Mmmm, so satisfying, aka “A look back at transfer history”


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

OR …

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.

By Kxevin

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. Nice post. That is pretty bonkers when you look at it. We have some serious depth now pretty much everywhere, especially when you consider how versatile a lot of the players are. Cuadrado would be icing on the cake at this point, very excited about next season. One of the players I am looking forward too most is Rafinha. I really hope LE gives him some substantial playing time because he looks like he could be quite the star in the making.

  2. Of course, all we can do is wait and see, but there’s a massive difference between satisfying everyone and satisfying almost no one (except for maybe Suárez’s agent). You simply can’t ignore that $115,000,000 worth of water under the bridge and what else the club could have done with it. I’m not ready to look on the bright side yet, I believe this board has not reached bottom yet, and

  3. Whoops…
    … and if it was really what Enrique wanted, I’m not encouraged in that respect either so far.

    Very disappointing summer so far, but I guess we’ll all know soon enough if the powers that be know what they’re doing.

    1. But how, exactly, is the summer “very disappointing?” Almost all the dead weight is gone, replaced by players who shore up weaknesses and augment the team’s brilliant core. Can you explain further, please?

      Going into the summer, people wanted CBs. We bought two. People wanted a 9 to play in front of Messi. They bought Suarez. People acknowledged that our midfield defending was weak, so they brought back Rafinha and added Rakitic. In addition, the CB acquisitions meant that Mascherano could return to midfield.

      On paper, which is where transfer season assessments live until the matches are played, it has been a very effective summer, from my view. So I am genuinely curious why for you it is “very disappointing.”

    2. Completely agree. I’m not sure what’s disappointing about this summer. Matthieu isn’t Marquinho’s, but I rate him very highly. He’s a perfect partner to Pique. He’s a worker, has skill at dribbling out of the back, & a great passer, & tackler. Has pace & is LARGE. Bartra & Vermalion will provide competition that Pique needs. Rakitic is a superb signing. A stud. Btw. Signing 2 CB’s effectively gives us another top “signing” in world footie of Mascherano being able to play his natural position. Which gives competition to Busi who desperately needs it. He’s had no competition for his place for 3 years. Suarez is a nightmare for defenses. Constantly running. Clever, unpredictable, intelligent. He’ll open up so much space for Messi. Neymar will benefit as well. Coming off a huge WC where he proved naysayers wrong. If we get Cuadrado I will be floating off the floor. He would be fantastic in our system. Has pace to burn & is tall & strong.

  4. I think our shortcomings last season prompted us into a gung-ho transfer frenzy, we signed what we needed and signed replacements thereby blotting out the possibility of internal growth with which we have claimed unrivaled corner-stone.

    Suarez was a must-buy because no matter how we see it, he was born to play here, to compliment messi or be him or more, that is highly undisputed. Then Rakitic is ofcourse a cesc upgrade with an all-new shiny attribute that doesnt neccessarily permeate ”lazy” as forcefully adorned on said mr cesc, maybe a more mobile xavi, a scoring iniesta or a more traditional catalan cesc.

    Vermalean and mathieu, new puyol and abidal perhaps?, better suited playing their hearts out at anywhere, definitely the set-piece colossus we lacked the whole of last season.

    Ter and bravo… Well, emergency and contingency buys, we love them except for that bravo howler which really isnt because ter is the valdes replacement.

    All these transfers were needed maybe 2 seasons back but right now except for one for each position we really don’t need to stack it up and get cranky on some newbies. Right now we have a mascherano that played probably the best football at the FIFA world cup and you are just going to shift him to the bench?
    What does signing two CBs do to bartra in the team?

    I know what it does, it bringss dis-unity, it disrupts the dressing room, i really can not picture masche playing second fiddle to busi at DMF that is mightily unfair!

    We must not forget that while intra-team competition is great for increased performance and productivity of all units, the vices it proposes weilds a far more leathal sword than its rose-shelled interface.

    Enrique hasnt made any tough call yet, maybe except declaring no game-time for certain players irrespective of their training input, which to me is ”tough”.

    1. I’m not sure how tough that call actually is. The club bought these players so has an obligation to pay them but not to play them. Song knows he won’t play and if he decides to stay its because he wants to continue to draw a salary not merited by his performances or talents. That’s why others are baulking at buying him. Absolutely his decision but LE is putting a little pressure on him to decide if he wants to sit out the season or play every week at a lesser club. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

    2. Jim, declaring no game time for a player is never professional. Its good to move dead weight thats a fact but telling a dead weight to move or be dead is never ideal. What i am most worried about is the undertone of the sentence, which no matter how you put it arrives at ”… Even when you are working your socks off and show sign of major improvements”

      a more technical coach wouldnt say that because handing a player an ultimatum as regards to a move away automatically reduces the players fee, ego, and most importantly interested parties.

      Enrique has assembled his team like a juvenile dictator, in a ”give me all i need and two of those” kind of way, what really disturbs me is that he is influenced by public opinion, because most of the transfer dealings were already match-made on papers, no invention whatsoever.

      Fabregas is lazy= sell him(done)
      sanchez is not good enough= sell him (done)
      vermalaen and mathieu best CB options= get them(done)
      messi is getting rusted, bring suarez to sharpen him(done)
      Rakitic is a cesc upgrade and also a xavi replacement get him(done).
      Song is not barca class and will never be crucify him(done).

      Don’t get me wrong these are good and lovable transfers but i have accustomed myself to seeing a manager spring up very good players without household names and pre-destined paper talks.
      I would like to see a william carvalho, a dede vital, papadopoulos, schaars, or anybody outside the paper talks.

      Enrique is like a small fish in a big tank, he is not thinking oceans right now, and that is a managerial flaw.

    3. First of all, Kess, that’s alleged “ultimatum”.

      Second, it’s not an ultimatum to tell the substitute pivote that he will not get playing time when he has Busquets and Mascherano in the team and Samper is knocking on the door, and Rakitic is available. It’s simple reality.

      Affelay will have to fight for minutes with Suarez, Pedro and Deulofeu. That is also reality, not an ultimatum. Affelay is a great player, but what he needs right now is playing time, time that he won’t be getting in Barcelona. Like Bojan and like Tello, he needs to re-launch his career, and for that he needs to play and score. Personally I will be forever grateful for the sprint in the semi-final and I wish him all the luck, he deserves it.

      As for ultimatums and dictatorship, the first thing Guardiola did was announce Ronaldinho and Deco are out and that Eto’o is almost gone as well, and he stopped trusting Ibrahimovic, so pardon my lack of belief that you have accustomed yourself to something entirely different.

    4. I don’t see how ”you wont get ANY playing time if you decide to stay” is not an ultimate ultimatum to leave. Peter, while your arguments are mightily relevant it does not curtail or particularly tackle the issue.

      A manager is not suppose to be a realist or atleast speak as one, public confrontation and berating only comes back to bite the parties involved, affellay and song were already touted to leave the nou camp prior to his comments. If such comments had to be made it should be only between the manager and the player(s) objected by it.

      Its no secret what guardiola did but he only told the club that these players should be put on sale or fire-sale if you will.

      You can pinpoint Emmanuel adebayor and AVB at totenham last season as an epic case of managerial fail

    5. See, the problem is that the only source is a small article in MD, alleging that the coach said that to the two players.

      Second, it is clear as day Affelay won’t get any minutes, because any coach worth a fraction of his salary will give any available minutes to young players, who have more potential. Players like Deulofeu, Munir, Dongou and Adama – and that is if there are minutes left to be had from Neymar, Messi, Suarez and Pedro.
      The same is for Song. I wish he could stay, but he isn’t a pivote, he has just learned to use his body strength to fulfil pivote functions. The truth of the matter is that the midfield is stacked with guys better and/or cheaper than him. Again, that’s not an ultimatum, that’s reality. Barcelona has Xavi, Iniesta, Rakitic, Rafinha, Sergi Roberto, Mascherano, Busquets and Samper has been showing he is a contender for minutes at least against the humbler Liga teams. Song needs a team that can use his creative potential, as well as his strength and newly-learned defensive abilities, but at the same time a team that can afford his salary. Again, that is not an ultimatum, even if it can be interpreted as one.

      What would be best for the two parties is for the players to leave on a symbolic transfer, so that their new clubs can afford the salaries they got in Barcelona, whereas Barcelona saves up on taxes and salaries.

      Guardiola “only” told the club he won’t use them. That means “I want those two gone, and I want them gone yesterday.”, which is different from “you won’t play if you stay.” – because it still gives the option of staying, even if it’s not an equal choice, players getting just a part of their official salary for being in the club, the rest being variable depending on games played and objectives achieved.

  5. Excuse me for the repost but since I posted just as that other thread died:

    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.


    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.

    Also, mmmmmm donuts

  6. I’d add Pique to Yaya and Larsson.

    It’s been an interesting summer for me. On paper, a lot of our weakpoints have been addressed. I’m still finding myself embarrassed to have Suarez on the team. I’m also not pleased by Sanchez leaving (especially since we’re trying to get Cuadrado and there’s a lot of similarity there that confuses me)

    Less annoyed by the way the CB thing has played out than I thought I’d be. Glad to have two serviceable players. I’m hoping La Masia delivers the younger ones soon. And that Bartra steps up this year.

    But midfield looks strong and deep. Especially with Masch moving back there. And that’s where we win and lose games anyway.

  7. LE inspires Zero confidence in me. He’s just over-hyped. He did nothing during his time at Roma at Celta (except beating EE). If we get our hopes to high on him, they may or will be dashed. He may prove me wrong at the end. One more thing, I dont wanna see Sergi Roberto on that team nomore

    1. An appropriate even handed piece reminding us of reactions to previous signings, Kxevin. It seems to me some times that there is a pent up wave of negative sentiment just waiting for the season to start to be fulfilled. (Looking back, did anybody actually want Beckham over R10?) All the more balanced for the fact that while we have differing views of the board you have been among the first to say that they have made a good fist of a difficult situation.

      Agreed LE has done nothing yet but actually hasn’t had the opportunity to do so. Can we not get behind him for just now until events play out ? I’ve been reasonably reassured that he will at least make the calls and that the players know they will have to earn a place thanks to the signings we have made. And there will be more trouble ahead. There is going to be a bench full of rather good players all of whom feel they should be playing. His job is going to be hard enough without us leaping on him before the season starts – or even after one or two matches if things don’t go completely our way.

      I’ll be more influenced by the style of play he manages to achieve over the first half of the season. If he can cut the silly goals while increasing our ability to score the first one a lot of our previous woes will disappear and I’ll be happy.

      I’m actually quite excited by the thought of the new season now…..

    2. Thanks for noticing, Jim. While some have branded my efforts at balance and giving credit where it’s due amateurish, it really is never black and white. My views on the board are clear. But they have done some excellent work this summer, even if we can examine the motives and find avarice at their core, I will take a stronger team however I can get it. And this is a stronger team.

      Every last signing they have made has so far, panned out. I just wish that Song had been presented properly, as a midfielder who WE THINK can play CB, rather than somehow leaving people with the notion that “Song is our new CB.” He is no more a CB than Busquets, who can also play AT CB, but isn’t really a CB.

      When Song moves on to a team that uses him properly, culers will snarl about “Why couldn’t he play like that for us?” Well …

      The transfer record of this group has been impressive.

  8. Apparently we’re out of the running for Cuadrado, I wonder , where is that 35-40 mil going to Go to now…? I thought the TV purchase was so we would have $ left to buy Chief Keef. Curious as to what develops now…

  9. The second eleven will come atleast 5 or 6th in La Liga. We have enough depth in the squad. Considering RM form in liga, I fully expect to win La Liga at the least. If we don’t I dont want to see “Fatigue” as the reason again, this time as we have enough depth in the squad. Only Real Madrid can boast about solid defense with the likes of Ramos, PEPE and Varane blah blah. Cuadrado IMO is redundant and Barca should stop buying any players and should only proceed if they are preparing for a “POSSIBLE BAN”.
    Btw in the Napoli vs Barca, I saw Pique giving some long passes to Pedro, which in the past seasons Mascherano used to. That may be new tactic. Also this pass “” is reminiscent of that pass by Busi to Messi and Vidic nutmeg in 2011 final. Busquets was awesome in the match and he still remains the best DM. Wonder where Masche plays though?

  10. Kxevin, let me start by saying that we’re talking culers. From everything I’ve seen this and previous silly seasons, the letter to Santa Claus would read along those lines:

    “Friggin’ Santa,

    I’ve sent you three damned letters and every time you just laugh at me. I’m sick of you and your crap, you’re supposed to fulfil my wishes!!11! I asked you twice for a pony and I got a stupid toy locomotive, then I asked you for a bike, and got a model airplane. It broke when I tried to ride it!! This is the last time I’m writing to you. I want the GI Joe with the kung-fu grip, they’re so supercool, all the kids in the hood have them. The neighbour’s kid got this awesome pony and a bike and the GI Joe. Yeah, it’s his third bike and the other two rust in the shed, but whatevs, you got HIM what he wanted, so get off your fat ass and move your damned elves! This is my last warning, if I don’t get the GI Joe I’m never writing to you again. Instead I’ll tell my parents to buy me presents for Christmas. Either that, or the awesome tooth fairy that used to give me money when I lost my teeth.

    Yours warningly,

    Rant almost over. If you look at the CB team, it is quite symmetrical. It has a left-footed 1.92m defender, and it has a right-footed 1.92m defender. It has a right-footed 1.83m defender who plays as a RCB-RB hybrid and it will have a 1.82m left-footed defender who has played as both LB and LCB.
    If needed, the backline can consist of four defenders, two CBs 1.92m tall each and two fullbacks, each one a six-footer. The righties speak the same language, and so do the lefties, which will help communication on the pitch. If you think that’s not important, I have one thing to say to you:

    “De boll tu mi!”

    1. Ahhh but Peter your comments here are logical and make sense, not the norm for a lot of culers. Buying players who complement each other and the other team members should not be a priority, buying a shiny expensive CB should be the priority because that is what we WANT. We don’t need a balanced team. Stop being so ridiculous!

      On a more serious note, this is a good read on Vermaelen –

      Wasn’t too sure about him first but having spoken to a few Arsenal fans now I am pretty comfortable that he is a good enough player to compete for a spot.

    2. I read that article earlier.
      It made sense,
      so obviously I didn’t give it much attention.

      It’s a ridiculous article, I’d rather believe in what genius arsenal fans have to say on that matter.

    3. I didn’t really know anything about him, so I looked up his stats in squawka.

      Look up his games vs Chelsea, City and United, more specifically the nature of his clearances and aerial duels.
      In the game vs City at Emirates he had a 89% success rate of aerial duels. losing one and winning eight, vs the following players:

      Toure Yaya(1.89m): lost one, won two
      Edin Dzeko(1.93m): won five
      Martin Demichelis(1.85m): won one.

      He also notched 8 clearances, all headed.
      Keep in mind Vermaelen is 1.81m tall and weighs 75 kilos. Yaya weighs 90 kilos, Dzeko 84, Demichelis 80.

      The more I look into it, the more it seems Luis Enrique actually knows what he’s doing. If Vermaelen can stay injury-free I think he will shut a lot of mouths.

    4. Stop trying to use stats to make so much sense Peter, it doesn’t fit in with the general Culer vibe. I mean really, what are chances that LE and the technical staff actually know what they are doing? Pfff. Would much rather believe the twitterspere!

    5. I’d rather most people believe the twittersphere. Especially other team players, coaches and supporters. 😀

  11. Our fans shouldn’t be too much pessimistic, I never saw a fans club who are alawys negetive and demanding as our fans, any signing isn’t satisfying I.e. He isn’t world class, overpriced, not world class CB, injury prone etc, these words makes me feel sick tbh we lack patience, some even says enrique adds zero confidence and inspiration to them by claiming that a madiocre coach always signs a madiocre players I.e mathieu and varmaelen, and our friendly results. but don’t forget simeone’s atletico, he is a medioce coach with so many mediocre players in his squad and still manage to clinch the liga tiltle and was a 2 min away from clinching the CL too, its not about names its about a group of players who integrate well in a designed system to aachieve success . So give the guy an air to breathe, despite knowing that if we start losing our first matches this season our fans and media won’t do him any favour and start calling for his neck

  12. Personally I don’t think Diego Simeone is a mediocre coach. Give the same athletico team to any other coach and see how they fare. Tata should have been left to continue given what he accomplished, the kind of team (the worst in the Pep era) he managed to do that with and the condition(injuries, pinto calypse, politics). Only problem I had was that he lost the dressing room (atleast thats what they said). I am hoping Enrique proves me wrong but he’s no Pep or Tito, just because he ‘knows’ the system and has coached the B team doesnt mean, he’s automatically, the right man for the job. He inspires ZERO, (0) confidence in me or may be am still not over the man in the pistachio green.

  13. I share the same thougt with you about TATA should hav continue but I think the guy lost his way in chrismass, and I think he made up his mind since febuary, I think its his own decision not to continue not the board

  14. So, some little birdies tell me that I forgot a certain willowy Brazilian in my squad above, and so I did. My only excuse is DAS (Donut Anticipation Syndrome), a dread malady that acts upon the part of the brain that controls memory. Some symptoms are copious amounts of drool, and odd vocal tics that sound a bit like … “Mmmmm, donuts …”

    agar2515 knows the malady well, as he presaged it in an above comment. Doctors are searching for a cure. All I can do is wish them well.

    1. its alright be honest…i cant remember the last time i ate a chocolate donut..but after reading your comment i went straight to the supermarket in search of them! they didnt have i got a donut-like product..did the trick though..

    2. Maybe the willowy Brazilian in question had, in fact, temporarily left the squad in search of donuts, making you correct to omit him. Stranger things have probably happened.

  15. Peter, did you vy chance use the alias Jordi tm(trademark sign) in this blog a long time ago?

    1. No, ever since I joined I’ve used this handle, which is my name 🙂 . I’ve been around since I don’t know, late last summer? I actually migrated from totalbarca when it took a turn for the worse, thank god I stumbled on this blog. 😀

      If you’re thinking about the letter, I just used a common Catalan name.

    2. Same here, Peter. Was fortunate to migrate here from there. This, however, wasn’t always your handle there, was it?

    3. Thanks for explaining. You signed off the funny letter to Santa with Jordi and it reminded me of an old member here who’s been missing for years.

  16. looking forward to the friendly coming up shortly. only a handful of times a year do games get started here before midnight..i think im in the mood for an iniestazo..

  17. .
    I just can’t help but wonder what Guardiola could have done with a squad like this!


    Pedro, messi, villa is one thing.
    Imagine what he could have done with Messi, suarez and Neymar.


  18. I think we are going to see a blondy midfield in the 2nd half rakitic, halilovic and samper

  19. Munir.. 2 beautiful goals and an assist in the first 17 minutes. movement off the ball, first time touch and work rate is excellent. And what mentors he has to work with. Rafinha and sergio roberto also bossing it. Our midfield passing is really fast today.

  20. Only caught a few glimpses. Remembering that this opponent might not be the toughest, I still think there were indications of high intensity press, swarming the opponent to regain possession. Of course, it might be the enthusiasm of the youngsters (like Iniesta…) – let’s see what happens when Messi and Neymar are back!

  21. Do u guys notice that we use our fulbacks to create artificial width rather than our wings?? That’s explain why lucho is after cuadrado

    1. Yes! Commented on that very thing on Twitter, at about the same time the BeIN talking head did as well. No more artificial width, i.e. “Pedro, go stand over there … no … WAY over there. Sanchez, you do that on the other side..”

      Then they are stunned when defenders still focus on Messi.

      But, more situational width, taking it when offered instead of trying to force it, but keeping the three attackers more as a tight, closed fist … I like it.

    2. I’m sorry guys but can you guys explain it more in detail? Didn’t we always try to make the pitch as wide as possible with overlapping fully backs? I didn’t watch the match btw.

    3. The best way to explain it is with visuals, barca96. This is last season, with artificial width:


      This season, it seems to be (using starters’ names)


      So the artificial width created by placing static wingers on the touchline that started with Guardiola and his Villa/Sanchez experiments, with the weak midfield defending, created exploitable gaps for countering opponents.

      With this year’s formation, note the tighter gaps all the way ’round but particularly in the midfield. It should make the press much more effective, while also minimizing the absolute necessity for defensive contributions from Messi.

      We’ll see how it plays out, but I like it in theory.

    4. Even at first glance visually you can see that all of a sudden the two opposing CBs’ jobs have become a nightmare. They used to mark a hole so could offer help to their beleaguered colleagues. Now Messi can come either side of Suarez who if he moves out of the centre will require following.

  22. Rakitic, y’all … damn. Again, another example of this passel of inepts getting it right. Seamless, and exquisite long passes. I know that one of the standard rants is that we don’t have a Xavi replacement, but I will beg to differ.

    Well, there is no straight-up replacement for a legend such as Xavi, but between Iniesta and Rakitic, both of whom looked so capable running the show, there is much cause for optimism.

    — Our youth ranks and B team have NEVER been more stacked. Staggering to realize that most of the players kicking ass in that match today — Samper, Halilovic, Munir, Sandro, Grimaldo, are all B teamers. And there are people coming up just behind them who are as good. We also grabbed Alen Halilovic’s brother, Dino, who is supposed to be BETTER than Alen.

    In all of the snarling about how this group has neglected the futbol base, it strikes me that some of that bile might have to be withdrawn.

    — GoBarça, the opposition group to the board, suspended operations today. In many ways, given the summer that the club has had in the transfer window, the reality that sporting success directly links more than anything else to the viability of a board and the complete absence of anyone even thinking openly about throwing their hat in the ring to oppose to current cabal … not a surprising decision.

    1. Rakitic is world class, but anyone with any sense knew that already. He has been a phenomenal player for the last two years, but last season in particular he was one of the best midfielders in the world. It comes as little surprise to me that he is playing so well so early on. He will be fantastic for us.

      A bit more surprising for me has been Rafinha. I knew he was good, but I didn’t realise just how good. We really are a spoiled bunch!

    2. Missed the game but the Rakatić love is wonderful to hear. I’ve had a man crush on him for some time ( he’s still decently youngish too at 26, 27 in March), can’t wait for he and Alen to finally get real minutes together. Will probably happen for Alen very soon, along with this B-teamers Kevin mentioned.
      Btw, for what it’s worth, an account on twitter just posted:

      “@semprebarcaa: Confirmed: Barca didn’t pull out from Cuadrado. They are still negotiating the price. Next few days will be key. #fcblive”

      Now who or whatever he is^ he’s called every one of our transfers correctly at least w week or more in advance , so I’m giving the benefit of the doubt. Also, after reading those comments on ” creating width” above I do hope this is true.

  23. Guys can any one remind me the last time we played a play off match???? I hv been arguing wth one of my friends

    1. Fist Pep season vs Wisla Krakow was the equivalent of the current play-off match in the Champions League, since winners would reach the group stage of the Champions League, and losers would go in the group stage of the UEFA Cup.

  24. The very difficult balancing act for Enrique is going to make this season something of a challenge for him. We have playing depth this season, vs non-playing depth. So Afellay, Dos Santos, Cuenca and Sergi Roberto were on the squad, but not really part of the first team.

    This season, everybody can play, as in for-real play. I can applaud the depth as a supporter, even as I can acknowledge the potential difficulties in players unhappy with their playing time.

    1. It’s a welcome tactical masterstroke. Albeit I would be more comfortable if it’s deployed vs average and ultra defensive teams as opposed to blisteringly lethal and unforgiving teams, say, RM, Bayern, etc. Today, Montoya was much productive and effective with the width afforded him but Grimaldo…not so much.
      Really happy for Munir. His performance last game- which was only soiled with his profligacy in front of goal and today’s display, certainly were deserving of a goal. Plus, Rakitic and Rafinha were simply a delight to watch.

    1. Did he pass the medical!!?!??! And how, if it’s true!
      That’s the most important issue. Not his signature.

    2. Apparently he didn’t pass just one, but two extensive medical tests – one in the hospital of Barcelona and the other in the usual clinic where everybody did theirs. The player arrived with the director of the first team, whereas the club doctor Prunas arrived and left separately. There have been no photos whatsoever, except for official Barcelona ones.

      Apparently he passed them very well. There may be some additional footage tomorrow, but it’s interesting that the club wanted to make it as low-key as possible, just before the friendly.

      Tomorrow he will be presented, exclusively to the media. Apparently the club doesn’t want the bad publicity of Mathieu’s signing, with people trying to recreate Black Friday stampedes and then venting their frustration at Zubi.

    3. MD, a.k.a. “The Voice Of The Board” 😀

      Oh well, they’ve changed it to “a medical revision of two parts”

      “No ha sido una revisión convencional ya que esta ha estado envuelta del más absoluto de los secretos por parte del club azulgrana.
      Ha sido una revisión por dos partes. La primera ha tenido lugar en el Hospital de Barcelona, al que el jugador ha acudido acompañado del médico del club el Dr. Ricard Pruna y del director del primer equipo del Barça, Emili Sabadell.

      Del Hospital de Barcelona han salido los tres protagonistas por separado. El Dr. Pruna por una parte y el jugador con Sabadell por otra, todos rumbo a la Clínica Creu Blanca, para llevar a cabo la segunda parte de una exhaustiva revisión médica, obligada por su parte producto del historial de lesiones de Vermaelen.

      Tras pasar más de una hora y media en su interior, el club ha hecho abandonar al jugador el segundo centro médico por la puerta de atrás para evitar imágenes del jugador en Barcelona antes de que sea oficial su fichaje.

      I know you speak Catalan and probably Spanish, but for the benefit of the rest it reads(more or less):

      “It hasn’t been a normal medical because it has been done as secretly as possible by the club.
      It has been a medical revision of two parts. The first took place in the Hospital of Barcelona, to which the player was accompanied by the club doctor Ricard Pruna and the first-team director Emili Sabadell.
      The three protagonists have left the hospital separately. Dr. Pruna from one exit and the player with Sabadel from another, towards the Creu Blanca Clinic, in order to arrive for the second part of an exhausting medical revision, a product of the history of injuries of Vermaelen.
      After spending one and a half hours inside, the club made the player leave the second medical center by the back exit, in order to escape photos of the player before the official announcement of his signing.”

  25. Watching the game right now. Recorded it earlier. Munir with a brace & assist in the opening 18 minutes. The way he took his volley was class. Very cool customer. Team looks good & most of the 11 are B teamers. I still cringe when Alba is in the lineup. Can’t ever trust him for some reason. Check out Pique’s goal. Lovely passing in the box.

  26. Was wondering. If Cuadrado do come, what will LE do.
    Will he be happy with the best starting line up and using it every game, or he will rotate them?
    If he’s willing not to rotate, i can’t guess the starting line-up. Really can’t.
    Ter Stegen or Bravo
    Alves/Cuadrado or Montoya
    Pique, Vermaelen, Mathieu or Bartra
    Adriano od Alba
    Masch, Busi, Rafinha, Rakitic, Xavi, Iniesta, Sergi Roberto
    I guess the front three will be the easiest to pick up.
    But if he do rotate them, then he has a LOT of quality on his disposal.

    1. I’ve always seen it as an Alves or Cuadrado deal. It’s hard to see both in the squad especially after renewing Montoya’s contract.
      I could also see the possibility of selling Adriano even though I like him. Alba and Mathieu could cover the left back position and Grimaldo is decent backup in case of a long term injury. At the opposite side Patric could easily fill a role with the first team at right back too.

      It’s a good complaint to have too many quality players to pick

    2. The biggest issue with Alves staying is his salary which, by the time you’re done with taxes and stuff, is around 14m, I saw somewhere. The club can certainly match any fee offered by anyone, having spent less than 80m (net) in this summer window.

      But United can almost certainly trump us on wages, and Cuadrado is looking at this as a payday. There is also a rumor that United are in for Di Maria, as the Vidal move is looking increasingly unlikely.

      Who knows?

      I’m sure the club would love to find forever homes for Song and Alves, but the fact that Alves is staying and Enrique is putting a nice face on it, means that he isn’t going anywhere. His salary is a huge impediment, even if you put him out there on a free.

      I do find it funny that nobody is snarling and snarking about how stupid this board is to allow him to leave on a free next summer, as people did when Villa was sold for 2m, though. Not sure I understand why, though I can hope that people are beginning to understand the value of getting a big salary off the books, and maybe that’s why.

    3. Dani has been a great player for us, and i think he’s often been under-appreciated by cules these last couple of seasons when he was one of the few players actually trying to win games and showing some drive and fire. but with even a cheap sale and the loss of his wages i’d be thrilled if it was used to offset the purchase of an outstanding replacement in Cuadrado. with the alleged size of our war chest and given the transfer ban i’d love to have the cushion of such a talented, versatile player added to the roster; for me he’d be our signing of the summer.

      the sale of Villa was met with hostility not just because the fee was abysmally small but because we didn’t have an adequate replacement in the team for what he was perceived to be doing for the team, and because he was being sold to a direct rival (who went on to win the league). put in the exact same situation with Dani: small fee, sale to Atleti, not signing Cuadrado; i wouldn’t like that either.

    4. Makes sense, BA. It’s funny, when you think about the poor planning in making the team future proof, even as the planning was hampered by a succession of coaches.

      It was clear that Alves wasn’t going to be able to keep doing what he was doing, but the club only had Montoya and Adriano, who are very good players, but not that iron-clad starter. Now that Alves is seeing a bit of a decline, there is nobody really to slot in, and the person who would sort of do it, the club can’t buy because of the player who used to do it.

      To be fair, a confluence of circumstances and planning.

    5. Barcelona accommodated Villa. Tottenham were offering more money, but he asked for a close destination. Atletico were the only ones ready to pay anything with the huge salary he demanded.

      Let’s be honest, the sale of Villa was met with hostility mostly because it was this board first and for so little money second, which is funny, because Villa wasn’t justifying his salary(he was the second-best paid player on the team after Messi), he had come from a career threatening injury and there were loud noises that he’s a failure(and then people wonder why Barcelona sells cheaply.)

  27. Dani needed to go since last season, it was obvious. Couple of good games couldn’t hide his decline, but we had nobody to fill his shoes.
    I wont mind him leave on a free, he gave his best years with us, and totally justified his purchase.
    If he’s still with us this season, i surely don’t want to see him and Alba in the same line-up.

    1. Very good post. I feel like writing a comment along those lines but it’s late so maybe tomorrow.

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