The who to the what (2)

Part two, the defenders. For my take on our goalkeepers, check part one right here.

2

Strengths:
Off the ball movement, especially going forward. He excels at finding the space in the right side channel to receive through balls and passes that are played over the top.
Weaknesses:
Unfortunately, receiving the all in the position described above leads to a wasted possession nine out of ten times. In Barça’s universal attack, this player very much functions as a black hole.
Expectations:
Plenty of culers expected a bigger role from the young Catalan this season and felt that Tata Martino didn’t play him enough. I was one of the outliers who almost felt he played too much. His only good game in 2013/14 came in a 1-0 away loss against Granada.
His role in the treble:
Minimal. His coach trusted him so little that he hardly got any games and despite the fact that 1) the starter in his place looked more and more likely to leave at the end of the season and 2) the club was banned from signing a replacement, he preferred to hand in a transfer request.
Standout moment of the season:
Out of nowhere he started in an important CL knockout tie against Paris Saint-Germain and, truth be told, he played well. The key to his success? His teammates played him the ball as little as possible.
What’s next?
Regardless of who wins the elections, and despite his amazing footbasket skills, the number two Barça jersey will be worn by another player next season.

3

Strengths:
Positioning, passing, claiming more than half of all corners and set pieces and offensive headers.
Weaknesses:
Slow-leggedness, late night poker and well, who wouldn’t have a weakness for those hips.
Expectations:
It was arguably a make or break year for our most experienced center back who readily admitted he had dropped a yard and then some from the elite level that had become expected of him based on his early years at the club. Now that Butch had finally stopped playing for real, it was high time for the Cassity Kid to step up – for real.
His role in the treble:
Words are one thing, actions are another. After late night spats with local police and not so smart phone sessions during a match, the coach decided to sit him for a couple. Lucho don’t play. It turns out this was exactly what our blue blood needed – he’s made it hard to find a better defender in Europe right now.
Standout moment of the season:
Hard one to call. He scored a personal record of six goals this season, none of which were of particular brilliance or came at defining moments. Instead of a standout moment, I’ll give you one that symbolizes how he has become the rock of the defense. Picture the scene, during the Camp Nou Clasico, our enemies are on the break. The fasted man in football only needs to lay the ball off to the world’s most annoying git to ever score fifty-plus goals per season. For a fraction of a second and a sharp intake of breath, culers hearts stop beating worldwide… and then a thundering cheer as our man channels his inner Puyol to break up the attack with a ball-crushing tackle!
What’s next?
Hopefully this season has given him the drive and motivation to consolidate his role as a team leader for the years to come.

14

Strengths:
Leadership, kicking ass, taking names.
Weaknesses:
He shoots the ball in the exact same way that Lionel Messi does not shoot the ball.
Expectations:
Despite being a crowd favorite, it was unclear what his role was going to be. Lauded by Luis Enrique during the coach’s presentation, many hoped he would return to his natural position as a defensive midfielder. After all, throughout the previous years his inability to deal with both high balls from deep and crosses had been exploited by opponents time upon time. So much that when last season the club ended trophyless, he even suggested publicly that he should make way. Thankfully the board renewed his contract instead.
His role in the treble:
His on- and off field leadership raises the question of why he’s not one of the team captains.
Standout moment of the season:
Again, there is none. Unfortunately no secret footage exists of that magical moment when our little boss realized it is allowed in football to defend passes that are not played over the ground, but the change to his game has been massive. “Converted defender” no more.
What’s next?
I ask for only two things, both of which would make me extremely happy:
1) For him to score a goal in the Camp Nou. Please, God (and I do feel we need God’s help here), make it happen.
2) For him to manage our club one day. He has future coach written all over him.

15

Strengths:
Passing
Weaknesses:
None. If only he could add some bulk and muscles to that frame.
Expectations:
Much like the fullback Monty, a lot of fans invested high expectations in this Masía-rised defender. Besides, neither of the starters at his position had been particularly solid throughout the two seasons prior… Would this be the year he stepped up to claim his place?
His role in the treble:
He didn’t as much claim his place as simply maintained his place, which is that of a rotation player and hopeful future starting center back. No slight on the young Catalan, because at the level the players in front of him performed, he would have had to dislodge some of the best defenders in the world.
Standout moment of the season:
His best game came in the group stage game against PSG at the Camp Nou. Surprising all by starting in the right of a three-man defense, his standout moment was a goal line clearance.
What’s next?
Will he stay or will he go? In another one of the club’s brilliant contract clauses, he can be got for as little as 12 million euros due to limited game time over the last two seasons. Culer born and bred, will he fight for more playing time or decide the grass might be more treadable elsewhere?

16

Strengths:
Unknown.
Weaknesses:
Being unknown.
Expectations:
Fair or not, the only expectation was that the transfer fee the club dished out was a favor to someone and not to the player for whom the money was paid out.
His role in the treble:
Tested out during a 0-0 draw at Málaga only to be never ever seen again in any game in which points were on the line, his role was even more limited than expected.
Standout moment of the season:
He was subbed in during the last game of an already-won Liga and looked decent.
What’s next?
Although the notion that a 25-year old player was bought for “the season after” is and remains completely ludicrous, a loan move to Sevilla has reportedly been blocked by his coach, Luis Enrique. During his few Camp Nou appearance, the crowd often chanted his name in jest. Will the Brazilian end up having the last laugh?

 

18

Strengths:
Technique, passing and a blistering speed.
Weaknesses:
Aerial duels.
Expectations:
His first couple of months at the club had been amazing, as adversaries simply had no idea how to stop a player that best resembled an atomically enhanced humanoid squirrel. Over the next two seasons, however, it appeared that he lacked the cutting edge that separates the men from the boys when playing against top tier opposition. With the arrival of his former teammate to the club, a man just as fast and five times as tall, some wondered if he might end up losing his starting spot.
His role in the treble:
His role was quietly impressive. Although it is hard to stand out among Messi, Neymar, Suarez, Iniesta, Piqué, Xavi, Mascherano and the best version of Dani Alves, whenever he was not playing, his presence was missed.
Standout moment of the season:
For the first goal in the Champions League final everybody talks about Iniesta’s assist, how Neymar drew out the defense, and even how Messi started the attack with a long pass across the pitch. But who one-touched that forty-yard ball to Neymar? Right, that’s who.
What’s next?
According to Xavi he’s the best player in the world at his position. Long live the king.

 

21

Strengths:
Passing, long range shooting, versatility.
Weaknesses:
Aerial duels.
Expectations:
The question was whether we would see the 2012/13 version who scored screamers against Valencia, Atletico Madrid and Athletic de Bilbao of if we would see the 2013/14 version who uhm, did not score any screamers.
His role in the treble:
Turns out 2014/15 was his least impressive version. Despite remaining largely injury-free, he only started twelve matches and, although he never played badly, he was never great either.
Standout moment of the season:
I suppose I could choose one of his two goals this season, but they were both scored during routes against Copa del Rey cannon fodder. The image that comes to mind is his intense on-pitch celebration with fellow Brazilian party boy and fullback after winning the Champions League.
What’s next?
Rumor has it he will leave this summer. We will wish him best.

22

Strengths:
At his best? Attacking, defending, passing, combining, an exquisite first touch and crossing. Yeah, I said it. Crossing.
Weaknesses:
Aerial duels.
Expectations:
Much maligned and underappreciated, there are only a select few fans who can raise their hands and say that at no point during his time at the club have they uttered the wish for him to be sold. Even I, a staunch defender of the fullback, took into account his age, his expiring contract and the rumored possibility of one of the stars of a very impressive Colombian national team to take over his position, and thought our best bet was to replace him last summer.
His role in the treble:
Cuadrado? The incumbent might be getting on in years, but he can still run circles around a square.
Standout moment of the season:
In what was one of his best games in our colors, the first leg of the Champions League semifinal, he robbed the ball from Bernat to feed Messi for the opening goal.
What’s next?
It looked like he wouldn’t, then that he would, wouldn’t and then, after one of the most entertaining press conferences ever, he wouldn’t. Of course then they won everything which led to him getting drunk on the top of an open bus touring the city on the way to the Camp Nou where he cried in front of 70,000 culers who pleaded that he stay. All of which made it easy for Messi to tell him, dude, just sign your renewal.

 

23

Strengths:
Recovering.
Weaknesses:
His thigh muscle, his knees and his malleolar sulcus. His calf, achilles and groin. Not to mention his ligaments.
Expectations:
Huh, what? Ten million euros? Isn’t this guy always injured?
His role in the treble:
Injured upon arrival and injured upon recovery. Injuries to which you can add the insult of having to pay Arsenal another three million euros in variables on top of the previously mentioned transfer fee because the player picked up a Champions League medal.
Standout moment of the season:
He finally played – and started – in Xavi’s goodbye match, which was also the last league game, and received almost as much applause as the midfield maestro on his first couple of touches on the ball. His season might not have gone as he would have liked, but for many culers, putting on that shirt and walking on to that pitch is what dreams are made of.
What’s next?
This depends on your perspective. If you’re a glass-half-empty kind of guy, he’ll be injured half the time. However, if you see the glass as half full, he will only be injured half the time.

24

Strengths:
Experience, aerial duels and running really, really, really fast.
Weaknesses:
Playing the ball out of defense.
Expectations:
Many felt it was too much money for a 31-year old who was not necessarily better than any player already in Barcelona and who would have been a good pickup for less than half his price a year before. However, he did add speed and height to our defense.
His role in the treble:
His role was that of a semi-regular starter and, although not part of the gala line-up, an oft-used defensive substitute even in the biggest of games. Also, his presence made those with who he competed for a spot step up their games.
Standout moment of the season:
The first goal in the home clasico was, according to many, worth his transfer fee alone. Almost as good as the goal was the look on his face after he scored it, with the good vibes lasting a full week for him to break he deadlock late in the game against Celta Da Vigo with yet another header to keep us four points clear at the top of the league.
What’s next?
He’ll be a couple of months shy of 31 when the next season starts. At some time he’ll start to slow down and, speed being one of his greatest qualities, so will his game. Not yet, though, not yet.

 

…………………………………..

NOTE: The article was updated to include Adriano Correia. Thanks @inamess for pointing this out.

 

 

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Written by:

Culé since way before football boots were of the neon yellow and lizard green variety, Levon is a deep thinker with increasingly shallow thoughts. He lives in Barcelona with his gorgeous wife and daughter. The lucky bastard...

43 Comments

  1. Inamess
    June 28, 2015

    Fantastic review Levon. No love for 21 but I take it that is a commentary in itself. If transfer rumors are to be believed, then Montoya and Adriano will be gone this summer and Bartra will stay.

    The notable thing this year is that for all the new signings, it was each of our starters from the 13-4 season stepping up their game and staying healthy that made us the best defense in the world this year.

    • June 29, 2015

      Whoah, I gotta add that dude! Will do so later today when I find the time.

    • June 29, 2015

      There, I’ve updated the article.

    • June 29, 2015

      Nice comment about the 13-14 season players stepping up.

      In other news, I cant believe that CONMEBOL has changed the ref for the Argentina-Paraguay match in the last minute. It was supposed to be one from Ecuador. And now it will be a Brazilian, the same guy who gave Cavani a red for reacting to sexual assault : ) .

      Imagine a ref from Madrid, officiating any final involving Barca, this is something like this. Not to say about how card happy this Brazilian is. There is every chance, Mache, Messi or Aguero could miss final, if they make it to the finals.

      Its not just that football is incredible, but the associations are even ridiuclous.

    • barca96
      June 29, 2015

      The refereeing has been horrible.

  2. agar2515
    June 29, 2015

    Thank you for calling a spade a spade regarding Douglas. The ” well we don’t know yet” / ” next season!” Rhetoric was ridiculous. Now that we’ve bought Vidal… Yea I think we can wrap up The Douglas saga

    • Jim
      June 29, 2015

      I missed the bit about LE blocking his move away but if he did there must have been a reason, surely ? Without ever exciting me, I thought he looked decent in his last outing. Anyway, if he ain’t leaving it’s not quite over yet. Still a baffling signing, though.

    • barca96
      June 29, 2015

      He did look good to me too but I only noticed him offensive wise. It looked like he was a winger who was converted into an RB based from that match. Wouldn’t mind to see more of that and what he has to offer defensively.

  3. Calvin
    June 29, 2015

    Mind-boggling that out of 10 defenders, 3 of them played almost 0 role in the entire season (Douglas, Vermaelen, Adriano).

    I think CB is currently Barcelona’s deepest position other than GK, with 4 really solid options. Vermaelen is ultimately going to be a charity case – he’s likely the fifth best center back at the club and I don’t see him being particularly effective at LB. Imagine if instead of signing Vermaelen and Douglas Barca had signed Daley Blind instead, what an upgrade it would have been! (and Barca really lacks a super versatile player like Blind right now).

    Montoya will leave. Douglas will stay for a season as backup until Vidal finds his feet at RB. Adriano should leave but I have no idea if he will be willing to give up his nice contract to move elsewhere. I’d really like to see Grimaldo given some time next season – he should play in the Copa games at least.

    Overall the two biggest reasons the defense was so much better this year were 1. Increased performances by the key players – likely due to better mentality 2. The selfless running of Rakitic in front of them which really helped fill the gaps that appeared too frequently

  4. barca96
    June 29, 2015

    I was telling my friend to put his money on Germany’s U21 team as I watched their match vs Denmark and they looked impressive. Denmark was impressive too. I did not expect Germany to get a humiliating defeat at the hands of Portugal. I only saw bits of it here and there at 3-0 and after it was 5-0. Germany had most of the ball. One of their forward is really good. A dark skin player. I hope Ter Stegen had no faults in those goals.

    Btw I haven’t heard from my friend since then.

  5. Dar_vincy
    June 29, 2015

    Brilliant review commingled with a good measure of comic relief which made me chortle hysterically at times.
    I for one was glad Pique got his pre-Shakira concentration, and, to a large extent, discipline back- without being babysat by Puyol. And we all have Lucho to thank for that; not giving him a feeling of indispensability was just the antidote he needed to snap out of his reverie.
    Alba’s form i surmise made it laborious for Lucho to give Adriano game time. And I’d say my Alba’s SOMOTS was in the 2nd leg tie of the CDR against Atletico. From saving a goal bound effort -with his hand- in one end to creating one at the other with such lightening speed makes it simply a surreal sight to behold. In agreement with you that Verminator and Douglas’s signing should never have happened. With our accomplishment last season coupled with other valuable signings Zubi made, we’ll let that slide. Again to Adriano, I feel quite sad at his predicament as he is a capable surrogate at either LB or RB. Still thinks he or Bartra should have gotten more game time at RB seeing Alves could have sustained an injury owing to the amount games he had played. I see Bartra has toughened up, a bit. More is needed to stake a claim. Ditto muscling up. Mattheiu had his ups and downs, like everyone. Would score him a B. All in all, our defence acquitted themselves greatly this past campaign. A bit more prudence and our backline would even be more equipped with a Benatia signing rather than the act of charity disguised as purchase (Verm and Doug).

    • June 29, 2015

      Thanks DAr-Vincy for discussing the article. You are absolutely right, Alba’s standout moment of the season was his defensive intervention / lung-bursting run / assist to Neymar. That was amazing, and thank you for reminding us.

    • Dar_vincy
      June 30, 2015

      Thanks a bunch, Levon.
      I even forgot to mention good ol’ Monty. Not much to be said there that hasn’t already been fleshed out above.
      Looking forward to part 3 and 4 with bated breath.

    • Jim
      June 30, 2015

      For me his “return” to form came way back, halfway through Pep’s last season as he did have two pretty awful games in a row at that point which has been used against him ever since. However, Pep in his wisdom found that pretty hard to accept, continued playing three at the back and we lost stupid goals. Since then Pique has been head and shoulders above the others metaphorically as well as literally.

      I said all through Tata’s season and at the start of last season when folk were having a real go at Pique that since Puyol, he is our only world class defender and has suffered from the lack of a consistent partner. Masche at the back cost us a fair number of goals but more importantly he left his position on impulse far too easily leaving Pique stranded. To be fair to Masche he had a great last third of this season, pretty much after his huge gaff against AM, and was a large part of our solidity but the rock has always been Pique and not him. Headline tackles when you can stay on your feet are not a sign of greatness.

      Personally, I still think Mathieu is the answer for the next couple of seasons there (although I’d be fascinated to see a fit TV there for a game or two depending on what pace he has left). However, I’d have to say that Masche playing the way he did in the last dozen or so games wouldn’t be a worry. What would be a concern would be if we continue to swap CBs making it well nigh impossible to get the best out of whatever CB combo we choose. I’d love to ask Pique who he feels most comfortable with.

      Nice to see Alba finally getting the love as well. Up until this season his crime seemed to be that he wasn’t Abidal for some.

    • June 30, 2015

      Thanks for your point of view, well appreciated as always. Would you say then that Pique this season played at the same level as the two previous seasons?

    • Jim
      July 1, 2015

      Not sure what point you are trying to make but what I take out of that video is

      The shambles of the Spanish defence. Why is Neymar of all people allowed to run one on one ? That’s the point I was making about organisation above. Where was the other CB ? Again a point made above. Ramos, again imo, has been a nightmare at times in the Spanish and RM defence. Look at the Ned game where Pique ended up getting dropped. Who should have been marking RVP for the header? How far was he off him at the time ?

      Spain three down at the time tells you all you need to know about their organisation in the game illustrated. However, Pique wasn’t last man back, decided to take a yellow for the team and the ref pulled a red despite the defender closer to the goal.

      Not a great tackle from Pique but for goodness’ sake this is Neymar we’re talking about. How many defenders would you back against him able to run full tilt at you ?

    • Jim
      July 1, 2015

      I think Pique’s play was better this season, Lev, but I would argue that this was largely because we were more organised. The FBs no longer bombed forward at will because they didn’t have to with MSN up front. When was the last time we were caught short of numbers at the back ? We’ve always had a good defence if they are present and somebody finally got that message this season.

      With regard to Pique a CB can’t function on their own. Their main functions are :

      Hold the defensive line in the correct place – usually for us quite high but it’s impossible if one among us is determined to pursue the ball at all costs ( Cavani’s goal in Paris) or doesn’t think like a CB and knows you need to retreat a few yards for depth as soon as the keeper’s kick is on its way ( first game of season?).

      Offer cover for others at the back. Pique’s strength has never been over the first few yards. In the last few seasons because Alves has shown complete disregard for his defensive duties at times Pique has been called quickly out wide on his own against a quick attacker. You also can’t cover a gaping hole if your colleague decides he will dash out of the defensive line leaving his man to make a midfield tackle.

      Provide aerial cover. Nobody better. ( look at the two Bayern disasters for quality under duress).

      Stay on your feet where possible. Your video shows that when a Pique goes to ground, and he only does when he has to, he makes the tackle.

      Too often, imo, commentators are lazy in that they look quickly at something and assume that the last person in the link is culpable. Now, I wouldn’t go as far as blaming a Messi lost ball in the final third as a reason for losing a goal but if you look at the pen Pique gave away against RM you can see quite clearly that Ini watched the runner rather than going with him which allowed him to hit the bye line. At that point Pique had to throw himself to block the ball and it just happened that it was cut back at a height and angle where it hit his hand. If you throw yourself like that your hand will trail.

      I’m not saying Pique never makes a mistake here. What I am saying is that this season organisation has helped him show us his strengths more often. In fairness I should put a word in for Rakitic here as well. Although I didn’t think overall he gave us nearly as much as some say he did help Pique in the sense that he covered Dani’s absence well over the piece which removed one of Pique’s worries.

    • Valdemar II
      July 1, 2015

      My point was he looks physically much better today than he did two seasons ago. I mainly looked at the speed of the tackle, and remembered other situations were he looked unathletic. But to be fair he hasn’t had to deal with close to as many such counter-attacks this season, in which he’s been fantastic by the way.

      Agree with the points about Ramos and the Spanish defence.

  6. June 30, 2015

    Isn’t Mathieu no 24?

    Great article though….

    • June 30, 2015

      Shoot, yes he is. Thanks!

  7. agar2515
    June 30, 2015

    Figured it would be a good time to transfer comment since its quiet. Word around social media is a ” mystery player ” asked for by th staff has been signed. Lots of speculation that it is Arda Turan. Wow/why? Politics?

    • Calvin
      June 30, 2015

      This is my read on the situation.

      Bartomeu was talking about signing Pogba for weeks leading up to him stepping down. The “signing consultant” (or whatever it’s called) that he brought in – Braida – has been hyping Pogba.

      All of a sudden Laporta comes out and says that if he wins the election he will bring Pogba. Now remember this is the guy who paid Pogba’s agent Raiola gobs of cash to bring Ibrahimovic, so they have a good relationship.

      Within 24 hours of this declaration Braida is all of a sudden hyping this mystery midfielder who plays in Spain – turns out it is Turan.

      The way I see it, Braida and the managing committee are acting in the transfer market as a proxy for Bartomeu. I think that Laporta got in Raiola’s ear and basically said “I need Pogba to win the election, say no to Bartomeu” and this is what happened. Shortly after Bartomeu (through Braida) begins damage control and starts to move towards their second option – signing Turan while there is officially no president, but taking credit for the signing anyways because Braida is Bartomeu’s man.

      Seems a bit farfetched when I type it out, but this it how it appears to me

    • June 30, 2015

      Except that Bartomeu announced they had agreed with a midfielder in la Liga to come to Barça – who was subsequently rumored to be Arda Turan – before Laporta came out and made those comments.

    • Davour
      July 1, 2015

      Either way, I for one don’t like the Turan-rumours. He is a very good player, no doubt, but he is one of those player who define AM (and the battles of these last years) for me; would be weird to have him on our team. But, on the other hand, one gets used to anything, in the end.

  8. barca96
    June 30, 2015

    So one of our most talented youngster signed for Liverpool. He is only 16 year old. But we got ban for the exact same reason, signing an under 18 player. And how about Madrid signing Odegaard? And they also signed a Japanese kid IIRC. How does it work?

    • July 1, 2015

      If I recall correctly, only players from outside of the EU need to be 18 years old. If they move within Europe, the age limit is 16.

    • Davour
      July 1, 2015

      Well, Norway is in Europe, but in the EU…

    • Davour
      July 1, 2015

      NOT in the EU, of course…

    • July 1, 2015

      Ok, so perhaps in that case the rules apply to Europe as a whole instead of the EU?

    • Davour
      July 1, 2015

      Sorry, realise I come off as a besserwisser with that comment. It was intended as a joke, rather than a nosy point… On a more serious note, Norway is a part of the EES-partnership, so that might explain it anyway.

    • July 1, 2015

      Not at all, Davour, it is your use of the word “besserwisser” that makes you sound like a bit of a know-it-all…

      Just kidding, just kidding. Your comments are welcome. The distinction between the EU and Europe is a valid one.

      (edited for clarity)

  9. July 1, 2015

    Am sorry Levon, to bring this up. But the following two comments from Guardian well sums up Messi. Sorry once again.

    1. The way Messi’s mind works on a football pitch, the world is divided into 4 things: the ball, the goal, obstacles to the goal and facilitators to the goal. Nothing and no one exists outside of that. Not even himself.

    2. Seriously though. I’ve been thinking about Messi and midfielders. Compare him to somebody like David Silva. A fantastic, creative attacking midfielder who makes goals directly and indirectly. Undoubtedly a top 5 Premier League player. Then think that Messi does his job twice as well as him as a mere distraction to putting away 60 goals a season. It’s absurd

    • Manish
      July 1, 2015

      Messi’s ability to pick out a player in the final third is just out of this world. he is better than anyone out there ..The final piece of his game which will put him along the pantheon of the greatest mid fielders is the ability to control the pace of the game..I am sure that day isn’t far away ..

    • barca96
      July 1, 2015

      Both should’ve gotten the Guardian pick. Great comments. There was one more, if I’m not mistaken from mrrinny89.

  10. luisthebeast
    July 1, 2015

    Can i make the comment about my country?Democracy is dead.You all people can listen to the media and what they say.The truth is this.We suffered 5 years with hard austerity and we vote a new goverement in 2015 to change that.But Europe wants more austerity and a goverement they like.I want my country out of this Europe.We will suffer but we will be free.

    EDIT (Levon): I’m sorry about the situation in your country. I’ll let your comment stand, but if I see that the thread derails into a political discussion I will delete all. The name of this site is Barcelona Football Blog, after all.

    • deerwithwings
      July 1, 2015

      [COMMENT DELETED]

      Sorry deerwithwings, as interesting as your post was (and I do find the topic interesting) this is not the place to discuss it. As advised in the above post, I will delete this.
      – Levon

  11. TITO
    July 1, 2015

    Sport claims we got PP for next season. Dont know what to think about it

  12. barca96
    July 1, 2015

    I am glad Pastore finally gets to be starting player in Arg. I’ve been asking for it since 2010 as I noticed he had a great connection with Messi like none other has/have besides him. I even wished Pastore would be signed by Barca just on the basis of their chemistry. I am not sure from where as they have never been team mates at any stage of their career unlike Messi and Aguero. However up until recently none of the coaches trusted Pastore enough. Thankfully now he gets to start.

    I like him but I don’t think he is that good. Definitely not the best player as Eric Cantona claimed (could just be an attention seeking comment). Probably 2nd tier of midfielders. He looses way too many cheap balls and last night after Messi’s mesmeric run he decided to shoot even though his angle was tight. He should’ve passed back to Messi or cross for the 2 other Arg players who were waiting. Not sure what the deal is with the Argentinians. They’r so selfish. No give and go. It’s all me me me.

    • July 2, 2015

      I dont know friend. Pastore does great in patches. For ever good thing he do on the pitch, there is more than a few moments in which he makes it very poor. He must be glad now, that Messi has retreated into the mid, and he is the person who is asked to occupy the space that opens up, because of that. If he is denied even a little of space, he becomes very predictable or poor.
      His shots are weak, and still he is taking them in plenty (which is good in some ways), even if he doesnt have the best footing at that moment. Sometimes I feel DeMaria and Pastore want to make them look better than Messi.

  13. ciaran
    July 1, 2015

    So the news out of Spain is that we have agreed a deal for Arda Turan for around €35 million specifically requested by Lucho.
    Now, I love his attitude as it reminds me of the great Hristo Stoichkov but he lacks a lot of quality in my opinion.
    It’ll probably be one of those ones that works out and other people will say I told you so, well at least I hope it does.

    I can’t see where he’d improve our side, not even in terms of rotation because, to be honest, I think he’s not good enough for our midfield and not decisive enough for our attack. I understand that if Pedro is on his way out as is still being rumoured even after his contract extension that Arda would give us the incredible work rate on the wings but you’d expect even less goals from him than Pedro.

    Maybe I am missing something.

    • Dar_vincy
      July 1, 2015

      Right with that, Ciaran.
      I love Turan’s doggedness, pressing play, aggression, fervor, et al, but offensively, i don’t see him contributing much despite his position being an offensive midfielder as opposed to the defensive midfield position i thought was his role. Only place I imagine him making a substancial impact is more in a defensive role.
      Interesting to see if he would be contented with as a squad player.
      Meanwhile, Juve rejects our €80 million offer. How could we not expect that giving how ‘wise’ our approach was. Juventus would surely capitalize on the desperation of our two major presidential candidates and maximize every available profit from their prized assest. Any demands above €90 million and i’d say we donate the money to charity instead if we are in such mood to be spenthrift.

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