Categorized | Messi, Thoughts, World Cup

GOATS, success, failure and Lionel Messi, aka “Be here now.”


The World Cup is over and now the debates begin about Messi, roiling tempests that reduce the actual winner of the tournament to a seeming afterthought.

And they are so predictable that it’s almost lazy, as if by rote the same lines are drawn by the same groups of people:

— Look at the stats. He’s the best.
— He failed on the big stage, so he isn’t the GOAT.
— Y’all need to leave him alone, he is still the GOAT.
— Etc, etc, ad infinitum.

The truth is that there is no truth. It’s all immaterial.

The obvious

What a final, and what a tournament. Germany got the better of an ultimately exhausted Argentina side via an extraordinary bit of play that culminated in a full-on golazo from Mario Gotze. Some are saying that now he will be compared to Iniesta. Nope. It’s intellectually lazy to defend it, make the comparison or suggest it. He is a very good player who scored a marvelous goal at a perfect time in an amazing match.

Some are trying to define the match by failure, that Higuain, Aguero and Palacio were festering crap. Well they were, but strikers bottle chances all the time. No reason for the moment to elevate that expectation. As we all know in football, there is no such thing as a gimme.

Both teams fought, clawed and grasped. Finally, Germany won. They should justly be being celebrated, even as a footballing world seems to going nuts about a player from the losing side, in an attempt to deal with that player and expectations.

Argentina wasn’t supposed to be in a position to win a World Cup. Not with the state that team was in. A core of players — Di Maria, Mascherano, Messi — dragged them into position. One player is never going to beat a team. Hell, that even two players came close to beating a team is worthy of celebration, rather than excoriation.

Instead, the hunting parties are out, trying to either bring down or prop up a great player, dependent upon worldview.

Black and white

Football is fundamentally a game of absolutes. The ball went in the net or it didn’t. You won or you lost. Such absolutes leave people, in the aftermath of these events, to bask in the waters of subjectivity. The objective people say that statistics make it clear that Messi is GOAT, etc, etc, but which stats? The stat that matters says that Germany won, 1-0. So then, the objective subjectivity begins.

“He had the most take-ons, most key passes, most dribbles, most this, most that,” as if any of that stuff matters to the players on the pitch. Messi won the Golden Ball, and people snarked about that. This sparked vehement defense from the pro-Messi crowd, people lining up to scoff at haters and those who would judge a great player, or deny him his moment in history, etc.

But again, reality is in the middle. Messi had a good final. Not a great one. Did he have a final befitting the player that he is and the moment? That is where wretched subjectivity enters the picture, something debated by legions who really have not much invested in the outcome except for pride, maybe some money on a bet or just the spirit of the debate. Messi will say that it wasn’t a good final because he didn’t win, which is the only measure that matters to players who contest the matches.

Sides are drawn. “You hate Messi.” “You aren’t being fair.” “Look at the statistics.” None of it matters.

Love, hate and standards

“Hate” and “haters” are thrown about a lot these days. Many say that Messi has haters. Even if there are people that blinkered, his devotees outnumber his haters by 48,000-1 or some such astonishing stat, because Messi is that perfect machine, that pure player. People love him, and they always will, just as they will always defend him from his alleged haters. That defense, however well-intentioned, however, doesn’t allow for failure for a player and his expectations that are frozen in amber.

Look at the scoring chance that Messi missed. That was his first actual shot on goal. Had he made it, he would have had a 100% finishing rate for the match. Even my appalling math skills can figure that one out. But he missed. Statistically, he has an otherworldly finishing rate hovering somewhere around 30 percent. So if he shoots 10 times, 3-4 of them will go in. Wow.

So by missing that shot, did he fail? And if so, in which sense? Or did he just meet statistical expectation? Give him a few more shots and one of them probably goes in, but Germany worked its tails off to ensure that such things didn’t happen. And that’s the problem with defining a result by failure. Messi didn’t fail because he missed that shot. Messi was part of a collective that didn’t win the match, even as they succeeded in giving their all to try to win that match. It’s the danger of defining success in absolutes, and trying to define a player by that absolute standard.

Back when I reviewed concerts, I would evaluate a band on how good the band was at being the band. Easy, right? You’d be amazed at how many bands positively suck at being themselves, that is, at meeting the standard that they have set. With Messi, he has become his own standard. But even then, which Messi? There is the sprightly one that used to run like crazy, score goals and tumble around. There is the all-conquering Messi that scored a bazillion goals, and set a record. Or is it the most recent Messi, still a great player and still influential, but no longer the truly dominant force that he was when he was scoring goals for fun.

So as people stake out space and talk about meeting expectations without knowing what that expectation is, it becomes impossible to define a standard. Supporters tend to always remember a player at his absolute best. For many of them, Messi is still the 90 goals in a calendar year dude, and don’t tell me he isn’t! But they allow leeway, that he can’t always be that player and he needs help, etc. His teammates let him down, he would be great if he didn’t have 3-4 players marking him, etc, etc.

Other folks are using the Otherworldly Messi standard and saying that he wasn’t that player, so he failed. Still others are wondering just what the hell IS going on with the Best Player Alive™, and are struggling with precisely how to evaluate him.

Still others are saying that statistically, he is wonderful. He scored 40+ goals last season, etc, etc. So shut up.

The new right now

Everyone evaluating and striving to place Messi somewhere is right, and wrong, just as it is impossible for them to be anything other than right and wrong. “He didn’t win. He failed and isn’t the GOAT.” Okay. “He is the greatest because of what he has done.” Okay. “Look at what he has done, the championships and goals.” Okay. “He isn’t GOAT because of what Maradona did.” Okay.

Players simply are what they are at the moment, the ultimate conscious beings in the “be here now” sense. If a Super Bowl-winning quarterback throws 4 interceptions, he doesn’t stop being a great QB. He is just that QB on an off day. What if Messi had played a crap Final, while Higuain played out of his mind, scored a hat trick, tracked back and dominated play. Would Messi have been GOAT because well, he won a World Cup? Good question.

So what if Messi is a great player who had one extraordinary season, as great players often do. And what if the evaluative standard that people are now holding him to — none of them, really — apply. What if to evaluate Messi what we have to do is take him for the player that he is right now, bereft of expectations or past glories, knock off the incessant ranking and GOAT stuff. Take off the beer goggles, take off the “Aha!” stuff that people who wait for wonderful things to not be wonderful become so adept at trotting out, dispense with the fundamentally worthless statistical analysis that attempts to define a player in a losing effort, a la “Messi had 8 successful dribbles in Argentina’s 2-1 loss.”

What is Messi right now.

In the endless debates about GOAT, status and greatness, it’s all pointless except as fodder for bandwidth arguments and pub debates. There is no right or wrong in subjectivity, only opinion. In one person’s opinion, Mardona is the greatest. In another person’s opinion, Messi is. Standards shift. Today he has to win a World Cup, tomorrow he doesn’t, and is still GOAT even if his teams don’t win another match. All subjective and immaterial, because for the person for whom any of this really matters, Lionel Messi, it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that Germany hoisted the World Cup trophy.

All the rest is bench racing.

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280 Responses to “GOATS, success, failure and Lionel Messi, aka “Be here now.””

  1. Bajancule says:

    Excellent article as usual.

    Messi was neither great nor terrible in the final. He looked pretty much the same as he did the majority of this year i.e. not running like crazy and not the goal scoring machine of years past but still a very talented player who can change a game in an instant.

    However, there seems to be the conclusion that the reason he didn’t play like the Messi of old is because he didn’t want to win the World Cup badly enough. But if you look at his reactions throughout the World Cup (the scream after he scored against Bosnia, his taking off the second place medal in the final), it looked to me like he wanted to win VERY badly.

    • hansh says:

      …people are really saying that Messi didn’t want to win badly enough? Ridiculous. I know he doesn’t talk to the press that much, but all I’ve ever heard from him is that the World Cup is his dream. And what player at the World Cup doesn’t want to win very badly? There were some great pictures taken of Messi after the ARG-NED penalty shootout, and if that wasn’t joy, I don’t know what is.

  2. morph73 says:

    Truly a great article Kxevin… It feels so serene reading this after going through a sh*tload of articles on the internet blaming Messi in Argentina’s loss…
    The strange thing is though that this is the first time that I’ve seen lesser articles about the WC winners and more about an individual on the loosing team…
    Kudos btw…

  3. G6O says:

    Pretty much every GOAT discussion misses one important distinction: there ability and greatness are not the same things, i.e. the best player of all time need not be the greatest and vice versa, as greatness as conventionally understood is primarily defined by achievements.

    I’d personally be more than happy to be the best player ever even if I was not the one with the most WCs won.

  4. hansh says:

    Thanks for the great article. I particularly agree with this question: What if Messi had played a crap Final, while Higuain played out of his mind, scored a hat trick, tracked back and dominated play. Would Messi have been GOAT because well, he won a World Cup?

    For me, the objective truth about Messi is that every time he touches the ball, I believe that magic can happen. Not that it will happen, or that it has to, but that it simply can, and that’s a mark of greatness that he has earned. Argentina’s last-minute free kick: I really did not expect it to go in. But I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had, because it was Messi taking it, and part of me really thinks that when Messi plays, all other bets are off.

  5. hansh says:

    Oh, one other point. I’m not sure I understand what you mean about how Goetze shouldn’t be compared to Iniesta… is that because they played different roles on their winning teams? Because they have different personalities? Because they have different histories at their club teams? Because they were goals of different natures, in games of different types?

    That’s all true, I guess, but they HAVE both scored World Cup-winning goals. Maybe this is reducing the issue to the lowest common denominator (and therefore is intellectually lazy) but that kind of IS the most important factor and the factor that will be remembered the longest. Goetze and Iniesta may not have much in common outside of their WC final goals, but that’s a big, big thing to have in common.

    • ciaran says:

      Spain had never won a World Cup and Iniesta scored the goal to win them their first. Germany have won three previously and this is their fourth. It’s never going to be remembered in the same way. It’s not Gotze’s fault or anything it just is that way.

  6. CuleToon says:

    Lord Eddard Stark said it here at BfB yesterday. I said it at The Guardian a year or so ago. Surely, others have said it elsewhere. But it hasn’t been said enough times:

    For those looking down on Messi for his supposed lack of pedigree at the international level (conveniently forgetting his Sub-21 World Cup and his Olympic Gold Medal with Argentina), it bears to repeat that had Messi chosen to play for Spain instead of Argentina, as he was entitled to do given his Spanish/Argentinian double nationality, he should have won at least one World Cup and two Euro Cups at 25.

    I’m sixty already, and I’ve seen a lot of great players. Messi is the GOAT for me!

    (No one reproached DiStefano for not winning a single World Cup playing for Argentina and Spain. The same with Cruyff: no World Cup. But they are counted among the greatest).

    • Peter says:

      If Messi played for Spain, we’d be speaking about the historical Total Hegemony of Spanish football.

      Spain with Puyol, Pique, Ramos and Capdevilla in defence, Busquets, Xabi Alonso as pivotes, and Iniesta/Pedro, Messi and Xavi playing just behind a point striker like Villa. It would’ve been magical.

    • G6O says:

      Messi is already without any question on the same level as Cruyff and Di Stefano.

      It’s the comparison with Pele and Maradona that is contentious

  7. Dr_Footy says:

    Is nobody else concerned about the form Messi is currently in?

    He might be better than a lot/most players right now, but I haven’t seen Messi play at HIS best for a long time. There are a lot of valid possible on and off the field excuses for his dip in form (injury, aging, fatherhood, tax issues, etc) and I don’t think a fair minded person would expect him to shred defenders and score 91 goals every year.

    I don’t care about people who brand him a goat because haters will be haters no matter what he does. But I do worry about the amount of culés I know who seem genuinely scared to consider the fact that Messi might not be enough anymore. I’m not saying that’s the case, but it shouldn’t be considered treason to bring it up as a subject of conversation (maybe this is happening just in my circle of friends?).

    Last year we lost a copa, the league, and were eliminated from champions league by very thin margins. One goal margins I believe. This is where the signing of Luis Suarez makes sense to me. Initially, I would have thought a world class CB or two (for depth) might have been a better way to go, but apparently firepower is something Luis Enrique wants.

    I dont wish to turn this into a Suarez vs. Messi debate. Messi’s our legend. If he does nothing else for FC Barcelona I will always be grateful for what he’s done for us. However, I am glad we’re hedging our bets with another goalscorer. PS- I still want a new CB.

    • kosby says:

      I have re-calibrated my expectations from Messi. The Messi that was, was “impossible”. The Messi we have is amazing nonetheless. Its been 5 years since 2008. No-one has been as consistently so far away (performance wise) from the rest of the group for so long. As the entire squad has aged, so has Messi, even though he is 26 now. Those muscles have a lot of mileage on them. In my opinion it will be extremely hard for him to reach those heights on a consistent basis. And to reiterate, what he is right now, is still awesome.

  8. Levon says:

    The shame about the Messi GOAT discussion is that, as usual, people only want to put it in terms of black and white.

    Nobody – I repeat, nobody(!)- has won a World Cup single-handedly like Maradona has done. To see something like that happen again is simply unimaginable, and not because “they played a different football” back then. If anything the football of that time makes Maradona’s achievement even more astounding. The man played with two differently sized shoes because one of his ankles was so swollen. But they were only seven games.

    On the other hand, and this is not to underestimate Maradona’s club career, nobody has done what Messi has done, either. So how do you choose between them? Of course, we don’t have to.

    For me at least, and I would think that for many culers, it’s a pity Messi did not kill that debate yesterday. It speaks well of Messi that he seemed more sad for not winning the title with his team than concerned about “his place in history.” For non-Argentinians, such matters of the heart do not concern us. His GOAT status, however, provides us with endless debate.

  9. 86ed says:

    What a difference a goal (or lack thereof) makes.

    Goetse who up to yesterday had been relegated to the bench by his coach, is now better than Messi. Messi missed his chance, and therefore not worthy of GOAT. A game played by XXII men filtered to a single goal. I find this appalling.

    Messi has never had the Argentine support, because they, like my dad, are still stuck in 1986, and have not paid, indeed cannot pay, attention to the game’s development since then. By god, don’t they realize that besides Maradona’s two great matches (vs England, vs Belgium) there were 6 other players who scored for them? Have they forgotten that Matthaeus pretty much nullified Maradona in 180 minutes? Had Germany gone on to defeat them in extra time in ’86, how many would still remember Maradona’s heroics? How many remember Baggio’s form prior to his penalty miss in 1994?

    A team sport dumbed down. We do love to raise people up, just so we can tear them back down, don’t we just?

    • phil says:

      So much of this.

    • Levon says:

      It’s no use belittling Maradona’s WC to two great matches. Matthaus only nullified Maradona until his game-winning assist five minutes before the whistle. Also, by all accounts, Maradona was an incredible leader who raised his team emotionally. His team didn’t suck as much as some would like us to believe, but some of his teammates actually said that it didn’t matter if they played badly. Maradona made them feel that as long as they passed him the ball he would see them through.

      Having said that, I don’t think Messi needs defending. His record-breaking career speaks for itself. But like those that now attack Messi, the ones that defend him don’t always make much sense either. It’s why I say in the comment above that there’s too much black or white. Messi had a good WC, but not a great one. Not the one we were hoping for.

    • agar2515 says:

      Agreed. Game is different now too, no one player can do it alone anymore. It was Messi alone in attack once Di Maria went down. The D and Masche and Romero performed admirably though.

      • Levon says:

        I don’t think a player could do it alone in Maradona’s days, either. That’s what made him so frigging amazing.

        And I think that, for all the talk about how his teammates didn’t help him, his team actually did enough to win yesterday. Messi, Higuain and Palacio should have scored at least one goal between them.

  10. Lord Eddard Stark a.k.a. Brichimbrodvoken, the vulnerable one! says:

    WTF is GOAT

  11. Kxevin says:

    There is no Messi form. Just the player we have now. Another difficult-but-valid question to ask is what IF the board had sold Messi? Many rumors to that effect. No, not advocacy, but a very fair “what if,” up for debate.

    The club sold Ronaldinho 2 seasons too late for maximum value. But is max value what you seek from such iconic players? Another good question.

    • Levon says:

      I asked myself that question not too long ago. In my mind there are two main differences:

      1. Ronaldinho stopped training.
      2. Messi is “ours.” You don’t look to sell the kid from the Masía who turned into perhaps the greatest footballer that ever lived. Maximum value doesn’t even come into the equation, for me at least. He has earned that much, at least.

      In this discussion as of late about morals and club values, selling Messi would for me be much worse than signing Suárez.

      • agar2515 says:

        True points. Also, so what if he’s no longer the Messi that can go “Getafe” on opposing teams? You still have a player with world class vision,passing, and dribbling ability. If he wasn’t a forward he’d be the best Attacking mid in the world for my money.
        You don’t sell a player like that.

      • G6O says:

        He has earned that much, however, he has also earned a status that basically guarantees that the team has to be built entirely around him.

        So what if he declines so much that building the team around him guarantees failure? He is not leaving the club on his own for the next 8 years or so…

      • Hilal says:

        Hmmm. Not too sure I am buying this. Yeah he looked a little tired at times, but for me here are the reasons he has not performed as “expected” this WC.

        1) Every team Argentina has faced, except maybe Nigeria, have set up exclusively to stop Messi. He is not just man marked, at times he is double or even triple marked. At Barca he can use this to his advantage because he is surrounded by so much quality, but at Argentina his supporting cast was poor. So he gets the ball and is surrounded by players and has no outlets. In the article the author claims the Messi of old would have run at them and beat them. I disagree. Messi is nothng if not efficient and knows when to pick his moments. At Barca he makes space by using the players aroung him. At Argentina, the players give him the ball and it is almost as if everything stops in anticipation of what he is going to do. At one point vs Germany he received the ball relatively high up the pitch and was faced by 4 German players and not ONE Argentina player ahead of him came close to give support or made a run for him. So he did the smart thing and passed back. At Barca, he would have had at least 2, maybe 3 options. It is a team game.

        2) Link up play in the Argentina team seems to be almost non existent. The one time a player tried a one two with Messi it ended up in a goal (vs Bosnia). Messi thrvies on link up play. Many times I saw him get the ball, dribble, pass and make a run only to be ignored or the return pass to be poor.

        3) When the game started getting stretched near the end vs Germany and there was more space on the counter attack the tactic seemed to be to lob the ball up to Aguero completely bypassing Messi. That is the moment in the game where you want Messi involved the most, when the opposition are stretched and getting tired. Now, maybe it wasn’t a tactic per se and maybe they just aren’t good enough to play it out the back and find Messi, either way hoofing it up the pitch and hoping Aguero can do something on his own against Boateng/Hummels is not going to work.

        A lot of people seem to be worried about Messi. Not me. He pretty much single handedly got them to the WC final, doing what he needed at key moments in every single game he played except for the last one. This is a team sport and teams win football matches, not one player. His team let him down and not the other way around. Much like with Suarez, who could only carry Liverpool so far, eventually a good enough TEAM will win.

        Also, let’s not forget that Argentina played Germany. By far the best team in the tournament and with by far the better players. Still, as good as Germany are, they played to nullify Messi, that alone speaks volumes. On paper, Messi or not, Germany should have won the game with ease, instead Argentina missed 3 incredible chances to take the lead. A game of inches. If Messi scores that goal and Argentina win I guarantee this author writes a very different article.

        • fotobirajesh says:

          I agree with everything, most importantly point 2. There was only one instant when Messi got to manage a one two. Knowing that is one of his highlights, it is a pity Argentina didnt practise or try to do it for him. Most of the times when he had the ball, his friends stopped moving, this include Masche.

          I think matches like these are decided on the promptness and finesse in keeping nerves to finish your chances, physical endurance and the quality of the bench. Germany came out on top all three; Argentina had the most chances, but it was Germany who finished, Argentina was tired even before the end of first half, and when Germany brings in Goetze from the bench, it is Palacio for Argentina.

          I think, the whole world opinion is dominated and lead by the British journalists, who deep inside, hate to see another Argentine on top of the world. I watched the final with a British guy, who had come to visit me and he immediately mentioned to me that they will attack Messi in all ways and to expect all writings to be on how Messi was a failure rather than how good Germany was as a team. Even if they dont really show it these days, for most British Argentina is an enemy nation. Most of these British writers are absolute hypocrites.

          • Kxevin says:

            Both these replies prove a valuable point: no matter what someone says, a defense is constructed to meet necessary criteria.

            In other words, an event becomes seen the way an observer wants it to be seen. So a writer sees one thing. Another person sees what the writer wrote about the event and says “No, in fact this happened. It wasn’t at all like the writer sees it.”

            Constructs go up, and points are never made because people are unwilling to listen to anyone for one second longer than it takes to formulate their response about why that person is wrong.

            It’s precisely why any and all discussions about players and their qualities are meaningless. There is no point. No common ground, no potential for common ground, just people trying to explain why THEY are right, and not the other person.

            For example, I saw what the writer saw. So does that make me right or wrong? Maybe none of the above, just a person reacting to something based on an evaluative template that is different than someone else’s.

  12. fotobirajesh says:

    These are the words from none other than our own Translator, cant believe that he has publicly stated this about Messi. – taken from Barcastuff

    “Messi sacrificed himself for the team. He wanted to win, he didn’t wanted to be topscorer or mvp, he wanted to make history.
    “Messi played in zones that are not his. He had to play so low that he had to cross 2-3 lines. Always had 2-3 players on him.
    “Messi was trying to create something out of nothing for his team. His assist to Di Maria was for example brilliant.
    If Messi wanted to be the phenomenon we all know he is, he’d just have played up front, close to Higuain, waiting for a chance.
    All my respect to Messi because he played for his team and this can’t be said of all players at this World Cup”
    “Messi deserves respect more than ever after ARG came so close. Easy to respect when he wins but when he lost, it’s not so easy.
    “He is still a historical player. He does not need to be world champion to be a historical player, especially in this last decade”

    • Levon says:

      When José wants, he can be very astute without being a jerk.

      The comment that stood out to me, though, was this one:

      “All my respect to Messi because he played for his team and this can’t be said of all players at this World Cup.”

      At first I thought, which players could he be talking about? Really I raked my mind because all of the big names I thought of played to win matches and not for themselves. And then it hit me.

      You know who…

  13. Jamal102 says:

    I have a fault in which after Barcelona (or in this case Messi loses a crucial match ie. Chelsea 2012,Copa 2011), I tend to check every major online news website for days and read every deprecating comment on the losing side.

    And the comments hurt, yet I keep reading them..

  14. TITO says:

    Well, there’s an old saying:

    A victory has hundred (thousand) fathers, while the defeat is an orphan.

  15. Inamess says:

    To me one of the most fascinating things for this World Cup is the emotional investment that most Barca fans had in seeing Leo lead Argentina to victory. I think many fantasized that somehow we would get the old Messi back if this somehow happened. Also, many believed that a World Cup victory would settle once and for all the question of who was the greatest of all time, even if by a very arbitrary and unfair standard.

    The fact, of course, is that Messi almost did win, but I think most now recognize that even if he did that fantasy was foolish in hindsight. He has already won everything except the World Cup and now has come as close as anyone can to doing this. It would have been great if it happened particularly with this largely ordinary and injured Argentina team, but why can’t we just celebrate how close he came and how good a tournament he did have. That fans in Argentina want to vilify him is their problem, but any Barca fan who feel that Messi let him or her down is mistaken.

    Did we see the greatest player of all time from 2009-12? I think most of us know that we did even as fans of other players including Pele and Maradona have good reasons to argue differently. I think what irks most Barca fans is that whether Messi is or is not considered that GOAT is judged by what he did for another team, playing not at his best fitness and with other players who were not nearly equal in ability to the other legends on our squad or the players on the great Germany team that won.

    We think Messi belongs to us and his compatriots are merely fickle profiteers borrowing our greatest asset and then demonizing him when he did not achieve their extraordinary expectations. They may rail at how unfortunate it is for them that they never had Messi at his best to win him their World Cup. That is their misfortune and I can understand their resentment even as I know how unfair it is.

    But having already given Barca so much I don’t feel disappointed at all in Messi’s performance knowing how privileged we were to see him perform the improbable and impossible so often with our club in so many important matches.

    So do I feel sorry for Messi or Argentina? Absolutely not. Messi and his team played a great tournament and almost won it all. If that is a tragedy or something that a nation and a legendary player can’t live with then that’s their problem because success in life is not guaranteed nor is it always rewarded by great effort. Sometimes it’s just a matter of whether that shot sails inches wide or hits the post and then rebounds in.

  16. Tsivoman says:

    Haters will always be haters and that won’t change.

    For me thought (as a huge Messi fan, and Iniesta by the way) is this question, “Is there something wrong/going on with Messi, be it physical, mental or otherwise?

    For some of us who have followed Barca since the days of Rivaldo, we cannot help but ask the question. And asking the question has nothing to do with not being grateful or even privileged enough to have enjoyed watching Messi all these years.

    I’m asking the question because a pattern is emerging here and i could be wrong since this is my personal opinion/observation.
    1. Walking through matches: The consensus here seems to be that it’s an agreement between Messi and the medical staff that he should run less to conserve energy, though this is also just speculation.
    2. Vomiting: This happens before and during games and it happened again in the final against Germany.

    Take Iniesta for example, even when having a bad day at the office, you will never ever see him just walking around the pitch while the play just passes him by.
    No one known the mindset of the man but when you re-watch these games and concentrate solely on him just walking around. From the outside it really does seem like he’s either not “bothered or doesn’t care”, until of course the ball reaches his feet and he suddenly transforms.

    I don’t think it’s blasphemous for fans to ask this question(s) but something is definitely going on and only the man himself knows, until that happens we we will continue speculating.

  17. Messi with the so many instances of vomitting on the pitch clearly has a fitness issue. The club needs to address that first.

  18. Kxevin says:

    “Hating” and the notion of “haters” is intensely partisan. It’s difficult for me to reconcile the snark and venom that is jettisoned in the direction of Ronaldo, sparking ire is some of the same people who spat venom at a certain gel-haired Portuguese attacker.

    Ultimately if you’re a fan of Messi, everyone who doesn’t say the right things is a hater. If you are not a fan of Messi, everyone who doesn’t say the right things is a fanboy.

    Fair? Unfair? “But Messi does this, and Ronaldo can’t …” is immaterial. For every Messi fan there is an equally devoted Ronaldo fan. And that’s just how it goes.

    • “For every Messi fan there is an equally devoted Ronaldo fan.”

      Newton´s fourth law?

      • posthipsterpope says:

        Haha, I think more a derivation of Newton’s third .

        • Kxevin says:

          Just logic. Every club and supporter thinks they are in a vacuum, and everything is pretty much the same. The Liverpool fans are screaming about why their board sucks at negotiating, and never gets fair value for players, etc, just like culers.

          Ronaldo fans think Messi isn’t as good. Messi fans call him “Penaldo,” Ibrahimovic fans think everyone is silly, as their guy is the best striker known to man. All subjective, all perspective.

  19. dl says:

    I think fotobirajesh’s post from Barcastuff bears re-posting (at least part of it):

    This from Mourinho, a person very easy to ‘hate’ and demonize…

    “All my respect to Messi because he played for his team and this can’t be said of all players at this World Cup”
    “Messi deserves respect more than ever after ARG came so close. Easy to respect when he wins but when he lost, it’s not so easy.
    “He is still a historical player. He does not need to be world champion to be a historical player, especially in this last decade”

    This is significant for many reasons. First, it demonstrates very clearly that just as all our heroes have feet of clay, all our demons are equally false constructs. Mou’s assessment is very fair and accurate, I think. Messi played to win, within the team, utterly selflessly. I have no doubt that among coaches, other players, and people who understand sport in general and soccer in particular there is no question at all of his quality or skill. How could there be?

    Mou has been my favorite bad guy for years, but I have much more respect for him now.

    • Kxevin says:

      Mourinho is an exceptional coach and motivator, who has won wherever he goes. If there wasn’t respect for that before now (irrespective of like and dislike), can’t see how kind words for Messi would augment or diminish that.

      • It does make him seem more human though. I hated Mou´s tactics before he went to Real Madrid, but after those three years, I think everyone was happy to see the back of him.

        There is nothing wrong with hating or loving certain players, like characters in a novel, but it´s equally important to know that it´s a performance. For me, it´s arbitrary-an aesthetic qualifier or lack of. Robben´s a great player, but I can´t stand him, and it makes it more fun to have ´enemies´ as well as ´friends´on the pitch. But, your point is salient, as it is fundamental that we maintain perspective.

      • dl says:

        I’m not completely certain what you mean, but to explain my comment a little further, his standing as a ‘person’ (not as a successful or unsuccessful soccer coach) has risen in my eyes.

  20. acquit says:

    There is a famous quote which rightly fits in this situation.
    “It’s human tendency to underrate the present and grossly overrate the past”. Maradona and Pele may really be great. But 95% of people who are contemplating didn’t watch either of them LIVE. They are just expressing their views, rather harshly. As Kevvwill said, fans of particular player do whatever it takes to defend that “They are right”. It’s opinion after all.Btw two years ago, Messi was the most loved player in the world. What happened recently that all hatred is flowing towards him?

    • 86ed says:

      What happened is what, it seems, often happens. Nobody has yet been successful who hasn’t suffered a backlash. Italians and Argentinians are all too happy to forget the shit they gave Maradona in ’82 and after ’91 (though his coke habit had started in the late 80s), because he retired and fans only recalled the moments of brilliance.

      I think the same will happen with Messi. He’ll get shat on progressively more (it has already started even here on this lovely board) until he either permanently declines or quits. Then the same people who ridicule him will have forgotten all about it.

      It has happened to every great player to play football. Cruijff, Beckembauer, Platini, van Basten, Baggio, Zidane, all went through this.

    • barca96 says:

      For me there are 2 reasons. We human are just sentimental. I see the same with music where people always comment that music back then doesn’t matter which year as long as it’s history, is automatically better. Although many of current songs are plain silly (fox, selfie).

      And in the past there was less focus on the matches. Fans didn’t get to watch so many full matches, with replays and the clips wouldn’t go on the internet. We don’t even need to go far back. I consistently see comments on internet like on YouTube where people would say that Ronaldinho is better than Messi. They of course don’t remember that the Ronaldinho magical stuff that you see happens once in a match. But for the rest of the match he could be ineffective. But of course people think otherwise, that he does tricks all the time. Likewise for Zidane, Ronaldo. Why I use these 3 as examples is because it was a huge fan of them and I followed them from the early stages so I can only speak of them and also since they’re legends on the internet. They are all brilliant but they too had many off days.

      So people only watch the clips on YouTube and imagine that it happens all the time.

      As for the World Cup greats, Pele and Maradona, I didn’t get to watch them of course but in pretty sure they were not lighting up every match during the World Cup. I’m pretty sure they had matches like Messi, not dominant but still provided key passes or goals.

      I can speak for Ronaldo. He was so disappointing during 1998 World Cup. He wasn’t that good in 2002 either but he did score a lot so that’s all people will remember him for. Zidane was below par too during 1998 and he did something stupid but had a good final where he scored 2 goals. Wasn’t good in 2002 but came back strong in 2006. Oh he won the Golden Ball even though he head butted Materazzi.

  21. norden says:

    I was out for a week on a rock festival and I was delighted see that a lot of reading material piled up here.

    Just finished reading the Suarez article and the comments below. Great stuff, thanks Kxevin! Looking forward to the other pieces.

  22. hansh says:

    Here’s an article discussing whether Mascherano should be Barca’s captain in the upcoming season (and the Barca captaincy in general):

    FWIW, I don’t think that nuestro Jefecito should be captain next season – I think he will have a reduced role with upcoming CB signings, and the captain needs to be someone playing consistently, especially in the biggest matches. Mascherano will have the attitude of a captain, but that doesn’t require him to wear the armband (just look at how he motivates Argentina).

    I guess it’s traditionalist of me, but I believe the captain should be someone with seniority, ideally a product of La Masia.

    • Kxevin says:

      The captain should be voted on by the players. Period. Irrespective of nationality or background. The players know who their leader is, even when he isn’t wearing the armband, i.e. Argentina.

      I also think that with Puyol leaving, Mascherano most had that undefinable quality like Puyol, which was probably a factor in his renewal as well as the fact that he’s a badass.

      • He also should be given a shot at busi’s place too no? I think he’s earned a look.

      • hansh says:

        Oh, I do think that the captain should be voted on by the players, and I know that I know precisely nothing about the dynamics of the locker room. The players know each other and know who the leaders are.

        I’m just adding my two cents on what guiding principles I would use if I were voting: at any club, being a starter and have many years of experience at the club matters. At Barcelona specifically (a team that develops, values, and builds around home-grown players), being a graduate of La Masia matters.

        (Then again, Iniesta is my favorite player so don’t trust anything I say. I admit my horrible bias ;) )

      • Jim says:

        You can’t appoint someone as a new captain if he’s not going to play every week though. It would undermine his position. Different with Puyol who was already a legend. However, as you say it helps if the person has the support of the players. I’m not sure who it should be. Don’t think Messi or Iniesta make good captains. With Xavi more or less gone we’re not really spoiled for choice.

  23. agar2515 says:

    A few tangential updates:
    @barcastuff: Barcelona midfielder Xavi (34) will soon sign a three-year contract worth 6M a year with American team New York City FC. [sport]
    @barcastuff: Valencia defender Mathieu didn’t take part in a friendly today because Barcelona informed Valencia they’re willing to pay 20M buyout. [cope]

    Sad about Xavi, especially after letting Kroos go to Madrid after being offered him. Say what you want but he had a fantastic cup and is >>>> than Roberto.

    It shows how desperate we are that we are paying 20m for a utility backup CB that’s 31 in a few months but at this point HELL YES A DEFENDER!!!!!’

    • 86ed says:

      I don’t understand this insistence on Mathieu. You’d think he was like a less expensive version of Hummels or something. What I find is instead a more expensive version of Adriano.

      I don’t get it.

      • Kxevin says:

        He’s a pro. And a veteran. He’s also a stable presence who has all the Barça CB skills, as well as pace. If you get 2 seasons out of him, it’s worth the dosh as it gives the B team guys a chance to develop. He’s faster than Hummels, as well.

        I reckon the other CB signing will be a youngster.

        • agar2515 says:

          Why spend on a ” youngster” when we have Bartra and B team CB’s? We want to win NOW and Mathieu is the CB to do it? Not for my money. Hummels all day over him, all freaking day.

      • agar2515 says:

        I agree , solid role player but not THE answer. We could’ve had him for 10mil last year, now he’s almost 31 and we’re paying 20m. Smh. He’s also not better than Hummels no matter what people want to say. I’ll take the league winning , UCL final playing, a World Cup winning defensive leader over the 31yo
        Who has never won a title in his life.

      • agar2515 says:

        And to be clear I’m glad we are signing a defender but reading reactions you’d think he was one of the top CB’s in the world, and if you disagree well ” You dont watch La Liga enough” . Yet no other team wants him andhe can’t even get a NT call up. Again I’m very happy we have a defender but people need to stop trying to sell me Gold when it’s ,imo, bronze.

        • Kxevin says:

          Mathieu is a perfect signing for ONE of the CB slots. Don’t forget that Bartomeu said that two are coming. My guess is that the second will be a young player.

          Hummels always comes up. Mathieu has better pace, also plays FB if required. He’s a stable, veteran presence that will work well in a back line that will be working in two young CBs (Bartra, and …) Also experienced in La Liga, with Liga officials, etc.

          Absolutely nothing wrong with the signing, unless people want something to be wrong with it. Then, everything will be wrong with it in the black or white world of fandom.

          • agar2515 says:

            Agree to disagree , simply saying he has more ” pace”
            And a ” veteran” ( Hummels isn’t? He’s been to the mountain tops) doesn’t make him better. Again, where is the logic behind signing a ” youngster” when we have youngsters already? They should’ve ponied up for Benatia and trusted the B youngsters and Bartra as cover imo.

          • Kxevin says:

            So it is now, instead of buy a CB, buy a CB of whom we approve. Grading on the curve means who is ever good enough? A combo of Thiago Silva and Jesus? Ah, but that CB would be too expensive.

            Mathieu is, for me and apparently folks on the team staff who know a lot better than me, the right signing. I know. No, he isn’t, and here’s why.

            It’s why any debates about players might as well be about the shade of a blue sky. At least the sky is prettier.

          • 86ed says:

            Beggin your pardon, Kevin, but isn’t what we’re saying.

            I am glad the board has finally recognized the need to sign two good defenders. It’s just that this feels like a repeat of 2012 to me. They’d rather spend 20m on Mathieu (or Song, in 2012) than 40m on T. Silva or Martinez or Hummels.

            The defence is what will make this club’s season. The absence of pressing guarantees that a strong defence is needed absolutely.

            The signing of Suarez is to me a disgrace. Neymar’s signing last year too was a disgrace. The board splurged almost 150m euros on two strikers, one a biter, the other the most overrated player of this generation. That’s worth almost 4 top quality central defenders. We have the money, but not the will.

          • Yeah, but if we are goingto sign two defenders mathieu makes good sense. He’s versatile, experienced, etc. we need to replace masch at the back, but we dont want to hamper bartras development either.

          • Levon says:

            Mathieu might prove himself a better signing than some care to believe, but it’s hard to get excited about paying 20M for a 31-year old defender with zero caps to his name.

            @86ed Neymar, the most overrated player of this generation? I think he did quite well his first season at our club.

          • 86ed says:

            Still overrated, Levon. Doing well does not warrant so much hype; certainly it does not warrant so much money.

            The away match vs Athletic epitomizes Neymar for me. He’d rather go down than take advantage of a fortuitous position. 80m euros, a presidency, and our reputation ruined, all for a kid who’s likely to fake being blown over by a breeze. Overrated. 2 defenders could could and should have been signed instead.

          • Levon says:

            That’s extreme, though, you are underrating him severely. The kid’s only what, 22, and he has already scored more goals for Brazil than many legends who wore the shirt. Besides, we paid that money for talent and potential. I’ve always maintained we shouldn’t expect the real Neymar after two seasons, maybe three. I just hope culers won’t ruin him before then.

  24. barca96 says:

    Man United finished out of the top 4 so no CL football but yet Adidas can offer them such a large contract. So amazing. And Chevrolet is also paying them a lot of money, the highest too I believe. On top of that Chevvy had to pay AIG to cut their sponsorship short. Man United is pretty lucky even though on the pitch performance has taken a tumble and will take a few years to get back up, they can still rely on mega sponsorship deals.

  25. Kxevin says:

    The other fascinating tale to come out of today is the buzz about the NY Times stories on Aspire academy, and how sleazy it all seems.

    I, of course, churl that I am, wonder how different the Aspire academy is from La Masia: both get young African players, both give them an education and the opportunity to play professional football, escaping a different life, both jettison the ones who aren’t good enough to make it.


    • posthipsterpope says:

      Both are probably are net goods for the youngsters given the chance, even the ones that don’t make it. Both could probably easily do more good if they took a greater responsibility and continued to provide an education and life skills to those that weren’t going to make it, but that’s wildly idealistic for two programs whose sole purpose is to create footballers to make money for the investors.

      Difference between the two? Branding. See e.g. “Aspire academy” versus “La Masia”.

  26. Kxevin says:

    From Barcastuff vis Twitter:

    Nuno (coach Valencia): “What happens with Mathieu is not a secret. There’s a big club willing to pay his buyout fee. We should be ready.”

    Nuno (coach Valencia): “Jeremy is a great professional, a guy we like a lot, one of the world’s best centre backs, but these things happen.”

  27. flyzowee says:

    Losing both Fabregas and Xavi in one transfer window scares me. Thats a hell of a lot of quality. Who is going to orchestrate from deep? Or maybe luis enrique is shaping us not to need that ‘Organising Mid’. Intersting times ahead.

  28. ooga aga says:

    Bojan practiced with the first team today. Word is that he might be giving Suarez a run for a spot in the starting lineup.

    • Ryan says:

      Wouldn’t it be nice if Bojan followed Dos Santos to Villarreal or another similar team? Maybe the Yellow Submarines will remember his classy goal vs. them 4 years ago and that’ll convince them to take Bojan off our hands. :)

  29. Lord Eddard Stark a.k.a. Brichimbrodvoken, the vulnerable one! says:

    Mathieu, even if he is arriving late, for 20M would still be better than most signings at his position in Barca. Benatia + Hummels would have been my preferred signings. But it looks like the board is reluctant to splash the cash on defenders.

  30. I would love either benatia or hummels, but regardless, mathieu is a good signing. Except that we could have had him last yearbon a free. I hope a cb comes soon!

  31. Gekko64 says:

    Everybody, MATHIEU IS A SIDE BACK NOT A CENTRE BACK. he’s a replaceament for Abidal, a more defensive alternative to Alba.

    • ciaran says:

      Mathieu played the entire season at centre back. Previous to this past season he had been a left back as you say. Because of this flexibility I assume that he would be able to get minutes at both positions which would keep him happier as he should be our fourth choice centreback.

      At centreback for Valencia he was one of their best players last season but for anyone to consider him ‘one of the best in the world’ is wishful thinking. Yes he is a good solid player and should be happy to accept a role with us that reflects his abilities.

      Asking a player to come to the club and sit on the bench for the season isn’t easy. For those wishing for two world class defenders you have to ask who to sacrifice on matchday because we have invested heavily in Pique and regardless of form he is still the right defender for us and Bartra has lots of potential even if right now he isn’t one of the best.
      Signing both Hummels and Benatia is impossible as both would demand to be starters and justified or not Pique is still going to start. It would also end Bartra’s career at the club.

      I suggested before the world cup that a long look should be given to Rojo as fourth choice centreback and alternative left back because of his physicality, potential and price and after seeing him consistently I would be more than happy to have him arrive instead of Mathieu but I don’t know if he would be happy with the role.

      Benatia has to be first choice for us though and even though I expected us to sign Hummels, Benatia is the best fit for what we need. He doesn’t have the name that this board normally look for but has every characteristic.

      Bartomeu said that 2 or 3 defenders will be arriving suggesting that if we have a buyer for Dani then Cuadrado would be bought in my opinion. If we can get Benatia and Rojo along with Cuadrado then I would be like a giggling school girl.

      • ciaran says:

        And if we end up with Marquinhos ahead of Benatia or Hummels I will be very very disappointed.

      • BA says:

        €20m for a 30-year-old with 1 full season of playing CB seems like some bad math to me. at most he’s got 2 seasons of top performance left. Hummels, for instance, is 5 years younger.

        • ciaran says:

          I don’t argue that at all. We could have got him for half that amount last season and he would’ve obviously been a year younger.
          I wouldn’t sign Mathieu at all but as I said, we can’t sign two top class defenders and keep all four centrebacks happy.
          Maybe the advantage of Mathieu is that he accepts being fourth choice.

          For me, Benatia or Hummels should be first choice and Rojo or even Daley Blind should be the second one but I don’t expect those purchases.

          If Hummels comes, he is starting alongside Pique. Same for Benatia.

          • BA says:

            we have 1 full-time CB spot completely open, and certainly need another outstanding player for that position. Hummels and Pique are far too alike in my opinion to function well together; but Hummels and X or Pique and X are what we’re REALLY looking for.

            Hummels and Marquinos are my ideal targets, as they have complimentary qualities, with Dani (wonderful servant though he’s been) heading out to Paris as a makeweight for the latter. who knows if we have the money to prise Marquinos from PSG, but they did just spend €50m on David Luiz to partner with Thiago Silva and he has to be unsettled. perhaps if we’d thrown some of our Suarez money at them to recoup their investment we’d find the process easier, but hey the club already fielding Neymar and Messi needed a €70m striker instead of one of the world’s most promising young defenders right? maybe we can outscore teams 8-7.

            sadly i’m not sure Benatia is even on the club’s radar.

    • BA says:

      Alba has been largely excellent though, and he’s better at getting forward than he is defending. if anything, we need a defensive replacement for Dani Alves, and shift our attacking FB notice to the left. but we have no idea if he’s leaving or staying.

  32. ciaran says:

    Tello to Porto is official. Two year loan with option to purchase which can be stopped by barca after the first season.
    I don’t know the figures involved but it is a good deal for Tello as the Portuguese league is a good place for wingers and attacking football. I hope he becomes the player that it looked like he would.

  33. TITO says:

    What are the odds that Adriano gets injured in the pre pre pre pre pre pre pre pre -season first warm up?

  34. BA says:

    Zubi announced that the provisional squad for next season will be *smaller* than the 25 players who featured last season. somewhere between 21 and 23.

    not sure how i feel about this; our squad is still very fragmented and there are doubtless a number of players who will be fatigued or not up to full form: Messi and Neymar most importantly. Suarez, in our infinite wisdom, isn’t available til October at the earliest. Tello was just shipped to Porto. so our fit, in-form forwards for a significant portion of our season consist of Pedro and Deulofeu.

    Xavi is likely gone to New York or Dubai; Cesc to London. Rakitic was a good signing but Rafinha while promising is still a young player with a learning curve. we might be able to get by with a less structured midfield if Masch plays there and shows the kind of form he showed during the World Cup. no idea what sort of shape Iniesta and Busquets are in though they’ve had a nice long, much-needed, break. haven’t heard any movement all summer about Alex Song, though he’s obviously dead weight (even moreso after his stupidity on the big stage against Croatia). Ibrahim Afellay evidently was aboard Flight 370 because nobody has spoken about (or to?) him in months.

    still no movement on serious cover at center-back. Mathieu, who turns 31 in October, would be a stop-gap not a fix and isn’t a natural CB anyway (he plays on the left, where Jordi Alba and Adriano currently have on lock). frankly puzzled why we’re even looking at him for the price (about 20m) being talked about. Pique and Bartra remain our only orthodox CBs, and the latter i still put in the same camp as Rafinha: talented, but learning. little further word on Dani Alves’ future, but he would require a significant replacement. oh yeah, and we have 2 new goalkeepers who will need some time to acclimatize to their defenders, and no further word no the future of Victor Valdes either.

    in short, the state of the squad at this point in the transfer window is: clusterfuck. given this status, i don’t understand how the sporting director could say one way or the other how big the squad is going to be.

    • ciaran says:

      A smaller squad is certainly a benefit if it is more competitive. Did JDS, Cuenca, Afellay or Oier impact our season last year. Even Montoya and Tello had very little impact. I don’t argue the logic of the smaller squad but merely its execution.

      In goal we have three competitive goalkeepers if none are quite world class. ter Stegen looks to be on his way to be our first choice but for now I expect some rotation. This should increase the levels of all of them.
      ter Stegen | Bravo | Masip

      In defense should we sign 2 centrebacks as has been stated by Zubi and Bartmoeu along with replacing Dani with Cuadrado then we will have 8 competitive defenders with quite diverse skill sets giving us the versatility of let’s say Cuadrado-Pique-Hummels-Alba or Montoya-Pique-Hummels-Mathieu for different opponents.
      Cuadrado | Montoya | Pique | Bartra | Hummels | Mathieu | Alba | Adriano

      Midfield is a slightly bigger concern. I have said on many occasions that I wouldn’t have sold Cesc but he’s gone and Xavi could well be following him. In theory Song will be following him out the door and JDS has gone on a family reunion. Rafinha and Rakitic give us different skills but are very energetic while Mascherano had a great world cup in midfield and should give Busquets plenty of competition with many thinking that he has the upper hand on current form. Lucho also seems to have more faith in Sergi Roberto than I do.
      Masch | Busquets | Rakitic | Iniesta | Rafinha | Sergi

      Up front on paper at least we are stacked with 3 of the top 5 forwards in world football all ready to join up. Add to that Deulofeu will get games at the start of the season to see where he is at ability-wise. Pedro is there too, much to my disappointment but is still a guarantee of a reasonable amount of goals against the weaker oppositions in the early part of the season. The other thing to count on is that up front is where we have potential for promotions from our B team. Adama and Munir have had great seasons and will possibly get looked at throughout the season. For that matter, Cuadrado isn’t that bad in the final third if we do sign him he can easily move forward two lines and could be considered one of the best wingers in the game.
      Messi | Neymar | Suarez | Pedro | Deulofeu

      It’s not that bad a squad if we make the signings that are rumoured.

      • Love the positive comment! I agree, we are to defenders away from a solid squad. I also think the squad will be smaller to give b players a chance to get in games.

      • BA says:

        the #1 issue with a small squad is fatigue, a problem we’ve underestimated in previous seasons. this problem becomes apparent in the spring when players’ energy and concentration levels start dropping off (we tied the last 3 games last season when a win would have sealed the league for us, for instance). this fatigue already looks to be a factor in the performances of Messi, still our most important player, during the World Cup. that goes double if Lucho decides to reinstate our pressing game.

        ideally, while there is no necessary connection between squad size and performances on the pitch (as you rightly note), a large squad full of quality players *is better* than a small squad of quality players, due to it’s ability to absorb fatigue and injuries. i’m not sure that a small squad including a handful of untested youngsters (Sergi, Deulofeu, Barta, Masip, Rafinha), leaving maybe 16 peak professionals, of whom we can assume an average of about 2 out with injury, leaving us with 14 real options for 11 places at any given time. that’s a tougher margin to work with than, say, the 17 available to a larger squad. our way means less competition for spots, more fatigue and fewer chances to rotate tactically (proactively) rather than reactively.

        another reason why i think the Suarez transfer was a problem for us: that €75m could have potentially bought 2-3 outstanding squad players to alleviate some of the risks associated with keeping a smaller squad.

        • ciaran says:

          Having a competitive squad is much more important than a big squad as we had last year. That’s why I wanted to keep Alexis and Cesc. The problem with this is that top quality players like those don’t want to accept a role on the bench for big matches. In reality you can’t have 4 world class central defenders and keep them a happy, just like you can’t have 6 world class central midfielders and do the same.

          In my opinion Bartra and Montoya both proved in their minutes last season that they are more than capable of forming part of a winning team against the majority of Liga opposition. Rafinha definitely did the same in his season at Celta. Deulofeu is definitely worth a look against the same calibre opponents. This gives us more than enough time to rest the biggest names of which there are some who won’t really accept much rotation.

          Defensively I will wait until I see the players smiling next to the crest before making my judgements but there certainly are some top quality players available for me to remain optimistic.

          Spending the €75m Suarez money on two or three extra players is a good idea in fairness but you can still only pick 11. Second choice seems to have been Higuain and with all due respect to him he’s not in the same league as Suarez at all. The only way I would have been happy with him is if we kept Alexis and that didn’t look like happening.

          Squad depth and squad versatility are not the same thing but this year’s squad is shaping up like a good mix of both. As I’ve said if the right players are brought in to the defensive line then we will have the best of both worlds.

  35. Kxevin says:

    A story on the Adriano situation. Should be back and good as new after the procedure.

  36. ciaran says:

    For the record, if someone here suggests that we sign Ron f–king Vlaar after he had a handful of reasonable games for Netherlands at the world cup I’ll go mad.
    He plays at Aston Villa and isn’t exactly lighting the EPL up with his performances. My brother who supports Villa and watches them every match would be more than happy to let him go.
    Playing in a back 5 with De Jong in front of you makes it easy not to concede many goals but he is no where near the calibre of player needed for our club but in any other website I visit there’s scores of people saying that he should be considered.

    Now, I understand that some people only know the footballers that are in the news and follow like sheep the calls for signing any defender but not him. He’s utterly useless.

  37. norden says:

    Btw, on a lighter node – how did the World Cup prediction game end?

    I think I’ve finally read all the comments that came up since I was out, but don’t remember seeing any results.

  38. agar2515 says:

    Assuming we play with a back 4, who starts alongside piqué in our quest to regain the liga and UCL titles? Bartra isn’t fully ready ( bags of potential ), Marqhuinos is still too young and will have to adjust to a new league and team ( wasn’t playing too much at PSG ), so that leaves Mathieu?
    And yes I realize it will be a meritocracy under Lucho that I’m talking just on paper who would earn that spot next to Gerard, who is one of the best in the world on his day.

    Last thing on Mathieu from me: If after all these years of not signing defenders, of relinquishing the league and champions league titles, you came to me and said ” OK the answer to our defensive woes is … Mathieu (btw he’s 31 and we’re paying 20m. Tee hee) !” I know exactly what my reaction would be…

    I think some people are kidding themselves into believing that this is the signing they wanted all along, shows how desperate we are, and what “Song” signings have done to us. Ciaran has laid it all out in more detail above.

    Btw I don’t want to start an argument that will go nowhere, about Mathieu, it’s just my opinion, I simply hope the second center back is of a higher class.

    • Kxevin says:

      For every Adriano, there is an Alves. For every Pique, a Mathieu. Teams need both types of player.

      Nobody is convincing themselves that Mathieu is anything other than what he is. The problem instead is that people aren’t understanding how a process works, and being unrelenting.

      90% of the clubs in Europe are looking for a top CB. That makes them expensive, and rare when they move at all. PSG paid 50m for David Luiz. And didn’t even blink. THAT is the CB market.

      Enrique said in today’s presser that Mascherano would play midfield or CB, as needed. It’s nice to have that flexibility. Both Bartomeu and ZubiZa have said that there will be more than one CB acquired this summer.

      So best to wait and see what happens.

      • Hilal says:

        Exactly. The Mathieu signing is an excellent piece of business for what it is. The club is buying an experienced, versatile player who fits the profile of what the team needs. Not sure how they are doing any wrong here. There is another CB signing to come, lets see who it ends up being. I have a feeling it wont be Marquinos, who I was never a huge fan of anyways. Other names being thrown around are Vertonghen, Benatia and Hummels. All worthy CBs so not sure what all the fuss is about, especially since there is still plenty of time to sign players.

        Its sad really. Barca fans never, ever seem happy with signings. No matter who it is, there is always some complaint.

        • agar2515 says:

          It’s not ” sad” when the issues raised are legitimate . I don’t see why we should let the actions of new money, P$G in the Luiz purchase ( widely panned and called absurd) dictate the entirety of the global CB market. Where the heck is the scouting?? You’re telling me in these years without a defender all they can come up with is Mathieu and a 19yo? Come on now. These are legit issues I am NOT being ungrateful, anyone is better than nothing.

          Btw here’s an article with actual quotes of Mathieu saying he is fed up of playing left back:

          And in all 42 apps (according to last year he played LB… ONCE

          But hey I’m just complaining to complain right?

          • Kxevin says:

            No, the point Hilal is making is that people clamored for some transfer market action, particularly as it relates to defenders. The club made a move, but it isn’t the right move. So “any” action becomes, once it is made, not the “right” action.

            In the game we call Culer Retrospect, nothing is ever good enough. So Xavi is past it. When he leaves, the club is letting a legend go. Puyol deserves respect. Then he breaks, and the club should have known he was broken and not trusted him. It’s always something.

            Mathieu played mostly CB last season, and did so very well. He has a nice set of attributes. PSG paid 50m for a David Luiz, a player that everyone in the free world thinks is crap. THAT is the state of the global CB market.

            “Scouting” is stuff that people throw around as another reason to slag the board. Other teams can take risks on unproven defenders at low prices. For every Benatia, who pans out, there are 5 players who don’t. But we never hear about those.

            You, yourself scoff at a “19-year-old.” Marquinhos is a risk, as any young player is. Should the club spend 40m on a risk? Good question, assuming the rumored interest in the player is real, something still not proven.

            Barça is not the kind of team that brings players into the first team on a risk. Roma can afford that. Other teams can afford that. But look at their trophy cases over the past seasons, then look at ours. Roma can bring a player in, give him first-team minutes to develop and maybe become a 40m player. That is a luxury we can’t afford, mostly because there isn’t room on the B team but also because that risk-taking is the job of the B team. (Which has signed 2 defenders, one a highly-rated CB, this summer.)

            This is a club that has to win and win now, and can’t have potential in the first team. It’s why the non-performer fire sale is going on this summer, to get that stuff out, and off the bench.

            Scouting is for B prospects. Ie and Bagnack are still developing, and the two quality seasons that the club gets out of Mathieu will be more than sufficient to assess their ultimate quality. Both show promise. So any purchase also has to take into account what is happening not only at the B team level, but at the next TWO levels of the system, as those players are also in the first-team pipeline.

            It’s a lot more complex to consider, I reckon.

          • Dreamteam says:

            Solid points, Shame that Guy who wrote this article responded in his usual all knowing lecturing tone . He didnt even address the article you linked or the legit stats. Just went On his usual ” THIS IS HOW IT IS” diatribe.
            Meanwhile he acts like a raving preacher when talking about Suárez. Hilarious.
            What an absolute hypocritcal monkey of a man

          • swamidigital says:

            What a horrible reply Dreamteam. I hope a mod deletes it and bans you. Try offering something to the conversation instead of useless insults.

  39. Kxevin says:

    DiMarzio says that Chelsea is interested in Benatia. Not sure if we are at all, but Big Money has entered the frame.

    • ciaran says:

      I can’t imagine that Benatia would choose Chelsea over us even if the rumour is true. Chelsea have the Cahill – Terry partnership with Ivanovic as back up and the young but very impressive Kurt Zouma having already signed up. Mourinho also likes Kalas the other young defender on their books so I couldn’t see them signing another centreback.
      If he chooses Barca he is guaranteed a first team position and some trophies. It would make sense and we should be more than capable of paying €40m for him which should do the trick.

      Rumours tonight also link us to Daley Blind as an alternative to Mathieu which is a great idea.

      • Inamess says:

        I am fairly confident that we will get a quality CB for no other reason than that the club has promised us one and must now deliver or face a fan mutiny. Like many I don’t like the idea of spending 20 mil for a 31 year old but realize that we might as an act of desperation.

        If Mathieu were to go to any other club except Barca, Real, PSG, Bayern or EPL, Valencia would have been more than happy to sell him for much less than 20 mil. They have a right to see if they can get their premium price from Barca and he will be there at the end of the transfer window at that same price so I don’t why we are considering him just yet.

        • 86ed says:

          They’ll recall Koeman and call it a brilliant “the bestest most qualitiest centre back in our history of football ever.” They said the same thing with Puyol.

      • agar2515 says:

        Agree. Im just going to stop trying to reason with the people who rate Mathieu and find no fault in his signing. Same as if they were trying to convince me that Suarez being signed means we’re selling our souls or whatever moral argument they want to levy.

        • Kxevin says:

          Again, agar2515, these sorts of comments are NOT in keeping with the spirit of debate in this space. Levon has brought this to your attention once, and I have seconded him.

          I am doing so again here.

          There is absolutely no reason that opposite opinions can’t exist in this space without snide remarks and innuendo. If you differ with something stated by someone here, make your views clear withOUT any “I won’t reason with those idiots” tone.

          That not only doesn’t foster debate, but it actually stifles it.

          • agar2515 says:

            I’m sorry but what was I saying that was out of bounds? I did no name calling, I stated a fact that some people are in agreement with his signing and I am not so I might as well stop trying to discuss it with them. Same can be said with Suarez or anything, some people cannot be convinced of anything other than what they believe.

            I don’t appreciate how your responses read as though what I am saying is off base and that you’re theories or “read” on the situation is what I should go by.

            I don’t know why you have to be so defensive when someone doesnt appreciate your tone or disagrees with you.
            Again, I did no name calling, Levon checked me on that and I stopped, simple.

  40. 86ed says:

    If the market demands you spend $50m on Hummels, then you should, perhaps, spend that money on Hummels.

    Everyone and their mothers knows we need world class defenders. Bloody well splurge on them already. What’s the point of buying a 55″ TV if your basement is flooding and your bathroom is aflame?

  41. andrecito says:

    wow…just saw the german players “gaucho” dance at their celebration back in you have 6 of the highest regarded players on the team dancing and singing a racist song..with the entire crowd singing along..disgusting, tasteless, and a complete lack of respect to their opponent. is there any other way that this can be seen besides completely racist?

    • Inamess says:

      It just seems to me that these players will have to do a lot of explaining for a stupid idea that strikes me as the behavior one might expect from drunken fraternity boys.

      • Peter says:

        When asked how he felt about not winning the Golden Boot, Muller told the journalist “I don’t care about this shit, we are World Champions, you can stick the Golden Boot up your ass!”

        Drunken frat boys sums it about right.

        • BA says:

          who would have thought that 20-something male millionaires celebrating a once-in-a-lifetime victory wouldn’t show the proper amount of restraint….

        • Gekko64 says:

          that’ not exactly what Muller said, he used much less vulgar words. something like “I don’t care about that stuff, you can have the golden boot ( literally “you can put the golden boot behind your ear” ) .

          also the celebration is not racist, it IS disrespectful towards the losers but it’s a common chant in german football.

    • hereiam says:

      Apparently this song is very common in Germany, and in this video, Bayern was on the receiving end of this after losing in the Bavarian derby. It does not mean anything other than the loser walk sad and bent over, and the winner walk tall and high.

      So it is not racist at all.

  42. Inamess says:

    Some interesting ironies for those following the rumors in the press about Tony Kroos. Not sure about all the details but here is some speculations about the matter:

    1) Thiago leaves Barca because of competition from Cesc

    2) Kroos leaves Bayern because of competition with Thiago

    3) Barca reject Kroos transfer because they don’t want to lose Rafinha.

    4) Kroos goes to Real Madrid

    5) Cesc goes to Chelsea

    6) Barca have in the end traded Thiago for Rafinha and given Kroos to Real Madrid.

    • Peter says:

      1. Thiago leaves because of competition from Cesc and more money, after getting more money.
      2. Kroos leaves Bayern because of competition with Thiago and more money.
      3. Barcelona reject Kroos because they’d rather have Rafinha for no money – and according to Thiago Rafa is the more talented of the two.
      4. Cesc goes to Chelsea for more money and due to being used as the scapegoat of the culerada.
      5. Rakitic goes to Barcelona.
      5. Kroos goes to Real Madrid.

      In the end Barcelona have traded Thiago for Rafinha, Cesc for Rakitic, loaned out a brilliant Denis Suarez to Sevilla in order for him to gain experience in Primera Division and European competitions under a very good coach, gained 40 million Euro along the way and have had Real pay 30 million for Kroos – which means guys like Illaramendi, Isco and even Di Maria would be looking at even more extended sessions of bench-riding.

    • Inamess says:

      My point was more a statement of the role of chance and unintended consequences than a judgment about whether our club made the right or wrong decisions. It about knocking over one domino (i.e. Thiago’s release clause) and noticing all the consequences–the “butterfly effect” applied to football.

  43. PrinceYuvi says:

    Official : EE highjacked Kroos. Ah well.

  44. With the signing of Kroos will they sell Isco. They are simply wasting his talent.

  45. fotobirajesh says:

    Just wondering, if Musaachio and Rojo are in the club plans at all?

  46. Jafri says:

    Did this last year but it’s always fun to have an updated list:

    Midfielders Madrid have bought over the last few years to combat the Barcelona Xavi-Iniesta-Busquets Trinity:

    2009: Kaka, Xabi Alonso
    2010: Mesut Ozil, Angel di Maria, Sami Khedira
    2011: Nuri Sahin, Hamit Altintop
    2012: Luka Modric
    2013: Isco, Illaramendi
    2014: Toni Kroos

    As you’ll notice, they consistently go after the ‘flavor of the year’ midfielder, the one who’s popular at that moment in time. And more often than not find a way to ruin his potential. I hope this year is no different but with Thiago and Cesc gone and Xavi retiring I’m a little wary…

  47. Kxevin says:

    I would urge us all to think long-term with transfers. Football is about cycles of success and non-success. No team wins everything, all the time. In looking at a transfer such as Kroos, it’s worth noting not only what we have, but what we are going to have.

    Better football minds than any of ours have thought about this stuff, and what is coming down the pipeline via B team and La Masia. So the moaning and snarling as we buy, say, Kroos for 25, keep him for two seasons then have him sitting there with a big salary, unsellable as a surging Sergi Samper is ready to move into the side, is worth considering.

    Ie, Bagnack are cooking and should be ready for a full examination in a season or two. There’s also Grimaldo, Samper, Suarez on loan, Adama and Munir has been promoted this season, as well. All of these players are, as they are with any team that has a strong academy, part of a long-term strategy plan of investment.

    It’s easy to panic and buy players in search of winning now, now, NOW. Some of that has gone on with a player like Suarez. But the other buys have been precisely in that “long view” vein, that set the club up in places where there isn’t a potentially excellent player (keeper), or make a quality positional addition in a place where there will soon be an excellent player (Rakitic).

    There is hand-wringing over this player or that player, why and how the club is or isn’t stupid for grabbing him, etc. Rumors come up about X or Y player being offered to the club in the past, but without ascertaining the veracity of said rumor and considering the time that the club was offered the player, as well as players that the club has either in the team or in the pipeline, it’s impossible to get in an uproar over what is in effect, vaporware.

    So yeah, this is something of a call for a different view on transfer proceedings, in this summer and beyond. Contrary to popular belief, I think that ZubiZa knows what he is doing, and we now have a coach who isn’t a caretaker, and who knows and understands the B team.

    As Enrique said in June when he was leaving hospital, the window runs until the end of August, and I am calm.

    I’m following that advice.

  48. PrinceYuvi says:

    Thanks for the article, kx.

  49. Kxevin says:

    Kroos said that his “only option” was RM. So take that for what it’s worth. It could me many things:

    — A BS call on the “he was offered to Barça”
    — Proof that he was offered to Barça, as only RM was left after that”
    — The nonsense that players spout at all such events
    — Fiction made up by a Madrid-based newspaper

  50. Inamess says:

    I think we already has this debate on our transfer policy and I don’t want to rehash the same back and forth again, but here are some points that have been made before for consideration:

    1) Real Madrid have made some excellent signings over the last 5 years and to say they didn’t is not being objective. To me, it’s the same as devaluing Ronaldo as a overrated player. He is not and his signing may have been the best since Di Stefano.

    2) The value of a signing can not be made until the player plays for a few seasons or ultimately until the player leaves the club. So to say that someone is an excellent signing or a poor one when the signing is made is usually a matter of faith. Given the unknowns and the difficulty in predicting how a player will do at Barca, I think many opinions both positive and negative about a potential or even a real signing may be valid. The club may make the wrong signing for the right reasons (Ibra, Cesc) or the right signing for the wrong reasons (Mascherano).

    For the above reasons, Di Maria and Ozil were excellent signings in that they played well for Real and then their club made or will make a huge profit when they are sold. Cesc and Alexis were also decent signings because they made contributions to the team and were sold for about the value they were purchased for. On the other hand, David Villa and Kaka were terrible signings because of their injuries, high salaries and low resale values.

    3) Barcelona has at this point has what can be called an institutional dilemma in that we produce excellent football players at La Masia but then often don’t have room for them on our 1st team or have to reject other transfers to give those players a chance as I think we did by not signing Kroos. The problem is that our team is too good and our expectations too high to give many of our La Masia players a chance.

    It would have been great if we had a still had a place like Celta under Enrique but for now the best that can be hoped for is a successful loan and then having these players ready to make an impact when they return. Again in theory this seems like a good idea, but the results are often that these players may be left in limbo which is good neither for the club nor the player. The best thing for Bojan and Tello was to be sold instead of put on loan though I know others might disagree.

    Ironically, the Barca career of Marc Bartra is the result of our mistake of not buying a CB over the last few years. Like many Barca fans I would love to see Rafinha, Bartra, Montoya, Delofeu and many of the players currently on the B team and at the academy succeed in our first team, but I also know that it will be difficult and require a lot of patience from fans, the coach, and the club who are under tremendous pressure to win now after some poor decisions in the past.

    I love the idea of having a La Masia that in theory should produce future stars for our team, but it does make decisions at the club much more complicated particularly if decisions are being made by coaches and administrators who may be out of a job in a few years if the team does not win immediately.

  51. Kxevin says:

    Mathieu is trying to force his way out of Valencia. Issued PUBLIC statement asking team to find a deal with Barça:

    • Peter says:

      He apparently came to Mestalla as a free agent, so as far as transfers go Valencia make pure profit on him. Or on the other hand they recover everything they ever spent on him, plus some cool premium. His frustration is understandable.

  52. Kxevin says:

    Reports that Faus and Bartomeu will be indicted in the Neymar case. More to come.

    • Inamess says:

      Interesting legal issues about whether you can present a signing while a player is suspended for biting or serve as Barca President while in jail. Another challenge for our board and legal team.

      Some interesting precedents from the world of organized crime:

      1) John Gotti, Boss of the Gambino crime family in New York City, did admirably despite getting beat up a few times in jail.

      2) Johnny Sack of Sopranos fame was less successful. His case demonstrates some of the difficulties particularly if in our case if it requires Zubi to speak to Bartomeu in code about team business:

    • Peter says:

      This is turning into a circus for the Central Plateau masses. The prosecutor’s entire case is based on the “suspicion” that Barcelona are paying under the table to Neymar – despite the fact that the Brazilian Tax Agency has stated Neymar Sr. already paid taxes on his 80 tons of silver.

      In any case, AS and MARCA are still quiet about it, and you can usually count on those to pounce on every flimsy bit of speculation about the corrupt crime syndicate ruling FC Barcelona.

      • Robert says:

        Actually it’s about 119000 lbs so about 60 tons of silver

        • Kxevin says:

          If Faus and Bartomeu are named, nothing will come of it, unless there are layers to the onion left to be unpeeled. But the desired effect of smearing more mud onto the club, saith conspiracy theorists, will be effective.

          And if the ulterior motive is to also drive Neymar out of town … well, that’s something culers should be a bit more concerned about than the whiter-than-white reputations of Faus and Bartomeu, because make no mistake, with every bit of slaggage that flies over the fortress wall probably makes a wee chink in the armor of Neymar’s resolve to stick all this crap out, longer-term.

          Not that I see him staying much more than another season or two, at any rate. 5-year deal, this will be his second season, maximum selling price will be attainable at the end of NEXT season. Unless something extraordinary happens, can’t see him renewing, not to continue being a secondary player at Barça. Like Sanchez, he will be chomping at the bit for more, and will probably be ready for it.

        • Peter says:

          By current exchange rates, 40 million Euro is 2572681 Troy Ounces of Silver, each one 0.0311034768 kilograms, for a total of 80019 kilograms or 80.02 metric tons of silver.

  53. Kxevin says:

    In a quick snapshot (potentially) of culer sentiment, a Sport poll asked folks who should be captain this season. They said:

    Poll: “Who should be Barça’s first captain?” Mascherano 64% – Iniesta 28% – Messi 6% – Pique 2% (23186 votes)

  54. Kxevin says:

    Meanwhile, the absurdity of the FIFA ban rears its head, as Suarez was photographed with fans, and signed Uruguay shirts. Is that considered a “football-related activity?”

    Once the transfer was allowed, the whole thing became a laughingstock.

    For the record, the ban is an ill-conceived way to allow the player to get help for a situation that he has documented trouble coping with. Is it FIFA’s role to endeavor to somehow ajudicate a player’s mental state? What a bizarre question to consider.

    The cries are growing that the ban is excessive and rather silly. To me, the draconian nature of the ban and its very excessiveness mean to send a message, a message that FIFA bottled by allowing Barça to pay 81m for his services.

    You’re either a pariah or you aren’t, in other words. If you are, you shouldn’t be allowed to join in any reindeer games, as the Christmas song goes. If you are NOT a pariah, then someone can pay 81m for your services, sit on a dais and talk about how much confidence they have that you won’t transgress again.

    Not sure what FIFA was trying to do, but it didn’t work, won’t work and can’t work.

    • Rami says:

      You’re giving FIFA way too much credit, I doubt they thought it through to extent you might think.

      The ban seemed to was more determined in proportion to the initial
      ‘reactions’ or ‘rage’ following the incident, Specially in the realm of social media, Knowing that all the eyes were turned toward them during that time, They decided to do a ‘swift’ action to calm the masses, But the frenzy that was caused by the bite started to die out, And the extent of the ban started to look more absurd with every day passing by.

      If we asked Chiellini seconds after he got bitten about what he thought, He would’ve said “That animal shouldn’t be allowed to play football, Ever!”, If we asked the same question the morning after, We both can agree that it wouldn’t be the same response.

      I realize there are different point of views about the ‘biting’ thing, But not allowing him to even keep himself in shape and train, Is just preposterous.

    • hereiam says:

      The heavy ban was clearly because of the repetitive nature of the offense, and the player’s clear lack of remorse. It was designed to be a heavy penalty, whereas lesser penalties did not appear to work. Whether it was intended to for the player to seek help I don’t know.

      The allowed transfer is because the club should not be responsible for what happened with the national team, and as such, should not be unfairly penalized. If another club is stupid enough (sorry) to take that pile of trouble off the hand of Liverpool, then, feel free.

      • Peter says:

        FIFA gets 1% of every transfer. Do you really expect them to reject more than a million dollars? :D

        • hereiam says:

          Then tell me why FIFA wanted to put a 2 season transfer ban on Barca?
          They’ve got 2.6 billion $ (yes that b is not a typo) in profit out of the World Cup – surely it’s image is worth far more than just 1 mil$.

          • Peter says:

            Image? You’re talking about an organization that suspends pesky host nation laws like prohibition of alcohol at stadia due to increased murder rates just in order to facilitate business for its sponsor, an organization whose corruption is public secret and whose executive boardroom looks like a Sith Lord lounge:

            The only image that organization transmits is this one:

          • hereiam says:

            I don’t say it has a GOOD image – I just say that if it want to ruin its image it has to worth more than 1 mil$.
            And for the record, do you have any proof that it gets 1% off each transfer? Never heard of that before myself.

          • Peter says:

            Here’s the real difference between your point and mine:
            You think FIFA would be ruining its image.
            My point is that by that action FIFA is upholding its image.

            Neymar’s transfer from Santos included about 170 000 Euro payable to FIFA, or 1% of the transfer price. It is included in the total reported transfer fee.

  55. Inamess says:

    Liverpool fans are just jealous that Barca have an ace up their sleeve to get Suarez’s ban significantly reduced. It’s called the “Right to Work Law” and we just happen to have one of the most respected international attorneys on the case:

    I’m thinking by the time this guy gets done FIFA will be apologizing to us!

    • hereiam says:

      If you use legal means to bail Suarez out of his penalty, he will think that he can act with impunity because of his undoubted talent. He will never learn that he is less than the team, and he has to act for the benefit of the team.
      Wait until he sink his teeth in another player, got slapped with seasons-long ban, and jeopardize his whole team for some nonsensical offense again.

      Edited for content

      • Nav says:

        Those who use “mes que en club” in an ‘ionic’ way to highlight some perceived wrongdoing of the club are hilarious.

        • hereiam says:

          ‘ionic’? As in science fiction stuffs?
          Oh well.
          Hilarity aside,
          The team is larger than any player. The club is larger than any player. A player that let his demon get the better of him and put his team and his club in harms way does not deserve to be in such an illustrious club.
          Or does he?

          • Nav says:

            Excuse my mobile phone typing.

            Also, mes que un club doesn’t mean what you think it does.

          • hereiam says:

            Ok, then tell me, to a non-barca fan, what does “mes que en club” means? Other than historically?

          • Nav says:

            It refers to the club being a symbol of Catalan independence, and not to some moral code of conduct.

          • hereiam says:

            Ahhh, then how can you explain this to its fan around the world? Remember that Barca’s fans are not just Catalan. Mes que un club means absolutely nothing to people other than Catalan. Is it not? Well it should have made it clear it its adverts to foreign fans should they?

          • Nav says:

            I would explain it like I explained it to you.

      • Rami says:

        You should be more respectful to others opinions, And definitely start watching your language more.

        • hereiam says:

          I feel like terms like ‘jealous’ is not respectful at all, and should not be included in discussion between adult. And my comment reflected that in a frank way.
          If you somehow think that my comment is being disrespectful, please do point out which part – if it is true I will gladly stand corrected.

          • Mano says:

            Somehow I’m not able to reply to hereiam’s comment but im sure saying “mes que un club my arse” is pretty disrespectful. And calling people kids is, well juvenile. I wonder who the kid is.

          • Peter says:

            Yeah, “jealous” is not respectful at all and shouldn’t be used in conversation between adults. On the other hand, belittling the opponent, questioning his maturity or age is the highlight of debate and a pinnacle of respect. So is deliberately misunderstanding typos in order to mock the other side.

          • hereiam says:

            Is it strange that when a Barca fan insult other fans, no one came up, and when I object to his insult, people tell me that I should watch my language?

            That ‘mes que un club’ comment is too strong, and I regretted it. But that reflect the feeling of anyone who is not a Barca fan over this kind of deal, if indeed Barca is trying to get Suarez to play despite of the ban. Doing whatever to win, disregarding the law of the game if necessary. For whatever it worth, even though FIFA is corrupt, the decision to ban Suarez is a correct one.

            Is it all just about winning?

          • hereiam says:

            Oh and “deliberately misunderstanding typos” is quite a funny term.
            What I mock is the “mes que un club” thing.
            One have to respect oneself before demanding others to respect him. Doing whatever to win, including using your vast resources to earn unfair advantages through legal means, bypass the rules of the game, is not what I would call respecting yourself. You, as the fan, has the responsibility of forcing the club to act straight, and to win with dignity. Respect yourself first.
            If Barca do this, and still have to gut to say “mes que un club” with pride, I would be ashamed to be a Barca fan.

          • Mano says:

            It is a Barcelona forum. It’s their on the masthead itself. You think you can use borderline offensive language and get away with it? And where was your outrage, your anger when your club bought suarez, who had bitten a psv player already. And as far as your comments about mes que un club goes . The people wrongly assume that it is some sort of a “holier than thou ” statement. It’s not. It just mean that we aren’t a mere catalan club, rather a catalan institution. We stand for whole of cataalonia.

          • hereiam says:

            You’ve got it wrong there, I am not a Liverpool fan, far from it. I don’t even know who is Suarez before he came to the EPL, and indeed, before he made headlines, for both good and bad reasons.

            But first, at PSV, it was the first offense – I believe people should always be given a second chance. Now it has been the third offense already.

            Its not like his penalty was unfairly slapped on him. He had even said it was an accident, before eventually apologize to his victim, in the hope of reducing his sentence. Just like always, he never own up. And absolutely no remorse.

            Second, Barca fans appeared to advocate Barca to try to bail the player out of serving his penalty. If that doesn’t mean disrespecting football, I don’t know what else.

            Third, about ‘mes que un club’
            This is taken from Barcelona’s website:

            The slogan “more than a club” expresses the commitment that Futbol Club Barcelona has maintained and still maintains beyond what belongs in the realm of sport. […]
            Barça also became symbolic of democracy and anti-centralism. […]
            When democracy returned after the death of Franco, the club maintained its social commitment and new ways of supporting charitable causes emerged, which would later be encompassed by the creation of the club’s Foundation. Now in times of globalisation, Barça has extended its social commitment to the rest of the planet, with a specially significant event being the signing of an agreement with Unicef in 2006, which was a way of saying that a sports club should not be marginal to problems going on in society, […]


            Now Unicef became Quatar Airway, and winning should be at all cost, and can be bought with money.
            I thought that Barca stand up for what’s right, no matter the cost. Just like back in the day it was defying the dictatorship to stand for its citizen. I was wrong.

          • Mano says:

            My rebuttal.
            1 what he did at another club was of absolutely no concern to the pool fans before he joined them . The reason given by them ? It was his first offence and he should be given a second chance. But where was their honour when he racially abused patrice evra? Now if you say it was his first racial abuse, you would be technically right but you’re standing on thin ground. Now what about the ivanovic biting incident, how do you defend him now? Your defence is now hollow.
            And regarding barca appealing, even convicted mass murderers get to appeal decisions in a higher court why shouldn’t barca appeal for a player they just spent 80 odd million. ? It’s about their legal right.How you got it in your head that it is a moral issue I’d never know. Do you get outraged when clubs appeal against their players getting yellow cards? I don’t get how barca appealing agains the ban is any different than that.

          • Mano says:

            If you look carefully the unicef logo is still there . I don’t have the numbers but barca has actually increased the amount it gives to unicef. So yeah barca is continuing it’s social endeavour.

          • hereiam says:

            When I say he is deplorable, I was referring to two things: his racist side, and his amazing lack of remorse. He never own up, even when he is caught on TV in a world cup. Amazing.

            When he racially abused Evra, he served his sentence, and paid his fine. Period. The guy even refused to shake Evra’s hand their next match. As if he is the victim. Unbelievable.

            He hand ball. Ok, even Messi hand balled before. So, whatever.

            Ok. So that is the player. Where does Barca fit in this?
            Everyone agree: he needs help. Both for himself and his club. How can he get help? By getting off the field. How can he get professional help if he is not punished? How can he learn that the action he committed is absolutely unacceptable? Transfer to the top club in the world, getting a far better contract, and even get his penalty eliminated, is not a punishment in my dictionary. It is Barca doing whatever to win, even when it harm its player in the long run, as a human being.

            Yes, even a murderer get an appeal. But not when his murderous act was caught on live TV in front of the whole world. And certainly not by an organization that pride itself in sponsoring UNICEF charity. The murderer can only appeal by himself, which Suarez promptly did right after getting banned, further indicates his clear lack of remorse.

            Barca has no standing to appeal on Suarez’s behalf: he is not their player when he committed his offense. No one put a gun in Barca’s head to force it to buy Suarez. It has only done so because it has lost its trust in Messi, Neymar, Alexis and Pedro. It has only done so to win, at all cost, no matter what.

            The right thing to do is to allow Suarez the time he need to get professional help, to learn to be a good human being first, and then, being a good player.

          • hereiam says:

            It’s gotta be the money is it? Its not like UNICEF lack donor. The whole idea of sponsoring UNICEF is about awareness, not money. Being on the shirt of Barca is like being watched by billions of people, week in, week out. That is why it is so invaluable. It is a shame to put value into it.

            I say it again, I don’t have to defend Liverpool, because I am not its fan. To indulge him is of course unacceptable. But it is understandable. Liverpool is a medium club, with small reputation and small resource. Suarez is it’s only hope. It has to depend on him to survive, even when it knows better. But Barca already have Messi, the best player in the world. Some say he is the GOAT. You even have the second best in Neymar. So why do you need Suarez? Why need Suarez when Messi can score 90 goals per season? Why do you do whatever just to win?

          • Nav says:

            Lots of people here don’t agree with the Suarez signing, along with very good arguments for why it’s not that bad (read the previous post). Not sure why you want us fans to answer for the actions of the boards though, seeing as we don’t exactly make the decisions.

            Love the comparison between murdering and biting people though, very apt.

          • hereiam says:

            Its not the signing that I am arguing about, Barca can sign whatever player it see fit. It’s its tendency to do whatever to win that I have a problem with. Trying to bail Suarez out of his punishment, and play him when he clearly needs time to get help to sort out his various mental problem, is one of it.

            And about the comparison with murder, you can see that its Mano who made the comparison – I just try to follow up.

          • Mano says:

            Nav I was not comparing the two acts. Barely pointing out that both Barcelona and suarez are entitled to an appeal ina higher court. And of course barca can do whatever it can to win. Isn’t that the whole point of the sport?. Wen other teams do it it is called competitiveness and dogged spirit and what not. And when we do it it’s suddenly being called immoral and unfair. Huh. There’s a sayying in hindi “tum karo to chamatkar hum karein to balatkar” which roughly translates to when you do it it’s hailed as a miracle but when I do it it’s an assault.

          • hereiam says:

            Doing whatever it can to win is certainly not the goal of the sport. Doing whatever in a fair and sporting way to win is. If you are fine with doing “whatever” to win, what do you think about the historical 11-1 win of Franco’s Real Madrid over Barca? Real certainly did “whatever” to win.

        • Mano says:

          Hereiam if you’re gonna compare signing a player albeit a troublesome player to what franco did in the build up to THAT match I’m not sure I’d like to have a sane rational discussion with you. Franco was not a part of real madrid in any official capacity as far as I know. But whatever man, you want to think that barca has sold its soul or that it has become the new ee you’re free to do so.

          • hereiam says:

            As I have said I am not comparing the signing of Suarez – if you can trace back to the post that started it all, it is the act of trying to bail Suarez out of his punishment that I am having a problem with.
            It is you who is trying to argue for “doing whatever to win”. Where will it stop? Of course I used an extreme example, but it is a perfect (extreme) example of “doing whatever to win”.
            The fans, as a whole, is the only thing that can stop the club from doing shady businesses. When the fans start to think its ok to do “whatever to win”, then nothing will stop the club from doing exactly that.

          • Nav says:

            This is assuming of course one agrees with the punishment.

          • hereiam says:

            The punishment is all about repeating offenses and lack of remorse… Ok, it seems like whatever I say I will never convince a real Barca fan.*sigh*

            To conclude this, I have to say, look around. Atletico won the La Liga with a team that costs 36 million euros to assemble. And almost win the Champion’s League too. Amazing. I am sure Barca can learn a thing or two from its rivals. Do Barca really have to do “whatever to win”, to win? Throwing money at every problem is not the best solution, you know? And certainly will not earn anyone’s respect.

            I sure do hope that Barca and its fan do not become so addicted to winning that they start acting exactly like addicts do.

            (If you don’t believe me this is the source

      • 86ed says:

        Wait. Doesn’t your club, too, have a motto? Is isn’t it something like, You’ll Never Walk Alone? Did it mean something historically.

        Edited for content.

        • Kxevin says:

          Again, the unspoken rules of this space:

          Keep it respectful

          This means NOT labeling another club’s slogan “cheesy” in a fit of pique. It also means not belittling or personally attacking another commenter. Our words are our words, but our words are not us. The most effective way to MAKE our words us is to attack someone personally.

          This space has moderators, so if a comment pops up that violates the boundaries of these “rules,” rest assured that it will be edited or deleted. If the latter occurs, your response will be caught up in the housecleaning, which is unavoidable given the way WordPress structures its comments sections.

          hereiam makes some very good points, and I like this back and forth. But please, let’s keep it respectful.

          P.S. Some editing has occurred with the space’s standards in mind.

          • hereiam says:

            Yes, I immediately regretted the comment after pressing the submit button.
            Thanks for editing it out Kxevin!

          • Inamess says:

            Just a suggestion because this will happen again. Please refer fans of other teams who dislike the club’s signing of Suarez to this fine post with comments:


            Don’t think people on the site should have to rehash pro and con arguments about Suarez again and again for every visitors amusement nor do we have to defend every action of the club or board.

            If critics have a problem with the signing, they can go to Camp Nou and complain not indulge in schadenfreude at the expense of fans of a team who have no say in the team’s moves and have already debated the issue to death.

            As for an interesting application of Poe’s law, I didn’t know that self-parody and the movie My Cousin Vinny was worthy of a personal attack unless the commenter is merely trolling.

            Anyway, critics should feel free to do read comments in the above link for varied opinions from commenters on this site on the Suarez signings. If concerns about the Suarez signing are not addressed there then further concerns should be welcomed. Thanks!

  56. teddy says:

    I don’t get the heavy criticism on Sergi Roberto these days. He hardly plays under Tata. He used to get high praise before, even when Thiago is around, as Mascherano answered in an interview regarding who’s the most exciting talent coming from Masia (or some sort, can’t quite remember the exact question), and he answers Sergi Roberto.

    I supposed he’s stuck in an infinite loop of “can’t play because lack of match experience, lack of match experience cos didn’t play”. I, for one is happy with the decision to keep him for the moment. Let him prove himself and we’ll see how it goes.

    • Davour says:

      Well, according to MD Roberto was heavily sought after this summer, but all offers were immediately rejected…

    • Rami says:

      I’ve never had any doubts about the quality and potential in sergi roberto, When talking about his current situation, I like to compare him to bartra.

      Bartra after officially becoming a first team member with tito vilanova as a head coach at that time, He had many appearances, But failed to really impress (Go rewatch some of the matches to be sure), He wasn’t bad, But he wasn’t very good, And there were doubts (me included) if he is a barca material or can ever be one, It was only after the very end of that season that thing started to ‘click’ with him so to speak, And by the time the next season came, You could feel he has really grown as player and striking transformation happened with him, No longer that shaky kid from last season, He became and confident, And started to put quality ‘stamps’ with his appearances.
      Becoming a first team member and training with the best is a very different environment, Needs time to be adjusted to.

      For me, I’ve always been more excited with sergi than with rafinha, Not to take anything away from the latter, But if anyone watched rafinha with the B team, He can see that he is a very direct-forward minded midfielder, His quality shows best in the final third of the pitch, A true box to box midfielder, His individual qualities doesn’t really suit what all culers have been looking for for the past 2 seasons, Which is of that of a center midfielder, An heir to xavi, Sergi has a much higher chance than rafinha to become a CM for Barca, But there are no guarantees of that, It will depend of his development as a player, We’ll wait and see, And the fact that luis enrique is now the head coach, Is definitely a good news for him

  57. Momo says:

    Watching Barca-Espanyol from 2011 season, absolutely incredible performance.

    Incredible to see how much messi has changed as a player

    • Davour says:

      Yes – the movement, oh the movement… could still miss a sitter back then, though! :)

    • 86ed says:

      The most appalling thing to me is actually how much Busquets has declined, not Messi. Today’s Busquets is slower, more cumbersome. He makes so many mistakes in position and control. He always missed easy chances, so I won’t fault him for that. But yes. We all talk of Messi and Xavi’s decline, but really Busquets’ decline has had the most devastating effect on our team. He is the fulcrum, the centre of the pitch.
      We should have either removed him or paired him to a stronger player (Martinez would have been perfect, but that ship has long sailed and arrived to port). Hopefully Enrique sees some sense and voids the obsolete three men in midfield led by Busquets in the centre.

      • Peter says:

        Actually Busquets is just tasked with more and more. It used to be he stood around the center of the pitch, ready to close down and make an interception, next to Xavi who capered about in his zone, next to Iniesta flowing around and in front of three defenders.

        At this point, his task has become the following – slot between the two wide CBs, take the ball, carry it forward and distribute it, cover the zone of Alba and Dani Alves, half the zone of Xavi and often the whole zone of Iniesta, as well as stay in the center, be an all-direction passing node as well as making interceptions and running back when the imminent counter starts.

        Busquets is simply requiered to do too much running for too long and too often. He’s not fast, it’s just that his intelligence compensates in the first meters. The problem is when he’s required to run twenty more meters, that’s when his body starts betraying him and his energy reserves are depleted at a faster rate.

        Luis Enrique would either have to pair him with another pivote like Mascherano, who is more about running, or return to when all three strikers pressed and all three midfielders pressed in unison, or the defense has three people at the back at any given moment, one of whom can carry the ball to the center of the pitch.

        • Davour says:

          Agree with Peter – to my mind, Busquets was brilliant during the first half of last season, then followed the general decline. He did not have a great WC, but hey, which Spanish player did…

          Like most players, Messi and Busquets need a functioning team around them to excel.

          • Gekko64 says:

            Imo the one who seriously declined is Piquè, which is surprising considering his age. He looked good next to Puyol, but once he had to step up he’s disappointed and I just can’t bring myself to lavish him in praise like many are doing here. He was way more fit when he was younger, he’s 26 and he looks clumsier than Demichelis… I really don’t think he should be guaranteed a starting spot.

  58. Jafri says:

    Just wondering, do any post-Guardiola fans read this forum? ie those who started following Barcelona after Summer 2012. I’d be curious to know how they feel about the way the team is, and if they agree with the usual gloom and doom feelings the older viewers seem to constantly experience?

    • Kxevin says:

      Good question. But I think your answer might ultimately be defined by the seeming taint of being a “bandwagoner,” which is odd, to me. Everyone has to come to a team sometime, and why not come during high times?

    • hansh says:

      I started seriously following Barça after the four clásico apocalypse of 2011, so I’m almost but not quite a post-Guardiola fan.

      In any case, I’m a Red Sox fan so I am quite familiar with doom and gloom :D. In reality, I believe in the on-field quality of our players (don’t think we’ll give up late leads) but I worry about basically every other aspect. For this bandwagon fan, Barça’s footballing quality is too good to doubt, but there are a thousand off the field factors that could screw us up.

  59. Kxevin says:

    momo, you are exactly right. We’ve been debating that in this space for some time, and the question is always why and how has Messi changed as a player. For me, it isn’t even as much the running as the connectedness. He is engaged in this match in a way that is rare these days, and time after time, he found himself where the ball was as if magnetized to it.

    These days, a loose ball is in the box and I find myself thinking, “Man, back in the day Messi would have been right there to pounce.”

    86ed is also right about Busquets. Not sure if he has been nursing some sort of injury, but he’s definitely different. Still brilliant, just different. My guess is that Enrique has seen that as well, which is why the Mascherano renewal was prioritized. Simply put, our players play too much. The biggest value of ridding the bench of non-playing weight will be gaining REAL depth. If you have a squad of 25 players, but 8 of them aren’t good enough, how truly deep is your squad, as opposed to having a 20-player squad, but they are all quality.

    Last year’s squad carried Puyol, Sergi Roberto, Dos Santos, Afellay and Cuenca. Between injuries and quality issues, none of them played. Song played only sporadically. So that’s 6 players on the roster, in key spots, that are functionally not available. No wonder everyone looked so run down. They were. Nagging injuries don’t get a chance to heal, etc, etc.

    Not sure what the eventual fate of Song will be, but between squad additions and B team players who are closer to ready, it doesn’t look like the same complexities will plague the squad this year.

    Never forget that 5 goals separated the team from no silver and a real shot at the treble last season. 5 goals.

    • Peter says:

      Yeah, Kevin, but here’s something else as well – for opponents that Messi wasn’t what this Messi is. Pause for a minute at 3:01 and just look – the closest defender is something like 6-7 meters from Messi. Then unpause and look at how Barcelona’s counter-attack develops – you have Iniesta and Pedro sprinting in the box on converging courses, while Villa is wide left, rushing forward and also drifting inside. Messi gets to the edge of the Espanyol box all the while in a bubble of 5 meters free of anyone. Who would allow that to happen nowadays?

      Furthermore, there’s a lot of positional play, the ball doesn’t go to Messi all the time, his team-mates move all around him. The fact that Espanyol are attacking(a coach that allows six outfield players to stay for extended periods in Barcelona’s half would probably be fired) and leaving space, and lots of it, in the back, also helps.

      • Mano says:

        Peter I wholly agree with you, these days whoever has to play messi their plan’s first part is how to stop messi . Mostly this is done by one or two midfielders marking and smothering the space for messi. For the other team, scoring goals is secondary most of the times to stopping messi. Which is why I think barcaau benefit from a player like suarez .

        • Kxevin says:

          No argument about the new tactics, Peter. But there have still been plenty of times in the here and now, when Messi doesn’t seem as connected as he used to. And in these times of entire defenses set up to stop him, those poacher’s goals are a very effective way to affect an outcome without having to beat 5 players off the dribble, and other feats of heroism.

          Just an observation. It’s funny, Messi has his supporters and defenders. It makes me giggle when people reference “all” of the haters in various forums, because it strikes me that Messi has precious few haters. But I think in the black and white world of football, anything that attempts to assess certain players that might intimate that all is not excellent, is labeled as “hating.”

          No, nobody here has done it. Just a general observation. But I think that it makes real, logical, neutral discussion impossible. This is one of the rare places where Messi CAN be discussed in different ways without people saying “You just hate him.”

          • Hilal says:

            You and Peter are both right. I think, like Peter said, teams are now setting up purely to stop Messi and at the same time Messi is less “connected”, as you put it. I do not think these are a coincidence either. It must be exceedingly frustrating for him to constantly play against teams that set up just to stop him. I am not trying to say that is an excuse, more like one of the contributing factors. That is why I think it is so important to have players like Neymar and Suarez in the team and contributing because as long as teams can set up this way it will continue to frustrate Messi, however if Suarez or Neymar can cause just as much danger then it will be very difficult to justfy setting up a team purely to nullify Messi.

            I think what makes Messi tick is his love for the game. He loves football, more than anything, you can see that when he plays full on. I suspect that the way teams have been frustrating him lately has taken the joy a bit out of what he loves the most. He just doesn’t look happy out there (whether it be with Barca or Argentina). LE needs to find a way to get him enjoying it again because I think when that happens we will get the Messi we know and love back in full swing!

          • Kxevin says:

            He just doesn’t look happy out there (whether it be with Barca or Argentina).

            And that’s the thing, Without trying to psychoanalyze a complete and total stranger, you wonder if that seeming lack of joy is contributing to his lack of connectedness.

            From the sporting side, the hope was that the Neymar transfer would remove some of the pressure from him, thus relieving some of the burden on him, but that kinda didn’t happen due to both of them never really having enough time to gel.

            My issues with the Suarez transfer are well documented, but perhaps from the sporting side, having another “big” player will help (again, it is hoped) relieve some of the psychological burden.

            I can’t imagine what it must be like to have EVERYONE looking to you for EVERYTHING.

          • fotobirajesh says:

            All valid points here, and the lack of happiness is a very prominent one. I would rather put it in a different way though. He seems concerned. And If I can recall it well, this happened some time during the start of the year 2013, a few more games before the PSG game.
            I think he is too much concerned about injury. He looks worried to me.
            My cousin brother, who is a pro athlete (who has been affected by a recurring hamstring injury for about 2 years now)thinks he really had a hamstring issue in the second half of the WC final.
            The fact is we do not know. We might have to wait until his retirement to know what exactly happened.

  60. Hilal says:

    “I can’t imagine what it must be like to have EVERYONE looking to you for EVERYTHING.”

    Exactly. It must get so tiring. Add to that the fact that now teams dont just double mark him, they have layers of marking! If he gets passed the first layer there are another 2 waiting for him. I think it was even worse with Argentina because so few of the supporting players contributed anything substantial. The opposition could justifiably set up just to stop Messi and not have to really worry about anyone else. I am hoping that will not be the case next season. Neymar should start to fit in better now, given it is his second season and with Suarez in there too there is no way that teams can use that tactic for very long.

    LE seems to be stressing unpredictability a lot, which I like, since we have become way to predictable the last few years. Let’s see how things play out but I for one am very excited for the upcoming season.

    On a separate note, we seem to be linked quite heavily to Blind all of a sudden. He looked good at the WC but any defender can look good when you have 5 at the back. Anyone here seen him play in a system more similar to ours? Would he be a good fit? What are his strengths/weaknesses? Any input would be great. Nothing more annoyting that being linked to a player who you know little about!

    • ciaran says:

      Daley Blind started as a left back but transitioned into DM at Ajax last season. He performed the Busquets role extremely well last season and can play numerous roles in a system like ours. He has tonnes of energy and gets around the pitch like a mad man in any position. His father Danny was a left back before he moved into central defense and became one of Ajax’s best ever players. At 5ft 11 he’s 3 inches taller than Masch and is decent in the air without being dominant.

      If we sign Mathieu then we shouldn’t go for Blind but he is a very good alternative, I would suggest a much better buy for the fees reportedly involved.

      • agar2515 says:

        Mundo Deportivo says he’s wanted as a CB… Which is …odd. Back 3? Or more transfer ineptitude. Not sure, though he played LB quite admirably at the WC and you’re dead on about is time at Ajax. This defender business really needs to pick up steam, pre-seasons are starting everywhere.

        • ciaran says:

          I wouldn’t say ineptitude in any way. Playing as a DM in most systems is very similar to playing CB with us with the obvious difference of having 40 yards of nothing in behind you. It is more about interceptions and being at the right place at the right time than normal defensive duties.
          If Blind could make the transition to CB as well as he did to DM than he could be a great signing. I previously suggested that he would make a great signing due to his versatility. Even in the world cup semi finals he played as a centre back when Janmaat was brought on and Kuyt moved to left back.

          To be honest though, I think that the starting centreback signing is the more important one. If we sign Marquinhos I’ll be very disappointed as he isn’t really an upgrade of Bartra, especially not for €40m. Hummels seems to be either staying put or going to Utd. Benatia isn’t being linked to us at all and Mathieu shouldn’t be considered a starter. Luiz is gone to PSG (thank god), Mangala to City, Kompany going nowhere and we were even linked to Thiago Silva again in what must be some form of joke.

          Unless Zubi has a rabbit up his sleeve I’m becoming very concerned.

          • agar2515 says:

            Totally see what you’re saying ,I should have been clearer. By “ineptitude” I meant buying yet another player that is not naturally a CB and thinking ” hey maybe he can slot in here.” As a second signing he is quite the capable LB/DM and he is young as well, coming from a great institution. My “ineptitude” quip was more a result of anxiety about what the final call is going to be as far as CB’s go. No need for me to restate your CB points, I agree, concern is growing in me as well.

    • kosby says:

      A few points that relate to the above discussion –

      – Unpredictability. We started last season playing “differently”. More long balls, more counter attacks, less possession. While several people here seemed to agree that it was required, the media raised a huge storm about how the team was moving away from the “barca way”. I wonder how this “unpredictability” is going to be portrayed by the media. I have become extremely cynical when it comes to the entourage around FC Barcelona and have come to believe that the media’s agenda destroys the club more than anything.

      – Messi. When Guardiola moved Messi from the wings to the hole in the center, it allowed him to be the creator as well as the goal scorer. But teams adapted and set up layers of defense behind the “hole”. Now if Messi has to be involved in setting up the game, he has to find his way through this entire maze. To get the ball he has to almost play as a midfielder (almost similar to how he is playing for Argentina). Playing this way there was no way he was going to score the same number of goals as he used to score before. And the media went on about how Messi was declining blah blah. And I hope everyone realises how this affects players. Constant criticism. Every day.

      Also, I think Tata recognised this and tried to move him into a position where Messi would be expected to finish moves rather than start them. Then there was a hue and cry over how Messi wasnt involved in creating goals and how we arent utilising his talent. I hope Messi doesnt give goalkeeping a shot cause if he excels at that you never know what people might expect him to do next. This also meant someone else has to take up the responsibility to set up the goals. Iniesta and Xavi are not anywhere close to the number of goals they used to set up.

      This team needed to be fixed, refreshed, tweaked, overhauled, call it what you want. Thats why I have hopes for this season. Mind its going to take some time for the newcomers to gel and bed in. Also I’d expect various different strategies from the coach. I just hope that we let him do his thing. Visa Barca.

  61. ciaran says:

    Tactical evolution is always necessary. Rijkaard brought us forward with a 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3 and we improved, won titles and excited. We stopped evolving and stopped winning. Pep brought the relentless press which brought even more titles and glory. He then tried to evolve it further with the false 9 and 3-4-3. Tito didn’t ever really have the opportunity to evolve due to his illness and Jordi Roura was out of his depth. Tata tried again to make us more vertical but chickened out for whatever reason.

    Lucho has looked at our players, the indispensable ones, and modified our tactics to suit their characteristics.
    A 4-3-1-2 is the only way to get the most out of the most of our squad. Messi performs best when he has someone to play off. Neymar the same. Busquets is best when he doesn’t have to cover the entire pitch unassisted. Our wingbacks are some of the best in the game, especially if we sign Cuadrado, so are perfect for giving us the width that we lose up front.
    All in all, we would have more defensive solidity with a double pivot and more of a goal threat with more players playing centrally.

    A lot of people suggest that Pique is playing worse than before, other say Messi, more again say Busquets. Iniesta too, Xavi is past it, Dani has got to go. Basically, everyone has underperformed and people will blame the people they want to.

    Messi isn’t the player he was but if you give him space he will still destroy anyone. Busquets is asked to do too much. Pique has missed Puyol’s influence and in truth had a good enough season. Iniesta disappointed me this season even though he did add one or two things to his game.

    The Suarez signing, while it clearly divides the population on many levels, in footballing terms is a masterstroke. He is about the only player in the world (who doesn’t currently play for RM or us) who has to be double marked at all times. With Neymar, Messi and Suarez up front we have players who will occupy not only the centrebacks but the fullbacks and DMs as well. Then having Alba and Cuadrado in wide positions we have genuine goal threats in numerous positions across the width of the pitch while still having 2 centrebacks and 2 DMs defending and recycling possession. Add to that we’d still have either Iniesta or Rakitic backing up the forwards.

    I really don’t see any weaknesses, especially considering the pace and engines of Cuadrado and Alba to get up and down the pitch.

    My real issues are going to be once again our bench. Selling Alexis instead of Pedro weakens our bench significantly. We substitute Neymar and bring on Pedro or take out Suarez and put on Deulofeu? Not exactly match winning substitutions. Still, if Alexis wasn’t going to stay then we have little alternative. In other areas it’s not so bad. Picking a midfield three from Busi, Masch, Iniesta, Rakitic, Rafinha and Sergi is much better.

    • justdoit94 says:

      But u forget that teams setup extremely narrow against us that spaces are so hard to find in the middle and we find them wide( the full backs). I reckon suarez wont be getting as much as space as he did in liverpool and it will be a very challenging first season for him.

  62. Kxevin says:

    This is an excellent article on Suarez, not as much because of the opinions on the player, but because of the assessments of supporters and how they react to the actions of their club and its players. A delightful read:

    • Gekko64 says:

      Very biased article, does he think calling him a cunt every two lines makes for good reading?

    • Peter says:

      Still, the main point of the article is that the grapes that went to Barcelona are quite sour and thank god someone else will have to eat them in about four months’ time.

      Gekko64, Vulgarity generates clicks.

      • Kxevin says:

        The point of the article isn’t the vulgarity, but rather to explain why Liverpool fans, Uruguay fans and now Barça fans are defending Suarez in the wake of his actions. The writer points out the constructs that supporters erect to, in effect, keep out the real world. So X or Y player is a huge problem, this that and the other, until a supporter’s team signs him. Then he is misunderstood, will be fine, etc, etc.

        Don’t let the use of a vulgarity obscure a timely message that relates not only to Suarez, but to many a player on many a team and many a supporter.

  63. ciaran says:

    Either Marquinhos really wants out of PSG or he just proved his ability (or lack thereof) in PSG’s friendly with RB Leipzig. He was possibly at fault for two goals and scored an own goal on top of it in a 4-2 loss. I don’t know how or why he is considered a €40m player, I really don’t. Either put our faith in Bartra or spend big on Hummels or Benatia.

    • Rami says:

      The fact that our club is willing to spend over €35m means that our scouts reports of him are phenomenal, And they and zubi think he can have a bright future with our club, There isn’t any other logical explanation.
      Of course, Scouting and evaluations aren’t an exact science, Risks of failure are always there, Ultimately it’s their job and responsibility.

    • agar2515 says:

      That boy better prove to be the second coming of Thiago Silva for that
      Money. Meanwhile compare that to Dortmund who signed 20yo Ginter for €10, who was good enough to be apart of the 23man World Cup winning squad, even if he didn’t get any minutes. Scouting.

      • 86ed says:

        It doesn’t really matter. Barca was never going to sign any world class defenders. Not really.
        If the board had been serious about the football project, the very first business conducted would have been the defense, not Suarez. That they signed another forward, after horrors of the Neymar signing last year, is indicative where their priorities lie. If they really want success and not shirt sales, they would hav signed defenders all the way in 2012.

        • Jim says:

          The other forward, for me, was as badly needed as the CB but you’re right it wasn’t an either or. Strikes me that the Suarez deal went through quickly because Liverpool had had enough, the player was desperate to go ( to us) and we needed someone to play in front of Messi. Not sure clubs are as happy to lose their CBs. I think Marquinhos is keen to join us and unlike Ciaran I would trust the scouts as they’ve done an okay job so far but no way would PSG leave themselves with no decent cover for Luiz (well, would you? ) so I don’t think that is worth wasting any more than another week on. After that anyone that seems available is a short term stopgap which wasn’t what we were looking for.

          However, there is another point I’d mention. The defence wasn’t bad last year. For me there were two issues – lack of numbers and Masche. He looks like he’s going to get his deserved shot at his best position ( but be aware that playing there for Barca, unless we put Busi with him which I don’t think will happen, is a completely different kettle of fish.) We know he can win balls and stop attacks but he will also have to show really quick feet, be able to keep possession under severe pressure and post staggering pass completion rates to keep the position.

          The other issue is completely solvable and it is pretty much an outrage that it hasn’t happened. We can’t afford both FBs marauding up the field at the same time. If we have numbers back we don’t lose the silly goals. With that plus the greater height at the back, whoever comes, we have a more solid defence and don’t end up chasing games after losing an early goal.

          • Kxevin says:

            Define a “world-class” defender. The club’s greatest defender was a converted attacker. The club’s most consistent defender last season was a converted DM.

            Is “world class” Thiago Silva, who looked mostly a doofus at World Cup? Or Hummels, who culers snark and rail about being too slow to play next to Pique, etc, etc.

            We know that Mathieu isn’t really any good, so we can rule him out. Daley Blind isn’t a CB at all much less a “world-class” one, so we can rule him out. The bloom is coming off the Marquinhos rose after one poor outing, so we can rule him out.

            So the “world-class” CB desire is a nebulous, malleable thing, just as “world-class” is a descriptor that is very complex to define.

            If the club signed Thiago Silva, lots of folks would be happy. I wouldn’t. I would be thinking the club signed a traditional CB who might not work in the system and is injury prone. But Silva is widely considered world class, and just about the best CB that money can buy.

            So that’s the value of perspective.

            As for Jim’s desires of Mascherano in midfield, that is essentially what he displayed at the World Cup. So we will see what happens this season, but I’m guessing there’s a reason that he was one of the first things Enrique took care of when he came on board.

            The club needs defenders for depth and competition. People get fixated on defense because the narrative is that the club had a poor defense last year, despite conceding some 20 fewer goals. Was some of that Valdes? Yes, but Valdes has been the constant, and he has been himself, making brilliant saves even when the defense was “better.”

            5 goals were the difference between a Treble and nothing. I don’t think they are wrong in chasing goals. My sole quibble is about the instrument of those goals and the fiscal excess demonstrated in chasing them.

            The biggest weakness of the defensive structure of the team, midfield, has been addressed in the renewal of Mascherano, adding Rakitic and Rafinha.

            Now we will have to see who the club gets as a CB.

          • ciaran says:

            For me the term world class is someone being in the absolute top tier of players who play in their position, ones that you would struggle to name players who are better than them.
            Mathieu is a very good player but not in that class, at least not yet. Hummels is at that level already. Marquinhos hasn’t ever convinced me that he could be but I could be proved wrong.

            My issue I suppose is that we are contemplating spending and absolute fortune on Marquinhos when he is at best a slight upgrade on Bartra but in my opinion isn’t at all. Either bite the bullet and sign Hummels or Benatia or just sign a couple of cheaper options and give Bartra the shot full time. Signing someone with only potential is pointless when we have players with potential and experience in our system.
            Others may disagree and think Marquinhos is the next big thing and if we do sign him I’ll support him but I would rather have faith in Bartra or buy someone proven.

          • Peter says:

            The problem with Hummels – he plays in a system with two fullbacks and a relatively faster CB companion. In Barcelona he would be required to be the faster CB and also play with two wing-backs. Could he do it against Bale, Ronaldo, Ribery, Robben, Di Maria, Walcott, Alexis or The Zlatan at his shoulder? I’m not certain he could.
            Can Mathieu? Less not certain.

          • ciaran says:

            I disagree Peter. I watch a lot of Dortmund and I’ve seen him beat both Ribery and Robben in one-on-ones. I’m not saying that he is faster than them, not at all but he has very good anticipation and uses his body extremely well. You have to be way clear of him to get past him as the dude is pretty huge.
            He has the reputation for being slow because of the internet. He isn’t that slow. Most defenders are slower than forwards. It’s the case in 90% of challenges with the exception of some fullbacks. If you got a list of the top 10 fastest players in the world each and every one of them plays in the attacking third.

            If, for example, Bale burst past him as he did with Bartra in the Copa final there is no doubt that Hummels would have landed Bale on his backside or even more likely have intercepted the ball.

            Benatia is a beast. A completely different type of defender. He’s more like Puyol but 6ft 3in. If we are looking for somebody to compliment our current roster of Pique & Bartra then Benatia is that man all day long but in terms of his footballing ability he isn’t at the same level as Hummels. Not bad certainly but not Hummels.

            For me, as a central defender your most important abilities are your defensive ones. Puyol wasn’t ever good with the ball at his feet regardless of his position. His passing stats were always fine because he played the simple passes but did he play long crossfield balls to change the play or 40yard through balls? No. Puyol is our best ever defender because he was our best ever defender. Koeman was better on the ball, so was Marquez, or Pique, or de Boer or a hundred others. Nadal could make a simple pass but he was anything but simple to get past.

            Sign Benatia and pickup any of Rojo, Blind or Mathieu as backup to CB & LB. I’d even sell Adriano to Italy to free up fees if absolutely necessary given that we would still have adequate cover. We have reasonable cover with Patric and Grimaldo for fullback positions and Bagnack & Ie for the centre.
            Benatia at 27 gives us 5 years of top class football by which time we will know the abilities of all of our youngsters.

  64. ciaran says:

    Rumours are that Isco may be offloaded by Real Madrid now that Kroos was signed. A shame for La Liga but I like Isco so I’d be more than happy to see him leave them. If they sell Di Maria and Isco they will be very silly but I suppose Isco is ‘so last year’.

    • agar2515 says:

      Really? Dang. Would be best for him though, his development will be key for the future of Spain’s national team. Madrid being Madrid going after the new shiny toys after the World Cup, Toni and James. I do like Isco though, I remember a few years ago he was offered to us by Malaga ( so said Graham Hunter at the time), interesting tidbit.

    • BA says:

      don’t like the idea of doing deals with the Evil Empire, but i’d take Isco off their hands in a heartbeat.

      • barca96 says:

        Same here. I love Isco. I know people might say we have Rafinha, but he only has 1 La Liga season under his belt and needs a couple more seasons to be on the same level as Isco if he could ever reach it.

  65. Engr Arus says:

    pls give it a read @kxevin and @ciaran

    • ciaran says:

      I just read it. Good catch, I didn’t see the article.
      It’s funny. Expectations are now Messi’s biggest enemy. Argentina fans have never appreciated Messi the way Barca fans. I’ve never really understood it and the denial of this is commonplace.
      In his first world cup, he performed very well off the bench in the opening games but in their exit match he was an unused substitute. Four years later he didn’t score. He had more shots on target than anyone in South Africa and was at times mesmerizing but those fine lines in football meant that people at this world cup used the ridiculous phrase that Messi hadn’t scored a world cup goal in 8 years.

      Individually at this world cup he was the outstanding player. He scored 4 out of 8 Argentina goals as said, and he directly assisted Di Maria in another. He also put the cross in for Rojo’s deflected header off Kolasinac. So Higuain’s snapshot and Rojo’s goal were the only goals Argentina scored that Messi wasn’t involved in.

      A fraction of an inch of a difference in where Messi strikes the shot in normal time v Germany and it goes in. Argentina possibly hold out and win the World Cup and Messi is proclaimed the best of all time. But really? I don’t believe so. Not that I don’t believe that Messi is the best of all time but I don’t think that scoring that one goal would have changed people’s minds.
      If you believe that Ronaldo (for example) is better than Messi what can Messi do to change your mind? Nothing is the answer. Some people will always believe that Maradona is the best player in history. I was one of those people until about 3 years ago. I always knew there was something special about Leo but I believed that Maradona was the best ever. Now I firmly believe that Messi was the best ever. The consistency with which he has performed has never been seen before and most likely will not be seen again. Only Cristiano Ronaldo has come close to him and that man is an exceptional athlete… a much better one than Leo.

      My father, who I often talk about, is a devout Liverpool fan but always maintains that Georgie Best was the best of all time. He played, drank, smoked and womanized, then played, drank, smoked and womanized so more. Best was finished by 27 or 28 but when he got the ball it was magical by all accounts. I have only ever seen clips of Best but I don’t trust clips (if you want an explanation youtube Ricardo Quaresma of Porto).
      I watched Maradona more obviously and he was truly great. He won 3 league titles in his career. He won the World Cup ‘all on his own’… in an Argentina squad that scored 14 goals to this year’s 8. That Argentina team had no great individuals except for Maradona and the entire team played to his strengths. This Argentina has better individuals but their play was terrible. Higuain 1, Di Maria 1, Aguero 0, Lavezzi 0, Palacio 0. These are the other forward players goals throughout the tournament.

      Messi is incredible. The best player I have ever seen. In likelihood I won’t ever believe that someone will better him. Even if someone outscores him eventually people will say ‘but it was different in my day’.

      • Davour says:

        Very nice post, ciaran. Actually, if I remember correctly, Messi set up Di Maria nicely before Higuain’s goal, so even there he was behind the move…

        And sometimes I think that the 2006 WC was Messi’s greatest chance to win it – that Argentina team was amazing (still remember them dominating). I cannot forgive Pekerman for introducing Cruz instead of Messi to try and unsettle and break Germany’s defense. Absolute madness.

  66. Peter says:

    Right now I’m thinking about that if Barcelona is to put more and bigger bodies in the back, then either Alba or Alves wouldn’t have guaranteed starting spots – and Masche may become a starting fixture. If Alba is on the field and with what Mascherano has shown then a 3-4-3 may be in order:
    It looks crazy, I know.
    Alba can do his forward runs in order to help Neymar and Iniesta in overloading the left side, and his pace would allow him to come back in a hurry.
    Bartra/Mathieu and Pique are split wide to cover the position of Alba whenever he ventures forward. The key here is Mascherano: he starts as a pure disruptor, but he would also be available to carry the ball from the back, something which Busquets has to do currently. His position would also let him cover less space in order to clamp down on an opponent striker waiting for a high ball. He can also provide assistance to either CB should they need it. That would also give time to Alba, Busquets, Iniesta and Rakitic to track back and press.
    Busquets stays in his center zone where he can use all his eight legs.

    One serious deficiency in this scenario is that Messi and Suarez would need Rakitic/Iniesta to be quite active in order not to disappear, something which Alves does at currently. Another problem may arise from the fact that the pace of Alves on the right will be missed, especially if Barcelona have to play against a combined Ronaldo+Di Maria+Marcelo on the left. And of course, one third problem may arise from Busquets and Mascherano playing not side-by-side, but one in front of the other, meaning their zones would be quite wide, but very shallow. :)

  67. ooga aga says:


    Dont look now, but our first friendly of the preseason begins in the next few hours. i am not sure what time it starts, i think 20:45 local time.

    we are playing at recreativo huelva.

    called up:
    Ter Stegen, Masip, Montoya, Bartra, Sergi Roberto, Deulofeu, Afellay, Patric, Bagnack, Edgar Ié, Lucas, Grimaldo, Samper, Diagne, Halilovic, Babunski, Cámara, Munir, Sandro, Dani Nieto, Juan Román, Dongou y Adama

    BOJAN was left out for “technical” reasons

    • ciaran says:

      Bojan left out for technical reasons… I couldn’t sworn I saw him up on ebay.

      • agar2515 says:

        Oddly there was only a ” Loan now” option next to his name. Great points up there re: CB’s especially how yes ” world class” does exist , there are most definitely “tiers” at every position , and that Hummels is indeed not the tortoise the internet has made him out to be. Any pace he lacks he makes up for with intelligence in his positioning and marking.

        People seem to be looking solely at attributes ( Mathieu has pace! Hummels is too slow!) without taking a second and thinking that just maybe our coaching staff will, you know, coach and attempt to get the best out of what is available to them, all while taking certain physical ” deficiencies” into account. All this to say that one must also look at the real intangibles before completely writing off any player ex/the IQ at the back of Hummels and the Leaderahip of a Puyol or a T.Silva .

    • ooga aga says:

      starting lineup:

      25 Masip
      2 Montoya
      14 Edgar Ié
      24 Bagnack
      11 Grimaldo
      12 Babunski
      20 Sergi Roberto
      8 Halilovic
      27 Adama Traoré
      17 Munir
      18 Dani Nieto

  68. TITO says:

    He will never learn, will he!?!
    I’m talking about Delofeou.
    Almost always making the wrong decisions, same mistakes over and over. And i thought he learned something through these couple of years of senior football.
    And no, this is not based solely on this unimportant game. But if wants to have a go, he’ll have to change the way he plays. He thinks he’s the second coming after Messi, and that is not letting him be what he can truly be.

    • ciaran says:

      To look for silver lining in Deulofeu, he has a very similar personality to Cristiano Ronaldo and if he keeps up the work rate he can be great.
      He has never been a team player. If he can continue to improve his defensive contribution then he can be a real asset.

      The worst thing that could happen to Deulofeu is that he becomes Pedro and plays the ‘safe’ game at every single opportunity. To be a great winger you have to be willing to take risks, take on players and score goals. I want him to become a better player but we have to allow him to become that player, not scold him every time he loses the ball.

  69. TITO says:

    Well, if he has never been a team player, he better learn to be one, cause the odds will be against him.
    He wont be an asset if he continues like this. He will just warm the bench, and i’m more than convinced in this.
    What he needs to learn is very simple: raise you head, think a little bit and act. When you need to pass the ball, pass it, when you need to dribble, do it, when you need to take a shot, take a shot.
    The problem is that he just can’t figure it out which one he should do when it matters.

    • ciaran says:

      I’m not blindly supporting Deulofeu by any means but how many times in every game does Messi make the wrong decision? Neymar? It takes a lot more courage to take on the responsibility of beating a player than to pass back to midfield and avoid it.
      If there is a player that makes the right decision every time I haven’t seen them.

  70. TITO says:

    You can’t compare him to Messi or Ney, or what that matter any of our forwards, simply because he has a very long path to walk before he reaches that status. And then he can be forgiven for some foolishness.
    For the moment, he’s just a kid who want to prove something, and IMO he’s far from it.
    He has the talent, has the brain, he just lacks maturity which i hope will come in time.
    What worries me is that he’s making the same mistakes from few years back. By now he should have learned a thing or two about a team play.

    • ciaran says:

      My point was more to compare him to Cristiano Ronaldo. He has so much in common with CR and very little with Neymar and Messi.
      Everyone comes off weak when compared to Messi and Neymar is a very different player too.

      Cristiano at Deulofeu’s age was all step overs and very little end product. He had to work on his team work and his defending. He worked harder than virtually any player in the world and became a phenomenal footballer.
      Deulofeu has the potential to be that good and maybe he makes it and maybe he doesn’t but I want him to do it being an exciting footballer.

    • Rami says:

      The more he becomes a team player, The more he helps in defending, The more he learns to pass, The higher the chance he’ll get picked up by the coach, If he does the opposite, His chances decreases.
      It’s a feedback system that makes sure he develops into a better player, So under the right coaches there is no doubt he can overcome his flaws.
      There is no perfect young player, While Delofeou has ball hogging and attempting to dribble too much issues, Like ciaran said, Others player have flaws that are the opposite of these, So let’s give him time, He’s still very young.

  71. agar2515 says:

    Deulofeu gets up to 92 in FIFA 14 <—– renders all debate moot imo ^_*

  72. PrinceYuvi says:

    Mats’s passing game is exquisite. Not bad for a goalie.

  73. adopted cule says:

    “The only thing that matters is that Germany hoisted the World Cup trophy.”

    In 1954, Germany hoisted the World Cup trophy.

    In 1974, Germany hoisted the World Cup trophy.

    Germany has hoisted the World Cup trophy four times.

    Yet none of those four teams has had the impact on football that Hungary and the Netherlands, the losers of the ’54 and ’74 finals. Those teams’ influence revolutionized football though they never won the big game. They matter far more, in terms of football longevity, than the team that won in those years.


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