So. The Thiago Alcantara saga has ended, with the player going to Bayern Munich for a total fee of 25m+ a friendly. Part of the fee came from the player doing a salary giveback, a la Cesc Fabregas, which is particularly interesting.
The roots of the transfer are well-known, and now we have the reality. Prima facie, it isn’t the best piece of business, but it isn’t the most horrible one, either. Alcantara was on track to be The Man in the Barça midfield. For his own reasons, he didn’t want to wait, and so now he gets to ply his trade in the Bundesliga. And that’s that.
What does the deal mean? That the club has sold a promising La Masia talent for an very good, but not great, price. Malaga got more for Isco, and La Real got more for Illarramendi, even if the circumstances were different in that the parallel “Is” were starters. Thiago wasn’t, mostly because of the best midfield on a football club in a generation. It happens, even as I don’t think that any cule in their right minds wanted the player to leave.
People are, as well you all can imagine, losing their minds. They are blaming Vilanova, Rosell, aliens, sunspots and anything else they can think of. The player is absolved of responsibility for his own future and decisions regarding it, or forced into it by those nefarious others who didn’t give him his due. I get how that has to be the case, even as I struggle with it, for this simple reason:
Tito Vilanova would have to be a fool to not play a player of that immense a value, who was able to help his club in a significant way.
And I just don’t believe that Tito Vilanova is a fool. I think that he was, and is feeling an immense amount of pressure. I think that like Guardiola, he had players that he preferred to use for certain matches. But if a player had leapt to the forefront of his vision, demanding with his performance that he couldn’t be denied a spot in our lineup, that player would have played. Lots. More than Thiago did, and more than enough to meet that 60% mark specified in his absurd contract clause. Again, that is just my opinion. Others will have a different one.
Journalistic entities such as Marca claim that the departure was engineered, because the club’s technical staff doesn’t believe that Thiago has the right amount of tactical discipline, and that Sergi Roberto has more, making him preferable and causing the club to let Thiago go. Take that for what it is, and consider the source.
Whatever your views on the matter, the club has lost an exceptional talent. How exceptional, we still don’t know. If, as many suspect, Thiago turns out to be one of the best mids in the world, the club that sold him for 25m will look rather foolish, taken on the surface.
Of course, complicating matters is Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas, the same impediments Thiago will be facing in his quest for a place on the World Cup 2014 squad. But that is a story for the future. For now, we have a transfer that might, or might not be a surprise, depending upon who you are, your position in the club hierarchy and your views on the player.
A comment that deserves to live on
During a discussion in the previous thread I asked a commenter and longtime soci, CuleToon, if the “rotten in Denmark” scent was around Sandro Rosell among local cules and socis, or was it a malodorous aroma that was much more evident to foreign nostrils. He gave it a fair bit of thought, and replied. I was going to leave it in the comments, but it deserves its own space. So here you go:
Kxevin asked me yesterday if «was it just foreign socis who could see what Rosell was going to bring to the table from a mile away, or did local socis also smell something rotten in Denmark?». I hope you don’t mind if I give the answer here, because I’ve devoted a lot of time to it, and don’t wish that it gets lost amidst the comments above. So, I apologize in advance for this.
I’ll give a short answer to Kxevin’s question for those that just wish to know and move on, and a rather long one for anyone interested.
First, the short one: Yes, a lot of us — mainly Cruyffistes — smelled it, and surely much sooner than most of you here.
Now, the long one. I’ll try to be as concise as possible. And I’ll write mostly from memory, although I’ve done a little research. I simply can’t devote that much time to do a more thorough investigation, but I’m sure it will suffice.
June 2003. Laporta and Rosell are elected.
June 2005. Rosell and his mates, who are apparently fed up with being in minority in the board, Leave. There is some noise on the press with polls, etc. Some people in the press (on hidsight, some of Rosell’s current media minions) begin to take sides, but nothing seems unusual at this time.
July 2005. The Laporta episode at BCN airport (when he lowered his trousers in front of the official who asked him to remove almost everything before boarding a plane to MAD; let’s not forget that that happened at the BCN airport, so it is impossible that the official didn’t know him, but whatever). That incident is stretched for several days on both MAD and BCN press, and always was mentioned afterwards when attacking Laporta. For its part, MAD press begins its relentless attack on Laporta because of his Catalanist-independentist ideas.
First half of 2006-A. That’s when all the bad-smell alarms went off for us. First, a common and unknown soci called Joan March Torné (old and retired, I think), brought a lawsuit against Laporta saying that the last 15 last days of June 2003 (the first 15 days of Laporta’s term) had to count as a whole year, and demanded Laporta and the board to call for election a year before than usual. After some appeals and the intervention of a Catalan political body (Consell d’Esports), Joan March won the case and Laporta’s first term lasted only 3 years instead of the usual 4. Joan March had no means, and it was clear that Rosell was behind it. For its part, most of the media attacked Laporta making a fuss of all this.
First Half of 2006-B. Since his departure, Rosell didn’t speak publicly until April, when he presents his book “Welcome to the Real World,” where he attacks Laporta thoroughly, and denies — of course — that he’s behind any manoeuvre.
First Half of 2006-C. Once established in court that those 15 days of 2003 counted as the whole 2002-2003 season, Viçens Pla, another unknown, old and retired soci with no means (and with with a big, red, veiny nose that I think reveals his tastes: just Google him), brought a lawsuit against Laporta and his board asking for a monetary guarantee for the losses incurred in 2002-2003 by the previous boards (those of Gaspart and a couple of other presidents who lasted some weeks). That is still going on today, seven years after, and the quantity asked of Laporta and several members of his board to guarantee amounts to some 23 mill euro. Strangely enough, even if Rosell and some of his mates were at Laporta’s board at that time, they are not mentioned in the lawsuit. The fuss the press makes about this dwarfs any it made before. And Rosell, as always, says he’s got nothing to do with it.
The campaign against Laporta continues as usual, until…
May 2008. Out of the blue comes Oriol Giralt —a fellow soci no one knew about— calling for a vote of no confidence against Laporta. With all the media at his disposal, he gets about 9.500 signatures in no time. (Let me remind you that all those lawsuits cost a lot of money, specially the hiring of the lawyers; and, in Oriol Giralt’s case, the infrastructure needed to get such an amount of signatures in a couple of weeks isn’t cheap either). This time, Rosell’s speaks publicly for the first time since he presented his book, to support the vote of confidence. And now all the media attacks Laporta by land, air and sea, without even trying to conceal their purpose.
And the rest will be known to all of you that have read until this point. Laporta wins the vote of confidence by a narrow margin. Then, though, he appoints Pep to the first team. Laporta continues to be attacked, but the success of the team hinders the effort by the media until the campaign for the election in 2010, when the media stretches its influence to the limit, and Rosell wins. The deeds of Rosell as Barça president until today are there for all to see.
A short addendum:
My generation lived the Núñez 1978 election. Just one week before that election, all the polls gave a great majority of the votes to Víctor Sagi, a respected Catalan-elite member and a pioneer in the Catalan and Spanish advertising industry. And then, just one week before the election, he quit. Just like that. And Núñez, the second in the polls, won. Núñez was the most important building contractor in Catalonia at the time, an industry which some people described then as “mafia-like.” And according to a rumour that I have heard several times since then, Víctor Sagi received a dossier on a close member of his family, together with an invitation to quit. But rumors are just rumors, and, of course, they should never be taken as true.
Oh, I forgot: on July 28 2011, just two years ago, Núñez was sentenced to six years in prison and some fines for bribery and document falsification. Of course, as happens with powerful people here, he hasn’t put a foot on the floor of a cell.
I wanted to comment also on the alleged reputation of Messi as a “fellow-players destroyer,” a myth born in Madrid this last year. According to most Madrid papers, Messi has “sacked” four fellow players to this day. But according to one report I’ve seen today, he’s sacked no less than twelve (12)! Go figure!
And a last thing for those of you that know about Crackòvia, the satirical program on TV3. They call Rosell “peix bullit,” which means “boiled fish,” aka, the epitome in Catalan for all things bland, tasteless, boring, dull, flat or drab.
And that’s all.