Guess who is 23 years old today? If you guessed Gerard Pique, you guessed right. The central defender, a canterano who returned home last season, also has the distinction of being one of only three players to have won Champions League glory in consecutive seasons, with different clubs.
He’s been capped 13 times, but you can look for many more, as the man whom we have all affectionately dubbed “Piquenbauer” for his dashing forward runs with the ball, is only just learning to become the defender that he is. And who remembers that Piquenbauer’s first Spanish goal was a match-winner, in a Copa tie against Espanyol? Very cool.
So happy birthday, Pique, and many more (in the colors, of course!)
–And so it begins. Apparently, at least if you trust the nattering nabobs over at EMD, Cesc Fabregas, after that Emirates-sized can of whipass was opened up on his side by United, said “Screw this, I’m going home!”
Now, there are scads of reasons to call bullshit on that one, right? One match? If such decisions are to be made, it will take a lot more than one match to solidify it. Further, if Fabregas has that kind of character, do we really want him? What if it’s cloudy for more than 3 days in a row in Barcelona? Lordy! He’s on the record as saying how much he looooves Arsenal, and has no plans to leave. Yes, players have said stuff such as this, weeks before flitting away to another club. But not with 3 years to go on a standing contract.
If he has made a decision, if anything that match on Sunday affirmed it, because Arsenal will not be getting silver this season, and from the looks of it, not next season, either, barring a signing of significance. Which is, of course, yet another reason to call bullshit on this one. What if Arsenal sign, say, Torres and Ribery over the summer, a not-inconceivable move? Sure, Wenger would have had a full frontal lobotomy that would have made him eschew his building with youth program in favor of spendy superstars, but still …. if such a thing happens, does anyone think that Fabregas would leave then?
For the record, I’m against the Fabregas signing, in any way, shape or form. I don’t doubt his talent. But Xavi has another couple of years in his boots, and Iniesta is still a young’un (a fact that still boggles my mind). So, we are solid in the midfield for the next two seasons, which means that whichever dude wins the election this summer, will be pledging to spend around 50m for a bench warmer.
Or do we move Iniesta to left wing, where he has been rather ineffective, and hope that his goal force field will come down?
Further, it means that Jonathan dos Santos and Thiago have no reason to stay, right? Because after Xavi goes, Fabregas moves into the full-time starting role, which means what for them? Copa duty, and the occasional start? For the foreseeable future? Can anyone see them staying? That means, in effect, that we’d be paying 50m to bankrupt our future, while also damaging relationships with other canteranos, who would be wondering about their potential upgrade path.
Finally, Fabregas is under contract at Arsenal through 2013. Which means that he will have to force his way out. And for what? To leave a club at which he is a superstar, making tons of money, for one where he will be, at best, fourth or fifth on in the star galaxy, after Messi, Ibrahimovic, Xavi and Iniesta? And what about the complexities that this creates for Guardiola, should he decide that he wants to stay, in the aftermath of the elections? You paid for him, gotta play him, right? But where? Boy, it wouldn’t take much to see this kind of incident making Guardiola activate the “This is stupid, I’m outta here” part of his renewal pre-agreement, which is really little more than words, and a handshake.
Hmmm, let’s see here …. what should I do? Expensive signing? Check. Meddling president putting pressure on the coach? Check. Dude I feel like I gotta play, or I’ll get stick from the fans? Check. Later, dudes!
Stay tuned. Know also that the BritPress is in a tizzy, claiming that we are “tapping up” Fabregas. Well last time I checked, it was in EMD, not on fcbarcelona.cat. The Spanish press can say and do what they want about this matter. Word.
–It’s official (not that it ever wasn’t, right?): Sandro Rosell is in the ring for presidency of our beloved club. He becomes the instant front-runner, for the simple reason that Jaume Ferrer and Alfons Godall (who has the support of Johan Cruijff, by the by) will split the Continuity vote. Recall that many negotiations were had between the tandem, in an effort to decide upon a unity front. That didn’t happen, which makes Rosell’s life a lot easier. For a lot more, visit Pep’s Most Excellent New Space.
–Speaking of Rosell, when Fabregas moved to Arsenal in 2003, the now-candidate was the man behind our garnering right of first refusal, should Arsenal decide to sell. So if Fabregas is going anywhere, Wenger’s expensive knickers being in a bunch notwithstanding, we should be in the catbird’s seat. Buzz is that we also have rights of first refusal on Franck Ribery, despite the other buzz that he is already signed, sealed and soon-to-be-delivered to one Evil Empire.
Man, how you gotta love early transfer rumors and the attendant nonsense.
–Now, I’ve been labeled a big dummy and an Henry suckup for saying this, but what about Cruijff, who weighed in on the lack of goals from Thierry Henry and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in Sport: “Happiness is never complete. There’s always someone pointing the finger. If you play up front and don’t score you have to live with it, but judging them by their goals alone is as easy as it is incorrect.”
“Who can occupy defences more? Their movement, on and off the ball, creates a great advantage of an unknown value.”
“This sort of thing goes unnoticed. But Pedro is able to take advantage because they’re so good at what they do.”
Now, I still think that Ibrahimovic needs to do his damn job, and put the ball in net. And don’t think that he’ll be getting less stick when he decides to be the World’s Biggest Midfielder, instead of the World’s Best Forward.
–Finally, and this, as usual, is a question for the class: We didn’t do a thing in the winter transfer window. Should we have?
My view is no. We already have a great side, the best in the world. Now that Henry is healthy, look for his contributions to increase. We have talent ready and waiting to plug in, frolicking about in our cantera at every position except for striker. Jeffren can play wing, Dos Santos and Thiago midfield, Muniesa and Fontas the defense. We got The Yaya and Keita back from ACN duty, which deepens our midfield in an amazing way. So any January additions would have been expensive, and potentially destabilizing as we already have enough depth and talent (barring any major, crazy-ass injury) to compete on the two fronts: Liga and Champions League.
But enough from me, what say ye?