)

          • Hilal says:

            Well actually aside from his age (29) Mathieu does tick pretty much all the boxes. He is tall, strong, fast and decent on the ball. He can also play both LB and CB and at 8-10M he is a steal.

            That being said I don’t see him as a starter but as a very capable bench player. We still need a starter to replace Puyol and I just cannot see Mathieu being that player.

            I think Thiago and Luis are out of the question and Hummels isn’t what we need. I definitely like what I have seen of Marquinos (although admitedly it isn’t much) and I have heard very good things about Inigo Martiniez.

            Who is this Eliaquim Mangala I keep hearing about? Apparently Mourinho really wants him at Chelsea. Never seen him play myself, anyone know if/how good he is?

          • BA says:

            all this about Matheiu being tall, fast, whatever, there’s one problem you guys are all missing:

            HE’S NOT A CENTER-BACK. he is, at best, a left-back. and an attacking one at that. when was the last time he played with any effect in the center of Valencia’s defense?

            can anyone answer me that question?

            so i’ll repeat my question: why ON EARTH would we want to buy yet another player who has very little/no experience in the center of defense, to be a center-back?!

      • Eklavya says:

        Think most people stop growing quite a while before the age of 19. His height shouldn’t be a problem though.

    • Levon says:

      yeah, I scratched my head at the “too short” comment as well…

      As for Mathieu, apart from the fact that I would feel guilty about buying two left backs from Valencia in the space of 13 months, I would see him as a depth purchase rather than a definite upgrade over the starters we have already…

    • KEVINO17 says:

      I’ve read that Mathieu is pretty quick. He’s also tall, experience and cheap. Sounds like a great deal to me.

  65. Alexinho says:

    Speaking of reporting by Sport, Sergi Roberto and Deulofeu are likely to leave this summer.

    Bummer, but didn’t Deulofeu just get a contract, or hasn’t he been in talks very recently?

  66. Kxevin says:

    As requested, defenders post is up, including the very recent addition of Mangala, a name that makes many folks very happy.

  67. lyd says:

    Mangala and Marquinhos – both should be targets, imo.

    Mangala (22) fits the King Eric profile (French as well) and would solve our priority defensive issues and secure the LCB/LB spot for years to come. He is athletic with superb ball skills plus possess neat aerial judgement. Both footed. Only negative thing I read is his occasional inconsistency with positional awareness but that shouldn’t be much of a worry. But, it’d be really, really tough to get him from Porto though, with the eye of moumou set on him.

    Marquinhos (19) is almost like Puyol+Mascherano rolled into one. Can be employed as a R/LCB + Sweeper. Extremely intelligent for his age, thus certainly makes up for the lack (?) of height. He is Brazilian so go get him RoSell!

    If we are buying one CB then I’d say get Mangala with 30M (buy out) or more and make a down payment (apparently illegal to do so!) on Marquinhos, so that we have the first option to buy him next season.

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