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

thiago

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Written by:

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.

326 Comments

  1. Huckleberry
    July 14, 2013

    Btw Rummenigge has good reasons ” to avoid risk of tax problems” as barcastuff mentioned 😉
    And perhaps Tito and Pep are still in good contact and do there own business for the best of all parts as they see it.

  2. CuleToon
    July 14, 2013

    It’s an honor for me, Kxevin, that you have reproduced my post here. I thank you very much for this.

    And since I’ve been «Hectored» with a comment on Thiago, I’ll take some advantadge of your kindness and I’ll repost it here.

    *************

    Pfffeeewww… at last! Thiago leaves… Such a relief!

    Two years ago you said you wanted to succeed in football (not in Barça): well there you are, now you can do it! You, a half-cooked young player, demanded —demanded— a minimum of playing time, or else you wanted your clause to be 18 mill? Fine, sure you’ll get that playing time you demand now. You know, we’ve got some good players waiting to fill your position here, and good people too; look no further than Tello: his clause has been 10 mill and here he is, demanding nothing and working hard to earn his playing time.

    Many of us will not miss you, nor your fancy passing tricks, nor your dangerous lost balls, nor your lack of hard work in defense (nor your daddy, by the way). Many of us haven’t seen nothing in you that makes us regret your departure.

    You never made us stand from our sit in awe, Thiago!

    So, «Bon vent i barca nova, Thiago!», good riddance to you!

    • BA
      July 14, 2013

      wholeheartedly disagree. clearly the brightest talent to come directly from our academy into the first team since… Messi himself? and we’re giving him away, albeit for something approaching a respectable price, however even then…

      we recently paid Arsenal twice as much for Cesc Fabregas; is Cesc Fabregas twice the player Thiago is, in the same position?

      so Mazinho played hardball with the Barça board to get that playing time stipulation in Thiago’s contract; with THIS board, wouldn’t you? Tello can afford to not push for a move because, simply, he isn’t as talented. in modern football, you allow for talent or it goes elsewhere; the modesty and diligence of Xavi and Iniesta are admirable outliers, but they ARE anomalies and we can’t expect every quality player to act like them in their dealings with the club. this, again, reeks of Rosell in the background. he ditches a player who played hardball in contract talks (due to his father being a former professional and knowing how the game is played) in order to shift focus to HIS signing Fabregas.

      meanwhile on the footballing front, with Xavi aging it leaves us even fewer realistic options through midfield, and we’re still selling players when we have the shortest squad of any competing for the Champion’s League. half of our players play for Spain, and we’ve all seen the effects of long-term fatigue on them at the end of last season. Sergi Roberto might be good enough to step up, but i doubt it; and he’ll certainly be green and not capable of starting Champions League games, as Thiago was trusted to do.

      as for not standing in awe, well, did Iniesta in his first 2 seasons? has Fabregas done that ever? that’s a pretty unrealistic metric for a player who is still, let’s remember, 22.

      is anybody going to argue that it’s NOT a terrible piece of business to voluntarily sell your most promising young player to strengthen a team that annihilated you 7-0 the season before?

      • nia
        July 14, 2013

        What did you want Barca to do, hold him against his will? If someone wants to leave as Thiago has hinted a few times so has his father(even admitting to speaking to EE), isn’t it better he leaves rather than keeping a player under false pretense and disruption in the dressing room?

        As much as we all thought that Thiago was heir apparent to Xavi, midfield, players and games and style of play change all the time. As good as Xavi is we, where beaten badly in the CL with him playing coz we were playing a better opponent. The game is evolving and Bayern didn’t have a ‘Xavi’ like player but, they still won didn’t they. Lets not get carried away by trying to find someone to replace Xavi instead, we need a long term solution of how the team dynamics will change after he retires and how they should play without him.

        I’m going to argue and say, it’s not a terrible piece of business at all. Now we have more kitty for a defender and Thiago is happy. If Thiago had Barca DNA, he would have stayed and fought for a spot no matter what.

        • BA
          July 15, 2013

          no club can hold a player against their will; what they CAN do is make it more attractive for that player to stay, via raises/guarantees/etc..

          our players hint at leaving all the time; it’s a time-honored way of wrangling a new contract. this board isn’t staffed by naive young lambs, they know how that works. it’s simply bad math: there are no young players of Thiago’s quality available for the price we’re selling him for, and we’re selling him to a direct Champions League rival who already have a huge leg up on us.

          you say it gives us more of a kitty for a defender, great. who is that defender? Thiago Silva? isn’t going anywhere. Marquinos? is going to play with Thiago Silva, if anywhere. we can’t out-bid Qatar or the UAE-backed clubs; what we CAN do is offer players the chance to play with a spectacular squad full of dynamic, hungry players… of which Thiago was one of the most dynamic and hungry.

          my question to all the Arsenal-esque Barça supporters is: when did you all suddenly become accountants? football clubs, regardless of what Sandro Rosell and his ilk say, are NOT businesses; they have always and will always be in some kind of debt, and the game is still here. what’s another 25m if it means a reduced squad (which we now have)? we saved a heck of a lot of money last summer by not putting in for Javi Martinez or Thiago Silva, how did that work out for us?

          i’m tired of cules buying into the idea, perpetuated by this board, that a balanced sheet is the end-all, be-all of football. we’ve seen that in the mindset at Arsenal, and they’ve won fuck-all. meanwhile, we’ve seen huge-money clubs like Manchester City, Chelsea and PSG hoover up talent and win titles on the back of it; unless we sell FCB to Saudi Arabia we cannot compete with them in terms of money. we have to compete, then, in the short-term on the strength of our current squad and in the long-term on the strength of our cantera. we’re doing neither of those things any favours by selling Thiago, our most promising young player.

          • Huckleberry
            July 15, 2013

            Hmm, Bayern? Winning steadily AND making profit every year…

          • nia
            July 15, 2013

            You seem more rattled from that 7-0 loss than you’re letting on. TBH, I don’t think Barca wanted Thiago. If they did, they would have made everything possible for him to stay. We never know everything that happens behind closed doors so there’s not point in arguing something we can’t control.

          • If I have to blame someone for the Thiago issue, I would blame the management especially sporting director. He should know why he allowed such a stupid clause in the deal. Especially considering that we already had Fabregas and bought Song in addition to it, there was no way we could guarantee a minimum playing time for Thiago. Even then I believe he enjoyed more playing time than anyone of his age could have expected. I can guarantee that he would not have that much playing time at Bayern.

            And it looks foolish now to look back and see Jonathan Dos Santos sitting in stands for majority of last season. We could have given him some more minutes. It strange! We had one guy who we could never retain and another whom we could never throw out. It would have been better to give some minutes to the one who was desperately trying to hang on.

  3. TITO
    July 14, 2013

    I’m with you on this. He wants to go, let him go.
    I’m not very sentimental with this sort of things. If a certain players feels and thinks that he’ll be better somewhere else, so be it, it’s his choice. No regrets, ever.
    What was the reason leaving? Having more minutes, bonding with Pep again, bigger chance to flourish and have a go at the WC, larger salary, more respect from the coaches, who knows…it’s just him and his DAD.
    He doesn’t want to play for us? Good, have a nice day.
    I don’t feel bad or sad or sorry that he is leaving, at all. That’s how it was meant to be. Surely now is the chance for someone else to fill up that hole and i’m more than sure it will be, so Thiago will never be missed.

  4. Oliver
    July 14, 2013

    Hi all, Have really appreciated hearing all the thoughts here, as always. Thanks to Kxevin and CuleToon especially. Just delurking to share my own thoughts — I used to post very occasionally as FalseNine, but I think more than one person may have used some version of that, so anyway I’ll just use my name.

    While Thiago is obviously a quality player, I am not too surprised or saddened to see him go. The fact is he has been blocked since we signed Cesc; we have four world-class players in the midfield competing for three slots, and while it’s easy for us to tell Thiago to be patient, I can’t blame him for leaving for another top-notch club where he thinks he’ll play much more. United clearly would have had a starting position ready to go, but going to Bayern is a bit of a gamble — he is basically trusting Pep that there will be a significant place for him, since otherwise he is just leaving one stacked midfield for another that’s almost as stacked. If he sits on the bench after all, then he’ll look foolish. But I cannot blame him for feeling he is ready now, and wanting to go and play. He is a player, and players want to compete, and it’s not like he’s giving up Barça for FC Podunk in the Swiss B league; he’s going to Bayern. So best of luck to him.

    As for our team, to me it is not a bad piece of business, but whether it’s a success or a failure can’t be evaluated in a vacuum, we have to see what else the club does. We are selling from a position of strength, and that makes sense, as long as we get a decent payment for our player — and if it’s really 25 million euros, I think that’s not bad. How often do we sell players for real money? Then the question is, what are we going to do with that money. If we turn around in the coming days and land a high-quality center back, then I am prepared to call the whole thing a win. Bright as Thiago’s future may be, we have a very strong midfield and a questionable central defense. I know in recent years we have fielded teams with six or seven midfielders, but that experiment has not solved our real problems in the back. Ultimately, if we sell our fifth-best midfielder to acquire someone like Thiago Silva, who would immediately become our best or second-best central defender, then we’ve reallocated our resources toward making a complete team, instead of just a collection of talent. With such a strong cantera serving one of the world’s great clubs, not every player will start for the first team — not even every player as talented as Thiago. It will always be that way as long as we are so lucky to have the club we have. The key is evaluating which ones to let go, getting something for them, and turning around to fix our weaknesses as a result. Half of that has been accomplished here; I’m eager to see what the next step is.

    Yes, in a few years Thiago may be a world-class player; or maybe not. He clearly has the potential to be that, but that’s not the same as actually doing it. The club could be sending away a future Ballon d’Or winner, I suppose, but we could also be selling a prospect who never lives up to his potential at the height of his value. Most likely the truth will be in the middle; it would not surprise me at all if Thiago ended up a high-quality player, but never as good as any of our top four midfielders.

    For now, Song and Sergi Roberto should be capable to be our fifth and sixth midfielders. And in the future, even as Xavi slows down we will still have Iniesta, Cesc and Busi in our midfield; and it would not surprise me at all if Messi starts playing even deeper one day, and we “replace” Xavi by adding another forward. Regardless, a team with the resources of Barça can afford to kick that problem a few years down the road, if that’s what it takes to solve the defense problem now. If we need to sell Thiago Alcantara, a blocked prospect, to obtain Thiago Silva, a world-class player at a position of need, then that’s a stronger Barça team for 2013/14 and 2014/15, and we have the resources to worry about the more distant future a little later on.

    • CuleToon
      July 15, 2013

      I concur with you. We get rid of someone that doesn’t want to play here, as he’s entitled to do, and get 25 mill., which is a lot for a promise. And, as you say, Xavi’s spot can be occupied by a lot of present and future players. I’ve always seen Messi —if Rosell doesn’t make him leave! 🙂 — playing Xavi’s role in some years, when his speed decreases. And I also see Busi in this position, in a move exactly like that which Rikjaard made with Xavi himself, moving him from the «4» position to the «8» position. In fact, I’d vote for putting Busi there! (before coming to Barça —at 17, I think— he played as center forward, go figure!).

      Then there’s Samper for the near future. Those who can, follow him at Barça B next season. As for Sergi Roberto, he can fill that spot, but he’s very different from Xavi. Many knowledgeable pundits talk wonders about him: he’s not flashy at all, but is very skilled, and he’s also very practical and tactically disciplined (in sum, the antithesis of Thiago!). He’s also very physical and capable of breaking a line with his better-than-average acceleration, and scores goals coming from second line.

      In this respect, at least, the future is bright!

  5. Jafri
    July 14, 2013

    I get the feeling that the push to move was orchestrated by Mazinho, and I really hope that he doesn’t pull the same sort of stupidity with Rafa..

  6. nia
    July 14, 2013

    I thought the same on Thiago and my concern was confirmed when I read your post. If Barca thought they had the next best talent in Thiago, wouldn’t they have done everything in their power to keep him happy? He’s a talent no doubt and he’s succession is 50/50. He might make it at Bayern or might not. At least I can agree with the Barca policy of ‘don’t beg a player to stay’. If one wants to go, see you and good luck.

    I personally don’t think he was patient/humble enough too wait for his ‘turn’ and is a bit arrogant tbh. His father always whispering to the media was also another negative I think the club didn’t like.

    I don’t fault him for trying to expand his career at all or wanting first team action coz, at the end of the day, that’s what every player wants, to play. There was footy after Maradonna, Cryuff, Figo, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Eto’o, Pep, I’m sure there will be footy after Thiago even Messi(oh lord).

    More worrying is Tito’s lack of trust in the cantera. Bartra and Montoya deserve more playing time yet he wants to ship ’em out else where and not give them time and experience in the best team in the world. Where else to learn the trade that at BArca?

  7. ilie
    July 14, 2013

    The real reason we let Thiago go is to make #11 available for Neymar..

  8. MemoryLane
    July 14, 2013

    Similar situation to Yaya Toure he was let go in favor of an inferior player and Manchester City reaped the benefits likely Bayern will to.
    Fabregas to put it blunt isn’t the talent Thiago is.

    • nia
      July 14, 2013

      Which inferior player, Busi? After Yaya left, Barca won at least 6 trophies including CL compared to Citeh’s 2. Yaya is a good player and goal scorer but definitely not a better player. If you had said Ibra for Eto’o, that would have been better.

    • Ryan
      July 14, 2013

      Those benefits surely didn’t translate to success in Europe, as City couldn’t get past the group stage for the past two years! Yaya was a beast, but Busi was even better (once he stopped those dangerous defensive headers anyway).

  9. MemoryLane
    July 14, 2013

    I was thinking of Fabregas but in my humble opinion I like Yaya better than Busi.

  10. K_legit in Oz
    July 14, 2013

    Nope, don’ think this hurts as much as i thought it would. Bayern get a great young player but essentially one who is under developed and we get 25 mill. On the balance of it, pretty much the best we could have hoped for.

    • K_legit in Oz
      July 14, 2013

      Also he has moved to the only other team where he has a lesser probabaility of playing time..Schweinsteiger, Martinez, Kroos, Goetze and Luis Gustavo plus Thiago now for 3 midfield spots. Schweini, Martinez and Goetze are guaranteed starters unless Martinez gets converted to a CB (no need for that imo)
      So, Thiago, good luck and all. Hope you do well. So lets put that 25 mill promissory on a CB please?

  11. July 14, 2013

    Not three, but five midfield spots. Reports indicate Pep will play 4-1-4-1…

    I have no doubt Thiago will play a lot at Bayern. I remember being surprised during the 2011-12 season that Pep found so many minutes for Thiago.

    Indeed, one of my gripes with the technical staff this season was that Thiago played less than the season before, although if it weren’t for his injury he would have played more.

    We can be very happy that Bayern paid more than the buy-out clause, very generous of the Bavarians, although I fear that the same people responsible for Thiago leaving are the ones who will be bumping their chests for “negotiating a higher price” over the next couple of days.

    • Jim
      July 15, 2013

      I read somewhere there was a feeling he was looking at 3-4-3 to accommodate Thiago but your suggestion probably makes more sense although remember two of the forward four are already gone to wingers and he can’t play DM for them. Still a difficult decision for Pep. If he puts Thiago in over a German and he doesn’t star right away it could cause dressing room problems. It’s not like at Barca where most of the big names knew and respected him already. It also reduces their physicality. Quite like the idea of him chasing the twins around next season though. 🙂

  12. MemoryLane
    July 15, 2013

    Be that it may its no secret that the Barca staff/board were pursuing Fabregas long before he finally joined in what was Pep’s last season.

    Who needed him when they had a superior player in Toure who could also play several positions and now Thiago to who shows more promise is kept out because of politics.

  13. CuleToon
    July 15, 2013

    I see that many people are hurt by Thiago leaving because they saw in him our most promising young player. But that’s a matter of opinion. That’s a description of him that many others, myself included, do not share at all. I thought he was just another very promising player, and that was two years ago. In my view, he hasn’t evolved in these two years and he’s given ample opportunity to prove what he’s capable of. Perhaps he will be a late-bloomer? Who knows! But it strikes me to see that many people are so sad about his leaving, really, because we’ve been here so many times.

    An example: I don’t remember which match it was, but you’ll remember the play. Thiago comes to the middle of our half, in a typical Busi movement, to receive a pass from Pinto. When he was about to receive the ball, he had a player of the other team about five meters behind, closing on him. A rather compromised situation, but very common. No one feared nothing: jut a one touch pass either left or right, to one of two wide and isolated Barça defenders. But no: he seems uncapable of one-touch-practical passes after all these years with us, and touches the ball twice in one of his fancy footwork —«adornments» as we say here—, then he loses the ball and that was an easy goal against us. Even after two years in the first team, you could say, «Well, he’s young and he will learn from this mistake, and bla, bla, bla»; there were people that even blamed Pinto for that! But that was not the worst. The worst was that after that mistake, which was at the beginning of the match, he couldn’t recover and couldn’t do anything right the rest of the match, as he himself recognized afterward. Is that the spirit we want from a 22-year-old that sees himself as a star worthy of a special treatment? Busi, for example, didn’t make a single mistake in about 60 passes in his debut at the Camp Nou when he was 21.

    And then there’s his «mercenary» mentality. It appears that both Thiago and Rafinha were offered to RM by his father before they came to BCN. Apparently, Mazinho demanded a position or a job with RM, and RM refused. So, they ended up here with us. Mazinho’s case is atypical: a world champion with Brazil who knows very well what he wants for his children, and what he wants has nothing to do with Barça. He just wants their children to succeed in football, and Barça just played/plays an instrumental role in this. And, undoubtedly, he’s instilled that mentality in Thiago. That’s how things are. I just hope that Rafinha, since he came here much younger than Thiago, has developed some «love» for the club, but we will see. And this is not a criticism of Mazinho or Thiago; it’s just an explanation: Thiago never loved Barça. It’s as easy as that.

    And we will survive, as always.

    • nia
      July 15, 2013

      Here here, my sentiments exactly. I think there are more important issues happening with the club than Thiago.

    • Jafri
      July 15, 2013

      You seem to say everything I’m thinking! Great comment up above btw (The Rosell Laporta history bit)

  14. July 15, 2013

    Lets have some perspective here and quit the hating because a player ditched us for someone else. I was quite sorry to see him leave, because he was a real gem of the cantera. Whether polished or not, he occasionally displayed magic, whether it be through a sublime piece of control or dribble. And the Barcelona audience love a bit of magic and a bit of flair. Where I see beauty, some see embellishment or adornment, but that’s just people seeing what they want to see.

    Having said that, it is also not the worst thing in the world. It’s not like a vital cog has left the team as would have been the case if a Pique, Busi, Alves, Pedro wanted out or as Valdes wants out. This setback can be managed quite easily.

    There are only two things that concern me now with TA’s departure.
    1. Obviously the compensation we got, while decent, is way short of the value and the inflated market.
    2. I want this 25M reinvested in the squad Or into a sporting project (like the masia) It cannot be used for conveniently showing profits.

    Goodbye Thiago Alcantara. May you never hit the heights you could have at Barca.

    • CuleToon
      July 15, 2013

      But, Ultraculé, all Barça followers, almost by definition, love magic and beauty in our players and our play. I’ll not make a list of magic players since Kubala! And it’s not that, nowadays, we’re anywhere short of magic at the Camp Nou with Iniesta, Messi and now, Neymar (plus the frequent flashes from Xavi or Busi). We all love magic and beauty, but with a purpose, not just because; not magic and beauty that lead to too many dangerous losses of the ball or that lead to nothing. That’s when magic degenerates into adornment.

      We all delighted in Thiago’s magic when we began to watch him play. But two years later, and all things considered, at least for some of us that’s not enough.

      • Jim
        July 15, 2013

        Agreed, Culetoon. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care about his departure, partly because nobody of his talent should want to leave us and because there is the potential to be great in Thiago.

        However I remember saying at the start of last season that if he was going to make it he needed to show during the season that he had the ability to show he realised it wasn’t all about him and that he should disappear for a season in the sense that he picked up the Xavi/ Iniesta habits of not losing the ball except in the last third. I felt at times he realised that this was what was expected but it really wasnt in his nature ( I’m talking by our high standards here). I still lived in hope but there was always the nagging doubt that he was overly ambitious and didnt really subscribe to the love of the club that others did. He is the sort I could see going down the Ronaldinho partying road as soon as he becomes established although perhaps that’s not fair as he hasn’t shown signs of that so far. Don’t know what the role models are like at Bayern, well apart from Ribery !

        There is another element I wonder about from last season and the club’s cool attitude towards him. I was pretty disappointed by both his lack of pace and also stamina in some of our games. When he started he was often struggling, Ozil like, after about 70 minutes and these are difficult things to improve on.

        Anyway, it’s done now and we have money to burn for a CB. I’d much rather it was for a youngster who will be the foundation of our defence for the next ten years ( no prizes for guessing) than Silva who, even injuries permitting , can’t have more than four more years at the top. However, at this stage I’d take either but nobody else comes close imo. Also, we are starting preseason soon – very hard to move someone once that starts.

  15. July 15, 2013

    So.. the RM midfield looks like this and boy is it stacked.

    Isco, Illaramendi, Alonso, Kaka, Modric, Ozil, Khedira, Casemiro, Di Maria. thats 9 MFs! and we seem to struggle to keep even 6 happy.
    How come no one there complains of lack of playing time or some such issues. For gods sake there is even an ex Ballon D’Or winner in there who happens to be the 2nd most expensive player ever. And even he seems perfectly content to just chill in the benches. Jeezus!

  16. Ivan Milicevic
    July 15, 2013

    Selling Thiago is unbelievable mistake. This man is more important than Neymar.

    Who’s next? Busquets?

    • Jim
      July 15, 2013

      Not sure how you work out that he is more important than Neymar. He wasnt even a starter for us. We’re talking about a fringe player for us who could walk into most other mid fields ( apart, ironically, from Bayern’s). He wasnt going to get many more minutes this year as Tito will be under more pressure to get Fabregas a regular spot. Neymar, by general consensus, is the nearest the world has at the moment to Messi. How can you/ we not be excited by that? Are you not just dying to see the two of them run at defences? That solves one of our two problems. The other in defence we are working on. It can partly be solved by altering our structure slightly so that we don’t end up outnumbered at the back ie. one of the FBs staying back. The other element is a regular pairing at the back so Pique knows what the other is going to do and doesn’t get drawn wide so often allowing a cross ball to cause issues.

      Personally, with a CB purchase I’m excited about this season and again wouldn’t swap our squad with any other in Europe. Looking forward to the mods’ predictions already 🙂

      • Jim
        July 15, 2013

        By the way, why Busi? Of all our squad he is a pretty unlikely comparison with Thiago. . Contract till summer 2015, starter for both club and country, he’s confident the negotiations which have already started will be quick, 150m buyout which the club are looking to increase, he’s happy here. I’m not seeing that one as an issue.

  17. morph73
    July 15, 2013

    Hi I just joined this forum about a week back and I found it by accident (searching on Google for various Barca Blogs as summers are usually too dull in footballing terms).
    Frankly, I have found the articles and especially the comments here much more insightful and less bashful than a lot of forums/websites around.
    I hope to have a better exchange of thoughts and knowledge going forward and increase my knowledge about the team and the club that I have been following since 05/06 season.

    • Jim
      July 15, 2013

      Thanks and welcome ! Sometimes we like to bash ourselves a little too much about our polite disagreements when it’s a different world outside …

  18. flyzowee
    July 15, 2013

    Im a regular reader of this blog and follow many posters here on twitter.

    I must though that I never knew that thiago had so many glaring weaknesses until rumors of his depature cropped up.

    I think cules need to calm down. It is not necesary to put a players weaknesses under a microscope to make ourselves feel better about him choosing bayern over us.

    Barca is not the only club capable grooming potential. German clubs are doing a fantastic job at doing that.

    I dunno i just get the sense that some of us are a little bit bitter. Maybe?

    We as a club will be fine and I personally wish him the best. I will be rooting for him at bayern just as I do for The Yaya at city.

    Now get us some defenders Rosell!

    • Jim
      July 15, 2013

      I’m not sure that’s fair. If you look back at some of the posts last year this time a fair few were about him showing potential but that last season needed to be some kind of step forward in certain areas. I don’t there is anyone who doesn’t think Thiago has the potential to be great though I have to say that I was perhaps a little more hopeful a couple of seasons ago.

      German clubs may have been doing a great job but it’ll be interesting to see how they do in next year’s WC with a bit of pressure on them. Spain have handled their pressure pretty well over the last few years at most levels.

      Being brutally honest I don’t hope Thiago does well at Bayern. I’d rather he didn’t thereby setting an example to others who see the grass as greener somewhere else.

  19. ibbe
    July 15, 2013

    I don’t get why so many cules are sad about TA leaving. Other players would do anything to play for barca. How many times did we buy players for less than their original value just because they pushed a transfer? If any player wishes to leave then the door is open. No player is bigger than the club.

    We still have the most talented squad in the world and with the addition of a CB we are ready for next season. Visca!

  20. It is excellent to see CuleToon’s comment getting posted. I am sure he is going to be a big plus for this blog. Well done BFB mods.

    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! – well Cule Toon, there are more than a few here too, who consider Messi as player destroyer. I can already see it coming on him, for any thing related to Neymar- anything that makes him look less successful than hoped for- in the future.

    May I ask you something. Neither Pep nor Messi have talked about an sms send by Messi to Pep, sometime after Ibra came in. A lot of people believe this, because Graham Hunter said so, but the same people do not believe that Messi was requesting Pep – to never sell Eto. Anyways, My request is – do you know anything about this sms?

    • CuleToon
      July 15, 2013

      Thanks for your words, fotobirajesh! First things first, I don’t remember hearing nothing about that SMS. And as for Messi «the sacker», that could only apply to three players: Eto’o, Ibra and Villa. But Eto’o adores Messi and he always has the best words about him, and Ibra has expressed several times his admiration for Messi! So, that leaves us only with Villa, and he’s been sold(?) for other reasons.

      That’s a myth created by the Madrid press. When Messi recriminated something to Villa in one match last season, As and Marca, as well as those «national» TV’s like Cuatro and La Sexta that always seek to destabilize Barça any way they can, launched a campaign for days based on this sole incident, and the myth was born! (they tried to do the same with a disapproving look to Tello, but it didn’t catch on).

      But they’ve been feeding that myth since then, and, in their wishful thinking, they’ll look for any sign of disagreement with Messi and Neymar. Then, they’ll fill their front pages with it and will exploit it ad nauseam. Be ready for it.

      • Thanks for replying friend.

        It is interesting – this sms is SOMETHING, that was used by lots of fans (including English press)to critic Messi. But it doesnt seem to have been a news at all in Catalunya, which I guess was because that too might have been a media creation.

        Thank you for that info.

  21. ciaran
    July 15, 2013

    As it appears now, our squad is taking shape how Tito wants it.

    Valdes looks to be staying, as is Pinto, so it doesn’t look like we’ll see any further changes there.

    Montoya looks to have a renewal and Dani Alves has had no rumours for a change so right back position is tied down.
    Jordi Alba had a great first season with us and Adriano got his new contract too. Abidal has moved to Monaco so we have our 2 left backs.
    Pique, Mascherano, Bartra and Puyol all look set to stay but we are expecting a new starting centre back. Andreu Fontas was sold for €1million to Celta and Muniesa wasn’t renewed. David Luiz, Thiago Silva & Marquinhos seem to be the favorites but Agger, Vertonghen and just about anyone else who has ever played at centre back is being linked. Thiago Silva is clearly the clubs chosen one but PSG are not making it easy.

    In centre midfield Busi, Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc and Song are all comfortably staying here including talk of renewals for Iniesta & Busquets. The big news is the sale of Thiago for €25million to European rivals Bayern. Sergi Roberto is being promoted to give us our 6 midfielders for 3 positions which is good balance but there have been some rumours of a replacement; Gundogan, Banega, Eriksen have all been rumoured recently but it seems unlikely. Jonathan dos Santos still hasn’t picked a club suggesting that he wants to retire on Barca’s bench.

    Up front Messi, Alexis & Pedro the starting trio from last season are all still there. Villa was sold for a token fee to get his wages off the books. Tello is getting a new contract, a payrise and importantly an increased buy out clause. The main inclusion is Neymar for €57million to take some pressure off Messi. Bojan, Deulofeu & Rafinha were both sent on loan to Ajax, Everton and Celta Vigo respectively so we have no real back up from the B team so I would like another purchase which also seems unlikely. There has been newspaper talk of a Larsson type signing but no one expects a lot of money to be spent. Reports have linked us with a load of strikers but none look close to happening.
    Cuenca and Afellay still need to find new homes.

    Expect 2-3 more loans out and possibly 2 more signings of a centre back and maybe a forward/midfielder

    • flyzowee
      July 15, 2013

      Nice summary!
      But do you really that just 1 Cb signing will have us set defensively?
      I really dont expect puyol to play more than 15 games next season.

    • CuleToon
      July 15, 2013

      An excellent summary of where we stand now! As for a good, cheap, brave and veteran striker, tall and good with the head, and with the ability to play with his back to goal, lower a high ball to his feet, hold it, and pass it to anyone rushing to goal, I’d vote for Roque Santa Cruz. But I don’t think it’ll happen. In fact, I don’t even know if he’s still «signable».

      • nzm
        July 15, 2013

        I’ve been pushing for Roque since halfway through last season. As an impact sub, the guy can change games, but as a starter, not so much.

        He’s just signed a 3 year deal with Malaga, so unfortunately he’s not coming to Barcelona. 🙁

    • BA
      July 15, 2013

      6 midfielders, for our system, just isn’t enough. particularly when Song has been a disappointment and Cesc can’t play deep, and thus can’t play with Iniesta (remember our frustration last season?). 5 forwards might be, but just. our defense is exactly the same ridiculously inadequate defense we had last season.

      on the whole: our squad looks lighter and less solid than it did even at the start of last season.

  22. July 15, 2013

    1 CB is enough, since it would give us 5 players for 2 positions (Puyol, Piqué, Masch, Bartra and new guy). 2 CB’s will damage the harmony because of guys not getting any minutes.

    A bigger problem is that both our full backs constantly leave our center backs exposed. In the league the quality gap is such that we can get away with it, but against both in Europe and against EE some fundamental changes (adjustments) must be made in how we approach the game.

  23. chillipod
    July 15, 2013

    Man Utd have, according to the BBC, just bid £25m for Cesc. I look forward to how THIS will be handled with interest.
    Straight rejection surely?

  24. Messiah10
    July 15, 2013

    Looks like Man U put in a $35 million bid for Cesc. It’ll be interesting to see what happens. We’d be crazy to sell him now that Thiago is gone. Aresnal have 1st right of refusal I believe.

  25. July 15, 2013

    @culetoon

    I share your opinion that Thiago never loved Barça as do most of the other canteranos. I also have never forgotten his “I want to succeed in football, not at Barça” quote of two years ago.

    Thus what upsets me most is the incompetence of the club in letting him leave for such a low sum. If M*drid paid 39M for Asier Illaramendi, a player that people outside of La Liga has never heard from, then we should have gotten somewhere north of 15M more for Thiago.

    • How I wish we had got 35 for Thiago and used that to buy the other Thiago. What a business it would have been.

    • CuleToon
      July 15, 2013

      A commenter in Marca says that Thiago began to play much less, precisely, after a Copa del Rey match vs Malaga (2-2) last January, the one in which he failed to play with just one touch that ball from Pinto. And the Marca reader wonders if Tito gave up on him because, in a presser right after that match, Thiago said, «I’m not going to change my way of playing, not for anything, not for anyone». Here it is:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elenXfSmAzc

      • July 15, 2013

        Well, he also recognized his mistake in the same press conference. If anything, I remember the quote you are referring to and I interpreted it in the sense that he would still offer himself to receive the ball from Pinto in that position.

  26. Jnice
    July 15, 2013

    From calling Thiago a mercenary to saying he’ll become a partier like Ronaldinho in the future.

    Embarrassing set of comments on here about Thiago. Simply shameful.

    • BA
      July 15, 2013

      totally agree Jnice. the kid did nothing more than want to play, and the club did nothing to facilitate him staying, beyond a few phone calls.

      United have tabled a €30m bid for Fabregas; i’d rather have sold him and kept Thiago. wonder how the club is going to respond to that; i mean, we need money right? to boost our “transfer kitty”? Fabregas has been largely an ill fit, and has complained about not getting playing time in the past. i wonder how many cules are going to turn on him now?

    • CuleToon
      July 15, 2013

      I’m sorry Jnice, I didn’t wish to upset anyone. But I didn’t call Thiago a mercenary. I talked about a «”mercenary” (inside quotes) mentality», and then elaborated on it in the sense that Thiago has never really «loved» our club or, at least, that he’s never identified himself with our club. I said that Barça has just been instrumental to his career, that’s all. And I insist that this is not a criticism against Mazinho or Thiago. Just an attempt to understand his attitude in this affair.

      Perhaps there’s a synonim of «mercenary mentality» that is less pejorative or negative, but my English is limited and I didn’t find anything to express what I wanted to say: hence my elaboration.

      • Jim
        July 15, 2013

        Likewise, I’m not sure how carefully you read my post but I said I felt he COULD be the sort to go down that road once he was established which isn’t the same as “will become” at all. Even if it was, it may be wrong but I don’t see why it would be shameful in any sense. It’s an opinion, same as yours.

    • July 15, 2013

      Sup chale, nice to see you commenting. I thought the sale of Thiago might bring you out of your shell 😉

      The kid has every right to go where he wants, just like he has every right to not love Barcelona the way other canteranos do.

      And who are we to judge if one day he wants to become “a mercenary”? I will say that to tick that particular box because he moves teams for the first time in his career seems a bit dramatic to me.

      It will be very interesting to see how Fabregas reacts, as one of the arguments against buying him has always been “Thiago”.

      Personally I would have preferred to sell Cesc for say, 40M, and keep Thiago, but there is no way we will sell him now, nor should we. It is time for Cesc to step up his game, because despite his impressive stats, his first two years at the club have been underwhelming in the eyes of many.

    • Barcaleya
      July 15, 2013

      Shameful comments indeed.

      Why go so far as to say the player never loved Barca as if anyone here knows what is in his heart.

      Fans try to outdo each other in being the best fan of the club as if they will get a prize for being so. They try to outdo others by being as subjective as possible. Let logic and facts fly out of the window. No one here knows the whole story. So why make Thiago out to be villain in this story?

  27. Judas Pissed
    July 15, 2013

    I’m a bit panicky about Barca next season at the moment. Why are we selling players and not buying players? What on earth is going on?

  28. July 15, 2013

    CuleToon: I could not disagree more with your comments about Thiago, especially the way you way you turned it into a personal attack on him. That’s not cool.

    However, I was very interested to read your potted history of the bad blood between Rosell and Laporta. I hope you will continue to give us your insights on the political situation around the club.

    • July 15, 2013

      Well, Blitzen, when one of the great promises of our youth academy is one or two seasons removed from being given the full reigns to our midfield chooses to leave us he is bound to receive some harsh critism, right?

      Some “attack” the player, some “defend” the player, and somewhere in between a lot of readers will benefit from the different points of view on display.

      I for one agree with part of the sentiments expressed by Culetoon and I think that his/her analysis regarding Thiago’s reasons for leaving are spot on.

      What I do think is worth asking Culetoon is the following:

      You compare him to Busi, who I agree is a better player albeit at a different position and with a different role, but even though he is less careless on the ball than Thiago, Sergio has had his fair share of stinkers also (remember away at Sevilla this year).

      Now, my question to you would be if Thiago had been more dedicated to the club, would you look at the flaws in his game with different eyes? If you felt he loved the club as much as or more than us culés, would you have taken the long term view that he was the natural heir of Xavi or Iniesta?

      • July 15, 2013

        I just really dislike this tendency in cules to turn on former players and accuse them of being traitors, not loving the club, or of being rubbish in the first place. It’s ugly. First of all, none of us knows how Thiago really feels about Barça or his time here. Not you, not me, no one except maybe his immediate family. You diss him because of one offhand remark about wanting to succeed as a great football player, not only a great Barça player. Really? Well, Iniesta once said he was a fan of Real Madrid. Xavi once seriously considered signing for Milan. Cesc will always have a special place in his heart for Arsenal. Guess they’re not real cules either.

        I just think we can have a reasonable discussion about Thiago as a player without calling into question his character or resorting to cheap insults.

    • ciaran
      July 15, 2013

      I think that Tito was not overly concerned with losing Thiago because Sergi Roberto is safer tactically. What I love about Thiago is that he takes risks, like the one that cost us that goal, however he doesn’t know when to take risks and when to keep it simple.
      In my opinion Xavi is the best passer of the ball in history. But he doesnt try through balls every time he has the ball. For ball circulation Sergi Roberto is more than capable of doing that job from what I’ve seen.
      If I were in charge I would sign a striker as well as a centre back so that when necessary Messi could play in midfield in a 4-2-3-1 stretching defenses and giving our midfield more room to move

  29. TheFullMontoya
    July 15, 2013

    If you complain about Thiago losing balls, you don’t remember Busquets at 22.

    This transfer has not been a story of Thiago not loving the club, but the club not loving Thiago

    The player you don’t think is good enough just got bought by the best team and best coach in the world.

    That is all

    • mohit
      July 15, 2013

      I don’t think it’s so one-sided as you put it. I believe both parties were looking for their benefits. Thiago, by wanting to put that clause in his contract, not being patient enough to wait for his chance (given that he was injured last season, he had yet to prove himself) and finally asking to join Bayern. Barca, by being stupid to allow that clause and Tito not showing full faith in Thiago (he could have cleared it up in a press conference). Both parties were in it half-heartedly. I think it’s good he left. No point in being unhappy and impatient here.

      • TheFullMontoya
        July 15, 2013

        Ah. Damn the player for DARING to ask for a clause to protect his development. All players must prostrate themselves in front of Rosell, they must sacrifice themselves upon the blaugrana altar!

        The NERVE he has to say “if I can’t get a match ahead of players I’m playing better than, I need to leave.” THE NERVE

        • mohit
          July 15, 2013

          Thiago’s done no wrong by inserting that clause or asking for it. Just as the club or coach has done no wrong by letting him go for being impatient.

          I do not agree with him being better than any of our starting mid-fielders at the time (except Cesc :P).

          • TheFullMontoya
            July 15, 2013

            He was playing better than any midfielder except Iniesta and Busquets for a while this season.

            His reward was a splinter in the ass

  30. July 15, 2013

    We should be careful of revisionist history, and turning on a player. Thiago is brilliant. He might well develop into one of the best midfielders in the world. He is, at present, a big loss to the club, but a loss at a position at which we are well stacked.

    He wanted a change of scenery, and an opportunity to play more minutes, with a coach whom he trusts more than the coach that we have. That is his right. This isn’t about love, it’s about business. Gone are the days where a player loves a club, and would never consider leaving. Long gone. The club valued the player, just not enough to move heaven and earth to keep him. The player valued his relationship with the club, but not enough to not seek a better path to a more fully developed future. He gets his wish, the club gets reasonably fair value, and that’s business.

    Rarely is there anything nefarious in a player wanting to leave a club. The player usually sees a better opportunity somewhere else, and decides to take it. From Isco to Illarramendi to Thiago, three gems of Spain’s U21 will be wearing new shirts next season as they embark on a new adventure. Nothing at all wrong with that.

    Bayern did the right thing by ponying up something approaching the player’s real value in this crazy, petrodollar-fueled transfer market. The club gets some money for a player they might or might not have wanted, dependent upon who you read/believe. And we move on.

    The clause was absurd. 30 minutes minimum in 60% of matches, particularly for a player who spent two months injured, is virtually impossible to achieve. To achieve that, he would have essentially had to sprinkle gold dust from every pass. That didn’t happen and can’t happen, because he is still developing as a player.

    Thiago isn’t reckless, and I don’t believe that we are better off with him gone, and good riddance. I think that the club, if it had its way would have, within limits, liked to have kept the player. But he wanted to leave. Guarantees of playing time weren’t going to happen, a ton more money wasn’t going to happen. He just wasn’t negotiating from a position of strength at Barça. That happens.

    The current supporter environment around the club is that it is doing everything wrong. That is incorrect. The current, self-centered weasel is doing things differently than the previous self-centered weasel. That is his way. We were worried about the futbol base, that is all resolved. Is it resolved in a way that many of us would like? No. Eusebio is still running the show. But there is no more uncertainty.

    The only uncertainty from a sporting aspect, is who will be playing CB. The club is working on that, and I think we need to give them a chance before they are pilloried for not doing the “right” thing that they haven’t even done yet.

    I won’t wish Thiago luck, because that luck would mean success for a team that we might face again this season in Europe, and I don’t wish them a shard of luck. But I will say that we have lost a very, very talented player. Some will suggest a kind of revisionist history, that he really isn’t that talented, blablabla. He is. The question is whether the club can account for that loss either in the market, or with players that we have. For that, we will have to wait.

    • morph73
      July 15, 2013

      And I was just a few minutes late posting a comment with almost the same perspective… Better explained than what I have posted though… 🙂

  31. morph73
    July 15, 2013

    As far as I perceive, after reading a load of articles on the net, this transfer this looks more like a shift made by TA, maybe enforced by his father, to get him into the national squad.
    A lot of criticism has been made about his ball control and 1-2 passing abilities but you do expect a fair share of mistakes to be made by a player at this age.
    Even looking at Illara or Isco and you will find that a fair share of mistakes have been made by them and I guess that’s how you learn.

    The main question is if he succeeds at Bayern will he break into the Spanish NT??? No friggin ways…
    There is a plethora of midfield talent present in Spanish NT and even if he had a breakout season he should have known that VDB prefers players from La Liga.

    Business wise I think this deal was a good one comparing to the recent players that we have let go of.
    Did Barca lose out on a great prospect?? Maybe… Maybe not…
    He might have turned into Xavi’s heir or who knows may have turned out to be like GDS/ Saviola in the future (w.r.t Barca philosophy).
    He gave a lot of good moments for Barca and that’s what I would like to remember him by as of now.
    At least his departure has given room for Sergi Roberto to grow who in my opinion is a better player than what Thiago was.

    • July 15, 2013

      Just out of curiosity, how you do arrive at the opinion that S. Roberto is better than what Thiago was (is)?

      • TheFullMontoya
        July 15, 2013

        Sport said so (and it was on the Internet) so it must be true

        • morph73
          July 15, 2013

          not only because of what Sport and AS said but more what he brings in as physicality and the passing that he brings to the game…
          I agree he doesn’t have the flair that Thiago brings in but the passing and the vision that he has seems to better than what Thiago has (w.r.t the Barca philosophy of playing the game)

          • TheFullMontoya
            July 15, 2013

            Well you haven’t watched him much then. He is less a passer, more a runner

          • morph73
            July 15, 2013

            @TheFullMontoya My opinion is based on the games that I have watched him play in… I maybe wrong in his overall assessment but I still think he will turn out to be a better player if he gets the adequate time under Tito..

        • morph73
          July 15, 2013

          Also he the games that I have seen him play he has been less error prone till now than what I have seen Thiago play in…

          • July 15, 2013

            Well, we’ll all find out at some point next season when all the midfielders will be injured and Tito will be forced to play him.

          • morph73
            July 15, 2013

            @Eklavya I just hope Tito gives him proper time on the field in comparison to what he was doing in the latter half of the past season with the youngsters…
            IMO he wasn’t trusting the young players much and devoid them of good playing time even when the league was practically won…

  32. flyzowee
    July 15, 2013

    What if Guardiola has VDB’s ear?
    If Pep makes thiago facilitate play deep like what various media outlets claim he will do. You never know what could happen.
    The World cup is 12 months away
    So much can happen within that time.

    • July 15, 2013

      I have a better one: What if Thiago left Barca so that he could get more minutes elsewhere, in order for him to be … *gasp* selected by VdB for the WC!

    • morph73
      July 15, 2013

      I agree so much can happen within 12 months but what would you say about the quality of the players like Mata, Cazorla et all… Do you think he can replace them within a time frame of 12 months??
      Aren’t the aforementioned players going to grow or does he really have the potential to seriously outclass them within this time frame given the amount of games he is going to get at Bayern??
      I don’t think he is going to replace Kroos/Schweini/Martinez on a regular basis from the Bayern lineup…

  33. July 15, 2013

    I recall Busquets making many many more mistakes than Thiago ever has tbh. And in big games. But you know what? Now Busquets hardly makes any mistakes. Why? Because by making the mistakes, he was able to learn from them.
    You can’t be willing to not give Thiago any room for error, and then say “he hasn’t improved much over the last 1-2 seasons”.

    Anyway, it’s too late for that now.

  34. July 15, 2013

    So, the same COPE that was WAY ahead of everyone else with the Thiago to Bayern news, say that the Thiago Silva deal is in process, to be closed for something around 42m.

    Yes, it’s just another transfer rumor, and all transfer rumors are bollocks until they are actually truth.

    • Oliver
      July 15, 2013

      Good to hear, I hope it happens. If selling Thiago A was the move they needed to free up the cash to sign Thiago S, in the same year we signed Neymar, then that’s how I want my club to deal: sell your surplus to shore up your weaknesses.

      • TheFullMontoya
        July 15, 2013

        Sell your academy jewels, buy expensive… Galacticos.

        Seems familiar…

        • Oliver
          July 15, 2013

          Galacticos were famous players acquired for their fame, even if they didn’t fit with the club’s needs. A million forwards while forgetting to have a defensive midfielder.

          A world-class center back, on the other hand, is exactly what we need to succeed as a club, now.

          It is wonderful that the cantera produces so many great players, but hoarding them all regardless of how they fit together as a team doesn’t make any more sense than buying every galactico would.

          • TheFullMontoya
            July 15, 2013

            “It is wonderful that the cantera produces so many great players, but hoarding them all regardless of how they fit together as a team doesn’t make any more sense than buying every galactico would.”

            An excellent sentiment!

            That has nothing to do with this situation

          • Oliver
            July 15, 2013

            If you say so. I think it’s pretty clear why selling our fifth midfielder, *if* it gets us a first-choice top-notch center back, makes sense. If they sell Thiago and just put the money in a huge pile and don’t reinvest in the club, I’ll feel quite differently.

          • TheFullMontoya
            July 15, 2013

            Ah I see. You have bought into the myth that the club can’t afford to keep players and also buy stars.

            But all those delicious profits…

  35. fugacanonicax
    July 15, 2013

    Thiago is right to leave in my opinion. His future is at stake and he took the decision which he felt was more favourable for him. Unfortunately I see that the club would be in a bit of bother with the midfield, especially with Xavi’s weary legs. Think Barca are going to be looking for a possible solution sometime within the next 2 yrs. Club might contemplate playing Busi or Iniesta for that role too!

    Thanks too Kxevin for that bit of perspective! Agree with what he is saying here. Thiago is a talented player no doubt but in the end it was always upto him whether to leave or to stay. No young player can be guaranteed that kind of playing time but I blame the club for allowing that clause in the first place.

    I have been following this blog for the past 4 years and this is my the first time I have put up a comment.

    • July 15, 2013

      Then I have performed a good deed today! Welcome to the sound-making crew.

      • fugacanonicax
        July 15, 2013

        Yes! But things seemed so blissful back then didn’t really think I had to give a voice to that serenity hehe 😛

  36. Oliver
    July 15, 2013

    This is echoing some of Kxevin’s points, but maybe in my own way: we have to remember that most players are not fans of their club. This is their job, and they want to play, and they want to succeed. Playing brings them joy, or money, or some combination of the two. If their interests align with those of their club, then great, it will be mutually beneficial and everyone is happy. But if not, then it is completely their right to look for a situation that is better for them. It doesn’t have to be called mercenary, or even business (though it could be those things). There are a lot of clubs out there, and when a player is thinking about their whole career, it is foolish for them to expect that their interests will always align most closely with just one club, the one they happen to be at now.

    I remember how upset some Liverpool fans were when Torres left. He said he understood us! He said he loved the club! He sang You’ll Never Walk Alone! But they had confused him for a fan. Sure, while he felt the club was a good place for him to achieve his goals, he tried to steep himself in the culture. I’m sure that was genuine. But when things stopped working out, those things weren’t as important as finding a club that he thought was a better fit.

    We cules are actually very lucky that there are players on our club who genuinely seem to love it, as fans as well as players. I’m thinking of Puyi, and Xavi especially; players who will likely retire here, players who might actually root for the club’s interests over their own. That is unusual, and we should enjoy it. But we should not make it a litmus test for our players. We can’t start expecting that kind of love from everybody; it’s not realistic and it’s not really fair. Neymar did a great job praising Barça to the heavens; but it’s not because he is a real fan, it’s because he thinks the situation is prefect for him, now. If circumstances change, he could change his mind just like Torres.

    I’m actually thinking a little of Pep now. A few years ago he seemed like the ultimate embodiment of Barça; many years as a player, cut loose by the team before his time was really over, then back triumphantly as a coach. Everyone said no one represented the Barça spirit more than Pep. Well, now he’s gone to another club, putting that club’s interests over Barça’s. I don’t begrudge him that particularly; he got tired, he fought with the board, and now (just like Thiago) his own self-interests do not line up with FC Barcelona. He wants to crush us in the Champions League this year, don’t you think? He won’t come out and say so, but sure he does. It’s OK; he’s moved on. But even he, the ultimate coach-as-fan, is not really a fan anymore, not in the sense of putting the club before all else.

    • TheFullMontoya
      July 15, 2013

      Pep will always sweat and bleed and cry blaugrana. Even while he coaches another team.

      Giving up yourself make love and loyalty weaker, not stronger

      • Oliver
        July 15, 2013

        He can sweat and bleed and cry blaugrana all he wants, but right now he is working to make the team that pummeled us out of the CL even better. 🙂

        Hey, I love Pep and I will always wish him well. It doesn’t change the fact that he is currently working against the interests of FC Barcelona. Of all the teams he could have chosen, only Madrid stands more directly between us and our goals.

        • TheFullMontoya
          July 15, 2013

          Pep is working for himself. That I respect

          • Jim
            July 15, 2013

            Oliver’s comment seems reasonable to me and I’m not sure personalising the discussion helps a lot. Right now Pep and Thiago are quite emotive enough subjects.

          • TheFullMontoya
            July 15, 2013

            “he is currently working against the interests of FC Barcelona.”

            Very reasonable. Pep only strives to beat the club he loves

          • July 15, 2013

            TheFullMontoya, one of your replies has been edited. No personal stuff, please. This space went through something of an upheaval when things got needlessly personal, and has been gradually returning to its old form.

            We can debate and disagree, but we should always be respectful. Thank you.

          • TheFullMontoya
            July 15, 2013

            You mistake my comments on a viewpoint for comments against a person.

            Good thing I didn’t say anything bad about Rosell!

          • July 15, 2013

            Look, when you label someone’s perspective as the “views of a child,” that is most emphatically personal. The request that it cease is simple, and I hope that it will be honored. I haven’t had to play mod in a long time, and don’t wish to now. But I will to preserve the atmosphere in this space.

            A personal remark leads to a reply and suddenly, things are a mess, needlessly. I hope that’s clear now.

          • TheFullMontoya
            July 15, 2013

            Well, you can’t argue with censorship!

            Goodbye

  37. CuleToon
    July 15, 2013

    Puzzled by some reactions, I’ve looked for the word mercenary in thesaurus.com, and I’ve found three pages of very nasty synonyms. So, I understand that the use of the expression «mercenary mentality» to label a line of thought that ended in the idea that, in the end, Thiago never identified himself with our club, was, indeed, unfortunate.

    And, blitzen: I’m not aware of having attacked Thiago «personally»; I don’t have any reason to do it. So allow me to not concur with your appreciation.

    Now, Levon, the mention of Busi. Thiago has been eight years at Barça, and two years and a half with the first team, which is a lot, but he keeps losing too many balls, and dangerous ones at that. As Xavi said, «When you enter La Masia, the first thing they tell you is, “Here, we dont ever lose the ball”». Busi was only mentioned as an example of a guy that, when he was just 20 (not 21 as I said), and after only three years at La Masia, in his debut in the Camp Nou, in front of 80.000 people, practically didn’t lose a ball out of near 60 passes. And his level of performance has been quite steady, as steady as Thiago’s irregularity has been.

    About those «if…» questions, they are tricky but I’ll do my best. First: If Thiago had been more dedicated to the club, would I look at the flaws in his game with different eyes? The answer is «No». The more I’ve seen him playing with the passing of time, the less I’ve liked him as a player because I haven’t seen him improve: I see him play the same way he played when he was a promising youngster. That has had nothing to do with his non-love for the club, which has only become obvious fairly recently.

    Second: If I felt he loved the club, would I have taken the long term view that he was the natural heir of Xavi or Iniesta? The answer is the same «No» because, basically, it’s the same question: If I don’t like him as a player, how could I see him as a heir of those two?

    I told before that I’ve seen many cases like that of Thiago, and we’ve always moved on. And as much as I don’t like him as a player, and as much as I feel really relieved to see him go, I would never wish him any ill. If he blooms as one of the best midfielders of his era, I’d simply smile to myself. But I would not miss him.

    • Dani_el
      July 15, 2013

      Finally! I hope the rumours about him finally stop. He’s a great player, but he’s 29, would cost more than 45M euros, and he has had muscular problems. A player that is 29 years old, that relies his game on speed and has muscular problemas, and would cost that much money would not be a good bet, especially long term.

  38. July 15, 2013

    Also, from way up top but don’t want my reply to get lost:

    @blitzen

    “You diss him because of one offhand remark about wanting to succeed as a great football player, not only a great Barça player”

    Wasn’t aware that I dissed him. Actually, even though as a culé I was, quote-unquote, “hurt” by that remark I appreciated his honesty. If anything I disliked the way the media forced him to take back his words / soften them by saying that of course he wanted to succeed at Barça one or two days later.

    You can’t force love and Thiago has every right to feel the way he feels and to want what he wants.

  39. nia
    July 15, 2013

    Thiago: “Guardiola was an important reason to join. I’ve known him for a long time. He believes in me, and I’m a fan of his way of playing.”

    I think Thiago leaving is more to do with not liking Tito’s way of playing and wanting to be with Pep more.

    • July 15, 2013

      Thiago wanted more. Nothing wrong with that. No comparisons on the talent or adaptability front, but the last time the club caved in to the demands of a player was Bojan Krkic. Look how that turned out.

      No, Thiago isn’t Krkic. But like Krkic or any other talented player, he wanted more. I think it is as simple as that. People want to apply all sorts of things to the reason the player left, but for me, it’s simple: He wanted more, and was willing to take a chance with Pep Guardiola, rather than walking into a starting role at United. His choice.

      I’ll say something else: We’re spending a lot of time on a player who isn’t a Barça player any longer. I know that people want to find a reason why Thiago left, but I just think he wants more. Nothing wrong with that, and nobody to blame. It happens when you have so many talented players in a certain area of the pitch. A player should want more, and should make the moves that have his best interest at heart. I don’t know if I would fully respect a player who didn’t.

      Look at Dos Santos, for example, as he stubbornly resisted all attempts at moving and selling him, to languish in the stands, practice with the club and watch matches live. That’s hard for me to understand, because I am sure that he has been told he isn’t going to cut it at the team.

      We raise our players to have talent and ambition. Sometimes, that ambition will take them away from the club. That’s part of the deal.

      • nia
        July 15, 2013

        I don’t disagree at all and if you read my previous comments, I’ve echoed the same thing as well that, the player wanted to grow and influence a game and if he were my child, I’d encourage him to do the same. This comment just caught my eye that he said he preferred Pep more than Tito. So my question is why? Is it Tito doesn’t believe in the younger players as much coz frankly, I don’t know why he doesn’t play Bartra and Monty more to get experience.

  40. Archie
    July 15, 2013

    Can someone come up with a Bayern starting line-up that includes ThiagoA? I’m struggling to do so without selling Roben and putting TA on the right, but even that wing is one of Muller’s rotations! Or, is it the end of Schweinsteiger? He did have injury problems.

  41. Nik
    July 15, 2013

    Spare a moment for poor Sergi Roberto, who’s going to have to deal with the burden of heavy expectations now that Thiago’s gone. Unfortunately for him, a lot of people are projecting the type of player they wish Sergio Roberto to be rather than accepting him for the type of player that he is. He’s not as talented as Thiago is, nor does he have the ability to be the midfield orchestrator of a team. That’s not his game. Hopefully, he doesn’t get forced into a role that doesn’t play to his strengths.

    • July 15, 2013

      Spare a moment for poor Sergi Roberto? The guy must be jumping up and down on his bed with joy now that Thiago left!

      • Nik
        July 15, 2013

        lol, true. He theoretically should be in line for increased playing time. But idk. I’m a little worried at the comments I’ve been seeing lately. Like I tried to point out, I feel there’s this disconnect between what people think Sergi Roberto’s strengths are and what his strengths actually are. I worry about that disconnect leading to a backlash against the player for not living up to misguided expectations.

        Maybe I’m just overreacting.

        • July 15, 2013

          Well, barring a whole bunch of injuries he won’t get the amount of minutes Thiago was getting, but he’ll get a whole lot more playing time than last year.

  42. July 15, 2013

    Interview on with Rosell right now. Those of you who follow me on Twitter already know I am RTing updates. Those who don’t, just Google @kevvwill on Twitter and my timeline will pop up.

    Biggest thing so far is that 40m paid to Neymar’s dad.

    • barca96
      July 15, 2013

      Thanks for the updates. Is Lee Roden a member here at BFB?

  43. simple_barcafan
    July 15, 2013

    Bayern Munich signings:
    Javi Martinez: Met buy out clause..
    Mario Gotze: Met buy out clause..
    Thiago A: Met buy out clause..

  44. barca96
    July 15, 2013

    Great comments new comer Oliver. More reason for the other BFB’ers to have the name of Oliver Torres in their minds 🙂

    • Oliver
      July 16, 2013

      Thanks barca96! Glad you enjoyed them 🙂

  45. Archie
    July 15, 2013

    Alright, you need more time to figure out how PepG will find minutes for ThiagoA. I even forgot about Goëtze! (Why didnt he go to ManU?)

    How about picking the Spain 11 for World Cup 2018! And, trying to find a starting spot for ThiagoA.?

    Illaramendi. ..Oliver …Iniesta …Bousquets …Isco… Matta … Cesc

    There was another guy on the under 21s with a name like “Serendipity” who came off the bench and created a lot chances. ThiagoA might get a spot. He should be hoping that Spain continues to play 5/6 midfielders, although Jése will be harder to bench than Torres is now.

  46. K_legit in Oz
    July 15, 2013

    Well as long as he was at the Camp Nou he got a great deal of attention about his development but now that he has left the Camp Nou, I don’t think I will care a jot about him any more.
    Goodbye Thiago, and I wish you no luck whatsoever! 😉

  47. July 15, 2013

    Thankfully this blog has the same feelings I do for Thiagos departure. Lately it seems that not praising thiago, immediately translates to “he’s a bad player.” I fell out of love when he said “we’ll talk after Euro” and he returned and kept quiet. Good player or not, if you don’t want to play here, then leave. We’ve let go of players that DID want to stay, I don’t see what made Thiago so special the club had to bend over backwards for him.
    I don’t wish him luck at Bayern, only because I’m still bitter about the past UCL. I, unlike many, have faith in the players that we still have. You know the ones that have been the core of this team and the Spanish team? Those. If a CB comes I think we still have the best team in Europe.

  48. Archie
    July 15, 2013

    From Guardian article about Cesc and Fellaini offers by ManU:

    “Moyes has turned his attention to the 26-year-old [Fellaini] after Thiago Alcântara joined Bayern Munich from Barcelona for £21.6m. Yet it is thought that Moyes could have signed Thiago over the course of the past weeks, with the delay in his finally leaving for Bayern being down to United’s manager not being completely convinced by the 22-year-old. Although it is understood Thiago was keen on joining United, there were suggestions from some at the club that he might struggle on occasion to cope with the physicality of the Premier League.”

    It’s a possible reason for not signing ThiagoA, but why did Bayern over pay if there was no other bids?

    • Archie
      July 15, 2013

      26 year old is Cesc not Fellaini (25.)

      • Archie
        July 15, 2013

        I think I’ve begun to lose my “Silly Season” discipline.

    • Huckleberry
      July 16, 2013

      Bayern did not overpay Thiago. Bayern had to meet the buyout fee and part of the impending taxes of a buyout to convert the buyout to a transfer. The transfer is better for all three paties.

    • CuleToon
      July 16, 2013

      If you don’t mind, Huckleberry, I’ll expand your explanation about buyout clauses. I will use Thiago’s case.

      In Spain, the buyout clause has to be paid by the player himself. That means that Bayern had to give Thiago those 18 mill of the clause proper.

      Now, Thiago’s got 18 mill to pay the clause, but this counts as an income for him, and Thiago has to pay an additional income tax of 56% of this quantity because he lives in Catalonia. That’s an additional 10 mill that, of course, Bayern gives Thiago.

      There’s also a 21% VAT, but since it is deductible, and I really don’t know to which quantity it applies, I’ll leave it out of the equation.

      So, all in all, Bayern has to pay, at least, 28 mill (plus VAT) to get Thiago, but Barça woul only get 18 mill. In view of this, the best strategy for both parties is to agree on a normal transfer because it doesn’t give rise to any of these extra costs. And, as is normal in these situations, the final price is somewhere in the middle: those 24 plus some extras that Barça gets.

      • Huckleberry
        July 16, 2013

        CuleToon, do you know if Bayern had a similar agreement with Athletic Bilbao for the transfer of Martinez? Or was this a buyout?

        • CuleToon
          July 16, 2013

          Bayern (Javi Martínez) payed the clause, but it was not as costly for Bayern since Euskadi (Basque Country) has other tax laws. Sorry for the lack of details.

  49. July 16, 2013

    What a naive idiot I was for thinking that Pep and Tito are actually close friends.

    • I like to believe they are still friends. Pep would have thought that Tito would always follow him, and might have been shocked or surprised when he agreed to take up the job of Barca coach. This might have created (temporary) a kind of gap between them, but I think they were really close enough and would patch it up. Who knows they havent already. They are too intelligent to do that in public, may be.
      Here is a man who dedicated his Fifa award for his assistant, and I dont think they are further apart.

      • K_legit in Oz
        July 16, 2013

        Reminds me of Cruyff and Rexach.

  50. barcadan
    July 16, 2013

    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. . .

    • barcadan
      July 16, 2013

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

        • barcadan
          July 16, 2013

          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 . . .

    • CuleToon
      July 16, 2013

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

      • barcadan
        July 16, 2013

        Sorry I mispelled your name CuleToon!

  51. July 16, 2013

    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.

    • mmm.. that is a shocker for me.

      I will still wait to here what Pep has to say about this, before making any assumption.

      • CuleToon
        July 16, 2013

        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.

        • July 16, 2013

          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.

          • barcadan
            July 16, 2013

            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. . .

          • CuleToon
            July 16, 2013

            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?

            TIA

          • ooga aga
            July 16, 2013

            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!”

          • ooga aga
            July 16, 2013

            wooo, i could be very wrong…just saw dan’s reply below…eeee

  52. CuleToon
    July 16, 2013

    Amidst all this noise, Busi has renewed until 2018!

    • barcadan
      July 16, 2013

      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!”

      • CuleToon
        July 16, 2013

        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!

  53. REM
    July 16, 2013

    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

    • ciaran
      July 16, 2013

      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

      • barca96
        July 16, 2013

        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.

        • Jim
          July 16, 2013

          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.

  54. Dani_el
    July 16, 2013

    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

    • Oliver
      July 16, 2013

      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.

  55. Jim
    July 16, 2013

    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). 🙂

    • July 16, 2013

      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?

      • July 16, 2013

        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.

      • July 16, 2013

        Sorry, I mean to say, you can see it is affecting his eye more than his mouth now.

  56. July 16, 2013

    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.

    • July 16, 2013

      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!

    • July 16, 2013

      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!

    • CuleToon
      July 16, 2013

      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!

      • CuleToon
        July 16, 2013

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

          • CuleToon
            July 16, 2013

            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.

          • July 16, 2013

            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.

          • CuleToon
            July 16, 2013

            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»!

          • July 16, 2013

            We both know a Cruiijffista will not coach anything at this club until such time as Rosell is gone.

      • July 16, 2013

        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?

    • K-cule
      July 17, 2013

      @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…

    • barcadan
      July 17, 2013

      Thanks Kxevin! I will try to bother you guys more often. . .

  57. simple_barcafan
    July 16, 2013

    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…

  58. Messiah10
    July 16, 2013

    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.

    • Barcaman
      July 17, 2013

      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.

  59. Archie
    July 16, 2013

    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!!!

  60. mohit
    July 16, 2013

    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!

    • CuleToon
      July 17, 2013

      Wonderful, wonderful video! He’s The Man!

  61. lyd
    July 17, 2013

    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!*

    • Barcaman
      July 17, 2013

      The comment below was meant as a reply to you.

    • July 17, 2013

      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.

      • lyd
        July 18, 2013

        aye aye, Captain!

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

  62. Barcaman
    July 17, 2013

    -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.

    • lyd
      July 18, 2013

      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*

  63. July 17, 2013

    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.

    • K-cule
      July 17, 2013

      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.

  64. Huckleberry
    July 17, 2013

    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.

    • CuleToon
      July 17, 2013

      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.

      • barcadan
        July 17, 2013

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

  65. ciaran
    July 17, 2013

    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

    • K-cule
      July 17, 2013

      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).

      • Jim
        July 17, 2013

        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.

        • K-cule
          July 17, 2013

          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.

      • CuleToon
        July 17, 2013

        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».

        • Jim
          July 17, 2013

          Yeah, it was a fairly blunt statement / warning? To Bartra.

        • July 17, 2013

          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.

          • CuleToon
            July 17, 2013

            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.

          • July 17, 2013

            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.

          • barcadan
            July 18, 2013

            agree fully with blitzen’s comment below

  66. Oil_Can
    July 17, 2013

    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.

  67. KEVINO17
    July 17, 2013

    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.

    • barcadan
      July 17, 2013

      I think Song is going to surprise a lot of haters next season

      • KEVINO17
        July 17, 2013

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

  68. Judas Pissed
    July 17, 2013

    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?

  69. barcadan
    July 17, 2013

    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

    • CuleToon
      July 17, 2013

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

    • nzm
      July 17, 2013

      Change your browser?

      On my Android, I log in using Firefox & don’t have an issue.

    • CuleToon
      July 17, 2013

      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!

      • barca96
        July 17, 2013

        Which browser are you actually using?

        • barcadan
          July 18, 2013

          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.

          • It’s not BFB sit, but some app in your mobile trying to do that. Download Lookout anti-virus, it should figure the app.

  70. July 17, 2013

    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?

    • Jim
      July 17, 2013

      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?

      • barca96
        July 17, 2013

        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.

        • July 17, 2013

          Well, I am seemingly one of the few culés on this board who is not completely sold on Montoya.

          • July 17, 2013

            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.

          • barcadan
            July 18, 2013

            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.

    • 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.

      • Jim
        July 17, 2013

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

  71. barca96
    July 17, 2013

    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.

  72. Dani_el
    July 17, 2013

    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.

  73. barca96
    July 17, 2013

    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;

    http://www.squawka.com/players/marquinhos

    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.

  74. July 17, 2013

    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.

    • barcadan
      July 18, 2013

      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.

  75. July 17, 2013

    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.

      • July 17, 2013

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

        • Dani_el
          July 17, 2013

          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..

        • Jim
          July 17, 2013

          Ah, haven’t seen that anywhere. Thanks.

    • barcadan
      July 18, 2013

      hahaha! poor Afellay, so much potential . . .

  76. CuleToon
    July 17, 2013

    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.

    @#%$##&!

      • CuleToon
        July 18, 2013

        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!

    • Dani_el
      July 17, 2013

      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…

      • CuleToon
        July 18, 2013

        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:

        http://www.periodistasanonimos.com

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

      • CuleToon
        July 18, 2013

        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.

        • Dani_el
          July 18, 2013

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

  77. Alexinho
    July 17, 2013

    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.

    • CuleToon
      July 18, 2013

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

    • barcadan
      July 18, 2013

      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.

  78. barcadan
    July 18, 2013

    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 . . .

    http://espnfc.com/blog/_/name/tacticsandanalysis/id/1615?cc=5739

    • CuleToon
      July 18, 2013

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

      • July 18, 2013

        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.

        • CuleToon
          July 18, 2013

          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.

          • fugacanonicax
            July 18, 2013

            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.

    • Oliver
      July 18, 2013

      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.

  79. 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.

    • CuleToon
      July 18, 2013

      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.

      • July 18, 2013

        Then when he is subbed, we can say ….

        “Out ya go, Inigo.”

        (Thank you! I’ll be here all week!)

          • Sangoku
            July 18, 2013

            “In he go”! Nice one Kevin! 😉

          • Dani_el
            July 18, 2013

            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.

        • CuleToon
          July 18, 2013

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

  80. CuleToon
    July 18, 2013

    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.

    • barca96
      July 18, 2013

      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.

  81. July 18, 2013

    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.

    • CuleToon
      July 18, 2013

      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.

    • barca96
      July 18, 2013

      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.

      • July 18, 2013

        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.

      • CuleToon
        July 18, 2013

        @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.

  82. REM
    July 18, 2013

    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

    • July 18, 2013

      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.

    • barcadan
      July 18, 2013

      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.

    • July 18, 2013

      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.

    • barca96
      July 18, 2013

      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?

      • CuleToon
        July 18, 2013

        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!).

  83. July 18, 2013

    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?

    • July 18, 2013

      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.

  84. July 18, 2013

    PSG is buying Marquinhos for a reported 30M… Were we ever even in it?

    • Jim
      July 18, 2013

      Where did you see this, Levon ? I’m struggling to find it.

        • Jim
          July 18, 2013

          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.

  85. providence
    July 18, 2013

    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

  86. lyd
    July 18, 2013

    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.)

  87. nia
    July 18, 2013

    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?

    • July 18, 2013

      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…

      • G6O
        July 18, 2013

        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.

        • July 18, 2013

          Yes, but a top defender will want to be an automatic first-choice. Not many on the market.

          • G6O
            July 19, 2013

            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…

  88. July 19, 2013

    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.

    • July 19, 2013

      Thank you for your comment, Kenny!

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

  89. 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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