Gracies, Equip, aka “Thank you so much for being superhuman”

atmbusi

These are tough times. Poor babies that we are, we have to suffer through a team that finished second in the Liga, in it until the final match, made the Copa final and Champions League quarterfinals. In a sport in which a two-year cycle is extraordinary, our team has been at or near the top since 2008. Six years.

The club has been, and is under assault from every direction from media to its own supporters and people who have been lined up, waiting for Barça to fall as “I told you so” rings throughout the halls of the Camp Nou, shrieks from the fronts of newspapers and websites, a conga line of people who are lining up to kick dirt on the face of the prom king.

So this post is going to start and end saying what I think every last culer needs to say, right here and right now: Gracies, equip. Thank you for the fun, the joy and tears, taking kicks and various fouls, scoring goals and making the effort to do the colors that we love proud. Thank you for everything.

Not winning sucks. But it’s part of life, and it’s part of football, even if we culers aren’t all that experienced with it for these past wonderful seasons. And maybe, just maybe it explains the ugliness, the taking after players on the team and club that we love so much.

In an effort to sum up this season for me, it comes in one word: heartache.

From the Iniesta family sadness to the death of our Mister to great players deciding, for one reason or another, to leave the club it has been a heavy season for anyone who loves this team.

It has also been a tough season for anyone who loves this club as vile men consumed by power and money, have brought us a team that has been neglected for so long, that falls just short of the ultimate prize. Do they care, or are they counting the bonuses and incentives that will not have to paid as part of the bottom line, for the next presser in which a board member crows about record profits.

And is that even a fair question, we must also ask. The neglect that appalls us, the Pollyanna in me, has to have a root. The stadium, or more than that? If these men who are tasked with seeking the best for the club love the team as much as so many of us followers do, then what happened? Why didn’t our crown jewel get the baubles it deserved and needed so desperately?

Now comes the even more difficult part, where people unsheath knives to take after players, clamoring for sales, loans and various jettisoning. Pique this, Fabregas that, Mascherano the other, Song just because.

That isn’t going to happen here.

What is going to happen is my very simple view of what went “wrong” this season, something that comes in one phrase: everything all at once.

It is impossible to point fingers because from top to bottom the entire club came up short, from the board that runs it to the players on the pitch. The collective performance added up to a season without major silver, something predicted by many before the year even began.

It all started when Tito Vilanova had to step down because of a recurrence of the cancer that would eventually claim his life. Names flew hither and yon before the arrow settled on Gerardo “Tata” Martino, a man who had to take over a team in which he had no say, didn’t really know any of the players except from watching them on TV, and shoulder the task of fashioning them into a force that would meet the standards of a demanding global fan base.

He also had to figure out how to integrate a player that much of that fan base deemed unnecessary, a Brazilian show pony named Neymar.

Things started out brilliantly as a swashbuckling Barça began tearing up the Liga, battling for the top of the table, winning its Champions League group and looking like it was off to the races. Then things began to happen and suddenly, everything was different.

Rumors flew, accusations surfaced that people either defended or figured were probably true, depending upon which individual or group was tagged with the allegation. The team soldiered on, beating over two legs a Manchester City side that was supposed to be its Armageddon, but things weren’t the same.

Then came Atletico Madrid, a group of players who were everything that we weren’t: a team that believed. And they dispatched us in Champions League, helped by an away wonder goal then creating a noise-augmented buzzsaw at home. They took the lead in the Liga as we began to falter until another, our final chance, reared its head in the final match of the season. Win and we are champions. Lose, and they hoist the crown. There, they did what they do as did we all too often from March on in this season, and that was that.

Failure?

We should get our minds around the notion of failure, as opposed to having a very good season in which a team came short of the ultimate prize. There are piles of teams and hordes of fans who would kill for what we call failure. But Barça is supposed to win everything in sight, right? It happened once, and it is supposed to happen again and again and again, because it feels wonderful and is our birthright.

This is, of course, the profoundest nonsense. Matches don’t happen in a vacuum. Ever since that one year when the team won everything under the sun, teams have been trying to figure out ways to stop our team from ever doing that again. They came up with various ways, even calling upon a volcano eruption. And while we didn’t win everything under the sun, major silver was the norm until the last season of Annus Guardiolus, in which “only” the Copa was won.

Such is the standard set by the memory of a glorious season, in which mere excellence becomes failure.

Of boards and neglect

If you want to keep something great going in a competitive environment, you have to keep figuring out ways to keep hitting the refresh button. But that is also very difficult, because things are going really well, so what’s the problem?

In the visionary world of talented leaders, the good ones understand the need to kick things in the pants. Guardiola wanted changes. Vilanova wanted changes. Martino didn’t have time to know WHAT he wanted. Those changes weren’t made. Versatility was lost, mental and physical fatigue worsened and suddenly, that really good thing that was doing great was a stagnant thing that people — not all of the people, but the ones at the very top of the tree — could get their minds around and stop.

In came a new coach, a caretaker as it turns out, who had to figure out how to win races with a car that has been needing a tuneup for four years, and was misfiring on a couple of cylinders. And it worked until it didn’t, because when that coach looked down his bench for a solution, a diversification, a way to change things up, it wasn’t there. Staring back at him were auto-promotions and role players, and things got worse.

Often in the case of sports, the most expensive buy is the one that you don’t make. The board failed this team, this collection of home-grown superstars, a once-in-a-lifetime collection of talent that deserved better than men so focused on the setting for the diamond that they allowed the diamond to become chipped and dirty.

I am sure that they have their reasons, even as whatever the reasons are I probably wouldn’t agree with. Tell me it’s the building, and I will say the Camp is good for another few years. This irreplacable batch of players isn’t, that brilliance has a shelf life defined by age, opponents and fatigue.

And who shall lead them

atmmartino

The party line is that Martino was in over his head. It’s a conclusion that was borne out by results. It’s also a conclusion that, like the stories about training intensity, blablabla, were NOT rearing their heads when the club was kicking ass. It’s a malleable conclusion that fits a narrative.

What happened? Dunno. From this questioning outsider’s view, Martino backed off. I have no idea why or for what reasons, but he backed off. The Barça from the start of the season until February wasn’t the Barça that shuddered to a stop at the end of the season. Whatever happened, Martino is culpable as he, for whatever reason, turned turtle. If you are going to go down, at least go down with your own ideas, fighting your way, rather than being damned for the wrong reasons.

Possession-based, attacking football degenerated into some bastard form of something alleged to be tika taka but was really something of a mess, with players forced to hold the ball too long while under assault from pressing opponents, poor passing angles and immobile players. Counters came from turnovers and attackers ran at our defense, a group designed to pluck and knock balls away after they leaked through a press, not play Katie Bar the Door. And opponents scored. Not at the rate approaching the previous season, but they scored.

More painfully, they scored from set pieces.

During matches, changes have to be made that can turn the tide of the match, tactical or player shifts that are capable of altering the outcome. Too often, Martino didn’t make those shifts and changes. Looking down a bench that too often didn’t have a match changer sitting on it isn’t an excuse. Assuredly, there were many times that he had no options as he watched things fall apart but ultimately, the coach came up short of extracting the maximum from his charges, for reasons that only he and the players know.

And now, like so many people this season from presidents to Masia administrators and team legends, Martino is leaving, doomed to be thought of as a bad coach, rather than someone who we really have no idea WHAT kind of coach he was. He is a good man who got a crap deal. He is being replaced by Luis Enrique, a man who, if he doesn’t get HIS signings and the full backing of the board, will find himself in the same boat as Martino, with eventually the same results.

We get some intimation of that support with the announcement that “the club agreed to accept the recommendation of Andoni Zubizarreta that Luis Enrique …” In other words, it’s your ass if it doesn’t work, ZubiZa, not ours.

enrique

Blame touches everyone

When we look at our team of hyper-talented players, these are players who know what they have to do. They didn’t have a manager who smacked them on the butt and said “Okay, go get ’em!” They had a plan, a system, a notion for how to approach a match, and they fell short of executing those ideas.

Barça football is “pass and receive, pass and receive,” even in its possession-based sense. Keep the ball, move the ball. Players have to be aware of passing angles and moving to present options for teammates, as drawing board becomes real world. Reality became a stagnant mess of an attack that relied upon individual magic. That works against other teams not as talented, or teams that also rely upon individual magic, such as RM. Against a locked-in team willing to run until its legs fall off, individual feats almost always fall prey to collective endeavor.

On set pieces, there is a plan, notions that too often went awry as opponents went unaccounted for and did damage. Even in a match with the Liga championship on the line, Atleti equalized via a bit of truly shambolic defending.

You can’t blame the board or Martino for that. Passes weren’t being completed, balls were being lost and opponents weren’t marked. You can’t blame the board or Martino for that. Too many times in too many matches, the team was a mess, a group of geniuses who didn’t know how to come in out of the rain, so to speak. Then they would discard the system and team for a shot at individual magic, which played right into the hands of opponents. You can’t blame the board or Martino for that, even as the years of sporting neglect created fatigued, fried players.

You can go on and on, through every player on the roster and you will find moments where he came up short, moments that make singling out any one player an exercise in time wasting.

From top to bottom, everyone came up short this season. And even at that, the team was close enough to glory to be able to taste it. A goal here, a goal there. A little more focus here, a bit more there. A winter signing that wasn’t made, a summer signing that should have been augmented, a coach who stopped doing the right things for players who fell short of even doing what they know. Top to bottom as everyone instead searches for the contention that will absolve certain players as others are tagged with marks of scorn.

Tag one, tag all.

That the bar is so astronomically high for this club says something not only about the expectations of its players, but the history of the organization. Close isn’t good enough, even as the team had an excellent season. Key players are moving on or retiring, others will be sold. A new coach and a new starting goal keeper will be arriving along with a pair of loaned sons. There will also be other squad additions as finally, a board does what it should have been doing all along. And people will talk about possibilities, and how everything is better and more promising, etc, and then the matches will be played as the players do their jobs. And the cycle will repeat itself. There will be signings who aren’t good enough for culers, new unfavored players and more malleable narratives. Because that too, is how it goes.

Yet in looking back at this season of court proceedings, injuries, tragedy and sadness, I can’t be mad at anyone. They tried, even as they came up short. Did they try their best? In my worldview, encapsulated in the notion that no matter what you did, you tried your best in the very conditional notion of that thought, yes. And they got close, ultimately undone by a confluence of things, everything all at once.

For the struggle, the joy, the great moments and hope, all that I am left with is to say, as should we all, “Gracies, equip.”

atmteam

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.

345 comments

  1. To quote a variation of murphy’s law….”Whatever can happen, Will happen”.

    That trophy-less season has always been heading our way, It was simply a question of ‘When’, All we could ever do is hope that it stays away as far as possible, But reality doesn’t give a single shit what your hopes are, It decided that it’s time to pay a visit and knock the door.

    What we saw is progression, A natural progression, There is ascend, Peak, Descend, And bottom, It’s a one way street, You can’t go backwards, You want to ascend again?, You’re going to have to finish the road all the way to the end pal.
    So if we look at what happened in another perspective, Nothing really went ‘wrong’, Everything is moving in it’s destined, Inevitable conclusion, Our love and faith in our team, Made us overlook the reality.

    So like you said kevin, All we can say is Gracies, equip, And thanks for the journey, It’s time to start a new one.

    1. Given what Enrique did say about Masch, it would be odd for him to be leaving though I was under the impression that this player was. I’d imagine at this point most players and their agents have made their preferences about whether they want to stay here next year none.

      I would also think that the club also know which players they want to leave at this point too.

  2. For me, last Saturday’s game was not disappointing because we lost, but how we lost. Again a great effort by a team that is just about at the end of it’s sanity and strength concedes an ordinary set piece after another wonder goal.

    But in football, I have become an agnostic and will no longer let a missed goal or questionable ref’s call decide the fate of how we look at our team. Atleti deserve their trophy, but our team could have had it too. I love my team, but I am just glad that our club didn’t get the chance to celebrate because we have not conducted ourselves well enough this year to celebrate anything other than the end of an era and the end of a great team.

    Now it is on to becoming a better club, turning the page, and as a wise man said in his first Inaugural seek “the better angels of our nature”.

    Gracies, Equip!

  3. Kudos Kxevin… This is a very good article describing all the points perfectly.
    I have been kind of absent from the commenting section for a long time due to various set of reasons but have been reading all the articles and comments diligently.
    Also I think Rami’s comment above about the path of progression aptly describes what I had to think about the season and the team.
    I might get a lot of stick for this but would like to say that this team had to fall so that it could rise again.
    The changes within this team, that were required, weren’t being made at appropriate times due to the team giving as much as it could to win all the times.
    The board saw that the team was still managing to pull off results, record breaking Liga & CDR in 2 years as an example, and hence thought change wasn’t required yet, which wasn’t the case.
    Now after this season it became very obvious that we can’t pull it off with the current crop of players, be it because of mental exhaustion, tactical inadequacy etc, and we require an injection of fresh ideas, tactics & players.
    I am a bit disappointed that the changes came late but am hoping that the changes being made are for the better and am eagerly waiting for the new season to come…
    Visca Barca…

  4. First signs and quotes all looking good.
    Was particularly happy with Enrique’s stance on Mascherano.
    If only he had said a similar word about Sanchez, I’d be thrilled.
    Cannot wait for the damn season to start and it’s gonna be a long wait. Looks like our new mister is going to bring back the intensity we had lost. Promising. Have never cared about winning, only effort and desire. Looks like Luis Enrique is intent on making the players RUN. Deja Vu much?

  5. So far, I have to say, everything I have heard from Lucho has been great. Style will stay consistent but must evolve, players will need to work hard in order to earn their place, nobody is an automatic starter (hope that includes Messi) and intensity must return. Oh and he mentioned that more than a coach this team needs a leader and OMG YES!!

    It doesn’t sound like great news for Cesc though since he is the only player that got the “lets not talk about individuals” treatment. Neymar, Messi, Macherano all got praised when asked about.

    Does anyone know if there was any mention of Alexis in the press conf? He is one of the players that I REALLY hope stays.

    1. To me Cesc is the biggest question for next year. I don’t know how you can build a team for next year without first knowing whether he will stay or go. You either partially tailor the team to fit Cesc playing in midfield or you ask him to leave.

  6. I know I may get stick for saying this, but I really hope Spain don’t advance out of the group stage this WC. Our players need a rest. Alba perhaps not, but Xavi, Ini, Pique, Pedro, & Busi all need a nice Summer vacation to recharge their batteries. I’d say the same for Messi, but he was injured for a significant portion of the season. Alexis never needs a rest & came to us a few seasons ago, so all the wear & tear of 60+ games a season hasn’t caught up with him. Our players have won so much do consistently that they’ve had no rest for almost 7 seasons! That’s insane. ’08 Euro-’14 WC. Crazy. They were going 2 have this type of season as has been mentioned. I only disagree that it could have been pushed a few years down the road by investment, rotation, & increasing our squad size. None of those happened, so it came sooner rather then later. I’m excited & cautious about next season. Ter Stergen & Enrique will need some bedding in time. As well any new signings. I hope the press, supporters, & team give them that.

  7. I don’t want to make a meal out of Enrique’s presser, but I am really happy for the acknowledgment of Mascherano’s leadership quality. He’s one of the players I’d really be said to see go.

  8. Lucho tried very hard not to be drawn into discussing the futures of any of our players.
    He was asked different questions about players that people are going to read too much into.

    He was asked about Xavi but in a vague sense so basically said that he is a friend and that he would discuss all their plans together. When asked about Masch, it was whether he was going to use him in defence or midfield, he said that he didn’t want to be talking about individuals but Masch is a leader. He was then asked about Cesc’s future and basically said that he doesn’t want to talk about individuals again which I don’t read too much into. Bartomeu made sure to mention that Cesc still has two years left on his contract though.
    He was asked about Neymar’s first season so answered that.
    They asked about Messi’s happiness so again not exactly the same

    1. I wanted to respond to your post, but my web browser is going crazy. Would be interested in your opinion of Enrique and what you might expect from him given his original experience managing a big club at Roma. Also, it would be strange to praise Masch and then see him go but that is at least my understanding of what probably will happen.

      Seems like the club’s position at this point is “let’s forget everything that happened this year and pretend we made the manager signing that we wanted originally”.

      Maybe that is for the best, but we shouldn’t whitewash the many problems that remain.

    2. I love Luis Enrique. I did when he was a player, I loved what he done with Barca B, I liked what he tried to do at Roma and then he took a relegation candidate and finished 9th on a very small budget. To put it simply, if we finished the season like Celta did we could be champions.
      He is ultra competitive, and demands huge levels of fitness from his teams. It was a learning curve for him at Roma but they are a better team now partly because of him.

      He is just enough of an outsider to make hard decisions but close enough to the club to be backed and given authority to do so. I wanted him last summer but better late than never right.

      The next two weeks are going to be vital. We need to find homes for all the dead weight and make decisions on some first team players’ futures.
      For me you can only keep one of Song or Masch and Alexis or Pedro. Dani Alves needs to go too in my opinion.

      If his plan is to give Masch a place in midfield I understand even if I don’t fully agree. People say that he can replace Busquets for different games but I have issues with that. Firstly, we are a small team and the 2 CBs and 1 DM all need to be good in the air at a very minimum. Secondly, I think that either our sub for Busquets needs to have similar skills (Daley Blind) or more offensive abilities (Vidal, Pogba or Rakitic) as an even more defensive midfielder like Masch will take away from our attack more. Also, I don’t like the idea of having another DM that can’t really play alongside Busquets in big matches and I don’t see Masch being suitable. It’s just my opinion but they are my reasons.
      Masch is a great footballer, one who I believe will be more appreciated in a different team and while I’ll back him fully if he stays I don’t expect to see him wearing our jersey next season.

      I’d see if I could move on all of:
      Alves, Song, Masch & Pedro along with the likes of Cuenca, Tello, Bojan, JDS etc and loan out Sergi Roberto.
      Then get in the right skillsets rather than big names and go from there.

    3. Just to be clear, I’m not saying that I’d be happy to replace Mascherano with someone like Fontas or Bruno Soriano but if we are to sign someone like Arturo Vidal etc, who can play in a DM or CM position then I’d be fine with letting him go.

    4. Busquets is about as good in the air as my mama is, though. As far as the skills required of a replacement for him, in a purely offensive lineup, the DM could quite easily be a destroyer. Or you could move Busquets forward as another attacking midfielder and put Mascherano in front of a 3-man back line.

      We’ll see soon enough, I rather imagine.

    5. Also, funny to point out that Montoya won just two less aerial balls than Mascherano last season in league and CL, so in less than half the matches. He’s the same height but has a decent jump.

    6. I agree on Busquests. He is a great player who, now that he is recognized for being as important to our side as Iniesta, should also be examined for his weaknesses as well.

      Busquests will always be a bit slow and not that great in the air. The most impressive thing I’ve seen him do with his head is score an own goal vs. Arsenal.

      If not for Van Persie’s hearing difficulties that could have been really costly.

    7. Good Hunter piece:
      Time will tell if Luis Enrique is right for Barcelona

      http://www.espnfc.com/blog/_/name/laliga/id/1956/time-will-tell-if-luis-enrique-is-right-for-barcelona?cc=5901

      For me, the most interesting part of the article:

      “But, in every case, only when the players decide to “do it for themselves” and the motivation for daily excellence comes from within is nirvana reached.

      Personally, I don’t yet claim to be sure about whether Luis Enrique is that guy. The guy who can bully some, inspire others, achieve complicity with a few important opinion setters within the dressing room and make this talented group have total faith in his judgment and his decisions. However I am quite sure that Luis Enrique is not simply the hot-tempered, “my-way-or-the-highway” disciplinarian some portray him to be.”

  9. He did say something about the team needing leaders though, which is what a lot of folk here have been echoing, i.e., it’s not a problem of talent (we have that in spades), but rather cohesion.

  10. Why I would Hate to see Alexis Sanchez Go: On Mercenaries and Guest Workers

    What do these players have in common: Zlatan Ibrahimović, Dmytro Chygrynskiy, David Villa, Alexis Sanchez, and Alexander Song?
    No, I am not trying to insult anyone’s Barca IQ. It’s a rhetorical question and we all know the answer.

    All of the above players were bought in the last 5 years in order to fill important positions on our team that our first team players could not do and our youth players were not ready for. The total cost of the transfers for the above players is over 100 million if we take the fees we paid minus the fees we will get back from these players’ transfers in to and out of the club.

    The next question that could now be asked is how did these transfers work out. We can argue about one or two, but in the majority of cases the answer is not that well. Why? Well in each case their are particular narratives about Injuries, bad attitudes, and circumstances; but the trend is too great to dismiss as mere coincidence.

    The answer is complex in each case, but in the end I think it boils down to one issue: these players did not “belong” on our club. By belong, I think I can simplistically defined it as this: the transferred player did not go through the La Masia System–the most prestigious football academy in the world.

    Players who transfer to our team may face many obstacles that any outsider would. There is a new club, new culture, new playing style and a fraternity of players in the first team squad that grew up together and had their development shaped in such a way that they now have “Barca DNA”.

    Alexis Sanchez is a very talented player who joined the team at the age of 23, the same age that Marc Bartra is today. He has looked promising, talented, and exciting, but sometimes confused, shackled and inept. But let us not forget what he has accomplished. Though he has been injured at times, and not always in form, he has become the hardest working player on our team and one of the biggest big game players we have. Not only did Alexis score the golazo that could have won the League for us last Saturday, but he also scored three extremely important goals in Classicos against Real even though he was not started in several.

    So yes, Sanchez’s career at Barca so far has been a mixed bag. He has improved greatly this year but some would argue not enough to warrant a place in our future. Our club puts great value in such promising youth players as Deulofeu and Rafinha and they must also have their chance. Our best youth players should get their opportunity, but I also feel that if Sanchez leaves this summer it would be a mistake at least on our club’s part because I think he has earned his spot, and I believe those now at the club including our team’s newest member, Louis Enrique, know this to be true.

    If Alexis thinks that a move out of the club is best for his future that is his prerogative, but he will leave Barcelona a much better player than he was when he came. For this reason, I believe that accepting a transfer fee significantly less than what we paid is not omly a bad piece of business, but also diminishes this player’s value and just further reinforces the idea that any outsider who transfers to Barca will likely put his career in jeopardy.

    For a player talented enough to warrant a move to Barca, his stay at the club should be the highlight of his career and not a bitter experience of working hard for three seasons to fit into a club that now rarely embraces outsiders as its own.

    For Sanchez and other transfers who were much less successful, I would imagine their experience must have been similar to that of a guest worker or mercenary, hired by the club to do a job for only so long and then dismissed as a failed experiment when found to be less than ideal or when a promising youth player comes along to take his rightful place.

    So yes, I am glad that we have a new manager who most so far have embraced because of his pedigree with the club and his no nonsense attitude. He will make the decisions he believes are best for our future. Let’s see which possible players he will want to leave or bring to our side in this extremely important transfer window.

    But let’s also make sure that each player we bring in is a good fit for our team and that each is given a chance to be successful at our club before what was initially viewed as an ideal marriage quickly descends into a bitter divorce.

  11. Ha.
    So apparently Masch is captain material.
    Who knew, right ?
    I’d refrain myself from gloating.

    We desperately need Masch & Lex for
    monstrous pressing,
    cheeky tackles & challenges everywhere
    & awesome anarchy which follows.

    Not everyone of starting XI has to be 7 feet tall & very strong.

    In that case, Stoke city would’ve been ruling the footballing world.

    Looking forward to a badass looking Barça come the next season.
    Good day, y’all.

  12. Good discussion.

    I think Masch is worth keeping because he is so versatile, he’s a leader, and he can be a match changing type of sub. We need players on the bench that can drastically alter strategy. Furthermore, Masch can make a pass and he can retain the ball. I think he’s perfect for that position and for Barça.

    I agree most of what Ciaran said though. Masch or Song, Pedro or Alexis, etc. We need more diversity, but that is exactly what I like about Masch. Plus, he can cover CB in a pinch.

  13. The way I am looking at the transfer window is that unless you are specifically part of Enrique’s plans you will not stay. Getting rid of one “fan favorite” would have been tough last year, but now I think fans and club are ready to accept major changes so if the club wants some players out this is the time to do it.

    My feeling is that this was Cesc’s last year to impress and the new coach and the club just don’t trust him enough to build the team around him.

    I would also be sorry to see Masch go, but I think in the end he was the perfect player for our squad in terms of his attitude and toughness, but unfortunately there is just not a position in our squad in which his best assets can be put to use.

    That is why at this point I am almost looking at it in terms of who the coach wants to stay rather than leave. The only players who are “untouchable” are Messi, Iniesta, Pique, Neymar, and Busquets. We could be making twice the number of transfer moves than we have had in all of the last 5 years combined.

    1. Interesting Times! Now I can see why it was so exciting to be a Real Madrid fan for all these years, Players coming and going like a train station.

    2. I guess I can’t comprehend how being the second highest assist maker in Spain with 13 assists does not earn “trust”.

      Those assists don’t even include Cesc’s ‘second assists’ like the one he gave to set up Alexis’s goal vs Atletico.

    3. Hey, I like Cesc too and I was almost burned at the stake for suggesting that he start over Xavi. That is just the way I read the situation that the club does not want to build around this player. We should find out soon, but some have suggested that his absence from our new kit picture is some kind of indication the club may trust our future to him.

      I have been one of Fab’s defenders but I still don’t know if I would want him controlling the midfield in a huge game. What do you think?

    4. Last year Thiago was in our promotional picture but we all know how that turned out.

      And yes I agree Xavi is still our most dependable midfielder for big European games in which we need control. Cesc tends to disappear in these sorts of games..

    5. Unfortunately, the accountants at Camp Nou were more focused on counting sales from Thiago’s jersey than on counting this same player’s minutes. 🙂

      If you are into stats for La Liga midfielders, then Rakitić’s are not bad either: 12 goals 10 assists.
      Definitely worth a look.

  14. delighted with the Lucho confirmation we all knew was coming. now he and the board need to act quickly and decisively before the WC to build on a couple of good signings; the sooner the better.

    Cesc will definitely struggle in the kind of super fit, mobile, aggressive pressing style of Lucho. he needs more freedom in a team of more structure; whereas the kind of football the rest of the team is built for (and the kind that Lucho had Celta playing last season); elastic, quick transitions, more fluid but with clearly defined roles and spaces, is simply not for him. he’s a good lad, an excellent footballer and it’s a shame it couldn’t work out but i can’t see any place for him in a Luis Enrique team. Sanchez, on the other hand, has the workrate and versatility to really be an asset in such a team; good news for his supporters here.

    and to our brave BFB reporters: do we have any word on Victor Valdes? we know Ter Stegen is coming but wow would it be helpful to know a bit more about the future of our 2nd keeper position.

    1. Valdes packed off to germany to commense second phase of his healing process. He’ll be back with a bang.

  15. I have to ask.
    Ok, Atleti might be a deserving team and all that.
    But how the fuck is it that no one inside (and outside) the club is making any noise about the wrongly disallowed Messi goal which essentially stripped us off the title which we worked on all year. It isn’t a cup competition, but the league title, a culmination of the efforts put throughout the year. And it was a perfectly legitimate goal!

    1. No one has to complain, but atleast worth a call out, isn’t it, considering the stakes. I didn’t even find a mention of it from anyone.

    2. Admirable that we have not made excuses. Seemed like very difficult call with very high stakes. Safe to say that FCB was a hair’s width from winning. Pique could have had a penalty. And, A. Madrid didn’t make many high probability scoring chances.

    3. I agree. My take on the whole Athleti game is that we knew going into the match that we had to knock Atleti out to become champions and should not have been expecting the benefit of any ref’s call. Most fans around the world were looking on to see a Cinderella story fulfilled, and in the end Athleti played well enough to get that.

      Had the ref called the penalty on Pique it would have been a very ugly scene throughout Spain and in the interests of everyone involved I am glad we didn’t win the League that way.

      Our club and its fans should be able to accept a year without major trophies and do what is best to build for the future. If any fan wants to privately celebrate that maybe under 30 other circumstances we could have won the League that is OK too, but we have had enough parades that we don’t need to celebrate a season in which we did not play well enough for dozens of reasons, many of which were our club’s and our teams’ own fault.

      But Atleti are fully deserving of the league this year because their entire club and fans were 100% behind their effort and they achieved something admirable for such a small club.

      A great club shouldn’t need the benefit of the doubt, and warriors should not celebrate hollow victories because getting more points than Atleti in any other year is no cause for celebration.

      I am glad we are finally making many of the changes that we should have started last year and am very optimistic about our future and our great core of younger players!

  16. Who else is up for Ter-Stegen’s presentation? 4:30am here in California. I’m very excited to see him grow, he’s going to be a beast.

    1. It sure is, Princeyuvi.
      German keepers are reputable for their goalkeeping prowess.

    2. It sure is, Princeyuvi.
      German keepers are reputed for their goalkeeping prowess.

  17. One imperative element of Enrique’s presser I was looking forward to was his opinion on the defensive aspect and configuration of this team. But it wasn’t given the primacy or attention I think it deserves. On the contrary, he really was quite enthusiastic about the attacking football he promises to unleash. Nothing wrong with that.
    Graham highlighted an invaluable point in his article about the need to assiduously address the defensive quality of this team. And I couldn’t agree more.
    Diego Simeone has exemplified almost perfectly how a team should defend- a single impregnable unit. Personally, it was about personnels that I thought would remedy our defensive miscarriages but I realised that the system- might also add the right coaching- is as much important.
    Retrospectively, this same Atletico that looks secure, virtually impenetrable and solid used to concede truckloads of goals against us and EE (and not to mention how comical they were in their defending) but times have changed. And Simeone is responsible for it.
    These, I hope, we can emulate from them:
    1. Aggression- This is a virtue I think has grossly being undervalued and underutilised. Make your team aggressive and you can achieve wonders. On the flip side, notice how they aggresively attacked us in the opening minutes of the second half. We simply couldn’t match them.
    2. Agressive pressing- I seriously hope this returns.
    3. Compactness- It’s only a synergy btw attack, Midfield and defense that can ensure this. I hope Lucho implement this. Pulling a Pep with a suicidal highline against destructively quick players will get us badly burnt repeatedly.
    4. Desire and hunger- I hope these return as well.
    5. Be more military and commited in our defensive duties.

    Etc.
    May I also add that deploying Mascherano in midfield (with or without Busquests) could achieve defensive security. What he brings in this terrain are well documented.
    A combination of him with Busquests may not be necessary against smaller teams, however.
    All in all, the only thing I crave for more than anything is to have that defensive security (which Simeone and Altetico have given their fans) that we badly need.

    1. It may have been because he sees it as relatively easy to solve. You bring in a good tall CB with a little pace to partner Pique you cure the height and positional problem, allowing us where sensible to play a reasonably high line and keep the shape compact. Only one FB attacking at a time you keep the numbers we need, something that Tata started but didn’t seem to insist on.

      Happy for Masche to have a go at DM. It gives us aggression, makes his impulsive nature less problematic and gives us a decent sub for Busi. Height isn’t a problem because as Kxevin said Busi’s arial ability is somewhat akin to that of Tyrion Lannister 🙂

      It’ll be interesting to see if he has quick enough feet to play there for us, given that teams will press him heavily but it’s worth the try. I wouldn’t make him captain, though, unless Enrique feels he will be getting a regular game.

    2. But Jim, that would mean he’d concoting a poisonous recipe for self-destruction.
      Even a blind man knows our defensive system is our achilles heel and combating isn’t a cakewalk.
      I do wish him the best. I’d hate for us to discuss this same issue this time next year on our crappy our defense system is.
      And that Tyrion part really cracked me up.

  18. It seems that that slimy agent Seluk is the one controlling Yaya because Yaya was all good after receiving a birthday card. Only to support his agent and attack the club a few hours hours later.

    In any case, Good riddance. Even before this childish saga I wouldn’t want him back but now, I wouldn’t want him come close to Barca. Such a horrible attitude with a nightmare agent.

    1. It’s really funny how much power some agents have.
      Pini Zahavi became the agent of Gio dos Santos and six months later he left Barca for Tottenham. 6 months after that he was playing on loan at Ipswich and his career nosedived. He is only a shadow of the player he could have been had he stayed at Barca at that stage.
      Mino Raiola has been more of a hindrance than a help to Ibra and now has Pogba in his pocket too.
      Seluk was a nuisance when Yaya was here and now that he’s at City and one of the best paid players in the world Seluk is even more slimey.

      Agents have too much power and earn waaaay too much money.

  19. At present, we have a giant pile of “Don’t know.”

    — Who’s staying? Who’s going? Don’t know.
    — Formations? Don’t know.
    — Defense, etc? Don’t know.
    — Transfers? Don’t know.

    Here is what we do know. Hipster players such as Reus and Rakitic have already expressed allegiance to their current teams. Rakitic is about to get a renewal and raise, as it should be.

    I hate when top teams pluck players from teams in the same league. Give everyone a damn equitable TV contract and that kind of nonsense will go away. It’s absurd that the bottom team in the Prem will earn more in TV money than the Liga champion and Champions League finalist, Atleti.

    We also know that our board has done some excellent business in the likes of Ter Stegen, Halilovic and Denis Suarez, as much as we snarl about other things they do, we should give credit when they do good work.

    We know nothing about how Enrique is going to run Barça, and I will, if I think about it, start a pool on when we get the first “He doesn’t know what he’s doing” comment.

    1. If you were to guess how many players we will add to our first team squad this summer what would that number be?

    2. Interesting question, ciaran. I am going to guess 7, with 4 of them already known (Ter Stegen, Deulofeu, Rafinha, Masip)

    3. I still see Masip being B’s first choice keeper next season but being called up if needed. There’s no point making him next season’s Oier and it looks like another keeper will be brought in. It’s a tough one though because Masip looks like a good keeper but he is very inexperienced. A good option may be to loan him to a primera team to gain experience.

      I actually think we’ll bring in more than 7; 1 more goalkeeper, 3 defenders, 1 midfielder & 1 forward plus ter Stegen, Rafinha and Deulofeu. Crazy when you think of it.

    4. Well, I did see someone comment that he can’t respect a coach who “took a year off to ride his bike”, but that was before his presentation & excellent presser, so maybe that’s no longer true. 😛

    5. Hey, now! I have mad respect for Lucho’s bike riding. I followed him when he completed the Absa Cape Epic last year, and it looked grueling!

    6. I’d like to echo the statement that TV revenue needs to be fixed! I’m all for teams like Sevilla getting more money. They deserve it, and it makes for a more entertaining league (like this year). This years league was really great to watch, even with our troubles! And, had we not gotten Atletico, I think we would have benefited from the better competition in Europe. Man City comes to mind.

      Compare us last year and Bayren this year. Does winning a league easily hurt you in Europe?

  20. Did anyone else get the feeling from Luis Enrique’s presser yesterday that there’s a possibility that Xavi may not be playing next year?
    Lucho said that he would talk to Xavi to discuss what both parties want. It’s strange

    1. I think that Enrique shines when coaching younger players who don’t have the authority to question his tactics and decisions.

      No, Xavi is not a “dictator”, but he is a legendary player and may have a different perspective than what the coach recommends.
      Here Enrique’s previous experience with Totti may be relevant or not.

      Xavi would still be important for the leadership and confidence he may bring on and off the pitch. But, in the end, it is Lucho’s call and whatever he wants is OK with me.

    2. I would have said from Enrique’s comments about having the ball being the best defence and controlling games being vital was a direct reference to Xavi. For me, the bigger worry is that fans doubting Xavi’s ability makes Xavi feel that the best thing for the club is to move on. A conversation is the sensible way forward. If Enrique doesn’t want him then Xavi won’t stay. That would be a foolish move, imo, and condemn us to the distinct possibility of another trophies season . However, a glimpse into what he sees as the future of our midfield by Xavi sitting out some less important games would be sensible. Hopefully, that involves Iniesta playing the position.

  21. So I was thinking, when is the best time to buy players? We want to strengthen some areas with a big list of players..we could buy now before the WC so that these players’ value won’t increase. On the other hand if we wait untill after the WC there is a chance we will find other players with more quality and possibly smaller price tags. Like when EE plocked Özil for merely 15m..

    1. We probably didn’t get Ozil because we wanted Fabregas. Then we didn’t keep Thiago because we still wanted to keep Xavi. Now it we sell Fabregas, we will have . . . nothing.

      There is no one specifically to blame, just fans and a club that sometimes values sentimentality and nationalism over its future success. I am personally glad that may be beginning to change.

      You should not expect to be praised when your team consists of all La Masia products and then escape criticism when it later no longer works out.

    2. We didn’t keep Thiago because Thiago didn’t want to stay, took advantage of an escape clause despite having been unavailable for selection for a time and hadn’t used his time on the pitch to persuade anybody that he should be starting.

    3. Buying players based on their performance in international tournaments is absolutely crazy but it happens all the time.
      Greece’s winning of the Euros resulted in a few of their players going for reasonably big money but nothing too crazy. The likes of Senegal’s Diao & Diouf spring to mind as glaring examples. Milan Baros is another one. Kleberson too.

      It’s just a bad idea. You should be scouting players at club level to see their consistent performances.

      Most clubs try to get their business done before the world cup in terms of buying in case the player they desire has a great tournament and their value goes up. The selling club often wants to wait to get a bidding war amongst extra suitors looking for the inform player.

      It’s important to get the right players in as early as possible to have a pre season with the squad and make their transition smoother in my opinion.

  22. Dear Leo,

    If you insisted that Pinto remain part of the club this year, then you may in part be responsible if this player came up short when called upon to back up our injured goalie in the most crucial part of the season. As our team’s most important player, you are in effect making personnel decisions, so it is fair to ask questions if your recommendations later fall short.

    I hope you sort out any problems you are having and are able to shine in Brazil this summer. But whether you achieve immortality or not, I hope you come back without all that weight on your shoulders.

    When you return to our club, I hope you will recapture your infectious enthusiasm for the game and team that you love and will be at your best and let Lucho make the decisions on players.

    Good Luck and all the best with the La Albiceleste; I personally will be rooting for you!

    A Devoted Fan

    P.S. If the Herbal Life didn’t help your fitness this year, then I hope you drop that endorsement and try a different regime to remain as healthy and productive as you can.

    1. Keep in mind how solid Pinto was at the beginning of the season when he was in for Valdes. For years Pinto has been a perfect back up keeper, i.e., he was part coach/part cheer leader and capable of filling the role when required. We’ve won quite a few Copas with Pinto.

      However, he really did not take to the pressure well at the end of the season, and yes it is certainly time for him to go. But even this leads to a difficult question: who do we replace with Pinto. A lot of folks elsewhere have been shouting for Navas or Caballero, but both players seem too good to want the role, Navas especially is too young. We want Ter to be our long-term keeper, but he needs a back-up willing to play the bench minus the Copa (which is an important tradition I hope we continue with).

      Pinto will also be missed.

    2. But if he didn’t then he may not , even if the player came up short ?

      Is that even worth debating ? Let’s stick to things we know. We’ve enough on our plate with them.

    3. Agree with Jim. Rumors abound. Xavi made the team change style. Messi demanded that Pinto stay …

      It’s bonkers stuff, really. We have made definite, decisive moves:

      — Ter Stegen. How is he different from Valdes, how will he play in our system and does having a keeper who controls his area in a decisive manner affect our back line, and CBs in particular?

      — Rafinha. Does he have an ideal position? How has he changed/improved since leaving on loan for Celta? What will he bring to the team and what kind of playing time can he expect?

      — Deulofeu. Is he ready to come back? What player(s) will be most affected by his return? Is he ready to start tracking back, as a Barça winger in our current system is expected to do? If not, what do we think of having three attackers potentially in a match at the same time (Messi, Neymar, Deulofeu), none of whom are interested in tracking back.

      Lots of questions about known things.

    4. Deulofeu coming back is a bigger surprise to me than Rafinha. I think that both might be better off with another season loan but Deulofeu certainly didn’t have as good a season as Rafinha.

      Deulofeu coming back and staying in the squad certainly spells the end of Tello and maybe Pedro/Alexis if a central striker is brought in. Without getting too far ahead of ourselves, tactically picking a front three from Neymar, Messi, Alexis, Deulofeu and say Llorente would have at least have more diversity than this seasons’ line up; especially considering the promise than Munir is showing in his very short time with Barca B.

    5. Kxevin, no one knows what goes behind closed doors at our club and in a way at this point I don’t really care.

      What I do know is that our team was not unified this year and that a lot of decisions were being made for non-football reasons.

      I am just glad that that now seems to be changing and we no longer have to become a gossip column as things will be heading in the right direction.

      I am perfectly willing to go to TMZ for my share of daily gossip and backbiting and now want to follow a club that is on the path to reestablish its greatness.

    6. No, we don’t “know” anything, including that decisions were being made for non-football reasons. That is always the case at any big club, or any club in particular.

      We will become a gossip column again, because of the way that the press and supporters treat our team. It’s difficult to scoff st “daily gossip and backbiting” in a space where so much of it goes on, to my view.

      It’s why I would much rather deal with the things that we know, and try to deal with specific questions about what we know.

      All the rest is calling for transfers of players that some supporter or journalist doesn’t like.

    7. Jim,

      I personally like Pinto and have affection for all our players and each can make a case for staying, but if a team takes too many considerations other than what each player offers for our future then no one is well served in the end. A great empire does not fall in a year, nor does a great football team.

      It’s just that now we need to start building for our future, and I hope that the club, its players, and fans are all for letting the coach decide what is best.

    8. My, my there’s a lot of apprehension still in here. Every team in the world has question marks. We are getting a young, fresh new coach who looks to have full backing of the board, who immediately instilled his authority and his no nonsense attitude. He is not a puppet on a string. He will make them run, he will make them work, he will talk with those not needed, those that should be taking on small roles (Xavi).
      We have 3 young players coming, a GK who will be the future German #1 (just wait), the more talented Alcantara brother, and a winger with a high, high upside.
      There are plenty of quality rumors that a quality GK ( Navas #1 choice) will come in NOT to just come sit on the bench but to provide competition with Ter-Stegen, meritocracy. Either way there being plenty of fixtures+ TS’s first year= not being immediately simply a bench player
      The rumor of a Benatia, a Laporte, of Enrique not wanting D.Luiz. Wonderful development imo. Shows we are looking for QUALITY over a name.
      The only rumor I am disliking is Alexis for Cash+LLorente, don’t like that deal at all.
      Still, let’s try and be a bit positive shall we? Things are pointing up.

      P.S. I have no idea what a “hipster” signing means? Maybe you’re using that word in a different context than I often hear it? Haha, because I mean there’s no way Reus and Rakitic are anywhere under the eye of the mainstream…

    9. Hipster in this case may mean that the player likes to have a little “tea”, listen to Charlie Parker, or dream of a life “On the Road” in his private moments off the pitch 🙂

    10. I define “hipster” in that context as the way that those players suddenly become cool.

      Enrique will have to wrestle with the crap, just as Guardiola, Vilanova and Martino did. How he deals with it will be worth watching. This is the biggest job he has had to date, and he deserves the benefit of the doubt.

      It pleases me greatly that the board is finally doing what it should have been doing for the last 4 seasons. Better late than never. As for the rest, we will see.

    11. Interesting take… Reus has been ” cool” for years and Rakitic was linked with moves away (United, Liverpool) as early as last fall. If you mean suddenly
      Cool to fair-weather fans then sure, but it’s not like everyone suddenly latches on to names randomly… I’ve admired both for a few years now. I’m just tired of the cynicism, there’s nothing to suggest we don’t come
      Back stronger and with an extra Pep in our step, zing!

  23. OT:
    This bit of news seem to have gone unnoticed, but Valencia FC has been bought by Singapore billionaire Peter Lim(70% of the club). So if going by his promises to reduce the club’s debt, complete the new stadium, provide money for transfers(60M if you believe rumors) are true, expect them to also be a competitive team starting from next season.

    With Sevilla being the Europa champions, Atletico on the rise and now Valencia being taken over by a billionaire, La Liga might become more competitive and exciting.

    Also, I think the Spanish Sports minister mentioned that foreign investors are now showing interest in financing Spanish clubs. I am still skeptical if clubs bankrolled by billionaires a la EPL, is a good thing or not (Malaga vs Man. City), but if this is true and the Spanish Govt approves these take overs, then we might have some interesting times ahead in La Liga.

    Ohh I forgot to add FFP into the mix..

    1. Looks like we may be getting closer to a four or five horse race a la EPL if some oligarchs want to play FIFA Manager in La Liga. May be an interesting development.

      There are hundreds of billionaires in the world and quite a few might be football fans, so I am expecting more to come out of the closet.

    2. Exactly. FFP makes any speculation on billionaire purchasers of Spanish clubs pointless. Until the big two put aside their greed and agree to a system that broadly mimics the English one, Spain will never be more than a battle between the Real and Barca (let’s be adults and acknowledge that this Athletico team is a freak occurrence).

  24. The Villa Gambit: Why El Guaje’s History with Barca is Not Yet Finished

    In a season of misfortune and mishaps, one compelling story that had escaped much comment here was dramatically happening before our eyes last Saturday.

    In 2010 our team spent 40 million to bring in one of Spain’s greatest players to shore up our attack. Spending this amount of money on a player who was probably past his prime was a questionable piece of business. Was this just a impulsive decision to solve our Ibra problems and find the “right” player to play with Messi? I will leave that question open to those more informed.

    What did we get for our 40 million then? Some say not enough. We got a very good player for a triumphant season, and then after a period of two years of injury and bad form, few other memorable goals. Afterwards, the team had to decide what to do with yet another transfer decision that didn’t quite work out.

    There were no lucrative offers from England that we were expecting, so Zubi and the board made a decision. We would unload El Guaje to a potential competitor for a sum much less than we would have liked. This might seem like another really poor move, but there were some advantages. Villa’s salary on the last year of his contract was immense for a fading and unpredictable player. The other thing we got in our deal with Atleti is first rights to a youth with much potential who could one day become of midfielder with tremendous ability–Oliver Torres.

    So when we watched the game last Saturday, many Barca fans were particularly fearful of yet another compelling story in what has been a season filled with ironic and tragic twists . The player who Barca gave up wanted nothing better than to prove his doubters at Barcelona wrong and stick the dagger in his former club at Camp Nou and finish our season off once and for all. He almost got his wish too, striking a power shot that hit Pinto’s inner post with tremendous force. Thank goodness he just missed as he often did when he was at our club. Instead Atletico had to settle for a merely ordinary set piece to claim their crown.

    This Saturday, Villa in my eyes transform from a potential deadly enemy to a promising ally for our club, helping Altheti secure a second improbably huge trophy. I know I am not the only Barca fan who hopes he will score his second and perhaps third goal in a Champions League Final against our perennial rival. He certainly knows how to score against Real Madrid as can be seen in this golazo:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5GBOHTL5qw

    If Villa does score, it will be one last tip of the hat to Barca, a club in which he was never really able to sustain his best form. But, in the end, El Guaje’may be able to give us one more moment of magic and a potential star in our future midfield.

    1. I have a soft spot for Villa as he gave us a very good season despite being played out of position, played the start of next season with the knowledge that his leg wasn’t right, suffered the horrendous injury, took longer to come back, possibly because of his age and undoubtedly lost a step at the same time. He was never given the chance to play that again.

      Having said that the position we played him in in the return against Milan was and is exactly what we are still needing today : someone to play ahead of Messi who can play back to goal , occupy the CBs and pull them about to create spaces. Villa is no longer that player but that’s what we should be looking for, imo.

    2. That was my favorite Villa goal because it came so against the run of play as Real were superfit and bossing us around the field and his goal seemed to come out of nowhere.

      I meant to put up the video with Ray Hudson though:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4PcT5bG8oo

      “What an eye for goal David Villa has. It would make the Cyclops jealous!”

  25. Am I the only one to be disturbed by the club’s official website gloating over a New York Times piece that praises the board for acting swiftly to revitalize the club?

    It seems like the board is patting itself on the back to celebrate a successful marketing plan to save the club’s image after a season in which much have been criticized.

    I like Enrique and what the club are doing so far, but nobody should be celebrating until we see the club’s moves over the next few months and how these pan out over the next season.

    Sorry, for the skepticism, but we are not a political administration under attack that needs to cherry pick some of the good press we may currently be getting after our share of much fair criticism this year.

    1. I’m trying to go through the FC Barcelona Official Site archives to find out about their former managers. There was Guardiola, Villanova, and now Enrique.

      But I thought there was someone before Enrique; he might have been from Equador or something, but I forget.
      I think his nickname might have been Papa.

  26. The rumor mill continues to grind:

    Benatia (Roma): “I’m fine at Roma but a renewal isn’t possible and I’m 27, an age at which offers from big clubs make you think” [arriyadia]

    “Clubs like Barça, Bayern, Man City, make every player dream. My agent is dealing with things, I think we’ll have news soon”

    There is a persistent rumor that we are going to announce a “big” signing on Saturday.

    I repeat: It is all BS until it isn’t.

    — Looks like the David Luiz rumor can die. DiMarzio, an excellent, reliable journo, reports that Luiz will be joining PSG next season, and that Marquinhos (remember him?) will be on the block. Because it is us and our CB interest is known, buzz is that we are interested.

    So there is some stuff going on, and it strikes me that Enrique will want to get as much as possible done before the World Cup starts, so that the tournament doesn’t end with team uncertainty.

    1. Saturday would be strange. Wouldn’t it seem like Barca saying “look at me too” on a day when two other Spanish teams are vying to see who is the best in Europe?

    2. The I hope we say that we are buying Ronaldo. It would really rain on Real’s parade.

  27. For now on, we might have to just rely on our next generation of youth coming along and the “lesser known” players we can buy to play with them. The days of the megastar coming to Barcelona may be over. I’m just glad we got Neymar this year because if we didn’t it would have been much uglier and expensive.

    Benatia works for me. I think PSG are going all out to win it all next year. If anyone wants Aguero, they will probably end up paying more than 80 million after the World Cup.

    Marquinhos 40 million, Progba 60 million . . . .
    Marc Bartra, Rafinha, Deulofeu . . . . priceless

    We have Messi and Neymar. Let’s leave the future big marquee signings to the Galácticos who are going to bid each other out of existence.

    Even billionaires will know when enough is enough and find something else to do to entertain themselves with their money.

    1. I thought FFP had hit them? (I’m not sure how that affects their buying power though)

    2. I’m not sure the details either but I would imagine if you are going to be limited in buying players in the future, then PSG might think they should go for it all next year. Marquinhos is for the future, but Luiz is for today.

    3. How would you come to the conclusion that the days of a megastar coming to Barcelona be over?
      We’ve always been one of the two biggest clubs in the world and always able to attract the biggest names in world football going back as far as Johann.
      We have continued to do so throughout our history and will most likely continue to do so in the future.

    4. I am not saying that we can’t get a megastar. I just think at this point we should probably pursue a different course.
      Any transfer coming to Barcelona is risky for both the player and the club because of our bad transfer record in recent years. (e.g. Ibra, Villa, some have said, Henry but I only watched his later matches, so I understand he was very good here for at least a couple of years.)

      The better course from my perspective is to go with our youth and if anything bring in younger as yet unproven talent (that is promising prospects 24 or under who may not yet be megastars. That way they may be less costly and also can be sold for about the same or more in a few years if they don’t work out.)

      Ibra (28) doesn’t work out = loss of 40 million

      Villa (28) doesn’t work out = loss of 36 million

      Sanchez (23) doesn’t work out = no net loss

      Song (23) doesn’t work out = no net loss

      Neymar (21) doesn’t work out = probably net gain

      Falcao (29?) doesn’t work out = loss of 40 million

      We do have a lot more money than Athleti and can buy more expensive players, but we also have our youth system and Athelti has shown that you don’t always need to buy the most expensive players. Just buy good players who fit the system we want to play.

      If we play winning football, then all of our younger players will be worth more in a few years.

  28. Who is this Ron Zieler and why was he considered a better third choice for Germany than ter Stegen?

    1. Maybe because of the following reasons :D:
      1. He is the first keeper since 1954 to concede as many as 3 goals (or more) in a debut match for Germany.
      2. He is the first German goalkeeper to earn a red card since the founding of the German national team.

  29. Pique is out of the first Liga game next season because he accumulated 5 yellows.
    These rules don’t make any sense.

  30. I just hope that Barcelona get the proper transfer fees for our players who are leaving. We have to properly value the players who are leaving because they may not fit into Enrique’s plans. Many could be amazing players on other teams. Pedro, Sanchez and Fabregas are all great examples.

    If Luiz is worth 50 million, then I don’t see why

    Fabregas: 55 million
    Sanchez: 45 million
    Pedro: 30 million

    Here is a good piece on what Pedro’s value might be for Liverpool next year. He may not longer fit for us given the way other sides play us. But he is still a great player and a mainstay on what is still the best national team.

    From Bleachereport:
    Imagining a Liverpool Team to Include Luis Suarez and Barcelona Forward Pedro:
    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2072199-imagining-a-liverpool-team-to-include-luis-suarez-and-barcelona-forward-pedro

    1. David Luiz isn’t worth €50m. Whether he sells for that much or not he is not worth it. Just like Marquinhos wasn’t worth the €35m that he was bought for last summer. Now if they want to sell Maruinhos they have to get at least €30million for a player worth little more than half that.

      Barcelona aren’t a selling club which usually means when we are selling someone it’s because they are not good enough for us. The only times when this isn’t the case is where a player isn’t happy. We got good money for Toure & Thiago who didn’t want to be here, and yes €25million for Thiago was very good money considering he was our 5th choice midfielder last season.

      Teams can’t throw money at us and expect us to sell a player. If someone offered us €80million for Neymar for example, we’d say no thank you and don’t bother improving your offer. Same if someone offered good money for any of our starters.

    2. I don’t want Barcelona to be a selling club either. It is just that with the shake up right now, we will lose some good players this summer, and if some go I want to make sure we get what they are worth.

      I also want us to buy younger players in the future because we can still get good value if they don’t work out. I agree that selling Neymar for 100 million now would be a terrible move because if he turns out to be a player who fits well into our team then he could be worth much more than that. Even if it turns out that in 2 years that he doesn’t fit, he will still be worth 100 million.

      I think you may agree with this point too or your point of view might be different from mine.

    3. ciaran is right. “Worth” is relative. I recall all the chatter about the David Villa transfer fee, but his biggest value to the club was the salary dump. He just wasn’t useful to the club any longer, which defined his value for us.

      ciaran is also right about the Thiago fee.

      We discard players more than sell them. The only two players in recent memory that we have received good fees for were want-aways.

      It’s the same thing with younger players. If they don’t work out for us, why is anyone else going to spend big dosh for them? Krkic, Sergi Roberto, Dos Santos, Afellay, Cuenca. We’ll be lucky if we get 10 for the lot of them. Again, their biggest value is getting those salaries off the bottom line. Better to pay someone more who plays than pay someone a little, who doesn’t play.

      Any younger players who we buy will almost always be for B, rather than going directly into the first team. When a player such as Halilovic or Suarez come along, we snag him with an eye toward a first-team future.

      But Barça functions differently than other clubs in regard to extracting maximum transfer value.

    4. I agree with most of what you said. But if you believe in the theory that a player is worth whatever another club might pay, then Pedro, a player who many have said is no longer essential for our side, may be worth a lot to another team because of his talent. As long as say Liverpool and PSG are willing to pay 30 mil then that is what we should get whether he is still good for our side or not.

      What bugs me about fan’s giving our club a pass in Thiago’s case is not that he may be the new Xavi (it is unlikely that he will be, though Pep certainly likes what he sees in him) but that had we given him more minutes then either Bayern or Man United might have paid 35 million for him, particularly after coming off a great performance in the Euro under 21 tournament. Remember that is the same fee PSG paid for Marquinhos, a player I believe with less promise.

      I do not know if people at the club were or were not counting Thiago’s minutes, but I do not find it inconceivable that no one at the club was, particularly given his presence on our promotional kit picture that came out about this time last year. I, for one, am still very puzzled by the whole incident.

    5. It was impossible to give him more minutes.

      The clause was that he has to play at least 30 minutes each for at least 60% of the total matches. Thiago played a total of 36 matches(of 60 total), with an average of 30 min. per match. Here’s the rub though – every game he played less than 30 min. doesn’t count, and every game he has played for 30-90 min counts as one game. Thiago was injured and didn’t play for almost 2 months IIRC. That means he should’ve been an automatic starter regardless of whether he were in form or not, whether he deserved it or not. As far as I am concerned you’d have to be either Messi, Ronaldo or possibly Neymar in order to get away with doing it, and last time I checked Thiago was none of those.

      The fact that the negotiators failed to include an “unless injured” or “total matches available based on form” in the minutes/matches clause is, well, bad oversight, but the club wanted Thiago to stay, they wanted him to get a new better contract. It’s a bit like pre-nups, if you want to marry you beloved how do you approach him/her with the words “Let’s sign an agreement so that if we divorce you don’t get half of everything, but you stay with what you had before I proposed, my dearest.”?

    6. Peter, Yes I just looked it up and you are right. I had heard some others say that Thiago only needed 30 min per match for those he was available, but that was not the case. Strange clause, though, because all Thiago had to do was kick the wall really hard and he could be out of his contract.

      It would be interesting if he has injury problems for the rest of his career, and thus the reason he got our of his contract ends up also being the reason he should have been sold in the first place 🙂

    7. Thiago left because he wanted to leave and to get €25million for a promising player but your 5th choice unhappy midfielder is good business. For every one promising talent who becomes world class there’s fifty who don’t. We’ll see in a few years of Thiago becomes an elite player but even if he was in our squad he’d still be 5th choice.

    8. Inamess not really, since if Thiago injures himself it could be proven easily that it was deliberate, in which case he’d get the same treatment like people who burn down their houses for the insurance or deserters on the front line.

  31. Question for FIFA Ballon d’or 2014:

    Isn’t Ronaldo almost a shoe in because the only way he doesn’t win is if Messi has an amazing World Cup and Argentina win and then Messi also has a great 1st half of next season with Barca ?

    Suarez I guess could also win if Uruguay become the most unlikely Cup winner in history but this player is pretty unpopular with fans and other players as well.

    Yet odds makers have both Messi and Ronaldo at roughly the same chance. 15/8

    1. I believe the Champions League top scorer has been the Ballon d’Or winner for the past six years, at least since Kaka won it. Pretty much nailed on bar a miracle.

  32. Chelsea just agreed a 40 million pounds sale for David Luiz to PSG. Insane deal for Chelsea.

    1. The biggest positive is that we won’t be buying him. I’ve long been on record as saying I don’t want him.
      It could mean that PSG sell Marquinhos but we would want to be paying a lot less for him than they bought him for, probably around 15-20 which is what his value should be.

      The only downside is that Roma for Benatia or Dortmund for Hummels etc will be looking at it and saying if David Luiz is worth €50million then X is worth close to that.
      Add to that Valencia’s new owner means Mathieu would be more expensive than last year too but still a good buy.

      Benatia and Mathieu for less than the price of David Luiz… looks like good business to me.

    2. The thing is that we dont know what our coaching staff has decided to do regarding the back line. We are just assuming who should we buy.
      I still think we should go after Hummels.

    3. Roma and Dortmund could be told this:

      1. True, but nobody else will give you what we give you: Real have their two men, Chelsea just sold their extra defender, City have Kompany, Bayern also have a duo(and aren’t you sick of Bayern poaching your best men anyway?) and the biggest buyer on the market just spent 50m Euro in order to have three really good CB.
      2. PSG have the CB we wanted to buy last year, and they need to compensate the 50m they just spent. Do you prefer us to buy him for quite a bit less money than we would give you for your guy?

    4. And those clubs are simply going to go, sure, of course, you’re Barcelona, so please take out best defender for below his market value because you’re the besteest club in the world and it would be an honor selling to you.

      Oh, no wait, they’re more likely to say: Chelsea are going to be looking to replace Luiz and likely Terry after this season, City are looking for a partner for Kompany, United are in the market for at least one, if not to centrebacks, and we, Roma/Dortmund don’t mind selling to Bayern/Juventus. Oh, and also neither of those players is entering the last year of their contract. So, pay the market rate, and otherwise, good luck with Masc/Bartra. Seems like you need to buy more than we need to sell.

    5. Wow, an edit function to correct all my typos would be ideal right about now…

  33. Luiz off to PSG for 50 M. Those are some proper gits, right after ffp sanctions.

    1. Giving a lot of money to Mourinho in never a good idea.
      He will only use it for evil purposes.

  34. Laporte, Benatia, Marquinhos, Hummels, Mathieu – we need 2 of them. Even 3, if Dani is leaving and Masch is moved to a DM.

    1. We wouldn’t need 3 and it’s unlikely we would sign three anyway considering it’s so hard for them to sign a ‘Barca’ style centreback.
      I’d be more than happy with Benatia or Hummels for a starting spot & Mathieu as a backup who can fill in at left back. Mind you, the same could be said for Marquinhos at right back – where he started his career and played for a while with Roma.

      The 4th centre back would really need to be able to play another position in order to get the desired playing time. If Masch is moved to midfield then filling in at fullback would be a good quality for the player to have.

    2. Moving Masch to DM is a must. I think we really pushed him over his natural limits to play a position which is not suitable to him.
      There will be games when Busi will need a rest, but also games when they both can play together.
      I wouldn’t mind having the back line of:
      Marquinhos – Hummels – Pique – Alba, with Bartra and Adriano as back ups.

    3. The Cuadrado rumours gain more traction every day and I fully expect him to be signed and rotate with Montoya for a starting spot at right back next season.

      A lot will be decided by the size of squad that Luis Enrique wants. He worked with a very big squad with Roma and a much smaller one with Celta (due to choice or budget I’m not sure). Assuming he wants 20+ players who can all compete then Marquinhos or Mathieu would both be very good options giving tactical options for more defensive formations.

  35. sbnation summed up the Luiz deal to PSG like this: (redacted)

    “It’s a very curious move by PSG, and a coup for Chelsea. They’ve sold a player they weren’t going to start next season for a record fee for a defender, to a team that supposedly shouldn’t be spending lots of money.”
    (redacted)

    But that fits my theory that PSG are all in to win the CL in the next 2 years. They get an excellent CB pair in Silva and Luiz who also play together for one of the best national teams. They will have to give up their CB of the future, Marquinhos, but he probably won’t be “world class” for a few years anyway if ever.

    Whether they win the CL or not, PSG now has a formidable team that may, with the addition of Luiz, be just as likely as any other team to win the CL. It cost a lot of money to be in the position they are in, but what they have been able to accomplish even with the new FFP decision going against them is pretty impressive.

  36. Luiz to PSG seems done for €60m. Crazy money.

    Chelsea is not a ‘selling’ club either. Still they got almost twice more money than we were allegedly offering. Maybe this board can’t negotiate a hard sell. Who knows.

    What are the chances of our going for Marquinhos?

    1. sbnation summed up the Luiz deal to PSG like this: http://www.sbnation.com/soccer/2014/5/23/5746180/david-luiz-psg-chelsea-transfer-news

      “It’s a very curious move by PSG, and a coup for Chelsea. They’ve sold a player they weren’t going to start next season for a record fee for a defender, to a team that supposedly shouldn’t be spending lots of money.”

      But that fits my theory that PSG are all in to win the CL in the next 2 years. They get an excellent CB pair in Silva and Luiz who also play together for one of the best national teams. They will have to give up their CB of the future, Marquinhos, but he probably won’t be “world class” for a few years anyway but would still be a good pick up for Barca because hopefully we are building for the long haul and Ney and Marquinhos could play together on the Brazilian team for the next 10 years.

      Whether they win the CL or not, PSG now has a formidable team that may, with the addition of Luiz, be just as likely as any other team to win the CL. It cost an insane amount to accomplish, but even with the new FFP decision going against them it is pretty impressive.

    2. They need a better coach than Blanc to win the CL. Won’t be surprised if they go for Simeone eventually.

      If we dumped say, I don’t know, Pedro on PSG, how much would our junta ask?

    3. This is what we say:

      “Pedro is the heart and soul of our team. If we get rid of him it is like taking the very life’s blood from our club. The fans will revolt. Our squad will be devastated.

      If you really want to do that do us then: 30 million and you have 5 minutes to decide before we come to our senses and take this once in a lifetime deal off the table”.

      I don’t know why that is so hard.

    4. I have to echo, btw, the sole comment in the sbnation article you quoted. Chelsea was able to raise close to €100m out of the sale of two unwanted players. I dislike Chelsea but they know how to to sell and to whom. It both filled their coffers and uncluttered their bench. Brilliant move.

  37. Counterfactual history: Where it all went wrong?

    I wonder if an Ibra for Thiago Silva straight up swap was ever on the table with Milan. If is was and we took it may have changed the last 3 years of European and Spanish football.

    1. My dad always says that if your aunt had balls she’d be your uncle. Ifs are pointless.
      If Pep had used Ibra to his capabilities then there’s no reason that we wouldn’t have won all around us. Pep gave up on Ibra, a phenomenal footballer, who was practically unplayable when he started with us. By the end of his time with us Bojan was starting ahead of him and that’s certainly not due to his qualities.

    2. ciaran is spot on about Ibrahimovic. It’s funny how the situation has become all his fault.

      A player like Lewandowski is an excellent player, but couldn’t hold Ibrahimovic’s bags, then or now, particular now that the latter has matured and become a true team leader.

      He deserved more time, but that was never going to happen with Guardiola. The club took a shot and pulled the plug. Txigrinski is another one, deemed a failure after a single season. Time? Patience? Nope. Culers were ready to burn that dude at the stake.

      There is no patience for letting a player grow into a role at the club. He’d better be brilliant right away, or he’s a waste of money and our technical staff are idiots.

      The club put up a Thierry Henry, Barça Legend video, and the snarking was long and loud. “He isn’t a legend,” etc, etc.

      Our team and standards are such that we just aren’t going to put an unknown talent into the first team. That’s what La Masia is for. Retrospect is an awesome game to play. Worse still, an established player isn’t good enough, either.

      We want Barça quality players at cut-rate prices, which is a fantasyland that doesn’t happen in reality. In reality, you’re looking at a roster featuring the best or among the best players in the world at their position. Rare is the cut-rate player of the quality sufficient to crack that lineup.

    3. I think a continuing problem at our club is what to do with our excellent La Masia products when they become too good for Barca B. Put Thiago and Tello on the bench for 3 years and they are going to want to leave. Loan them out and then that could be a problem too as they disappear in limbo or rebel like Amish kids once they see other possibilities.

      The best solution was loaning them to a Celta under Enrique, but that is no longer an option either. So I don’t know how our club plans to handle this problem because it is just going to happen again and again.

      Should we have kept Deulofeu at Everton for another year or brought him back to sit on the bench and get limited appearances? The only solution is to give some of our best young talents a chance at some consistent minutes and deal with the consequences. We may have the future Xavi and Puyol. It is just going to be a shame if we don’t give them a chance when they may be ready to contribute.

      The least I want to find out from next year is whether any of Montoya, Rafinha, or Deulofeu are the real deal. Having them sit on the bench all year hoping for 5 minutes at the end of some games is not going to help anyone.

      Enrique seems to be a young player’s coach so I hope that some or all will be given their shot

    4. Better yet, what might have happened had Guaridiola not signed Ibra in the first place? We could had sent Eto’ to Inter and, if our scouting system had done its homework, we, and not Dortmund, could signed Lewandowski from Pozań in 2010.What if we had signed J. Martinez in the same year from Athletic?

      It frustrates me to think what might have been. It’s fun too, perversely. I wish we could find players before, you know, they become worth €40m on the market. Milan signed Silva at a fraction of what they sold him. Why can’t we do that?

    5. The simplest answers are that one, we produce the kinds of players that other teams buy and two, that we couldn’t afford to give the chances to the type of player like those because of the constant demands of our fans

    6. I say we cannot afford not to give chances to players who come for cheap. We spent, I think, something like 35m of Fabregas, 30m on Sanchez, 20m on Song, and ahem, 60m on Neymar–that’s 145m in the last three years– to win a league and the CdR. But somehow we can’t do our homework and sign someone like Lewandowski (I used him only as an example) for 10-15m (Dortmund paid 4.5m), because we the fans would be too demanding?

      C’mon. We’re more demanding (and we should be) on a an unnecessary player for whom the administration went for broke and left the club’s reputation in tatters, than we’d be for a player that came under the radar.

    7. I agree and I think a lot of this comes from looking at the team in the capital and reacting irrationally. We won a treble and then Real got Kaka and Ronaldo, so our club and our fans want to compete for the big splash.

      I actually liked Luiz, but I am so glad we didn’t pay 50 million for him because it would have given me nightmares about us again giving Mourinho too much money for a good player who we just can’t predict how he would do here.

      We should stick to what we do best: nurturing younger players and having them organically grow as players on our first team. That is why I am fine with the Neymar, and delighted with the Ter Stegan signing. We know both are really good and can be productive for the next ten years. If for some reason they don’t work out, they can at least be sold for as much or more than we got them for.

      I just don’t want any more marquee signings of players older than 25 because for many reasons they don’t seem to work out, and we can get only a fraction of our money back when they don’t.

    8. We sit in judgment of signings, when we don’t know anything, much less a fraction of what paid, professional evaluators know, having scouted the players and read scouting reports on the players.

      “giving Mourinho too much money for a good player who we just can’t predict how he would do here.”

      That is transfer reality. It’s all a gamble. Mascherano was a no passing card magnet who would leave us a man down every match he started. Remember that? Fabregas wasn’t Barça quality. Almost every transfer that this club has made, culers have been against. Uncertainty is part of the transfer market.

      For all anyone knows, Luiz might have been the second coming of Puyol in our system, even as he evinced complexities at Chelsea, a completely different defensive system than ours.

      Ter Stegen could be a ham-handed bust who can’t take the pressure. We just don’t know. Football Manager is fun to play, but my vast preference is for real life. When a player is standing at the Camp Nou grinning for the cameras, it’s go time.

      I know that it’s fun for many to play “what if,” and tease out certain players. I just wish culers would refrain from the etched-in-stone notions about players of whom we really have no idea.

    9. What Kxevin wrote a thousand times over. Bringing players into a new club, with a new system, new teammates and new environment causes disruption far beyond what we imagine when we sit in front of our screens and pass judgement.

      And be prepared, if Barca makes seven signings this summer, probably one or two of them will be busts, a couple decent but ultimately underwhelming, a couple solid signings, and if you’re lucky, one that will cause everyone to forget about the busts and underwhelming ones. Basically my theory is that transfers are “successful” about half the time. And I think this holds up when you remove far enough to gain a large enough sample size.

  38. Hee, hee! Luiz to PSG. It’s why I say nothing is done until it’s done. I reckon now there will be another player who isn’t good enough for us, goes the cycle.

    Transfer season, even when it isn’t officially under way yet, is a very silly time. Deals might be agreed, the fall apart at the last minute. Deals might be dead, and then resurrected at the death. Nothing is official until it is.

    And so it goes.

    1. Maybe the best thing we have going for us now is low expectations. If we get any major piece of silverware next year there are going to be a lot of excited Barca fans.

      Getting a treble in Pep’s first season may not have been the best thing for our club in the long run.

  39. Notes from a Petty Fan:
    Why every Barca fan must really, really hope that Real do not get their Decima.

    I would love to see Los Blancos spend the next 5 years chasing their white whale. It may mean a continual change of coaches and players as their entire club is consumed in their obsession.

    Meanwhile we can build and put together a team that aspires to be another dynasty!

  40. I think if there’s anything I learned from this season, it’s that though most of us consider Barcelona as ‘Mes Que un Club,’ in a lot of ways, it is actually, really, still just a club. It really was a special time, the previous five years. It’s been really easy to root for Barca, more so than most other teams in Europe. They were a homegrown team, played attractive football against the odds, and had charitable chest-plates, as opposed to corporate sponsors. And they won. They won a lot. They just kept winning.

    This year, they took on a corporate sponsor. They spent a lot on a big name, star caliber player. And then it turned out they spent a whole lot more than the whole lot they reported. It turned out that in the pursuit of continuing their homegrown roots, they were buying the futures of a lot of young, international athletes to feed their program – a habit that is completely against the rules, and though other teams (cough, Madrid) also partake in, Barcelona was supposed to be above. And they were also supposed to keep winning, which they didn’t. Partially because the next generation of homegrown players haven’t turned out like the last. Pedro, Tello, Bojan, Cuenca, Alcantara, even Busquets and Pique: they’re all good players, but they’re not Xavi, Iniesta and Puyol good. Meanwhile the talent that surrounds them is much the same as all other big market teams. Bought. Mascherano, Alves, Sanchez, Neymar, Adriano, Song, Alba… even Fabregas, like Pique, both Barca products, had to be bought back after they were initially sold.

    It just didn’t feel magic this year. It felt like corporate football, and all the failings that befall it. And it was weirdly hard to root against Atletico Madrid in the final game, because the visitors really did seem to be the ‘purer’ of clubs.

    Barcelona seeks success, both competitively and monetarily, just like any other big league organization. And if they didn’t, they wouldn’t have the fan base they have today. They’re a great club, but this year I realized that they are still, actually, just a club. For those that think this reeks of ‘fair weather’ fandom, I have to disagree. Those that keep cheering on their team after years like this are the real fans, and I’ll be counted in their ranks. And maybe this is the silver line: next year, the people beside you in their Blaugrana kits are more likely to be true fans, not just people who made the easiest choice of who to support.

    1. John you make a lot of fair points, but I don’t know how you can blame people millions of people who flocked to this team to watch the most beautiful football ever played.

      Some may stay and some may go, but I think more will stay than some people think. It is partially up to how the club makes its decisions and performs on the field from here on in. The club has done much this year to deserve a fan in Bejing, Botswana, or Brooklyn’s undying loyalty.

    2. Sorry typo. Last sentence should be “The club has not done much this year to deserve a fan in Bejing, Botswana, or Brooklyn’s undying loyalty”.

  41. I think that too many people think that our scouting department do nothing.

    There’s been a lot of sentiment that everything would have been better if we signed Marquinhos before he went to Roma, Lewa before he went to Dortmund etc etc.
    The problem I have with this is that we pretty much did. Keirrison was the most promising striker to come out of Brazil since Ronaldo. He absolutely tore it up at Coritiba then moved to Palmeiras and continued his goal scoring streak so we spent over €10million on him. A couple of bad moves later and he is in the wilderness.
    Similarly, Henrique went down the same route, Coritiba to Palmeiras then we spent just under €10million on him. Again a couple of bad loan moves later he was gone from our club. Funnily enough, he has made the Brazil squad for the World Cup due to his form with Napoli but didn’t do it for us; never given the chance.

    You could say similar things for Martin Caceres who has made a good career for himself with Juventus, Kiko Femenia who is playing for Real Madrid Castilla, and plenty of others.
    We have tried on a number of occasions to buy players before they are world class but it doesn’t usually work out very well for us.

    We are not the only ones though. Fernando Gago, Ezequiel Garay & Royston Drenthe didn’t have the Real Madrid careers that Real had hoped. If you look around every club in the world most transfers don’t work out.

    1. Still can’t get over Kiko’s switch to EE.
      For me, it’s definitely worse than the Di Stefano situation.

    2. Ciarin: A club may buy the right player for the wrong reasons or the wrong player for the right reasons. In the end the only thing the club should be judged on is how things work out. By this standard our recruiting and transfer decisons have not been as good as most major clubs.

      Even if we just compare our transfer to those of Real Madrid’s since 2009, our moves have not been as good. Both teams have had their busts, but by and large, theirs have worked out better:

      Ronaldo, Kaka, Benzema, Khedira, Ozil, di Maria, Coentrao, Modric, Varane, Isco, Illarramendi, and Bale

      Ibrahimović, Chygrynskiy, Villa, Adriano, Sanchez, Mascherano, Fabregas, Alba, Alex Song, and Neymar

    3. I don’t know about that. We have been more successful than them for that whole period even though they have spent significantly more than us in that time. If they have been so much better than us in the transfer market then they would have won more trophies than us.
      They have the three most expensive transfers in history in that list and have little to show for it

    4. I would be delighted if after today Real will have little to show for it!

      An Atlelti victory would be great for our league,and I think would draw a lot more global interest and money to some other great teams: Sevilla, Valencia, Real Sociedad, Atletic Bilbao, etc.

    5. Still Real have done quite well since 2009, even if their fans have been even more demanding than our own. Let’s give them some credit where it is due:

      2 Copas, 1 League, 3 straight SF of CL, and now 1 Final, all while competing against the one of the greatest team ever.

    6. Compare the transfers and promotions of Real and Barcelona since 2009:

      2009-10
      Real Madrid: Garay, Arbeloa, Kaka, Xabi Alonso, Ronaldo, Negredo, Albiol, Benzema, Granero, Adan.
      Barcelona: Ibrahimovic, Maxwell, Chygrynskiy, Keirrison, Pedro, Jeffren

      2010-2011:
      Real Madrid:Canales, Pedro Leon, Khedira, Ozil, Carvalho, David Mateos, Adebayor, Mourinho
      Barcelona: Villa, Adriano, Mascherano, Affelay

      2011-2012:
      Real Madrid:Callejon, Nuri Sahin, Altintorp, Coentrao, Varane
      Barcelona:Alexis Sanchez, Cesc Fabregas, Thiago, Tello, Cuenca,

      2012-2013:
      Real Madrid:Morata, Essien, Nacho, Modric, Diego Lopez
      Barcelona: Alba, Song, Dos Santos, Sergi Roberto, Bartra, Montoya

      2013-2014:
      Real Madrid:Bale, Cherishev, Jese, Carbajal, Casemiro, Isco, Illaramendi.
      Barcelona:Neymar

      Full picture is important.

  42. So no big news today (Saturday) so far. Usually they happen by evening. It’s already 5pm in Barcelona. Still some hope that we can get a world class CB to fight the starter position with Pique and Bartra.

    1. I wouldn’t want 2 world class CB’s. 1 is enough to keep Pique and the new signing on his toes with Bartra nipping at them. And sMasch as a back up DM/CB. Perhaps a veteran such as Matthieu as the veteran CB. His last few years to win trophies.

      If we sign Matthieu, he could play back up CB and LB thus letting Adriano and Montoya slug it out for the RB.

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