The man, the Maestro, the “Inevitable Xavi”

xavi

Death is a part of life.

This is also true of the mini-deaths that typify a legend leaving a club. When Xavi leaves FC Barcelona it will feel weird. Ray Hudson once termed him “The Inevitable Xavi.” He is a magnificent player who, even when many (including me, in full disclosure) were ready to put him out to pasture, current Barça coach Luis Enrique begged him to stay.

At the time people thought that it was something romantic, a charming nod to a great player in his swan song, a nice way for a new coach to get in good with a squad. But the Inevitable Xavi also turned out to be essential, and Enrique knew that. When he was voted captain by player accolade, succeeding our great Capita in Carles Puyol, it was a gesture symbolic of so many things.

This post comes before Thursday, before the scheduled presser in which rumor has it that Xavi is going to announce his departure from Barça. The timing is deliberate because this is an appreciation rather than a valedictory, words that would be as true whether Xavi decided to stay or go.

Xavi is the key to everything great that has happened for both Barça and Spain during the recent heydays of both teams. With his ascendancy as the best midfielder in the world and for me, the best that the game has ever seen, came magic. He doesn’t score goals, he doesn’t produce assists, yet he controls a game in a way that no other player, including Messi, does.

In a poetic fit I once referred to what Xavi does as “influence peddling,” but that is in fact what it is. He uses the ball, little feints and movements to influence a defense, to sell it on the idea that one thing is coming when another is. Dani Alves said that “Xavi plays to the future.” He seems to know, and he never forgets.

Barça had a “One On One” video series in which two players would square off to test each other’s knowledge of key facts and figures. Xavi was stupefying in his memory for detail of games long gone, passes made and goals scored. It makes sense, really, when you consider a player for whom nothing goes unnoticed. So many attribute it to magic, some strange alchemy that finds a great player somehow knowing what to do. But it’s hard work.

Xavi has always run more, passed more, touched more than any player on the pitch. His essential quality is such that Enrique recognized the absolute necessity of Xavi for what he was trying to build this season. It wasn’t a gesture. It was the life blood of the squad. A Capita isn’t just an armband. It’s a spirit, an intermediary, the ultimate grownup. The Capita intercedes with a referee in a heated match. He deals with new players in a way that indoctrinates them into the team. He deals with locker-room squabbles and other complexities. This season Xavi has had to do all of that, while accepting a diminished role that has nonetheless allowed him to be as essential as ever.

“I’ve been lucky enough to be brought up on the Barcelona ethos. Which has taught me the value of being part of a team. ‘Today for you, tomorrow for me.’ Those qualities are essential for life in general.”

El Pais came out with a story that Xavi got in Messi’s face in the wake of the Enrique altercation, calling him out in a way that sent a very clear message. “Stop f—— around” doesn’t get any clearer than that. The results are also clear, as is the role of a Capita. Xavi restores order. On and off the pitch, it’s what Xavi does. From the pam pam pam pam of an exquisite series of passes that seems to always have Xavi at its nexus, to the calm that descends over the home crowd when No. 6 steps to the touchline.

xavi1

It seems impossible, almost unfathomable to believe that there was a time that Xavi was considering leaving the club because big, strong midfielders were in vogue.

Xavi started at La Masia at age 11, and has been Blaugrana ever since. His first-team debut was against Mallorca in 1998. Since then he has played more than 700 matches for his club, a stunning number. He has never bragged about his tenure, has never waved the astonishing number of trophies that he has been a part of as a player in anyone’s face because as the ultimate team player, he understands the value, the essential quality of a team. When he got on Messi, he allegedly mentioned the Ballon d’Or, using an individual rivalry and accolade to focus a player on the most important thing for Xavi: the team. It is always and forever about the team with Xavi, and it always will be.

He isn’t fast, he isn’t strong, he isn’t big. But with the ball at his feet, he becomes an unassailable force, this … thing that destroys all. The run dictates the pass, but in his heyday you almost got the sense that Xavi was playing mind tricks, sending thought waves to runners and defenders to perform certain actions, so abnormal was the unerring consistency of his performances.

The idea of a one-team player is an anachronism in this day and age of massive contracts and migratory superstars. If the rumor is true, that Xavi is leaving for a fat payday or three in Qatar, nobody should begrudge him that. Xavi has given so much, so completely of himself for Barça that he deserves to do whatever he wants. It will certainly feel odd seeing him in another shirt, and I won’t begin to question the motivations for his move because they aren’t my business. What I can say is that any, every and all culers, new and old, bandwagoners or tenured cranks, owe Xavi a debt of gratitude bigger than any of us can possibly repay.

And in the lustrous symmetry of football, Xavi retired from international football in the wake of failure. Spain was whisked from the competition like last week’s waste, as much an indictment of him and the beauty that he brings to the game as the team and the way that it played, the breaks of the game.

That makes it all the more beautiful now that Xavi could, potentially, leave his boyhood club and the only club that he has known, with the ultimate footballing prize, a Treble. I believe that the greats should leave on top, even as they never really know when the top is. Michael Jordan left the game of basketball (the first time) after having stuck the shot that gave his team the championship, the last shot of the game and the decisive one. Boys scribbling in notebooks or tapping away on touchscreens would throw up their hands in struggling to imagine a more perfect moment.

xavi2

He ruined it by coming back. Sugar Ray Leonard retired a champion, then, seduced by the limelight, returned a shadow of himself. We see it all the time in sports. When Xavi chose to stay, many wondered why, what the value was. There was mostly the sentiment, a rootless thing that finds people wanting to cling to the familiar without really knowing what they were hanging onto. “Xavi is staying is all I know.”

Enrique reached some sort of an agreement with Xavi, that he would be comfortable with being his best less often, rather than less than his extraordinary self more frequently. Xavi was comfortable with that, and became the Closer. In baseball, there is a pitcher whose job it is to close out a win, to finish the job. He comes in, strikes out the last batters and the team goes home. The New York Yankees had a closer, the best the game has ever seen, in Mariano Rivera. Season after season, long past the point when he still should have been able to bamboozle younger, stronger, quicker, better trained hitters, Rivera was lining them up and putting them down.

The first time that Enrique brought Xavi on this season as a closer, as he restored order from seeming chaos, his role became clear. Even as people clamored for more Xavi, bellowed that he wasn’t past it, see, Xavi and Enrique knew what his role was. Xavi thrived in that diminished but essential role. The game is placed in the hands of the closer. It is a huge task. Fail, and the team suffers. Fail, and people will look at you.

“We gave you the ball. What happened?”

Xavi thrived in his role as the closer, outdone only by an errant Pique pass at Sevilla, almost flawless in shutting down a match and allowing Barça to pam! pam! its way to the final whistle. It is in this role that Xavi might have performed one of his greatest acts, demonstrating once and for all that he is the ultimate team player. He never clamored for more playing time, you never saw quotes in the press about him being ready for more. He just played. Spun and deked, faked and influenced, this season as always, the inevitable Xavi.

I don’t like when culers mention the Treble as if it is some birthright, something this team is owed. It is a magical thing, an accomplishment that requires luck as much as skill, an elaborate, year-long construct of domninoes falling perfectly, every time. It’s impossible when you really think about it.

But when you consider Xavi and how he embodies the spirit of the team, that selfless quality that makes him do everything from talking to teammates on the bench to instruct them before they enter, to tamping down aggrieved superstars to making yet another perfect pass, that ultimate team accolade would be a flawless way to send him off.

xavi3

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Written by:

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.

94 Comments

  1. Tata2
    May 19, 2015

    Hope he comes back to coach barca one day *sobbing

    • MSN
      May 20, 2015

      Me too. It’ll be just to weird without him. I haven’t really get used to Puyol and VV’s absence, but Xavi’s will be harder.

  2. anderschase
    May 19, 2015

    I have been a Barcelona fan for quite a few years (though I live in Utah, I still try to watch every single game). A year or so ago my work needed me to travel to Barcelona for a few days. I took an extra day so that I could go to the Camp Nou and tour the museum. It was amazing… the best museum I’ve ever experienced. I spent over 4 hours (from the second they opened the gates) reading, viewing, watching, taking things in. When I finally headed out and walked through the store, I thought to myself, “who knows when I’ll ever come back, I should buy something to remember this.” I walked around looking (I’m really frugal/cheap) and decided that the best thing I could purchase, despite the $135 USD pricetag, is an official jersey. And after thinking for about 2 seconds I decided it had to be a Xavi jersey. I have long considered him my favorite player. What a player, what a teammate, what a joy to watch. Xavi !!!

  3. Richzorz
    May 19, 2015

    Barcelona fan since the days of thinking “hey this 16 year old DM has a ton of potential” in Championship Manager 97/98 – hard to imagine the club without Xavi and can’t help but agree with him as one of, if not THE greatest midfielder of all time!

    • May 20, 2015

      Are you the same person who used to comment in the old realmadridfootballblog?

  4. ciaran
    May 19, 2015

    It’s a measure of the player that he is probably the best midfielder ever and the most underrated player I can think of.
    If Cruyff is the most important man in our history, Xavi is the most important player. In his time we have won trophies that we would have never done without him including maybe 4 champions league.
    It is astonishing.

    I do hope that he gets involved in coaching if not management.

    • Barcathegreatestever
      May 19, 2015

      Please don’t forget Iniesta came on and changed the match in Paris with Laarson while Xavi didn’t play and was man of the match in Rome. I’m Not taking anything away from Xavi but Iniesta has been every bit as important to Barca and Spain.

  5. Lord Eddard Stark a.k.a. Brichimbrodvoken, the vulnerable one!
    May 19, 2015

    .

    Question for you BFBers.

    Let’s assume a scenario wherein a decision must be taken. The limitation is that You can have one, and only one statue commemorating a most important player in the newly renovated Camp Nou which will stay untouched for the next 100 years.

    As you well know, the only one occupying the grounds is that of Laszlo Kubala. The first superstar that necessitated the construction of Europe’s largest stadium to accommodate scores of people wanting to watch him. Now consider the enormous significant moments and players that have transformed Barca since 1980. Given that you can only chose one player, who would it be?

    Should it be Cruyff? The man who gave Barca a style and a set of principles that made us Unique, not to mention the architect of the dream team?
    Or should it be Guardiola? the most winningest coach/player/deity and an embodiment to our values.
    Should it be Puyol? A most endearing servant who put his body on the line everytime? (admittedly his statue would make for the best one, aesthetically speaking)
    Or Should it be Xavi, for everything he means to Barca, our best period and football in general and everything that is written in this article.
    Or should it be Messi? Just BECAUSE.

    Who gets the nod? Tough one, ainit?

    • Inamess
      May 19, 2015

      Good Question. For now order is Messi, Cruyff, Xavi, Puyol.

      I do think that how a player goes ends his career is important to his legacy and should things end our way this year it will solidify Xavi’s legacy. Barca fans don’t have to be convinced that he is an all-time great but neutrals do.

      Hope he gets the Stevie G. treatment against Deportivo and then some!

    • agar2515
      May 19, 2015

      It’s Messi, hands down

    • May 19, 2015

      Joan Gamper. If not him, then Josep Sunyol. Hell, an argument could be made for Nunez, before things went to shit under his watch. He brought the club into the modern age, and La Masia started under his watch.

      Laporta? He certainly laid the groundwork for the modern, vibrant, trophhy-gobbling Barça as we know it, with his dynamic board and aggressive decision making, including taking the risk of appointing one Josep Guardiola as coach.

      Even better, how about nobody? FC Barcelona is an institution that exists because of its legends, its leaders, its presidents, its supporters and socis. I find the idea of a statue to anyone distasteful. A thriving, vibrant team and a colossus of a stadium is a monument sufficient for anyone.

      Arguments can be made for all kinds of people, once you start erecting statues.

    • G6O
      May 19, 2015

      No statues for anyone.

      The personality cult can be a very dangerous thing so it’s always best to avoid ever starting on that path.

    • Lord Eddard Stark a.k.a. Brichimbrodvoken, the vulnerable one!
      May 20, 2015

      Bro Kxevin, what are you saying.
      We are talking about immortalizing players in stone, players who capture imagination with their exploits on the field who attract the supporters. Not presidents and people in administrative functions.

      also if the club hasnt already erected gampers and sunyols why would they do it now? after forever?

      “how about nobody?” you are no fun!
      😀

    • Inamess
      May 19, 2015

      Completely disagree. I am a pagan so I love the idea of statues. Most big clubs have statues of their legends so if the precedent has already been set with Kubala then more statues should be erected since this Barca team since 2004 is the most influential in the club’s history. The problem, of course is where to draw the line but the idea that there won’t be a Messi statue in front of the stadium is unthinkable.

    • agar2515
      May 20, 2015

      Totally agree. Silly to think there won’t be – statue of Leo. FCB reared the GREATEST OF ALL TIME but that it would be of Laporta, Nunez? Come on. I could see Gampwr but we al know it’s going to be Leo.

    • May 20, 2015

      A single statue of a trident, with three faces – may be? Messi, Xavi and Iniesta. These three were behind our most prolific emminent period in liga. 7 in 11 seasons, is a first for the club, and not just that this particular pages in Barca history would be always seen as the bench mark in everything.

    • Lord Eddard Stark a.k.a. Brichimbrodvoken, the vulnerable one!
      May 20, 2015

      Hahah nice try Foto.
      Great way to get around the limitation.
      I don’t think they have Brahmas in spain.

  6. luisthebeast
    May 19, 2015

    I am sory for the off topic but i watched Barca B and i am mad with some youngsters who play in the team and they believe that they are ready for Barca.People praise all the time Samper Adama Grimaldo and when i watch games i dont know what to think.They laugh with Patrik but he is the only who cares about the team.Sad.

  7. luisthebeast
    May 19, 2015

    I must say that my last comment was harsh.I checked the b teams of the other big teams of Europe and we are the only club that our B team play in the second division.Segunda is a weird place for youngsters in a team that in reality have no chance to go up.Maybe the best is to find a team in Portugal or another country and to use that team for our best young players.Like Udinese have Granada and Watford.A team that use the 4-3-3 but also a team that will have the ambition to fight for a place in Europe,so the boys have a target.Well just an idea:-)

    • May 19, 2015

      The idea is that our B team players can train with our A team and be called up for games from time to time. It has worked well for us so far.

  8. Barcathegreatestever
    May 19, 2015

    Cruyff, Guardiola, Messi, Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta and before long Pique all deserve statues but Messi in the middle!

  9. IamXavi6
    May 20, 2015

    The day we knew had to come..sadly it is here.

    I must admit I feared the most when Xavi broke down with his ACL – glad he went on and delivered what he did to us all to enjoy 🙂

    A true champion. Leaving at the perfect time.

  10. IamXavi6
    May 20, 2015

    Not Good:

    Buyout clause of Marc Bartra (23) will drop to 10M because he played less than 60% of games this season. Several clubs interested. [sport]

    • agar2515
      May 20, 2015

      You’ve got To be kidding me…

    • Chiu
      May 20, 2015

      10M is pretty cheap for promising youngsters like Bartra. He has proven to be a very capable back up for Masch and Pique. In the next 2-3 years, he could pair with Pique as our starting CB. I hope he stay

  11. Chiu
    May 20, 2015

    Thank you Xavi. Good luck with your new journey. You will be missed and surely one day you’ll comeback to Barca as a coach and win trophies with us (like Cruffy, Pep, Tito and Lucho) .

  12. May 20, 2015

    El Pais came out with a story that Xavi got in Messi’s face in the wake of the Enrique altercation, calling him out in a way that sent a very clear message. “Stop f—— around” doesn’t get any clearer than that – Assuming, Xavi is not stupid to say this to Messi in presence of a third person, who must have reported this to El Pais, Xavi/Messi?
    Or, if at all Xavi said this during the alleged captains meeting, would it be Iniesta or Busquets who leaked this.

    The similarities of this incident with the so called text message from Messi to Pep is incredible. Neither Messi nor Pep have ever talked about this sms, however all the journalists know about it, which is incredible.

    • May 20, 2015

      What’s funny is that the original El País article had been translated wrongly by whoever picked it up and this poor translation is now doing the rounds in different European media in various languages. And of course everybody is spreading it through Twitter as well, clueless as to who said what.

      It is alleged that the “Stop f– around” and “Do you want Cristiano to win the Balon d’Or” comments were said during the captains meeting, but the authors of the article never clarify who made these comments.

      For Spanish speakers: http://deportes.elpais.com/deportes/2015/05/08/actualidad/1431114540_759806.html

    • May 20, 2015

      So once again, a report which itself do not clarify its origin, has been manipulated to make Messi look like the bad man/egotistic diva/dictator, who had to be shown his place!!

    • hansh
      May 20, 2015

      Yeah, I think that these quotes must be fabricated. There’s no source attributed, there’s no reason that the barça players would want this reported to the media.

      And the idea that Xavi and/or Messi would use an individual award like the BdO as motivation? That just strikes me as strange from two guys who have only ever talked about how team success is much more important than individual honors. It’s possible of course that what they privately believe is completely different from what they publicly talk about, but it seems like team success is a big enough motivator for them.

  13. May 20, 2015

    There is one wish of mine, which I know will never happen. Ever since our defeat to Heyneckes’s Bayern, I wonder what would have been the result, if that Bayern team had played Barca during 2009/10 or 10/11. Would their heavy pressing of our midfield have succeeded with Xavi at his best?

  14. May 20, 2015

    Before knickers get in a bunch over the Bartra buyout nonsense, and people start runnimg around screaming, here is Buyout 101: A player has a clause. If that clause is met AND the player wants to leave, he can trigger it. If the player does NOT want to leave, it doesn’t matter what his clause is.

    Bartra had 22 appearances this season. Of those, 16 were of a duration less than 45 minutes. His appearances are in keeping with a young CB on a team filled with more talented veterans, being worked into more regular appearances.

    If Bartra’s clause was higher and he wanted to leave, the team would, and should, negotiate it down. Unhappy players are a toxin. A buyout clause is NOT automatic, this thing that whisks a player away when a team meets it.

    Bartra knows he is the future of this team’s back line, with Pique. The rest is villagers, running around with torches and pitchforks.

    • May 20, 2015

      He might leave and he might not. He has always shown more desire to succeed in our colors than Thiago Alcantara. However, those variable buy-out clauses that are linked to match appearances in our contracts don’t do the club any favors.

      If Bartra chooses to leave, 10M would be very low, indeed. To put things into perspective, Real M*drid sold 27-year old Raul Albiol for 12M two summers ago.

    • May 20, 2015

      I find the transfer stuff and how so many culers react to it ridiculous. Bartra knows where he stands with Enrique. Further, he looks at the back line and sees a CB that (still too many) culers insist sucks in Mascherano, an aged veteran in Mathieu and a short-timer in Vermaelen. He also knows there is a reason that Barça chose not to splash big on a CB in the market. Bartra knows his day will come, and soon. 22 appearances isn’t exactly languishing on the bench. Here are his fixture stats for the season:

      http://www.whoscored.com/Players/83686/Fixtures/Marc-Bartra

      In 16 of his appearances he started, and went the full 90 minutes. That, in a team vying for a championship. He even got a start against PSG in Champions League. Everything that has happened for him this season has been in keeping with the profile of a young CB being brought along properly.

      Further, what sane player would leave a (potentially) Treble-winning side for the uncertainty of a different team. Ego makes you do a lot, but it usually doesn’t make you a fool. If you look at top teams, where Bartra would have the best opportunity of sliding into a similar environment, their CB combos are more set than Barça’s, which pretty much has an “insert Bartra here” slot.

      I get that it’s easier for people to run around, saying “Bartra is going to leave for 10m! Stupid board!” But it misses so much of the picture.

      It was like when people were blaming Vilanova for Thiago not meeting his minutes quota. It’s up to the coach to determine the best players to execute his strategy, not sit around with a calculator saying “Okay, if we don’t play X player for Y more minutes, his buyout clause goes to ZZ amount. Send him in!”

      If a player wants to take advantage of a contract clause, that is on him, and on the folks who put the clause in there. But as some calmer voices have noted, Bartra isn’t Thiago. It’s a markedly different situation in so many ways, starting from the player’s statements about the club, as well as the competitive environment for his position.

    • IamXavi6
      May 20, 2015

      Beat ms to it. The clause is one thing, the pLyer wanting to go is another.

      Marc is no fool. He knows he is. Hot talent and will only have a bigger part to play. He isnt a Munisa going to go play for Stoke or go on loan. He is at the best club in the world to give him his chances for trophies, int caps and lifestyle. Moreso he is a Born Cule through and through. He is a potential captain here. I see him starting along with Pique in replacement of Mash down back. I would be more than surprised if he even entertained the idea of leaving.

    • May 20, 2015

      I agree with both of you, but this doesn’t excuse the club for allowing contract clauses that can lead to our players leaving for a pittance.

    • May 20, 2015

      You will get no argument from me on that stupidity of playing time based clauses in contracts, particularly as they relate to buyout fees. I also dislike auto-promotion clauses, such as Halilovic’s.

    • May 20, 2015

      Auto-promotions are tricky, imo. I agree that they should not be overused, but in some cases I can see the value of this clause in order for a young talent to sign up up for our Segunda A (soon to be Segunda B?) team.

    • Inamess
      May 20, 2015

      The problem is that Bartra may be the fifth choice centerback next year. If I were him I would certainly be concerned about game time. It will be his decision if he wants to leave. The buyout clause was the same for Fazio in Sevilla and he left a starting position in very good side to go to the EPL.

      The question, for me, is how the club got in this position in the first place. My guess is that Enrique did not at first intend to play Masch that much at CB but since he didn’t work as well in midfield and was much better at CB it made the Vermaelen purchase unnecessary.

    • May 20, 2015

      Every top club carries 4 or even 5 CBs. Rotation of those players is key. Bartra got 22 appearances, the great majority of them starting, and substantial roles.

      Mascherano played a lot because he is Enrique’s psychological captain. Notice how the orders are always relayed to him, and while players are celebrating a goal, Mascherano is talking to Enrique, getting instructions.

      Busquets is the best DM for how Enrique wants Barça to play. That has always been true. But Enrique also wants Mascherano on the pitch for matches that matter for him. This means Mascherano at CB, which gives him the best of both worlds, since the way Mascherano plays he often functions as a deep-lying DM, as to the other Barça CBs.

      Bartra will have to fight for his spot if he wants it. 22 appearances is a LOT for a CB that isn’t first or even second choice. He is anointed in a way, but nothing will be handed to him. That’s as it should be. I would expect his appearances to rise next season, in preparation for him assuming a spot in the XI the following season, when Mathieu and Vermaelen will be pretty much done. I don’t expect that Mascherano will be around, either.

      Bartra knows that he will have to be patient. He’s 24 years old, and will still have at least 5-6 seasons at the top flight, and he will be at the best club in the world. No shame in that game.

  15. Barcathegreatestever
    May 20, 2015

    They should loan him to Man U for a year or two

    • ooga aga
      May 20, 2015

      Interesting to see cox’s praise for the not-good-enough Pedro in this piece. Pedro is not Suarez of course but we are lucky to have him as a 4th striker. He would start in most top clubs.

    • May 20, 2015

      Yep. And he is exactly right in that praise, from my seat.

    • FCB16
      May 20, 2015

      I can remember countless times you have critiqued Messi, yet maybe can recall only a handful that involve Pedro. For someone who claims to have no “favorites” and allegiances, you sure rush to his defense any chance you get. Maybe Pedro deserves the statue and not Messi? ha.

      If he becomes the focal point of an attack, he will be found wanting. His finishing has gotten worse and he doesn’t have anything if he doesn’t have the Messi’s and Neymar’s of the world drawing defenders away from him so he has space to run.

      People forget how utterly invisible he was in the second half of the Bayern match. Bayern still played their hearts out and he had nothing for them. He’s a role player, and he’s certainly not going to have some Alexis type explosion of class should he move on.

    • May 20, 2015

      If you are interested in actual debate, FCB16, rather than message board type accusations to get a rise out of someone, let me know. As it stands, you get personal immediately, and I have precisely zero interest in the kind of stuff that will drag down this space, when it’s just finding its way free of the kind of bile we were seeing far too often.

      I usually moderate personal attacks, but will let yours stand as an example of how NOT to have discourse in this space. But it will also be the last example of its kind. The next time, and each subsequent time it occurs, your comments will be moderated, or deleted in their entirety if something in keeping with the tone of this space cannot be salvaged.

      I put in a lot of work writing, and others put in a lot of work with thoughtful commentary. I will not have it ruined. So consider this your notice.

  16. Lord Eddard Stark a.k.a. Brichimbrodvoken, the vulnerable one!
    May 20, 2015

    .

    Will Song return this summer?
    Considering our transfer ban, I think he could be of good use in Midfield. No?

    • May 20, 2015

      Not likely. Not with Denis Suarez potentially coming back and Rafinha being ready for prime time. There is also the Sergi Roberto question that is still be answered, as well as what of Sergi Samper. I just don’t see any room for Song, as useful as he would potentially be. Rakitic does what Song does better than Song could.

  17. IamXavi6
    May 20, 2015

    I dont think so. As I said above I see Mash moving more into DM with Busi – and Song while a fine player is best suited back in the EPL. We will move him on I believe.

  18. luisthebeast
    May 20, 2015

    Does anyone know how much money the club will pay to players for bonuses if we win the treble and how much we will earn from UEFA if we win CL??

    • G6O
      May 20, 2015

      I don’t have hard numbers, but last time we won the treble rumor had it that the bonuses outweighed the additional earnings.

      It’s probably going to be the same this year

      Financially, it makes most sense for a club to reach the finals and lose them and to finish second in the league – you get almost the same money as if you won it, but you don’t have to hand out bonuses for the titles

  19. luisthebeast
    May 20, 2015

    Thanks for the answer!!I checked barcastuff and the bonuses will be around 52-58m euros.And the winner of CL will earn around 55m!!Also i dont know if we have a good relationship with Girona.They are veru close to promotion and it will be great to have in La Liga a Catalan team!!We can loan to them players!!!

  20. luisthebeast
    May 20, 2015

    Benitez to Madrid???Yes Flo give me a reason to hate madrid even more;-)

    • G6O
      May 20, 2015

      Hopefully that’s true. Not worried about him at all. Klopp would have been a different matter though

  21. 86ed
    May 20, 2015

    Did anyone watch Juve-Lazio today?

  22. luisthebeast
    May 20, 2015

    Yes i watched the game and i lost 2 hours of my life;-)Serious now Juventus was the better team but it was a classic final between two Italian teams.Our game will be a much different story.I can see a lot of goals in the final if they play like against madrid.We can penetrate their defence much better than madrid.

    • 86ed
      May 20, 2015

      I think Juve have the best defense in the world. Not statistically perhaps, but player per player I do not find any D their equal.

      The final is about two weeks away. Saying we will penetrate their defense much more easily is nonsense. They’re the four consequtive scudetto winners, not some team from Serie B.

  23. luisthebeast
    May 20, 2015

    The fact is that if we played against Milan a final i would be more worried.I mean a good Milan side not the last years.I respect Juventus but we are a much better team:-)

  24. luisthebeast
    May 20, 2015

    I disagree.Evra better than Alba??Bonucci better than Pique??Lichsteiner better than Alves?Chielini better than Macherano??I am not fooling by results.When Conte was the coach Juventus played with high intensity pressing and it was a more enjoyable team to watch.Now Allegri play a different game.Against Barca they will face a lot of problems if they dont press high and i am sure they dont just like against madrid.

    • agar2515
      May 20, 2015

      Player v. Player no, but the game isnt won like that, it is won based on who performs best as a unit, and that is where Juve excel. They will be well drilled and disciplined backed by a GK who has seen it all. We’ll prevail, but they’ll seem a tough as nails line to break at times.

    • May 20, 2015

      Juventus is smart, and organized. Don’t forget that they beat RM over two legs by playing smart football and defending like lions. That is the team that beat us 3-1 in their house, and who a lot of culers were very worried about meeting in a CL final.

      Juventus isn’t a fluke, and if they get the first goal it has the potential to be a very long day. Gigi Buffon is still one of the best keepers in the game, and I would be very hard pressed to think of a keeper I would rather have in a huge, single match.

      It will be a much, much better match than anyone expects, and I would caution any of our supporters who think that it’s going to be easy, to reconsider that notion. I have said before that Juventus worries me much more than RM. I think that RM would have been a much easier final. Casillas isn’t the equal of Buffon, and they would also have been without Ramos and Modric, two key players for them.

      But first there is the matter of the Copa final, and that won’t be an easy match, either. First will be getting through the Depor match without any knocks or other complexities, and moving on from there.

  25. Tata2
    May 21, 2015

    But Madrid missed a lot of chances at Turin and at the Santiago Bernabeu too so it isn’t that Juve were that good, they in fact survived Madrid. Also recall that for the 3-1 defeat, our team was still coming together and they had their gala IX while against Juve, they were without Modric. I am not expecting an easy game but our strikers don’t waste too many chances like madrid so if we can create ’em we can at least score ’em. Concerning FCB16’s comment, I felt he was trying to pass a point across but his tone of expression failed him. Whenever Messi wins us a match and everyone is talking about it, you tend to divert the spot light to how it wasn’t about Messi but how if X player didn’t do Y and Z player wasn’t a beast…. and by so doing dampen the intensity of what Messi did. Here’s FCB16 using the same narrative that Pedro’s outstanding performance would have come to nought if Messi and Neymar hadn’t been there to draw markers and its not an uncommon thing here that most of us stand up for some players (I personally was a defender of Song and currently a defender of Smache) no shame in having one or two players whom you think deserve more credit than they usually get.

    • FCB16
      May 21, 2015

      Edited for content

    • FCB16
      May 21, 2015

      Edited

    • ThnkuXavi
      May 21, 2015
  26. Tata2
    May 21, 2015

    Yea. If someone challenges our views, it shouldn’t be seen as a ‘personal attack’ or ‘message board accusations’ that would warrant threatening them with moderation or a deletion of comments. Now am not attacking anyone here, but a while ago there was an article aimed at those of us who were in the #luchout camp at the beginning of the season and how it was a delight that we were wrong and clueless( you might not have put it exactly like that) and have been made to eat crow now that L.E is on the brink of a treble. I hate to be wrong and I accepted that I was wrong about Lucho and never read too much to that article addressed to the #luchout camp of which I was a member. I might have felt it was a personal attack but I never came out to accuse you of personal attacks or threaten you with moderation (of cos am not a mod). To be frank, at this juncture I don’t really know what is classified as personal attack and what’s not. (I hope this post doesn’t also make it into the ‘personal attack category’)

    • FCB16
      May 21, 2015

      So Kevin…I dont know when the environment got like this… I quoted the only part of my post that could have seen to be a personal “attack”, the first half of which being a reaction to something ive observed: Pedro specifically is ALWAYS defended as though a family member, commenters who dont rate him are often made to feel like they dont know what theyre talking about, not necessarily from you, but from others. I never saw those comments threatened with moderation.
      Whereas Messi is critiqued for some reason or another or not given enough credit at times and that seems to go against your notion that you dont have ” favorites”.

      Now I am probably wrong on that, and Pedro is no more or less preferred to you than anyone else in the squad, but more often than not you always seem to err on the side of the positive (for lack of a better word), always finding a way to knock down someone’s POV should you deem it a slight on whichever player is being discussed ( ” wait and see about douglas!” ” Well Verm was cheap!” ” Look at Song at West Ham!” etc. ).

      You say to respect others opinions, but every time someone utters a view contrary to your own youre immediately there waving reasons why theyre wrong in your eyes.

      The statue comment was just a bit of sarcasm, no harm at all intended.

      Now where in there is a ” personal attack” ? Are we really going to start nitpicking comments to death like this? It reads more that you don’t agree with what Im saying (as is your right) and decided to call it an attack, which thus allows you to give it ( an opinion contrary to yours, hm) absolutely zero credence.

      That you said you left my comment there as an example to others of how not to comment… that is ,frankly , incredibly insulting and petty.

      I also echo Tata’s view on the Lucho business. We get it, some of us were wrong, we are darned happy we are I imagine. If we are going to go back through being ” wrong”, then I await your Luis Suarez apology article. The man has been a model citizen and the player without whom we wouldnt being standing on the brink of a treble.

    • ooga aga
      May 21, 2015

      Let me try to help guys since I have a feeling Kxevin doesn’t want to explain again. Focus on the ideas. In this case we were discussing what Michael cox had to say about pedro. FCB16, did you read the piece by cox? That is the topic. In two posts, though, you first insinuated Kxevin was a biased pedro lover (essentially) and then cAlled him over sensitive. Neither of those thing was necessary in order to have the discussion. Get it? I see where Kxevin is coming from.

    • agar2515
      May 21, 2015

      I don’t agree at all with the moderation of that guys comment, he’s perfectly explained his reasoning and position, it’s hardly a “personal attack”. We are deleting comments now because someone said that, through reflecting on his past writings, they feel Kevin seems to have Pedro has a favorite? Really? It’s come to that? And he called him over sensitive because he went 0-100 , immediately calling the guys view ” personal” ? Totally disagree

    • ooga aga
      May 21, 2015

      He already wrote a piece saying he had forgiven Luis Suarez and there was a nice discussion that followed.

    • May 21, 2015

      ooga aga makes my views very clear on this matter, but I will add to them.

      When you attack someone’s credibility, there is no more personal attack than that.

      I have repeatedly said that I am not a fan of any player. So when you directly impugn said worldview and a degree of integrity to which I have tried to adhere since I began writing for The Offside, that is a very direct personal attack. I am not sure why people cannot seem to accept that, or fly to the “You love him” brickbat whenever they want to crap on something I have written, but it’s a view that I work very hard to sustain. And it’s very personal when someone shits on it.

      I think that being a fan of a player can cloud a worldview, and I need my view to be clear.

      So FCB16, when you said, in effect, “You love Pedro and defend him every chance you get, and crap on Messi,” it has the two-handed effect of “Pedro lover1” and “Messi hater!” Yes, that is the kind of “discussion” reserved for message boards, and the kind of discussion that does nothing to help anything at all.

      You don’t seem to care about my views on Pedro, Messi, or anything. If you did, you wouldn’t have jumped on my integrity by suggesting that I am somehow a liar by saying that I am not a fan of any player, but secretly love Pedro.

      Tata2, I am fine with having a viewpoint challenged. I am NOT fine with having my integrity attacked. And I never, ever will be. Anyone who can’t handle that is free to go elsewhere for their Barça writings. That goes for me, and anybody else in here. I will defend anyone from those sorts of attacks, because that is the role of a moderator in this space.

    • Barcathegreatestever
      May 21, 2015

      I applaud all efforts by the mods to keep the board civil including each other at times. Let’s be real here Soccer is a sport of such incredible passion it has and always will slip into hateful negativity. theres no end to it. No other sport has more violence associated with it. I think it would be a good idea to have to sign a disclosure statement and if a comment violates, then deleted with reference to disclosure and without warnings, explanations, arguments etc. It could be a good off season project.

    • Barcathegreatestever
      May 21, 2015

      I Would also suggest a separate board for these “in house” discussions so people aren’t called out in public so to speak

    • May 21, 2015

      Not a bad idea. I always wrestle with whether to make such comment public so that everyone can see and note them, or just sending an e-mail to the person directly involved.

      I do wish we had more visits/activity from the other mods. This isn’t my space, even though it sure does seem like it. Diversity of editorial voice is always a useful thing.

      One thing that should help is that I will be commenting a lot less henceforth but moderating in the background, so that complexities don’t arise.

    • Barcathegreatestever
      May 21, 2015

      Kxevin, responding to your comment below; I sure hope that won’t happen, your not commenting as much. Especially if in response to above. The longevity of this blog is a testament to its keepers. The future of it is is an opportunity to evolve into something even better. More followers of Barca are coming along with their failings and prejudices. Elaborate on a standard, abide by it, deal with it in an adjacent space. More people will come here more will want to stay. You’ll have achieved some good in this world. Id love to see an open discussion amongst this diverse community on what they think is a statement worth defending

    • May 21, 2015

      Barcathegreatestever, for me it’s simple: ideas are for discussing, rather than defending. We are not our ideas. Ideas are not a country or fortress that we battle for to the death. They are just notions, bits of intellectual supposition.

      The only thing that raises flags for me are personal attacks and a lack of respect for someone else’s idea.

  27. Inamess
    May 21, 2015

    A few comments on the huge events happening the next few weeks. You have to envy Real’s ability in PR in that they continue to convince their fans of the preeminence of their team despite amble evidence to the contrary. The whole “Quest for the Decima” was in the end a brilliant marketing ploy that convinced their supporters and even many neutrals that they were witnessing some once in a lifetime event in Lisbon last year in a game in which, let’s be honest, they did not play particularly well. So here are some claims that Barca fans hopefully can make as the world of football focuses on our club over the next few weeks:

    1) Xavi’s ends his career as an essential element in perhaps the greatest club and national sides of all time. Zidane, no doubt had a great club and national career too but let’s not forget the image of how it ended.

    2) Quest for the Double Treble. We would be the first side in history to accomplish this and if successful also coming within a whisker of a triple treble if we consider 2011’s Copa Final defeat in extra time.

    3) Team of the Decade: If we win the CL then with four CLs and six La Liga titles, we become the preeminent team since 2005. http://www.fcbarcelona.com/football/first-team/detail/article/fc-barcelona-more-leagues-champions-last-decade

    4) Messi becomes hands down greatest of all-time. If we win against Juve this should no longer be up for debate. Five Ballon D’ors and a run of unparallelled excellence for a decade against the best competition in the world is something unlikely to ever be replicated.

    There is, of course, no guarantee that we will win against both Atletic and Juventus but the historical significance of what would be accomplished can not be disputed by any football fan.

    • May 21, 2015

      Watched Juv/Lazio second half and I should not be really worried about their attack. The worry should be how early we can score against them. Earlier the better. They will defend like hell and if we can bring in our best game of pressing and passing in the first 20 minutes, we should manage a goal. With a lead, we should be able to settle the game with more goals.

      With all respects to Juve, Athletic might turn to be a tougher opponent (the way they press and attack). Hopefully we wont drain ourselves after that match.

    • Barcathegreatestever
      May 21, 2015

      Appreciate your observation about La Decima propaganda. I don’t understand why someone would go be a part of that mess in Madrid. What they’re doing to the coach of 4 trophies last year is miserable and how they treat Casillas and the rest. it’s based on their hatred of Barca, a team of unrepeatables. Instead of recognizing history in the making they hate their own. De Gea should go back to Atletico if his family has to be in Spain because Messi is just reaching his prime and Enrique is the most well rounded coach we’ve had yet.

  28. luisthebeast
    May 21, 2015

    I wish you will never wear another shirt Maestro but i understand u.You are a legend.A true Captain,a true culer.We will miss u until the day u will come back.With Carles.

  29. deerwithwings
    May 21, 2015

    Just wantes to come and do a little gloating as a socio friend oh mine has graciously given me his ticket for the match on Saturday.

    Xavi is my favorite player ever (puyol notwithstanding) and i am really happy to have the chance to see his last league match ever. He is a legend to sports. His talent is obvious, but his attitude is unparalleled. We will miss him greatly.

    • May 21, 2015

      Excellent. Congratulations.

    • May 21, 2015

      Awesome. I wasn’t gonna go, but now that he made it official I just couldn’t refrain from buying a ticket. In which “boca” is your seat?

    • deerwithwings
      May 21, 2015

      I don’t know yet! Me han dicho que es bastante bien! If i can find out i’ll let you know but you should also let me know if you want to get a beer beforehand. Ademas porque tengo que practicar mi castellano!

  30. May 21, 2015

    Sport is saying Alves has decided to leave at the end of season. There will be a press conference on Tuesday.

  31. Lord Eddard Stark a.k.a. Brichimbrodvoken, the vulnerable one!
    May 21, 2015

    .

    Ever since 2012, every summer there would be rumours invariably about Dani leaving. He never left then. He is about to now.
    Make no mistake people, this is going to be extremely difficult to fill the void left by Dani. We already had a glimpse into life without xavi this season, as he played few minutes. But year after year, Dani is always on the team sheet in that RB role. and Rightly so. He continues to be the worlds best RB. And in Barca’s system there can be none better, more ideally suited to our style. If dani leaves, and it looks like he is, our team will have lost not only a fun guy in the dressing room or the pre match practise buddy for messi, but also one of the finest RBs in our history, if not the best, someone who has bundles of energy and has owned the right flank for a decade now.

    This really bums me out.

    • G6O
      May 21, 2015

      So we’re going to have to survive half a season without Dani Alves, without Xavi, and without any substitutes for them

      Enjoy this seasons while you can, next one might turn out to be a rough ride…

  32. Lord Eddard Stark a.k.a. Brichimbrodvoken, the vulnerable one!
    May 21, 2015

    .

    And this is a guy who always elevated his performances and was always a monster during clasicos. He also happens to be the player in the team with the most wins against Madrid. I am sure even if you were to bring back the best Cafu and put him in our team, he wouldn’t be able to match the kind of understanding he has with Messi and his ability in our attack.

  33. FCB16
    May 21, 2015

    Let me say I am very disappointed in how you have chosen to conduct yourself Kevin.
    I stated it was NOT personal and I am certainly not trying to “question your integrity”.

    Must I pour through blog archives and pick out sentence after sentence, example after example of where it appears you give more leeway to “x” player over “y”?

    Would hard evidence support my claim to the point where it would be inarguable that I am merely reacting to content and NOT trying to question you as a human being?

    I am NOT “attacking” you. How am I supposed to raise an issue regarding your POV’s if Im too be censored every time? If you’re to be so immediately dismissive?

    People in the past have taken issue with your tone, with you manner of speaking, I am definitely not the first. There is a contingent in here that often agrees with you and in doing so often alienates those here with a dissenting opinion.

    The ” lets laugh at the people who questioned Lucho” mentality is one example. Where is that moderation? Where is the call of tact and politeness?

    I say this with great disappointment. I should not have to so often reiterate and clarify the intent behind my comments or risk deletion. I should not have to censor myself for fear that you may take it the wrong way. Why not inquire as to what I mean instead of immediately bringing down the hammer? Especially when I repeatedly clarify that I meant no harm.

    If this is how you intend to run this blog then I for one am glad you will be commenting less.

  34. Jim
    May 21, 2015

    Just popping in to ensure an article, and a pretty good summation of my favourite player – yeah, ever – isn’t ended with a bit of bad feeling.

    Now that there is a new post up I felt free to steal the final word on Xavi and am quite happy if no one ever sees this.

    Best midfielder I ever saw live or on TV. I still think most people don’t fully realise how impossible it is for one player to control the tempo of a whole game. Messi is the GOAT but he couldn’t do what Xavi has done.

    • Doug
      May 21, 2015

      Jim – I completely agree. Xavi is the best, and this is coming from a pretty staunch Iniesta fan. He’ll be missed.

  35. neel1975
    May 22, 2015

    First, a caveat – Xavi is a legend, and my favorite player of all-time, Barca or otherwise. I’m gutted to hear he’s leaving, especially, as others have said, so soon after losing Puyol. I don’t begrudge him wanting to play elsewhere for more time and influence, get a good paycheck, ride out his ‘golden years’ etc. I’m pretty sure I will be shedding a few tears come this weekend, and it’s the end of an era.

    That said, I _really_ wish he wasn’t going to Qatar, and also serving as a spokesman for their World Cup, given what I (and I think a lot of others) perceive as their negative influence on world football, from the purchase of teams (and jerseys!) to their insane purchase of the World Cup, and most importantly, the human rights abuses and deaths associated with the World Cup construction.

    I realize this is undoubtedly somewhat of a case of expecting too much from your idols, but I wanted to put it out there, as I feel like it’s missing from the discussion. I feel that Xavi going there gives Qatar added legitimacy at a time when I think the country and its rulers represent a lot of what is wrong with the world of football. While he certainly stands to gain a lot financially, I think what they gain from him and his image outweighs that several times over, and they know that, and are using him to support a morally bankrupt project. He must be aware of the scandals around the Cup, and it’s disappointing to me that he’s choosing this route. In this case – as opposed to him going to Man U or wherever – it’s about much more than a club or footballing philosophy that I don’t like.

    Again, he will always be a legend and an idol, and he has forever put his stamp on this club. I just wish he hadn’t w chosen Qatar as his postscript to everything he has achieved.

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