Categorized | Barcelona

The Boogie-Woogie Barça Boys of Company B

FC Barcelona announced on Thursday that Eusebio Sacristan has accepted a one-year renewal of his contract that will keep him at the club as coach of Barça B until the end of the 2014-15 season. This seems like a good time to take a look at how the youngsters have done this year.

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Barça B played their last game of the season on Saturday and finished in 3rd spot in the Segunda table, with 66 points, behind promoted teams Eibar and Deportivo La Coruna. Normally this would be a playoff spot to put them in contention for promotion, but of course the rules forbid a B team from playing in the same division as their parent team. Still, third place is a very strong finish to a season in which the quality of the team’s play varied significantly. Indeed, at one point the B team drifted down almost into the relegation zone, prompting the then-VP Josep Bartomeu to remark that it wouldn’t be “a tragedy” if they were relegated, much to the fury of many in this space.

So how does one judge the success of this season? A third-place finish would seem like an excellent result to most, wouldn’t it? However, we must also take into consideration that this is a B team, the stated purpose of which is to develop youth players, to give them the skills and the experience they need for their adult careers, and to provide them with opportunities to prove they have what it takes to make the first team.

Eusebio started the season with a much younger group than has been the case for the last few seasons, as several of the older players left or were promoted, and a large crop of youngsters from Juvenil A joined as either full or partial promotions. There were predictable growing pains as the team struggled to gel on the pitch, and results were less than brilliant. In one especially grim stretch, they lost 7 out of 8 games. The lack of cohesion on the field was only exacerbated by a rash of injuries that kept several key players out for weeks. The one bright spot was the 3-0 demolition of RM Castilla* in the mini-Clasico–unfortunately they turned the tables on the return leg and beat Barça B by 3-1.

After the Christmas break, results began to improve, helped immensely by the return of LB Alejandro Grimaldo after recovering from a leg injury that kept him out of action for a full year. Centre-backs “Macky Frank” Bagnack and Edgar Ie also returned to full action and formed a very solid pairing at the core of the defense. Forwards Adama Traore and Munir el-Haddadi were both still technically registered as Juvenil A players, but spent most weekends with the B team. As they were trusted with more minutes on the field, their performances continued to improve, and the goals started to come. With players like Sergi Samper, Javi Espinosa, and Edu Bedia taking control of the midfield, the B team embarked on a 9-week unbeaten run (7 W, 2 D) and looked set for a top ten finish at the very worst. The Segunda league was extremely close this year, with only 20 points separating champion Eibar from 18th-placed Alaves, so every game, every point was vital. Despite the odd setback, the B team diligently worked their way up in the standings to finish a more-than-respectable 3rd with the youngest team in the league. As a manager, Eusebio has come under a lot of criticism over the last few years, not least from myself, but this result is something he can be justifiably proud of. Eusebio will never be known as a tactical genius (some of his in-game substitutes are downright baffling), but to his credit he appears to have learned from some of his past mistakes (such as indulging in outright favouritism) and IMO has improved as a manager. I won’t say I’m happy that he was renewed for another season, but I think the current B generation is so packed with talent that they would succeed with almost any manager.

Who’s on First?

The most disappointing aspect of this season for me, and most likely for the players as well, was the scarcity of call-ups to the first team. B players were called up to practice with the first team fairly often, but only 4 players were actually called up for games–Dongou, Adama, Patric, and Sergi Gomez–and these received a grand total of 72 minutes of playing time in all competitions between them. Dongou accounted for most of that time. This is in stark contrast to the 1432 minutes B players received last season and 2298 the season before (Guardiola’s last). To me, this represents a failure on the part of the club, a waste of valuable resources, and an error on the part of the first team manager Tata Martino. To be fair to Martino, he clearly started out with good intentions. Dongou and Adama both impressed him in preseason, and Bagnack was even taken along on the ill-fated Asian tour. But as a new manager from “outside” the club, Tata was under huge pressure to impose his vision on his players and to get results, and any plans he may have had to give youth players a look-in were put on the backburner. It is understandable, but unfortunate, since the best opportunities for B players come in the early stages of the Copa del Rey and the group rounds of the Champions’ League. Tata was having an excellent run of results at the time and apparently didn’t want to bring any unknown elements into the mix. Then in the second half of the season when results dropped and injuries began to pile up, it seemed like he had discarded the option of calling up B players completely. This led to the ridiculous situation of playing Busquets as a CB when Puyol, Pique, and Bartra were all out injured, instead of calling up Sergi Gomez or Bagnack as a replacement. Busquets is one of the most talented players in the world, but a CB he is not.

Still, it isn’t really fair to blame Tata entirely for this apparent lack of trust in the youth. There were plenty of factors that need to be considered, many of which were out of Tata’s control. He was hired to manage the first team and to win trophies–and the pressure he was under to do so should not be understated. He was from outside the club and did not come through the youth system as a player or coach, like Pep and Tito did, so he was not inculcated in the mythos of “La Masia”. He did not have the benefit of having watched the B team players develop over the past several years and knowing their strengths and weaknesses. And of course, Eusebio was having his own challenges with injured players and inconsistent results and may well have resisted letting his most important players be called away. We will never really know all the reasons that so little use was made of the youth players, but I can’t help but feel that things could have been managed better. 72 minutes falls very short of what I would have hoped for.


Bojanization and You

At the end of every Barça B season the question on everybody’s lips (well, on mine, at least) is “Who will be promoted?” As of this writing, only two players have been officially promoted: GK Jordi Masip, who will be the 2nd or 3rd choice keeper for the first team next season, and midfielder Denis Suarez, who will most likely be sent out on loan (although you never know, Lucho might like to have a look at him first). Several of the senior players are at the end of their contracts and will not be renewed or have been offered renewal with the B team only and have chosen to leave. Of the players left, the most talented ones are too young to be considered for promotion yet and the older ones are just plain not good enough for the first team. What does all this have to do with Bojan, you say? Well, there are some who say that if a player has excelled in the B team he should be promoted regardless of his age, that age is just a number and if a player is talented enough he will succeed in the first team regardless. Personally I feel this view is shortsighted and does a disservice to young players. Talent is very important, of course, but talent will only get a player so far if he has not been given the proper tools and training to make the most of it. A young player needs regular playing time to gain experience and develop decision-making skills on the pitch. Why promote an 18-year-old only to leave him sitting on the bench or playing the last 5 minutes of a game when he could be playing every week on the B team or be loaned out to another team to experience different challenges? Yes, Messi was promoted at 17, but Messi is a unique case and it would be a mistake to judge anyone else’s situation by the same standards.

A better example is Bojan Krkic. In his youth career, Bojan scored something like 1000 goals (I can’t be bothered to look it up, but it’s somewhere around there). He was the Golden Boy, the Next Big Thing, and he debuted with the first team at 17 years & 19 days, the youngest ever. His “people” pushed for early promotion, and since the first team was in a bit of a bind with injuries, the club agreed. Expectations were sky high, and for a while things went very well. He played a lot, he scored some, it looked like the world was his oyster. But at some point the pressures of being expected to always play at the highest level took their toll. Bojan was called up to the Spanish NT squad for the 2008 Euros, but he withdrew, reportedly due to having a panic attack. Over the next 3 seasons Bojan struggled with inconsistent performances, sometimes showing flashes of the old brilliance, but often looking lost and uncertain. Eventually he was largely relegated to the bench. His career has never really recovered, and he is still only 23. Some might say that Bojan just wasn’t good enough and wouldn’t have made it at Barça anyway, but I disagree. Bojan was and is a very talented player. But as a youth player he was so overhyped and pushed forward as the next homegrown star that it became almost impossible for him to live up to that. If he had been left to develop more slowly, either in the B team or being loaned out to another club, he may well have matured into a very different player. This is why exciting young players like Adama, Samper, and Munir need to be managed so carefully. They are all potentially first-team material, but promoting them now after only one season with the B team would be a huge mistake.

Revelation of the Season: Midfielder Denis Suarez. Perhaps not really a revelation, as we knew he was very good when we bought him from Manchester City, but he been one of the stand-out players this season. He has a great touch, reads the game well, and is just a very intelligent player all-around. A very good buy for us. Runner-Up: Munir el-Haddadi. Technically still a Juvenil A player, he didn’t get any minutes with the B team until quite late in the season, but he had already shone in tournaments, including Juvenil A’s victory in UEFA’s Youth League, in which he was the top scorer. At only 18, Munir is still a raw talent, but he is fast, technically skilled, and has a real nose for the goal.

Flop of the Season: Winger Dani Nieto. Although he made plenty of appearances, especially in the first half of the season, and scored 6 goals, most observers seem to agree that he just does not have the quality a Barcelona player needs. His first touch is poor, and his link-up play is lacking. He spent much of the spring warming the bench. Runner-Up: Ilie Sanchez. Sadly, the Barça B captain had a poor season, mainly due to being played out of his natural position as a defensive midfielder. He was forced to cover for injured CBs, and it was pretty clear that it was not a good fit.

Comeback of the Season: Edgar Ie, who has been almost permanently injured for two seasons, and in between knocks struggled to find playing time. It wasn’t until the second half of the season that he began to feature regularly, and showed his quality as both a rock-solid CB and a marauding RB. I would love it if Lucho took a closer look at this player in preseason. Runner-Up: Jean-Marie Dongou. The striker went through a dull stretch in mid-season when he was not scoring or playing particularly well, and was overshadowed by up-and-coming talents Adama Traore and Munir el-Haddadi, but by the spring he seemed to have regained his confidence and was raising havoc on the pitch again. He finished the season with 9 goals.

Season MVP: GK Jordi Masip. Eusebio’s first-choice keeper, Masip had an excellent season bailing out the often leaky defense in front of him. He has looked assured and confident in goal, and has earned his promotion to the first team. I hope he gets some real opportunities to shine and can help Ter Stegen learn how a Barça keeper needs to play.

Most Likely to Make the First Team Someday: Adama Traore, Munir el-Haddadi, Jean-Marie Dongou, Sergi Samper, Alejandro Grimaldo, Macky Frank Bagnack. I would love to add Edgar Ie to this list, but somehow I doubt it will happen.

Most Likely to be Sold for Pennies, Then Bought Back for Millions: Macky Frank Bagnack. Because that’s what we do, sell CBs.

Most Likely to Have a Solid Career as a Second-Tier Player With No Pretensions of Grandeur: Sergi Gomez (22). There are reports that Almeria may be interested in taking him on loan.

Best Player Leaving on a Free Transfer: Midfielder Javier Espinosa (21), whose contract expires this month, reportedly has offers from Valencia and Villarreal. Criminally underused in the previous two seasons, he did become a regular starter this year. Latest word is that FCB offered him a 2-year renewal with the B team, but he unsurprisingly turned it down. I wish him luck wherever he ends up.

Most Likely to Be Forgotten About Completely: Agostinho Ca. Bought at the same time as Edgar Ie, his time at Barça has been blighted by multiple injuries, and he has only ever played a handful of minutes. Currently out on loan to Girona, his contract expires in 2016, and is not likely to be extended.

So was this a successful season for the B team? I think even the harshest critics of Eusebio will have to agree that it has been. Third place in the league with the youngest squad is an excellent result whichever way you look at it. Some players may not have had all the playing time they deserve, but it was a drastic improvement over the previous few seasons. With former Barça B coach Luis Enrique now in charge of the first team, I think next season will provide a lot more opportunities for these talented players to develop.

*Speaking of RM Castilla, they finished the league in 20th spot, and have been relegated to the Segunda B, taking with them former Barça B player Kiko Femenia. You remember Kiko, don’t you? We bought him for the B team from (also newly-relegated) Hercules to great fanfare and talk of future opportunities with the first team. Pep Guardiola called him up in preseason, played him once or twice, and was unimpressed. He continued to impress no-one over the next two seasons, then left in a snit claiming the club had never given him any attention or support. Zubi was famously quoted as saying the club had done everything for Kiko except “play the football”.

A few updates, mostly via the reliable Gerard Romero:

Javi Espinosa will join Valencia this week. He rejected offers from Villarreal and Porto.

Captain Ilie Sanchez is heading to Germany to join 2nd division team Munchen 1860.

Carles Planas has offers from Spain, England and Germany and will leave the club.

Sergi Gómez and Patric Gabarron have offers but are considering whether to stay one more year at Barca B or transfer out.

And from rac1: Denis Suarez will join Sevilla on loan next season, as part of the (as yet unconfirmed) transfer of Sevilla midfielder Rakitic.

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83 Responses to “The Boogie-Woogie Barça Boys of Company B”

  1. Anonymous_69 says:

    Agree with the list of potential first team players, although I’d definitely add Ie to the list. Injury prone, but easily the B team’s best defender. Luis Enrique should take a look at him.

    What about Juvenil A players who may light up the B team next season? Kaptoum looks like a Xavi clone. Enguene is really nice to watch, although I hear he hasn’t developed much these past couple seasons. Surely a GK will be promoted, with Oier and Masip gone. I’m REALLY looking forward to Godswill.

    • blitzen says:

      I agree about Ie being the best defender. My fear is that the club will see him as injury-prone and not consider him a serious prospect for the first team. I hope he can stay healthy next season.

      Unfortunately I haven’t been able to follow Juvenil A that closely this year. Perhaps some others can weigh in on that.

      Barça B will need two goalkeepers, as Miguel Bañuz is also not being renewed, which leaves only Ortola.

  2. Kxevin says:

    Love this post! The B team is something I don’t know as much about as I should, and as all culers should, given that they are the future at many positions. Thanks, blitz for a delightful read.

  3. Noldorin says:

    Actually, Bagnack and Sergi Gomez formed the CB pairing most of the season (with Ilié filling in on a number of occasions). It wasn’t a very good one at that. Gomez is just a bit mediocre to be fair, and Bagnack has shocking lapses in concentration, plus doesn’t seem to read the game very well. He’s better at RB, where he should always be played now. Edgar Ié is by the best CB in Barça B, and has shone on every single occasion he’s played there. Unfortunately lately he’s been moved out to RB, where he’s less than ideal. Anyway, Ié deserves a promotion this summer; let’s hope it happens.

    • blitzen says:

      Bagnack was very good in the preseason with the first team, then dropped off in the fall, then got injured. I think pairing him with Ie has really improved his game, as those two have an excellent connection.

  4. andrecito says:

    Thanks for bringing me up to date blitzen.. the idea of watching the b team games is so intriguing to me–more so than any other game besides barca a.. unfortunately they come on at around 3 am where im at..

    Im hoping for some more successful loans this up coming season.. honestly i dont understand why more of our players dont go to la liga teams.

  5. Inamess says:

    Great post blitzen! I haven’t followed the B team much but was always curious about Dongou since I read Graham Hunter praising him through the roof in an interview a few years ago:

    “In the Juvenil team coach by Oscar Garcia, who I think potentially should be the next Barça coach after Pep, there is one guy who is the best I have ever seen. I saw Messi at sixteen but Dongou from Cameroon is the best footballer at sixteen I’ve ever seen in my life. He is phenomenally quick, finishes brilliantly and works, he has been taught to work and press a lot.”

    Was this just exaggerated praise from a writer who thought that everything about our club was golden a few years ago or has Dongou disappointed somewhat?

    Read more: http://www.totalbarca.com/2011/news/exclusive-totalbarca-talks-with-graham-hunter/#ixzz346NM2LTC

    • blitzen says:

      I wouldn’t say that Dongou has disappointed. It wasn’t the best season for him, but young players, and especially strikers, do go through the odd rough patch as they develop both physically and mentally. The same thing happened to Deulofeu at this age. He got through it with the support of his coaches, and it looks like Dongou has as well. In two years he has gone from perennial benchwarmer to leading the front line, and that is a lot for him to deal with.

  6. Sangoku says:

    Nice post! Love reading about our youth teams. Haven’t seen Munir and Samper other than youtube vids but Traore during our last preseason was really something! Does he play only on the left wing, though? Can’t wait to see more of him during the preseason.

  7. PrinceYuvi says:

    This be a Brilliant & most productive post, Blitz.
    Much thanks, you.

    16 league titles (Not sure about 17th) by ladies & youth teams, that’s quite impressive.

    I hope nzm would swoop in and say a few about FC Barcelona Femení.

  8. Inamess says:

    I was going over Ciaran’s comments from the last post about Marquinhos:

    “On the other side we are spending close to a €40million valuation on a youngster with barely one season behind him. PSG spent over €30million on a player with 22 Serie A starts under his belt to partner the ‘best’ centreback in the world and in the past season he managed to play a further 17 league starts failing to dislodge the distinctly average Alex.”

    To me the Neymar and Marquinhos signings point to what I see is now a contradiction in the club. When we sign Neymar, Tello becomes surplus and now with the possible Marquinhos signing Ie and maybe even Bartra could also become surplus. I am not sure how we can try to win La Liga and the Champions League and still give untested 21 year olds a chance.

    My understanding is that before people like Xavi were willing to wait their turn but obviously the promising modern footballer at Barcelona must know that if he isn’t getting enough first team action by 22 then his career is in jeopardy.

    It just seems like almost a contradiction now. We need to develop our homegrown talent to compete with the rich teams but maybe some of that talent doesn’t want to wait until the team thinks they are ready for significant 1st team action. Blitzen any thoughts? Bojan is a cautionary tale but so is Thiago.

    • Jim says:

      Not sure Marquinhos would threaten Ie. Reading through Blitz’s account ( like Kxevin that’s an area I’ve little clue about). It would seem that at least another one or two full seasons of playing in his right position might help, especially with Puyol bound to take an interest. After that it’s about getting a chance and taking it. Ever since the days of the old Offside we have been inundated with tales of the next big thing – I remember the clamour to put both Bojan and GDS into the first team – so it’s wise to keep a sense of perspective about all young players. Tbh, I never saw why Bojan excited anybody and GDS always seemed too flashy for me. It may be that Marquinhos flops in which case Ie should be standing waiting ready to seize the chance unlike so many youngsters. It’s easy to criticise Tata but I wasn’t impressed by any of the youngsters I’ve seen in the first team in the last couple of seasons and wouldn’t want them starting anything bar a Copa match. If a youngster is going to make it into our firsts straight from the B team you’ll know it when you see them get their chance. If you’re making comments like “he did okay when he came on” he’s unlikely to make it longer term imo.

      Back to Marquinhos, as Ciaran says YouTube is not the best place to judge anyone – I still remember thinking that Alexis was another Messi, going past men at will – but what I saw I liked. He seems fast, good in the air, continually watching the man he is marking and adjusting his position and aggressive. However, even if he starts he knows he’ll have Bartra feeling aggrieved looking over his shoulder wanting a start. That’s good for concentration, for him and also good for Bartra if only your best will do.

      It’s going to be an interesting season with LE. First big test for me is what he decides to do with Xavi, especially if Cesc is going. I hope he persuades him to drop international football for a start. Then he is going to have to deal with a lot of disappointed WC stars because not everyone can win. He will have to deal with all sorts of big transfer decisions in and out probably without the luxury of getting the new one in before letting the old one go. And that’s before the season starts !

      On the WC front I can’t say I’m too excited at the moment. I have a horrible feeling this could be the year of the sit back and wait attitude, especially due to the heat. The one good thing from my point of view is that there ain’t nobody gonna chase Xavi, Iniesta and Busi around for 90 minutes out there and with Ramos and Pique at the back there won’t be any cheap goals to be had.

      • Inamess says:

        I agree with your Marquinhos skepticism. Don’t know why we want to pay that amount for a big question mark and another headache if it doesn’t work out.

        Spain has a tough draw and they have to start their group strong or else make things very difficult for themselves. I also see them fighting on their enemies terrain with the heat and all. An early Spain vs. Brazil knockout round could settle things for the Final with either Argentina or Germany to face them from the bottom part of the draw.

        So my prediction is it will be the two best teams in Europe vs the two best in South America with the two South Americans facing each other in the final.

  9. Eklavya says:

    Hadn’t been here since a while. Looks like I came in at the right time! Nice article, very informative, thanks Blitz.

  10. Ultraculé says:

    I don’t know.
    The impending arrival of Marquinhos, to me smells a bit like the Eto’o + cash deal for Ibra in the skewed sense of perceived value. Is an unproven 20 year old really worth so much that we spend 25M on top of getting rid of possibly our best RB in history, an integral member of the world’s best side ever, someone who still has quite a bit to give from a sporting standpoint and a LOT to give from a squad harmony perspective? I am not sold. Still, if the deal is done, and it looks like it is, I hope it works out in the long run. It is a lot of money though to splash on a young defender.

    I’ve always loved David Alaba and have thought he would have been an ideal replacement for Abidal. With someone like an Alaba in the side, a Cuadrado acquisition would also make sense in terms of defensive balance and stability. But that’s not happening, so moving on… Maybe Mathieu will help add some of that balance.

    Mascherano’s renewal is one of the best news I’ve heard this year. I have long argued for his and Alexis’ value in these boards against louder voices. Now give him the Armband and Puyol’s absence will be a little easier to take. Finally A Lexus retention will put the cherry on the cake for me. I wouldn’t care about any other offensive reinforcements if he is convinced to stay.

    Imagine if we are getting Rakitic in place of Fabregas and Vidal in place of Song. My My.

    • Gekko64 says:

      I share your skepticism, Dani is still the best RB after Lahm and he definitely still has a lot to give to football. that said, selling players once they are past their prime and replacing them with youngsters is usually good in the long run :)

  11. Kxevin says:

    This post is particularly timely because as people who know better than me say, this club is stacked. La Masia is an extraordinary thing at the moment because in consideration of the new transfer market, growing your own, so to speak, is the best way for big clubs without sugar daddies to stack themselves with talent.

    Curious as well about the Juvenil players with a real shot. Seems like there are a great many of them, even as we face the real possibility that not all of them will make it, and continue with the club.

    If you think about our XI and the players, assembling its like would be impossible, even for the wealthiest of clubs. You would have to buy Pedro, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Pique AND Busquets. From the talk of people who follow, such as blitzen, we have a rare generation(s) of talent in the pipeline that could make this club strong for years to come.

    It makes me proud that our B team finished 3rd, while RM’s was relegated. I also like discussing our in-house future instead of transfer gossip, which also makes this post spot on.

    It seems, however, as blitzen notes above, its coach is playing for results, rather than developing its players in a path necessary for their moving up. I know that Martino got stick for not calling on the kids more, but were any of them really ready, is a question that comes to mind. Can anyone help with that?

  12. blitzen says:

    Luis Enrique underwent emergency surgery today for appendicitis. He’ll be fine, but it really does seem like this club is under some kind of curse. :evil:

  13. blitzen says:

    And here is a long interview with Eusebio, from MD (Spanish). I’ll try and translate some highlights later:

    http://www.mundodeportivo.com/20140609/mundo-barsa/eusebio-nuestro-futbol-es-de-primera_54408813013.html

  14. morph73 says:

    I read on Talksport today that Barca has reached a verbal agreement with Dortmund for Reus for 28 million pounds… Hope the rumor is true :)

    • morph73 says:

      Sorry the verbal agreement was with Reus and not Dortmund… And reportedly they are going to table an initial offer of 28 million pounds…

      • Kxevin says:

        It’s the reason I like to focus on the tangible. The Dortmund sporting director said today Reus is going nowhere this summer. As many have already predicted, Dortmund is NOT going to sell its two best players in the same summer.

        Now how ’bout that B team?

        • morph73 says:

          I haven’t seen much of the B team matches this season but from whatever I did I found Munir and Adama very exciting prospects… Suarez in the mid seems to be doing pretty well too..

  15. BA says:

    great post, thanks for the update. it seems as though, yet again, we have a host of attacking midfield/striking potential but very little defensive cover. Adama Traore and Denis Suarez both seem like players who could very well fit into gaps in the squad in the coming couple of years. there’s been alot of grumbling about Eusebio on these pages (myself included), but i have to say that he’s proven the doubters wrong and, overall, maintained the incredibly high standard we’ve come to expect from our Barça Babies. what other team in the world could have 2 teams *consistently* in the top flight?

    • Kxevin says:

      It’s almost like any defenders we have from B are cursed. Muniesa broke all the time, and then lost that crucial step. Fontas not good enough, Ie and Ca broken all the time, Grimaldo broken, and pint-sized to boot. Kinda crazy, when you think about it.

      I still wonder about how well Eusebio has prepared players for the system, vs having a good record in Segunda. I reckon the future will tell, as he has quite a pile of talent to mold this season. I do believe that Enrique will be more involved in this. More involved and more demanding.

      Buzz is that Suarez is going to Sevilla on loan for a season as part of the Rakitic deal. He gets a good coach, regular playing time and the chance to develop with a top part of table side. Brilliant. I think he is really going to be something, and I am very excited to watch Halilovic next season, to see if he really is the business. I think we all recall Gai Assulin, the “next Messi.”

      • ciaran says:

        If it’s true that Suarez is going to go on loan to Sevilla I think it’s a great idea. The toughest part of the La Masia experience is the transition period between being too good for the Segunda and not good enough for the Primera. Suarez this season; Rafinha, Deulofeu and Sergi Roberto last season. Even Thiago for a while and JDS for the better part of a decade… JK.

        The options are stay, train, learn and fight for your place or go out on loan and give it everything. Anything else and you end up a wasted talent.

      • blitzen says:

        In the interview he gave to Sport (different from the one I linked to above), Eusebio says he has spoken with Lucho about the B team and he “already knows the players almost better than I do.” So you’d better believe that Lucho already has plans to check out the youth players. It’s very exciting. I really hope players like Ie, Samper, and Munir get call-ups for CDR games. I’m certain quite a few youth players will be participating in the friendly games the club has scheduled later this summer.

        Oh, and Ca is a midfielder, not a defender.

        • ciaran says:

          Munir looks unbelievably mature for one so young. The goals he gets from distance, not just the one from midfield, are incredibly composed. He is unselfish when others are better positioned but knows when to take a shot himself.
          I would like him to have the season in the B team without having to be called up but the idea of him playing some minutes in the CDR suits me fine.

        • Kxevin says:

          I tend to think of DMs as defenders, which is probably the “sure, he can play CB” first-team indoctrination rearing its head.

          Curious to see if Halilovic gets a call up this season, just to have a look at him. Biggest surprise for me was that Suarez never got a first-team call up. But I think by the time he exploded into life, the matches were ALL crucial, and Martino didn’t want to take any risks.

          ciaran spot on about the “options” observation. I still think Sergi Roberto would have benefited from a loan to a Liga side. Loads more playing time and the chance to really develop, instead of depending on a coach to have confidence in him. With Rafinha, Iniesta, Xavi, Rakitic, Busquets and almost certainly Mascherano, he’s going to have a tough row to hoe getting consistent playing time.

  16. Levon says:

    I love this post.

    One thing I’d like to add. In our set-up Martino giving only 72 minutes to B-team players amounts to criminal negligence, but he is not the sole person responsible. Andoni Zubizarreta is our Sporting Director and should have guided Tata through this process.

    • Inamess says:

      I don’t know about the negligence part. In hindsight, Martino seemed to have been hired for one year to give the team one last shot at glory with the same group. If the club didn’t plan for our future last year, how can we fault the coach who had a difficult enough time figuring out how he was going to use the players on the first team.

      Remember, Tata was even crucified for playing Song and Busquets together at Sociedad. If he only limited minutes to Tello, Affeley, and Dos Santos, you can hardly expect him to play Dongou, Partic and Adama. Each of these B teamers got token minutes which should be enough to at least show that they are valued.

      In contrast, Pep used the B teamers so much because he thought they could help in games and thought he knew enough about how each could be used: Tello, Cuenca, and Thiago.

    • blitzen says:

      In that Sport interview Eusebio says that the main reason more B players didn’t get called up was that the first team was much larger than it had been under Pep and Tito. It makes sense, as Tata might have found it hard to leave Sergi Roberto or Tello out of a squad in favour of Sergi Samper or Denis Suarez. It still doesn’t explain his refusal to call up an emergency CB, though.

  17. Kxevin says:

    And in thinking about the B team, we are going to have some selection headaches coming up. Aren’t going to be able to keep ‘em all down on the farm, so to speak:

    Wingers: Neymar, Sanchez, Pedro, Deulofeu, maybe Tello, with Adama on the make.

    Midfield: Xavi (done soon, though), Iniesta, Busquets, Mascherano (probably), Sergi Roberto, Rakitic, Rafinha, and coming up are the likes of Sergi Samper and Denis Suarez only has a one-year loan.

    Has there been a better time for our club to be facing a transfer ban? We even have young strikers who are cooking in the Masia ovens.

    • Levon says:

      That’s another reason why I don’t understand selling Cesc only to replace him with Rakitic is a good idea. We got so many players being touted as future midfield stars (to me Sergi Roberto is the ugly duckling in the list, though).

    • 86ed says:

      Just so long as we don’t count promoted player as signings, only then rarely to play them at all. Just last summer Zubizarreta claimed Roberto as a signing. Some signing. He hardly had a kick all year long.
      That’s why it would be wiser to send Deulofeu and Alcantara on another year-long loan. If we keep them but never use them, then what’s the point?

    • What a huge degree of optimism!

      The only way this is gonna happen is we have Messi back on fire running things virtually on his own. Otherwise just wait for the pressure to get to Luis Enrique and he will play the same eleven again and again.

      Xavi needs to force a transfer in my opinion. He has been ridiculed too many times by Barca fans over here. He should take a leaf out of Pirlo’s career and move ahead. Going by Enrique’s struggle with Totti at Roma, he may start to bench Xavi more often. He needs to move now.

      What I worry most is all the good thing Rafinha and Deulofeu achieved this season will be undone in the next season when they will be sparely used.

      • Inamess says:

        I agree. As fans we have to face the fact that this team has been run unprofessionally. There just seems to be too much amateurism, politics, and cults of personalities and legends.

        The only way out of this mess that I see is if Lucho develops our best youth and we get 4 future superstars in the next four years. Fans will just have to deal with the fact that he will need time to see if he can put all the pieces in place.

        I almost wish the club were taken over by a dictator with vision: a combination of Steve Jobs, Jose Mourinho, and Johan Cryuff who will make the moves we need to make however unpopular.

        The one thing about Perez is that he is ruthless and looks like he puts the right people in charge in making decisions.

  18. ooga aga says:

    great post blitzen! Thank you for the report.

  19. Inamess says:

    For me there are just so many ways in which our transfer policy may work against our home grown promotion and that is why the possible Marquinhos deal bugs me.

    Let’s say in addition to Mathieu we buy Marqinhos for 25mil + Alves. PSG get a great deal in that they are getting a big improvement at RB who is perfect for their team for the two years they will need him to launch a serious bid to win the CL, which is something that the future of their club is very much dependent on. PSG also get most of their money back for a young defender who by all accounts did not live up to their expectations.

    On the other hand, we get a promising young defender who didn’t play spectacularly well last season. With Marquinhos we also have a talent who is same age as Ie and 3 years younger than Bartra, who has already proven that he is a capable defender wih the first team.

    Let’s look at two scenarios for next year. If Marquinhos displaces Bartra then Bartra’s future with the club is in jeopardy. On the other hand. if Bartra ends up working out better than Marqinhos then we kind of wasted millions on a CB who won’t be able to make a significant contribution to the club almost like Chygrynskiy.

    Now how about Edgar Ie. The only way I see that he gets any time with the first team in his future is if either Bartra or Marquinhos play well below expectations. Therefore, the expected future for Ie, who most at the club at least at this point believes is by far our most promising CB talent will eventually be sold.

    • 86ed says:

      I’m not sure why you think so highly of Ie. He has played exactly 19 games with Barca B in two years, and, considering the crisis in our defense, if he were any good he would have at least been called up with the big boys. He hasn’t, to the best of my knowledge. I have never seen him play, so I’m only relying on the stats.

      Masia hasn’t produced a worthy defender since Pique. We’d be better investing into worldclass defenders because chances of our raising one up aren’t particularly high. Bartra, the latest prospect, needs to play every game – and neither Villanova nor Martino trusted him enough to do that from the beginning.

      • blitzen says:

        I’m not sure why you would question his quality if you’ve never seen Ie play. As for his stats, if you read the article you would know that Ie has suffered a series of long-term injuries that have stopped him from playing much. It has only been in the second half of this season that he has been able to feature consistently for the B team, and he has been very impressive. I also discussed in the article (and just above in the comments) the lack of first-team call-ups for all B players, not just Edgar Ie, so there is no reason to judge his quality based on that.

      • Inamess says:

        My problem isn’t so much Ie, but in bringing in a still unproven talent in Marquinhos. Bartra probably got more minutes at CB at Barca last year than Marquinhos got at PSG.

        For that reason, I see those two fighting it out to see who our CB of the future will be. Considering Ie and Marquinhos are the same age, however, if I were Ie I would view my future with the club almost like Tello who must have saw the writing on the wall with Neymar. Ie might not be that good anyway but even if he is, he probably doesn’t have a future with the club other than leaving and proving himself elsewhere so we can buy him back for millions one day.

        We were very lucky that we were able to get Pique back from United for cheap, but I still don’t see a coherent path for many of our youth products considering how good you have to be to get significant time with the first team. Messi and Busquets are much more the exception than the rule. I fear that the Thiagos and Tellos are going to become much more common.

        The good news is that now we have a coach who is very good at working with young talent and can better sort out these issues, but they are still going to be problems no matter how sympathetic Lucho is to the needs and talent of our youth.

  20. BA says:

    if the loss of Cesc results in not only Rakitic but perhaps another midfielder with a bit of bite and defensive mobility, i.e. Vidal (however unlikely that may be, i still hold out hope), i’ll be thrilled. one feature our midfield has been lacking since the departure of Keita has been a player who can come in, cover the pitch well and put themselves about with purpose; now we’ll have both Rakitic and Mascherano able to do that. it forces teams to play us differently, and the more options they are forced to react to only gives us more breathing space to operate, particularly in transitions.

    with a front line of Neymar, Messi and Alexis we have 3 forwards who are both extremely comfortable on the ball and capable of dropping back into a midfield zone to help with play, so our need to field orthodox passing midfielders could be much lessened. adding some steel in behind them, particularly in front of our still-shaky central defense, helps balance our game.

    • Inamess says:

      If nothing else, what our moves suggest is that Barca may be moving away from tiki-taka and we might see more of what the team waslike under Frank Rijkaard.

      I wasn’t a Barca fan then but do others look at things that way? It is odd that a lot of the reasons Cesc didn’t work out was because he wasn’t that great at tiki-taka and yet now our style might be evolving more to suit his tastes just when he is leaving.

  21. Inamess says:

    Here is the first bit of smoke I found on the possibility of Man U entering the fray:

    http://football-talk.co.uk/92360/late-attempt-made-to-hijack-chelseas-fabregas-deal/.

    I think that United are so desperate from last season that they feel they need another big signing or at least some good publicity.

    The prospect of Chelsea getting Cesc will only make United fans more depressed. So even if United don’t get Cesc, their fans know that the club tried and took some more money out of Mou’s war chest which should go to us and Arsenal I suppose.

  22. Inamess says:

    Blitzen, I am try to put together some ideas on the careers of Tello and Thiago for a piece about our “Angry Young Men”.

    Do you think there was anyway that either of them could have worked out at our club or was their fate sealed when we got Fabregas and Neymar?

    Also, do you see Lucho using our B teamers as much as Pep did?

    It seems that if we get Marquinhos we are already going to have a lot of youngsters on the first team who are going to be competing for minutes.

    • blitzen says:

      Oh dear. Do you really want to bring up the whole Thiago saga again? :P As briefly as possible: Yes, I do think there was enough room in the squad for both Thiago and Fabregas, but only if Xavi was left out more often. In hindsight, that’s what should have happened, but Tito, and then Tata, were not willing to do that. So one of them had to go, and we can debate forever whether it was the right one. (Please don’t, though.)

      As far Tello, I honestly never thought he was a great fit for Barça to begin with, so I think he would have been benched or sold regardless of Neymar’s purchase. Tello is fast and very capable of scoring, but his first touch isn’t great and he doesn’t work well in tight spaces. Most importantly, he and Messi never really seemed to form a connection, and that’s the kiss of death.

      I don’t know if Lucho will use the B teamers as much as Pep, mainly because he will likely have a larger first team squad and have to manage their playing time appropriately, but he has already made his interest in the youth players known & spoken to Eusebio. I’m certain some B players will get call-ups for CDR games, and in the early stages of the CL. And I’m sure that Lucho will make a point of watching the B team games, not in person, but he’ll have DVDs made for him.

  23. Rakitic rumours appears to me too good to happen at the price. But the way it is reported, looks like a done deal. First thing nwhich confuses me is 20 Million price tag. He was easily the best midfielder in last season, why would Sevilla give up him for 20 Million? Especially he is vital in a Croatia side who is expected to make it to the second round. A decent performance should hike his price, so why Sevilla will sell him now! No idea.

    Second is the Fabregas-Chelsea deal. I mean, Is that true. Fabregas is a kind of midfielder Mourinho never likes. Will he sign him! Too difficult to believe.

    • Peter says:

      The narrative had suggested that while the buy-out clause of Rakitic was about 40m, he had an agreement that if Barcelona or Real come knocking the price would be lowered.
      Second, he was in his last year of contract. If he had stood, in January he could’ve made a Lewandowski and Sevilla would’ve seen him go away.
      Third, he apparently told the club he wants Barcelona. Just like with Fabregas now and Neymar at the time, once the player has a chosen club, that club gets the inside track.
      Fourth, Denis Suarez is going on a loan with Sevilla. Now, this last clause is not very clear, because there are two versions:
      1. A season-long loan of Denis Suarez in order for him to get more experience in La Liga and also Europa League
      2. A season-long loan with option to buy and if bought, an option to repurchase to return him to Camp Nou.

      • morph73 says:

        Headlines from MD and Sport suggest that Suarez is being sold… No mention of loan… If true this will be bad business IMO…

        • blitzen says:

          That’s just untrue. Both papers are very clear that Barça want a loan only.

          • morph73 says:

            I read only the translated headlines which were posted on totalbarca… Didn’t know the entire story…

        • Peter says:

          Suarez is being included in the transfer, but as a loan:
          El acuerdo, según pudo saber MD, se cerró en una cantidad de dinero que no llega a los 20 millones de euros y en el mismo también se incluye la cesión del jugador del Barça B Denis Suárez, un centrocampista gallego de 20 años con una enorme proyección y en el que el Sevilla estaba muy interesado. De hecho, el club andaluz deseaba incluir en el acuerdo por Rakitic una opción de compra por Denis, algo a lo que Zubizarreta se oponía. “Cesión” in Spanish in this context means “a loan”. According to the article´s last sentence “the Andalusian club wished to include the option of buying Denis in the Rakitic deal, something which Zubizarreta opposed.”

          • Gekko64 says:

            that’s a smart bit of business, as both clubs involved will benefit from the loan. this is exactly what they should do with youth products.

          • morph73 says:

            Thanks for the clarification….

  24. norden says:

    Thanks for the article blitzen! I don’t watch the B team matches, so you gave me some good info.

    My question would be how much pressure should be put on the B team for bringing results and earning the starting spot, so that the players are mentally trained for the pressure of the A team, but also don’t break at the B team stage.

  25. Jafri says:

    Who were the group of Barca B players that Lucho trained? I assume it was Sergi Roberto, JDS, Bartra and all?

  26. Kxevin says:

    According to L’Equipe, Monaco is not going to exercise its option on Victor Valdes. I rather imagine that once he heals and can show he is his old self, he should have no shortage of suitors.

    • Peter says:

      According to L’Equipe from January Messi is the current star of PSG. :D I’m just saying…

      But you’re right. A free agent of that talent could walk in every top club. Hell, you could probably produce a full-feature movie just with his saves.

  27. Archie says:

    Someday one of those Barca b-boys will be coaching the Spain National Team at a World Cup Finals and he will remember fondly how he used to have so much more hair:

    http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/videos/television/unico-gol-del-bosque-roja/745963/

  28. Inamess says:

    The whole Valdes saga is one more story about Barca that leaves me baffled. Does anyone have a coherent explanation for what really happened? The most I can make of it is this:

    1)Valdes has always disliked playing in goal at the club and is quite sensitive to fan and press criticism.

    2) He was lambasted in the press in 2012, especially three incidents that he was “blamed” for:

    a) Ronaldo goal in home Classico in 2012
    b) Ramirez goal in home leg of CL SF in 2012
    c) Di Maria goal in Supercopa in 2012.

    3) Victor then decided that he definitely can’t take it anymore.

    4) Valdes also had financial problems and wanted to get the best offer he can from a European club, but our club will not accept a very low offer.

    5) Victor also knew that if he has a great season and can leave as a free agent, he can then demand a higher salary.

    For fans in the U.S., it is at first very odd that the club owns you and then can sell you for a profit. Of course, US teams can when they make trades with other teams.

    However, most players opt for free agency in which they can keep the money that comes from moving to another club. In a way, I think Valdes opted for free agency: a high risk but high reward move that would have work extremely well if not for his injury.

    I like to think that Victor’s move was in part a bold and defiant gesture against to the whole FIFA idea of clubs “owning” players and then buying and selling them, but I could be completely wrong.

    Anyway, feel free to check out “Angry Young Men” about Thiago and Tello. I wanted to post it here, but it was too long and has too many links. Thanks!

    http://www.barcablaugranes.com/2014/6/10/5795150/why-some-of-barcas-best-talents-may-be-turning-into-angry-young-men

    • ciaran says:

      On Valdes – Victor has been at our club for nineteen years. 19. To think that he still has around 5 years left as a top quality goalkeeper shows both his dedication and success as a top professional.
      Now, after a decade in the first team, he honours his contract and chooses to chase another challenge. I don’t see how anyone could begrudge him the opportunity to pursue this.
      To claim to know why he wants to take up this next challenge is a complete guess. Your points are well put together but no more likely to be true that claiming he got visited in a dream and told to do so. Guessing someone’s motives who you don’t know is a pointless operation.

      On Thiago – the first line you say that Thiago was a very low buy out fee. Thiago left because he wanted to. If he didn’t have the €18m buyout but said that he wanted to leave then a fee of €25m would be good business. He made the decision, not the club, to leave.
      He may turn out to be a fantastic player, many believe he will, but he was never Cule through and through. If he was he would have not forced his way out. He had patience, and it worked out for him, he played often and was progressing. Now we don’t know how he’ll turn out but unlike Fabregas, I can’t ever see him playing for us again.

      On Tello – For quite a while he hasn’t looked good enough to break through to be a starter. He is promising but really only looks to be good enough for a mid-table team. May he have been more? Possibly, but not at this Barca. If you were to honestly ask yourself did he deserve many more minutes you would be hard pressed to say yes. Maybe in the earlier part of the season and an extra 10 minutes here and there. To suggest that signing Neymar prevented him from reaching his potential is to lay the blame on the wrong forwards’ boots.

      • Inamess says:

        The whole Valdes story just intrigues me because he seems to be the anti-Messi in that both became starters at 20, but then had careers go in completely different directions. Valdes was at best tolerated while Messi could do no wrong until this year.

        You have to admit the whole saga with him deciding to leave, having a great season, just to have things go horribly wrong in the end is just too ironic. I’d love to see what Martin Scorcese could have done with the whole Valdes story. It would be the perfect addition to Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Casino, and now The Man in Front of the Net.

        De Niro in Raging Bull: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLNft6cO0I4\

        As for Tello, I know that things would never have worked out at Barca and he may be only be a one trick pony, but I always liked the fact that he never had a problem with taking a shot at goal even if he knew Messi would be pissed.

        That’s why I linked Tello and Thiago as rebels. In both cases, the Barca system would have had to adapt to their talents. A Barca centered around Thiago, Messi, Neymar, and Alexis would have been fun to see.

    • Peter says:

      Like Ciaran says, Thiago wanted to leave – after recovering from his injury he logically wasn’t at his best, but in order to fulfil the technicality of his clause he would’ve had to play at least 30 minutes in every remaining game – and even then I don’t think it would’ve been enough. In any case Barcelona got 25 million for a promising player who blackmailed the club into first giving him a nice juicy contract and then decided to leave. He had turned out quite good at his new club – before being injured again. If you ask me, it was good business. it was 25 million.

      Now on the other hand Barcelona are paying about 19 million for a player who has had a fabulous season, is more physical, taller, better and starting the prime of his football career – while at the same time solving a continuing problem – how to continue to develop B-team ducklings when the Segunda Division pool becomes too easy for them, but there’s no space on the first team. Chelsea for example have perfected it and now are gathering finished diamonds.

      Tello for me needs to get away from Barcelona as soon as possible, unless the way Barcelona play changes back to the high-speed high-intensity manner with lots of pressing. He’s good, but as most strikers he needs space, which if created will be much better exploited by Messi, Alexis, Pedro and Neymar. Personally I would suggest the Premier League and more exactly Everton, which has had to let its loans go back to their clubs after a spectacular season. The coach is Spanish, so Tello won’t have many problems. Alternatively a Primera Division club like Valencia or Sevilla may be just what the doctor ordered – and it would involve less travel for him and his family(did his girlfriend give birth?)

      • Inamess says:

        I see the Thaigo situation, despite some of the specifics, as centrally about whether the club wanted to gamble on his talent as the creative center of our team. Many at the club probably thought no or else they wouldn’t have let him leave.

        As for the “blackmailing” part, I don’t think that is fair at all. The club, in all its wisdom, agreed to the clause and Thiago did what he felt was best for his career.

        It just irks me that Pep gets a pass for many of his blunders if you include Thiago as collateral damage to the Fabregas signing. Now he profits from his own mistake. Also, I think we found out this year what a real Brazilian father who’s a scoundrel is.

        Tell me if this doesn’t irk: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/08/20/article-2398394-1B61F89E000005DC-874_634x458.jpg

        • ciaran says:

          Agreeing to the clause and Thiago enforcing it are entirely different. Either way, the clause isn’t why he left.
          He didn’t pay the clause, he told the club that he would so they negotiated a sale. I don’t disagree that Thiago done what he felt was best for his career but that’s the point, Thiago did it not the club.

          Thiago put the club in a position where they could either let him pay the clause and get €18m or negotiate a sale and get €25m. They made the right call and still get blamed for it. For me, everything about it lay at the feet of Thiago.

        • Inamess says:

          I don’t disagree, but the problem I see is that Thiago’s situation is going to happen again and again. We are too big a club to gamble on our youth like Atletico did for Koke or Bilbao did for LaPorte.

          Big time football today is about two things: money and glory for players and club alike. Old values such as loyalty are just not going to be enough these days for either our club or players.

          Thiago had to make a choice between leaving or taking his chances when the team just bought Fabregas. You can’t ask a great 21 year old talent to wait his turn for an uncertain future when his career and millions of dollars are on the line.

          In a way, it is similar to the way things have going in the NBA over the last 20 years. Very few rising talents are willing to even play in college for more than a year. Many instead entered the NBA draft right away.

          Some will make it and some won’t, but they still get an immediate chance at money and fame.

        • Peter says:

          After Pep left Thiago signed a new contract, a much better contract which increased his salary substantially, with a much increased buy-out clause(90 million Euro). See, no club in the world, be it the richest Arab/Russian-sponsored club will pay 90 million for an unproven youngster. Clauses such as these are established to show the player and everyone else “This one is staying with us, hands off!” However, Thiago’s agent, a.k.a. Pep’s brother decided to demand another last-minute clause: if the player doesn’t play at least 30 minutes for at least 60% of the games, his clause goes down to 18 million.

          The club accepted, perhaps hoping that this showed the player would work even harder to show he wants to stay in the club. And then he got injured and was out for something like two months. When he came back, his level was such that even during the famously known “second half-season siesta” of Fabregas, Cesc still deserved to start before Thiago.

          And in the end of the season Thiago and his agent stopped talking to the club, stopped answering their telephones and went on holiday. When he came back from his holiday, fresh from scoring a hattrick in the European U21 final, he told the club the deal was off – he had on average played just over 30 minutes per game for at least 60% of the games(including those when he was injured), whereas his clause clearly stated that he should’ve played at least 30 minutes per game(not average) for at least 60% of the games. According to him and Brother Guardiola the team should have guaranteed him a starting spot, and bugger meritocracy. That’s not how gentleman’s agreements work. That’s actually blackmailing. It’s the same attitude that saw Kiko Femenia go to Real Castilla* and currently Javi Espinosa being disillusioned about Barcelona not giving him a first-team promotion.

          After dropping the “what have you done for me lately?” bombshell, Thiago announced that Bayern are waiting in the corridor with a chequebook. So what do you choose, 18 million in cash or 20 million in cash + 5 million in equivalents and additional payments?

          I wish him a speedy recovery, but otherwise I don’t care. I have more respect for Valdes, Pinto, Yaya and Sergio Ramos than I have for him. He’s Barcelona’s past and gone by. Rafinha is the present. Rakitic as well. That’s what I’m looking forward to.

          After the World Cup, of course

          *Kiko Femenia, of whom Zubi said “The club did everything for him, except play the football.”, has been/is going to be released from his contract with newly relegated newest ex-club Real Madrid Castilla.

          Pep will continue to get a free pass for losing so much money in failed transfers, because Zubizarreta and his “10 friggin’ millionsez for Bravo, he costs at best 6-7 million!!!!” make for an easier target.
          Just like Cesc and his “second-half siesta” makes for an easier target than the legend of Xavi and his worst Liga season since 2005.

          • Kxevin says:

            Can I have two spokesmen? I have already claimed ciaran, but have to add Peter to the list. Yup.

            Oh, if only some players had the dogged loyalty of Jonathan Dos Santos, who still believes he can play for the club, and wants to stay on for the summer in the hopes of proving himself to Enrique.

          • Peter says:

            In the case of Dos Santos it may be not only about loyalty, but also about having all his friends in the team now, and also getting paid millions.

            Anyway, it may be that he has convinced Luis Enrique, because according to the latest MD report the Bravo deal will go through with Dos Santos or without him.

            I think he seemed okay in the handful of minutes given to him. Maybe it’s just Masia credit, but if Lucho wants to implement lots of running and pressing, Dos Santos could work. Of course, in high-level games he wouldn’t be even in the subs, but the season has 38 Liga games, plus the hopefully 9 CdR and then up to 13 Champions League games. With lots of rotation he will get minutes – if he’s willing to work hard.

  29. PrinceYuvi says:

    T.S.
    Bravo
    Rakitic.
    Well, that’s done.
    What’s next ?

    • Peter says:

      Like Lucho said after walking out of the hospital in which he was admitted yesterday for an emergency surgery: “The market ends on the 31st of August, we have to go step by step. Don’t worry, everything’s going very well.”

      Man’s got some nerve. :D

      • Kxevin says:

        The thing that transfers and B teamers have in common is that neither one happens overnight. People forget that buying a player isn’t like buying a latte, where you walk up with a suitcase full of money, and walk away with the player. That’s true even if you want to overpay, but only stupid clubs do that, and there are no stupid clubs.

        When people see that other clubs can do fast business, and why can’t we, they don’t realize that because they don’t hear other clubs’ rumors, and see that club’s supporters sitting on pins and needles, but rather only hear about the completed transaction, it skews perspective.

        With B teamers, generally if a player is ready, it becomes apparently fairly quickly. Denis Suarez is the new Thiago, by the by. Latest is that he will get a 2-year loan to Sevilla, and they will have a buy option, that we can block with cash, a fee to be determined.

        Now, there are a few ways to look at that:

        1. We’re stupid, loaning a player who is ours, and paying to get him back. ZubiZa is stupid!

        2. Suarez isn’t ready for the first team, even though we know he is ready to progress from Barça B. Do we want to have another Sergi Dos Santos Afellay Cuenca sitting about getting paid to play canasta, or do we want to see if a player is ready for that next level?

        If he takes off like a rocket, two seasons at Sevilla, when we have Iniesta, Busquets, Mascherano, Rakitic, Xavi, Rafinha and Sergi Roberto, not to mention Halilovic and Sergi Samper cooking in the pots, makes sense. Then he has to hope that Messi isn’t ready to slide back into midfield.

        3. The club already KNOWS that Suarez isn’t ready, and is willing to give Sevilla the option for a player who is good enough for them but not for us, as stacked as we are in midfield.

        The option that you choose will depend on what you think about our board, and whether it is being run by spawn of Satan, crackheads or vile little weasels who actually at times know what they are doing.

  30. Peter says:

    On a (s)lightly different note, the existential question postulated in the popular football song “Who ate all the pies” has found an answer, and that answer is, lamentably, Gundogan:

    http://www.footballread.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Gundogan.jpg

    • Kxevin says:

      Peter, I took the liberty of editing your post to make sure an image got there. You had an incomplete link, but presumed that you wanted to show Gundogan in his current, “May I have some more please,” state.

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