This will be a short one, in part because chocolate donuts await, but with the news of Thomas Vermaelen being all but done and the attendant wailing and rending of garments, I racked my brain to think of the last Barça transfer that satisfied everyone, and you know what? I came up with two, possibly: Toure Yaya and Henrik Larsson.
The former was because he was young, a giant who doth bestride the earth, and the price was right. Larsson came to us on a free, so that price was definitely right.
Let’s run down just a sampling of some, to give everyone a picture:
Ronaldinho: Whoa, that fee! Didn’t they promise us David Beckham?
Dani Alves: 30m plus for a right back that doesn’t even defend?
Seydou Keita: Wait? What? Who?
Aleksandr Hleb: Can’t score goals, what the hell can he do? (Okay, okay … shut up!)
Eric Abidal: Not Barça quality. Good in the French league, but really … this is Barça.
Thierry Henry: Expensive old man, and lazy.
Samuel Eto’o: Mallorca? What? Is he good enough?
Alexis Sanchez: WAY too expensive. Are they kidding with that number. Udinese robbed us.
And so it goes. Ibrahimovic was too expensive. Villa was overpriced for his age, Alba too short for his price, Ter Stegen should have been on a free, and why isn’t he Courtois, anyway, what a bunch of fools to pay that much for a Neymar, when they could have just waited for him to leave on a free, etc, etc.
Transfer season reality is like Christmas morning, and supporters are like the kid who carefully wrote, in his best handwriting, his request to Santa for GI Joe with the kung-fu grip, and instead got a Transformers figure. It’s a really cool toy, but, (sniffle!) It isn’t what I asked for!
As we all know, so much goes into transfers made and not made. Lots of uncertainty, rumor, conjecture and bluster on behalf of agents, players and presidents. And teams have needs … essentials that are known by everyone on the planet. Arsenal need a striker, so any candidates are going to be expensive as heck, and they wind up with Giroud. Barça need CBs, the global gold standard. The best ones are expensive, and who knows what the best ones are, except via YouTube highlight clips, conjecture and Football Manager.
A name pops up, and it becomes The One. From Javi Martinez to Thiago Silva to Eliaquim Mangala to Marquinhos to Benatia. And a board that doesn’t buy any of those becomes a passel of fools.
Meanwhile, a new coach comes in with a team to build, and trophies to win, a coach who knows what he wants in his ideal world, then stepping down from that. Marquinhos was ideal world, and the club was willing to throw more than 40m at that world. That didn’t happen, and Vermaelen/Vertonghen became the alternative universe. Spurs kept the latter, so the attentions of us and … Manchester United, with its Resident Genius coach, turned to the other one. We got him.
So now what? Let’s look at the squad:
Keepers: Ter Stegen, Bravo, Masip
Center Backs: Vermaelen, Pique, Bartra, Mathieu
Midfielders: Mascherano, Busquets, Iniesta, Xavi, Song, Rafinha, Rakitic, Sergi Roberto
Wing Backs: Alba, Montoya, Adriano, Alves
Attackers: Suarez, Messi, Pedro, Deulofeu, NEYMAR
In a macro view, four six-footers have been added, as well as strength and pace in the midfield, along with flexibility as regards possible formations. This team is, in a word, stacked. The roster isn’t any bigger than last season, but there is a top to bottom quality to it which means that when Enrique looks down his bench now, there are options, and good ones.
The team’s nucleus is strong, and galactico-like, even though we grew them at La Masia. So filling in gaps and addressing weaknesses was important. This happened. There is also the rumor that the club put in a bid on Cuadrado. We will have to wait to see what happens with that buzz, but that allows yet another set of potential wrinkles in formations and attacking options.
Most importantly, it means that, for the first time in a long, long time, our club has two separate, high-quality XIs, Gala and not. So:
Ter Stegen, Alves, Pique, Mathieu, Alba, Busquets, Iniesta, Rakitic, Messi, Suarez, Neymar
Bravo, Montoya, Bartra, Vermaelen, Adriano, Mascherano, Xavi, Sergi Roberto (or Song), Deulofeu, Rafinha, Pedro (becomes Cuadrado if the deal actually happens)
That is just bonkers to consider. Are the available players exactly who all the supporters wanted? Nope. But that never happens, even when it happens eventually, as transfers that people thought sucked become brilliant in hindsight. But I will tell you this:
A Transformers doll is gobs of fun to play with.