Winner of the World Cup Prediction Pool Game Thing

Nope, I haven’t forgotten about this.

(Can I get a drumroll, please?)

The winner of the first BFB World Cup Predictions Game is…


Valdemar II!


The WC Champion Belt

There is your champion’s belt. Congratulations. You now get a post about the subject of your choice!

For those who are unaware, Valdemar II used the FIFA rankings to determine who would go through. I have a lot of mixed feelings about that (how can the FIFA rankings be help anyone?) but there ya go. The runaway winner.

The rest of the spots was a really close race. G6O edges out PrinceYuvi on tie break, and gets a silly post or a smaller post about the subject of their choice.

For those interested here is the top 4:

1. Valdemar II, 116 points

2. G6O 108 points on tie break

3. PrinceYuvi, 106 points.

4. Jafri, Xavi6, Inamess, 104 points.

Everyone was actually pretty boss at this game. I did the full table and it was quite impressive. Thanks to everyone who competed! Feel free to voice some ideas, anyway, I might just write a post about ’em too.

And yes, it was the first friendly game of the Lucho era. I loved Halilovic’s performance, looked like he was here for a while. Solid match from everyone, really. I hope we keep Afellay. I’m pretty resigned to him leaving, though. Lucho said he might stay, might leave, and I might go nuts from the speculation.

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.


  1. 3rd ?
    Wondrous that 🙂
    Thanks kari !

    Sadly, No plights of penguins essay for me.

  2. Ooh, joint-joint fourth place! First time I’ve won anything online without being the millionth visitor to a site! So maybe maybe could I/we get something like a teeny tiny silly paragraph? Pleeeease?

    1. Oh if you’re doing requests, how about, your favorite Barcelona moment written in a pulp fiction/noir style, like maybe narrated by Sam Spade from the Maltese Falcon?

  3. Second? I am amazed – I was just ticking off prediction failures throughout the tournament… But then the elimination phase did not bring a lot of surprises so that might have contributed 🙂

    1. I found a lot of people got the first place in the group and the quarter finalists right. Oh, and the semis too, but lots of people had Spain as one instead of Holland. Whoops. haha.

      Feel free to voice your blog post (or if you want to write one yourself) anytime.

    2. spread the love…i noticed the following…ciaran was the only who had mexico coming out of group A; Xavi6 was the only who had netherlands win their group, or in the quarters, or in the semis; prince yuvi the only who picked greece to finish 2nd in the group; FC Barcelona the only who picked algeria to finish 2nd. only a handful had columbia in the quarters, including mom4. good job mom4.

      nobody was smart enough to pick costa rica, or the US, or, frankly, the winner of the final, germany.

    3. I am not sure how that works exactly, you need to be a little more specific about what is expected

  4. I dedicate my joint 4th place award to Barca’s newest #8:

    Iniesta said to Xavi: “This guy Halilovic will retire us all”.

    1. Haha. Alen really was a step above the other players. Hope he can keep it up, looks to be a great talent.

  5. Very glad that the club started giving more emphases on developing young CB that fits our profile than too constantly look for in a market that is deficient in ones, Nothing beats home made.

    Diawandou Diagne who was purchased this season played in the 2nd half and gave a composed and an impressive performance for a 19 year old, Edgar and bagnack were also impressive, Actually everyone played great, Halilovic is absolutely sensational and if he keeps working hard, He can be one of the cornerstones of the first team in the not so distant future.

    1. Couldn’t agree more about the CB’s. Still have no idea the logic behind Marquinhos for 40mil when we have a B team and Bartra. Speaking of CB’s, if you’re on twitter, check out PSG reporter, says they consider Marquinhos “unsellable” even in spite of FFP. I worry we went on another Thiago Silva goose chase this summer… :-/ Hope everyone’s weekend is going well

    2. There seems to be a bit of a downer on Marquinhos going on. I really have only seen him on YouTube so can’t really comment unlike some but if PSG are determined not to sell him that should tell us something. That and the fact that we will have had him watched quite a bit over the last couple of years and still (allegedly) have him as our number one target. The money isn’t a huge factor. If he is good it’s a cheap deal given how long he will be with us, if he’s not it’s still not as bad as Ibra and we’ll get a fair amount of it back. The main attributes for me are good positional sense, pace and decent aerial ability and he seems to have these. However, just about everybody represents a risk because of the demands we place on our defenders.

    3. Think they’re keeping him around to play friendlies, since both Silva and Luiz are off to vacation.
      Things will change in a week or two I guess.

    4. Don’t know that that’s very likely. Did they not make him captain in the last game ? They must know we’ll need to move on if it’s not settled in the next week and if he’s not in their plans it’s in their interests to get money in to stay on the right side of FFP. I think more likely is that they are starting to wonder about their purchase of Luiz.

      I suppose a lot depends on the attitude of the player in situations like this.

    5. The funny thing here may be that Di Maria goes to PSG so that Real can take James, PSG end up selling Marquinhos in order to lighten the load and their FFP obligations, and Barcelona get Marquinhos to reinforce the defense.

      Of course, the greatest winner would be Monaco, especially if they manage to sign a good/very good substitute for James for a fraction of the money. Isco for example 😛

    6. I think that most of all PSG is determined not to sell players to Barcelona. I think they’re still sore about our assault for Thiago Silva.

  6. Just watched highlights of the game. Hadn’t seen much of Halilovic. What a buy ! Quick, attack minded, left footed and constantly plays with his head up even when moving at pace. He is going to be huge for us – and in the not too distant future.

  7. Congrats to Valdemar II, even if your handle does ring like a super-villain in a sci-fi series.

    “Curse you, Valdemar II, you are just as evil as your father. Do you realize your death ray could end civilization as we know it?”

    Hats off as well to all the runners-up, and thanks for much for taking part in a fun competition.

  8. So I was watching the friendly, and having thoughts about all the folks screaming that we passed up on Kroos as I watched Halilovic and Samper. As I noted in the previous post, it all makes sense.

    Suarez, Halilovic AND Samper? I daresay our midfield is set/stacked for years to come, without really needing any purchases. The truly impressive thing about Halilovic, aside from his vision, positioning to receive the ball and pace/weight of his passes, is his pace with the ball at his feet. Messi is pretty much the only player on the first team right now who is fast with the ball at his feet.

    We got him for just over 2m? Nice business, indeed.

    1. Let´s not get carried away, shall we? This is just Recreativo, wait until Bayern/Real/Atletico/Sevilla/Valencia/City/PSG/Chelsea/Liverpool come to town. 😛

    2. Halilovic won’t be playing against them. Pretty much none of that first-half team will, so it’s inaccurate to bring down a player by saying, in effect, “Wait til the big boys come.” After all, even our first-teamers came up short against the big boys, right?

      What you want to see with players who are getting stints against grown-up opposition is decision-making, and their skill sets on and off the ball. Those are constants. Iniesta has control whether he is playing Chelsea or Elche. Messi has pace with the ball whether against Atleti or Goteborg.

      You watch these pre-season matches for skill sets. They aren’t portents of anything other than that.

      Halilovic is an exceptionally talented player. I know we want to tear everything down and say that it isn’t good enough, but I wasn’t the only one who saw a bright light yesterday. He was trending worldwide on Twitter yesterday after that first half, and for good reason.

    3. I was just pulling your leg, as usual 😀
      Halilovic definitely looks like a real deal, especially when we think about the fact that he’s what 17 going on 18? In other words he has still has something like five years of learning.

      I’m just trying not to get my anticipation the better of me. What we really don’t want to do is build up the pressure on the kid – and he’s still just a kid. He needs to be eased in the team, learn to handle the pressure, because the last thing to do would be to get another example of Bojan. Somehow I think(and hope) that this board and the people in charge of youth development will do a better job.

    4. I think his parents had those same fears about the Bojanization of Halilovic. He was linked with Real and Arsenal before but in the end didn’t go because he still needs a few years of development and where better than at Barca.

  9. Watched the game yesterday and even though it was a friendly I have to say I was very impressed. We really do have a B team that is stacked with talent. Both halves we were able to field two completely different teams, pretty much all B team players and both halves they bossed the game. Standouts for me were Le, Halilovic, Samper and Deulofeu. Most impressive has Halilovic, just because, aside from Youtube clips I have never seen him play and boy did he impress. Like a lot of you pointed out, he is going to be a key player for us in the not too distant future. Very Iniesta like in his movement and dribbling, but seems like he can actually shoot!! An Iniesta that could score consistently…imagine that 🙂

    Puts into perspective a bit how difficult it is to make signings for the first team. With so much quality in the B team it is a difficult balancing act. If you buy too many big name, first teamers, those youngsters wont get their chance to really evolve and make their mark on the first team. At the same time it takes a brave coach to play these youngters enough that they get the opportunity to really show their value. I dont think any of these players are ready just yet to make the jump but in a year or two players like Samper, Le and Halilovic should definitely be getting a serious look in. Not to mention Denis Suarez who went on loan. So i guess when players like Kroos come offer themselves to the club their is a logic to turning them down. Looks like our midfield is set for the next 5 years+. Some of the defenders looked half decent too.

    I was actually a little dissapointed that Recre didnt get more chances (cant remember any!) because I was looking forward to seeing Ter Stegen in action. Unfortunately aside from a few nice passes I dont think he touched the ball. I certainly cannot remember a single save he had to make. Looks good with the ball at his feet though, confident and quick to release the pass. Also has a great first touch for a keeper. I can definitely see why they went for him.

    Not sure people realise how fortunate we are to have so many quality players just waiting for their chance. Every club in the world would dream of having just a few quality young players, we have enough of them to field two teams!

    1. That is exactly right, Hilal. Well said. Ie (rather than Le) and the new signing, Diagne, show a lot of potential.

    1. That would be one hell of a great deal for Afellay. Always thought he had the talent, but just couldn’t catch a break.

    2. I for one really hope that Afellay stays. I think he’s always had the skill, and he seems like he’s got a great personality. I’d be happy for him!

  10. Jim, I’m just going to reply down here instead on Marquinhos.
    I’ve probably been the biggest culprit for being a downer on him. He looks like a relatively decent player but has had pretty much two half seasons of real football and now we are supposed to be willing to spend €40m plus on him.
    This is my problem.
    He had a good first season with Roma and we were apparently ready to spend €20m on him. Instead PSG came along and paid €37m and bought him to play next to Thiago Silva. 31 year old Alex who never really looked like a world beater in Chelsea played instead of Marquinhos pretty much throughout the season though.
    Now, a year older and no better as a footballer, we are willing to spend more than double what we thought he was worth the year before.

    If you spend that money it should be for an upgrade to the first team, not a youngster with potential. Halilovic cost €2.2m and is going to Barca B. That’s the kind of transfer that is buying a youngster with potential.
    €40m should be a world class centre back.

    1. In theory you are right of course, 40m should be for a world class centre back. Unfortunately the market does not really reflect this and you have to pay what the market demands if you want the players. I am not sure there are many world class centre backs that would sell for 40m or less anymore. Hell if Luis was 50m, what would that make Benatia or Hummels? Apparently Roma want 60m for Benatia. For a 29 year old player? That is pretty insane.

      I agree that if we are going to spend big on a CB it should be for a “world class” player and not a youngster with potential, since we seem to have plenty of those. The only reason I can see the club really pushing for Maquinos is if the technical team really believe that his strengths will add something to the team that we are lacking and that players like Bartra cannot provide. It does strike me as a bit odd that PSG would barely play him and then at the same time refuse to sell him. Doesn’t make much sense that, especially when they are under the spotlight because of FFP.

    2. You should def follow that PSG reporter account if you have twitter. No idea what they’re doing. They deem Marquinhos unsellable yet want Di Maria ( even discussing a loan move,ha!). They probably came to their senses after seeing Luiz at the WC and ,of course , having another Brazilain Portuguese speaking CB as a backup partner to ether him or Silva would go a long way. Levon’s right too, after reading around I get the sense that they really don’t like the idea of selling to anyone, especially us.

    3. Roma said €60m for Benatia so that we would back off but no one expects him to be sold for little more than half that.
      They signed him for €13m last year and pay him something like €2m a year. Roma always sell when a serious bid comes in for a player. Lamela, Osvaldo, Marquinhos, Vucinic.

      Hummels will not sell for more than maybe €30m. Even a decent defender like Garay would have done me for €15m, far more experienced, good on the ball, strong in the air and physical. Sokratis joined Dortmund for less than €10m. Ginter just joined Dortmund too meaning that they have Hummels, Ginter, Sokratis & Subotic so I expect Hummels to go.

  11. Was watching the presentation of Rakitic last evening (with a video of some of his plays), and i realized that we gained something more the minute we signed him and Suarez.
    We now actually have 2 players who can take a shot once in a while from outside of the box.

  12. Interesting article about PSG. For those wondering why we did not get Marquinos, here is a clue:

    “Rummenigge notes that most of PSG’s revenues last year came from Qatar. One sponsor alone, the Qatar Tourism Authority, pays an estimated €200m a year. But, insists Blanc, that sum isn’t a gift.”

    So what exactly does the Qatar Tourism Authority get for €200m a year? Not even a mention on the shirt.

    1. Interesting read. Thanks. Now that this WC is over I guess the attention will shift back onto the decision to take it to Qatar. That plus a closer look at PSG’s finances might result in some interesting action – from other European clubs, maybe a reaction from Qatar and, once the pigs get flight clearance from UEFA.

  13. Word around the campfire is that Man Utd will sign Hummels for 20m euros. It would be the signing of the season, if it should be true.

  14. Uhhhh, UTD just signed Hummels for 20m Eur. WTF. Like seriously, WHAT THE F**K!! Zubi better have something hiding up his sleave because if he thinks signing Mathieu for the same price UTD signed Hummels is going to cut it, he is living in lala land. Dont get me wrong, I like Mathieu and think he would be a great addition, but we need a world class CB.

    I can understand not going for Hummels if he was going to cost 40M+, but at 20M? Are you kidding me? That is like the bargain of the century. Was he out of contract soon or something? Surely if Luiz went for 50m, Hummels must be worth around the same. Probably more if you factor in his actual ability. Can it be that he had no other suitors besides UTD? That just doesnt make sense to me. Unless he refused to go anywhere else why on earth would Dortmund sell him for so little?

    1. A few papers in the UK seem to think it is a done deal as well. I wouldn’t rely just on Sport but when there are a few different sources all saying the same thing, makes you think its real or at least very likely. Let’s wait and see I guess but that really would be a bargain!

    2. There’s no release clause in Hummel’s contract (about to Expire in 2017)

      Man utd are not playing in Champions league this season, and had to pay 37 M for certain Luke Shaw.

      England press is so naive, they just translate Articles from Spanish newspapers and publish it word to word.

    3. This news is clearly fabricated, Such an an absurd number cannot be true, While i generally recommend not to trust anything from any news paper, There is a very special bottom for English news papers, Sport isn’t very far behind them.

  15. anyone check out the trophy bartra was holding after the game?..thats gotta be the coolest futbol trophy ive ever seen!…looks like a future captain to me..

  16. With the imminent signing of James Rodriguez, Real Madrid is now loaded with attacking potential. Cristiano, Bale, Benzema, Kroos, Rodrigues, di Maria, and Isco. Surely, the latter two are likely to be sent elsewhere, but anyway, but this reinforces our need for two world-class defenders if we are to compete. And no, Mathieu isn’t world-class, but I’d take him.

    1. if Di Maria and Isco are offloaded, I can’t see a midfield of Modric-James-Kroos competing at the highest level. This isn’t FIFA. None of their midfield players can tackle.

      The sale of Di Maria perplexes me because I thought he was their best player last season. He was amazing against us in that 3-4 defeat.

    2. I am not sure why they are willing to spend so much on Rodriguez. They base this heavy investment on what? A good performance at a summer tournament?
      I don’t know but it doesn’t convince me.

      I think a midfield of Modric-Khedira-Kroos has the making of their best ever, close to our best ever, the Iniesta-Toure-Xavi trio of years past.

      I have to say, Real M are on a war path now. Not sure who can stand up to them. In the CL, teams will have no choice but to set up to defend and deny them space. Atletico tried it in the final last year and still lost.

    3. Khedira is set to leave. That leaves them with james modric and kroos. It seems very weak at tackling and the defensive part of the game.

    4. Khedira is set to leave? Really? That’s not a smart move. Who will be their DM? Illarramendi? I’ve not really seen him play that often to make a call.

      I cannot figure out how they’ll play without him.

    5. Yeah khedira to arsenal @19.8 million £ or € ( I’m not sure) it is to be confirmed in one or two days it seems.

    6. I would have no words: @barcastuff: Although before there was talk about two, Barcelona are now considering to sign only one centre back. Jeremy Mathieu main option. [rac1]

      Absolutely no words.

    7. It wouldn’t surprise me, really. The board talked a big game last year too. Then January came and we started leaking goals in important matches.

    8. Sad but true, people wonder why I’m so cynical and it’s because every day I read another CB rumor I’m reminded of the ” ¡ FICHAJE PUYOL!” From last year. Ridiculous.

    9. It was all rather embarrassing. The board took us from the levels of one of the greatest teams ever, to a laughing stock. I had thought that we hit our nadir with last year’s debacle; at least we couldn’t possibly do worse. Now I’m not so sure.

  17. I wonder what the bookies reckon the odds of our not signing anyone at all in defense year too. Personally I do think they will sign Mathieu in mid-August and call it a day. I hope they’ll stop short of going as far as last year’s claims about Puyol, but you never know with this board.

    I fear that if they were indeed serious about the defense, the mess we have would have been solved as soon as the season was over. Regular season starts in just over a month. Time’s running out and it seems they’re pinning all hopes on a 30-year-old who has played a total of 14 CL games in his career.

    I do not think that’s good enough. But if (and only if) it does happen, maybe we will have the grounds for a vote of no-confidence on this board.

  18. There is no way to know if the Hummels story is true until it is announced. So we will see. Some reports are that we are interested in Daley Blind as Man U were as well. If Hummels goes to Man U then maybe Blind is our guy.

    It could also be that Hummels does not want to go to Barca because he believes he will have a better career at Man U since he would fit better there. Anyway, I offer my 2 cents for what it is worth, but we will have to see how things work out.

  19. Whatever we do, we must be fast and not kid ourselves that we have time until the end of August.
    No, we don’t, we have to be prepared by the end of this month, so we start the training in full shape (-Suarez, obviously).
    And of course, we should not forget when we buy players this window. We are also buying for the next summer as well. So, one CB is not enough. One CB, i prefer Hummels, and one LB/CB – Verthogen. That would be ideal for me.

  20.’s Spanishe reporter has announced that Mathieu is going to Barcelona for close to 20 million, to be announced tomorrow(so if true he will sign on Wednesday, when the other internationals start coming back from holiday).

    Personally I think that Zubi, the board and the coach are playing a dangerous game – one ageing defender so that in a couple of years Barcelona have the current crop of La Masia ready and Bartra in the prime of his power(with Pique hopefully still in top form). Personally I think it could work – Suarez is half a foot taller than Alexis, Rakitic is half a foot taller than Xavi, Bartra/Mathieu are respectively 10 and 15 cm taller than Mascherano.

    It would be awesome to have Hummels as well, but I believe Barcelona want Bartra to evolve more and more. Furthermore, there is something else – Hummels will be going to Barcelona for money. Nothing more. I think he’s already very happy in Dortmund, and there’s something to the maxim “better first in a village than second in Rome”, and Dortmund is no village, of course. BTW, Dortmund have the highest attendance in Europe, not to mention one of the hottest supporters.
    Still, If Hummels is signed, then I will be glad 😀

    1. Forgot to add – it’s still, which make Daily Mail and The Sun look like pinnacles of integrity, honesty and serious journalism.
      Still, it’s a Spanish reporter, so at least it’s not the “one degree of separation and fifty degrees of soundbite-laden BS” that is the usual level of articles to be found.

    2. Man this story is all over the place, as this was just posted :
      Barcelona and Valencia did not close a deal on Mathieu after new talks today. Barcelona’s bid is less than the 20M Valencia ask. [rac1 tv3]

      Even they don’t want to pay the 20m. They will eventually though. Hummels, vertonghen, and Benatia seem to be going nowhere.

      Conspiracy theory: they never had an intention of signing a “top name CB”, instead choosing to spend the $ on Suarez. Knowing Mathieu’s name won’t be a signing that arouses a positive fervor they are drawing it out for as long as possible, so we get so desperate that we finally ask no questions and rejoice when it’s done.

  21. Can anybody care to make the math about our expenditures this season. How much we took from the sales and how much we spent?
    And i will emphasize again that we should add the eventual affordable money for the next season spent now.

    1. In the neighborhood of 45m, give or take a mil or two. Given the rumored “up to 120m,” that leaves about 80m in the wildest case scenario, excluding potential sales of players such as Song or Alves, which would add to that kitty.

      If the Mathieu deal happens, that would make it 65m net spent, which would be excellent business in a summer transfer window where player values are inflated.

      The Cuadrado rumor persists, and the second CB purchase is still just a rumor, one that will make itself known in due time, yea or nay.

    2. @TITO
      That’s not an easy task. We’re talking supposed transfer fees, which vary widely according to who’s reporting them. Second, salaries, which are hardly ever reported, except in passing. Third are variables. Fourth and also important, are transfers made for next season with last season’s money.

      If we look at the transfer fees alone, reported and mostly agreed-on fees Barcelona have at this point signed the following:

      Ter Stegen 12 million Euro
      Bravo 12 million Euro
      Rakitic 18 million Euro
      Suarez 84 million*
      A total of 126 million Euro.
      *Suarez’ transfer is apparently with the agent’s fee of 5% included and the 5% solidarity fee to the “formative” clubs, which most clubs don’t include in the reported transfer fees. For example, the 100 million for Bale don’t include the 10% agent’s fee, signing bonus, variables(which until today are 10 million according to Madrid sources), etc.

      As of today, Barcelona has transferred the following:
      Alexis Sanchez 38 million Euro(and according to MD +4.5 million in variables for easily achieved objectives). Personally I’d say a hard minimum of 40 million is coming.
      Fabregas 33 million(according to MD +3 million in variables are based on games played alone, and are practically guaranteed)
      Dos Santos 1.5 million and 0.5 million in variables(if Villareal get to play Champions League, i.e. fourth spot)
      Tello – 2 million loan
      A total of around 79.5 million of income, or a about 46.5 million Euro negative net balance.

      However, we also need to keep in mind the extensive, really extensive salary cuts the account books will experience, despite the new players.
      Puyol got something like 4.6 million per year, or close to 9.5m gross expense for the club
      Alexis got 9 million
      Fabregas was getting around 11 million
      Valdes 10.5 million
      Pinto 2.5 million
      Dos Santos 2.5 million
      Tello about 3.5 million
      Cuenca 2.5 million
      Oier was getting around 600 000
      A total of about 51 million give or take, from which we should substract the rumored salaries of the new players:
      Rakitic is rumored to get 8 million before taxes, Bravo and Ter Stegen together would probably mean less expenses than Valdes, due to Spanish tax regulations, Rafinha and Deulofeu were already being paid for, Suarez is supposed to have a salary close to 8 or 9 million before taxes, which still means that even after the inclusion there will be savings up to 24 million per year, every year.
      Apparently, and if we are to trust MD, Xavi is also going, so to these 24 million will be the added another 13 million from Xavi’s saved salary, minus the reported 4 million “severance package”.

      Xavi going to the USA. This, my fellow culers, is the real end of an era. Not the fabled Decima, not the semifinal humiliation vs Bayern. Puyol, Valdes, Xavi, Pinto and Abidal – that’s the real end of an era we have had the pleasure, honor and privilege to watch this fabulous and eternal team. Let’s hope Lucho can start a new era. 🙂

    3. Thanks Peter.
      I knew it was a complex and uneasy task, that’s why i was lazy to do the math :D, but you put the numbers as they are or should be.
      So we are down around 45 million euros for now, and if you exclude the salaries paid to the mentioned players, that numbers goes down to 15 million euros roughly.
      That’s excellent business for now.
      If we were going to go in minus for this season and the following in the region of 100 mill euros, than it seems that we still have a lot of money in our pocket to spend. Which we should do, and not hesitate.
      We are building a new team, it’s obvious.
      Supposedly Alves leaves, what remains from the old school are Messi, Pedro, Iniesta, Pique…and it will be strange a little bit not seeing the familiar faces to which we were used through these 7-8 years.
      Oh, and if we somehow end up wondering what to do with a CB purchase until the last days of the transfer window, bring back Marquez. He was excellent during the world cup and will cost nothing 🙂

  22. I am, once again, going to suggest calm and deep breaths when it comes to our signings in this transfer window. There are still 5 weeks left in the window, and so much can happen in that time.

    RAC, MD, TV3, whatever acronyms you put out there, they don’t know that much more than anyone else. barcastuff is just an aggregator on Twitter, rather than an authority, as the old barcastuff was, for you old-timers who remember Pep’s site.

    This rumor pops up, and people scream. That rumor pops up, and people scream. Sign someone, anyone … Mathieu is old … not him … someone ELSE … not him, either.

    And so it goes.

    Top CBs are the gold standard. Every team, big and small is looking for one or two, except for the ones who have them, and they aren’t selling. Marquinhos has been deemed untransferable for that precise reason. With every team in the world looking for CBs, is it any wonder that it is the most difficult position to reinforce?

    In a recent interview, Puyol laid out the reasons that a CB signing was so complex. It isn’t just a question of plunking down money and taking away a player. The player has to want to come, and a deal has to be reached with his club.

    How tough is the CB market? PSG paid 50m for David Luiz. Would anyone here countenance paying 50m for Luiz? Couldn’t PSG have just ponied up for Laporte or Benatia, since they are apparently light years better than Luiz? Valid ask, right. Maybe scouts think Luiz is better, and all the people who think he’s crap don’t know as much as they suspect.

    Or maybe the market is so comprehensively intense, that people are spending 50m for laughingstocks.

    Calmness, and patience.

    The board didn’t turn the team into a laughing stock for having the temerity to have belief in one of its greatest players and defenders. Was anyone here ready to jettison Puyol 2 seasons ago, something that in hindsight should have happened? What if the club has kept Abidal and tossed Puyol?

    “How dare they treat a legend like that?”

    In the cruel game of trying to keep a squad fresh, milk must be spilled and egos ruffled. That didn’t happen. So Xavi hangs around long enough where now he leaves on a paid free, in effect, with a settlement from the club. Puyol hung on, trying to fix an unfixable body, and now he can’t, in his own words, descend a flight of stairs comfortably and will have an operation just so that he can have a normal life.

    Transfers are a crazy, inexact science. Something can be agreed, then fall apart at the last second. It isn’t Football Manager.

    People want to rail and scream at this board for incompetence, making the club a laughingstock, etc, etc. But without knowing the conditions of the market … the REAL conditions, that is impossible to say. All we know is what has happened. At present, that is nothing.

    Klopp laughed at the Hummels to United or anywhere else rumors, and said that he and Reus are going nowhere. And he should know. So now what? Who is out there? Just yesterday, Hummels was too slow, mistake prone. Now he’s the answer. Gone.

    Vertonghen? Is he that world-class CB that culers crave? Benatia? Teams with tons of money have taken a pass on him. He was PSG’s plan B, AFTER Luiz. Should we make the presumption that we know more than highly paid scouts for a top-flight football club with all the money in the world?

    Or is there something to the marketplace reality, as it relates to centerbacks? Dunno. But I am fond of asking silly questions.

    Some suggest that the board is drawing out the Mathieu transfer, here and in social media, so that we will be satisfied with crap. I can only repeat that there are 5 weeks left in the window. I don’t want the club signing a player not up the standard or profile, just to make the signing.

    Everyone yelled and screamed that the club must have a 9, and what is our idiot board doing, not giving Messi the tools that he needs? So they bought, for 81m, Suarez. So clearly they are interested in doing business, and can do business if there is business to be done. Bravo, Ter Stegen, Rakitic have all come to the club, but business was there to be done.

    Let’s wait to see what happens, and storm the ramparts on Sept. 1 once it it known what is going to transpire.

    1. Where to begin…

      First, with respect, it is very hard to read this call for ” calm and deep breaths” when your Suarez article exists on this site,.The amount of vitriol that article contains, especially your suggestion that you would possibly trade in your soci card and FCB fandom over the signing of solely one player. If you can “scream” in your own way about that, so to can we about the club’s transfer dealings.

      “In a recent interview, Puyol laid out the reasons that a CB signing was so complex. It isn’t just a question of plunking down money and taking away a player. The player has to want to come, and a deal has to be reached with his club.”

      Puyol has to don a more politically correct stance now that he is in the front office. What’s he going to say? Have a go at Zubi?

      “How tough is the CB market? PSG paid 50m for David Luiz. Would anyone here countenance paying 50m for Luiz? Couldn’t PSG have just ponied up for Laporte or Benatia, since they are apparently light years better than Luiz? Valid ask, right. Maybe scouts think Luiz is better, and all the people who think he’s crap don’t know as much as they suspect.”

      I don’t know why people seem to believe that PSG overpaying for Luiz has suddenly “set the market” in a certain way. Top CB’s are valued highly for the reasons you have already stated. PSG overpaid for a Brazilian to Partner with Silva, who has a marketable name and image. The signing could not possibly have been solely with football in mind.

      You state the Puyol statement that a player would “want” to come then offer the question as to why PSG didn’t simply just pay up for Laporte or Benatia? See the issue. Maybe they didn’t want to come. I don’t see the logic in saying that “scouts” think Luiz is simply better, that is, in my opinion, a needless hypothetical question that we will never know the answer to. It is not that people mindlessly “think he’s crap” it is that people have WATCHED HIM and think “My lord 50m is absurd”.

      “Or maybe the market is so comprehensively intense, that people are spending 50m for laughingstocks.”

      I don’t’ personally agree with your manner of writing, in that you go in one complete direction for a while then suddenly about face with a “ But maybe not!” It is understandable to adopt such a style every so often, but every article is often riddled with caveats, it becomes quite amateurish to read. Again, my own OPINION on your writing style, it is NOT personal, I am not trying to flame you.

      “Calmness, and patience”

      Again, your Suarez sentiments make this read as hypocrisy.

      “The board didn’t turn the team into a laughing stock for having the temerity to have belief in one of its greatest players and defenders. Was anyone here ready to jettison Puyol 2 seasons ago, something that in hindsight should have happened? What if the club has kept Abidal and tossed Puyol?”

      The writing has been on the wall for years with Carles. It isn’t black and white. It isn’t jettison him or pray he comes back. Perhaps signing an actual defender, prospect or vet, and retaining Carles to help coach him along would have been the proper avenue?

      Why have Xavi and Carles had to so cruelly suffer the pangs of father time? Because Money was wasted on glamour signings/ nonsensical signings ( Song at CB is legendary) rather than those for depth.

      “People want to rail and scream at this board for incompetence, making the club a laughingstock, etc, etc. But without knowing the conditions of the market … the REAL conditions, that is impossible to say. All we know is what has happened. At present, that is nothing.”

      Um… you have been one of those “people”

      ” Benatia? Teams with tons of money have taken a pass on him. He was PSG’s plan B, AFTER Luiz. Should we make the presumption that we know more than highly paid scouts for a top-flight football club with all the money in the world?”

      The suggested notion that Benatia is less a CB than Luiz because of how PSG conducted business? Since when is PSG the gold standard of how to conduct football business? The whole “ well we aren’t pro’s at this so we probably shouldn’t try and apply our own knowledge and opinions” is absurd to me. We as fans are able to pour over countless articles from top footballing minds on players, club season reviews, blogger sites,etc. to educate ourselves.

      “Or is there something to the marketplace reality, as it relates to centerbacks? Dunno. But I am fond of asking silly questions.”

      Again, you go back and forth , back and forth after every point you make.

      “Some suggest that the board is drawing out the Mathieu transfer, here and in social media, so that we will be satisfied with crap. I can only repeat that there are 5 weeks left in the window. I don’t want the club signing a player not up the standard or profile, just to make the signing.”

      Unless you’ve read this elsewhere, I have read precisely ONE suggestion of that, the one of that above poster who said “ conspiracy theory” , effectively saying “ hey total grain of salt this is so nutty it can’t be true.”

      “Everyone yelled and screamed that the club must have a 9, and what is our idiot board doing, not giving Messi the tools that he needs? So they bought, for 81m, Suarez. So clearly they are interested in doing business, and can do business if there is business to be done. Bravo, Ter Stegen, Rakitic have all come to the club, but business was there to be done.”

      Thank god they bought the best ‘9” in the world, when I would read that people wanted Soriano from Red Bull Salzburg. Shocking and hilarious.

    2. I’ll begin, FCB16, with the one thing many have the most difficulty understanding about my writing, that thing which you assault as “amateurish.”

      In my 30+ years in journalism, in news and features, I have never, ever seen a piece of writing approved by an editor with a functioning brain, that doesn’t take into account both sides of an argument. If a politician is corrupt, you present both sides of the story. In a news story, you always reach both sides for comment. It’s called balance. I can appreciate in the black and white world that people crave, that isn’t always interesting. But “amateurish?” Sorry, but that’s something I can only disagree with, most vehemently, from my view as both a writer and editor.

      So yes, in this space, that same background and training means that both sides will ALWAYS be presented from me. As in always. This world isn’t black and white, on or off.

      So, point by point, from the bottom of your comment, because that’s more fun:

      — It’s why my sentence included “IN SOCIAL MEDIA,” rather than just here.

      — I don’t go “back and forth.” I ask a question. So answer it. You clearly have an opinion.

      — The Benatia point is to simply ask why a club hasn’t purchased him yet, and to endeavor to make folks understand that buying a CB isn’t like buying a pair of shoes. “How much? I’ll take him.” Any other layers are your own addition.

      — I have called this board vile and corrupt as well as other descriptives, rather than incompetent and bent on making this club a laughingstock.

      — No, my Suarez writing does NOT make a call for calm smack of hypocrisy. That Suarez piece was very calm, while being very passionate.

      — To say that Puyol has to take a more politically correct stance is the basest kind of conspiracy theory, aka “He’s just saying that because.” It presents a contention that is impossible to refute, so I won’t try.

      — As to your, “if you can scream about that, so too can we about the club’s transfer dealings,” nobody said you couldn’t. If people want to start flinging their toys out of the pram in reaction to every rumor, have at it. My comment was simply that, at its core, we know nothing. Actually, we know less than nothing, since the presence of “nothingness” implies a “somethingness.” But there isn’t any something at all. Only rumors.

      For example. Yesterday on RAC1, it was suggested that the club MIGHT sign only 1 CB. Today, from that same outlet as well as MD, came the suggestion/rumor that Enrique wants 3 more signings, 2 CBs and an RB, if Alves leaves.

      So which one is correct? The more current one, or the one that people want to believe as it enables their notions about the board?

      It’s why calmness is important as we assess this stuff. People were fuming at Xavi leaving the club. 20 minutes later, he isn’t leaving the club. So now what? We sit, and wait to see what happens and react to concrete information.

    3. Whole heatedly agree with all what you said kevin, I love these balanced posts.

      We fans as outside spectators have the easiest job, All we need to do is choose from the top of our head what we think is the best CB signing for us and then call it a day, It’s a simple point and shoot for us, But the actual complexity of transfers in real life is anything but, First there is scouting then evaluation of the candidate players then calculating the likelihood of adjusting and performing well in our system based on their attributes and skill since you run the risk of wasting tens of millions of euros, Then there are player negotiations, And then the hardest of all which is negotiating with their clubs, And at the same time you need to have back ups in case if it didn’t work out with the primary choices…etc,etc.

      We all had our doubts about this board when it came to the sporting side and how well they can be trusted with the rejuvenation of the team, Well so far they showed that they are willing to spend, And spend good!, Like you said they showed they can do business if there is business to be done, If there is truly out there the perfect CB for us that is actually AVAILABLE, Then yes i think he would’ve been already signed.

    4. I am sorry but I can’t simply buy into this “they’re doing their best! ” There has been way too much to the contrary for me to give them the benefit of the doubt . Feel free to believe that , as is your right.

    5. Nobody has said they are doing their best. But they are doing something. Which is more than they have done.

      Rafinha, Deulofeu from loan. Ter Stegen, Bravo, Rakitic, Suarez added with Mathieu in process. The non-playing first teamers have been mostly jettisoned.

      This board is doing something, at long last. Their best would have been to fix things when they needed fixing, which would have meant saying goodbye to Puyol 3 years ago, selling Abidal, etc, etc. But people would have lost their minds.

      Sometimes legends and icons are also handcuffs. Some would even speculate that the trophyless season was the carte blanche to make the necessary changes, even if they are too late. Dunno. More speculation.

      What we do know is that at present, the board is doing something. And that’s better than nothing.

    6. “Sometimes legends and icons are also handcuffs..”

      As I read that I thought about Mourinho and his mission to remove Casillas. Was it for football or power? I don’t know. But it seemed extremely painful from the the seat of this Barcelona fan. I can’t imagine how we, as cules, would have handled that towards Puyol or Xavi.

      Perhaps this season, presuming Xavi now stays, we will get a taste.

  23. Like in all transfers, arguments can be made both pro and con and no opinion is “right” until the season is through. It seems that one of the themes of this transfer window was veterans and youth as Bravo/Ter Stegen, Mathieu/Marquinhos, Suarez/Deulofeu, Rakitic/Rafinha demonstrate.

    With the exception of Marquinhos and Cuardrado, we now seem to have acquired all of our transfer targets, and we will have to see who else will come before the transfer deadline.

    The club has had a poor history of CB signings since 2008, so at least what we are buying in Mathieu is the security of a veteran who knows the league just as we are also getting in Bravo and Rakitic. And while Suarez certainly brings controversy and anxiety, he was by far the best option out there. So the club is in essence saying we will sign the players we think we need and let the fans and the rest of the football world be damned. It may seems like arrogance or a welcome pragmatism depending on whether you want to give the club the benefit of the doubt after many blunders and examples of inaction and neglect.

    The coach and board have made the signings they wanted and though some have not been popular with fans, it is up to Enrique to get the most out of them and make them gel into a team. It is Lucho’s squad with the players he has chosen and arguments about whether we now have the right players with the right coach will be settled on the pitch. After watching a great team degrade over the past few years, I am looking forward to watching something a bit different this season.

    1. I am honestly curious as to what the consensus around here is? One day the board is inept, another day they should be given a break, one day they are a disgrace and should be voted out… One summer of doing actual business (which they HAVE to do because the ban is incoming) does not buy them anything from me, they’re finally doing their jobs. Good for them.

    2. agar2525, there IS no consensus, nor should there be. For me, the board isn’t inept. The board knows exactly what it wants to do, even if we don’t agree with what it wants to do:

      preserve its power and save their own asses.

      For me, this board should have all stepped down with Rosell. I have been clear about my disapproval of them since before Rosell won the election. But that disapproval doesn’t mean not acknowledging when something good has occurred. It just isn’t black and white like that.

    3. Yes, what Kxevin said. I may approve of many of the board’s recent actions, and I may disapprove of several of them, but that is entirely separate from my feeling that the entire board should have stepped down when Rosell resigned, or at least simply appointed an interim president until elections could be held this summer. That they failed to do so makes them illegitimate and corrupt in my eyes no matter who they do or do not sign.

  24. the board won’t sign a center-back this summer, we’ll get a slew of posts on BFB about how Suarez’s inclusion helps the team defensively somehow, and we’ll lose the league again.

    when in reality, we all know that we need not one, but 2 outstanding CBs given the transfer ban we still face for the next 18 months. by the time that ban ends, left-back Jeremy Mathieu will be nearly 33. we were happy to splurge €75m for Suarez as a marquee signing, but not willing to pony up the cash to entice quality players in the position we’ve desperately needed for 3 seasons. does anyone seriously believe that if we’d waved €40m at ANY of the CBs in question; Marquinos, Hummels, Benatia, whoever; that they wouldn’t have come? for the price of Suarez we could have picked 2 of whoever we wanted in that position. but no, the board needed a flashy signing, the team’s needs be damned, and so we’re once again heading into preseason with a highly unbalanced sporting project. what a joke.

  25. Looks like Xavi is staying. His agent says he accepts his new role under Enrique, so that NYCFC stuff is tabled … for now.

    1. This is good news for me.
      Apart from being a Xavi fan, I don’t think I could have been able to deal with losing all of Valdes, Puyol and Xavi (the central spine of Barca for a decade) in one summer.

    2. I wonder what Xavi’s role will be on the team and at the club. I don’t think that anyone wants a highly paid Jonathan Dos Santos, no matter what his legend status is at the club. And there are a number of views floating around:

      — Xavi and the club couldn’t agree on the size of his golden parachute.

      — NYCFC didn’t present a nice enough package.

      — Xavi came to terms with the role that Enrique was offering him, and chose to stay.

      — He and club both decided it would be best if he stayed, retired from the club as Puyol did, then slid into an administrative/coaching position at Barça.

      Take your pick.

    3. Yesssss. I’ve been in denial that he’s leaving but I really thought that it was for real yesterday when I read Barcastuff that he signed for NYC. There’s no smoke without fire. I don’t understand why the club would let him leave. It would be really foolish of them. We lost Puyol and Valdes already. We can’t lose another captain and probably the most important for our style of play.

    4. That is the pertinent question, isn’t it, our style of play. I reckon we won’t really know something of what Enrique is planning until the Gamper match, given the various injuries, etc. And even then, we won’t fully know until Suarez returns from his ban, as I imagine that 9 role and how it develops is crucial to the club’s attack and attacking style.

      I do think that tika taka is dead, even as Barça won’t ever get away from playing attacking, possession football.

  26. Also want to set the record straight about something which someone took a jousting lance to above, something mentioned in my Suarez post about my consideration of jettisoning my soci card and reconsidering the depth of my support for this football club.

    In a talk with my grownup, aka my wife, she reminded me that such a decision makes me no better than people who sit around and complain about people running the country, then don’t vote. That further, if I loved the club enough to take the decision to beCOME a soci, then surely that makes being able to go to the Camp Nou to cast a vote against the men who have done so much that I disagree so vehemently with, not only worth it but part of my responsibility AS a soci.

    So there’s that.

    As I said in the Suarez post, what someone does or feels or reacts to about the Suarez transfer is a very personal decision. But as I have been called out about my contemplation of various actions in regard to that transfer, the above is for the record.

  27. By the by if people want to get mad about something, I would recommend the Rosell testimony that is happening today about the Neymar contracts.

    RM will be presenting their big signing this week. Our most recent big signing has to surreptitiously sign jerseys among the shrubbery around his house, while the other big signing is having that deal hassled out in court. Ugh.

  28. Xavi staying; it’s like a new signing hehe. That’s obviously very good news; the missing MF piece was a bit worrying, but now we have two great players for every MF position. Buy Benatia if he’s half as good as the hype. Perhaps another CB as well, but that depends on Mascherano’s intended role. He plays well at DM, but should he be put on the bench as Busquets’s sub? If we would play with two DMs then several CMs will be left with little playing time. Mascherano was our best CB last season, but if he’s played together with Alba and Alves/Cuadrado then our height issues will persist. We could use a tall, world class CB/RB hybrid; in what fantasy realm are those found?

    If the defensive line is properly taken care of I see us having the best squad once again. Even the B-team is looking scary, so decent backups will be provided.

    Seeing my poor prediction win was a surprise lol; I had more luck than Germany in the WC. I’d choose to write a blog post myself were I better at this language; but if someone could write a post about possible starting elevens and alternate formations for next season that would be a very pleasant read.

    1. Will pass along to Kari, in case she hasn’t seen this yet. Thanks for being part of the family, and congrats again.

  29. I think kxevin, apart from the suarez piece (and i appreciate your recent caveat-please keep that card!), presents the same narrative that was presented above, namely a call for perspective. I’m on my phone so i wont get into to it, but it’s pretty obvious to me and a quick formula might look like: citation of social media blurb followed by several examples of why said blurb is not universal and finally an appeal to the multiplicity of perspectives. Its refreshing to me and is stylistically/narratively refreshing considering the amount of legitimate drivel around us.

    That being said, its nice to see people willing to challenge, and fairly respectfully at that!

  30. Xavi’s (potential) staying is still just a rumour on Sport but Mundo say that it’s not decided yet. I don’t know what to think about it in truth. He is still a very good midfielder and is a very calming influence on the side. I think the days of him and Iniesta on the same team are gone as neither of them is good enough defensively any more but alongside the likes of Masch, Busi & Rakitic he could help dictate play or kill games that we ahead in. I support the idea that he has earned the right to decide himself after what he has achieved.

    If Xavi does stay than I hope Sergi Roberto decides to go out on loan for the season as he would then be 7th choice in midfield and get even less minutes that last year. Sergi hasn’t disappointed or impressed me really, he has never been given the chance and if this season it doesn’t happen for him then I would fully expect Sergi Samper to be knocking at the door next season along with Halilovic & Denis Suarez depending on their seasons. 1 start and 16 sub appearances isn’t enough to develop your game at his age; add to that the fact that most of those substitute apps were less than 10 minutes he is in trouble if at 23 he has no real experience. This is an important decision for him.

    It’s strange that there has been no movement on the Alex Song front. I’m not saying that I want him gone or anything but I find it strange that no one in the EPL has made serious moves for him and that we’ve said really nothing on the matter. He is a useful midfielder for us but with the right team he is a very very good player. I could see him starting for any of Utd, Liverpool or Arsenal or giving good competition to Yaya & Fernandinho at City. There were rumours about Italy too but nothing has come to fruition. I wouldn’t be against him staying if Xavi leaves.

    Masch, Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta & Rafinha are all good midfielders but in a long season with three playing at all times a 6th midfielder with a bit of ability is needed. Whether it ends up being Sergi Roberto, Xavi or Song depends on your viewpoint but cases could be made for Sergi’s energy, Xavi’s control or Song’s physicality.

    I wouldn’t mind if two of those three stayed if it allowed Rafinha to play minutes further forward as deputy for Messi. With Suarez unavailable and Alexis gone only Neymar, Messi, Pedro & Deulofeu are there for the first few months and I’d rather have Rafinha pushed forward than Iniesta.

    1. Rumor is (again, no confirmation from anyone) that the big problems with Song and Alves are their salaries.

      Song will always be a utility player for us, if he stays. I imagine something will happen for him toward the end of the window. We put him in the window at 10m, but suspect we would take less.

      I like your points about the S. Roberto, Song and Xavi situations. Spot on. All are now situational subs, dependent upon what Enrique wants to do. But that’s more than 16m in salary tied up in 3 reserve players. Not sure how the bean counters feel about that.

    2. I reckon that Song would be a great signing for United. With Cleverley, Carrick, Fellaini, Anderson & Fletcher all on the books they need to sell before they buy any more but none of those are good enough in a 4-3-3. They spent big on Ander Herrera but he isn’t going to do it on his own either.
      It is a terrible United squad though, even with a few signings they will struggle to keep up with City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea. Chelsea had a very productive window, bringing in Courtois, Costa, Filipe, Cesc & Zouma. Mourinho said that they are done with their business already which is good news for their stability. Romeu signed a new contract too from what I remember so they are stacked.

      I think our midfield is best balanced if we have Masch, Song & Busquets (defensive) and Iniesta, Rakitic & Rafinha (offense); especially if Lucho only wants one attacking midfielder starting games. Rakitic can play as a more defensive or attacking option depending on the opposition.

      What would you do in Xavi’s shoes? Collect a big pay check sitting on the bench at Barca and hope to add to your already massive apps & titles’ records or get an even bigger salary kicking the ball around NYC? Lucho & Pep retired at 34 & 35 respectively and Xavi will be 35 in January. In selfishness I’d like him to retire whilst still at the top of the game without having played for anyone but Barca. There’s an honour to being a one-club man like Puyol.

    3. Indeed, Xavi has earned the right to decide his own ending, without question. But I do hope that people understand he is going to be an almost 10m sub.

      I suspect there is going to be a lot of snarking about how Xavi deserves more playing time, respect, etc, etc. We’ll see.

    4. Or there will be lot of complainig that Xavi plays too much and there’s no rotation.

    5. You’ll not be surprised to hear that’s not the way I see Xavi, Ciaran 🙂

      First of all, he’s not one to stay if he is a liability to the club or if he doesn’t think he’s going to play. I’m completely discounting that. He may need money but he gets that either way and I can’t believe the club are playing hardball with him.

      However, I wouldn’t be surprised if LE has had an honest conversation saying he’s not the future of Barcelona and all else being equal the scales are tipped against him playing. ( I would equally be unsurprised, if that is the case, if the rest of the mids have a hell of a time displacing him. Despite what others may think my take on last year is that lack of movement up front / bodies in the box blunted our attack against buses – we beat just about everyone remember – and lack of numbers at the back left us exposed to the counter. I’m not sure where the tales of our mids being over run has sprung from. I’d be grateful to hear which matches folks are thinking about. I do recall long balls and crosses being used to some effect, though. If we can buy a CB with some pace and the intelligence to cover properly that is diminished.

      Anyway, to paraphrase one of my idols, Kenny Dalglish, he’ll maybe stay and he’ll maybe no…. Either way he is the best midfielder playmaker I have seen in my lifetime.

      One other thing is for sure. With Alexis gone and Pedro unlikely to play much a lot is dependant on our front three scoring a heap of goals which I have a feeling they might just do.

    6. I don’t have a problem with Xavi starting for us, just not with Iniesta in the same side. I was disappointed with Iniesta’s season every bit as much as Xavi’s and I don’t like them playing together anymore; we are too vulnerable when they do.

      Xavi will be a great manager some day. I wouldn’t expect it to take too long to see him sitting on our bench on a permanent basis. I also don’t see him starting any of the big matches next season although I obviously could be wrong. I respect his decision as I’ve said and I will be happy with whatever he decides.

    7. Enrique’s insistence to keep xavi is to ease up the transition for the new comers and youngsters in our midfield, To fully absorb and understand the ideas and roles the coach is trying to give them, There is no benefit throwing them to the wolves and hope for the best, An abrupt transition will only harm the team, Initially he’ll still be chosen for the main lineups but this will gradual decrease after a couple of months.

      I disagree with you about iniesta, He’s no where near his decline or being replaced in the main lineups, Last season i didn’t notice any decrease in his defensive contribution, Xavi still maintained a very high performance on the pitch until he was 32, Taking into consideration that he’s the player with the most distance covered in almost every game, And he’s the most officially featured barca player in history, He also had to play with a frustrating Achilles tendinitis for many years, All of these factors resulted in limiting his high performance only to age of 32, I recon iniesta can keep up even more.

  31. Kari, thanks for doing the game. It was a good fun.

    I realize that only winners matter, but I would still be curious about the full table 🙂

    My idea for a silly post would be “Top 10 ugliest footballers in the history”

    1. hha ha! ouch…poor bojan…i really hope he wins lots of fans at stoke…even on those rainy nights…

    2. Must have been pretty expensive. He has won the Champions League two times! 🙂

    1. Yet he’s going with the team to Peru? So odd how long this has drawn out.. They even wanted to pay 20mil in installments… And people
      Think we’d pay 40m straight up for Marquinhos. That worries me though, say Mathieu is signed, all other CB rumors have gone cold lately.

    2. There really aren’t any CBs in play. Rumor is that City just transfer listed Nastastic, but he’s apparently Arsenal bound because Vermaelen is headed to United. Marquinhos is “untransferable” according to those in the know about PSG. Just not sure who else is out there. Vertonghen has been told he can’t transfer and Spurs are throwing more money at him, etc …

    3. My word what a headache. I guess Blind? Try and use him as a
      CB if necessary? We really are paying so dearly for waiting all these years. :/
      I haven’t seen enough of Nas from city but he’s injured quite a bit, didnt play too much last year though was stellar his first season.

    4. It’s a difficult thing. I was thinking of the CBs that have moved over the years, and the only one I could really think of who would have improved upon what we have or even been at the same level is Javi Martinez, and back then the club was still under the illusion that Puyol was just a green light away from being Captain Caveman again.

      Chelsea bought Zouma, which freed up Luiz. Other than that, everyone seems to be hanging on to their stuff. Mangala is destined for City, which is why they transfer listed Nastastic, who is good but breaks easily, it seems. And he’s destined for Arsenal.

      And in thinking long and hard about CBs out there then and now, and I encourage anyone to jump in here, there haven’t been many. Thiago Silva was never really a shot, Milan wanted to package he and Ibrahimovic to PSG in an all-cash offer.

      It’s weird, when I really think about it. Anyone else?

  32. So:
    Ter Stegen, Bravo, Masip
    (Alves), Montoya, Bartra, Pique, Mathieu, Adriano, Alba
    Masch, Busi, S. Roberto, Xavi, Iniesta, Rafinha, (Song), Rakitic
    Messi, Pedro, Neymar, Suarez, Delofeu

    That’s 23 men squad. I wouldn’t mind another acquisition or maybe 2.

  33. I don’t think there’s even a consensus as to who the best CB that will fit into our system is. If we could buy any one player for CB, regardless of price or availability, who would it be?

    1. Probably something not a lot of people would like. But seeing that defense has been our problem since 2008 (although last year was ok), how about instead of finding a defender that fits our system, we modify the system a bit to accommodate “traditional” CBs ? Thereby open up spaces in front ? Possession stats might suffer by I personally am less concerned about that…

    2. I for one am more than happy to have Barcelona play a deep, compact defensive block, keep the ball in their half of the pitch, and burst forward on the counter. The problem is that not too many sides would be silly enough to go chasing after the ball in Barcelona’s half. They’d just do what they’re doing already; sit back and let Barca come forward, win the ball and counter with pace. Ironically, we were so good at what we did that opposition teams are set up just so that there’s no other way we can play, and we’re not good enough to play that way any more.

  34. Sigh.

    It seems pretty certain now that Mathieu will be the only defensive signing. I was going to say that with another failure in the brewing, the board would alienate even what few supporters they have left, but I thought that last year too when they wasted resources on Neymar. And nothing happened. Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

    It pisses me right off that we spent $160m on Suarez and Neymar, yet we haggle for the most crucial part of the team. T. Silva, Hummels, Martinez, Laporte… they could have all been signed for the same amount of money.

    I don’t understand it. It is clearly not about the lack of money. This is all about the lack of effort.

    1. Well, I was just thinking above about CBs and which ones have really actually moved. Laporte was never going anywhere and Athletic locked him down very quickly. Javi Martinez we had a real shot at had we been willing to pony up his buyout, no questions asked.

      (Is tax law/payments on a buyout different if a player stays in Liga, vs going to a foreign club? Can someone enlighten here?)

      Silva was packaged with Ibrahimovic to the all-cash PSG, and Dortmund weren’t going to sell Hummels, despite the rumors. It’s complex, when I try to think of CBs that we really had a legitimate shot at acquiring.

    2. I really think it’s about money. If you’re willing to spend it on the right people, you will be taken seriously. We weren’t willing to invest (indeed we still aren’t), and we will continue to pay the price.

      If Laporte’s release clause is 42m, be done with it. Ok, that’s a lot of money for a 20-y-o; but conversely, isn’t 20m on a 30-y-o also a lot of money? Isn’t that more of a waste?

      I read somewhere that T. Silva essentially admitted moving to PSG for the money. They offered more than we were willing to pay. So we cut corners and signed Song instead for half the money, and a fraction of the use Silva would have been to us. That’s a waste and detrimental to both us and the player. Idem for Martinez.

    3. There is no evidence that our club actually wanted laporte and thought he had what it takes to play for us, His name was only mentioned in news papers a few times, For all we know his agent could have slipped some rumors to keep atheltic worried in an attempt to improve his client’s contract, which he not coincidentally got eventually, All of this can also be applied to benatia.

      You are right about Silva with ibra package, And if my memory serve me correct, Silva admitted that the reason he agreed to PSG was because he already had a personal deal with PSG president before we attempted to sign him and didn’t want to break his word, And i remember this clearly because i respected his integrity when i heard of this.

      Martinez had an absurd buyout clause at that time, To keep it in perspective, He became the highest transfer record in the 50-year history of the Bundesliga, Many including me thought it was absurd to pay this amount for him, Other voices also complained that he’ll be just another DM converted into CB and not a true CB.

    4. In Spain there’s not a real difference whether it’s a foreign club or domestic that pays the release clause. For Spanish law it’s the player that does it, not another club.

      Basically it goes like this: say Laporte’s clause is 40 million. If Athletic don’t want to sell Laporte but Laporte wants out, he can deposit those 40 millions in the coffers of the club. Here’s where it gets interesting: normally a player doesn’t have that kind of money, so it would be his new club providing that money. For tax reasons that money is considered salary, on which the player must pay taxes first. Those taxes depend on the region. For Basque Country that tax is about 20%, meaning the effective buyout clause is 50 million. This is the reason why clubs normally make it a transfer instead of paying the buy-out clause.

      Just so that we’re clear on the PSG-Messi business. Messi’s clause is 250 million. The tax on such amounts of salary are IIRC 54%, meaning the effective buyout clause of Messi, since Barcelona’s declared intent is not to negotiate Messi’s transfer, is something of the sort of 538 million Euro. Feel free to imagine what kind of associated costs would Messi to PSG mean, what with France’s 75% tax on salaries greater than 1 million and Messi’s net 23 million salary, or agent’s fee or signing bonus. Just for posterity’s sake, it would mean something greater than 1 000 000 000 Euro on a four-year contract. This is why I wasn’t really afraid of PSG’s president’s posturing.

      If we talk about CBs that could be acquired, whether they are the targets or not, here’s a list: Rojo, Garay, Mangala(whose apparent transfer to City is worth 45 million Euro), Musacchio from Villareal, Eder Balanta from River Plate, Verthongen from Tottenham.

      My question, my serious question, considering that list, which one of those would you prefer to start instead of Bartra? The only I am absolutely sure is Garay, and I don’t think there was any chance in hell Barcelona would’ve paid 8 million to Real in order to get him, not to mention the guy’s a rightie and at this point Barcelona need at least one left-footed CB, and I also don’t think Garay would’ve accepted playing second fiddle to Pique or fighting for spots with Bartra. I’m trying to be objective here, but from what I saw this season, Bartra can be an undisputed starter for everything but the toughest ties. He’s evolved very much and hopefully will continue to evolve more and more.

  35. I’m interested to see how Ancelotti will line up Real in the coming season. Do they go for the 4-2-3-1, with Kroos and Modric in the centre and a top four of Cristiano, Rodriguez, Bale, and Benzema? Surely there will be pressure on him to play all the shiny new signings, maybe at the detriment of team unity.

    No matter what, they sure are starting to look formidable. They rolled over Guardiola’s Bayern without breaking a sweat–and now they have Bayern’s best passer in their payroll.

    1. Barça beat them twice last year. And if they’d played Atleti, we might have been the ones in the final instead of them. They don’t worry me.

      The biggest worry for me and any culer should be Messi and his state. Frankly, if he isn’t ready to go, and I mean GO, it is my hope that Enrique has the power to sit him. It’s the biggest reason I was against the sale of Sanchez. He was a player who could slide into that central role, and run the team in the absence of Messi. He also worked very well with Neymar.

      Now we will have to see what happens this season, and a big signing who won’t be playing for the team until November.

    2. One of my biggest concerns is Iniesta’s form. He had flashes of brilliance but was never truly consistent throughout the season or atleast consistent enough.

    3. Very true on Messi, especially coming off such a heartbreaking World Cup. I would add Piques form and the growth of Ter-Stegen as other keys. Piqué can be lights out, maintaining that “top” form is paramount, while TS is something special just waiting for the platform to show it.

    4. They did play Atletico. Beat them 4-1. Lost only once to them all season in all competitions (as did we), but unlike us they were able to beat them three times.

      I vaguely remember your saying Bayern didn’t worry you either. You have more confidence in our defence than I do.

      Biggest worry for me are the defence and Neymar, not Messi.

  36. Diario SPORT @sport · 9m
    ÚLTIMA HORA: El FC Barcelona cierra el fichaje de Jeremy Mathieu por 20 millones de euros. Más información en breve en @sport


    now for the 2nd CB…

    1. Madrid’s AS was the first to break it. Valencia’s team were waiting for the their plane from Madrid to Peru, when the final compromise was reached – Barcelona are supposed to pay half up front and the rest in “comfortable instalments”.

      Something I can live with. 🙂

  37. How are people saying that there are no defenders out there that can improve us? I just don’t get it. And this is really the key that people seem to miss.

    Look, if everyone is fit and healthy, there is not much cause for worry, even if Bartra / Mathieu aren’t really the guys you’d be super confident of playing in a CL semi against Bayern / EE. We certainly do need a top quality CB, if anything, to also compete with Pique and make him understand that even his spot in the starting lineup is not guaranteed.
    But the key really is what if one of the CBs get injured? As they have for every friggin year for the past 5 years. Yes we seem to keep saying that the absurd injury tolls cannot possibly be repeated, only to find that they do. Proper defensive cover is a must for any team with big aspirations. It’s distressing when we play huge games moving people around, from their proper positions, playing folks like adriano at CB, etc. It just doesn’t hurt at all (even financially) to get a veteran for exactly those kind of circumstances.

    people say there are no defenders we can buy. really?
    Garay, Fazio, Musacchio, Hummels, Vertonghen, Blind, Benatia, Laporte, marquinhos, are all, in my opinion, certainly better than busquets / adriano at CB.

    1. Yeah, and would those be okay with bench-riding, ready to appear in case the second and third choice CBs are injured?

      Would the board be okay shelling out millions for just this eventuality? Why not go even a bit further, let’s sign also Hummels for 50 million, so that in case Pique, Mathieu, Garay and Mascherano are injured there’s still two starting CBs ready.

      And while we’re at it, can I have a go at your money-growing tree?

    2. Well, I don’t have a money growing tree, but the club certainly seems to have one, having no qualms on spending 150M on suarez and Neymar, so you can have a go at that.

      I get your point. But do you think Mussachio / Fazio (who can certainly be had for <10M) will have a problem rotating with the 2nd choice CB in Bartra? I doubt it. This is Barca FFS. We don't seem to be leveraging the allure the club has properly, in attracting defenders to want to play for us.

      Also if the board had planned for this eventuality, we would have certainly picked up 3 or more trophies in the past 3 years. And what do you reckon is a good price to pay for that? 30M good enough?

  38. Anyways Culers, this is a special moment, and a real cause for celebration. After 5 years Barcelona have finally signed a Center back, even if he is actually a LB. I’ll take it. Welcome Jeremy Mathieu. May you prove to be as successful as the last french defender we signed.

    Barcelona always seems to sign / sell a player one or two seasons too late. Just like Villa, this guy should have arrived a couple seasons earlier. Still, better late than never, right?

    EE? whats up with you guys? Y’all always seem to go after the flavour of the season, not to mention signing the ‘supposed’ best player of the world cup. It was Ozil (+khedira) in 2010 and now Hames Rodriguez in (2014). Good luck. I must say that EE has gotten a lot more likeable after Ancelotti.

    1. I agree , this is definitely a moment for celebration. Club signed a defender after long. I simply dont understand why we didnt go for Musaachio / Fazio / Rojo. I can u.stand why we didnt go for Garay, because of the RM clause.

      I have only one concern though. It seems Mathieu has agreed for a pay cut, so that Barca pays his buy out. Isnt this a bit unfair to the player. I am sure he is not paid, like Pique or Puyol, by Valencia and when he takes a pay cut, he must be getting paid even much lower. (Dont know how much at all). A club who can pay soooo much for Neymar and Suarez, wait for a player, coming from a second line club in liga as far as salaries are concerned, to agree for a salary cut to be signed, I think its unfair on the player. Anyways, we have a defender now.

  39. Mathieu !!!

    Should’ve bought him last year to avert absolutely unnecessary Set piece goals but what the hell…

    4-5 goals more and Tata could’ve walked away with a Treble.

    Valdes injury, awful bad luck.

  40. Mathieu, Vidal, De rossi bandwagon.
    At least, one is home.
    Good day y’all !

  41. Mathieu is done. If social media is any indication, the whining will commence, but for me, it’s a good signing. Is 20m too much? Yes. But the market dictates what the market demands. A team either pays it or shuts up. We paid it because we needed to pay it.

    The people clamoring for height? Now on set pieces, there are potentially four six-foot-plus players. Mathieu also adds pace and versatility to the back line, in addition to depth and height. He’s too old, right? Carles Puyol was 30 years old in 2008. Let that sink in.

    Of the laundry list of CBs mentioned, ask yourself a few questions, such as would people REALLY have been happy had Barça paid 60m for Benatia? That kind of money for a CB not even guaranteed to start? And if the club is going to do that, why not just line up Bartra, Ie, Bagnack and Diagne and kick them in the balls, which is what such a transfer would have done.

    Mathieu, in the 2-3 good seasons that he has left, will give the abovementioned quartet time to fully develop. If they don’t work out don’t worry, by that time there will be another Super CB! that culers will be able to moan about not signing.

    In the meantime, to my view, the club addressed a real need, and one that has really been begging since Abidal left, that eraser type with range and pace, who can fix mistakes made at the back.

    Yes, it’s 20m for a 30-year-old player. That’s life, and the market.

  42. I still expect another centreback signing but I am happy that we’ve got Mathieu. The fee is a bit much but Valencia are not the Valencia of the past few seasons sure to new investment. I love the fact that when Bayern Munich go after a player they just pay the buyout or the fee asked for and have done with it, Götze, Martinez, Thiago etc.

    I’m not going to pretend that he was my first choice but for the past 4 seasons he has been very strong and consistently good against even the top teams. He has pace and plenty of experience in La Liga which is also vital as with the purchase of Rakitic.

    Assuming that Masch is played in midfield as expected then we still only have Bartra, Pique and Mathieu to fight for the two positionsso in essence Mathieu is replacing Puyol. I’d like another physical type of defender who is maybe less experienced like Rojo to give us more options in terms of playing a more defensive system.

    1. Well, I don’t think we can assume Masch is played in midfield, as LE stated that he will be used where needed. Rojo is interesting, but I would rather have cover on the other side now that we have Mathieu – not really sure Alves and Montoya will be strong enough options (though of course they are not bad).

      Perhaps we need to get used to the ideas of 1) Piqué is the undisputed no 1 in the eyes if the club; and 2) that we need to trust Bartra as an undisputed no 2 this season. Then, with Mathieu (who I think will work out just fine) and Masch, and Ie and Bagnack, we might be covered for rotation as it is, after all.

    2. There’s absolutely no right footed centrebacks that also play right back at the minute. Still, Rojo is a centreback for Sporting and versatility is never a bad thing. Seeing as Masch can also slot in at centreback if needed, having 2 left footed centrebacks isn’t that bad as we could slot one in at fullback if Masch had to play centreback and not lose height.

      At right back I don’t expect any defensive player to be signed as Montoya is a strong defender in the first place. People seen to have a problem with him but I think that he hasn’t gotten a fair shot. Assuming that Alves goes I fully expect Cuadrado to be signed and alternate between attacking and defensive positions.

    3. Quite possibly so – perhaps Boateng, but I wouldn’t think he is (nor should he be) a target. Montoya might be able to cover the position, though he has not really impressed, to my mind. But maybe, as you say, he has not been given a fair shot. If (big if) Alves goes, I’m still hesitant whether Cuadrado is a sufficient replacement – I just can’t see him in a defensive position. Rumors are one more CB and one right wing/full back; in that case we don’t need one player to cover both positions.

  43. Congratulation everyone for the transfer of Mathieu!

    Just seen a few of his highlights, Man this guy is fast, I mean really fast, Now i understand more why he’s been chosen, He’ll have no problem covering that 40m of emptiness behind when playing for our back line.

    I still can’t believe we now have another defender that is taller than 190 cm, Conceding corners have became a terrible psychological ordeal for every cule, Perhaps now we can be more calmer when that ball comes flying into our players.

    Very happy about the signing.

  44. He was always very good against us. Heck he was actually Valencia’s 1st choice LB over Alba.

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