Old dogs, who ya trickin’?
You heard it here first for the umpteenth time: Puyol is retiring and Xavi is moving to Red Bull. I am not a religious man, but God do I hope I won’t have to listen to these rumors for the next six months. Puyol might or might not retire. Or he might play somewhere else for a season or two. Either way his time is coming, if it hasn’t already. And though I doubt Xavier is going anywhere just yet, so will his. After all, the Getafe game was his 700th(!). If they want to keep on playing, they will probably have to retire elsewhere. Our squad is just that good. And isn’t that the way we want it? Who cares where they ultimately hang their boots. I will not shed a tear for two cracks who have given everything to the club we love. They will always be Barça legends, whenever they go, and whenever they come back. No matter what, and that’s what matters.
Massacre in the Masía
So, we have lost / will lose / could lose our talented young forward Antonio Sanabria, fully-fledged Paraguayan international at the age of seventeen, to AS Roma. Since he announced he had accepted the offer he couldn’t refuse on the 8th of January, a weird quarrel has broken out over the release clause which is either 3 million euros or 12 million euros, depending on whether he is a Juvenil player or a B-team player. I don’t fully understand this nonsense. The clause is either written in black on white or it isn’t, and Tonny either is a B-team player or he isn’t. Or wasn’t. Or isn’t. Dizzy yet? Next in line might be 18-year old Moroccon winger Munir El Haddadi Mohamed, another one of the academy’s crown jewels. His contract lasts for another six months and sixteen days. Questions abound, as there are a lot of things we don’t know. Will he stay or will he go? Is he as good as the dailies now sounding the alarm make him out to be? Has he been offered a new contract over the last 12-18 months, or has Zubi been caught sleeping for the umpteenth time (for a keeper he sure doesn’t seem to keep his eyes on the ball all that much)?
Here’s what I do know. We cannot stop a player from wanting to leave, nor can we blame him. In a front line that contains Messi, Neymar, Alexis and Pedro it sure is hard for a youngster with his eyes open to imagine a significant 1st team role in the years to come. Maybe that is why Dongou always has that dreamy look on his face. I am not even sure if Gerard Deulofeu should come back, although I fear the Catalan factor might prove decisive.
Another thing that I know is that everybody knows. And my definition of everybody is: you, me, your mama, Manchester United, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Arsenal. It is entirely possible that there are more scouts than parents in attendance at the Juvenil games, representing clubs that offer significantly higher possibilities to advance a young prospect’s professional career while at the same time fattening his pockets ’til the seams come off. Barça has the most difficult squad to break into in the world, folks, and we can either complain about that or celebrate it.
Keeping it classy (R.I.P. @ C.M.)
Apparently we are planning to construct a mausoleum underneath our stadium to house 30,000 dead culés. For three to six thousand euros a tomb you can choose to rest your bones below the Camp Nou for fifty to ninety-nine years. For the not so quick counters among us that’s 90 to 180 million euros for Sandro to spend on toner of the magenta, cyan and yellow variety. My first thought was wtf. The second was that M*drid has an island resort off of the Dubai coast and, you know, at least our cemetery won’t be built by Nepalese slaves (I hope). The third was: “hold on, is this actually as horrible as it sounds?” If getting buried floats your boat, I can’t think of a better place. I do have a few questions, like, are these graves open to all or will it be a members only destination? Even more seriously, and no I’m not kidding, aren’t they afraid that we will end up with a haunted stadium? The answer to that is to stack ‘em all under the opponent dressing room. Of course, I will save my family some dough, get cremated and ask them to smuggle my ashes into the Camp Nou. You know, cause I’m cheap like that.
Speaking of the Camp Nou while we still can…
… because soon we might call it Camp Qatar. Or, to be fair, Qatar Camp Nou Stadium. Yes, Siree, the small desert country* is reportedly lining up a 30 year, 350 million euro offer for the naming rights of our beloved stadium and you can bet your family pet that our board of directors is eager for the money. We will not just be més que un club, we will be més que un país. In my very personal opinion I am quite uncomfortable about the increasing influence that small and rich oil states buy in European football. Perhaps I should be more accurate and say that I am uncomfortable about how our soccer clubs are selling themselves out to foreign sovereign states. It seems that half of the top clubs are being sponsored by Flying Emirates while in our neck of the Mediterranean the (again in my very personal opinion) most beautiful club is letting themselves be slowly usurped by Qatar – the same country that will force a winter World Cup down our throats. And to think that until only recently in our proud history we did not even allow for a sponsor on our shirt. Funny how foreigners can use the club as their national pimp mobile, but can no longer become members.
*It might be too small to actually have any desert