Farewell, Thiago, we hardly knew ye, and the scent of something rotten in Denmark


So. The Thiago Alcantara saga has ended, with the player going to Bayern Munich for a total fee of 25m+ a friendly. Part of the fee came from the player doing a salary giveback, a la Cesc Fabregas, which is particularly interesting.

The roots of the transfer are well-known, and now we have the reality. Prima facie, it isn’t the best piece of business, but it isn’t the most horrible one, either. Alcantara was on track to be The Man in the Barça midfield. For his own reasons, he didn’t want to wait, and so now he gets to ply his trade in the Bundesliga. And that’s that.

What does the deal mean? That the club has sold a promising La Masia talent for an very good, but not great, price. Malaga got more for Isco, and La Real got more for Illarramendi, even if the circumstances were different in that the parallel “Is” were starters. Thiago wasn’t, mostly because of the best midfield on a football club in a generation. It happens, even as I don’t think that any cule in their right minds wanted the player to leave.

People are, as well you all can imagine, losing their minds. They are blaming Vilanova, Rosell, aliens, sunspots and anything else they can think of. The player is absolved of responsibility for his own future and decisions regarding it, or forced into it by those nefarious others who didn’t give him his due. I get how that has to be the case, even as I struggle with it, for this simple reason:

Tito Vilanova would have to be a fool to not play a player of that immense a value, who was able to help his club in a significant way.

And I just don’t believe that Tito Vilanova is a fool. I think that he was, and is feeling an immense amount of pressure. I think that like Guardiola, he had players that he preferred to use for certain matches. But if a player had leapt to the forefront of his vision, demanding with his performance that he couldn’t be denied a spot in our lineup, that player would have played. Lots. More than Thiago did, and more than enough to meet that 60% mark specified in his absurd contract clause. Again, that is just my opinion. Others will have a different one.

Journalistic entities such as Marca claim that the departure was engineered, because the club’s technical staff doesn’t believe that Thiago has the right amount of tactical discipline, and that Sergi Roberto has more, making him preferable and causing the club to let Thiago go. Take that for what it is, and consider the source.

Whatever your views on the matter, the club has lost an exceptional talent. How exceptional, we still don’t know. If, as many suspect, Thiago turns out to be one of the best mids in the world, the club that sold him for 25m will look rather foolish, taken on the surface.

Of course, complicating matters is Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas, the same impediments Thiago will be facing in his quest for a place on the World Cup 2014 squad. But that is a story for the future. For now, we have a transfer that might, or might not be a surprise, depending upon who you are, your position in the club hierarchy and your views on the player.

A comment that deserves to live on

During a discussion in the previous thread I asked a commenter and longtime soci, CuleToon, if the “rotten in Denmark” scent was around Sandro Rosell among local cules and socis, or was it a malodorous aroma that was much more evident to foreign nostrils. He gave it a fair bit of thought, and replied. I was going to leave it in the comments, but it deserves its own space. So here you go:

Kxevin asked me yesterday if «was it just foreign socis who could see what Rosell was going to bring to the table from a mile away, or did local socis also smell something rotten in Denmark?». I hope you don’t mind if I give the answer here, because I’ve devoted a lot of time to it, and don’t wish that it gets lost amidst the comments above. So, I apologize in advance for this.

I’ll give a short answer to Kxevin’s question for those that just wish to know and move on, and a rather long one for anyone interested.

First, the short one: Yes, a lot of us — mainly Cruyffistes — smelled it, and surely much sooner than most of you here.


Now, the long one. I’ll try to be as concise as possible. And I’ll write mostly from memory, although I’ve done a little research. I simply can’t devote that much time to do a more thorough investigation, but I’m sure it will suffice.

June 2003. Laporta and Rosell are elected.

Image from Marca.com
Image from Marca.com

June 2005. Rosell and his mates, who are apparently fed up with being in minority in the board, Leave. There is some noise on the press with polls, etc. Some people in the press (on hidsight, some of Rosell’s current media minions) begin to take sides, but nothing seems unusual at this time.

July 2005. The Laporta episode at BCN airport (when he lowered his trousers in front of the official who asked him to remove almost everything before boarding a plane to MAD; let’s not forget that that happened at the BCN airport, so it is impossible that the official didn’t know him, but whatever). That incident is stretched for several days on both MAD and BCN press, and always was mentioned afterwards when attacking Laporta. For its part, MAD press begins its relentless attack on Laporta because of his Catalanist-independentist ideas.

First half of 2006-A. That’s when all the bad-smell alarms went off for us. First, a common and unknown soci called Joan March Torné (old and retired, I think), brought a lawsuit against Laporta saying that the last 15 last days of June 2003 (the first 15 days of Laporta’s term) had to count as a whole year, and demanded Laporta and the board to call for election a year before than usual. After some appeals and the intervention of a Catalan political body (Consell d’Esports), Joan March won the case and Laporta’s first term lasted only 3 years instead of the usual 4. Joan March had no means, and it was clear that Rosell was behind it. For its part, most of the media attacked Laporta making a fuss of all this.

First Half of 2006-B. Since his departure, Rosell didn’t speak publicly until April, when he presents his book “Welcome to the Real World,” where he attacks Laporta thoroughly, and denies — of course — that he’s behind any manoeuvre.

First Half of 2006-C. Once established in court that those 15 days of 2003 counted as the whole 2002-2003 season, Viçens Pla, another unknown, old and retired soci with no means (and with with a big, red, veiny nose that I think reveals his tastes: just Google him), brought a lawsuit against Laporta and his board asking for a monetary guarantee for the losses incurred in 2002-2003 by the previous boards (those of Gaspart and a couple of other presidents who lasted some weeks). That is still going on today, seven years after, and the quantity asked of Laporta and several members of his board to guarantee amounts to some 23 mill euro. Strangely enough, even if Rosell and some of his mates were at Laporta’s board at that time, they are not mentioned in the lawsuit. The fuss the press makes about this dwarfs any it made before. And Rosell, as always, says he’s got nothing to do with it.

The campaign against Laporta continues as usual, until…

May 2008. Out of the blue comes Oriol Giralt —a fellow soci no one knew about— calling for a vote of no confidence against Laporta. With all the media at his disposal, he gets about 9.500 signatures in no time. (Let me remind you that all those lawsuits cost a lot of money, specially the hiring of the lawyers; and, in Oriol Giralt’s case, the infrastructure needed to get such an amount of signatures in a couple of weeks isn’t cheap either). This time, Rosell’s speaks publicly for the first time since he presented his book, to support the vote of confidence. And now all the media attacks Laporta by land, air and sea, without even trying to conceal their purpose.

And the rest will be known to all of you that have read until this point. Laporta wins the vote of confidence by a narrow margin. Then, though, he appoints Pep to the first team. Laporta continues to be attacked, but the success of the team hinders the effort by the media until the campaign for the election in 2010, when the media stretches its influence to the limit, and Rosell wins. The deeds of Rosell as Barça president until today are there for all to see.


A short addendum:

My generation lived the Núñez 1978 election. Just one week before that election, all the polls gave a great majority of the votes to Víctor Sagi, a respected Catalan-elite member and a pioneer in the Catalan and Spanish advertising industry. And then, just one week before the election, he quit. Just like that. And Núñez, the second in the polls, won. Núñez was the most important building contractor in Catalonia at the time, an industry which some people described then as “mafia-like.” And according to a rumour that I have heard several times since then, Víctor Sagi received a dossier on a close member of his family, together with an invitation to quit. But rumors are just rumors, and, of course, they should never be taken as true.

Oh, I forgot: on July 28 2011, just two years ago, Núñez was sentenced to six years in prison and some fines for bribery and document falsification. Of course, as happens with powerful people here, he hasn’t put a foot on the floor of a cell.


I wanted to comment also on the alleged reputation of Messi as a “fellow-players destroyer,” a myth born in Madrid this last year. According to most Madrid papers, Messi has “sacked” four fellow players to this day. But according to one report I’ve seen today, he’s sacked no less than twelve (12)! Go figure!

And a last thing for those of you that know about Crackòvia, the satirical program on TV3. They call Rosell “peix bullit,” which means “boiled fish,” aka, the epitome in Catalan for all things bland, tasteless, boring, dull, flat or drab.

And that’s all.

By Kxevin

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. First time poster, longtime lurker.
    Just want to welcome Culetune as he has become a fantastic recent addition to the site. Thanks for your insight!
    And thanks Kevin and Levon for keeping things informative, mature and civil lately – Blitzen seems to have developed a temper! ;-).

    Interesting waters we are navigating at the moment. It feels like summer heat has brought some things to a boiling point. We wont be able to fully judge what RoSELL is doing until we have a little more time and hindsight, but he certainly is looking like a jerk in his photo-ops and sound-bytes.
    -Choosing Tito to replace Guardiola was smart, though it might have ruined a friendship.
    -Neymar was a good piece of business. Thiago was maybe a bad piece of business. Cesc was unavoidable. Alexis should be performing better, but he might prove a winner. Injuries have been rampant and destabilizing.
    -Maintaining the Barça pride, cantera tradition and identity,, and not stooping to Florentino levels — RoSELL is on thin ice in this area.

    Ive lived in Barcelona 12 years now (American ex-pat) and it has taught me to embrace some things about stereotyping – the Europeans seem to use them much more freely than Americans, for better and for worse. But being able to call it like you see it without worrying about feelings – Catalans excel in this respect. And I cant help seeing a lot of Catalan character in this love/hate triangle between RoSELL, Tito, and Pep. Frustratingly cold and quiet in key moments when communication is needed, brilliant when you least expect it, and playing the victim when it really doesnt help your cause. and I suspect that there has also been a fair amount of incompetence due to the extremely demanding circumstances, but we often see conspiracies where there is simply incompetence.

    I remember what happened after Barça won their first Liga with Ronaldinho after 5 years in the desert – half the Junta quit. It seems success always carries with it collateral damages. . .

    1. “Cuando estuve ingresado Pep no vino a verme y le necesitaba” Tito saying he needed Pep to visit him and he didnt. OUCH!

    2. this actually changes some of my feelings about the situation and Pep. I think he did make a mistake throwing that hand grenade, regardless of whether its a personal issue that has nothing to do with futbol. Pep’s character is under scrutiny too here, as he abandoned us. After all, we believed in him when he couldnt get along with Eto’o and Zlatan, 2 very expensive decisions for the club. And we took it on faith that RoSELL has been the bad guy in all of this. If he cant be a good friend to his assistant and friend with cancer, perhaps he was to blame for some of this . . .

    3. Thanks for your words, barcadan. Hope you brought good memories from Barcelona!

  2. Tito gave a press conference, in which he said two things:

    1. When they offered me the job, Pep was the first who encouraged me to take it. I have known him for 28 years and he’s my friend.

    and he also said, BOMB ALERT,

    2. We saw each other in NY the first time I went. When I came back for a two-month treatment we did not see each other, and it is not my fault. He is my friend and I needed him.

    1. I hope Pep keeps you waiting in vain and doesn’t go further, fotob! Personally, I’ll keep what Tito said several times; «Pep’s my friend». As Levon says, he talked about 28 years of friendship, about all the wonderful things they’ve lived together, and although he looked somewhat hurt, he was not mad at Pep. So said his body language.

      That’s a very personal thing between them, and, as one of those gossipy RAC-1 «sports» pundits said this morning, while claiming shamelessly that «the socis want to know», it apparently involves their spouses too, something I’ve heard before. But such details are strictly personal, they are not our business at all, and I think we must draw the line here.

      And hope for them to meet again.

    2. True. Watching the press conference right now.

      It is probably a good thing we meet Bayern in a friendly so that the public can see there is no beef between the two.

    3. I’m actually excited to have a new worthy enemy to focus on, one led by our own former jedi master sporting one of our promising Padawans who was lured away to the dark side. Makes much more interesting stuff than all the toxic crap of Mourinho. . .

    4. Barcadan, no et passis! 🙂

      I hope I may ask you a couple of questions: a) Do you understand, speak, read Catalan? b) How would you say «¡A mí que me registren!» in English, keeping its true sense?


    5. is taht catalan or castellano. sounds something like, “sign ME up!” (i.e. “register ME!”). in english the equivalent of “a mi me ____” as in “a mi me gusta” or “a mi me toca” (which is a bit redundant, since you have two things in there referring to “me”), is just an emphasis on the word “me”, that is to say, we stress or give weight to this word just in its pronunciation to give it emphasis.

      another example. you wouldnt say “give me it to me!” (damelo a mi!) you would say “give it to MEEEEE!”

    1. Hey, couldnt reply to your last comment. yes I speak spanish and understand catalan. “A mi que me registren” would maybe best be translated as “Don’t look at me!” or “search me!”

    2. OK, gràcies! I asked you that because, when I think of yesterday’s interview-bath-and massage to Rosell, that expression keeps coming to my mind!

  3. When Tito will leave FCB ? I think that this year will be the first without a trophies. Tito is not the man of the situation . He his there because of the war between Rossel and Laporta-Guardiola

    1. May I ask what suggests to you that this year will be the first year without trophies?
      In my opinion we have taken a championship winning squad, added Neymar in place of David Villa and should be adding a centre back to bolster our defense.
      Our closest rivals have added youth to their squad but I can’t see any of them starting so I think we’ve had a successful enough summer

    2. Carvajal and Illa might not start right away but Isco has a high chance of starting.

      League is a marathon. And it’ll be a tighter battle this season.

      CL and Copa are Cups so a lot of luck needed. Anything can happen.

    3. It’ll be quite interesting watching RM trying to play the ball through the middle this year. Not sure how that’ll work out for them given the nature of their forwards.

  4. According to MD, Busquets has renew his contract until 2018. And Jean Marie Dongou, our promising canterano is going to be offered a long term contract and will wear the number 9 t-shirt in Barça B. Eusebio said that they let go Luis Alberto and Araujo because they trust him to step up and be the starter 9. They also said that Tito trusts him and that’s why they chose to not sign another striker. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkUuvCgdUsQ

    1. Glad to hear something about Dongou. I remember reading a lot of buzz about him more than a year ago, and then not as much last year, he scored a few goals at Barça B but nothing eye-catching. Sounds like last year was the apprenticeship at Barça B and this year he’s supposed to step up into the main role. Still just 18.

  5. Just watched the presser right through. Have to say I was very impressed by the way Tito handled everything. I like the way he chooses his words and thought he came across as a pretty straightforward sort of bloke. I’m pretty sure the club is in good hands. I thought he took the right tack with the inevitable Guardiola questions. He is obviously smarting about something Pep has done or not done but didn’t elaborate more than he felt he had to.

    Wasn’t as impressed by Zubi. I didn’t think he dealt with the Thiago contract situation very well although he is right in the bottom line being that if a player wants to go you are better to let him. Press are obviously gunning for him. Was that three questions about resigning?

    Final thought. Tito looked well and handled the barrage of questions for over an hour with diplomacy and no little skill, given the think skins of some of the journals present ( no offence Kxevin). 🙂

    1. Yes, he looked well, very healthy. It was certainly nice to see. Is it just me or has his mouth stopped drooping to the side?

    2. No, it still is, just not as noticeable. His surgery seems to have damaged his facial nerve on that side, but not to a major extent.

  6. I am still getting my mind around the fact that we have not one, not two, but THREE Catalan-speaking, BCN-dwelling, Barça socis in the family? That, my friends, is badass.

    I look forward to lots of local perspective and information from you. The BarcaTV that we furriners get isn’t what you get there, I know because when we rent apartments in BCN, BarçaTV is pretty much always on.

    Anyhow, welcome to the house, barcadan.

    1. I know, and what gets me is that they apparently have been reading our articles and discussions for a long time and have only just now have decided to come out of the woodwork and grace us with their presence!

    2. I know, and what gets me is that they apparently have been reading our articles and discussions for a long time and have only just now decided to come out of the woodwork and grace us with their presence!

    3. Well, at least in my case, I was advised to better not post here because it was very addictive and, specially, very time-consumig, since trying to write in the better English one can write, demands extensive dictionary searching and proof-reading the text n-times until it looks acceptable (add to that the additional risk of choosing an unfortunate word and being Jniced and/or blitzened with a slap coming from the inner-circle where —I presume— many people we miss now dwell).

      I said that I wrote my first post in a natural way, just because. But very soon after saying this I remembered better. When I returned to BFB after one or two months, I found the blog in upheaval: Isaiah leaving (for a very nice reason), other old BFB pals leaving, comments of people very irritated or annoyed, and, above all, the feeling —well, it was more than a feeling, because it was stated here— that BFB was going to die. Seeing this, I felt the instinctive urge of saying something, something normal, in an irrational «don’t go!». But it didn’t die. And then I posted more, and now I see that I was told right: it’s too addictive and time-consuming. But it is addictive because, like all other addictive things, it is rewarding.

      I don’t know what happened then, and I don’t want to know. I haven’t read previous posts or comments prior to the day I wrote my first comment. But now I’m glad that I did write it, and I see that a lot of people felt the same and did the same. It’s nice to see that, although we lack the contributions of many people we miss, BFB is more or less as always.


      And Kxevin, right now I’m watching on TV (Esports-3, a TV3 sports channel) the first preseason game of Barça B with Samper, Dongou and others… 😈 … and just after typing this, the match has been suspended because of a strong summer storm with hail!

    4. Correction: I’ve remembered that, these last years, I did post a couple of comments.

    5. It was suspended about 10-20 min into the second half. They played against a Second-Catalan-Division team that had a couple of good chances. No conclusions to draw from this match, of course. But I’m not optimistic with Eusebio at the helm.

    6. That makes two of us. The best to hope is that they won’t get relegated, because that would be problematic.

      But Eusebio also has to understand that the principal value of what he does is to not get relegated, and prepare the young’uns to play like the grownups.

    7. Sure you know that already, but the ideal candidate was Oscar Garcia, who lead Deulofeu, Espinosa and his mates to win everything before they were promoted to Barça B. But he’s a cruyyfista! In fact, he went last season to Maccabi Tel-Aviv because Jordi Cruyff is there as sports manager. And Maccabi won the israeli league after ten years.

      And then you have to hear Mr Boiled Fish preaching that we have to end with all those «ismes»!

    8. Reports of the demise of BFB were premature. We are in a state of transition. For the moment, you will see posts every few days whenever one of us feels like saying something. When the season starts we’ll see what happens, but most likely it will continue in this sporadic vein. Better to have people writing posts because they want to than because they have to, right?

    9. @Kxevin, I will chime in and join in welcoming/appreciating them and all the other socis in the house. While at it, thank you Kxevin, Levon, Blitzen, nzm and all the other mods or mods cum socis in the running of this blog. Just a btw, I am a fan of your writing (kxevin) and tend to resonate with most of your views. This blog has for the last few years definitely helped in my knowledge of Barca and that mutual appreciation and love this family has for the club we all like has been something to behold. nzm’s insight on the ground, blitzen’s humor, your well argued critiques, eulers indepth analysis, soccermom’s wit, levon’s way with words etc – that, ladies and gentlemen has turned me into an addict of this blog, as CuleToon mentioned. This blog has charm and character, and the rest of the family who contribute with the comments have made this blog the best discussion based barca blog on the net. To borrow your words, that is just bad-ass. Nonetheless, it was sad to see the blog go through some stormy waters awhile back, hopefully that never happens again – the romantic in me wishes so. I follow euler on twitter, but we miss your contribution on this blog, sir! We could use an article or two reviewing major tactical changes and what not from last season in this blog – of course if you have time/incentive to. A request on behalf of the family…

  7. via @barcastuff

    Vilanova: “I don’t mind Thiago joining Pep at Bayern, I mind him leaving us. I like him, asked him to stay, but the competition is tough.”

    Vilanova: “Thiago said he wants to leave, it’s his wish. Cesc on the other hand said he wants to triumph here. You want players like that”

    I think this sums up Tito’s way of looking at things and hopefully ends arguments of why Tito didn’t convince Thiago to stay and the club prefers players who WANT to stay at Barca…

  8. Has anyone mentioned the USA Today article about Messi snubbing the folks who paid $2500 each for a chance to meet Messi and get autographs? This event was supposed to take place after the Messi “and Friends” vs The World game in Chicago, ILL. The proceeds were supposed to go to charity. Apparently, 75 people ponied up the $2500 fee and waited for a couple of hours before being told Messi was not coming due to other commimentments. It made front page of the USA Today sports section 3-5 days ago. I don’t watch ESPN much, so I don’t know if it made it there. Any news about it in Spain or Eurpoe for that matter? Not the greatest P.R. move after the tax investigation, which I think is erroneous, btw.

    1. Someone, Kxevin probably, mentioned it somewhere before. I don’t think it was Messi’s fault but the organizers who implied the fans would meet Messi. It was not explicitly mentioned that they would meet him. The tax thing is damaging, whether it has some legs or not is another story.

  9. Speaking of Goëtze, TiagoA could have taken his place at Dortmund! From the player’s standpoint, isn’t Dortmund much more buzzing, and space opening up, and klip Klopp, and Champion’s league!!!

  10. Can any one point me to a source/link/article where Guardiola not visiting Tito in NY is mentioned? I’m just curious to read it. Thanks!

  11. The prospect of a CB signing fades. That Sheikh said, “TS ain’t goin’ no where” (said exactly like that! q:) and plus he is stalking our players. Maybe preparing a 1B bid for Messi, Iniesta and Busi? Who knows! Perhaps he thinks its the last shot at these untouchables before Platini applies the illusive financial fair play policy or whatever it is.

    Read somewhere that Man United have now joined in for Marquinhos quest. However, United rather not be taken seriously this summer. But their desperation for a high profile CM makes sense and so does the bid for Cesc. They rate Cesc highly and thinks his best years are ahead of him. Besides, there’s no way Scholes is prepared to make a comeback. Again! And neither is Phil Neville.

    Alright, so I got a “few” questions that’s been bugging me.

    Say we fail to buy a CB,(and assuming we aim to win the CL and Liga, and extract the best out of Messi&Iniesta’s peak years along the way), should we,
    a. Wait for the next season Silly Season Sequel with a bigger transfer kitty and hope for a CB or two?
    b. Invest in the offense now, for precaution (long run) and especially to make it more dynamic? Thinking Neymar needs integrating time and Messi can get injured again, at crucial stages, as he is human. And must brace ourselves cause the Fifa Viruses leading to the World Cup year is coming!
    c. For wingers, will hugging the touchline and showing extreme work ethic still be enough against rapidly evolving top teams? I expect our forwards to be brave and improvise at times but the limitations in skill set and hence predictability is a bummer, imo.
    d. Have we solved The Bus code repeatedly without over depending on Messiniesta or a fully well rested squad?
    e. Great fringe players who served well so far, but is Pedro and Cesc indispensable to the squad? (Cesc has statistics in his favor, imo! And Pedro’s been great so far no doubt, although declining, I feel)
    If yes, then how long do you see them at the club? Do you expect them to up their performance and be regular starters at some point? Provided they stay as backups and gives quality squad depth for 2-3 seasons more, is it good or bad for the club from the perspectives of B team graduates? (forget the business bit!)

    The silly season isn’t over yet and players like Mangala (£42M), Eriksen (£15M) and Jovetic (£25M) are still available. (not sure about the exact price though.) So I was thinking if… *sigh!*

    1. A. Wait. Hard to find quality now.
      B. We already did in Neymar.
      C. Nope, which is part of why Villa was sold. The attack is still predicated on the presence of Henry and Eto’o, in many ways.
      D. Yes. See Neymar.
      E. Yes, Pedro because of his work ethic, Fabregas not as much as Pedro, but still a very useful player.

    2. aye aye, Captain!

      Expecting Neymar-Messi-Alexis combo to be a cracker. Just hope we dont piss off the god of fitness this season.

  12. -If they gave me a billion pounds for the trio – messi, busi, ini – I would sell. I know, I know – but man can be allowed to dream…
    -Unlike most of the cules, I am for getting Thiago Silva – but you are right, that prospect looks slim. If not TS, then the question is, can we get another world class defender (with a proven track against lethal, tricky and fast offense – Thong Boy, Frankie R etc come to mind)? Nonetheless, we need a young prospect in the wings, one who can step in for that old CB signing in 3-4 yrs. If Barca doesn’t trust Bartra, then cut him loose and get someone they believe in. Benching him and hoping he will turn into gold without some trust/play time will not benefit either party. I know him not but it seems cules would have preferred Marquinhos. It would have been a nice investment for the future, but I would have been hesitant for the reasons mentioned above. We need to compete right now, but also have to keep an eye on the future. I probably wouldn’t trust such a youngster – be he of Varane caliber to deliver consistently over the whole season for a team this big. And would he be willing to sit in the bench and learn given that he’s been a starter? Would I spend 25+ million euros for such uncertainty?
    -Man U is either trolling us or someone is high on something. I believe the former given the institution’s reputation.
    -We are going to buy a CB (98% certainty). Who you ask? You will have known within the next 40 days or so…hang in there.
    -We shall have an interesting and exciting season in Europe this season. We have new, smart coaches working for the top title-contenders. Competition in PL will be higher, wish the same case was in La Liga. I believe Tito will conquer everyone on the way if he shores up his defence, and I would like a match-up between an on form Barca and Bayern somewhere in Champions league semis. Pep vs Tito, revenge in air/dominance exertion, Thiago vs. his old team. I want to see how Pellegrini, Ancelloti, Mourinho, Pep, Blanc & Tito do – coz I believe one of these guys will win the champions league this year.
    -Our offense is good; everyone would drool to have messi/neymar/sanchez/pedro. Ask Juve or last year’s runner’s up.
    -Tactics will need to evolve for each opponent – especially those rapid high pressure teams. Tactical geniuses ala euler and cox at ZM would be better suited to answer this question though.
    -Pedro and Cesc are indispensable – they are not fringe players. They don’t pop out like messi or ini but their play is critical. Take them out and we’re crippled, unless we shop for equal replacements. Again ask any top team if they would hesitate to take them given the chance. Cesc will be a regular starter soon, and he played more games than Busi last season. That should say something. Pedro never complains – works his ass off and does what is asked of him. Why would anyone want to ship him off?
    -Forget Jovetic, we are not buying another high profilish forward. Who is Eriksen? Mangala would be a nice addition (according to the trend online anyways). I have never watched him, so all I can say is – any CB who is at least better than Mascherano, doesn’t get injured and would adapt quickly would be welcome. My ideal CB situation is mentioned above though.

    1. Never think about selling Messi/Iniesta/Busi again. Then I’m going to hunt you down and beat you to a game of monopoly. q:
      No seriously!

      Pedro and Cesc are not starters and i doubt they’ll ever be. Great to have them in the squad, i agree. The thing about them is that they are easy to defend. This means the others always have to be always ready to raise an extra gear, when the stakes are high. And that is a risky business for our game.

      Im not a huge fan of keeping wingers/forwards for too long, 3 seasons at best, no matter how “hard working/high profile” they are, unless they keep adjusting their game and develop other traits. btw Alexis have matched the “work ethic” of Pedro, imo. Kudos to him.

      A super exciting seasons awaits. As usual. *yawn*

  13. What frustrates me is Barca simply don’t move fast to get their man. Look at the way RM work. Ancelotti had just won PSG their Ligue 1 and was told to be unavailable. He ends up signing for EE. Isco is anti Madridista? No problem, here is 25M. Now sign here. I don’t know whats up with the allure EE have. But if anything, We do as well in a much more real way, but don’t seem to leverage the FCB allure. We have however proven to be successful in negotiating a decent fee for those who want to join us (lexus, Cesc, Neymar, Masch). That said, we have also missed the boat on several quality players who wanted to play for us. Ozil, Vertonghen, Gotze, Isco come to mind, although we cannot be signing every Tom, Dick and Harry who wants to play for us.
    I think we should have swapped Zlatan for T. Silva when we had the chance. If I remember right, we have been having CB issues for 2-3 years now. Tito says a CB is coming. But who? If T.Silva is our man, why can’t we get him? Aren’t we Barca? Can’t the guy put in a transfer request? While Marquinhos may be the next big thing, we need someone who can immediately start performing. Damn this Silly season for being the silliest in a long time. Simply excruciating.

    1. I agree with your sentiments. We should be closing in on our targets so fast that by the time press and fans begin speculating, our guy would be plaiting hair with Pinto or getting some fashion tips from Alves 🙂 PSG is slowly turning into a great prospect, and they are paying well. They just bought Cavani, Marquinhos is to join (?)…and already have great players like Zlatan. TS’s incentive to stay in Paris is probably becoming higher.I agree with the need for an immediate perfomer (as I mentioned above as barcaman).

      Given the factors in play (PSG’s faith in him (captainship), salary, Barca’s hesitancy and proneness to dilly-dally with all the media-courting, etc) – TS would probably be gambling a lot if he requested a transfer. Besides, can’t they reject such a request? Issue of club relations if aggression became our only move? Oh well, I can just speculate. As you point out, we probably should have bought him way before, more so last year.

      Maybe Barca is planning to go Wenger’s way – buy some unknown guy somewhere and make it work – didn’t someone (Tito?) say they used his advice on Song’s performances in the CB position to make that purchase? Does Barca have scouts other than those who scout for masia btw? I kid…or not.

      Learn to embrace the silliness Ultracule, it’s the only way not to go insane with all the noise made by everyone speculating. Join in and have fun at it. For one,I assembled a team in my video game – one with the prospects in the market and the players we have and my team kicked ass. Only if Tito could control the real team the same way I do in the video game – those goals and titles…hmm.

  14. Seems as if the question, how often and at which time exactly Pep and Tito met in New York, becomes the most important question of the preseason…

    Both should have said noting about that private matter.

    1. Pep didn’t talk about Tito and this unfortunate episode directly: He talked about this as the ultimate example of Rosell & Co. nagging —discrediting— him through the press even when he had asked to be left alone.

      I like Tito a lot, and, yesterday, I felt really sad listening to what he said on that matter. But now, after mulling it over, I think that Tito, for some reason, played a little along with Rosell & Co. He started repeating the official message stated the day before by Rosell, «Pep lies», and then talked about that NY affair as if Pep had alluded to it expressly or directly (not as the worst example of the —still ongoing— campaign against him).

      Anyway, it’s a very sad affair and, personally, I’ll leave it at that. I really hope that, with time, they will reconcile. But I don’t expect that to happen at the next friendly vs Bayern; I’ll be happy if, that day, it doesn’t get worse, because all of Rosell’s media minions are going flat out for smearing Pep after those words from Tito.

      But, all in all, you’re right: Both should have said nothing about that private matter.

    2. The classiest thing Pep could have said is nothing at all. Really confused about why he jumped into the media circus with these statements

  15. I do believe that Jan Vertonghen was a real wasted opportunity last summer. He had an excellent season for Spurs and had been consistently good for Ajax for a number of years. I’m not saying that I don’t like Song and I actually think that he has been a decent signing but Vertonghen would have been better for our defense which needed it more than our midfield.

    PSG are not playing ball at all in regards to selling Thiago Silva so if we don’t get some indication that the player himself is going to force the transfer then we’ll have to move on to someone else.

    The other issue is whether or not we want to spend €40million on a 29 year old central defender. I think he is an amazing player but he has no re-sale value and if the last two seasons are anything to go by then he may not be fit when we need him.

    I think that David Luiz may be a better purchase for €30million given his fitness and physique. I’m not saying that he is a better player but he might be a better signing. Plus he looked amazing at the confederations cup and is great on the ball. Not a huge fan of his freekicks though… too much like Dani Alves

    1. In perspective, Vertonghen’s signing would have helped us a lot and we would have one more title probably. I am guessing the club was trying to show some faith in the youngsters promoted at that time? Or they preferred a versatile CB, ala sMasch? Or Wenger is an excellent marketer?

      I like TS as mentioned above – 40m in exchange for 3-4 seasons of solid D? I would take it. We just gave out villa for free after buying him for an enormous sum. But few would disagree that he was instrumental in some of the titles we’ve acquired since his purchase. After that, someone takes over, preferably Bartra or some other youngster we’ll buy. The option of a teen CB aka Marquinhos is great, but having him as a first choice at the risk of another 7-0 battering is not as tantalizing. I exaggerate, but we need to be winning both right now and in the future…and we can’t risk the now just so we can win in the future.

      D. Luiz is OK. If they can’t find anyone better than him for that price, buy him and work on his discipline as that is what people opposed to his purchase tend to use. Same thing was said about Song. Anyhow, we’ll soon know the CB Tito prefers (other than TS).

    2. I think some of the concerns over Marquinhos are unwarranted. It looks like we’d have to pay top dollar and then some for him so there’s no way he’s gonna be worth it. Any CB we go for now that the world knows we need one will have his fee doubled. So it’s not really worth running it through the financial prudence argument. We all know we need a top class one and there are very few in the world who could improve us.

      From my viewpoint Marquinhos is ideal. I knew nothing about him until early on in the chase for a CB. However, after watching as much as I can find on the web I’m fairly convinced he would have been the best bet anyway, even including TS.

      He is young, quick, good in the air for his height and most importantly for me, aggressive and a winner. His attitude reminds me a lot of Puyol and that’s the important bit. Supposing Puyol does defy time and come back, able to play 20/30 games next season. Do we leave him on the bench ? Because make no mistake a fit Puyol is a terrific defender, just as good as TS or Marquinhos and has a very positive effect on team attitude. He is also one of the best readers of a game I’ve seen.

      We buy TS, we are going to have to leave a world class defender on the bench, either Puyol or Pique. They’re not gonna be happy and certainly Masch won’t be. We buy Marquinhos we get a changeover period whereby Puyol gets to play out the rest of his useful time with us, happy at taking rotation with Marquinhos and Marquinhos accepts that he gets time to gradually work up a relationship with Pique by watching how Puyol plays in the Barca system. At 19 he has a season without too much expectation, which his advisors should want, learns the system, plays around half of the games and by the start of next year is starting to bench Puyol who by then will accept a bit part. We end up with a CB pairing which could last us 6 or 7 years.

      Mind you, I hate to think of the bidding war we’d need to engage in with PSG to get him.

    3. There are, if a team competes to the finals of CL, copa and Liga, a total of 60 games. For the CB position, that makes it 120 games. We have 3 CBs (I am omitting Batra and assuming he will be loaned out – that’s the indication I am getting from Barca anyways) and hopefully buying one more. Last season, Cesc played the most liga games – 30. In CL, D2 played 10. Dunno about copa, but using this trend, if Puyi gets 20 and the other hundred games distributed between the other 3 players, I am sure all would be happy (including that world class defender). In this conjecture, I am assuming sMasch can still be used as a sub in DM, which will add to his tally and to an extent smother down any feelings of lacking play time.

      Nonetheless, if your assessment of Marquinhos is true and he’s the real deal (I have no idea of his quality as mentioned before), then your proposal and outlook of the outcome of his purchase (were that to happen) is something very attractive. Your approach and view in this is one I had not considered (again due to my lack of info on him), and one I have to say I like.

    4. At the LFP 2012 Prizes Gala, Bartra was elected the best «defender» in general (not only CB) for the 2011-2012 season by Second Division coaches (http://www.marca.com/2012/11/13/futbol/1352811780.html). That’s no small feat.

      So, why didn’t he play more last season? Tito gave the answer yesterday, confirming many previous rumours. He said, «He’ll have to earn his playing time. His daily improvement (in training) will decide it because, at the end, the coach doesn’t give minutes to a player: it’s the player who has to earn them».

    5. I don’t know, I kind of feel like Tito may be apportioning more blame to Bartra for the results against Bayern than he deserves, and punishing him for that. The kid was thrown into the deep end with barely any preparation. Did he make mistakes? Yes, and a couple of big ones. So did Pique, and pretty much every other player out there. If Tito had trusted Bartra with a few more games previously, even sub appearances, he would have been more confident and may have performed better. (we would still have lost, though.)

      I have never heard anything to indicate that Bartra wasn’t training well, in fact there was an article in Sport or MD last season discussing why Montoya wasn’t playing more where they specifically said that Monty wasn’t impressing in training, but Bartra was working hard. So…I don’t know.

    6. Perhaps Bartra didn’t play in previous games because of what Tito said yesterday. There has to be something that we don’t know, because we all expected him to play in a lot of matches when our defense crumbled with injuries, and the question was in the air: Why doesn’t Tito choose him? Why doesn’t Bartra play?

      As for the rumour about Bartra not training well, I’d swear that I’ve heard/read about it more than once (and about Monty too, now that you mention it), but you can take my word with a pinch of salt because I talk from memory.

    7. The problem I have with that is that Tito was also “punishing” the other CBs by benching Bartra—they had to play more games, more minutes, less rotation, more fatigue. That’s just not good team management.

  16. In reply to the comments above,

    failing to sign a CB for this season will be a failure to meet our objectives. I don’t think anyone especially Tito wants to do that.

    Tito showed a lot of faith in Cesc and Pedro last season, even when they weren’t playing at their most effective he would still give them consistent minutes to help them improve. He even did the same to Sanchez in the latter part of last season. For the extensive amount of criticism Tito receives about not giving enough faith to the youth
    players he still doesn’t give up faith on the more established players, and you could see near the end of the season (ignoring the CL semis lol) the team was getting better collectively. Cesc, Sanchez, Pedro etc. were contributing more and more. Even with Messi being injured other players stepped in.

    Unfortunately Ultracule, that is how the tranfer market is for us. It could be many factors that explains why we find it so hard to sign anyone, but one factor could be that we often prefer to sign players with specific traits and explains why we take so long or have very few players on our radar. Madrid don’t really need specific traits, they want outright talented players, we don’t know but they could of had a very long shortlist of midfielders before signing Isco etc and it just so happens that Real Sociaded were in a good negotiating mood lol.

  17. Can’t help feeling that behind so much of the Thiago saga is Alex Song. Tito has liked whatvhe’s seen and knows he can use him as a distributor and, most imprtantly he will stiffen the defence in midfield, which will be vital with Messi and Neymar playing together.

    1. Agree. Maybe Tito thought that, with Thiago in the team there would be one too many showboaters.

  18. Chelsea have offered United Mata or Luiz plus 10million for Rooney. If this means Luiz and Mata are up for sale surely these would be ideal signings for Barca?

  19. A little help please! Everytime i log in on my android i get a message that the site is not secure, and then it constantly changes to a page offering to download candy crush!! My girlfriend is addicted to that crap and i dont want to know about it. Any advice about how i am connecting to BFB??? Thanks

    1. No replies yet? I mean, you’re serious, right? Well, never had a problem here, but android phones are forbidden at home 😈

    2. I assume the Android phone (or tablet) is yours. You can try to erase your browser and download and install it again (probably, you’ll lose your favorites). If that fails because you’ve got some unwanted sh** intercepting the calls from that browser in particular, just download another good browser: that should work, unless that infection works at a lower level and intercepts any call from any browser. Perhaps the best idea is to first download a different browser and see how it goes before uninstalling the current one. Bona sort!

    3. hey sorry guys. Im the opposite of tech-savvy.
      I just use the included internet access on my Samsung Galaxy SII. When I go to BFB I get a secutriy warning that there are problems with the security certficate for the site. I continue anyway, but then I often have problems with the page switching to a “pop-up” to download friggin’ candy crush. Doesnt do that on any other sites I visit . . .
      gonna try some fixes, maybe download mozilla?, and report back.

  20. A couple of comments and or questions…

    1. We desperately need a CB, but that won’t solve our defensive problems. In an ideal world, I’d go all in for Marquinhos.

    Once at Barça I’d give him significant playing time as a defensive right back. He played that position towards the end of the season against Milan and he did very well.

    It would give us the defensive balance our team has lacked since Abidal’s desease and it gives us time to brood him as a CB (the more challenging position) – think Puyol or Sergio Ramos.

    2. All in all I think Tito had a great press conference.

    He was confident and relaxed and gave pretty much the perfect answers regarding Thiago, Messi, Ney, Bartra, Cesc and all things related to the squad and the season to come.

    I don’t like that he made Pep look like a liar/fool with his comments about NYC but he was kind of left without a choice.

    It was Pep who, while by his own admission spending his time in NYC studying German, didn’t visit his friend of 28 years during two months of cancer treatment, not the other way round.

    This private affair should not have been leaked to the press, but I always wondered why does Tito not just come out and deny it. Now we know that since it was true, he couldn’t. Now that Pep called Barça out on this particular “lie”, Tito was put in the uncomfortable position to comment on it.

    3. Regarding PSG… Are the fair play rules coming into play this season or the next?

    1. Agreed in the first point, levon. The main alteration has to be in the more judicious use of our attacking FBs. If we have the numbers in defence things will improve to some extent on their own . The other biggie is having two CBs who know instinctively where the line should be held and move accordingly. Marquinhos could learn quite a bit at RB about this.

      In the second point the thing that keeps coming back to me is why Pep had a go at he board in these circumstances. He isn’t stupid. What was the best that could happen ? He was either trying to manipulate the situation in some way or not expecting any response from Tito. Either way, Tito said the minimum he could to make the situation clear and stopped there, preferring to emphasise the friendship. There was a horrible moment though where Tito recalling it stopped and I thought he was going to get emotional about it. As Tito correctly says though the longer we talk about it the more harm we do o the club.

      For point three my understanding was that they have been monitoring it for the last two seasons with report due on all CL clubs during next season but I could be wrong. No doubt PSG have blown a hole in their assessment but will anything happen?

    2. If they wanted balance on the right, they could just play Montoya. If Marquinhos reallocate come, he should play CB & only CB.

      Agreed with the rest.

    3. Let me be a bit more specific. I think he will make a good right back but I doubt very much that he will become one of the world’s best in his position.

    4. I think Montoya is another who is going to break out this season, if he gets proper playing time. He can regatear (dribble), hes got a wicked shot when he is on, and he is humble to the SYSTEM.

    5. Tito was put in the uncomfortable position to comment on it – Isnt that what the club did earlier as well, keeping mum on many issues, which finally made Pep lash out. Didnt we all wondered why the club was not doing enough.

    6. I think the wisdom of keeping your thoughts to yourself on occasion has been shown admirably by the situation Pep now finds himself in.

  21. When the rumors first came out that Mourinho didn’t want those 2 and we were interested, I thought it was just wild rumors but I guess there’s some truth in it.

    But no thanks. The players from Chelsea I wouldn’t mind are Oscar & Hazard.

    Btw, I find it great that Romeu was loaned out to Valencia. A strong La Liga team but I would’ve preferred Lucho to snap him.

  22. I know I shouldn’t care about what Marca posts, but this is outrageous. On making a list of the most expensive signings according to them, Ibrahimovic cost us 92.5 million euros. An outrageous lie.

    1. Give me a cent for every Marca lie and I’ll send my next comment from my new yatch!

  23. The boys over at SB Nation had a lengthy discussion on Marquinhos in the air ability. He is actually poor in terms of percentage. Here is the link that someone presented;


    There is another link that compares Marquinhos and Silva but I didn’t bookmark it. They’re pretty even according to that website. However Marquinhos has age on his side so he could improve even further and might surpass Silva.

  24. Good question about PSG and FFP, and here’s the deal:

    They have a sponsorship deal similar to the one that we have with Qatar Waste Management, with the Qatar Tourism Board. That sponsorship is worth almost 300m per season. It is a legitimate sponsorship, that works as part of the club’s balance sheet as regards FFP.

    So PSG functionally has no debt, and this big ol’ sponsorship pool of funds from which to choose. It’s why they can, if the player wants to move, get any player they like, and they can’t be outbid. A player would have to want to go to the team that bid less.

    For instance, Marquinhos. We bid 22, they bid 30. We bid 30, they bid 35. We bid 32, they bid 45. And they just bought Cavani for 67m but still, theoretically, have plenty of money to spend. It completely changes everything on the market, and makes the traditional “big” clubs, fiscally small.

    P.S. Yesterday was the day that clubs had to submit their FFP compliance papers. The rule, by the by, comes into full effect for the 2014 season, but we will start seeing its early effects this season. It’s year early so that teams who aren’t in compliance can get their houses in order.

    1. Thanks for that Kevin. This is what I think is so beautiful and important about Barça and the “system”. Of course keeping a masia isnt cheap, but when a team is based around a plan, an organic system which uses players for their functionality but also breeds and leaves space for indvidual brilliance, you get something that a checkbook alone cant create.
      You have always been a believer in the system, that the failure of any one player is a failure in the system.
      It is also why I get more frustrated when the club doesnt give enough opportunities to our home-grown talent than I do when the club fails to outbid another or use guile and incentives to draw a global superstar.

  25. So…
    All you guys that were hoping for his signing, you can kiss your Marquinhos goodbye! We have been outbid. Yet again.
    Recent reports surfacing from Spain, that the staff see Afellay as a versatile player and will be counting on him to fill at center back next season.

    1. Ultracule is kidding about Afellay, but yes, 35m has turned the Marquinhos trick. Player is reportedly in Paris to finalize the deal.

    2. So we lost another promising player. I was hoping he would say no to PSG and come to us. But according to Zubi we didn’t make a proper offer for him. Who knows..

  26. I’m fed up! (I’ve looked for a fuming smiley, but there’s none). I’m listening to RAC-1 19h-21h sports program and another hired «pundit», Pitu Abril, has trashed Guardiola for 55 ❗ minutes… He began following to the letter the absurd argumentation devised by EMD’s Santi Nolla almost a week ago, and then proceeded to portrait Pep as a wicked person because nobody at the board said anything bad about him, and you can’t leave alone a friend you’ve known for 28 years. No nuances, no perhaps, no ifs, no nothing.

    No less than 55 minutes, people!

    I’ve resolved to not post anything about this from now on (surely most of you are fed up with this too), and I hope I will be able to honor it. And I’m thinking seriously to stop listening to these programs for some time.


    1. I looked for one letting off steam through the ears and/or the nostrils, but, yeah, 👿 could work (although it’s labeled as «evil»)… There’s also 😡 , but it’s not enough. Anyways, I hope I don’t need it again!

    2. I’ve stopped reading Sport’s and MD’s opinion articles for the same reason. We still have Marti Perarnau, Ruben Uria, Cristian Pulina to read Barça news and opinion articles from Spain though.
      I wanted to ask you about journalists with as much credibility as those, especially Perarnau (and the writers sharing articles in his blog) and Uria…

    3. Yes, I like both, Perarnau and Uría, although Perarnau, who is invited now and then to RAC-1 and CAT Ràdio late-night sports programs, has approached the Pep vs Rosell affair with a «neutrality» that, in the end, favors Rosell. Anyway, he’s one of the best footbal analyst we have here.

      As for Uría (who is from Madrid and an Atleti follower), he talks about things Barça every now and then, but is almost always spot on. He came to many culés attention when, some years ago, he published a complete list of all the presidents of the spanish football referee association between the beginnings of Franco’s regime and the 90’s, detailing their strong relations with RM.

      One of the best places to visit is a web called «Periodistas y Anónimos», that gathers opinion articles from a lot of journalists (including some from Argentina) and articles from amateurs (which are mostly crap). A warning, though: if you don’t wish to feel pissed-off, avoid any article they reprint from «El confidencial» because they’re worst than those of Marca or As, no small feat at all. The link:


      You’ll have to learn who’s worth reading and who’s not by trial and error.

    4. Other knowledgeable football journalists are Ramon Besa (El País), Ricard Torquemada (CAT Ràdio) and Santi Segurola (Marca).

      Although he doesn’t write that much, another nice journo is Carles Torras, a Catalan living in Madrid. He was the one that created the term «Central Lechera (Dairy Central)» to designate the think-tank made up of some leading Madrid sports journalists who, under the instructions of Florentino, devised all sorts of anti-Barça orchestrated campaigns and «memes». This expression became famous when Pep alluded to it in his «Mou is the f*** boss» presser before that CL-semis match in Madrid.

      More on Periodistas y Anónimos.

      There are new pieces every day. Today, for example, one finds new pieces by Carles Torras himself, Martin Castilla (from Cancha Llena, Argentinian paper), Rubén Uría (Yahoo-Eurosport), Luís Martín (El País), a recent addition, Danae Boronat (Yahoo-Eurosports), and others.

      At the end of each piece there’s a link to the original source.

    5. Thank you Culetoon! This is a lot of useful info to read Barça-related articles 🙂

  27. Something occurred to me…

    The line goes, we should be building the next five years’ midfield around Thiago.

    If the decisions are any indicator, it looks like we are building the next five years’ midfield around Busquets.

    Realizing this, I feel better. Seems clearly the way to go.

    1. Plus, at least, Iniesta, I hope (apparently, he’s the next one to renew his contract).

    2. This. Next in line to Xavi, I think Busquets IS the system. Thiago didnt win his spot because he was in a hurry to incorporate the flash into his game, and made too many dangerous mistakes because of it. Busquets has had his share of blunders (Im thinking of Madrid’s Supercopa gol), but they are usually more human error than bad decision making. He is always thinking of the tiki-taka amoeba when he acts.

  28. Good piece on why Cesc has not been the failure some people claim. I wish I could like the player more. I dont know if its his dives, bitchy attitude, the way he seems to just give up in some games, or just his face, but he’s a player that really gets on my nerves. I’ll have to get used to him, though, because I think he will be important to the club for years to come . . .


    1. Yes, I’ve always felt some vague uneasiness about Cesc, too (although less last season). And that ESPN piece is very revealing.

    2. Reveiling how? Statistically speaking Cesc has been great, I don’t think that is a secret to anybody who follows the club and/or player. Yet too many games in which we see him play, those numbers just don’t add up somehow.

      I think Cesc has been a better player for Arsenal and Spain than for Barça. Who’s to blame? I don’t know (if anybody). He certainly has the talent to be a more dominant force for us than he has shown over the last years. Let’s hope that this season he truly comes into his own.

    3. It’s revealing for those of us that are not fond of statistics, which are still seen as a way of looking at sports very appreciated in the USA but that, in Europe, has only really caught on Basketball.

      For me, and for many others here, it’s more a matter of seeing and feeling. And although I do appreciate such numbers because they make me see Cesc in another light, I fear I’ll feel that same uneasiness now and then during next season, because, as you say, those numbers just don’t add up somehow. And they don’t add up, precisely, because they don’t fit with what you see and feel watching him play.

      Anyway, I still believe in him and, as I said, I liked him better last season.

    4. I want to rant on about Cesc but my cule heart is weak and the ensuing debate might feel like something approaching Dimitri Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto no.1 in A minor, scherzo Allegro 2nd movement ;)(listening to it now!)
      Anyway agree with what Culetoon is suggesting. For me football is all about feeling and while statistics gives us a lot of insight but in Cesc’s case it just doesn’t do it for me. Cesc’s play contains a lot of errors still but those problems can be solved with deeper understanding of our style. The fact that he isn’t on the same page with Xavi or Iniesta is just one of those symptoms. I don’t think he is slow slow but slow regarding how quickly one can read the game. Before he arrived here his Technique looked good enough for me(not so much now). This are awareness issues. I really wanted to be more specific at this point I’m quite tired ;(.
      He is a key component of our side now and I hope he will get better because it high time he does.

      Also I don’t think it’s his face ;P.

    5. Thanks for the link to the piece on Cesc, it contains a lot of the points I keep making in my head about the player.

      In particular, this idea you read out there that he has somehow been buried on the bench is just wrong. He played plenty — more minutes in the Liga than any other Barça midfielder!

      So when I read “Cesc has failed to feature much for Barça, he is planning a move back to the PL” I know someone’s out of touch with reality. Cesc moved, fully knowing what he was doing, to a club that had three of the best (I might say simply the three best!) midfielders in the world, as well as a midfielder starlet in the wings. He could not possibly have expected, in that situation, to get more minutes than he has! He has shared the load with the big three, and eaten enough of Thiago’s minutes that the kid has decided to be gone. And surely, as long as the coach has confidence in him, this will only increase in future years as Xavi ages; for Cesc to come here during the years Xavi is still active, and then leave before Xavi inevitably slows down, would be really dumb. I can’t believe Cesc’s expectations are that far from reality; so I can only assume it’s mostly the expectations of the media, the English media in particular.

      The article mentions how Cesc played more minutes in the Liga than any other midfielder. What they don’t mention is that he played considerably less in the CL. I think the one thing we can agree he has not yet “succeeded” in doing is cracking the first-choice starting XI. So he played more minutes in the Liga, which we locked down early, than in the CL, where we were struggling more and Tito/Jordi felt the need for our “big three” more regularly. So cracking the lineup in the biggest games is maybe still in his future; but what else could he have expected, moving to Barcelona?

      In the bigger picture, I keep being confused about expectations that seem to exist for players at Barça, that players transfer here and then are “failures” if they don’t crack the first-choice XI of the best team in the world. (Cesc, also Song, even Alexis who played a lot, and you heard it about Masch at first.) Why should anyone have that expectation? Look at our eternal rival. Benzema and Higuain have shared the striker’s duties for years; that may finally be coming to an end but they have been willing to accept a smaller role for the sake of a big club. Their midfield has been the same, with players like Kaka and Modric playing sometimes, but not all the time, because there are also players like Ozil and di Maria. That will be even worse this year. This is rotation, and at big clubs that play many games it is often a necessary thing. But at Barça there seems to be an expectation that if a player is being rotated, they must be frustrated and unhappy and eager to leave, even though surely they knew who else played for the team they were joining.

      Anyway, I do like Cesc, and I have been confident he’s not going anywhere; it’s nice to see these rumors are apparently just rumors, or posturing by United to make it look like they’re doing something. I didn’t believe the Guardian saying either we had to sell Cesc because we needed the money after buying Neymar(!) and I don’t believe their recent statement that Cesc has decided to spend “one more year” at Barça before leaving, which sounds like just a face-saving backpedal for them.

      I have been OK with Thiago leaving, but only because we have Cesc. To sell both in one summer would be a disaster. I hope/expect to see much more of the dominant Cesc we saw in the 5-0 over Mallorca in years to come.

  29. Those who are wishing for Luiz, Silva, Marquinhos etc get ready to see Iñigo Martínez in a Barca shirt at the start of the season. That is the only transfer that’s gonna happen.

    1. Perhaps that will be the best solution. Moreover, he’s played with Bartra at 2011 U-20 WC and 2013 U-21 EC, so that could (?) be a bonus.

    2. It’s a witty play with words (astuto juego de palabras con rima en la última sílaba).
      Well, I hoped for Marquinhos, but at least the Thiago’s drama will soon be over.

    3. What a baaaaad joke! Boooooo! (I miss a booing smiley. I miss a lot of smileys these days)

  30. Perhaps that will be the best solution. Moreover, he’s played with Bartra at 2011 U-20 WC and 2013 U-21 EC, so that could (?) be a bonus.

    1. He’s good but I’d start sMasch over him. He will be good in 2 seasons time or so but not good enough to start for CB atm.

  31. Three days of training, and Adriano isn’t broken. Wow.

    — Montoya had a presser today, and said all the right things: No way in hell he’s thinking of leaving. He hopes for more playing time, but understands the quality of the player in front of him. He would love to play in the World Cup, but understands that there are incumbents in front of him, etc.

    All the stuff, essentially, that it would have been lovely to hear Thiago say.

    — Tello will be signed, sealed and delivered, renewed with a nice, fat buyout clause and a raise. Draw your own conclusions about how the club values him, but it’s good news for the attack.

    — My problem with Fabregas, even given his statistical effectiveness, is that he is so insufferably slow that as soon as he goes forward and possession is turned, there is no way in hell that he’s going to be able to get back. He often even stops trying.

    And because he plays usually left of center, that means that he AND Alba are caught up. No wonder opponents found joy on that left side in big competitions. Messi standing around, Fabregas caught up, Alba out for popcorn ….

    He is a very effective player, particularly off the ball. His movement is a pain in the butt for opponents. If he had pace, dude would be remarkable.

    And apparently Wenger confirmed that Arsenal does have first rights if he should decide to leave Barça.

    — ATM has called BS on the notion that we have any sort of first rights to Oliver Torres. Curiously, on the same day, a report that our scouts watched him at U20s and have glowing reports. Imagine that.

    1. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’d struck some deal about Oliver Torres. But I’d be very surprised if any of the parties, specially Atleti, said something in this regard. Atleti fans would burn something. Or someone.

    2. Alba does get caught out at times but he always runs back!

      I would love Rosell to get some clause in Oliver like a first option but I guess their president won’t lie and their clubs might indeed go nuts.

      But Culetoon, why do you predict them to go so mad, of course not as you said because that’s obviously an exaggeration. They weren’t mad about Torres. Why Oliver? He’s still unproven.

    3. He does, but the times that he gets back in time to prevent damage aren’t as often as people would like to think.

      The Atleti supporters would be mad for the same reason cules were mad about Thiago: Their bright, shining future star is being nabbed by a competitor.

    4. @barca96:

      Apparently, Atleti’s board lies a lot! They were judged and sentenced years ago for some illegal manoeuvres with Atleti’s properties. If you wish to know more, just search among Rubén Uría’s pieces at http://es.eurosport.yahoo.com/blogs/ruben-uria/, and you’ll find all the info: it’s Uría’s favorite theme.

      About Oliver, what Kxevin says: it would be a Thiago-like cry, but it would be so today. I don’t really think that Atleti fans would protest that much in three-four years time. They are very used to see their star of the moment being sold after a couple of seasons (Falcao being the last one, Torres and Agüero before), and they would prefer a thousand times seeing him at Barça than at RM.

  32. The situation in FCB will worsen this year. TITO is not a good person. He started as a coach several years before PEP and had no chance of being noticed until PEP gives him the chance to be his second. Role he has held very well. He agree to be the coach of FCB knowing very well that there was a serious problem between PEP and ROSSEL and it is that problem that caused the departure of PEP from FCB. To assert as FCB coach, TITO decided to cut ties with PEP in 2012. But when he fell seriously ill, he expected that his friend of 28 years that he himself had rejected some months earlier to help. So the public attitue of TITO few days ago saying he needed PEP and PEP had not been there is a very big lie. What TITO has not apreciated is that PEP frequent CRUIF who is the only person to have publicly explained that TITO should stop this train and devoted to his healht. Cruif doesent think that TITO can coach FCB after the medical problem he has experienced . He took himself as an example. CRUIF was coach of FCB and also undergone big health problem. For CRUIF is definititly impossible for TITO to coach FCB and he go public with that stamenent

    1. Let’s refrain from passing judgement on who is or is not a “good person” in a personal matter we really know nothing about, shall we? There is enough of that in the media. Move along.

    2. But what exactly is the problem between pep and rosell, and why does it have to be titos problem? And why does Cruyff, from the sidelines, know what tito should or shouldnt do. Tito is a big grown up man, not pep or cryffs lap-dog. We should trust him to make his own decisions, at least for now. He did just win us the liga, which used to mean something.

      Sorry REM but your argument sounds based more on emotion than logical conclusions.

    3. As far as Vilanova not being a good person, what is that supposition based in? Is that “not a good coach,” or “not a good human being?”‘

      Simple fact of the matter is that he and Guardiola helped to create the Barça that we enjoy watching every week. And I would guess that he agreed to coach the club, irrespective of what kind of business was going on between Rosell and Guardiola, and whatever role Cruijff might have been playing behind the scenes. He took the job because he believed that he can do it.

      Then he did it, battling cancer and a biblical injury run to lead this club to a record-setting Liga crown. So if the “bad person” is from a coaching standpoint, permit me to vigorously disagree with you.

      If the “bad person” is from a personal standpoint, that is something that none of us have any clue about, but based on what we see of his dealings with people and players, and the humanizing effect that a serious illness has on you, it would be pretty difficult to imagine how in ANY circumstance he could be a “bad person.”

      Vilanova said that he and Guardiola were friends. Period. You, or any of us, know nothing about Vilanova cutting ties with Guardiola, or rejecting him in any way. Guardiola went on a sabbatical in New York, and wanted to be left alone. When Vilanova was ill, he and Guardiola spent time together, though apparently not as much time as Vilanova would have liked. And that’s that.

      Vilanova now says that he is better and raring to go. And frankly, I care not a whit what Cruijff or any other retired anything thinks about the club. Cruijff had his own issues. Still does. Whether Vilanova is healthy enough to coach this team matters to two people: Vilanova and Rosell. Both say he is good to go, so he is our coach.

    4. Welcome REM.

      I like most of us here don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes but you seem to know more than we do. So you please clarify where you got the details or your sources from?

      Or are those claims based on your assumptions?

    5. Welcome REM!

      I would comment on what you say but, since I’m fed up with this issue, and since I said that I would not comment any more about it, I’ll shut up (another smiley missing, that with a zipper on his lips!).

  33. So David Luiz came out today and said pretty plainly that he isn’t going anywhere, that was followed by Mourinho saying the same thing. So with Thiago looking close to impossible, Marquinos on the verge of signing with PSG and Luiz making it clear he doesn’t want to move, where does that leave us? Any other centre backs in the market we can go for? I have heard us linked with Agger who I actually like a lot and wouldn’t cost anywhere near as much as the other two. Then there is always Martinez who impressed alongside Barta at the U21, but not sure how much we should rely on his performances in that competition. Cant say that I have seen him play much in La Liga, anyone know how good he actually is? Would he really be so much better than Barta who we already have..

    Other than those two who else is there?

    1. Well, there’s that French dude from Porto, Mangala I think his name is. People speak very well of him. 1.87m, physical, fast, young (22y). Haven’t seen him play, though.

    1. Thanks. As you say I’m struggling to assess whether we were ever part of this situation. If not, who are we working on? We aren’t getting TS so that should have stopped but there should have been a plan B.

  34. Mangala? he’s not in their plans, … Daniel Agger? he looks average to me, he’s 28 .. he’s aging. and who’s inigo Martinez? i’d rather play Batra. Koschieny ..lol Vermalen.. Smh

    We had the worst defence for the 1st time after 51 years (1962). instead of addressing our defensive problems, u go to Presser and do Tito vs Pep.

    I thought by now we wud hv signed a CB bcos w/ our system players need time to adjust, so the earlier we buy the better. how painful is it to see Marquinhos sign for PSG

  35. Re Cesc, Tito and Pep:

    Cesc’s inclusion was an experiment worth making. Under Pep’s tactics that morphed formations seamlessly during and in between matches, Cesc had a genuine role to play which if, had continued last season, would likely have triggered a genuine evolution in several aspects of his game. 3-4-3 with Cesc at the tip of the midfield diamond works in our advantage. But need Abidal-Pique/Mascherano – Puyol/Pique for that. (e.g. at Bernabeu (3-1)’11, 5-0 v Villareal at Camp Nou) Or, play Cesc as a false 9 with somebody like Alexis on the left, a winger with play making abilities and superior decision making + leadership skills. Need to bench Messi for that- Not cool, apparently! The team with an in-form Cesc, also thrives in high intensity games, against teams that looks to break down play around the center circle or higher up, via aggressive pressing. (Thanks to the managers who does that!) But for that the whole squad needs to be in shape, fitness wise. (Sevilla (3-2)’12 springs to mind) Also, the team is required to be mean and kill the game off when the momentum is in favor (which he usually refuse to do, similar to La Roja).

    However, with an increasing amount of teams, especially in Europe, which are willing to sit back and pay heavy fine for parking violations, effectively neutralizes what Cesc has to offer to the point of being counterproductive for the team, where he can only offer long range shot to be effective. In games like these, I’d rather see Cesc and Busi swap roles on the pitch in the 2nd half, past the hour mark.

    The set up under Tito, games with Messi in and Iniesta/Xavi rested, Cesc at a Roaming (some [read me] call it The Tourist) role is not a model of consistent success. Messi inevitably falls deeper than usual and takes more burden on himself, which is again, a bit counter productive against team that don’t tire themselves out mentally by the hour mark any more and they don’t offer the space behind the CBs (or creates an illusion of it intentionally) that Cesc can exploit with Messi falling deep.

    Tito has offered continuity to the team in concrete terms. He has retained a major silverware (one that ensures continuity) and in the process enhanced the performance of the away games during the first half of the season, compared to Pep’s last season. Although Pep balanced things out with a superior fitness level that stretched till March/April and we went ever so close to the final in Munich, thanks to his far-sighted, peripheral vision which implemented rotation of players, formations, strategies that importantly kept the mind fresh and creative, at a crucial stage of the season. We even chased the Liga with a decent measure of heroics, a feat that I’d be extremely proud for a long, long time, despite of not winning it eventually. So there were trade-offs with how Pep and Tito engineered their last and first season respectively. Both offered continuity with a decent measure of contrast with respective perspectives. Idealistic vs Realistic || Long run vs Short run – depends on how one perceives it.

    I would like to congratulate Tito, of course, and give him a benefit of doubt and wait another season to make any overall judgement. Strongly feel his absence that led player rotation missing in action through Roura, took heavy toll on the team, thus affected the end season fitness level. Also, the NT breaks contributed to the decay (most notably during the important game against France, ARG vs Bolivia at high altitude) in brief yet high-dose. Cant blame Tito for NT issue, the players as well, most of whom are national heroes and leaders on the pitch.

    Coming back to Cesc and combining the continuity issue, I’d be inclined to conclude that Pep played better than Tito relatively and contributed to a higher growth of the player, meant to get dynamic and diversify in the long run. However, not all is lost yet and Cesc has one more season to prove himself, after which he has to be measured irrespective of statistics. He has to make Busquetes, Xavi, Iniesta play better around him and this should be noticeable. Can only wish him luck for that.

    So when Tito includes Cesc in his starting line-up, he needs to consider the factors: a. Type of opponent he’s up to. – Is the manager Pellegrini/Pepe Mel/Bielsa/Bielsa type or Mourinho/other Bus drivers type? b. Time of the year, is it Hlebuary? Teams overall fitness vs Cesc’s form ratio? c. The upcoming schedule- play out of form Cesc to rest Iniesta/Xavi as a trade off? d. etc…

    Kari have had made some interesting view points, back in the “1-1 Espanyol’12” game (a turning point of that season in some way) review:

    “The Cesc Complexity:

    I find Cesc Fabregas a very interesting player. He’s not particularly fast, his first touch isn’t the best on the team, but he has a wonderful GPS in his head that probably flashes green arrows every now and again that tells him ‘Hey, Cesc, move that way! You’ll find space there!’ and more often than not he’ll do some kind of damage using that space, whether it be scoring a goal or providing an assist.

    Take the goal he scored today in the 15th minute….Wonderful goal. He shadows Leo’s runs so, so well.

    That being said, he brings a host of other issues both directly and indirectly.

    His role in the team is still a weird one. It’s kind of like he’s in a free role, but not really. When he’s playing in an advanced position, he’ll have a positive effect. However, when he’s playing in said advanced position, shadowing Messi’s runs or creating confusion – “anarchy” as Pep calls it, as when the opposition defenders see him they think, “Wait, when you get here? Aren’t you supposed to be in the midfield?”—there’s no one to support Xavi, Iniesta and Busi in the midfield, particularly during counters.

    In other words, sure, we have another player up front, but we’re a man short in the midfield of all places.
    So not cool. And totally rains on Pep’s total midfield domination parade.

    So whenever we lost the ball, our transition defense (ie. When we go from ‘let’s score a billion goals on these mofos’ to ‘ah crap, we lost the ball, all hands on deck!’) suffered. Badly. We didn’t have enough players to defend the Espanyol ones that were streaking forward.

    Added to that was Alves playing too far up the pitch in his right wing role. When he’s playing that high, and Cesc is off to scale Mount Shadow Striker, he’s got to make sure he’s careful not to lose possession on his side. Why? Because he’s only got Puyol and Xavi, who probably drifts to the middle, behind to cover. As much as I love ‘em, they’re not exactly the Spanish Usain Bolts. And there’s only so much ground Busi’s Bambi legs can cover. (A lot, to be fair, but still).”

    – That was way back in January, 2012. Then a season and a half passed by. Issues survived, unsolved. (Soon “things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend and..” – q: Okay I should stop here.)

  36. I have a question. We all know Barca need a CB but, what CB is out there available who suites our style? Also, is Tito being too picky on what kind he wants that he’s not being flexible or is there no real good CB available?

    I find it hard to believe that when the best team in the world is looking for a CB and the chances of getting regular play time in that position is high, how come no one is ‘offering’ themselves or seems willing to come play?

    1. Well, that is one of the things that makes it hard. How many minutes can one expect to get when competing with Puyol, Piqué, Masch and, Bartra?

      Maybe the top defenders want to be the top dogs of their defense and young defenders might think they can get more regular pt elsewhere…

    2. There is most definitely a room for a top defender there and he won’t have to worry about playing time

      Puyol will most likely spend most of the season injured (not that I wish it, but it’s quite likely), and even when he’s healthy, we cannot play nearly as often as he used to. With Thiago gone, Song can and probably will play positions in midfield other than DM, which means Masch can play DM again in a number of games. And we don’t know how many other injuries we will sustain but it is highly unlikely there won’t be any.

    3. That’s why Marquinhos would have been ideal. He is still young and therefore cannot demand being a starter all the time. But that ship has sailed…

  37. Hey guys I’m kind of worried about the CB situation. With thiago silva almost ruled out, losing out on marquinhos, and with David Luiz going nowhere, mourinho said this, who are we even looking at? I’ve heard several names out there but none that I am that happy about. Also, a roma source has come out and said that Barcelona never even made a formal bid for marquinhos.

    Which brings me to my next question? How do these bidding and transfers even take place. Does Roma have to let Barcelona know that psg has made a bid? Or was the whole thing wrapped up before Barcelona could even make a move?

    Excellent moves from the board this year tho. I’m especially happy with the way we have treated our youngsters.

    Anyways, here’s to hoping we get a class cb sometime soon and that we don’t tire our players to exhaustion this season. We had an awesome first half of the season and then I just remember pain after that.

    also wanted to say thanks to all the mods for having such a great blog and online community.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Kenny!

      I share your concern about the CB situation – we should have gone for Marquinhos, imo.

  38. When I see the picture of our new asst. coach, Ruby, I have a feeling we now have a very intelligent guy in our coaching staff. I dont know anything about Ruby, but I am very intutive (which has mostly helped me a lot, personally) and some how I get this feeling, Ruby is special.
    Am I the only one to think so.

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