McKuler is not impressed, aka “The summer of our discontent”

mckayla

Whatevs …

Summer is here, and after years of neglect of the sporting project, transfers are being made, players coming in that people — most notably the folks whose asses are on the line — hope will improve the team. Finally!

Whatevs … not good enough.

For me, the best part of social media is the instant evaluative nature of the beast, in which some player in his mother’s womb is already not good enough to play for Barça. I was trying to think back to the last year in which transfers weren’t greeted with a McKayla-like shrug from this club’s supporters, and I can’t.

Even in the first year of Annus Guardiolus, that happy time when invincible sprites capered hither and yon, “More than 30m for a right back??!!” “Keita was a role player for Sevilla. Is he good enough for us?” Before that, Henry was “an old man who wouldn’t amount to much at Barça,” and Abidal was “good in Ligue 1, but Barça is a whole different level, you know …”

Transfer after transfer, summer after summer, which brings us to this summer and its additions. Let’s have a look at them, one by one:

Marc Andre Ter Stegen

He comes to Barça from Borussia Monchengladbach. He likes sunsets, puppies and learning foreign languages. He dislikes negativity. rain and teams from Munich. Rumor is he came because “Barça” is a lot easier to say than “Monchengladbach.” Easier to spell, too. He is one of the brightest young goalkeeper talents of recent memory, skilled with his feet and tall, with quick reflexes and ability to get up and down with ease. At 12m, many considered him the bargain of the century. McKuler is unimpressed. Not good enough. He should have been Courtois. 12m for a player in the last year of his contract who wanted to leave? My dog could have negotiated better.

Ivan Rakitic

He comes to Barça from Sevilla. He likes fireplaces, seeing both sides of an argument, churros (yay!). He dislikes gay teammates (Whoops! Sorry!), brunettes, negativity. Rumor is he came to Barça because the facility of the city’s hairdressers with blonde dye. Rakitic exploded onto the scene last season, continuing an arc that made him pretty much the most valuable player on a Sevilla side that won the Europa League title. Pace, work rate, size and strength are his calling cards. 18m is one heck of a deal for this firecracker-hot player. Still, McKuler is unimpressed. Not good enough. He should have been Gundogan. And why did those big stupids sell Thiago. They suck.

Luis Suarez

He comes to Barça from Liverpool. He likes arms and shoulders, scoring goals and appeals. He dislikes suspensions, people who don’t understand him and Patrice Evra. Rumor is that he came to Barça to escape the villagers, with their pickaxes and torches. Suarez is considered by many to be the best 9 in the game. He destroyed Premier League defenses last season, laying waste to the “best league in the world” in grand style. We need a 9 and by cracky for 81m, we sure did get one. McKuler is almost impressed, though 81m? What are we, Galacticos?

Claudio Bravo

He comes to Barça from Real Sociedad. He likes strikers who can’t shoot, World Cups and screaming. He dislikes Lionel Messi, chili (It’s CHEE-lay!) and going to the opera (“Why do they keep calling my name?”). Rumor is that he came to Barça because how hard can it be to replace a Pintocalypse? Bravo, the undisputed starter for both Chile and La Real, overcame a couple of serious injuries to become one of the Liga’s best keepers. He’s good with his feet and quick with his hands. He finished 5th in the Zamora race the year his team was relegated. Which is kinda crazy, when you think about it. He came to Barça for 12m, a seeming bargain for a top-class keeper. McKuler desperately wishes he was Keylor Navas. That would be impressive.

Jeremy Mathieu

He comes to Barça from Valencia. He likes skyscrapers, little people and things in the middle. He dislikes sneaky little people, bottle gingers and life on the wing. Rumor is he came to Barça because of the city’s higher doorjambs. This Goliath of a defender really came into his own as a centerback for Valencia, where he displayed speed, tackling ability and ability to defend set pieces. He also scored two goals against RM last season, over Varane and Ramos. He injects height into the Barça back line as well as bringing some pace to the game. He came to Barça for 20m, taking a pay cut to facilitate his transfer. McKuler can’t even … in the bedroom, screaming “Old and expensive!!!!” into a tear-stained pillow.

The club also brought the “NOT” twins back from loan, Gerard Deulofeu, who is “not” quite ready yet and Thiago Rafinha Alcantara, who is “not” Thiago … Why did they sell Thiagooooo!!! (Weep! Sniffle!)

In addition, the club has sold Cesc Fabregas, who was awful and took the second halves of seasons off, but should have gone for 60m and Alexis Sanchez, who was an overpriced bottler who turned out kinda sorta alright, who after the World Cup he had, should have sold for 100m. McKuler doesn’t even need to draft the dog. The parakeet can negotiate better.

Forever homes were also found for Isaac Cuenca, who promptly broke while practicing, Jonathan Dos Santos, Cristian Tello and Bojan Krkic. McKuler is unimpressed by the sums gleaned from the Sale of the Inadequates. Those dummies have absolutely no idea how to make money from the sales of academy players. None.

Cruijff cites “nou Galacticos” and predicts damnation. Is there any salvation for this club that, from the sounds of things in the aftermath of this summer of ineptitude, will be lucky to not be relegated next season? Good question.

It’s worth having a gander at the view of the neutral observer, where you find notions that a team fixed many of its problems, getting stronger and faster in midfield with players who will also re-enable a viable press, two top-class keepers who replace Valdes and Pinto, a fast, eraser-type defender who excelled at the CB position and has mistake-fixing pace and range and the best striker on the planet.

McKuler begs to differ. EXcellent players??!! Clearly, they are uninformed, and don’t understand that every last one of those players could have been somebody light years better.

Crazy people.

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357 Responses to “McKuler is not impressed, aka “The summer of our discontent””

  1. Peter says:

    Vat iz zo difficult in pronouncing Mönchengladbach(Myon-hen-glad-bah)?

  2. PrinceYuvi says:

    Ha.
    Fun!
    Thanks kx.

  3. hansh says:

    Yay! A new post! Thanks Kxevin.

    I don’t know how some of you on here can stand to discuss the merits of potential transfer targets for dozens of comments and several weeks on end. I say this in an admiring way – I simply don’t have the patience for it! Once a transfer happens I’m happy to dig into it and talk about it, but silly season as a whole gets really old for me, really fast. Thank goodness the games are starting up again!

    • Peter says:

      I’m speaking just for myself here, but for me it’s not just discussing, but thinking about implementation of said targets and the way opponents may react and trying to guess the coach’s vision by his signings. It also passes the time and it’s a nice mental jog to be able to discuss and debate with other obviously smart people who share the passion, even when they are absolutely wrong. :P

      • agar2515 says:

        Well said Peter. I’m trying hard not to curl up in a ball with the new ( and often occurring) Agger and Vermalean rumors.Ugh. If Alves is staying Im still not entirely sure what Cuadrado’s signing would be for… especially for the 35m Fiorentina want.

      • hansh says:

        When you put it like that, Peter, it sounds so interesting!

        In practice (for me) though, it devolves into dreaming about what could be and ruing what isn’t, quibbling about numbers (salary, fees, and statistics), and generally covering the same ground from every angle possible until the tabloids generate a new rumor (Agger??).

        Ugh. Give me real, live replays of games on youtube any day over the silly season blues.

  4. Davour says:

    Thanks for a funny and in many ways true article. The real player’s performance can seldom trump the imagined success of a fantasy-alternative…

    Also, noted that Dongou was not included in the group of B-players to accompany the squad to England. Munir has taken his place, and Sandro, too, seems to be ahead in the pecking order. I don’t know if he’s injured, but otherwise it seems he no longer is considered the “new Eto’o”…

    • ciaran says:

      I don’t know what to think about Dongou. He had a lot of promise and has the physicality but not a strikers instincts. B team is normally where you strikers bang in a good amount of goals but struggle with the physical side of the game but it’s the opposite for Dongou. He is good at link play but not a finisher.

      Munir has immense talent, he’s probably the player that I’ve been most excited about since Icardi. The types of goals he scores are not typical of a Barca forward, or anyone really. Not only the half way line goal but some of the controlled shots from outside the box make me think of a young Messi’s calmness in front of goal. He has the potential to be great so it’s right to give him time with the big boys.

      Sandro is a more typical striker and could become a really good player. He seems like a good bet for a player who makes it in a good team but I haven’t seen enough to expect him to break our first team.

      • Davour says:

        Thing is, the few times Dongou was given some time in the first team I think he did alright. Perhaps not as extravagantly as Adama’s debut, but still promising. But perhaps, as you say: he’s lacking that killer instinct. I do agree that Munir seems to be a talent of different kind, a world beater in his approach. It will be very interesting to follow his development – moving so quickly from Juvenil A to the first team! His inclusion I was not surprised to see – more Sandro’s, a player of whom I have heard almost nothing.

  5. georgjorge says:

    I like how this space is run – with strict policies on comments that insult others or their opinions. For this reason, I’m a bit puzzled on how you (Kxevin) can on one hand (very rightly so) speak out against those who belittle others’ opinions, and then post an article which does exactly that. The only difference is that you don’t target anyone in particular but the whole group of those who are unhappy with the new transfers for whatever reasons. You call them McKulers and (implicitly) cry-babies, which doesn’t sound that respectful to me.

    It’s not something that keeps me awake at night, just something that puzzled me when I read your comments on another thread and then this post. I don’t feel particularly insulted even though I think that the Mathieu transfer was too expensive and that Suarez was far too expensive for the very real danger of a very long suspension sometime during the next years. But I would understand if others with more emotion attached to their arguments would feel insulted, and I wonder how Kxevin and others would react if I would publish a post calling all those who like the new transfers (from a pure sporting perspective) “fanboys” or “conformists”.

    • ibbe says:

      I think Kevin wants us to look at these transfers from diffrent perspectives. Whoever we sign people find wrongs and negatives that sometimes make no sense. In my opinion, except for the CB situation the club has has done great buisness. But Wherever I go, I see culers unhappy and unimpressed. Maybe people will never be happy as long as we don’t make a big name signing in CB position..or it wouldn’t matter. If we sign Marquinhos culers won’t be happy about price. If we sign Hummels culers won’t be happy about “pace” or “similarity with pique”. If we sign Benatia “he’s too expensive and too old”.

      Kevin has a point.

      • Kxevin says:

        Ibbe is spot on. Humor is also a mirror. In this case, the notion was simply to poke a bit of fun at the idea of the high-demand culer as regards transfers, which is different than,”I think your opinion is stupid.” That is the kind of direct attack that will always be moderated in this space.

        Everybody has opinions about players. For me, even if Suarez hadn’t made a meal of three different opponents I would still be against the transfer. It has left us cash poor in a world where people want big cash up front for desirable transfers, and it strikes of overkill. Atleti bought Mandzukic for 22m. Even my math skills figure that would have been 58m for a CB, atop what we have left in the transfer budget.

        58m means you can call up Roma, say, and say “Send that Benatia lad our way. Check or cash?”

        But that’s me. The point of this piece isn’t to belittle anyone’s opinion. It’s to let us ALL have fun, take a look at the demands we have of Barça transfers these days, and let off a little steam with some chuckles.

        Opinions vary on the club’s transfer summer. Generally, neutrals think the board/tech staff has done very well. Many supporters think it’s been a mess. My personal jury is still out, because it isn’t Sept. 1 yet.

        But if we can’t have a little bit of fun, then we’re taking this all too seriously.

        • Levon says:

          @georgjorge
          Actually Kevin and i had a convo/discusion about me not being all that happy w/ Bravo and in particular seeing how Navas was available for the same price… He went off and wrote this article. It hasn’t changed my mind, but it cracked me up, though. Precisely what silly season needs.

          • Kxevin says:

            Yes. social media often crystallizes a notion. I’d been trying to figure out how to frame a humor piece about this transfer season for about a month now, just sort of picking at the idea in my brain.

            The reactions when RM signed Navas helped to bring things into focus, and a half-hour later, voila. A giggle was born.

            And the point isn’t really that any one player is better or worse than any other player, as I don’t know that such a thing is really the case. But we HAVE to be able to smile at the belief that our club is, to many, always screwing up.

            I said to someone (again on social media) the other day that culers never really rate their players, where Gunners love their players forever, in trying to identify the different reactions to a player. That was another thing that helped this piece come into shape.

            All humor has a basis in reality, or it isn’t effective humor.

      • georgjorge says:

        Maybe you see things from a different perspective then – I don’t know many Barca fans in real life, and avoid almost all social media discussions. So I wouldn’t really know how the “average culer” views these transfers, just how me and people on here see them, and for this reason I took this article to be unnecessarily belittling of “our” views.

        Thanks to Kxevin for chiming in on my comment!

  6. TITO says:

    As far as i remember, the last great CB that we signed was Marquez, and in the end he ended up playing between CB and DM, depending of the need.
    Pique was bought and brought for peanuts only because Ferguson had no faith in him, but luckily for us, he turned out to be a great acquisition.
    Even in the case of Abi, we had to wait for a second season for him to become what we all hoped will be when we bought him.
    Everybody else was a failure (talking about CB’s), not because they sucked but because we simply had no patience with them.
    When we buy a player he must have immediate impact or otherwise we should sell him as soon as possible, cause, well, he’s not Barca material.
    Perhaps the wishes for instantaneous impacts are the reason why we will never be happy with a X or Y player, cause in reality it almost never happen. Heck, some clubs wait for 2-3 seasons for a certain player to show what he was brought for. But not us.

    • Jim says:

      Maybe I’m the odd one out then as I’m reasonably happy with the comings and goings so far. We have a second season desperate to do well Neymar, one of the best finishers in the world in Suarez despite any quibbles we may have and the best finisher in the world all in our front line. The exit of Sanchez doesn’t distress me nearly as much as some. We have height in our back line – and it seems pace as well although I confess to not having seen much of Mathieu. It probably means Masch moving out of our back line something I’ve been calling for for seasons now and there is a fair chance he’ll be an asset in his best position. On top of all that, Xavi has decided to stay, albeit temporarily.

      I also quite enjoy hearing what everyone thinks of the various rumours as I can call on a pool of knowledge from others who have seen so much more of the players mentioned than I have. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be a whole lot of reason to drop by here in the summer which would mean I’d have to get up off my couch and do something more meaningful and less relaxing.

      On top of all that my home team dispatched Lucerne in the Europa ( despite having been outplayed in the return leg) and we have another round to look forward to before we bite the dust.

      Life is good. :)

      • Kxevin says:

        I have seen a few articles that say (not that they would have a freakin’ clue, but we always tend to believe what fits our desires) Enrique is planning to use Mascherano in midfield, which might be one reason the powers that be have been saying that we are “set” in midfield. Iniesta, Xavi, Sergi Roberto, Rakitic, Rafinha, Mascherano, Busquets. That’s a lot of players for a lot of time, not to mention if we can’t find forever homes for Song and Afellay.

        For me, the club had an excellent summer, but I would still like one more “official” CB. I think that any top team has to have four. And I don’t mean 3, and a couple of guys who can play the position, but four straight up CBs. It still vexes me that Rosell sold Txigrinski.

      • hansh says:

        I agree with nearly everything you’ve said, Jim, except about Sanchez. I dearly wish that Suarez hadn’t come and that Sanchez had stayed. But alas.

        But we’re strong in midfield and one more signing in defense is all I see us needing. We’re strong in goal. We have hungry B teamers. We may yet survive!

  7. Kxevin says:

    Remember when people were looking askance at almost 3m for Alen Halilovic? That could turn out to be the bargain of the century.

    • hansh says:

      Does this mean Halilovic is the new 3m? Poor Afellay lost his title :D

      • Kxevin says:

        No, but Half Pint will get a better nickname when and if he joins the first team.

        I was watching his debut and inevitably thinking of Gai Assulin, who was officially “the next Messi.” When Assulin debuted with the first team, my first thoughts were “Wait … WUT?! This is the hype monster??”

        When Hallilovic played, all I could think initially was guttural utterances, more than actual thoughts. So much talent, just shining like a beacon. The danger is in overrating that talent, however. We’ll see what the future holds.

        The things that most people are reacting to is his pace with the ball at his feet, which is astonishing, and passing vision. But it’s early yet. Fires often start out white-hot and then peter out.

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

    This board has neglected critical team needs for five years now and they are attempting to do potentially 6 1/2 years of work (5 + potential ban) in one summer. No small task, but I must say that so far, I’ve been pretty happy with our work in the summer, even if the Alexis sale is extremely distressing. Yes we have gained significant attacking quality in dracula, but we lose out on a lot of the constant movement, hustle and defensive qualities that the thigh exposing Lexus brings.

    I’ll try to give my rating on each of the deals done so far and will also try to factor in popular Culer sentiments on each of them that Kxevin has ridiculed in this highly enjoyable article.

    First, the sales:

    Cesc
    Rating: 8.5 / 10
    Why?
    This deal is 1.5 points short of a perfect score only because of the sum, which I believe could have been more. But no complaints here as this was a player I didn’t want in the first place and constantly frustrated me. His fans constantly brought up his great stats, but for me he was never barca quality and never really lit up any match.

    Alexis
    Rating: 5 / 10
    Why?
    This Deal makes me cringe for so many reasons.
    It was made to fund dracula’s arrival.
    It resulted in the exit of a dynamic sought after player who was just about coming in to his own in the Barca colors, yet to hit his peak. Even after a world cup where he shone, Barca didn’t manage to get his true value back, and he ended up going for far less than even a horrendous David Luiz.

    Now, the purchases…

    M.A.T.S
    Rating: 9.4 / 10
    Why?
    Considering the quality of this player and the way he fits in with our requirements, this one is a slam dunk and the club really managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat with the acquisition of Ter Stegen.

    Bravo
    Rating: 9 / 10
    Why?
    We still needed one more keeper and an experienced one at that to replace Pinto. And Bravo is exactly what we needed. A real leader and a keeper that knows the Liga well, the club has done well in the goalie department.

    Rakitic
    Rating: 8.8 / 10
    Why?
    Rakitic was one of the best players in la Liga last season. With his addition, our midfield gains a lot of quality and physicality. He will bring dynamism, directness, goals, height, power and creativity to our midfield. A welcome change from Fabregas.

    Mathieu
    Rating: 8.2 / 10
    Why?
    Again, this rating could have been much more. In sporting aspects, this one is basically a slam dunk. Jeremy will add experience, (some much needed) height, strength, pace and power to our vulnerable backline. The rating suffered only due to the fact that we should have bought him earlier – a year or two and probably overpaid by about 10M. Still, a long overdue transfer decision.

    Suarez
    Rating: 4 / 10
    Why?
    From a sporting perspective, I am not biased enough to not note that, this signing is something we have needed for years now – with the exit of eto’o and the failure of Ibra. Suarez will certainly help Messi be more effective. But for various other reasons, I still can’t believe my club bought a player what dracula represents. This is so a EE type signing and I cannot believe the levels to which the board has stooped to save their asses. Still, I wish him and our club the best of luck and hope that this marriage will prove to be extremely successful.

    • hansh says:

      Nice breakdown! I particularly agree with your assessment of the Suarez transfer – good move sporting-wise, I wish him nothing but success, but I’m appalled at the board for making the move at all.

      I have one disagreement about Alexis though – comparing his fee to David Luiz’s is unfair because the market for defenders is very different from the market for attackers. Defenders are in higher demand this summer, and so their fees are inflated. (I really wish Alexis hadn’t been sold though.)

  9. norden says:

    Great article, thanks Kxevin!

    My dog could have negotiated better. – nice one :)

  10. BA says:

    we’ve signed a whole host of players around the margins but haven’t yet addressed our most pressing need: an exceptional center-back. Jeremy Mathieu may be a useful (though old) addition but he’s not that player. nor can we yet assume that Javier Mascherano, brilliant player that he is, will be allowed to play in his best position due to our lack of CB options. i think that our defense, whoever they are, would look far more stable being shielded by Mascherano and Busquets, but that can’t happen if we don’t sign the necessary cover at center-back.

    so we’ve spent alot of money on a player we weren’t prioritizing at the start of the window and none on the player(s) we were. i don’t know how anyone can say, yet, that we’ve had a good transfer window when the biggest and most vital piece of our transfer puzzle is unsolved. that neglect even more worrisome when we realize that this is our last summer of signings until 2016.

    • norden says:

      This may sound like a stupid question, but what Mathieu misses to be an “exceptional player”?

      I must admit I haven’t seen much of his play, but from what I read, he’s tall, fast and experienced CB/LB. That’s pretty good in my book.

      • ciaran says:

        Physical characteristics alone don’t make a player. He is impressive physically but physical characteristics diminish.
        I’m not against Mathieu in any way but he isn’t top class, at least not yet.
        My preference was for Blind or Rojo due to their age/price/potential but he will certainly be able to fill the need for a left back come centreback.

        • norden says:

          Thanks for the reply, even if “isn’t a world class” doesn’t tell me much. My question was more about what are his actual flaws, because I really don’t know him that much, yet…

          Poor passing? Headers?

          Can’t organise the back?

          Can’t play offside trap?

          • ciaran says:

            He’s decent at most things to be fair. He’s very big so being good in the air comes fairly naturally to him. He’s fast and strong too.
            His organizational skills in defence are pretty much unknown though. Spending his career at left back hasn’t allowed him to be the natural centreback that I would have liked as first choice though.
            Positional play, offside traps, decision making and the likes of this comes with experience and while he has lots of la liga experience it’s not the exact same thing.

            Mascherano is great at a lot of things, more than most defenders but in the biggest matches he made some costly mistakes… And he had 3 years playing centreback for us. Mathieu has 18 months playing centreback with Valencia and we are expecting him to be a saviour? He can do a job for us no doubt but if he is to become an indisputable starter in the biggest matches he’ll have to hit the ground running.

            People question spending big bucks for Hummels or Benatia but when the chips are down I’d prefer someone who has spent an entire career perfecting his skills to lead our defense.

            A little side note for those of you who believed Roma when they implied €61m for Benatia – today Roma said that United can have Strootman for 3 figures implying at least €100m bid. Now Kevin Strootman is a good footballer but do you expect him to fetch €100m?

          • Kxevin says:

            I think the solution lies in the notion that Mathieu is a savior. I don’t think our defense needs a savior as much as it needs depth, so that when a CB goes down, the coach isn’t saying “Well, what makeshift options do we have?”

            The biggest complexity for me in all of the “gotta have a CB” evaluators is like a law firm that my first wife worked at. The partners all came from local schools, second-tier institutions and the like, but when it came time for THEM to hire new lawyers, they insisted on graduates of Harvard and Michigan law, top-class law schools, forgetting that, as even they indicate, excellent lawyers can also come from humbler backgrounds.

            In consideration of a potential new CB acquisition, many are demanding the “world class” CB. But I can’t think of the last time that Barça has had a true, “world class” CB. Puyol has always been the lion of the defense, a player who would bleed (and has) for the Blaugrana. But is Puyol a player who, if asked who the best CBs in the world are, would be an automatic addition to a list? Nope. Sorry, but no.

            This team has always had CBs that facilitated the system that the team prefers to play, which makes them exceptionally good for us, but not necessarily that great for anyone else. Busquets is another example in the DM realm.

            So in the club looking around at CBs, if you keep the team’s history in mind and what kinds of players have played CB at Barça, things start to track a little better. I think Enrique wants 4 CBs rolling into the season. And I think that attributes matter more than that all-conquering, “world class” descriptor.

            But we’ll see.

            Mascherano was brilliant at CB last season, for me. I think that many are defining his quality at the position by a few errors. But those errors were rare. His presence was reassuring, his tackling exceptional. I wouldn’t mind at all having him at CB again if it kept him on the pitch more, which I think was Guardiola’s initial thinking in beginning that experiment. A top-class DM is the perfect Barça CB, to my view. Exact same skill set.

          • ciaran says:

            Often Kxevin, world class players are determined by their errors. As a defender or goalkeeper, almost universally, they are determined by their errors as they are the most costly.

            How many hundreds of mistakes does Messi make throughout a season? Do we remember them? Not really. When Victor Valdes was making 3 or 4 errors in a season he was considered very error prone.

            Mascherano didn’t make a lot of errors last season but when he did it’s easy to remember them because they were costly v Benzema for example. Marc Bartra had a great season but the Copa final ‘mistake’ is one of the first things that comes to mind when you think of his season.

            I would strongly argue that Puyol wasn’t on people’s list of best centrebacks in the world. For the past decade there was no one better defensively. He was marshall of two of the best teams in history and he was a natural defender.

          • Kxevin says:

            So very interesting, ciaran. The question is why, right? I wonder if perception is the issue. Messi is beloved, so people don’t remember his errors, such as when he started the break that led to a key Chelsea goal by trying to nutmeg John Terry, as just one example.

            I’m not sure what goes into defining a player by his errors, rather than his successes, and why that doesn’t hold at the World Cup. So Mascherano, tired and done for, was part of the collapse that led to the winning goal for Germany, but his World Cup will, for most, be defined by That tackle, against Robben.

            Man, that’s almost worth a post if I can get my mind around the notion. Thanks for that.

            As for Puyol, he’s fascinating to me, not only as that anachronism of the one-team player, but as a player who is spectacular in context. He was, is and will always be the iconic Barça defender. But I do still wonder if his greatness was also systemic, right? Would Chelsea fans have been muttering about why the hell that wild-haired guy won’t just stand there and defend.

            It’s interesting (even if somewhat blasphemous) to consider.

    • Peter says:

      I thought we had already dispensed with the “old” notionsstupidity. I will repeat it once more. One last time.

      Thiago Silva is 11 months younger than Mathieu
      Mascherano is 5 months younger than Mathieu
      Robben is 3 months younger than Mathieu
      Lahm is 12 days younger than Mathieu
      Dante is as old as Mathieu
      Gabi is 3.5 months older than Mathieu
      Yaya Toure is 5 months older than Mathieu
      Ribery is 6 months older than Mathieu
      Arbeloa is 9 months older than Mathieu
      Pepe is 8 months older than Mathieu
      Nemanja Vidic is 2 years older than Mathieu
      Xabi Alonso is 2 years older than Mathieu
      Zlatan Ibrahimovic is 32, 33 in October, or 2 years older than Mathieu
      John Terry is 3 years older than Mathieu
      Eto’o is 3.5 years older than Mathieu
      Steven Gerard is 4 years older than Mathieu
      Martin Demichelis is 4 years older than Mathieu
      Didier Drogba is 5.6 years older than Mathieu(he will be 37 in March)

      The last time Barcelona signed an exceptional defender, it was that guy:
      http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-jXBOJ3KPzm4/T8djcw_AN3I/AAAAAAAAEA0/7II8CInXJ2o/s1600/Koeman_Big.jpg
      The next exceptional defender was the guy on the left of the photo:
      *https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BVm1tpyCQAAj3DY.jpg

      People point out that last summer Mathieu was offered to Barcelona for half the sum. However, they forget to point out that last summer Barcelona was being offered a converted LB who in his four years at Valencia had scored a total of 3 goals vs. Getafe, Deportivo and Athletic, whereas this summer Barcelona signed a CB who scored a total of four goals, two against Real, one against Getafe and one vs Sevilla. Three of the four were headers from corners. His air duels averages and passing were a Valencia-career best. The man just bloomed.

      As for the signings, this may turn out to be the last summer of signings only if funds are not available. If funds are available(read someone is transferred this silly season), then it may turn out to be the last summer signing season until next summer.

      • KEVINO17 says:

        Great breakdown – though I’ve read some stories that Eto might, in fact, be at least a COUPLE of years OLDER than he claims to be. Wouldn’t be surprised if Drogba, Terry et al have also been winding back the odometer. In fact, Terry seems to have been 33-34 for a hell of a long time.

      • BA says:

        Mathieu’s age is only a factor when you consider our transfer ban and the possibility of him being the only CB-viable signing this summer. signing a player over 30 is fine; we signed Lilian Thuram at 34, but as additional cover rather than a guaranteed starter, and he joined a team with *4* center-backs (okay, 1 of them was Oleguer…).

        and that’s what we don’t have right now: a starting CB who can outlast our transfer ban til the summer of 2016.

        what we got, instead, was a 30-year-old left-back being sold to us as that other player in a squad with *2* center-backs (one of whom is Marc Bartra). Mathieu is very likely going to be a useful squad player, but he isn’t the solution to our problem as has been touted. maybe next time Peter would prefer to read the whole context of an argument before resorting to name-calling over his misreading.

  11. ian_percival says:

    There’s pictures of Hummels no.5 barca shirt on sale all over the internet.I hope we get him.

  12. agar2515 says:

    “But is Puyol a player who, if asked who the best CBs in the world are, would be an automatic addition to a list? Nope. Sorry, but no.”

    Im sorry but WHAT????? I have no idea who you are asking. Not a journo or fan with half a brain wouldnt have but Carles up there. Masche at CB hurt on on set pieces, we were able to win ONE UCL with him at CB, but that was with Abidal, a prime Xavi, Villa, Iniesta, VV, and pressing as a unit.

    Maybe against lower tier opposition, but Masche would never see the back line again if it were up to me, better put to use in midfield.

    • Kxevin says:

      First you assault me on social media, then you come here and insist that I don’t have half a brain. As I noted on Twitter, calling someone stupid is not the best way to have a discussion. I have blocked you there, and wish that I could block you here for that very reason. You are exceptionally aggressive when someone doesn’t agree with you.

      “Not a journo or fan with half a brain wouldn’t have but Carles up there.”

      So what is the implication there? That I, the fool who asked a very simple question, doesn’t have half a brain. There is a better way to discuss things withOUT the linguistic assault. Really. There is.

      The notion is, as described above in the discussion with ciaran, who it’s worth noting did NOT assert that I don’t have half a brain, whether Puyol is well and truly a “world-class” defender in the sense that is driving notions of said individual in the CB discussions of the here and now.

      And further, in a broader sense, is Puyol well and truly world class, or is his excellence a byproduct of having the great fortune to have a setting in which his talents could be maximized, and reach their fullest potential?

      These are questions that are intellectually interesting for me, who tends to think about everything from all angles. They are questions that, if someone’s first reaction is “How DARE you suggest that Puyol isn’t world class? You’re stupid!” aren’t going to inspire a potentially fruitful discussion, purely from a viewpoint of supposition and bench racing of the sorts that entertain some folks during a season in which there aren’t matches to discuss.

      • FCB16 says:

        Im sorry. But I totally agree with Agar up there.

        What evidence do you have to back up your claim? WHat player isn’t a ” a byproduct of having the great fortune to have a setting in which his talents could be maximized, and reach their fullest potential?”
        La Liga Breakthrough Player of the Year: 2001
        ESM Team of the Year: 2001–02, 2002–03, 2004–05, 2005–06
        UEFA Team of the Year: 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010
        UEFA Club Best Defender: 2006
        FIFA/FIFPro World XI: 2007, 2008, 2010
        UEFA Euro 2008 Team of the Tournament[37]
        2009 FIFA Confederations Cup Team of the Tournament
        FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 2010
        BBVA Fair Play award: 2011–12

        All his individual awards^ What’s your argument against this? What purpose does it serve?
        You just like to stir the pot

        • Kxevin says:

          No, I don’t like to “stir the pot,” FCB16. This isn’t a message board, and I don’t appreciate the aggression. I DO like to think about things in a way that is often different. It’s how my brain works. And the reaction to the notion is why so few people do it: how can anything interesting get discussed if all everyone does is shut down?

          I didn’t suggest that he wasn’t a great defender, or essential to the success of the club that we aupport, etc, etc. What I DID suggest is in the context of the “world class” thing that people are demanding from this new CB signing, was Puyol truly world class in that context?

          That is what nobody has dealt with, but it’s an interesting thing to consider. Or maybe not, as people see fit.

          Does it argue against the notion of a one-club player? Not really. But if I see the Thiago Silva progression, he is world class, everybody and their parents seem to agree. Has done it at every club, as well as at national team level. The single club thing presents the complexity when you consider greats such as Puyol or Maldini, and you think about how they might have done at another club, in another system. And it would/could be an interesting question. And as people doom yet another name suggested by the rumor mill for not being world class, it should/could make for an even more interesting discussion.

          But believe me, the crap that you take for having an idea that doesn’t tow the party line isn’t worth bringing them up, just to “stir the pot.”

          Meanwhile, still waiting for someone to deal with the notion as it stands, rather than defending Puyol, who doesn’t need defending.

      • agar2515 says:

        You have got to be kidding me. “Assaulted you”??? My word you must be one of the most sensitive men I’ve ever come across. You take everything so personally, you speak as if YOU alone hold all the answers and everyone that disagrees with you is wrong. I said NOTHING personally insulting on twitter, at all. Your hyperbole is absurd.

        • agar2515 says:

          And you can disagree all you want but I have rarely ever seen you straight up admit hat you have been wrong on something, ever, aside from David Luiz which you immediately turned into a joke by saying “I blame crack”.

          Every comment, no matter how grounded in fact, is dissected and prodded by you, it is as though you need to place yourself above anyone whose opinion YOU do not agree with.

          Now you begin to question whether Puyol was as good as we made him out to be, beginning what I feel is a ridiculous attempt to belittle a legend in your usual tone speaking from the pulpit. You can take nothing dissenting towards you but have no problem smugly making others feel ignorant.

          Again NOTHING in that is a personal attack^^ only a commentary on how you speak. Would you honestly talk to me in such a belittling, over reactionary “teacher-student” manner in person? Surely not.

        • Kxevin says:

          So. I have “half a brain,” “must be one of the most sensitive men I have ever come across,” and my logic is “absurd.” And yet, you wonder what the difficulty is with your manner of discussing things?

          I respect ideas. All of them, in any and all forms. I might not agree with them, but they deserve my fullest respect. This space thrives on respect. Without it, it’s just another message board on which people just scream at each other. Different views are the forge on which ideas bear their fullest fruit. But if someone comes up with an idea and is jumped on for coming up with the idea rather than the idea itself being vetted, then what happens to the idea?

          A message board isn’t what anyone here is interested in running. Again, I can only point to how ciaran dealt with the questions. It’s a different way, and one that propagates a discussion to my view, rather than stifling it by making it personal.

          This space would be boring if everyone agreed. But disagreements should not include insults or belittling comments. That is not in the spirit of this space. It’s as simple as that.

          At present, and almost certainly for the foreseeable future, I am the only mod left. My responsibility to the space is such that I won’t just throw up my hands and say “I’m out.” But in all seriousness and sincerity, if you are that unhappy with me and how things are, it’s probably worth finding a space at which you will be happier. TotalBarca is very good. So is BarcaBlaugranes. Both are also more prolific, as they have much larger writing staffs than BFB.

          • Dreamteam says:

            Then you should perhaps watch your tone. For the 100000th time you come off so smug and know it all , so, so often. Your response to him here was very collected. Yes, I have seen you to be sensitive (saw that convo on twitter, you simply read into his comment, he didnt name call at all) and overly analytical at times (What barca fan wonders about the legitimacy of Puyol in another team? He’s our legend, why not leave him as such)

            It’s that you make sure to have one foot in one POV and one foot in the other, so as to never be wrong or fully “putting yourself out there”. You reckon one way, then reckon the inverse, all the while deconstructing anyone else opinion. He isnt making this stuff up, I see it in your comments too. Just food for thought.

          • Kxevin says:

            My simple worldview in this space and anywhere else is “attack my ideas, don’t attack me.”

            I went back to read again my response, and don’t see anything that would necessitate watching my tone, which probably wouldn’t surprise, given that it is my response. But I am very careful to not transgress the rules of respect in this space.

            I am far from smug, and look at both sides of a discussion because I think that is what you are supposed to do, so that is how I do it. No fence straddling, etc, but rather how can you understand someone’s supposition if you don’t examine it as thoroughly as you can.

  13. Inamess says:

    I think the question about Puyol was an interesting one and it goes to the heart of our CB problems thoughout these last five years. Everyone agrees that Puyol was a legendary CB for Barca, but his skill set alone is not necessarily transferable to a different team. He is not that tall nor is he particularly good in his passing. If Carles Puyol had been born Charles Pitt and played for Stoke with his same skill set, would Barca want to sign him this season?

    The same could be said about our transfers over the past few years and those of this summer. Many of the players we acquired on transfer did not work out because they did not fit in well with the team’s style of play. Another like Mascherano was converted into a CB and proved to be fairly good and may have been a worthy successor to Puyol had he been a few inches taller and better in the air.

    So why was Roma able to get Benatia for 13 mil last year? I suppose it was because he had not yet been put into the right environment for his talents to be apparent to the elite teams outside Italy. The fact that he was a key ingredient in helping his team secure a place in the Champions League is the major reason he is so expensive. There is probably a player right now in a major European League that may be the new Benatia next year but we don’t know who that is yet. Even if it were down to three candidates, I am not sure a team such as Barca would be comfortable that it could pick the right one.

    To me, the Matheiu signing and the fact that we were willing to pay 20 mil for him is because he is a very good bet to be a good CB at Barca. He is a safe choice and like Bravo is unlikely to be a flop. We are the only team that was willing to pay that kind of money for him because we are the only team that is in such dire straits at CB a need a player of his particular skill set despite his age.

    • Kxevin says:

      That’s the risk, I think. Bargains are out there, but can this club take the chance on putting a 13m Benatia in the first team? He isn’t going to play for the B team, so that’s a player the club misses out on, then has to try to buy once he becomes what potential suggested. Marquinhos is another example. No coincidence both are from Roma, who are very smart that way.

      Mathieu, at the other end of the scale is the same way. We essentially are paying Valencia to have tried him out at CB. It’s a risk we weren’t willing to take.

      Thanks for nailing the Puyol question. It’s an odd thing to consider, isn’t it? ciaran gave a lot to think about, as well, the universality of quality and how it relates to a player, thus mitigating the idea that a one-team player never gets his full due as a player, even as supporters love his soiled undies. You wonder if there isn’t always that question, what would X or Y player have done at another club?

      • agar2515 says:

        Perhaps our little tonal disagreement is an age thing. I joke and go back and forth with my friends with phrases such as ” you’re out of your mind” ” You’re talking nonsense” etc.
        It is NOT meant as a personal attack, it is just banter back and forth. How I speak here isn’t the same as in person, I just get out what I need to say as fast as possible. Sometimes that ruffles feathers, alright.

        In the ends we are all fans of the same club, we shouldn’t be so quick to misconstrue each others words. I wouldn’t be on the internet if I couldn’t handle being wrong or having someone level some ” non-polite” words in my direction.

        Whether on twitter or on here, their is such a rise in the individual who knows they have all the answers. Look at some idiots on twitter like Brazilstats. All those followers, all that bias and nonsense, immovable.
        A perfect account is @barcachief, he gives and takes, acknowledges it’s only a game, and only blocks or becomes frustrated if the abuse is constant and sour. I fall more into the vein of that mindset, which is why I suggested you were being sensitive and hyperbolic ( an “assault” really? come on now).

        Anyway, you blocked me there anyway so most of this is moot. Just ctake a look at what I’ve said, the issues I’ve raised instead of using the old ” Well if you have a problem then you can go elsewhere”. I critique to try and be constructive, yes sometimes I fail and it’s rude, but I do try. That’s all.

        • Kxevin says:

          I don’t believe, agar2515, that we should spend even one second doing something which doesn’t make us happy. So when I suggest that someone frequent another space that might make them happier, it isn’t “the old …” anything. It’s just a notion that hews to my view about things in general. If you aren’t happy there, why go? Restaurants, people, jobs, cars … no matter. If you don’t go there with joy, why go?

          And no, it isn’t an age thing. Any other suggestions as to what it might be will lead some to suggest that I am smug or condescending, which couldn’t be further from the truth, so I will leave it at that.

          I think back to our first interaction on Twitter, when you came at me fairly aggressively and fast, and I quipped (mistakenly) that you should have less coffee, and you came back with “Don’t tell me what to do,” or something to that effect. It kinda made a point clear(er) for me.

          Social media is a free-for-all. I reached a milestone of sorts in that I got my first racist insult on Twitter last week. Can’t say it’s one that I am proud to reach, but there it is. The incident does display the multiplicity of views and ways of thinking out there.

          In that space, I have the same notions about dealing with people. In a 140-character box or on a black-and-white comments space, words sit as they are. So (and I reckon the this is not a lecture or teacher/student or any other suggestions of condescending behavior should be made clear) if I sit and type at a total stranger, “That is about the dumbest crap I have ever heard,” I shouldn’t be surprised if the stranger responds with, “I don’t have to accept that kind of stuff.”

          Sitting in a bar or living room among actual friends, the laughing tone that I took during that debate would be clear. The person knows me, I know them, the words aren’t stark with actual meaning.

          But in the case of someone who might be a continent away, those words are all that there are, which makes me (again, just me, no implications of how anyone else should or shouldn’t comport themselves) very careful in how I word things.

          Not everyone is the same, and we can accept that while also accepting that this difference means choosing not to deal with certain ways of discourse, which is an overall decision that I have made. As I typed above, “attack my ideas, don’t attack me.”

          I don’t think of people as “idiots” or “know it alls,” even as I acknowledge the freedom of others to do that. This game inspires passion, even as it is, in the overall scheme of things, pretty meaningless to our general existence. It doesn’t put food on our tables, give us jobs or any of that stuff.

          But it does bring us joy on a weekly and sometimes daily basis, and that’s the fun of it.

          For me, some of that joy goes away when I have to deal with what I perceive as personal attacks. And perception, when words sit on a glowing screen, is all that there is.

          The larger complexity I think people have with me is that I don’t care if anyone comes to this space, or follows me on Twitter. I don’t keep track of how many people follow me, or who does. That isn’t the point for me (again, others are different, and free to do what they like). The point for me is respectful exchange of ideas.

          Someone replied to me the other day that they appreciate my willingness to exchange ideas, as when you reply to others, a response never comes back. Without claiming to be high-minded or anything, I just think that nobody knows everything, and if you don’t discuss the notion with someone else, I would know even less. Again, that is how my brain works. Lots of people tell me that I “think too much.” I just can’t help that, even as it leads me down roads that might be complex, makes it seem like I am just stirring the pot, etc, etc.

      • njwv says:

        The flip side of your Puyol question is that because supporters are so irrational about him (or any one-team legend like him) that any “replacement” is held up against the legend as being THE STANDARD to live up to.

        We’re seeing it now. Culers are asking who’ll be our “next Puyol” or “next Xavi” and that’s a horrible expectation to set for everyone.

        And when people say “world class” I read “world famous.” Which is problematic since buying into the hype/merchandising machine risks going down the road of the galacticos and acquiring players who will move jerseys.

        I miss the days when “Barça quality” meant defenders with crazy hair and midfielders as tall as Tom Cruise.

    • agar2515 says:

      Fair, I suppose I am just against the hindsight analysis of established, legitimate legends. It doesn’t establish anything new for me, every player who has ever lived is a byproduct of where they were brought up, the path their careers led.What if Messi had come up in the BPL? What If Xavi had been brought up in England ( too short, too small), we could go on and on, to what end?

      I say the same thing to people who try and act what I feel is “too Smart” in any other sport, i.e. Koufax wasn’t that good! Montana would get eaten up by today’s defenses, Jordan would bounce right off Lebron’s frame, etc. then quoting stats or quotes to support themselves.

      Let the legends be.

      • Davour says:

        I agree with the notion that contrafactual discussions seldom lead anywhere – but that does not mean they never do. It’s like the issue of relativity – if everything is relative, well, why do we even bother to discuss anything? But to my mind, the Puyol-question is not so much contrafactual as it is addressing the problem of identifying a “barca quality defender” out there. It is not meant, I think, to criticize or degrade a legend, but is pointed towards us and how we construe what a good CB for Barca is.

        For me, for example, the idea that a barca defender must be a demon passer is challenged by the example of Puyol (aka: the idea that a barca defender can have no weaknesses!). All in all, I don’t think it is absurd to claim that players, like anyone, thrive in particular contexts – and to discuss how this happens.

        • Kxevin says:

          Davour is right. Maybe my mistake was in choosing Puyol as an example because of the heat that his name generates, even as he is the perfect example of the problems attendant to satisfying the “world class CB” demands.

          There is still a humor post in how today’s culer might respond if presented with the idea of transferring what are now beloved players into the side. So Iniesta might be “slow and doesn’t score enough goals,” or Xavi “passes sideways too much, and does he ever shoot?”

          Attacking a legend is madness, because that status is irrefutable. Deeds make a legend. But the embodiment of a legend and how it relates to how current-day supporters see new team additions is (for me) loads of fun to consider in the context of potential defenders. So I chose Puyol because CB is the position in question.

          • Levon says:

            Most people I know, be they culer or not, have at one point or another considered Puyol world class. Especially those who actually follow the club.

            I think it is a lot easier to flip this one around, Kevin. Had Puyol not been associated with our so-called “sucky” defense, he would have been considered world class the world over.

          • Kxevin says:

            Possibly true, Levon. It’s also funny to remember the Puyol debut, and think back to when Puyol wasn’t Puyol, but this mass of hair and energy, just running around the pitch. Makes the people calling for patience with Bartra seem prescient.

            At any rate, outside of the Puyol specificity, the “world class” notion and how it relates to current CB options on offer interested me.

  14. Rami says:

    Matheiu was a direct demand from luis enrique himself!, Jeremy admitted that luis has been in contact with him over the past month to try and convince him to join barca, Which makes it no surprise that the club was willing to spend 20m for his service, He is an essential component of the coach’s plans.

    There is no age problem for me, When pep era began , Puyol was only 6 months younger than Matheiu is now, 6 months!!, Yet he still managed to produce 4 phenomenal years of high intensity matches and won everything, And if it wasn’t for his chronic knee injury, He would’ve lasted even longer.

  15. KEVINO17 says:

    I see that Dani Alves wants to stay at Barca. If I was Suarez, playing at CF, and I had to watch Dani keep pumping crosses into the wild blue yonder, I think I would bite someone too.

    • Kxevin says:

      We’ll see how much Alves plays. Something tells me that we are going to be seeing much more of Montoya this season.

      But I also think that with the three attackers that the team is going to have, the contribution of Alves is going to be different, especially if you’re getting actual width (vs just standing on the sideline and creating fake width) from a right winger.

      • BA says:

        if we can chain Dani to the right side of the defense, he’s actually quite a good player still. we’ll just be shifting the angle of our attack from the right side to the left with Jordi Alba, and i think that’s viable. it will mean more triangles/overlaps with Neymar and Iniesta, and that’s a scary prospect for any opposing defense.

        dunno where this idea of playing with a right winger is coming from though Kxevin; the only player currently in our squad capable of playing in a disciplined way from the right wing is Pedro. we sold Sanchez and loaned out Tello, the only other 2 recent options there. if we sign Cuadrado (haven’t heard anything more about that in awhile though), he would surely be a direct replacement for Alves, not working in conjunction with him. we have to accommodate our €75m center-forward signing, remember? where does that leave room in the starting lineup for a right-winger? Leo Messi? lot of ink has been spilled about our “tactical options” with Suarez, but we now have to get time for Neymar/Messi/Suarez, with Pedro and Deulofeu still to line up. if the first 3 are fit, how could you leave any of them out for tactical reasons? Cuadrado has no place in this team besides as a like-for-like replacement for Dani Alves (which i’d argue is hardly Cuadrado’s best position).

        • Kxevin says:

          Good point, BA. I’m figuring Enrique kept Pedro for a reason. Deulofeu also plays on the right, unless your “playing in a disciplined way” excludes him which I could certainly see.

          Defensive Alves is good.

          Cuadrado is looking like a bidding war in the offing, if the United rumors are true. And with Alves deciding to stay, there is growing buzz that some sort of “future” arrangement is being made with Cuadrado, when Alves leaves on a free next summer.

          I could see:

          Ter Stegen

          Pique Mathieu Adriano
          Busquets Iniesta Mascherano
          Messi
          Pedro Suarez Neymar

          Busquets moves up the pitch but with defensive duties, and Mascherano gives you the fourth man in the back line when required. Rakitic and Rafinha also have that same kind of “can defend as a midfielder quality.”

          But yes, good question(s).

          • Jafri says:

            I think we might see Pep’s 3-4-3 – where one of the 3 forwards was a wingback who could also drop deep and defend when need arose. So just to modify your front:

            Ter Stegen

            Pique Mathieu Adriano
            Busquets Iniesta Mascherano
            Messi
            Alves Suarez Neymar

            or

            Ter Stegen

            Pique Mathieu Adriano
            Busquets Iniesta Mascherano
            Messi
            Suarez Neymar Alba

  16. Kxevin says:

    In the “unconfirmed rumor” category, vintage CB division, Miranda’s agent has offered his client to Barça.

    As an adjunct to that rumor in the grind, Atleti (who signed Griezmann today, and has had an excellent window) have been offered Lavezzi, and are considering the idea.

    • barca96 says:

      What is up with Sabella then during WC always benching Lavezzi and now PSG? He may not be a classy player but I think that every team needs at least one hard working tireless player like Lavezzi.

  17. barca96 says:

    Been really busy for the past few months. Kxevin, I read that you used to review concerts. I literally scratched my head Tata style :) How do you do that? With a football match review, or a movie review for example, there are many narratives, many different possible outcomes. But for a concert there’s only one outcome isn’t it?

    And you wouldn’t even know how to set the benchmark. There are no stats or numbers for you to look at. Or do you listen to the sound system? The singer’s voice? Man… I wouldn’t be able to come up with anything if I had to review a concert.

    • norden says:

      The performance is only one part. Other, perhaps more important part is whether the music moves you (literally or emotionally).

      I’ve seen a lot of concerts where the musicans were technically perfect but it was boring, while some others less gifted bands were great fun. Or I saw one concert, where the singer was so high, he throwed the microphone away and cirticizing his own band :)

      There are lot of outcomes, many things to write about :)

  18. barca96 says:

    @Peter

    I do think spending x amount of money for Benatia or whoever the better player is worth it. Like Kxevin said, football is a game of inches so that little more talent that x player has over y is the little difference between winning and losing.

    Wrt to Benatia, I noticed that they have this in similarities, they both know when to jump out and intercept a pass or steal the ball. I like that kind of skill on a defender, their sense of timing is good.

    • Peter says:

      First of all, football is a game of centimeters. American football is a game of inches.

      Second, as we should be more than aware by now, individual talent is stopped by superior teamwork. In theory you should have the best players, since that gets you top performance at any given moment. The problem with that is that it works mostly on theory and single-player FIFA.

      In real life the team is composed of human beings(well, except for Messi). If you have a team composed of leaders and stars, there comes a moment where you have more Chiefs than Indians. Human nature. This is just a general observation, of course, applicable not just to football, but in case you want a real-life example, Atletico won La Liga and went to the final of the Champions, the two best players of whom were Diego Costa and Thibault Courtois. Koke was very good as well, but overall most of the team weren’t considered stars in the prime of their career.

      You need not just players to win away at Santiago Bernabeu, Stamford Bridge and Vicente Calderon or home at Camp Nou, you need players ready to step onto the potato fields at El Sadar, Benito Villamarin, or Alfonso Perez and win the three points that in the grand scheme of La Liga count as much as El Clasico, players who know they aren’t as good, so they try harder. Puyol was such a player. I believe Bartra is one, and if Mathieu isn’t, he can become, because he’s motivated. Motivated enough to rebel against his team and accept a lower salary.

      While we’re at the topic, there is a reason why Barcelona forked over 2.5 metric tons of gold for Suarez and bought Mathieu instead of paying a ton of gold more and taking Benatia. Last season Barcelona’s conceded goals dropped, which means that statistically Barcelona’s defence was better, with the notable exception of goals from corners. However, while conceding less goals, Barcelona also scored less. This is what doomed the La Liga title, not scoring against Granada, Elche, Valladolid and Osasuna and scoring only once vs. Atletico.

      Now, it can be argued that the reason why less goals were scored is because Barcelona’s opponents crowded their own boxes and relied on the counter, but what’s also true is that Barcelona could exploit the numerous corners, if it had taller players that can create positional numerical superiority. It has these players in Rakitic, Pique, Suarez, Mathieu and Bartra. Furthermore, these same players are an advantage when it comes to defending corners. However, the bottom line is that less goals were scored, which makes the inclusion of Suarez more than understandable.

  19. barca96 says:

    Love McKayla. Such a cool girl. Now that pout on her looks cute. When CR7 does it, it just looks annoying hehe.

  20. hansh says:

    And now for something completely different: Man City is running a Q&A on twitter with Jesus Navas, using the hashtag #AskJesus. It’s gotten predictably insane/hilarious :D

    Here’s my favorite – “Is it annoying that – despite the fact you made 48 appearances last season – Richard Dawkins still doesn’t believe you exist?”

  21. Davour says:

    On the presumed incompatibility of our forward trio, Sylvinho reminded us of issues of old: “The former left-back also believes that Barça’s attacking trio that consists of Messi, Neymar Jr and Luis Suarez will work perfectly fine ““in our day, they said that Xavi and Iniesta couldn’t play together. Andrés was 18 years old and people questioned what he’d be able to do at his side. But they went on to win everything. Luis Enrique will find a place and role for everyone.”

    Read more: http://www.totalbarca.com/2014/interviews/ex-barca-sylvinho-belletti-talk-new-barca/#ixzz38nCMjL48

  22. morph73 says:

    Read at BB about some same old tax issues with Messi… Any news or confirmation/updates about the same???

    • morph73 says:

      Apparently judges aren’t willing to exclude him even though prosecution isn’t pressing charges…

      • Peter says:

        Judges, like prosecutors and lawyers, get famous by presiding over famous cases or cases of famous people.

        Prosecution asked the judge to archive the case against Messi, but the judge rejected it, because in his view it’s possible that Messi was the mastermind of the whole “tax fraud”. Bollocks.

  23. CuleToon says:

    .
    Jordi Cases extends action in «Neymar case» to Bartomeu and Faus

    http://deportes.elpais.com/deportes/2014/07/29/actualidad/1406631315_784117.html

    :roll:

  24. Kxevin says:

    Presser today about financials:

    – Record revenues, north of a half-billion
    – 12m savings in not having to pay performance-related bonuses
    – record profits, of around 42m
    – won’t say how much we have left in the transfer kitty, as that would affect ongoing negotiations.

    In a related development, growing buzz on the Daniel Agger front. Player quality depends on who you ask. Some say he’s an excellent defender who breaks a lot (Barça DNA), others will say he isn’t close to good enough.

    Who even knows if the rumors are true.

    • Hilal says:

      I have always liked Agger as a player, has all the attributes you would want in a CB, only problem is that he seems to always be injured. That is a big problem. Anyways, Goal.com aren’t reporting this and if they aren’t reporting it then it can’t be true! :)

      • Kxevin says:

        Yeah … true.

        Sport and the Daily Mail the only ones hitting it hard right now, with others picking up from them. Price is around 15m, rumor has it, which is almost right for a oft-crocked 29-year-old.

        • Hilal says:

          Hmm, well on paper it is a purchase that makes sense. He is a seasoned, experienced CB who brings pace, athletisism, height and ability. Similar to Mathieu I guess. Wouldn’t cost too much, decent age for a CB. The only challenge would be keeping him fit as injuries seem to be a problem for him.

          • Kxevin says:

            Already left Liverpool training yesterday with a knock, though cynical folks say the talks were far enough along where they didn’t want to keep him around, a la Mathieu.

            Reckon we’ll see soon. If the club does go for Agger, I would also imagine the Cuadrado rumors are true. He’s looking to cost between 35-40m.

          • Benj says:

            Not going to lie, there was a point a season or two after we signed Agger where I genuinely thought he could be amongst the best CB if not the best CB in Europe, if only he stayed fit.

            He’s served LFC very well in the time he’s been here and is such a beast on the pitch, but he needs a general to direct him, or he can go walkabout. Good pace, great height and strength, pushes into the midfield and can be trusted with his feet. It all hinges on his fitness though, but for a guy who thought he was going to have to retire back when he was 23 or 24 due to injuries (back probs), he’s not done too bad.

            All up, provided you can get 2/3 of a season out of him, it would be a solid buy for 15m. Any more would probably be overpaying.

  25. Kxevin says:

    Barça financials in a chart, via the wonderful Swiss Ramble:

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Btt8Ul8IEAApF2T.jpg

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

    Agger! Really?

  27. 86ed says:

    You know, I do not think I’ve ever seen Agger play. If I have, I didn’t really pay attention. Is he any good? He only had 20 appearances in the EPL last year.

  28. Hilal says:

    I think if we signed Agger and Cuadrado then we will have had an excellent summer of signings. The talk is all about defenders but at the end of the day we didnt win anything last season because in the key games we failed to score. It’s not that we conceded lots of goals, but that we could not break down teams that defended as well as Athletico Madrid. Given our style of play and our focus on possession and attack it makes sense to spend the largest proportion of resources on the main focus. That said, adding the experience, pace and height of players like Mathieu and Agger will bring a lot to the teams ability to defend set plays and counter attacks, our two biggest weaknesses.

    Everyone is clamoring for a world class CB, but frankly I do not think we need a world class CB. What we need is a team that functions as a unit and key players in key positions willing to work their asses off to do their job. World class CB or not, if we dont have that we aint winning. Look at the team that won the CL final in 2009. We didnt have two world class CB’s. We had a DM playing as a CB and an ageing LB, but they worked for the system.

    If you look at the acquisitions – Rakitic, Rafinha, Delofeu, Suarez, Mathieu, and possibly Agger and Cuadrado. What have you got? Athletisim, height, pace, aggressivenes and hunger. All of the things we have lacked of late. I know culers love to complain about everythng always, but if it plays out the way it is looking the club will have done a very good job this summer.

    I for one cannot wait for next season to kick off!

    • BA says:

      Agger is neither pacy nor aggressive. he’s a good passing center-back, and would have been a solid purchase for us as a backup a few years ago; but he’s not even an automatic starter for Liverpool. oh, and he’s constantly broken. in the last 4 seasons his games-per-season average is about 28.

      but remember: we’re looking for a starting CB to partner with Gerard Pique for 35-40 games per season, for the next 2 seasons minimum (we won’t be able to buy a replacement). it would have been nice to have 2 such players, so that maybe Pique’s place could be challenged and he would have to work harder; instead thus far on the CB front we’ve got Jeremy Mathieu (left-back) as a stand-in. that’s not a successful window, certainly not in light of our looming transfer ban.

      i don’t understand why many cules have already assumed we’re going to sign Cuadrado…. who’s heard anything about that signing in weeks now? it’s a safer bet to say that with Dani Alves staying, Cuadrado and his inevitably high transfer fee is out of the picture.

      • Kxevin says:

        I think that now that Alves is staying, Cuadrado is out for this summer, unless the team wants to find someone to take Alves essentially on a free, which frees up money for that team to deal with his salary. That rumor was floating around earlier today.

        I think that the looming transfer ban will be for the winter window. Done.

        There is also the rumor that Cuadrado is being placed on layaway for next summer, so to speak, a la Neymar but without the big payment to someone’s dad.

        Agger is fine, if he isn’t broken. But instead of saying I want a world class CB, I want the next CB purchase to be one that makes the current CBs say “Uh, oh …” That’s a short list, and Agger isn’t on it. He would add depth, and a similar quality to what is already present, if depth is the only desire.

        • BA says:

          as of right now, we are not legally able to conduct transfers next summer. we shouldn’t yet again make the mistake of assuming FIFA/UEFA simply aren’t going to enforce regulations or penalties they’ve already laid down; that’s what got us in trouble in the first place.

          we need dynamism, pace and a strong reading of the game from our next CB. it seems like Mehdi Benatia fits that mold, therefore it would make sense to target him for a transfer. Pique, our sole “world-class” or guaranteed starting CB, seems to work better with such a player alongside him. i say we should sign 2 center-backs because, as you say, i would love to have actual competition for those 2 spots between 3 outstanding players + Barta, with Mathieu and Mascherano as possible variations. competition for spots makes players play better and keeps them sharper. as of right now we not only don’t have competition but we are using makeshift players in necessary positions.

          • Peter says:

            As of right now Barcelona is on “suspended sentence”, pending resolution of the appeal. That resolution can leave the sentence as it is or shorten it, or annul it.

            As a matter of fact, and supposing that CAS does not increase the ban(which is already extreme, mind you), CAS could decide the following( Barcelona effective transfer capability date):

            a)Re-issue the original sentence, effective for the next two windows of opportunity.(January 2nd, 2016)
            b)Re-issue the original sentence and rule that due to FIFA neglecting to inform Barcelona in sufficiently short period, Barcelona has de facto already served half its sentence (31st of June 2015)
            c)Shorten the sentence to one transfer period, effective immediately(31st of June 2015)
            d)Shorten the sentence, b) options apply (January 2015)
            e)Void the transfer ban(January 2015)

  29. Peter says:

    What I find particularly irritating is that there are tons of posts about Barcelona needing to sign a world-class defender(definitions subjective), while at the same time talking about Barcelona stunting the growth of its La Masia graduates by signing foreigners like Neymar and Suarez.

    The Agger rumour is interesting, but I’m not sure about any substance in it. I think that Luis Enrique may be comfortable with Pique, Bartra, Mathieu and Mascherano, as well as Ie if needed.
    I have been criticized (not here) for stating that Mathieu’s transfer is an improvement over last season. Puyol is a fabulous footballer, but when he watched from the President’s box he didn’t really contribute a lot. With some luck there won’t be too many injuries(especially deliberate freak injuries like Pique’s assisted tumble.) and Barcelona will be able to rotate more in defence. That’s not to say I wouldn’t want to see another CB, just that I think it could work in the current conditions(Rakitic, Rafinha, Deulofeu, Suarez and Bartra gaining experience).

    I have my faith in Bartra. And in Pique. And in Mathieu. We just have to wait and hope. “Wait and hope”.

    • Kxevin says:

      Well, what I crave is a defender who puts pressure on the starters. Last season, Pique and Mascherano were the undisputed starters. Mathieu is quality. Is he of a quality sufficient to make Pique sweat? Dunno. Have to watch him week in week out to really know.

      I think the team needs 4 CBs, and 4 CBs any of whom could play without a significant dropoff in quality. That is the difficult part.

      Mathieu makes sense in that by the time he is done, hopefully Ie and Diagne will be ready to step up, Bagnack as well.

      • agar2515 says:

        From a good source on twitter: Rafael Hernandez:

        “@RafaelH117: Globo Esporte claims PSG rejected Barcelona’s €43m offer for centre back Marquinhos and the Brazilian is set to renew with the Parisians.. Globoesporte were the most reliable regarding Marquinhos since the beginning of the saga, it’s over.Barcelona offering €43m for a 21 year old centre back is insulting, should just submit the same offer to Roma and sign Benatia.”
        Sigh. Oh well if we sign Agger at least that’s depth?

      • agar2515 says:

        Ps Kevin after checking out barcablaugranas and totalbarca ( bad, BAD) I realize I need to stop splitting hairs and step my post game up here instead, i.e. not be so irked so needlessly, and come with actual fact and mature POV’s instead. So I sincerely apologize for my previous, ridiculous hissy fits, very unbecoming and wrong. I’ll save my banter for twitter Ha.

      • Peter says:

        That’s not the difficult part, Kevin, that’s the impossible part. Look at City, PSG and even Real. What do their CBs look like?

        City: Kompany, Demichelis, Nastasic and supposedly Mangala. It used to be Lescott, but they released him.
        PSG: Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marquinhos, Zoumana Camara(he’s 35 years old btw)
        Real: Ramos, Pepe, Varane, Nacho.

        It’s simply impossible to have four top-quality footballers fighting for the same position. It would be financially ruinous as well.

        • ciaran says:

          To be honest Peter, I think that this very fact is why Mathieu’s ability to play let back makes it easier to have 4. I could see the advantage in selling Adriano and signing a central defender.
          Adriano is a good player and I really like him. He is incredibly consistent and has a great shot with both feet. But… With 8 really good defenders we could be short on playing time for everyone.

          An alternative is to give Adriano more playing time at right back and letting Alves go. I’d be ok with either provided that we get an additional centreback.

          • Peter says:

            I really need to watch a couple of matches of Mathieu to be certain, but from what the damned statistics show, Mathieu really blossomed playing at CB. The way I see him, he’s a left-footed CB who knows the way a fullback/wingback operates, and he used to play next to Alba, and he can play as a LB-CB hybrid if that’s what’s needed.

            With him in the squad Luis Enrique has the possibilities of basically fielding the equivalent of FPF:

            ——Neymar———Suarez—-
            —————-Messi———-
            —Rakitic————-Iniesta-
            ——Busquets–Mascherano—–
            Alba——Mathieu—–Pique—-
            which in practice has Busquets playing on the left and center, Mascherano in pure destructor mode mostly on the right and center and slotting between the two CBs, and Alba/Adriano bombing forward but keeping track of the opposition righty, leaving three at the back. You can also reverse that

            Talking about Adriano, he’s an awesome utility player. The mere fact that he can play on the left and right, center and even midfield makes him invaluable. Just like Pedro, few players are capable of the ambidexterity that Adriano possesses. He’s too valuable, because he provides flexibility not just in terms of roster and substitutions, but on the pitch as well. You have a substitution/starting player who’s capable of being a sub for both fullbacks, and he has a powerful shot as well as tons of experience, physical power and magical powers(in the first Clasico he made Bale disappear without a top hat or a wand).

            If Alves leaves, then Adriano will be the guy that gives competition to both Montoya and Alba, and Patric and Grimaldo. :)

    • ciaran says:

      I agree with the notion Peter, I don’t like the idea of stunting the growth of young players but this also has to be balanced with the needs of the first team.
      Ie, Bagnack and Diagne are young players with potential but whether they will ever be good enough for the Barca first team is very very questionable. Diagne was just brought in and we haven’t even seen if he is good enough for Barca B yet. Ie and Bagnack look promising but so did Gomez, Fontas, Muniesa and loads of others.
      I actually think that Carlos Blanco that we lost to Juventus from Juvenil A had more potential than the others in what I saw from him.

      Bartra is the only one that I’m actually concerned with. He progressed well last season from being shaky at the start to being impressive at the end of the season. With the signing of Mathieu that just gives us different alternatives but doesn’t really hamper him. The only issue is that if he doesn’t improve further and become an automatic starter then we haven’t improved our first team in all areas as Mathieu is not better than Masch, just better at different things.

      I’m not surprised that PSG have dismissed our latest bid for Marquinhos. They have proved on numerous occasions that they won’t be bullied by anyone and from very early on they have showed zero interest in letting him go. I hope that we move on to a different target in this case.

      Daniel Agger isn’t the solution to our problem. He’s a good player but again not top quality. I find it funny that we’ve been linked to Agger & Vermaelen due to both being unhappy with a substitutes role with Liverpool & Arsenal and expecting them to be happier on our bench. I would like if we revisited the possibility of signing a very good defender.

    • BA says:

      i would prefer not to leave a vital part of our club’s trophy pursuit this season down to “luck”. luck isn’t much of a plan for sporting success, is it?

      likewise, i would prefer to not have to “wait and hope” that this board, with it’s absurdly awful track record of dumb decisions, make the right signings sometime in the future. i’d have preferred to get them done expeditiously and before luxury marquee signings like that of Suarez.

      Euler had a fantastic point on Twitter about the Marquinhos transfer, to the tune of: “last year Marquinhos cost 32m. Barça passed-chose to book 41m profit for political reasons. now desperately trying to buy same player for 40m+.” it’s just bad policies and bad decisions about the club’s future, there’s no other way to spin it.

      • Peter says:

        I would prefer the same. But luck has A LOT to do with success – blatant example:
        Terry manages to clear the ball instead of basically passing it to Messi, no Messi ball to Iniesta, not to mention Iniesta’s goal was fairly lucky as well.
        Messi doesn’t hit the crossbar but scores from the penalty spot, and Chelsea has to attack in order to get back into the game.

        Absurdly awful track record of dumb decisions? Let’s try a simple test, without consulting the internet: Who is Keirrison?

        This “board fanboy” is not impressed with big words stringed together.

        As for Euler’s “fantastic point”, Marquinhos cost 35 million, and chose to go to PSG, due to better wages and Thiago Silva playing there. My bet is, if he had been signed and not turned into a reincarnation of Puyol, Koeman and Abidal together, he would’ve been chalked as an awfully dumb decision as well. Just like Benatia, if he were to be signed.

        Lots of people forget in their fashionable righteous hatred towards the board that you need three signatures at least to transfer a player: his old club’s, his new club’s, his own.

        I have to admit, people using hindsight as a supposed example of lack of foresight piss me off.

        One last thing, which I thought of today when I saw the “Agger? That broken toy?” comments, when three months ago, as well as last summer, people were screaming “SIGN AGGER, SIGN AGGER, DAMN YOUR SANDWICH-MUNCHING PIEHOLE, ZUBI!!!”:

        It’s said it was very easy to sway the crowd from singing “Hosanna” to screaming “Crucify him!”. Culers would apparently never tolerate such firm and unswayable opinions.

        • agar2515 says:

          Say Agger is signed, ok, he’s another big, physical body we have for depth.

          Sure, he is injury prone and possibly a LFC castoff ( honestly NO LFC fan I’ve seen address his transfer is against it) but he has experience has a captain at a high profile club, in a very physically demanding league.
          Maybe he kicks the injury bug and becomes a stalwart role player? Never know.

          Basically, I’m completely starting to appreciate a ” Let’s not always get our pitchforks out right away, wait and see” mentality. With or without a “class” CB like a Benatia I still think this summer has been very well put together.

          Yes there have been areas of legitimate debate, namely taking on the possible Suarez circus for such a high fee, signing a “Good, but not great” CB in Mathieu, and this second CB pursuit (Im not even mentioning the possible 35m fee for Cuadrado, is he really needed THAT badly…)

          I believe that this team as it stands today is good enough to compete for trophies, especially with the new fitness regime Lucho seems to be implementing.

          • Peter says:

            Well, I have this simple way of thinking:

            “Last season Barcelona had Puyol mostly injured or recovering from injury, Fabregas who apparently takes a holiday during the second part of the season, 1.65m ball of fire Alexis, with Cuenca, Affelay, Dos Santos and Tello watching from the sidelines and Valdes injured, which made that awesome maniac the starting keeper…
            http://giant.gfycat.com/InsecurePleasantAbyssiniancat.gif
            Not to mention the coach apparently wanting out…

            So if that team came this close to winning La Liga(it actually won La Liga, Lahoz!!!) and came this close to winning Copa Del Rey, what about this team?

            Rakitic instead of Fabregas;
            Luis Suarez, winner of the Golden Boot, instead of Alexis Sanchez;
            Rafinha and Deulofeu instead of Dos Santos and Tello;
            Ter Stegen/Bravo/Masip instead of Valdes/Pinto;
            Mathieu instead of injured Puyol;
            Hallilovic/Adama/Munir instead of Cuenca
            Luis Enrique as coach

            What about this team?

        • BA says:

          luck has a big impact in a game. “hoping to luck” is not a strategy for a manager or coach at any level, and it certainly isn’t for a billion-dollar club or business.

          yes, an awful track record of dumb decisions that we’ve all been over and over and over in the past couple of years. we all know what they are, there’s no point re-hashing them. every board has bought players that don’t work out; few have neglected the total sporting project in favour of big-money signings the way this one has. we all know that we’ve needed a real center-back for at least 4 seasons, and this board has continually papered over that crack. now, with a transfer ban looming, it appears as though they’re doing it again. that worries some.

          in reality we’ve actually seen time and time and time again that this board, after being unwilling to pay a few more million on a defensive player (Javi Martinez, Thiago Silva, Marquinos, Mathieu himself) end up either not signing the sort of player we need or signing that player later at a larger fee. that is WHILE spending record amounts of money on players we don’t need as badly, largely Neymar and Suarez. that is the very definition of shortsightedness.

          Agger might be a useful squad player, if the fee was low enough and if he could stay healthy. but he is neither the player we absolutely need (a fast, perceptive center-back closer to 25 than 30) nor, given those IFs, perhaps a good signing at all.

          • Peter says:

            Nobody is basing their strategy on hoping for luck. Not the coach, not the board.

            What I, I personally am hoping for is not luck, but to be less unlucky. And that is something else entirely.

            What I’m hoping for is that there is less rotten luck involved this season. Here’s a short list of what happened in the last season:

            Coach steps down due to cancer, three weeks before the start of the season.
            Star player gets injured. Repeatedly. Again and again.
            Starting goalkeeper, in spectacular form during his last season at the club, breaks ligaments after hopping in the air to make a routine catch, ruling him out of the football pitch for the next 6 to 7 months.
            First-string CB has an assisted-out-of-control tumble, suffers fracture to his hip, in the very next game.
            In the next game of that trophy, remaining dedicated CB suffers injury to thigh muscles, meaning he plays injured in a final, (where he nevertheless scores).
            Newly-signed top player suffers two freak injuries that rule him out for a total of two months, one of them in the very final month of the season, which overlaps with mentioned above starting keeper injury and starting CB injury.

            For comparison, if Real had the same level of injuries, they would’ve been playing with Casillas, Nacho and Varane in defence, and Bale and Jese watching from the sidelines.

            I don’t know whether you remember, but during the period when Barcelona lost away to Ajax, there were 8 injured players – and Tata had to call up B players just to be able to present the required starting eleven and seven subs. IIRC not even Arsenal, notorious for their injury list, had the same percentage of injured players simultaneously.

            In essence, you’re accusing the board of basing their strategy on luck, just because they aren’t basing their strategy on biblical disaster.

          • Peter says:

            The list of failed transfers of the previous board just during the last two years of that board is as long as the list of actual transfers, failed or not, of the current one, over four years.

            Henrique, Caceres, Keirrison, Hleb, Chrygrinskiy, Keirrison, Ibrahimovic and Maxwell

            Mascherano, Adriano, Affelay, Alexis, Fabregas, Song, Alba, Neymar.

            It looks like everything I write falls on deaf ears(or is it blind eyes in this case?). Thiago Silva was not going to come. Not unless Barcelona had made him the second best-paid player in the roster(with a wide margin between him and Xavi, Puyol, Iniesta, Valdes and Villa, and I wonder how the critics would’ve felt about that one.) Mathieu, when offered one year ago was a left back with limited experience in CB and having scored a total of three goals during his four years at Valencia.
            Mathieu signed now is a CB with four goals in one season, three of them against the current champions of Europe, with Valencia career-best passing, duelling and defensive record. This is why he is being signed and paid(and his lower salary and associated costs will lower the actual expense to similar levels of when he was offered in summer 2013.)

            But yes, please do keep up the fashionable talk that this board can’t do anything right and that it signs the club does not need.

          • ciaran says:

            I wouldn’t say that what you write falls on deaf ears even though I don’t assume that you were talking about me.

            The board has made some very good signings and I don’t assume that people are arguing that point. The point that people make over neglect from the board over the sporting project is in regards to defensive signings.
            Of the people you list, Masch & Song were signed to help the defense. Masch is a world class defensive midfielder and performed admirably in defense. Song is a very good central midfielder with better attacking than defending abilities.
            Neither were a permanent solution to our problem in defense at a combined cost of around €45m. Now we’ve added Mathieu to that list at a cost of €20m bringing our spend to €65m over a few seasons. I am not saying that Masch was a bad purchase, but he was signed to replace Yaya and never given the chance. Song was signed to replace Keita.

            Over that period we lost Marquez, Chiggy, Caceres, Milito, Henrique, Abidal and now Puyol. And signed absolutely ZERO natural centrebacks.

            I like the signings this summer in the whole but again, while Mathieu may turn out to be a good signing, we haven’t signed a natural centreback with the experience that comes with a career at that position.

          • Kxevin says:

            It is said that bad luck is often a consequence of poor planning. In the case of Barça, a spate of injuries to defenders, when you have 4 CBs, isn’t as damaging as when you only have two. So Bartra is out there with a gimpy hamstring against Gareth Bale, and we saw what happens.

            Planning. This board is to be indicted for not only neglect of the sporting project, which I firmly believe cost the club trophies, but appalling planning at it chased its baubles from behind a curtain of faux austerity.

            Marquinhos wasn’t going to happen. PSG would have just bid more than we did. But Marquinhos wasn’t the only CB in the sea then, and he isn’t the only CB in the sea now. But planning, and not anticipating the global CB market means that CBs are more expensive than attackers, pound for pound. They still seem surprised by this.

            Luiz isn’t a 50m player because of his ultimate quality as much as because that’s just what CBs cost. Benatia, under contract until 2018, will cost the club that wants him between 50-60m, irrespective of what his clause is.

            The club has at this point, squandered opportunities to acquire CBs, so options are limited and expensive. Mathieu is a very good choice. He blossomed at CB last season, as wing backs with some size on them often do. But I do think another CB is required to really provide that pressure and comfort.

            Agger is a name being tossed about. For me, Agger is depth, rather than nervous-making real competition. Depth is good. Depth means rotation, and no dropoff in quality should one CB or the other get injured. But quality breeds competition, which makes everyone at that position better. Pique doesn’t need to be able to relax in practice, thinking about Shakira and knowing that if he is healthy, he will start. He needs to be worrying about his position in the face of a talented CB.

            Someone mentioned Txigrinski, a situation that still frosts my cookies. If not for Rosell’s hasty sale, we probably still have him, fully bedded in the system and only 27 years old. But no. Austerity.

            The cost of this austerity boondoggle has been apparent, then and now. It’s a sham that the club trots out, like a whore donning a white dress and pretending to be virginal. We won’t pay 50m for Cuadrado because we don’t want to put the club’s fiscal stability at risk, says the club who just spent 81m for a striker, and 57m the summer before.

            Those are not the actions of an austerity club.

            Further complicating the CB matter is that rumor has it that Liverpool wanted at least 60% of the Suarez fee up front, in cash, which has left the club cash poor in a time when transfers increasingly require large amounts of cash up front.

            There have been good signings this summer, signings that I think will greatly ameliorate the Messidependencia, a good and necessary thing. But it is just as important to eliminate Piquedependencia. And that is as much planning as it is luck.

          • Peter says:

            Ciaran, I believe that Mascherano was signed as a substitute of Yaya. Yaya was used in defence, but he was also a rotational and competition partner of Busquets. Song was signed as a substitute of Keita, but due to the starting defenders’ injuries ended up being played in defence sometimes. In retrospect, maybe Bartra should’ve been given more time or a dependable(not world class, but dependable) CB should’ve been signed in order to provide rotation for the starters. It’s not easy to manage human beings and top-level players. Some thrive on competition, and some work best when assured they will keep their place if they work hard. Still others work best when they are given good leadership and a clear set of objectives.

            When I wrote about the deaf ears, it was due to getting exasperated with the fans’ idea of a transfer. Clubs sign players, not names with stats attached. Players sign for a variety of reasons – recognition, achievement, fame and trophies, which would lead to status and the corresponding salary, or for salary alone. It’s important to realize that a transfer influences the balance of the existing squad. An incoming player may get a high salary, but if he has achieved something. If he hasn’t, then the rest of the club will start asking for higher salaries themselves, not because they’re greedy, but because the transfer fee and the salary provide a meter. This is why I like Mathieu – the guy lowered his salary in return for a longer contract – but from what I’ve seen, from articles, comments and interviews, he seems motivated that he can and will get a better contract based on performance. If he performs, the club would be more than agreeable to increasing his salary – and it would be justified in the eyes of the rest of the squad, because “he’s earned it.” This is the way I see it.

            I also understand your point and agree at least in part. However… I don’t really know how to put it. I don’t think that having five defenders will help a lot – and yes, I count Masche as one of the defenders, because when Busquets is in top form he is better than Mascherano at what he does, and I don’t want to see the grit and motivation of Mascherano ride the bench – he’s too good for that. I’m sure lots of teams would love to have that dilemma. The problem would be that Mascherano sets too high a bar. Despite his lack of height and what it means for corners and set pieces, he sets a very high bar.

            @ Kevin. I agree, but not entirely Luck is one thing, planning is another. Puyol staying and trying for one last season now is known to have been poor planning – and if you try to burrow through one-year old totalbarca threads you will find my posts applauding the fact that the board decided to rely on Puyol so that he tries for one last big trophy and in order to train Bartra. You will also find posts supporting the decision to incorporate Cuenca and Affelay in the first team despite them being injured, so that they have the best care to recuperate and be focused on recovering instead of trying to find a home while injured. Cuenca has found a new home, Affelay seems to have recovered and is working with the rest of them.

            I don’t agree entirely about the austerity and whether it’s faux or not. That austerity was supposed to last around two to three years, so that the level of spending was brought under control and revenue is increased until a sustainable balance was reached. The club was returning and is returning its bank loan.
            I will give a simple example – say you pay 500 Euro per month for your car. When you achieve a balance that allows you to pay that and make ends meet, you’re okay. What happens when you pay it all? Well, first thing is you have 500 Euros available to buy whatever you need/want now that you don’t have to pay for the car.

            Kevin, you wonder why the board baulks at 50 million for Cuadrado and states it could put the finances at risk, after them paying 81 million(probably close to 84 million with all associated costs) for Suarez. For me it can’t be really more simple – because that would be 50 million on top of the 81 million. While the transfer of Cesc and Alexis pay for the majority of the those 81 million, the additional 50 million would be pure spending, and not backed up by outgoing transfers – and the club has already spent more than enough on more vital signings.

            Personally I don’t understand why the Cuadrado chase, unless he’s supposed to come now in case the transfer ban will be reactivated. If the guy will be signed for right wingback, There’s still Dani Alves with his very substantial salary, there’s Adriano and there’s also Montoya trying for the starting position. For me THAT would be one unnecessary signing.

            Anyway, there’s three weeks more until La Liga starts, close to five weeks until silly season ends. I agree with Kevin, there are other CBs, and I’d love to see competition for Pique. But who’s going to be that competition? Benatia? Hmm.

          • Kxevin says:

            But Peter, it’s what I mean by planning. If austerity is real, why is the club buying Suarez, throwing 40+m sums after Marquinhos, they saying Cuadrado will destabilize?

            If you’re that serious about watching the pennies, it’s easy enough to snag Mandzukic for 22m, which leaves another 60, atop what is left in the kitty (probably 50 or so) for a CB and Cuadrado. With that kind of dosh, you can call a club and say, “Here. Send him.” (Assuming they want to sell and the player wants to come.)

            Suarez was more than a player, he was a Symbol of the board’s intent, like a “chicken in every pot” promise by a politician during an election year, which they are planning for. Hence the most expensive splashiest purchase. It shows to anyone in doubt that Barça is a “big” club that can outbid all the other clubs, etc.

            It also shows that the board is willing to spare no expense to bring “you, the people, a winning football team. Vote for us.”

            My personal objections to Suarez are known. But from a sporting view, while he is a brilliant player, I don’t know that we really NEED that much from a 9. Mandzukic is a reliable 20 goals a season. He also passes and runs the pitch. Done. But he wasn’t the right kind of signing.

          • Peter says:

            Kevin, my view on Suarez is very subjective, so I will not comment on his signing, except to say that from what I’ve seen of him, he has much more ability than Alexis or Mandzukic. Is he really that needed?
            I’d say yes – from what we saw in the World Cup. Not just in terms of his own performance, but the fact that he would probably enhance the performance of both Messi and Neymar – and yes, the same argument was used for Neymar. Except that Suarez is used to tougher football than Neymar was, and the man is clearly motivated.

            From what Sport and MD were reporting, the man looked for a school for his daughter, and then went for training and conditioning with a personally-hired trainer to the Pyrenees. People are already making jokes about wolves and bears evacuating the mountains with unseemly haste. :D

          • Kxevin says:

            I won’t argue that Suarez isn’t a better forward than Mandzukic. My simple contention is need. I feel like we’re buying a Ferrari to drive to the grocery store, but we’ll see.

            By that, I mean more player than we need for the task at hand.

          • Peter says:

            Kevin, do you realize you just compared trying to win La Liga, The Champions League and hopefully Copa del Rey to going to the grocer’s?

            I wonder whether that’s elitism or you just don’t make grocery runs? :P

          • Kxevin says:

            No, more right tool for the job. The task is immaterial.

      • Jim says:

        PSG paid that as it was enough to win that bidding war. If we had topped it they would just have upped theirs. They were playing with silly money last season. The more worrying aspect is that Marquinhos was quite happy to go there so wasn’t going to get involved, maybe because of TS, who knows. Unless he now decides he has a better chance of more playing time with us and starts causing nother with PSG there’s no point in pursuing this.

  30. PrinceYuvi says:

    PSG apparently rejected the new, new 43M bid for Marquinhos. Argh.

  31. Kxevin says:

    Keita refused to shake Pepe’s hand during a friendly, and threw a water bottle at his head after Pepe allegedly spat at him.

    Recall the incident when Pepe allegedly called Keita a monkey.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/soccer-dirty-tackle/seydou-keita-refuses-to-shake-hand-with-pepe–throws-water-bottle-at-him-before-friendly-025709460.html

  32. Pepe apparently spot at keita and so he threw a bottle.

    Anyway, tata seema to be taking over at argentina. Pretty exciting!

  33. 86ed says:

    I think we need to sign a phenomenal defender (prob two of them) simply to cope with the might of Real and Bayern’s attacks, even if we ignore our notorious weaknesses in deadball situations.

    Look at Real. They just signed the best passer in the game today, and one potentially great player (though I sincerely think he has more hype than actual talent, much like Neymar), to add to their already stellar offense. Whom do we have to fight that? A defender living on past glories (I’m looking at you, Pique), Mathieu, Mascherano, and the young Bartra. If this defense fills anyone with confidence, then I commend their spirit, because it sure as hell doesn’t fill me with it.

    I do understand that there’s more to footy than simply saying X is better than Y; that teamwork and organization are important too. But you cannot possibly think that a defense that is largely unchanged form last season can hope to win any silverware.

    We can sugarcoat it all we want by saying “5 goals between us and victory.” (Incidentally I feel we have been saying that for three summers now. It’s turning into a silly excuse if it keeps happening again and again.) In the end Atletico won because they owned our defense in the air; we couldn’t even tickle Godin in the last game of the season.

    I doubt we’ll sign anyone else. This board had to fight tooth and nail to sign a 30 year old, and even then couldn’t get him for the price they wanted. Imagine their trying to sign Hummels?

    It is too late now anyway. The top teams fix their defense first. Bayern did so in the summer of 2012 where Martinez and Dante were signed by May. Season starts in a few weeks and we’re still a mess at the back.

    • Kxevin says:

      Wait, RM signed Messi or Iniesta? When you said “best passer in the game today,” I assume you mean them. Or is Xavi going there on loan?

      To say that we are a mess at the back is, for me, a bit of an overstatement. There were 7 matches in which the team didn’t score, something that hadn’t happened for years. If, in any one of those matches the offense manages a goal, the last match vs Atleti involves a guard of honor by them for us, instead of a battle.

      Defensive depth is an issue because if you don’t have to run a gimpy Bartra against Bale because Pique is also knocked, that is a good thing. So the question becomes how does the club decide to deal with the matter of depth? If the Agger thing happens, it will be with something of a like-for-like straight line, rather than any performance spikes from a top-quality CB.

      Barça will always think of attack first. That is just how the team is oriented, and the club follows suit. Enrique is on record as wanting 2 CBs this season. Both Bartomeu and ZubiZa said that the club will sign 2 CBs this season. So we’ll have to see what happens.

      I think that the biggest miss on the defensive side is NOT a CB, but that Abidal type, that eraser who can fix errors with pace and physicality. Many a time Pique or Puyol was caught out of position, and Abidal just chugged over to put out the fire. When he left, complexities arose. Alba isn’t a suitable substitute, but from his CB slot, Mathieu will in theory be. And that will be huge.

      As for set pieces, in addition to signing a keeper with a broader range than Valdes (which is to say, he controls more of his area on set pieces), we also have Rakitic and Mathieu, both of whom are 6′ or taller. So suddenly, with a potential configuration that might involve Pique, Rakitic, Bartra and Mathieu, you would have four six-footers defending set pieces, in addition to Ter Stegen, who is a couple of inches taller than Valdes.

      I do think that the team needs to roll into the season with 4 CBs, rather than 3 CBs and a couple of dudes who might be deputized for that role. And it is my hope that it will happen. But even if the club has to go with Pique, Bartra and Mathieu, that still leaves a spare CB. It isn’t as much as it should be, but it’s better than last year.

      Is “better than last year” good enough? Depends on who you ask.

      • 86ed says:

        Kroos is the better passer. Xavi will invariably buff up his stats by passing the ball sideways or backwards. He’s good at keeping sterile possession, about 20 to 30 metres away from where Kroos plays. That’s great when you have a two-goal lead; not so good when you’re down a goal. I can’t remember when the last time Xavi even attempted a through ball.

        Messi and Iniesta aren’t even close to good passing players. They’re strong in other areas. Kroos is better at passing.

        • Kxevin says:

          Wait … really? We should agree to disagree on “Messi and Iniesta aren’t even close to good passing players.”

          We’ll see what happens this season. Kroos is a strong player, but I have rarely seen him described as the best passer in the game today.

        • Peter says:

          Some comparison

          http://bit.ly/1AA9N22

          Clearly, the notion that Kroos is the better passer is not entirely correct. To put it mildly.

          Apart from that,
          Kroos played in Germany where Direkt Fussball with lots of space is the norm. Barcelona’s current dilemma is “how to brick a bus?” So, could Kroos maintain his stats? The magic of Iniesta, Xavi and Messi, could he do it in a hot August afternoon away at Pamplona?

        • Jim says:

          Wow! I’d be struggling to find a series of statements I disagreed with more. Let me help you. I suppose Xavi’s pass to Diego Costa for the pen in the WC doesn’t count? Last game he played and one of the most telling through balls all competition. Iniesta’s pass to Silva in the same game wasn’t bad either just in passing. However, if you don’t want to remember I suppose you won’t. Xavi can play any kind of ball better than almost anyone on the planet. Our midfield just found it hard with a lack of movement and bodies in the box last year. If you have two wingers hugging touch lines and Messi dropping deep who do you have left to play a through ball to ? Kroos is a decent player from what I’ve seen but not in the same class as any of the three you mentioned.

          Again, the same comments about Pique with nothing to back it up. How about you take some time when the season starts to point out to us these errors Pique seems to keep on making. I’d be happy to be enlightened.

          It’d be good to get a great defender. That’s what the board seem to be trying to do. We may end up that nobody wants to sell theirs to us. That’s life. If that happens our defence will only be a bit better than last year and our attack should be much more potent. I’ll settle for that…..

        • TITO says:

          Seriously?
          Can’t understand why would anybody even bother to discuss such a statement. Simply because it is not and never could be a topic of discussion.

  34. Peter says:

    From watching the videos of the double sessions in Birmingham(one session today):

    Is it me or is Pique looking bulkier? Not in “who ate all the pies” kind of way, more along the lines of upper body mass and more menacing visage(well, compared to before).

  35. agar2515 says:

    I’m on my phone so apologies that my reply got stuck down here but I’m targeting the 28th of September against Granada Kevin. It was between that and Bilbao on the 14th BUT by going later I can experience La Mercé festival first then end my trip with the game. I’m so excited, I can’t wait to absolutely geek out during the tour and game of course. I’m going with my Dad, our own family pilgrimage. Though he’s REALLY the lucky dog, he was in Barcelona when they won the UCL in 10/11. I’m eternally jealpus of that haha.

    Dang, they go on sale that late? Idk why I thought all the fixtures went on sale as soon as the season started in August ( besides the Clasico of course) . Oh well, shouldn’t be a problem, attendance against “lower” opposition isn’t usually too full.

    • Peter says:

      You will be able to buy tickets anyway, lots of socis put up theirs in the two days before the game either in the Barcelona site, or waiting just a short distance from the booths(or so I’m told).

      • Kxevin says:

        Granada will not be a high-demand match. You will easily be able to get tickets in Barcelona. I wouldn’t even worry about getting anything in advance via the Internet. There will be plenty of seats.

        If you can, sit on the uncovered side. Usually more socis and old-timers, from my past experiences.

        • Levon says:

          @agar2515 if you do buy tickets for the uncovered side of the stadium (cheeeeeaper) make sure you get sunglasses or a hat. The sun can have you squint throughout the whole game.

    • I was there too in 2011, but it unless you like meaningless violence it’s not that amazing. I guess the m15 protests overshadowed the event a bit locally. Ill never forget my walk home that night across town though. That was a real riot: cars a flame-it was a sight.

      The merce is pretty funny. There are rivers of urine on the street and a stready fog of hash smoke in the air. Mediocre music, but an excellent seen. Late september is also my favorite season in barcelona.

      Im jealous. Ill be there this summer, but because of school i wont be able to catch a match.

      • Jim says:

        You make it sound so appealing. How did I miss all this ? :)

        • Man, sorry for all these typos! Im on a computerless vacation

          @ jim: those were the street parties by colon and near barceloneta. I did make it to sant boi for the usual fair of sardanas and nationlism. Nb, sant boi is one of the sites where catalunya lost the war of succession. Im also pretty picky about music :)

          • Levon says:

            I must say, arriving here from Venezulea, the “Sardana” has left me underwhelmed to say the least, lol.

          • It is not the sexiest thing ever, but the comedic value is pretty high. :)

            I hope that adjustment is alright though. I knew quite a few venezuelan folk while i was there. It doesnt get a lot of press but i am cery sorry for the situation there, especially in caracas. Ps. A lot of venezuelan artists/musicians hang out at a bar called miscelanea. Great space.

            http://www.miscelanea.info/?lang=en

    • Ethan says:

      Ive been to two matches during La Merce and the city is just spectacular during that time of year. Be sure to grab a guide to the festivities as it will explain events with times and places, some of which are worth being able to see. Easily one of my favorite times of year to be there besides Christmas. And as the others have said, getting tickets will be fairly simple and could even be picked up at the stadium for a fixture like that.

  36. agar2515 says:

    Thanks for the tips and tidbits gentleman!

  37. agar2515 says:

    Just because it’s gone cold today, onda cero just reported Vertonghen is #1 on Barças list of CB’s . I def like him over Verm and Agger, though I’d be shocked if we suddenly nabbed him from Tottenham ( and Levy)

  38. agar2515 says:

    This second CB search sure has been the transfer most all over the place. Some say Vetonghen, some say Agger is close, some people said Italian papers reported renewed Benatia interest (couldn’t find anything on this myself). That’s what I get for relying on twitter for my transfer news, when it’s right it’s spot-on and first to break, but when it’s wrong or frivolous… Headache inducing.
    Speaking of twitter, did you see that firestorm from people after Pique’s comments today? Some people really seem to dislike the guy.

  39. Kxevin says:

    Ye gods! This team will have XAVI as a sub next season. When I think of “stacked,” it’s hard to contemplate a more effective definition than that.

  40. Ryan says:

    According to Puyol’s Facebook page, the next person to wear the #5 will be Busi, which might suggest that we aren’t going to be looking for another defender. Busquets slots into the back line so often during games that it makes sense in a way to give him the number.

    • Peter says:

      No, not really. Just because the number is given to Busquets doesn’t mean a defender won’t be signed. The following numbers are unassigned: 12, 16, 20, 23 – and the players waiting for those are Sergi Roberto, Rafinha and Deulofeu. There is still space for one more player – or more, if someone from the current roster leaves.

      Tea-leaves readers at SPORT have stated that Alves will be informed that his services will not be required, once he comes back on Tuesday. Interesting.

      • Kxevin says:

        Apparently the Alves thing happened. Watched training videos, and he looked kinda odd, not his usual carefree self. Maybe it’s just me.

        It’s a year too late really, but short-sightedness meant that we couldn’t do that. Now, he’s a year older, not worth much and has a big salary.

        – As for that second defender, that person was never going to get the number 5. It’s become a symbolic number. Club still looking, according to the vibrant rumor mill.

      • Ryan says:

        I had figured the 5 would be given to an actual defender, which might suggest a big ticket purchase since it’s indeed an iconic number. But you’re right that we could still bring in another defender, albeit probably not a flashy one at this point. I hadn’t heard the Alves thing, but it doesn’t surprise me if it’s true.

  41. ciaran says:

    Stories today about Roma and their very real problems with FFP in regards to their football finances. Unlike PSG and Man City whose problems were about how to introduce huge finances into their budgets Roma’s are legit over spending and cannot use any capital increases to fix those.
    In a letter to the board they are said to have stated that they are over the max loss of €45m for the three year period and face a ban from European football if they don’t raise football related money ie transfers.

    Benatia and Pjanic are likely to be made available for sale. Interesting stuff. I still hold out hope for the Moroccan.

    • Kxevin says:

      In other related news, Vertonghen is in the frame, as Spurs are looking to buy Musacchio from Villarreal, then sell Vertonghen to us, rumor has it. Worth noting that Musacchio isn’t in the squad for the Villarreal friendly today, as strong rumors about a done deal for Musacchio surface.

      • ciaran says:

        I’d probably prefer to have Musacchio. Not that he is better than Vertonghen but he has more pace and is a bit more no-nonsense while Vertonghen is better on the ball but more prone to errors, well this past season anyway.

        Still, it’s a difficult situation for an incoming defender. Someone like Vertonghen would be instantly competing with Bartra & Mathieu for a starting place rather than a guaranteed starter as he was with Spurs. Someone like Hummels or that calibre comes in to be an instant starter which is easier.

      • ciaran says:

        I meant to add, having two left sided centrebacks is a little lop sided as I can’t ever remember seeing two left footed centrebacks playing together while it’s very common to have two right footers. I’m not sure the balance of Mathieu-Vertonghen would provide as a duo.

        • Rami says:

          There aren’t many left footed CBs in general, That’s why it’s uncommon to see both lefties on the same pitch.

          The optimal duo in a match situation is to have one right footed and one left footed, And in term of the whole squad, The optimal is having 2 right footed and 2 left footed.

          That’s why the agger rumors made some sense to me, He is a leftie, And played on some occasion as a left FB, Similar profile to mathiew, Combine those two with the pique and barta who are both right footed, And it’s a perfect balance.

          • Rami says:

            Almost forgot, Vertonghen and Vermaelen are the same case as agger, Both Left footed that can play wide as left full backs.

  42. PrinceYuvi says:

    Man city, PSG handcuffed with FFP.

    Chelsea going after brutes.

    EE using twitter trends as a basis to buy players.

    Man utd, Liverpool not stationed in London, so a No-No for WAGs.

    & Now Roma with FFP problems.

    So many factors came together to make our lives easier in transfer window.

    In the Inflated market, things will only get worse.

    So, I hope Zubi gets us that CB, RB to complete the squad.
    No penny-pinching this time, hopefully.

  43. ian_percival says:

    Wow Mathieu has been superb,making pique look inferior. Is it just me or has anyone noticed how slow rakitic looks,hope he is not cesc 2.0. Lol Ter stegen having a holiday,nice keeper!

  44. PrinceYuvi says:

    But wait Mathieu is not World class…..

  45. agar2515 says:

    I’ve become a Mathieu fan very quickly, it’s nice have a defender that wants to DEFEND first instead of bombing forward. Don’t worry about Rakattack, he’s most def not Cesc 2.0, watch the Last Europa League final again, dude was everywhere.

  46. ooga aga says:

    Our two Croats looking GOOD.

    Hope markie Montoya will heal quick. Is Patrick much of a step down for us though?

    • ciaran says:

      Patric had a good season for Barca B. The kid is very physical for a youngster. I think he has a very solid future with us making the potential Alves departure easier to deal with even if Cuadrado is not signed.

      • Rami says:

        Last i heard is that he’ll be sold to lazio.

        I don’t think highly of him, He’s good, But not barca good, Nor will he ever be in my opinion.
        If there is a full back that has good chance of making it to the first team is Grimaldo, When watching him play, It’s hard to believe he’s only 18 years old.

  47. TITO says:

    As for me, Halilovic can already take a number in the first team. I havent seen a youngster with such a vision and technique for a while. Mathieu and Rakitic were great. Pique ia still in love with Shakira.
    On the other hand, Delo”what should i do now”feu is going to cost games and points durig the season, mark my words.

    • BA says:

      Halilovic looks excellent, but i’d say he needs another season with the B team in order to get the system down. Sergi Roberto again pointless; what does he bring to the team?

      Pique needs competition for his spot, not to be an automatic starter every game. it’s not hard to believe that he’s unmotivated to perform: young, rich, won every medal available to a professional footballer, makin babies with Shakira in one of the world’s most beautiful cities. would YOU give 105% every game? competition for his spot, however, might be the spur he needs. deeply unfortunate that we won’t sign enough CB cover to make that happen. i remain unconvinced Bartra is the answer to that problem; he’s already older than Pique was when he made such an impression on our first team.

      • anandgrafiti says:

        Pique was piss poor. But i find it very sad when many of us here often blame Shakira to be one of the reason for his downfall. I mean really? How sexist is that thought? Most of the top footballers have supermodels or extremely beautiful women as their partners. Does that mean they all have a dip in form? If not anything, from what we see and read, they are a disciplined happy couple, and that can only do good for anyone’s mindset. ALl the other factors are valid though. Rich, powerful inside the team hierarchy, won everything… or it could be that he is a different type of player who thrives on his confidence, which is just low right now.

        • Benj says:

          With respect, I think that may be clutching at straws on the sexism call. Ever since Pique got together with Shak, his performance in general has dropped, and no-one is suggesting it is her fault (it can’t be her fault that her hips dont lie, nor that her breasts are small and humble, thats just so that you don’t happen to mistake them for mountains), more they are criticising Pique for being too easily distracted and that he needs to get his head in the game. I don’t think anyone is making a Yoko out of her, if that is what you are suggesting.
          I think it’s great that they are together, it means my fiancee may actually mention something football related, if only because it is connected to pop culture! That was also meant without sexist undertones, she just loves pop culture :)
          On a connected note, I did see someone in the press (I can’t for the life of me remember who) recently commented regarding players being weak for moving ‘just because their wife/girlfriend wants to move to london’. They alluded to Sanchez not going to liverpool but instead choosing the lights of london. I very much doubt that there is much truth to these stories, alot of it is just made up because it sells newspapers. If Sanchez wanted to come to liverpool, he would have, and I doubt his ladyfriend would be so disgusted that she would ‘force’ him to go to london.
          Just my 2c though…

    • fotobirajesh says:

      Agree completely with you on Halilovic and Delofeu.
      Halilovic still is in his early stages, but the guy is definitely a mini Messi.
      Delofeu is lesser version of Ronaldo and has got exactly the same mindset too, as far as shooting is concerned. I too think, he will lose us points. I wish, I can take back my words
      Very impressed by Adama,Sergi Samper.
      So disappointed by Iniesta and S.Roberts.
      Anyways, this is just pre season.
      The young guys love to press, but without good positional play to support, no fruits.

  48. Rami says:

    The reason i think why we keep hearing rumors about the likes of agger, Vermaelen, And Vertonghen even though they are not ‘world class’ (I swear to god i clench every time i say this word), Is because the club is specifically looking for players that are CB/Left FB hybrid who are primarily left footed.

    These kind of players are essential for any plan that make use of 3 players at the back, Which i think luis is counting on it, Not as a full time permanent plan, But he definitely wants to have the flexibility and the ability to apply it whenever he feels necessary.

    When playing 3 at the back, One of them will have to constantly move toward the left side near the side lines to mark a certain player, intercept an attack or make himself an option to pass to, It’s very important that the CB is comfortable in that area spanning from the middle to the far left, Right footers can become very uncomfortable near the left side lines (It force them to use their weak foot, Something that doesn’t usually happen when they are near the middle where they normally operate in a typical 4 man back line).

    The signing of mathieu was an essential step for using this plan since he has the perfect profile, Unfortunately we don’t have another player with his CB/Left FB capability to serve as a back up in case he isn’t around, And without that it’s very difficult and simply not worth it to play with a 3 man back line.

    Anyway, That’s just my two cents, And yes i know what you’re thinking, Marquinhos is the exact opposite, He is a CB/ Right RB hybrid, Well there are only 3 reasons on my mind, He is equally good on both feet, His abilities is well worth it even if he doesn’t fit the profile, Or all what i said above is all bull crap.

  49. ian_percival says:

    I think Pique needs to wake up the hard way. After watching Mathieu last night I realized why the board was hell bent on signing him,the guy is very good,he’s got that arrogance about him that we lack at the back,and again,he seemed to be,the one pulling all the string for the defense last night while pique was lazily letting him do the defending all by himself. Reminds me of the Ramos-Pique pairing at the NT where Ramos does all the physical work,clears,heads,overlap,returns and cross,pique just prefers not to get involved.

    We need one more center back and I pray its marqinhos ,I’ve finally got to watch him and I’ve never seen someone so intelligent at his age,composed and reads the game accurately. I believe if we sign one more center back and put pique closer to the bench he will start waking up. Again,according to barcastuff they said mascherano is to be drafted back into defence if we don’t sign one more center back this season. I seriously hope its not true.

    • Jim says:

      If you think Ramos does all the good work for the NT I take it you didn’t watch the match against Holland? How many of the goals were he and Casillas responsible for ?

  50. Peter says:

    So… Mathieu isn’t all bad after all?

    Hmm…

  51. barca96 says:

    Will Paul George ever get to play again?

    • PrinceYuvi says:

      Every image, vine or video of that injury comes with the warning : Not for the faint hearted.
      Gruesome.
      It was open fracture ? Scariest version there is.
      Nerve, circulation, muscle damage galore.

    • PrinceYuvi says:

      Full points to trainers & doctors on site.
      Handled the situation quickly & packed him off to surgery in matter of minutes.
      Those guys don’t get appreciated enough.

  52. PrinceYuvi says:

    What is up with all the Bramble to Barça noise ?

  53. ian_percival says:

    Bramble? You mean Titus Bramble? Why on earth would he be linked with barca

    • ciaran says:

      That would be my favourite thing to ever happen in football. I assume it was a typo from Yuvi

      • PrinceYuvi says:

        Er. Sorry about that.
        Few Cules started that troll train on twitter for amusement.
        Spread like fire. I fell for it :)

        • Kxevin says:

          It played off the Radio Marca bulletin that the club is going to announce a “shocking” CB signing on Thursday.

          • agar2515 says:

            That was an astounding troll. I’m so glad I was in the movies
            As it was happening and missed it all.
            I’ve read Cuadrado is deciding between us United and , while Fiorentina is ok with what we offered , that he wants to go where he’ll be paid the most.
            On the CB thing, at this point what would be a ” shocking” signing? I can only think of some obscure, young name or Benatia ( shocking because there has been ZERO rumor about him). There is no real other option for my money, well besides the obvious one that Marca is trolling us for ratings.
            I just want the final squad done and dusted at this point, this really is a fantastic group already.

  54. ooga aga says:

    Robbie Keane is finally coming! Reinvented as a CB! HALLELUJAH!

  55. Rami says:

    I’m calling it, The surprising CB signing will be of…………………….. Marcos Rojo!, His profile fits exactly with what we have been looking for, which is a CB/Left FB.

    I’m Having a good gutsy feeling about this, Almost tickling, Any one willing to start bets? :D

    • agar2515 says:

      Not that I would be opposed to Rojo at all, but I think Mathieu was the CB/LWB signing we needed, which is why some feel Vertonghen would be a redundant signing. I think what was REALLY sought after is a CB that would play as the RCB in a back 3 ( With Monty yet to fully convince and Dani on his way out), which is why we went on such a white whale chase with Marquinhos (though it looks like we won’t end up landing him in the end).

      • Rami says:

        A CB with RB capabilities is certainly a great thing to have in your squad to really complement that 3 man defense, But all the alternatives to him we kept hearing about, Were CB/LFB, Who are the exact opposite, Which logically leads us to think that marquinhos isn’t really sought out after for his RB capabilities alone (For me it’s just a good extra bonus), But a multitude of factors, Like his general performance in defense, And the potential he has in the future, And in the eyes of the club, If we’re not going to get this whole package, We might as well get a back up for Mathieu.

        And it makes sense, Barta or pique may not have played as RB before, But in the end they’re still right footers, They can still function well near the right side line, It’s not a must have quality to be worth spending 40M euros alone.

  56. Benj says:

    OK I need to pose a question to the Culers on here.
    I have been a firm believer for a number of years that Leo Messi is the greatest footballer that has ever lived. In my mind there hasnt ever been a question of whether it should be Maradona, Pele, Cristina, anyone, it has been clear to me that he is the best there is and ever was. My opinion, doesnt have to be yours, think what you will.
    I have questioned it for the first time today after going through old (not that old) match recordings and highlights and I can honestly say i dont know who I would put as number 1 now, Leo or Ronaldinho. I want to know why he isnt mentioned in the same sentence when people question Messis GOAT-ness. Its always Diego and Edson, Hand of God and The Black Pearl, Maradona and Pele.
    Ronaldinho has represented top teams in his home Brasil, he was at PSG when Ligue 1 went through a very decent period, at Barca he was part of one of the (if not the) best teams in the world, he still smashed it at AC, winning their most recent league title, scored a boatload of goals, created an incredible amount more, won two different top european leagues, a bunch of cups (one of which was the Jules Rimet) and heaps of individual awards, including a Balon Dor and 2 FWPOTYs. While watching him play, I cant help but smile, especially in the Barca days. It is just pure childish joy and puts into perspective the beauty of the game we all love so much.
    The excuses that I’ve heard for him not being the best are:
    1) Not Enough Goals – Pele, Maradona and Messi scored way more.
    2) Didnt Win a World Cup On His Own
    3) Turned Fat, Partied, etc etc
    Well for number 1, we cant honestly say that scoring the most goals = best player, can we? The best player in a solid defensive team might be the centre half, or maybe a strong DM. Ronny was a creative, attacking midfielder yes but his role wasnt to be the leading goalscorer. He still did a damn fine job of putting them away!
    Number 2 is one that really gets me. Sure, Maradona did pretty well to drag his side through, but Pele was amongst players that are counted amongst some of the best of all time, Jairzinho, Rivelinho, Gerson, it was freaking amazing all around the pitch. Pele was the best in the team, but that was quite an accomplishment. Messi was the best player in this Argie squad, but it was definitely a combined effort, with Di Maria, Mascherano and surprisingly Dimichelis putting in great shifts. Ronaldinho was also part of an amazing squad at the 02 WC, and benefited from it.
    Number 3, correct me if I’m wrong but there was a huge disparity in the kind of wages that were paid between Pele’s days up till now, yes? I honestly think Pele wouldnt have had the kind of capital (while he was playing) to go out and party and life the highlife. Maradona was a south american celebrity at a time when having a night out meant getting mangled on cocaine, and unfortunately, due to him having massive resources, fell into the trap. The same can be said of Ronny, although to a far lesser extreme. It isnt uncommon, especially through the 90′s and 00′s for higher paid players to be caught on a night out, or put on weight over the holidays, but to count that against the all time standing of the player in terms of their ability is ludicrous. Leo Messi bucks the trend, but theres still time for La Pulga to party :)
    Forgive the long post, but its something thats really playing on my mind and Id love to hear what peoples opinion is on this.

    TL:DR – I think Ronaldinho was as good as, possibly better than, the likes of Pele, Maradona and Messi. Discuss…

    • Kxevin says:

      There is no GOAT. It’s a mythical being, like the Yeti. People want to rank players and their accomplishments for some odd reason having to do with bench racing.

      I have seen Ronaldinho live, I have seen Messi live, and both are astounding players. You see so little of what they can actually do on television, the curve of the ball, the touch, the speed of thought as they are usually where the ball is going to be before anyone knows where the ball is going to be. It’s staggering. (As an aside I also got to see Ibrahimovic a few times live, where you can really appreciate how talented he is.)

      They are very different players. Ronaldinho was, is and will always be an entertainer, but in the match context. He will make a pass with his butt because he knows that will please the crowd, but it also pleases him. When I talk of the “Wheee!” factor, no player has embodied that more than Ronaldinho.

      But his tricks are also necessities at times. Ronaldinho would make a pass with his butt not only because he could, but because that was the most effective way to keep the play moving. Think about it: if a ball is coming at you and a forward is running at goal, by the time you turn, control and make the pass, the defense is able to reset, or the forward if offside. So just let the ball bounce off your butt. Pass is completed, goal is scored, crowd goes wild. A win win win, and everybody is happy.

      Messi is also great in his own, very different way. Ronaldinho didn’t score enough goals to be part of any GOAT discussion, and that’s okay. He doesn’t care. I have never, ever seen a player play with as much joy. People talk about Messi being childlike, and only wanting to play football, etc. But Ronaldinho was the embodiment of that childlike quality that all great players have, that notion that anything is possible.

      Once, during a Chicago Blackhawks playoff game back when Wayne Gretzky was playing for the Oilers, Gretzky and his mates were on a break. The Blackhawks defense was tracking back beautifully, and a player skated over to mark Gretzky, who had the puck, with the intention of knocking his butt into the glass. Grekzky stopped, spun and whipped a behind-the-back pass to his attacker that landed right on his stick. A goal was scored, and minds were blown. But it was the same thing: yes it was showy, but it was also the exact right action at the exact right time. A lesser player takes the hit, or maybe tries to stop and loses the puck and the play falls apart.

      But great players have a different event window. It’s why it’s so difficult to rank them. That Ibrahimovic goal against RM, the volley, is still the most spectacular goal that I have ever seen in person. You can see it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U93Vs3ObsfU

      Casillas knew it was coming, and couldn’t even move. A lesser player tries to control that ball, maybe goes long side or something. But a player of that talent just conceives of the game in a different way. And that list of players isn’t that large, but among those players, it is impossible to rank them in a way that arrives at who or who might not be the GOAT. I say enjoy them while we have them.

    • kosby says:

      I think such discussions are pretty subjective, but the following is my opinion-

      I started watching football, following barca because of one man – Ronaldinho. The things he did, the way he played, was for me simply amazing. He did tricks and my eyes widened – “what did he just do ??”. And then came along Messi. He too did amazing things, got out of situations when I never expected him to, but Messi made all this look simple. Like second nature. And therein lies the beauty, no flashy stepovers, no circus tricks. And Messi has been doing this for 5 seasons now. Ronaldinho was at his peak for 2 yrs. Thats a massive difference in my opinion. If you ask my opinion about Ronaldinho’s peak and Messi’s peak I would be hardpressed to give a definite opinion. Also I don’t think one can say who is the best footballer of all time for a couple of reasons – 1. we have only watched current players. Judging on a 10 min clip on youtube is probably not the best way. 2. There are so many different positions in football it almost seems unfair to say who’s the best footballer. Invariably we tend to talk about dribblers and goalscorers. This for me isnt right. So imo we will never know who is the best footballer ever and possibly its for the best.

      • Kxevin says:

        The other thing is that people always shake their heads when talking about Ronaldinho, in the “what a waste” context. But had he had the dedication and diligence to maintain his body, do the right work, etc, etc, he probably wouldn’t have been That Ronaldinho.

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

      I have thought about this a lot and believe me, there is a GOAT.. But that GOAT is a personal GOAT.
      I started watching football and Barcelona because of Ronaldinho and I have seen and admired the way players like Ronnie, Ibra and Messi conjure up something magical from nowhere. Look, at their very best there is nothing to separate these kinds of players. They are wonderfully unique in their own way, they express themselves or try to come up with solutions.

      But for all these GOATS through history – and indeed the guys we are discussing – Leo, zlatan and Ronnie – one thing separated messi from the rest. And its that almost machine like, boringly astonishing consistency with which he displayed magic.

      I think it was Graham hunter’s interview i read recently, where he said that Leo’s performances in those 5 years, ’08-’09 to 2013 is probably the best football ANYBODY has ever played ever.

      I think I’d have to agree.

      I don’t believe in GOAT. But if there is one, surely it has to be him.

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

      And here’s another thing.
      These are all just words. And they have their own meanings.
      For instance, ‘Greatest of all time’ is different to ‘Best of all time’. And rightly so.

      When I think of Spanish footballers, there is no doubt in my mind, the greatest spanish footballer is Xavi. Even superlatives like ‘most important spanish player’ comes to mind and this is due to what he helped his nation achieve and how he did it. In terms of titles (numbers) Xavi is the most celebrated and architected their greatest side ever.
      But then, is he the best? if one were to equate titles and history to greatness, then best refers to individual ability and talent. So surely, it is not scandalous to say Iniesta is a better player than Xavi.
      So that’s where I am going.

      I think that’s why its sort of fair in a way when people say Messi cannot be the greatest player of all time until he wins a world cup. Look, everyone already knows that he is the BEST ever. But greatest ever? Not yet, I’d reckon. Too bad he was only 5 minutes away from achieving that, this very summer.

      • Benj says:

        Cool, thats awesome guys, just the kind of discussion I was looking for. I think the point about the GOAT being a personal thing (or yeti) is great and definitelyy makes sense. I suppose I was watching Ronnie highlights and they just make you feel good. Watching Leo, you laugh out loud because a human shouldnt be able to do what he does, but with Ronnie, you just smile like a doofus and giggle because everything he does is out of love for the game and that ‘wheeeee’ factor that kev described, and that brings pure joy to viewers.
        Thanks for expanding on the subject, some great thinking points.
        And your point about Xavi, it’s funny when you think about it. This is just my opinion, but I feel like Xavi is the greatest/most important spanish Player of all time, whereas Lucho is my favourite Spanish player of all time, however the Spanish player that left me most in awe (in a live game) is Pepe Reina! I went to watch a Liverpool vs Villa game at Anfield, and watched him position himself in the keepers box, the sub keeper at the intersection of the half way and side lines, and the keeping coach on the other side, and Reina took his goal kicks to each of them in turn. A kick to the corners of the half way line, every kick hit the target on the chest without them having to move, doesn’t matter whether the ball was kicked from the floor or in mid air, every single kick hit the target perfectly and I have never seen that kind of accuracy. All comes down to what you’ve seen, where you see it and how closely you look!

  57. Kxevin says:

    Today’s rumor, courtesy of Radio Marca, is Jerome Boateng from Bayern, for something approaching 35-40m.

    • PrinceYuvi says:

      A Centre back whose name won’t induce heart-attacks ?
      Very weird.

    • ciaran says:

      Too good to be true I think.
      He would be the perfect player for us but I couldn’t see Bayern letting him go or even him wanting to go.
      He’s a German playing in Germany’s biggest team. I don’t ever remember a German leaving Bayern without them wanting it.

    • Valdemar II says:

      I think that their backline has been their largest (their only?) weakness over the past couple of seasons; their CBs are not as good as their other players. Boating might still be preferable to the Pique of last Saturday, but who would replace him in BM? They do not have an abundance of central defenders, and the market is equally tight for them as for us.

  58. agar2515 says:

    Oh my what a signing that would be..as all the tools and what he lacks in pace he’s learned to make up for in other areas. Mathieu-pique-Boateng back 3?? Oh man good luck with that

    • ciaran says:

      I’m not sure he lacks anything in pace to be honest. He’s very quick in comparison to most defenders. As I said though, I can’t see it happening.

      Rumours are that Musacchio to Spurs will be for around €20m. That’s more good business; and for the same money as we got Mathieu, another of the best centrebacks in La Liga last season.

      • Kxevin says:

        Can’t see him going for 20m, but have to think the club’s signing of Mathieu was strategic, and that the other signing will be a younger player.

        I also thought that Mathieu looked really good in that Nice (un)friendly, much better than Pique or Bartra. Nice to see legit command in the air, and attitude.

    • Rami says:

      This boateng rumor is right up there with the hummels to MU for 20M euros…………in the shelf of absurdities.

  59. Kxevin says:

    Barça AND Bayern deny the Boateng rumor. So much for the Radio Marca rumor.

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

    Am I the only one here who is against the sale of Dani Alves?
    Why is that 6M Salary such a huge factor?
    To my mind, we will lose a lot more by discarding Dani Alves, still a pivotal player for us, both sporting wise on the field and off the field in the dressing room.

    In a year where we have shipped out a lot of our veterans and acquired a lot of new faces, the presence of a glue like dani will prove to be useful in building a tight knit group.

    I don’t feel he is finished, on the pitch as well. Not only does he know the Barca system like no other, he still remains one of the best RBs in the world. Fact is, Montoya is not exactly the one you want to be starting a CL semi just yet against say EE or Bayern, and Cuadrado, even if he were to arrive is not defensively more sound than Dani. I have always maintained that Dani can actually defend extremely well, if he has to. He has shown that in numerous clasicos.

    Why not let him go on a free next year? I’ve always thought that the 30M we spent on him is probably the best value for money we have ever got from a purchase. He was probably the most used player in the Pep era as well. Generally feel that in a year of huge transition, retaining a player like Dani will do more good to us than harm.

    • ciaran says:

      Dani’s salary, a reported €7m, costs the club almost twice that after tax. If Luis Enrique doesn’t want him in the squad then that €14m, added to any transfer fee, can be used to reinforce the squad.
      I feel that we have to back Lucho completely and we have done so far in all of our dealings this summer.

      Dani isn’t the same player that he was. He is very predictable in possession and unpredictable defensively. In my opinion Dani hasn’t been the same player since Messi moved off the wing and Messi’s never going back out there.

      Montoya has never really had any bad games defensively. Sure, he isn’t as productive as Dani in his heyday but he is solid. Give him a good run in the team and see what he becomes; if he doesn’t live up to expectations then we have Adriano and Patric that can cover.

      Cuadrado is a great winger. He is far far better in possession than Dani is; better distribution and can beat a player one-on-one with more frequency than almost any player in Europe.

      Our fullbacks attack more than they defend in every match. We have more possession in every match and play in the opposition half. If we line up with an extra defensive midfielder in a double pivot then we have cover for the fullbacks in big matches.

    • Sangoku says:

      I second that. I do not think Dani’s finished. He may not have been on his best last season, but that can be said of most of the squad.

      Although, I feel that pushing him out has more to do with Luis Enrique’s plan to switch to the 3 men defence. He may be sitting out for lots of games which probably explains why they’re not willing to pay a big salary for that role.

      Still, I hope he stays during that transition we’re going through. Cuadrado, by no means, seems like a done deal. Let’s see.

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

      And that’s why I am a bit unsure about hastily offloading Alves.
      I’ve always thought that the 3 man defense and ability to line up in multiple shapes and formations is an important thing to have in our toolkit, but never quite as a permanent strategy.

      4-3-3 is our shape and there are variants to it of course which can be implemented over the course of a season to surprise opponents. But this whole thing of getting and selling players for the sole purpose of a change in formation as a permanent strategy is a bit baffling.

      Yes a 3 man defense with double pivot will give us that security at the back. But we will lose out on either width or midfield cover. Anyway, what the hell do I know. Lucho probably knows what he is doing.

      • ciaran says:

        There has been quite a bit of talk about the 3 man defense but I only expect to see it at certain intervals throughout the season; the end of matches where we’re not winning and sporadically against weaker opposition.

        I don’t think that anyone has been bought to change a formation as each and every one of the players that we’ve brought in can easily fit into a 4-3-3. Mathieu seems to be well suited to a 3 man defense but Rakitic, Suarez, Deulofeu & Rafinha are all midfielders & forwards.

        I still see us playing a 4-3-3 with Messi in behind Suarez & Neymar when the season settles.

        • Jim says:

          Unless we have some evidence to the contrary ( I didn’t see the friendly) I’m not sure a three man defence is really on the cards.

          On the Dani matter, the most important feature as has been correctly said is the delivery from the wing. We need someone who can take on a defender and/ or send in a telling ball as that person inevitably ends up with the most time and often enough that we can’t afford to waste it as has been happening. . Dani recently has been able to do neither consistently. I think when in position his defending is fine but in our system that’s difficult. I suppose it’s all guesswork until we see how LE plans to set out the team. Haven’t seen any musings on that since the friendly. Was there anything obvious ?

  61. PrinceYuvi says:

    Xavi retires from International football.

    • Jim says:

      And what an international career it was – not just on the field where he defined the playing style and helped them turn from losers into champions but also in his common sense and inclusive nature off it in supporting the NT. Can only be good for us in the time he has left with us.

  62. agar2515 says:

    So official bids submitted for Vermaelan then. Laughable, especially that Spurs are in for Musacchio who I’d MUCH prefer. Let’s see how long until TV breaks.

    • agar2515 says:

      And before anyone accuses me of Cule cynicism, just take a look at some of these responses from AFC fans: https://twitter.com/Youngcules/status/496730968648986625

      The time for TV as a proper CB signing is long past, though at one time I could have seen him suiting up for us.

    • Jim says:

      You know, a few years ago , before his injury woes I really rated Vermaelan. He had great positional sense and excellent timing in the tackle. Then it all seemed to go wrong for him. As long as we make sure he’s up to it physically it wouldn’t be a problem signing for me. I think the club are now realising something we probably knew way back : that Marquinhos won’t be sold by PSG and I’d t prepared to push the boat out yo make it happen. I suspect a new improved contract on the way for him.

    • ciaran says:

      I dunno if it’s true about an official bid but Vermaelen isn’t a player that I would have even contemplated buying at the start of the summer.
      I have to say that I would be very disappointed with his signing. A few years ago as Jim said he was a very promising player and looked like he’d be a very good player but as captain of Arsenal he wasn’t even first choice. I don’t understand how the third choice centreback for an inferior team can be considered good enough for us.
      I don’t mind the Mathieu signing as he has quite a lot of La Liga experience but Vermaelen?

      It’s a disgrace that we have so many quality players in offensive positions and that we are almost scraping the barrel for defenders.
      As agar said, I would much prefer Musacchio even though I could understand why he might prefer to go somewhere where he is guaranteed to start.

      What’s the obsession with signing Arsenal players? We’ve done it season after season with very mixed results…

      • agar2515 says:

        Spot on as usual Ciaran. Why are we possibly buying a player that people are having to lead with the caveat of ” Well IF he can stay healthy…” ?
        Disgrace is a perfect way to put it. Can’t start at AFC, can’t start over VAN BUYTEN the snail for Belgium (where the captaincy was stripped from him btw). I was against it even before all the Arsenal fan reaction I’ve been reading.

      • 86ed says:

        This is all smoke to hide from us whom they are really going to sign this summer.

        Puyol. Maybe they’ll even bing back Maldini and call it the signing of the century.

        Cynicism aside, I really do not think they’ll sign anybody else, and anyway the longer they wait the more they’ll be fleeced for mediocre players. Man U spent something like 30m Pounds to sign Fellaini in the last day of the transfer market, so…

        Season starts in 19 days. How confident are we culers of going toe to toe with Real Madrid? What about the CL? Are three central defenders enough?

        • agar2515 says:

          Lol too right. Honestly it’s not even cynicism though. I’d rather have Piqué Mathieu Bartra Masche all at CB before Vermaelen.
          He is what he is already , why not trust the B-team CB’s for depth? I don’t buy hiim as a depth/ Bargain but at all.
          Arsenal fans are laughing at this. I repeat Arsenal fans are laughing at us wanting to buy him, saying they’d gladly take our money.
          According to Sport Dani is staying and Cuadrado is close to
          United ( Di Marzio). So it’s not like we need to save $ for him by signing a broken EPL castoff. This is not the note I wanted the transfer window to end on.

  63. TITO says:

    I dont mind having him at all, same as with Mathieu. If he stays injury free, he will be a great asset.
    As for a young Marquinhos, maybe Bartra will be that new blood signing that we’ve been waiting for.

  64. 86ed says:

    Those wiser than I have said we should be patient. I commend that. But I myself have lost all will to be patient with this board. They’ve had 3 years over 4 summer transfer seasons to keep Barca the best team in the world. This they have failed to do.

    None of the signings they’ve made since 2011 has driven us to a CL victory. None of them did anything spectacular when we won the league in 2013; the old guard dragged us there, Messi’s 50 goals, and Real’s being fed up with Mou-Mou. That’s a pretty severe indictment: we have essentially spent around 180m to win a league. When Real spent that kind of money, we made fun of them.

    • Kxevin says:

      Actually, RM spent substantially more than 180m, and won nothing. That is worthy of note. But since then they have made some excellent squad additions, while we haven’t, adding only Masia auto-promotes and squad players. So when it comes time for depth, there isn’t any.

      There is now, and I think the squad additions are, at first blush, what the club needs, as I explain below. Signings aren’t supposed to drive us to CL victories. They are, with a core of talent such as we have, supposed to make it possible for the peacocks to strut their stuff. Dos Santos isn’t going to do that. Rakitic and Rafinha are.

      Just as you say we won because RM imploded, we can easily Atleti won because WE imploded. Teams do that from time to time. It’s part of the game, I reckon. The question will be how the team comes back this season. And that, only time will tell.

    • Rami says:

      Driven us to a CL victory??, Since when CL was the gold standard gauge of success?

      Now that i remember, In the beginning of last season, You said that we should just throw la liga away from the get to and just use it as a training ground for youngsters, And you said that with a straight face.

      If a CL is the only worthy trophy in your eyes, Then i can guarantee you’ll be spending many years in disappointment, No matter what club you cheer for.

      And this isn’t the first time i see you undermining the whole squad and the coach contribution in our historic 100 point league and pinning that achievement to the work of messi or mou.

      • 86ed says:

        Those 100pts resulted in the most hollow victory I’ve ever felt. Couldn’t beat Real. Only one victory in the last 6 CL games. Losses to Celtic, Milan, and 7-0 vs Bayern.
        What’s the point of 100pts if we have results like that in the CL?

        Yes I do think the CL is the gold standard. There play the best players and the best teams. If you’re satisfied beating Levante 7-0, the more power to you.

        • Kxevin says:

          I don’t think it is a question of being satisfied beating Levante. That Bayern loss, the one that so many culere use to say “See? See?” was a depleted squad without its best player and damaged CBs. It also had no midfield muscle.

          That has been the precise point of this off season, to repair gaps in the squad and make it so that the loss of any one player doesn’t break the boat.

          It would be erroneous to let a CB name detract from what has in fact been an excellent transfer summer for this club.

          • 86ed says:

            “That Bayern loss … was a depleted squad without its best player and damaged CBs. It also had no midfield muscle.”

            Why was it depleted? It sure had a massive lead in the league, with plenty of opportunities to rest the overused players and try someone different, some other tactics perhaps. No. 100pts was the end-all be-all, and it is used to blush over a historic humiliation.

          • Kxevin says:

            Because the team was exhausted, physically AND mentally, CBs were broken and there wasn’t any depth at that position, and Messi was injured. And it faced a Bayern team precisely set up to exploit even the weaknesses of a fully fit, on form Barça, which would have have more than a chance.

            The Barça that played against Bayern, however, wasn’t the team that everyone respects. And it wasn’t even the chase for the 100 points. It was the aggregation of season after season, match after match, and when things started breaking down there were no new parts to slot in, so the machine was clunky.

            Guardiola wanted signings, Vilanova wanted signings, and none were made. So we saw the result of a team with no real depth. It broke down.

          • BA says:

            yes but WHY was the team exhausted, and WHY were there no options at CB? because there wasn’t adequate rotation due to having a short squad, and because the board had singlemindedly refused to sign a quality CB for the previous 3 summers. those are the problems 86 is pointing out at the board level. our players did all they could with diminished energy levels towards the end of the season, but there was nobody available off the bench to pick up the slack. that isn’t the players’ fault, nor is it really the manager’s; it’s the fault of the board for not adequately reinforcing the squad so that they can compete.

            you’re essentially making 86′s point for him.

          • Kxevin says:

            You won’t find me arguing with anyone that the board dropped the ball. But I do have quibbles with the contention that none of the signings that they made have driven the club to Champions League victory, as noted above.

  65. Kxevin says:

    Culers said “sign somebody, anybody.” The board made some excellent, and cost-effective (except for Suarez) squad additions. And now we are parsing, after essentially only one real outing, with none of the core back yet.

    This club has a rock-solid core: Iniesta, Xavi, Busquets, Pique, Mascherano, Messi, Bartra, Alves if he stays. There’s also Adriano, Alba and Pedro, not to mention the quality of Neymar.

    What the team needed was things to fill in the edges and middle, enabling the core group to once again have the foundation to be at its best. A weakness was midfield defending, and Rakitic was bought and Rafinha added. Sergi Samper should also be seeing some shuttle time.

    I expect that we will be seeing Halilovic more with the first team than the B team, or at least as much as rules will allow him, and Suarez will be added to the mix whenever CAS decides he can play football again with humans.

    The back line needed depth, and Mathieu was added, with one more CB to come. For me, the mistaken notion is that this team needs some rock star CB. This team needs depth, and quality depth. Bayern is a model of quality depth rather than rock stars, so when one player comes out another of almost like quality comes in.

    In our case, we still have the rock star core. Iniesta, Messi, Busquets, Xavi have no peer, so the dropoff will be inevitable when they come out. But if you can add a couple of defenders of the same or slightly better quality than what the team already has, that is the kind of quality depth that wins championships. Depth has hurt the team in the past few seasons. So makeshift situations become longer term, because there are only two CBs. Now there will be, if rumor is true, four. That is an immense difference.

    Vermaelen is a player who has had injury problems. But you know what? So has Messi, Xavi and Iniesta. Puyol was a walking hospital ward before he finally hung up the boots. Iniesta went from being fragile, leaving us always worried about him being just a hard tackle away from breaking, to sturdy and omnipresent. Sanchez, when he was here, made the same transformation. So did Messi.

    Yes, Vermaelen has had injury problems. Who’s to say if they will be for perpetuity. Further, if the price is right, it’s a nice piece of business, if there is a shard of truth to the rumors.

    The coaching staff knows what it wants, far better than we do. I say let’s wait until the end of the window, and see what’s what. But I have seen quite a bit of Vermaelen, as I watch Arsenal when I can, and I also watched the World Cup. He’s quality, as long as he stays fit. At present, he is a rumor in the mill. I know I have said this before, but let’s wait to see what happens before he is dismissed as being hopelessly not good enough.

    • agar2515 says:

      Respectfully disagree on. Vermaelen Kevin, though I’m with you on the rest. That maybe 8-9/10 Arsenal fans don’t rate him anymore says a lot to me. He WAS once something but injury and loss of confidence/ inability to deal with pressure soured him. And he could deal with the Camp Nou lights….? If one of the most defensive, borderline deluded fanbases in world football are snickering at us ( compare this to having interest in Kos or Ramsey,they’d tear your head off) that says something to me.

      Also, juat because they ” know what they want” it doesn’t make them infallible ( though I don’t think that’s what you’re saying?) I view both Agger and TV as past their sell buy dates, I point once again to Zero ire from Pool or AFC fans ( two VERY proud and territorial fanbases) about their possible departures.

      That Vermaelen was stripped of his captaincy and bench by snail Van Buyten says a lot to me( though injury was a part of that duh haha).

      Like I said before I’d put every single CB we have over TV and would rather trust on B teamers for ” smaller” fixtures. If Cuadrado is close to United I see no reason why we have to settle for a CB like TV.

      • Kxevin says:

        Arsenal fans know about as much as our fans do about evaluatng players. Yes, Vermaelen lost his captaincy and had a spate of poor play. No question. And he was benched. Talented players have crap spells, and what they replaced him with wasn’t any better, says this Arsenal watcher.

        Iniesta, Messi, Pique, Busquets, etc have all had runs, and extended ones, of crap form. It happens. But if the bid is real, then our staff sees something in the player that they think will work. And yes, I think they know a lot more about players and building a team than I or any supporter can glean from watching a match on the telly.

        Every transfer is a risk. No technical staff is infallible. But I do think that a group of men with knowledge and experience deserve the benefit of our doubt.

        • agar2515 says:

          IMO Per and Kos are both better today than TV but to each their own. I guess what I was going for is nearly every player on AFC is defended and hyped up to a fault by their fanbase, so when there is someone to which they say ” Meh, take him” it makes me take notice.

          The injury spell thing I totally get, but it is negative rumblings surrounding the mental aspects of his game (at present time) that worry me.

          I sure do hope they know more than us… I clearly still haven’t gotten over the Song as CB transfer haha

  66. Kxevin says:

    DiMarzio says that PSG turned down 40m for Marquinhos. CBs are the new gold standard.

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

    If any one of the below defenders for the specified fee could be signed, arrange / rank them in order of your preference.

    A) Mats Hummels (+50M)
    B) Mehdi Benatia (+50M)
    C) Ezequiel Garay (15M)
    D) Matteo Musachhio (12M)
    E) Federico Fazio (8M)
    F) Jerome Boateng (+45M)
    G) Jan Vertonghen (+25M)
    H) Thomas Vermaelen (+12M)
    I) Daniel Agger (+13M)
    J) Marquinhos (+45M)
    K) Marcos Rojo (+25M)

  68. ciaran says:

    To address the centreback signings; rather than just discussing the names I’d prefer to look at the profiles of signings that have been successful, transfer business and possibilities.

    Names like Agger & Vermaelen don’t just represent, for me, bad business, they represent the wrong type of transfer. If you look at our most successful transfers of the past decade none of them fit into the profile of these players…
    1 – Early-mid twenties players from within Europe (Yaya/Marquez/Abidal)
    2 – Genuine world class players (Deco/Alves/Henry)
    3 – Players experienced in La Liga (Adriano/Keita/Eto’o)

    The signings this summer have been ter Stegen, Suarez, Rakitic, Mathieu & Bravo. Again, ter Stegen is young, Suarez is a top player and the others all have plenty of La Liga experience.

    The idea of signing players that are undoubtedly beyond their best for fairly large sums of money is not good business in my estimation, especially if they are considered backup. In comparison, signings of younger players who have not yet reached their potential is much better business, even if they don’t fully reach it. I’d be happier to sign a younger player for slightly larger fees given that they could be amortized over a longer period of time along with the fact that they will likely improve as players. If not, they would have some sort of resale value.

    Vermaelen and Agger have tons of things in common, age, profile, ability, experience. The main thing for me though, is that they are both better on the ball than off it. Ball playing centrebacks are good to have but all of our centrebacks fit this profile already. Neither are going to improve even if they stay fit and neither of them have La Liga experience.

    If we were to sign a younger player from within Europe I’d pick Marcos Rojo. He has loads of potential, is good on the ball, very quick, very physical and has the versatility of playing LB or CB. For similar money to the Mathieu deal he would give us quite a few options and would fit in well with the squad I’d imagine.

    If we wanted a world class player then Mehdi Benatia would be my choice. He is better defensively than anyone on our books but seeing as Mathieu was Lucho’s first choice it’s obvious that we won’t be signing a player of his calibre.

    The player with the least risk then would be someone with La Liga experience; Mateo Musacchio is the perfect signing to add competition to our current centrebacks. He is young, decent in possession, quick enough and has La Liga experience. He had more interceptions than anyone in the league last season and is already Villarreal’s captain. With him alongside Pique and/or Mathieu with Masch and/or Busquets in front then it would be very hard to get through us.

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

      Nice post.
      I’d like to add something that you may have missed.
      While ability on the ball, pace, leadership etc are all qualities that we want from our CB signing in our quest to replace the eternal capi, I would also urge the staff to add ‘durability’ to that list as its a valid attribute we need. We don’t want yet another guy who breaks easily – and both Verma and Agger do.

      I agree with the personnel you identify as ideal signings with some slight modifications of my own. As for young players from Europe, I really like Marcos Rojo and Laporte. The latter might be too difficult to prise away, just yet. Musacchio also fits in with my view of being a safe bet with experience in Liga. I think that where we differ is the world class signing preference. Benatia is good, but I’ve hardly seen much of him. I’d lean more towards Hummels, for his aerial ability, scoring and leadership qualities. Not to mention being a couple of years younger than Mehdi. But I very much doubt that this ‘world class’ CB signing is going to happen. Kevin questions the need for such a signing, preferring decent depth instead. But I really think we do need that player at the back to make up for the cumulative failings in this department for consecutive years. I do think that another defender is coming, though.

      • ciaran says:

        Laporte isn’t happening, no way. He has no interest in moving and Athletic have given him something like 4 new contracts in 18 months leaving him with a buyout clause bigger than Javi Martinez’ was when he left them. Athletic have no financial issues and, due to their signing policy, will never let a talented player like Laporte leave for anything less than his clause states.

        I really like Hummels but Benatia is a better defender. As a footballer Hummels has more ability on the ball and his passing is unbelievable for a defender. Still, his concentration has been very questionable and some would argue that Sokratis is the better pure defender for Dortmund. I’d absolutely love to sign either but for me a defender’s most important job is to defend and Benatia is the better defensively.

        It really looks like Lucho wants Mathieu to be first pick at centreback meaning that a stellar signing like Hummels or Benatia isn’t and possibly shouldn’t happen. Pique has the ability to be a great defender again meaning that spending €40m+ on a defender would represent questionable business after signing Mathieu.

        Rojo, Fazio or Musacchio would all be transfers of approx €20m instead of the €13m on Vermaelen or Agger and all have 5 or 6 years on those two. With 60 matches or so in the season, Mathieu, Pique, Bartra & the 4th centreback could all be needed for 40 matches. Durability and consistency in all four are necessary.

  69. Kxevin says:

    MD suggests that if Song and Afellay don’t leave, they will train with the club, but will not play.

    With that in mind, I am offering myself to Barça as a non-playing alternative. I do social media, am friendly and learning Catalan. I can run around and giggle just like they do in practice, as well, and would be a lot cheaper than either Song or Afellay.

    My agent is waiting for a return call from the club.

  70. I am already psyched about rakitic

  71. ciaran says:

    It’s only a preseason friendly but Iniesta is taking on one too many people at every opportunity. It’s probably a good sign of his confidence

  72. Also, bartra with the armband. Thats nice to see.

  73. ian_percival says:

    Bravo what tha………what’s he thinking

  74. Peter says:

    Personally I don’t know Vermaelen, whether he’s good or not, but I find it interesting, that United and Van Gaal, who have received a VERY sizeable transfer budget, are trying to sign him. The most important reason for his lack of fame seems to be his fitness level on one hand, and the good partnership between Mertesacker and Koscielny. Neither of the two means he’s not good. Arsenal have a history of very poor fitness levels(which is one reason why Arsenal’s title hopes died after a fabulous first-half season). Second, while I’m not convinced about Mert’s and Koscielny’s partnership, Wenger obviously is. You look for the best pair of defenders, not the two best defenders you have.

    Fitness – Barcelona has a much better fitness staff. Second, while Barcelona play half of their matches away at pitches that often are deliberately left untended, at least those pitches are not turned into quagmire by the rain that persists over England from September to May. And of course, the other half of matches are played at Camp Nou. Third, he has the same profile of Mathieu, even though he’s about 10 cm shorter – left-footed, good in the air(supposedly) and a good attacking defender, with experience.

    In short, perhaps the most precise words are what I read in SPORT: “You’re not the best CB, nor the best possible signing, but you are welcome!”

    P.S. Since we’re on the topic of defending and defenders, last season Barcelona conceded a staggering amount of goals from corners. This still meant that Barcelona had the second-best defence in La Liga, just behind the two-banks-of-four Atletico and in front of the awesomest defence of Europe with the supposed Golden Ball winner Ramos in it – And Barcelona accomplished that while counting on a converted defensive mid that can’t reach 6 feet if he stands on the tips of his toes, and another defender that is apparently slow as hell and only thinks about his wife’s hips(hell, who wouldn’t?) and playing poker. So, you don’t think Barcelona could do better than last season if it has a chain-smoking defender that scares children when he smiles, and a crystal-kneed defender with eyes bigger than Ozil’s on top of afore-mentioned mismatched pair, especially when counting with the help of a homophobic midfielder and a striker with a pronounced appetite for destruction and defender flesh?

    P.P.S. Apparently Bravo has the Pinto gene. Order of the universe is restored. :P

    • PrinceYuvi says:

      True that.
      Besides 12M is dirt cheap.
      In my flawed opinion, our Team Centre backs is going to be pretty much functional with one more signing;
      But Team Tiny fullbacks worries me a little.

  75. ian_percival says:

    Hahahahahaha, ”chain-smoking defender” Mathieu and ”big-eyed Thomas” I liked the one about suarez ”destruction and smell of defender’s flesh” now that’s scary! Does mathieu really look scary? Just asking.

  76. Rami says:

    Worst GK signing everrr!!!, Going to flop sooo hard, Stupid Zubi!!, Navas sooo much beeeeter.

  77. agar2515 says:

    Anyone catch Lucho’s quote post the friendly today? Interesting turn on Dani , though as stated in the article teams probably decided to wait ( don’t hate me for posting this Kevin ! ^_^) :
    http://www.barcablaugranes.com/2014/8/7/5976811/luis-enrique-i-count-on-dani-alves-ibrahim-afellay-and-alexandre-song

    Ibi leaving tells me depth will come from b-teamers if needed that badly ( or maybe they don’t think he can stay healthy?) and a Song, well, at least that frees up some wages and playtime possibilities.

    Godspeed to the Lord of Tchakap. Never forget:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8BqPjWB4bMU

  78. Kxevin says:

    Enrique clearly misguided, suggesting that a 1-0 loss had something to do with thd forwards, rether than the GK and back line having the suck.

    • agar2515 says:

      Catch Pep at the MLS all star game? Wagged the finger at the MLS coach and didn’t shake his hand. Sticking up for his players, what a boss.

      • Rami says:

        Imagine if it was mourinho who did this….

      • hansh says:

        Rami has the right idea of it. If this was Mourinho, or basically any manager in the world besides Pep, many more culers would (rightly) be calling this unsportsmanlike and an embarrassment for Bayern.

        I respect Pep and I love Pep, I really really do, but he was absolutely out of line to ignore Caleb Porter asking for a handshake. He wasn’t sticking up for his players like a boss, he was acting like a child, and on a day that was supposed to be a fun celebration of the game, no less.

  79. Jamal103 says:

    Bojan’s goal vs Real Betis was amazing. Wonder if we’ll ever see him back at the club.

  80. ian_percival says:

    We have Munir now,Very intelligent

  81. Kxevin says:

    The Bravo stuff makes me giggle, because there was a time that newer supporters don’t remember and many older supporters have rushed to forget, when Victor Valdes was considered an error-prone nincompoop, and not Barça quality. He even had nicknames like “Exxon Valdes.”

    • Rami says:

      Almost certain he’ll be our starter this season, The competition between the 3 will be tight, It’s experience that will help tip the balance for lucho.

    • 86ed says:

      Valdes, to be honest, was indeed error prone in his earlier days with Barca, so past criticism was not unwarranted. He came good, prob the best in the world, eventually, and was praised for it.

      Keepers, like outfield players, will be criticized when they make mistakes and praised when they are in good form. Bravo made a mistake in a nothing and is getting a bit of flak for it. It’s not that big of a deal. He is a good keeper.

  82. Valdemar II says:

    ter Stegen
    Alves Mascherano Mathieu Alba
    Rakitic Busquets Rafinha
    Suarez Messi Neymar

    What about this lineup?

    • hansh says:

      No Iniesta? He is a better player than Rafinha, and I thought the Busquets – Rakitic – Iniesta midfield was very nice yesterday, balanced.

      • Valdemar II says:

        I was attracted by the idea of having a fully defensively solid midfield; it could be a good idea for the CL and against tough Copa opposition. It’s like having three DMs on the pitch, except that two of them are also excellent offensively.

        I rated Thiago very highly, and I’m kind of assuming Rafinha is as good lol. Don’t want him to be wasted. Sub him for Iniesta at minute 60, and let Andres dribble at the opposition.

    • Peter says:

      Personally I’d prefer something of this sort:

      —–Neymar–Messi–Suarez—-
      Iniesta—-Busquets—-Rakitic
      Alba-Mathieu-Mascherano-Pique/Bartra
      ——–Ter Stegen————

      Which in-game transfers to a 3-2-3-2, especially if Alba stays back and uses his speed to intercept passes. The increased height of all lines would help immensely for corners in both boxes and the two pivotes + Rakitic + Suarez would be able to press incessantly(and I believe such a spectacle would motivate Neymar and Messi to join).
      As a matter of fact this explains why Vermaelen/Agger and Marquinhos are all targets – their addition would allow, if needed, a backline consisting of Vermaelen-Mathieu-Pique-Marquinhos, and that would practically let two CBs in the opposing box for every corner.

    • 86ed says:

      Playing both Alba and Alves is akin to committing defensive suicide
      That much, if not more, we have learned in the two years Alba has played with us. You can play one or the other, but not both, as that defense would have no balance.

      The only way to make it work is to go 4-2-3-1, with Mascherano and Busquets in front of Mathieu and Pique.

      I would start with (4-3-1-2)

      Neymar Suarez
      Messi
      Iniesta Rakitic
      Busquets
      Alba Mathieu Bartra Montoya
      Bravo

      or (4-2-3-1),

      Suarez
      Neymar Pedro
      Messi
      Mascherano Busquets
      Alba Mathiew Bartra Alves
      Bravo

      We’ll see what Lewis Henry comes up with when the season properstarts.

      • Jim says:

        I take your point but it’s more about how they are used. Both are capable of defending pretty well but because of our system they often find themselves 20/30 yards too far up the pitch. I’ve said often before it can’t be hard to say to them only one goes forward on any given attack.

  83. ooga aga says:

    official site says Xavi is first captain, followed by Iniesta, Messi and Busquets in that order. determined by vote of the players.

  84. agar2515 says:

    ” DI MARZIO: Roma listening to offers starting at €35M for Benatia”
    http://gianlucadimarzio.com/en/calciomercato/manchester-united-havent-made-an-offer-for-romas-benatia-yet/
    Just saying …

    • Kxevin says:

      There is no way that EUR35m gets Benatia. What Roma is interested in is a bidding war, with an eventual result of between 50-60m. They are in a perfect position of being perfectly happy with a player who is allegedly on the market. He’s under contract until 2018, so they don’t have to worry about doing anything with him until the end of next season, if they are looking to maximize value.

      There is something at the core of why Roma have received no bids for the player. There was a Chelsea rumor, but they moved on. There was a City rumor, and they moved on. United is bidding up for Vermaelen, despite the fact that they have plenty of money, rather than going for Benatia (that rumored bid was false, says DiMarzio).

      There has to be a reason, and I suspect it’s that nobody wants to pay 50-60m for Benatia. Can’t think of what else it could be.

  85. agar2515 says:

    With respect, I really don’t care what other clubs have or haven’t done tbh. No one else was in for Suarez either but his talent makes him worth it imo.
    We have no FFP restrictions ( City and CFC) AND UCL football to offer him (United doesn’t) to me ( and many) , he’s worth it.
    In this age of information I find it hard to believe some hidden thing wrong with him besides the above teams not having the NEED or capacity to pay upwards of that for him.
    Also, united need more than just a CB so they can’t just spend 60m on him
    like nothing. We are flush with depth ( counting b teamers) at every position and this signing could put us over the top imo.

    • Kxevin says:

      Which brings me back to the question. Why has nobody, including us, bid on him? We allegedly went as high as 43m for Marquinhos, would have gone higher had PSG not said get lost. PSG bought David Luiz for 50m, didn’t even look at Benatia. Chelsea bought someone other than Benatia.

      What other clubs do doesn’t matter, but it can be illustrative in considering a situation.

      I haven’t seen enough of him to know if he is as good as many say that he is. But I keep coming back to the question about the reasons that nobody is in for him, even though he is sorta being dangled by Roma.

      • ciaran says:

        I have said numerous times on here that Benatia’s price will be no more than €40m. Their president made a joke in July and everyone on the whole internet ran with it.
        If no one else remembers, he was asked about a rumoured €30m bid at the time and said that €30m would buy Benatia’s weak foot and €31m for his strong one and so 61m was his price.

        Roma are reportedly in very serious trouble with FFP as they have broken the 45m loss barrier and have to make football related revenue i.e. transfer revenue to balance the books as the capital investment they have can’t be included as FIFA doesn’t want sugar daddy’s to invest money that way. They are faced with selling Pjanic, Benatia or Strootman. No one else on their team makes close to that kind of money.
        Pjanic & Strootman are both happy at Roma, Benatia isn’t.

        I don’t know if we want Benatia, and I definitely don’t expect us to sign him but don’t dismiss him as a 60m player because of some posturing.

        • Kxevin says:

          I’m thinking he will wind up in the 50-60m range just because that seems to be what quality CBs are going for these days, rather than posturing by anyone. I didn’t even know about the Roma president comments, to be honest.

          And the question remains: Why isn’t anyone going for him?

          • ciaran says:

            It looks like almost everyone is in for him. Real Madrid, Chelsea and Man Utd are all linked with him over the past couple of days. Mourinho has said a few times that he’s happy with his squad of you believe him. Real have Varane, Pepe and Ramos. United are linked to everyone because they are in dire straights.

            I didn’t and don’t understand why he wasn’t our first choice but it seems that Lucho wanted Mathieu at all costs. Otherwise it wouldn’t have made financial sense to spend €20m on him, he’s not worth that. Now that Mathieu has been signed and for that money it’s hard to expect us to spend another maybe €40m on Benatia when we’ve also got Pique and Bartra.

            At the start of the summer I suggested Hummels and Blind or Benatia and Rojo. Now it looks like we have Mathieu and maybe Vermaelen. We’ve done incredible work this season but defensively I am underwhelmed

          • Kxevin says:

            But that’s the thing … nobody concrete has reported it. There was a rumor that United bid for him, but DiMarzio says nobody has bid for Benatia.

            Also the rumor that Roma is nosing around Balanta, possibly in preparation for selling Benatia. But again, who the heck knows?

  86. ciaran says:

    There’s a young Spanish striker really making his name in England at the minute. He’s name is Bojan and has scored three fantastic goals in three preseason friendlies.
    I hope this season goes well for him. He has so much talent it’d be great if he became the player that was expected of him.

  87. PrinceYuvi says:

    Twitterverse says Vermi is basically a done deal.
    Good luck surviving the transfer ban.
    Hard to be optimistic at times.
    Apologies.

  88. Kxevin says:

    Buzz is that Vermaelen is done, for EUR13m. We’ll see.

    Apparently the deal would have been done sooner, were it not for United trying to get him. But Arsenal flatly refused to sell to a Prem side. So Enrique wanted him, and Van Gaal wanted him. Hmmm …

    • ciaran says:

      As is my usual stance, I am disappointed in his potential signing but I will support him if he actually comes.
      I still can’t understand why we’ve bought one defender who is the wrong side of 30 and another defender with a sketchy injury record. It’s a far cry from the types of players we’ve signed in other areas of the pitch and I can’t help the feeling that they are both no more than a stop gap hoping that Bartra and Pique become the preferred partnership.

      • TITO says:

        Sorry, but that defender on the wrong side of the 30′s played much better than those we already have as defenders.
        I’m not saying that i would not like to sign someone like Benatia, Hummels, TS…but, whatever.
        Verm might turn out to be the best signing this summer. We don’t know that, we’ll see. If he stays injury free he might just fit in our system.

        • ciaran says:

          I don’t have a problem with Mathieu but he is at the wrong side of thirty. I have a problem with the profile of the two signings.
          Vermaelen hasn’t been a great player in a few years and Mathieu is the wrong age for a big transfer fee.
          It’s just disappointing to me.

          I would be happier if the second centreback signing after Mathieu was someone young so that they may grow into the role eventually alongside Bartra and in the mean time would be expected to be actually available when called upon which is not the case with Vermaelen…

        • ciaran says:

          Just to be clear, Mathieu is a very good player and is likely to be a very good player for us but isn’t a long term solution.

          • TITO says:

            How long is that long term solution? We wont find another Puyol out there. Mathieu is there for the next 3-4 years, Verm too. It’s not certain that even we buy someone in the mid 20′s that he turns good or he stays with us for a longer period.
            As far as im concerned, Hummels is my perfect signing.

          • KEVINO17 says:

            Ciaran – as Keynes said, in the “long run, we’re all dead, and football coaches are dead even sooner…”

  89. ibbe says:

    If the Vermaelen rumors are true then I’d like to urge culers to be patient with him. He might just turn out to be the next RVP. He was about that age when he suddenly got in shape and started reaching his potential.

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

    Where are y’all getting this information that Vermaelen to Barca is almost done? Everywhere I look, it appears that Man Utd are favorites to land him.

    I am not sure how I feel about this signing. Again, I do not want this to come across as a Culer’s chronic dissatisfaction with our transfer moves, but just voicing some concerns here.

    - Mathieu is 30+. Verma is going to be 29 in 3 months. These 2 purchases yet again, strike me as a panic stop gap arrangement rather than long term thinking. Feel like a defender with potential in the age group of 23-26 would have been ideal.

    - We are buying a defender who breaks. A lot. As if we haven’t had enough defender injury woes already.

    - His performances in the recent past makes me wonder why Barca are so interested. In the club’s defender wishlist, where do you reckon Verma was placed? Is this is a compromise?

    - What is it with our obsession with Arsenal players in spite of their poor record playing in our colors? Cocu, Petit, Hleb, Henry, Cesc, Song and now..

    - What about balance? Suddenly doesn’t it seem like we have more left sided players? Yes, while Adriano’s dexterity is something to be admired, I think he prefers playing LB rather than RB. Add to that, we have Mathieu and Alba who are left sided players. We have a developing Bartra, Monty and an ageing Alves to marshal the right side.

    • Kxevin says:

      Nope. United out, Sky Sports and BBC, both dead reliable, saying deal reached for EUR19m.

      Will assume you mean Marc Overmars in your list of Arsenal “disasters,” that probably shouldn’t include Henry nor Fabregas. Hleb was ruined by injuries and attitude, Song is a better player than he is showing for us. It happens.

  91. PrinceYuvi says:

    Pedro gave an insight regarding Lucho’s Frontline :
    “Wingers will play more centrally & Forwards must help with the defensive work.”

    Heartening stuff. No more Pigeon holes on the wings.

  92. Kxevin says:

    An interesting statistic:

    Fabregas in 3 seasons prior to joining Barça missed 63 games due to injury, while Vermaelen last 3 seasons missed 39 games due to injury. Games Fabregas missed in 3 seasons after joining Barça: 7.

  93. Hilal says:

    So looks like we have our two CB’s. Clearly these are not the two CB’s that most ppl wanted, but I am satisfied. I am not ecstatic about these CB signings, but I think they are both solid, worthy additions that bring things we were seriously lacking in defence, namely height and pace. I cannot say I have seen Vermaalen play all that much but one of my best friends is a lifelong Arsenal fan and when I asked him about Vermallen, had nothing but good things to say. Strong in the air, fast and intelligent. He has been unfortunate with injuries of late which has kept him out of the team, but he is a quality player who will add some serious, quality depth to our back line. We now have 4 CB’s who I would be confident in starting 90%+ of games.

    As for those who argue we should have spent 50m+ on a player like Benatia, I can understand the desire for such a purchase but it just doesn’t seem logical to me to spend that much on a CB when first and foremost we are an attacking team. It makes more sense to me to spend that money on attackers, especially since the problem last season was that we couldn’t bloody score! 7 times we were stopped from scoring, that is a shocking stat for a club like Barca. Yes it is important to have quality CB’s and to be able to defend well, but when have we every truly had world class CB’s in our team? Puyol, as much as I love him, and while he would bleed for the club, was never a truly world class CB.

    Another point to consider is what message does it send to our young, up and coming CB’s (and there are now a few) if we go and spend that much money on a CB who is not going to go anywhere for a while. It makes more sense to buy experience and let the youngsters develop than to buy a young, big name CB and potentially block youth development. We are never going to buy a player like Puyol, those players get BUILT. You cannot have it both ways, you cannot effuse and be proud about youth development but at the same time clamour for big signings that potentially stunt development in areas where there are promising internal prospects. I can understand purchases in areas where the club is lacking internally (ie a proper striker) but not in cases where players like Bartra have a real shot of being staples in the team.

    Anyways, I am very happy with the transfers this summer. We have added all the things we needed too and have bolstered pretty much every department. We have now have height, pace and physicality while retaining the quality that makes Barca so wonderful and unique. I think we are set, I don’t even think we need to buy Cuadrado, although I wouldn’t complain if we did! I cannot wait to see how the season unfolds…

    • Kxevin says:

      I am just getting my mind around the fact that we have 4 CBs. And that’s not “he can play CB,” or “when he isn’t a DM he plays CB.” Four ACTUAL dudes who have CB on their business card. And ALL of them are 6 footers.

      I don’t think that Vermaelen is meant to be the Answer. But I think that none of the CBs that would have purported to be the answer were available, so some sort of stopgap would make sense.

      Vermaelen adds quality depth, as well.

      Nice summation of the window. There is still that Cuadrado rumor lurking around, but if Alves is staying, then Cuadrado isn’t coming.

    • agar2515 says:

      I don’t buy that “potentially stunt the development” at all with how
      Hard they chased after Marquinhos and how Much they were willing to spend. I’m sticking to my guns though I don’t HAVE to blindly accept every transfer as proper ( how do we to from ” WE NEED A young RCB!” To buying another older LCB?) .
      I’ve seen him enough tear last few years and he’s shown to be mentally weak. I too have several AFC and United friends and they’re all laughing at us, . Oh well, what’s done is done and we should just agree to disagree now on his quality and hope in the end that he comes good.

      • Hilal says:

        Lets get real, PSG were never going to sell Marquinos so the club was just making a show of trying to sign a big name player that everyone wanted. I do not think they realistically thought they were going to sign him. Contrary to popular belief they are not stupid, they would have been told from day one that Marquinos was going nowhere. This was a show to placate fans, clubs do it all the time.

        As for Benatia, he is only 1 year younger than Vermaelen, is he really 35M better than Vermaelen? I doubt it, because if he was, somebody would have coughed up for him by now. A lot of clubs were sniffing around, clubs that had the money and the means, but nobody bit. There is a reason for that.

        Only time will tell but I have a feeling both our CB signings will come good.

        • Gekko64 says:

          Good comment, it’s true Benatia is better than Vermaelen but not 35M better. But I really have to ask what it takes to be considered worldclass if Puyol isn’t.

          • Hilal says:

            Puyol was a world class defender in the context of Barca and what the team needed. He understood the style, he loved the club and he gave his all. In that sense, sure, he was world class. However if you frame it in the same context as we are now trying to asses players who the club wants to sign then no, he is not really world class. He is not particularly tall or fast. Sure he has decent pace and he is ok in the air given his height but hardly what you would consider the ideal CB. He is not for example a Thiago Silva or a Vincent Kompany.

            I am not sure how many people here remember Puyol when he was young, say about Bartra’s age because he was pretty inconsistent and he got a lot of flack. It was not till he got older that he matured into the amazing player we are now using at the gold standard. Worth considering.

          • Jim says:

            I think you have missed out the most important aspects of being a quality CB. For me the main attributes are positional sense, a nose for trouble and the anticipation to snuff it out ASAP. When allied to the ability to recognise when to tackle and when to stay on your feet you have football intelligence, all of which Puyol had in abundance. Throw in extraordinary leadership qualities and if you don’t have world class I’m not sure what is.

    • PrinceYuvi says:

      Brilliant comment.

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

    I think we all need to take a step back and reflect on this moment.
    For 5 years! we have cried for a CB.
    We finally have added 2.
    Yes they aren’t names that make you salivate.
    But they are names that will help us and plug crucial holes.
    I cannot wait for next season to unfold.
    We are a team to be feared. again.

  95. Kxevin says:

    Also, in looking back over time (courtesy of Eric Coffin-Gould over on Twitter), this current quartet, on paper, might be the best CB quartet that the club has had in quite some time, even considering the years that the club actually HAD 4 CBs.

    I know it isn’t the Pique/Bartra/Maquinhos/Benatia quartet that many were salivating over, the one that would have functionally said to Ie, Diagne and Bagnack, “Get lost,” (BTW), but this club has a solid core of 4 CBs, all over 6 feet, all capable of playing with the ball at their feet, three of them (Bartra, Mathieu, Vermaelen) with actual pace.

    Am I over the moon? Nope. But I never am. Am I satisfied? Yup. And 15m for Vermaelen is good business, as well. That’s about what he’s worth in today’s CB market.

    So let’s go to war.

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

      Umm not sure.
      I think ’09-’10 when we had the best defensive record as well, we had a pretty tasty CB quartet.

      Puyol, Marquez, Milito, Pique and Chygrynskiy. Yes, Rafa was in decline, but Pique was on the up, Puyol enjoying his best years. Chygrynskiy was simply not given the chance he deserved, he had been immense for Shakhtar before. Milito was a bit fragile, but still a great defender in his own right and excellent squad member.

      anyways, like I said, this moment is a cause for celebration rather than comparative analyses and nit pickings. I am happy that we atleast have bodies in the back. Bodies whose trade is to defend. And that’s more than enough for me.

      I think this summer’s transfer activity has been great. But then again, IT NEEDED TO BE. The only area where I would criticize the club is sum received on players sold. How come freaking Morata can go for 20M!! Higuain for 40+, Albiol for 15M! How much did we get for Tello, Bojan again?

    • Hilal says:

      Exactly and most importantly these CB’s allow for tactical variations given their pace and height, namely 3 at the back.

      I cannot believe we finally have 4 REAL CB’s ALL over 6 foot and 2 of them with serious pace. That addresses most of our defensive weaknesses. Like you said neither of these signings on their own is “the answer”, but maybe, just maybe the combination of these signings is. Watch how Mathieu and Vermaelen end up being our favourite two CB’s by the end of the season ;)

  96. Messiah10 says:

    I’m willing to give Vermaelen the benefit of the doubt right now. My biggest concern is he’s 28 & had continuous injury concerns the last few years. I know Gunner supporters were never that keen on him when he was their every day CB a few years ago. Good back up to have to Matthieu though.

  97. georgjorge says:

    Two very solid keepers. Four Centrebacks ranging from solid to strong. A confident Ghostface. A three-man attack that will have many defenses trembling. I can’t wait for this season to start…

  98. Tom says:

    A few thoughts on Vermaelen, mostly to rehash what’s already been said here… For those who are worried about another defender breaking all the time, when was the last time we had 4 + 1 cbs worth of depth? For those who wonder how a 3rd choice defender at arsenal could possibly be barca quality, are we really just sooo awesome that a 3rd choice defender (if you can really consider him that without considering injury issues) for a team with the quality to challenge for the PL title couldn’t be a 4th choice defender for us? I for one am hoping that Bartra picks up either the 1st or 2nd most minutes for us this year, although I’m sure lucho is going to give everyone their chance to impress and select a preferred pairing based on form, and for all we know Vermaelen could end up as our first choice. For me we’ve done fantastic work this summer, and are looking at our most complete squad in quite a while.

  99. BA says:

    Vermaelen. pah. old, slow, not even a guaranteed starter at Arsenal (which is evidently our feeder club now). a stopgap signing in a position desperately needing serious investment. a bad signing to begin with; even worse in the context of Suarez. we’ll spend €75m on another striker but not even half that on both “center-backs”. Mathieu may turn out to be a good player for us, though only for 2-3 years max. but Vermaelen, i think we’ll find, is another Song: looked good in a mediocre club like Arsenal, can’t compete on the level we require. what a waste.

    as for being “the best CB quartet in a long time” or “2 of them having pace”, i’m flabbergasted. who are you guys talking about?

    • 86ed says:

      I tend to agree with you, but at this point I’ll get what I can. That’s two defenders we didn’t have before. They will add depth. Perhaps not quality depth, but numbers at the back nonetheless.

      • agar2515 says:

        Agree with both of you. It’s nice to read some legit dissent about the TV signing, although most people on twitter are just as underwhelmed as I am. Depth is depth though, I don’t buy the ” this is our best back 4 ” in some time whatsoever though ( who is Coffing gold btw ? I’m legit asking because I have no idea)so long as our defense doesn’t break down our mid and attack should do the job , plus Ter-Stegen is a beast.

        • Jim says:

          Difference for me is that Song was signed to offer cover for CB which was unfair on him as he had patently demonstrated he couldn’t do it for Arsenal whereas Ver is a CB signed to play CB. Big difference.

          • 86ed says:

            I still struggle to believe the mess they made out of the Song signing. They signed Arsenal’s leading assistman (double digits in the league 2011-12) to play as a centreback. It was preposterous and unfair to Song. It was pathetic how they made poor Villanova look like a fool trying to sell something everyone thought was a joke.

        • 86ed says:

          This isn’t our best back four. Far from it. But it is better than last year when we only ‘signed’ Puyol. (You remember how many times they repeated “Like a signing” when talking about Carles? It was as if they were trying to convince themselves and still couldn’t.)

          Our defense will likely break down. Vermaelen is injury prone, Mathieu will be 31, and Pique has missed important games in the last couple of seasons. Injuries will happen resulting in staff shortages. Every year since 2011 this has happened during the most important part of the season. I hope this time it’s different.

  100. 86ed says:

    So what does this mean for Alves? Is he staying? I’d be ok with his going for cheap, so long as it’s not to our regional rivals, like Rosell did with Villa last season. That was senseless. If you’re going to give him to a team like Atleti, make sure to make them pay for it.

    It would better better to keep Alves’ salary than see the team we give him to beat us in the Champions and win the League.

  101. hansh says:

    Oh my god, is anyone watching the Reims-PSG game? It’s been absolutely crazy and it’s only a half-hour in! (It’s on bein in the US.)

  102. Tom says:

    Not sure where all the reports of man utd and arsenal fans making fun of us is coming from, what I’ve seen is a lot of Man U fans discussing how TV would be a very sensible signing, and arsenal fans that don’t seem to be dreading his leaving, but also aren’t gleefully acting like they’ve sold a lemon… The only caveat here is that Man U currently like a real footballer at cb and seem like they need one for the system van gaal wants to play.

    • agar2515 says:

      For me, my twitter seems about 70/30-65/35 in favor of ” You take him please (United fans) ” and ” He’s past it now, enjoy thanks for your money (AFC fans)”.

      In my actual “real life” out of two dozen or so footy friends (only one a Barca fan smh) about 20 are wondering why when a class CB (Benatia) would have ” Put you/ you wankers over the top”.

      I guess it all depends on where one looks haha.

      • Tom says:

        Interesting, my real life footy friends are few and far between, but their reaction has been for the most part “Vermaelen? Wtf?” The responses I was referring to before were mostly from the comment sections of the various British media sources reporting on the Vermaelen rumors, so basically highest class of football punditry. Maybe it was my optimism tinted glasses, but it seemed almost like the opposite of what you described, with a 70/30 thinking it would be a good move for Man U to grab him, arsenal fans might have been a bit more like you described but still seemed generally respectful towards him as a player. Guess it does all depend where you look…

        P.S. I will make fun of you for your FIFA antics, I took the much more respectable route of doing the same thing on football manager ;) I too was pleased with the results.

  103. agar2515 says:

    Make fun of me for this if you want but, after making all the departures and arrivals on FIFA, and tinkering around here and their with the rumored formations and such, I have to say I’m really happy at what we have going into the season.

    Honestly, the better organized, more organized team with better control of the pitch usually comes out on top (just like in FIFA, honestly). If we get back to a total team defense, where everyone knows their role and sacrifices for the team then we wont need second comings of Maldini and Beckenbauer at the back, we’ll be too busy applying suffocating pressure and jumping down the throat of the opposition.
    Also, TER STEGEN WILL BE ALL WORLD SOON (imo), remember this, he’s going to be a real beast.

    Could it have been better? Yes. Am I still unsure what the future at the back looks like if our youth doesn’t really pan out? Yes. Do I think signing two CB’s with injury records is a risk? Yes.

    BUT

    I’m over the moon about Suarez and Rakatic, two players whose qualities I drooled over last season. Now they’re ours, OURS. I get to see Rakatic and Iniesta, the South American connection up front! This is FIFA manager stuff of dream gentlemen and I cant wait to see it.

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