News of the day, aka “Despatches regarding the worst team EVAH”

"What a man! This guy bought me dinner. You'd think Neymar Sr would have paid, but whatever."
“What a man! This guy bought me dinner. You’d think Neymar Sr would have paid, but whatever.”

As The Replacements sang on “Bastards of Young”:

God, what a mess / On the ladder of success / Where you take one step / And miss the whole first rung

If I had to choose a word to describe our club right now, it would be “beleaguered.”

— Rumors that the coach has lost the locker room, coming off a 3-1 loss at a place at which losing is kind of a habit of late.
— A board that many culers and socis want to burn in effigy.
— A new stadium vote fast approaching, even though there ain’t hint of a model, etc.
— The tax man is calling, saying that the 40+m paid to Daddy Ney is in fact salary to the player.


Here are some tidbits, rumors and other stuff floating around in the world.

Where my money at, yo?

Oh, Wagner Ribiero. Here’s an interesting excerpt from a Dermot Corrigan column over at ESPN (bold for emphasis):

Ribeiro said that, in his view, the transfer had been very cleverly put together, although his explanation for the various components of the deal — which remains the subject of a legal investigation in a Spanish court amid claims of “simulated contracts” — appears to differ from the official explanation issued by the club.

Ribeiro continued: “I will explain — the 40 million added to the 54 million over five years [in wages] makes a total of 94 million. That represents 18.8 a year. Taking away taxes of 56 percent on the net figure, 8.27 million is left a year, which is a much lower salary than he would earn at other clubs, which offered 12 million net.

“For me, Neymar could have signed for another club earning much more than he gets now, but he wanted Barcelona and that is how the operation was fixed, although it financially damaged the kid. This is the best structured operation in which I have participated in my professional life.”

Barca have said that the 17.1 million euro payment to Santos represented the transfer fee and that an additional 40 million paid to N&N — a company owned by Neymar Sr. — was a “penalty clause.” The club announced that additional side deals — for services such as scouting, marketing and development work signed with both Santos and N&N — took the total to 86.2 million euros.

The explanation offered by Barca added: “The total salary cost to the club is 56.7 million euros [gross], which is divided into three concepts: 2.7 million euros as agent commission [five percent, rather than the 10 or 15 percent paid by other clubs], a 10 million euro signing-on fee and a guaranteed salary of 44 million euros.”

However, Ribeiro’s claim that Neymar Jr. will effectively be paid 18.8 million euros a year for five years appears to contradict Barca’s position that the 40 million euro payment is not due to the player but rather a business-to-business “penalty” incurred because the Brazil international moved to the Camp Nou a year earlier than had been agreed.

Barca’s hopes of reclaiming the extra 13.6 million euros that they have paid to the tax authorities are dependent on establishing that the 40 million payment was not a means of augmenting payments to Neymar.

Feelin’ groovy

Xavi, appropriately enough, he of the murderface, had the presser today after training and said everything is groovy, Tata is nice and transparent, full support of the players, etc, etc. Cynics say “We will see on the pitch.” I am one of those cynics. I do believe that nabobs like Guillem Balague and alleged mouthpieces with axes to grind such as Sport and MD, don’t like Martino, and haven’t from the beginning.

I also believe where there is smoke, there is often fire, even as I don’t trust any of them. And then Balague, who lambasted Martino for wrong lineup, etc, etc, then says of Manchester United, effectively it isn’t the coach’s fault alone, the players bear some culpability as well. Astute observers would wonder in what significant way United differs from Barça, and scratch their heads in confusion. Just sayin’.

Take a deep breath for me, son …

Speaking of rumors, apparently Ter Stegen has already had a no-longer-secret medical for us, as a prelude to his transfer. The Borussia Mongdenunpronouceable keeper was asked about the potential transfer, whereupon he winked, grinned and said that he didn’t know anything about it. Oh, you coy boy. Price is buzzed to be 12m+incentives, which is a nice bit of business, people, no matter how you slice it.

Don’t let the door hit you in the …

Current keeper Victor Valdes, though pre-contracted to Monaco, allegedly has a new suitor in Manchester City. He is rumored to be weighing life at a jam-packed Etihad in the Premiership, versus playing in front of 5k fans or so on a mediocre pitch in a principality. But hey, no taxes and stuff if you do the whole Monaco residency thang. Whatever. All I care about is that Ter Stegen will be announced once he is done effing around. Yes, that is a bit of my pique at a valuable commodity, one of the best keepers in the world, leaving the club that I love on a free. I have said before and will say again, a player who wants new scenery and to see the world, a player who still loves and respects the club that raised him and made him the player that he is, doesn’t scuttle off on a free. You renew, then set a reasonable buyout fee, so that club makes something from you. Snarl!

Will he or won’t he?

People with good sources are calling BS on the notion that Tata Martino has told the club that he is leaving in June. Sport has taken the liberty, in a continuation of their crusade, of drawing up a list of potential candidates to replace Martino. One of them, Valverde at Athletic, said if effect no way, and you people suck for doing this to a man who is on pins and needles while reading your rumors. Which is true.

Hello, I must be going …

There have been some interesting transfer rumors that include names such as Gundogan and Kun Aguero, coming from sources close to the club. There are even rumors of official club documents with such names on them. Ha! We will see what happens in the summer, but many are predicting a wholesale sell off that might even include a couple of surprises.

The future beckons

Remember this name: Alen Halilovic. He is a 17-year-old wunderkind who is either a done deal to Barça B or still in the negotiation process, in which all parties are trying to make everybody happy. What I do know is that based on match vids etc that are floating around, this kid is a badass. He’s already playing first-team football for Dinamo Zagreb as an attacking midfielder, and looks to be a monster talent. If the deal happens, he will be an addition to the magnificent cadre of young players pouring out of the program, who should ALL be in or nosing around the first team in a couple of years. I like that. For those unfamiliar, here’s a nice YouTube highlights package of Halilovic:

By Kxevin

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


    1. Being from Croatia, I think I could share some points about Alen Halilovic.

      First thing, he IS a huge talent, even bigger then Modric. But, talent can help you only a little.
      He had appearances for Croatian National Team but not because he deserved them, it was because it will incrase his buyout fee and our ex National Team coach is ‘business’ friend with Dinamo Zagreb (club where Halilovic currently plays) chairman.

      Next big thing is that he didn’t train very well in a past one-two years as he was part of the first team squad and not the first 11. If you take that before a match you don’t train hard, as well as the day after the game and you don’t play the game it leaves you with 3-4 training days in a week. He, himself, asked to play for junior squad so he can train all week and play games but he wasn’t allowed it, because Dinamo chairman sees him only as a bag of money as soon as possible.

      In Barcelona, he can become as good as Iniesta, but when someone lost two years in progress you can never know. For what I know he is hardworker and he will be a good footballer and we’ll se if he will be a superb footballer.

      Barcelona did a big mistake with Modric (who was (maybe still is) Barca fan) and it looks like they don’t want to do the same mistake again.

      Time will tell, and in the end I hope that Barca will close the deal.

    2. Couldn’t agree more about Modric. He would have been the perfect (or as close to perfect as you could get) heir to Xavi. Because Iniesta and Cesc and Thiago if he were still around are never going to be Xavi – they just don’t play the same game. (This isn’t to say they aren’t great in their own right – they are just great in a different way from Xavi.) The way Modric flits about midfield and links up play is great to watch and somewhat Xavi-esque.

      I always thought RM signing Modric was to some extent about keeping Barcelona from getting him. Excellent move by Madrid, if that was the case.

      On a side note, I thought I saw Martino trying to play Busquets in the Xavi position the other day. It wasn’t working too well. But I could see how maybe he could grow into it, given more time.

  1. Ter Stegen is great and all, but i wonder if anyone at the club has realized we actually need TWO keepers sharpish; Pinto is great and all but he’s 38 and was never threatening to compete with Valdes to begin with.

    i’d take Gundogan in a heartbeat, and the freshly-re-signed-by-Juventus-damnit Arturo Vidal even faster. we need some combative fire in our midfield to go with that technical ability, something we’ve been missing since Keita (though a Zen monk compared to the likes of, say, Deco) left us. Kun Aguero isn’t going anywhere, we couldn’t afford him and we don’t need him, so i don’t know where that stupid rumour comes from.

    the Croatian kid looks great (Youtube disclaimer), have seen his vids before (#hipster) and he’s looked excellent for over a year. i worry about overloading in that particular area though; how many players do we have who play in areas attacking midfielders typically inhabit? Iniesta, Fabregas, Neymar, Messi, Alexis, soon Rafinha… and more coming up from B. how about our scouts try to find the less sexy but more desperately needed wunder-centerback?

    1. Yeah, I was also not so supportive of the move to sign this Croatian kid cause we already have lots of mids. It seems that La Masia specializes in mids. We currently have Rafinha, Espinosa, Denis Suarez, Samper, and a few more but I have never seen them play so I can’t comment. I guess this kid is really special for them to sign him.

    2. Btw, the 2nd GK isn’t supposed to be as good or close to the 1st GK. For the GK position, there should be 1 undisputed GK and a back up. They shouldn’t fight for a place.

      Therefore, I still want Pinto to stay. He is good enough to be a 2nd GK. Reina would be too good to keep on the bench.

  2. It’s great to have a left footer playmaker. From the little that I’ve seen, Rafinha also uses left predominantly. Correct me if I’m wrong. A lot of great playmakers or creative players are left footed. Rivaldo is one of them.

  3. Btw, it’s refreshing to have a News of the day post. Brings back memories of 2009, 2010, 2011.

  4. * I thought Valdes’ main issue was with Ro$ell.
    Now that he is gone, I thought he might reconsider his position.
    By all means, a player who wants out, must leave. But can he not show a little consideration and respect for a club which has raised him and given him so much for 20 years? A club captain who is worth upwards of 20M Euros is leaving on a free. Yet another disgusting piece of outgoing transfer in the bag for our club.

    * All this uncertainty and anxiety that surrounds Tata Martino is so unfair. I can’t think of another coach who has or would have performed better in his first year under the circumstances than our mister. Just so unfortunate. I hope he uses this setback to bounce back and show what a boss he is.

    * Yet another slender talented attacking midfielder? Really, don’t we already have enough of those?

    1. It’s been rumored for more than an year that the real reason behind Valdes’ announced departure is a failed real estate firm. Point of fact: If Valdes gets a raise of say two million per year, that means almost five million more in expense for FC Barcelona. At the same time, a signing bonus of say 15 million Euro will get Valdes clean 10 million in a lump payment – and then he can get that increased salary – and pay lower taxes due to him being a foreigner. He is of age that makes lots of players begin to think about retiring.

      The rumors that Rosell was the main issue was just another checked item on the list “why we hate Rosell”.

    2. Oh yea, that. forgot about the real estate failed investment.
      thanks for reminding me. Nothing we can really do about it then.
      Just hope that Ter Stegen is an upgrade.
      Even if he is, I think it will take 2 years for us to see that. The kid is too young and GKs get better with age, not to mention him coming to a dressing room that is intimidating to say the least.

    3. It explains the “he needs money” stuff floating around. As noted above, I don’t dig his leaving on a free. Even Afellay made sure that his club got some money for him. I just think it’s what you do if you are leaving a club at the peak of your powers.

      I often wonder what an under-contract Valdes would bring on the open market. Yes, the transfer fee would limit his potential options. I get that. And I get that he has repaid the club with his years of service. I get all that.

      I still don’t think him leaving on a free is cool.

  5. I am sad about all this terrible rumours around us. Hopefully, the team will be motivated to do better by this.

    So behind all these rumour mills, we are still looking for forwards and midfielders, but no defenders yet. excellent..

    1. The club is actually rumored to have two defenders on its wish list. Personally, I would buy a fast, pressing mid over a defender in two seconds. More in keeping with our style.

    2. i’d buy them both, and another center-back on top of it. we’re going to have to slough off a lot of players who aren’t making the grade in the summer: dos Santos, Cuenca, Sergi Roberto, possibly (hopefully?) Song and (hopefully not) Afellay. i imagine Montoya and Bartra will get another year, and that Krkic isn’t coming back. which, by the way, why the hell do we still own Keirrison? nobody wants to buy him? ship him off as well.

      leaving us with only Rafinha coming home, and possibly Deulofeu (i think most of us would leave him at Everton for another season). and there are not many promotable youngsters though Dongou, Adama Traore and Samper all look very promising they need time to simmer, and again we have the problem of overstocking as they are all attacking players.

      major investment will be needed in the coming couple of seasons in the defensive half of our team: 2 goalkeepers, 2 center-backs, possibly a right-back and certainly a defensive midfielder or even 2, meanwhile we still haven’t found someone fit to wear Xavi’s mantle or a system to play without that sort of player in it.

      but don’t worry, we’re buying attacking midfielder Croatian 17-year-olds.

    3. Our future midfield (as in immediate) is Fabregas/Iniesta/Busquets. Strong from a attacking and movement perspective, closes space down well enough to help protect back line on the defensive side of things.

      I am not at all worried about no longer being able to play a system that best resides in the hands of an irreplacable player such as Xavi.

      A Barça defender isn’t an easy proposition at all. Many a defender thought of as excellent isn’t our type of defender. Rumors abound that two CBs are a priority this summer. We will have to wait to see what happens, and how it pans out.

      Latest rumor is that the club doesn’t want a big name, but rather a young player who can play immediately, but grow into the system. But that’s rumor. We won’t really know what’s going down until June.

      But for me, the “Gone” list pretty safely includes Afellay, Cuenca, Dos Santos, Krkic, Sergi Roberto on loan (probably never to return unless he blossoms), Puyol to retirement, possibly one other surprise such as Mascherano or Alves, strangely enough.

      Though I reckon if Mascherano AND Song leave, culers will implode in a miasma of not knowing who to blame when things don’t go right defensively. (Hehehehe!)

    4. Fabregas doesn’t fit into that midfield at all, as he’s a very different kind of player. playing him forces Busquets to be more mobile and defensive (thus opening gaps for a counter AND not allowing Sergi to exercise his own offensive passing abilities), and Iniesta to do more work defensively and further from the box. they both compensate for Cesc’s slowness, lack of defensive nous, and love of getting forward into the attack. Xavi-Iniesta-Busquets worked beautifully because X simply circulated the ball and got the return, was incredibly patient in possession and willing to provide the ball behind the ball and stay in a position to help the transition by providing defensive cover (often by cutting off passing lanes).

      Fabregas is a good player (not a great player) but he does none of that. it’s just not his game. he excels making late runs into the box and playing little passes around the edge of the area; he’s much more direct than Xavi. in the right system he might be able to utilize those attributes without unbalancing the team, but unless we change away from our 4-3-3 and as long as Busquets and Iniesta continue to play the way we expect them to and with which they’ve had so much success, our midfield as you describe it just got, overall, alot worse.

      i’d love it if Afellay got an actual run in the team, after so much time out. i don’t know why he hasn’t been rotated in more than he has since coming back to fitness. if he does leave our midfield options just shortened again, and we’re going to have to buy even more players to compensate for that. it’d probably be cheaper to keep him and rotate him than buy a replacement.

      and if/when Puyol retires, we will have a grand total of 2 actual center-backs on the books (no, i don’t count Mascherano), 1 of whom is still very young. that’s suicidal.

  6. It’ll be a mistake if we sell Sanchez. He’s really motivated to be a star for Barca and has many raw talents I feel we haven’t harnessed completely. Sanchez will run the whole lenght of the pitch for Barca if asked to. I also wonder why he alongside Neymar don’t take FK’s on the right ahead of Xavi who hasn’t scored any this season.

  7. So Tata wants Vidal and his asking price is 50mill. I think that’s way too expensive! 35m is tops I would pay. If Vidal is too expensive, I’d rather them go for Gundogan. I am pretty sure he would be cheaper. But he is currently injured. Not sure how serious it is.

  8. Richard Whittall is doing his part to try and reset how supporters think about goals, matches and culpability, i.e. blame. “Something happened, so who screwed up?”

    This is an interesting piece that makes the point about it not always being a screwup that results in a goal. Sometimes, stuff just happens. Other times it’s a brilliant play.

  9. Seems the Halilovic deal is done. Photos of Sanelhi and other delegation members in Croatia today. 15m (total) deal, 5m with first-team clauses.

    Always a risk, as any young player. Reckon the temptation of an Iniesta who can score goals was worth a 5m punt.

    1. 5m is still a LOT of money for a 17 year old who comes from a particularly uncompetitive league, and who plays in a position we don’t really need reinforcement for.

      i’m actually a bit upset about that.

      Cuenca’s continuous injuries will mean he doesn’t have a place next season. it’s sad for a young, talented player but being injured so much either means you’re not physiologically capable of competing to that high an athletic standard, or you’re not taking your training and recovery/physical therapy seriously. it’s a shame, but he’d likely be out of the team on merit anyway; we’re getting way overloaded in those wide forward/attacking midfielder positions, with a handful of notable youngsters coming up in the next few years on top of it. another reason why thd deal for Halilovic seems like a silly luxury buy.

    2. Cuenca is gone in the summer. Bet on it. Along with Krkic (who is still technically ours), Dos Santos, Afellay and probably Sergi Roberto on loan, never to return unless he really pops.

      The memories of “we don’t need Neymar” are still too fresh in my head for me to write off a player of the quality this kid seems to have. Sometimes, if the price is right, you buy a player because he is available. Halilovic sounds like that kind of player, but we’ll see.

    3. the questions for me aren’t “how good is Halilovic, and how good can he be?”, but first rather “who’s position is he going to play in, and when he is going to play?”.

      we have Adama Traore, Rafinha, and Deulofeu all playing in basically that same position, and are all under 21. oh, and some guy we got on the cheap named Naymer. wait, that’s not right. Neymar? that’s assuming any of them can dislodge Andres Iniesta, Pedro, or Alexis Sanchez in the next few years.

      so who is this kid gonna replace? we very arguably just spent 5m on a *potential* replacement for a player in what is probably our best-stacked position. i’m willing to give his talent the benefit of the doubt, and we DO need to be more aggressive in the transfer market, but i don’t understand the strategy behind the transaction.

    4. While it’s true that Barcelona have a lot of talent, the fact remains that you need seven to eight very good players to complete the midfield – Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc, Busquets, Rafinha, Song/Mascherano/some new Masia kid/new pivote, maybe Denis Suarez… and then? Sergi Roberto?

      Players age. Xavi could probably last for another two years if spared, but then he would have to retire. Sooner or later the puppet master will have to hang up his boots and then a place will open. If the Croatian kid is really that good, he could use that time to mature and imbibe the essence of Barcelona – and then he would be able to feature. More or less in the perfect time, just when generational spots begin to appear.

      Adama can become a true scary wide striker if he continues to eat his vegetables. Deulofeu would have to continue to develop if he wants a chance at the spot – because as of right now Sanchez and Pedro are practically ruling that spot.

      Personally I am more interested in the defense. Rumors on not, Puyol will have to hang up his boots sooner or later, and then Barcelona may have not one, but two spots available in the central defense team, especially if Mascherano is allowed to play as pivote – and there are some real beanpoles in the B and Juvenil teams(one example, Tito’s son Adria Vilanova, 1.91m at 17 years of age).

    5. The kid is 17-18 years old. If he can become a starter in the next 4-5 years, he will have been more than worth the money. But 4-5 years is also about the minimum amount time needed to mature into playing in our midfield and at present we have no idea what that midfield will look like at that time. I’d rather spread my bets over multiple players and hope that at least some reach the needed level than bet it all on one or two players who don’t live up to expectations (which is all the more probable when someone knows he is the chosen one and does not work as hard as he would have otherwise as a result).

      The rarely mentioned truth is that La Masia is the best in the world at producing many good players, some of whom are great, but many of them are very overhyped and are not and never will be at the level needed to be starters for best team in the world. We are a team that needs almost all positions to be filled by players who are in the top 5 in the world at their position, otherwise we would not be able to compete at the level we’re accustomed to. You cannot realistically expect La Masia to meet that demands on its own yet every player that makes some noise in the youth teams is touted as the next Xavi/Iniesta/Messi. And it rarely works out that way.

      In midfield, La Masia will reliably produce players who are perfectly drilled in the Barca way of playing the game, and this will get you quite far. But on its own, it’s not sufficient – you need genius too to be an Iniesta, and unfortunately you can’t coach genius, if you don’t have it you don’t have it and the most you can achieve is being a Sergi Roberto.

      I haven’t watched the kid so I don’t know how good he is, but let’s hope he is the real deal. 5 million is not that much, we’ve wasted a lot more in recent years on investments that looked worse even at the time they were made

    6. 5M really isn’t much in todays terms. Football is global now. Just look at this site. The kids talent is worth 5M to see if it comes to fruition. From what I’ve seen he is better than any B teamer we currently have. I believe he’s the youngest player to play in CL. Would you have said 5M was to much for a 17 year old Messi? No one knew Messi would be Messi and he was killing it in youth teams. If this kid is 50% of Messi his shirt sales alone will pay back that 5M. Great bit of biz IMO. He’s 17. So why ask who’s position he’ll take? Football is a crazy biz. A lot can happen in 1 year. Let alone 3-5 when this kid could be a regular. Iniesta will be close to retirement at that point. Pedro? He’ll prob be a half step slower and there’s much of his game gone. I can only realistically see Busi in the Midfield in 5 years. Anyone else is a crap shoot.

    7. It’s a fun football cliche, but shirt sales never come close to paying off transfer fees. This has been established time and time again.

  10. Wanted to share something, my wife gave me the birth of my third son. A day not to think about Barca :).
    I wish i could.

    1. Nah, not allowed to be present during the birth. I’ll see them in a day or two. Silly regulations.

  11. Official. Halilovic has announced it via social media, confirmed by president of Dinamo.

    — Montoya has renewed for 4 more years, until 2018.

  12. If I were Zubiza, This is what I would try to do in the upcoming summer.


    Dos Santos
    Isaac Cuenca
    Cristian Tello
    Bojan Krkic
    Ibrahim Afellay
    Victor Valdes


    Sergi Roberto
    Gerard Deulofeu

    Ter Stegen
    Mangala / Fazio
    Musacchio / Vergini / Hummels
    Midfielder in the mould of Gundogan / Vidal
    Any striker Barca deems fit

  13. The squad would then look like this.

    GKs : Ter Stegen, Pinto, Oier (new pinto GK to be signed in 2015)
    FBs : Alves, Alba, Adriano, Montoya, Mathieu
    CBs : Pique, Bartra, Masch, Mathieu, Mangala / Fazio, Hummels / laporte
    MFs : Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Cesc, Song, Rafinha, Vidal
    FWs : Messi, Lexus, Neymar, Pedro, new CF

    Thats 25 members. perhaps one too many. We may not need all of the 3 defensive acquisitions. maybe just two out of matheiu, mangala, laporte, fazio & hummels. Man! so weird to not see names like puyol & valdes. The times they are a changing, I guess.

  14. ultracule, snap out of it ! *snap*

    i highly doubt that any team in the history of football would buy so many high value players in one transfer window. Not to mention that we arent known for our purchasing power per se. I mean compare us to bayern,mancity psg, real madrid…

    I reckon the board will sign Terstegen, a CB (my gut feeling tells me its hummels), a CM (doubt it would be vidal bec. i reckon he would go north of 40m).

    1. well, its more of a wishlist than what will likely happen.
      most expensive you say? lets take a look, shall we? Yes i know Vidal will be bloody expensive and we won’t be able to sign him if there’s competition from the clubs you name. But if Ter stegen is 12M, Hummels around 25M, Mathieu @10M and a CF@25M, that amounts to 72M. If the Qatar transfer kitty of 50M is there, then we are spending really 22M above budget. Then factor in our profits and sales of players. Surely Tello should fetch >15M and the rest (even in a worst case scenario) can amount to 10M. So thats 25M in sales.
      Doesn’t look too bad now, does it?

    2. With the numbers thrown about, 50 mil each for Mangala and Vidal (stupid prices, market is screwed, etc). Why is Hummels valued at 25? Heard these “low” numbers before, yet a season ago he was considered (along with 9 other guys) to be “the best CB in the world”.

      We can no doubt make huge improvements with a transfer budget of 50 + 25, hope the board can work some magic, Stegen(?) and the young croat are nice signings already.

    3. i heard it was because Hummels’ contract was almost up, though he may have renewed by now.

      his price may also stay low because he’s been out much of the season through injury.

    4. Under contract until 2017 for Hummels.

      No way in hell we go after Mangala. Third-party ownership, and Porto is an absolute bear to deal with. Price is at least 40m, to boot.

      Just have to wait and see, but it looks from the state of things, that the tech group is interested in not doing a lot of screwing around in the window, getting things nailed down sooner rather than later.

  15. I’m not trying to tempt fate or anything, but it’s been a slow news day so far, no further organisations have added themselves or have been added to the case against Barcelona.

    Nothing new, except for Mr. Cases, who had an interesting meeting with the leadership of “Clean Hands”, and his lawyer asking for the resignation of Freixa on ethical reasons – “to save some dignity”.

    BTW, who is paying for the lawyer? Is it Mr. Cases, who supposedly has troubles making ends meet?

    1. Not yet. I live in Spain, but practically the most distant location from Barcelona that is still Spain. 😀 As such, and because of economic reasons I couldn’t become a soci before the restrictions in 2010 applied, so now I will have to go this summer/autumn to start the 3-year long “cadet” membership. It isn’t as pricey as the full membership, but neither does it have any advantages.

    2. Ah thanks for sharing Peter. So you’re a Spanish or American living in Spain? Is ooga aaga’s guess correct that you live in the Canary Island?

      How much does the soci membership cost? Last time I checked was in 2008 or 2009 but I can’t remember the price now. I still had the money back then but I thought it would be a waste. Being halfway around the world. No point for me. But now, it’s nearly impossible to become a soci.

      So how much does the cadet membership cost?

    3. Actually I’m Bulgarian, and I live in Gran Canaria(the original Canary Island 😛 ).

      The Soci membership costs about 170-180, but of course you need to be no more than second-degree related to a current Barcelona soci, or you need to be less than 15.

      The “cadet”, or “commitment” card costs 136 Euro, but the rub is that it has to be applied for in person at Camp Nou, and it’s possible to do so from 1st of June to 30th of October. It has advantages over the non-member, but basically you can’t vote, buy tickets like socis do or participate in lotteries. You still get discounts at official stores if I’m not mistaken, so part of it pays off. 😀

      Most people would think it’s a waste of money, but when you look at it clearly, that’s like 11 Euro per month, that’s basically one ticket for a 3D movie or club entrance + drink. Personally I’d rather spend that money for something that really matters to me.

  16. ted Stegen had an absolutely howler of an own-goal, to cost Gladbach 2 points, today. i suggest looking it up.

    we’re getting rid of arguably the world’s (on form) best keeper and putting all of our eggs in that basket, for real?

    1. ted Stegen, of course, being the long-lost Midwestern brother of TER Stegen, which is who i meant to reference.

    2. Ah yes, the one who has the handlebar mustache and drives a Mustang? 😀

      As far as howlers go, do remember our own VV has had some pretty nasty ones before this stellar season – I’ll never forget that one against EE when he passed it straight to them a couple of seasons ago as long as I live.

      But like G6O says, all keepers make mistakes. I think it’s more important to look at his reflexes, how he deals with crosses and free kicks, if he commands the box, comes off his line appropriately etc.

    3. We aren’t “getting rid of” Valdes. The club would love for him to stay. He wants to leave.

      Ter Stegen is the one keeper that anyone interested in a proper Barça-style keeper should want, even more than Courtois. He is also just about the best young keeper propect extant, and we got him for 12m, an excellent bit of business.

      Players make errors. Dismiss every player that makes one and you have a pretty short roster.

    4. Name me a keeper who has not had howlers?

      If they are not too frequent, the other things that a keeper does are more important in his evaluation.

    5. Frankly, I’m more worried about his 12 goals conceded in three games for Germany. If something like that happens in the pressure cooker that is Barca, life could get very tough for him. Think De Gea’s first year at United.

  17. Pretty good shout for a pen though with Ramos behind and not touching the ball. Gerry Armstrong of course immediately declares no pen and has to eat humble pie and change his tune after the replay. Now it’s the ref didn’t give it because Costa made the most of it. What a plonker.

    However Atletico would do well to play the game and not their opponents whose sole mission is to get them upset.

  18. 30 min gone, rivals are getting outplayed by Atletico, look very tired. Clearly shows how unimpressive rivals are without their usual physical advantage. Should be 2-0.

  19. This ref (in the Madrid derby) – are you kidding me? Has he given a single 50/50 to Atlético?

  20. If Atletico can keep up this intensity Madrid’s midweek game will certainly tell. However someone is going to lose a player which will settle the game

    Ohhhhh. What a goal.

    1. I switched it off after the early Benzema goal. It looks like I owe it to myself to watch the second half!

    1. I’m glad we don’t have to face Atleti again until the last game of the season – this game is intense, dirty, and looks exhausting!

  21. Well, at least EE didn’t steal the win at the end. With a win we will reduce their lead to 1 point!

  22. i wish atletico were braver in the second half.

    the ref was poor and seemed to favor real.

    well, they both drop two points…hard to say at this point whether this is the best result for us…great game though from what i saw…

  23. If doing nothing all day and then scoring on the 82nd min. makes you the best footballer in the world then am not interested!

    1. Figure this one would make you happy. Xavi and Puyol both scoring for the first time in their 20 years together. Seems unbelievable.

  24. Strong first half so far against an opponent who doesn’t have such a good plan. Our biggest enemy seems to be our own lack of effectiveness in front of goal – Messi could have three by himself so far. But I like Messi getting involved without everybody looking for him with the final passes a lot.

  25. Huh, how many times do we see Messi in the box during corners? So glad we’ve got the 2 goal cushion again!

    1. The more I watch culers reacting, the more I’m inclined to think most of us are bipolar, at least to some extent. 😀

      To answer your question, probably “we hate that we love him” 😀

  26. overall a good win, so glad to see Xavi and Puyol making the difference. there was a worrying stain on the victory, by conceding YET ANOTHER goal from a set piece, and yet again Cesc Fabregas was a huge liability defensively (and contributed basically nothing offensively as well, truth be told). his “defending” for that goal was really shocking.

    was encouraged by our front 3 though, individually and collectively, but the standout for me was Alexis Sanchez. his industry and creativity, and willingness to run off the ball, was really noticeable and he took his poacher’s goal in such a way that you have to believe he was working on his finishing all summer: last year, he skies that over the bar.

  27. Memories from yesterday :

    ~ That Gabi strike. Wowzee!
    ~ What a derby. Too bad Atleti couldn’t hold on.
    ~ Is there a more despicable person on this planet than Pepe?
    ~ I could easily kill him.
    ~ Neymar’s in a bit of a funk eh?
    ~ Soak in every second you get to see Puyol play.
    ~ Messi’s curve on that freekick. Is it safe to say he has come close to Dinho’s freekick taking abilities?
    ~ Xavi and Puyol scored? Has that happened before?
    ~ Alexis Sanchez! nuff said. When I said he’s the perfect player for us when he was goofing sitters last season, people were calling for his head. And mine.
    ~ Another Corner goal. Not good.
    ~ Dani Alves is sort of irreplaceable.
    ~ That’s all.

    1. I have yet to be impressed by Neymar’s shot taking ability. He gets the spectacular ones in from time to time, but all too often can’t keep it simple and get an easy shot in/ or at least on target. No shooting consistency and no clinical finishing. He’s more Iniesta Mark II and less Messi-lite, for me.

    2. Let’s hold off on judging Neymar so soon shall we. Just look at Sanchez, he couldn’t buy a goal last season, now he is the top scorer. Neymar can score goals and plenty of them, he has proven that both for the national team and in Brazil. All he needs is more playing time with the team to settle in and gain some confidence. Goal scoring is all about confidence.

      Also, lets not forget he is just coming off an injury and is nowhere near his best.

    3. If Neymar were Iniesta Mark II, he would have what Iniesta has, which is 1 goal and 4 assists. Instead, he has 9 goals and 11 assists. This without a proper pre-season, his first year in Europe?

      Are we ready to discard a player already, who just got here? I understand the culer propensity toward doing that. Culers wanted to jettison Henry, Abidal, and never really could figure Keita out. Sanchez is the team’s second-leading scorer, but last year people wanted him out as well.

      And let’s see … Busquets was mistake-prone, we were nuts to sell Toure Yaya, etc, etc. People used to say that Sanchez was wasteful and not clinical. He has 18 goals in 54 shots. Messi has 27 goals in 122 shots. I’m no math major, but I’d bet Sanchez has a higher finishing percentage.

      What say we give Neymar time to get fully match fit before writing him off?

    4. You’d stoop so low as to use logic? You dare use previous rants by fellow culers in order to show them their current rants are not justified?

      How do you sleep at night? 😛

    1. It hurts me to say it, but nothing lasts forever.
      He will leave.

      But not yet… Not yet.

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