Burn Baby Burn

Note (1): This article is based on rumor and speculation. In fact, the player in question and his agent have come out and denied said rumor and speculation. Nevertheless…

Note (2): Guess who’s back? Kevin chimes in with what he claims is a guest post called Luck, la Masía and winning the lottery.


Confession time. I have a soft spot for Arda Turan, who is possibly my favorite player in world football that doesn’t sleep in blue and red pajamas. Or maybe he does. So I must have been ecstatic when his imminent arrival to F.C. Barcelona was announced through various Catalan media outlets, right? I’m not so sure. Let’s examine three aspects of this deal.


There are a lot of things to like about the Turkish Magician. His trickery and guile. His passing. His strength. His never say die attitude. His I laugh in the face of death attitude. His if I have to die I’ll kill the linesman with my shoe before I go attitude. Exactly how this goes hand in hand with his I’m leaving because Simeone makes me run too much attitude would be a paradox for Luis Enrique to solve. I have three words for you: rotation, rotation, rotation. Presumably the reasoning behind the Turk’s thinking is that the intensity of being a pillar of the most intense team in the world has left him battered and bruised to the point of missing an assorted 194 days to injury over the last four seasons. If this is indeed the case, then managing his appearances is a solution that would play right in the cards of a coach who is already quite dedicated to rotating his players.


He can play on the left, right and center of the midfield and on either wing. In our squad, theoretically he would compete for a spot with the forwards and the central mids. As far as Neymar and Messi go, we should note that they only like to share playing time with Neymar and Messi so for all intents and purposes the rotation would be between Iniesta, Rakitic, Rafinha and Pedro. Is he an upgrade over any of the starters? It is tempting to say he isn’t. A lot of culers like to believe that our players are by definition the best players in the world and even more after a the treble year, but how does one compare and judge accordingly? His average rating of 7.08 as calculated by the stat geeks on whoscored.com is exactly the same as both Iniesta and Rakitic. He scores significantly higher in the couple of games he played on the wings and even more so when compared to Pedro. The latter, however, knows how to play in a system which might give Arda Turan trouble.

It gets complicated when you try to figure out how he would adapt from Atletico Madrid to Barça. As a matter of fact, it is difficult to judge any player coming from the Calderón. Filipe Luis looked like one of the best left backs in the world under Simeone but, despite the fact that Mourinho’s teams are set up in a comparable fashion, he has not done well at Chelsea. All Atletico players count “defensive contribution” as a strength, but are those individual skills or is it down to Simeone threatening to shove their heads in an oven and cut off their pinky finger if they don’t defend? Also, it is easier to make defensive contributions if remaining compact and well-organized on defense is your team’s main priority. How would they do against opponents that park ten players in their third of the pitch and break out on the counter?

We know that Turan is a team player who likes to play short passes and also that there is a fiery directness about him, all of which are qualities that could help him make the transition to Luis Enrique’s Barcelona. How he would adapt to a three-man midfield in a team that is always on the attack remains to be seen but, even in case he doesn’t make the gala eleven, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which the Turk would not improve our squad.



Social media, coffee break areas and the streets of Barcelona are rife with discussions about whether the interim board have the right to purchase a player or not. Some will tell you that they should not even negotiate. Article 35.4 of the club’s statutes offers the following:

The Managing Committee will perform all governmental, administrative and representative functions that are normally attended to by the Board of Directors. It shall limit its acts to those that are necessary and essential in order to maintain the club’s regular activities and to protect the club’s interests.

This is the only passage in the rulebook that relates to what the Managing Committee can and cannot do. It is up to debate whether spending 35 million euros on a player is an essential act to maintain the club’s normal activities and / or protect its interest. The argument could of course be made either way and a lot depends on the interpretation of what those normal activities and interests are, especially in July. As is often the case, how people feel about this is influenced by which candidate they prefer. Laporta supporters are crying foul from the digital rooftops. Bartomeu supporters, well, Bartomeu supporters aren’t all that loud and usually don’t have a Twitter account. The points of view are further influenced by whether or not a fan wants the player at the club.


I still haven’t figured out whether Arda Turan suiting up in our colors would make me happy or not and I distrust both Bartomeu and Laporta. However, for me the difference between the Arda Turan deal and the Aleix Vidal transfer is three weeks and little more. If the rumored negotiations are true, they are conducted by an interim board acting upon the planification made by the technical committee and, apparently, the express wishes of the head coach. If a target had been decided upon months ago, should the club lose said target because of the elections? Should the club hold off negotiations with say, Paul Pogba, and risk losing a player both main candidates claim they would sign? Should they not sell Deulofeu, a player who was sent away on loan by his coach last summer and has struggled to convince anyone but his mother in Sevilla? Are these matters not normal activities at this time of the year? Is it not in the club’s interest to act? I’d say it’s up to interpretation, and until the statutes of the club are modified to further specify what a Managing Committee can or can’t due, it is impossible to judge too strongly either way.

Of course, the board that is now being criticized for the Aleix Vidal transfer and the current negotiations are the same people who criticized Laporta for signing David Villa at the end of his presidency in 2010. Again, one’s judgment is often colored by one’s sympathies. At the moment of writing the Managing Committee is reported to have reached an agreement with all parties involved but will wait for the incoming president to sign off on the deal. I see this as a slick way of avoiding to give Bartomeu’s opponents the ammunition that a risky signing would provide while at the same time providing the voters an unexpected carrot, albeit one with a beard. For all we know, there isn’t any deal to begin with. After all, according to the carrot and its agent, F.C. Barcelona hasn’t shopped in their market stall.


It’s easy to agree that Arda Turan would improve our squad. That much is clear. But would that make him a good signing? Xavi has left. That leaves only three players, Iniesta, Rakitic and Rafinha for two midfield slots*. Iniesta and Rakitic were starters in the gala line-up for all big matches in the business end of the treble season. However, 31-year old Andrés will need to be replaced eventually and it is better not to wait until he is 34. Rakitic, despite all his qualities, is not a player an elite club should build their midfield around.

pogba and rafinha

To many followers, the answer is Paul Pogba. It’s certainly an opinion I share and, if Bartomeu and Laporta are to be believed (a big IF), the next president of the club will sign the Frenchman for 2016. While it is obvious that three midfielders for two slots is insufficient, five midfielders for those same two slots are too many. I’m not sure it make sense to buy a big name to compete for a position for half a season – remember that Turan would not be able to play until January – only for Iniesta’s replacement to arrive next summer. We would then be left to find minutes for four midfielders who are accustomed to start important games and one whose growth will be completely stunted.

While the colchonero is definitely the better player right now, it’s worth asking ourselves whether a 22-year old Arda Turan was as good as our 22-year old Rafinha. Unlike his brother, the Brazilian wants nothing more than to succeed at the club that raised him. He might never become a star, but he has certainly shown signs of promise and he is still young enough to give him plenty of time to improve. F.C. Barcelona takes great pride in the Masía. What does it mean if we deny a talented kid from our own academy who is dedicated to our colors the chance to consolidate himself as a squad player?

However, a combination of two other scenarios come to mind that very few people have talked about so far. One is that Pedro might decide to leave. Between the Canarian’s minutes and midfield rotation, Arda Turan’s playing time would not interfere with Rafinha’s growth. The other scenario is that we sell Turan in one or two years. Luis Enrique gets to cover his butt this year (imagine Iniesta gets injured) and Pogba’s arrival will go forward as planned.

Wow… Based on these if’s, I think I just might have talked myself into liking this transfer. Too bad it’s a lie… Unless it’s not!


*From what we’ve seen last season, I assume Sergi Roberto will only fill in at the defensive midfield position.

By Levon

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...


  1. I agree with much of this, Lev. I see Turan as rest for Iniesta, and an election sop from Barto, nothing more. Turan has the guile to do that rather than replace some of Xavi’s skills which remains an issue for me. I’m not a great Pogba fan but that is based on not very much seen of the young guy. Just doesn’t look as if he is much more than a potential Roy Keane kind of a player. Certainly not worth that much at the moment.

    Which leaves us with the question you pose as to who we build our midfield around. If Cesc couldn’t hack it, Rakitic doesn’t have the correct skills and Pogba is unproven in tight situations who is left ? Well, for me in the club we have one gem and that’s Samper. I’d be sending him to the firsts and making sure he gets game time in the first half dozen games. I’m not convinced he’s not more of a DM and won’t replace Busi there but he sure looks like he could learn to play further forward. We’re still needing more out of Rakitic and he could threaten that spot. For me there are midfielders who play with head up and others who don’t. Xavi didn’t need to but that was otherworldly, Rakitic actually does, Pogba I’m unsure about in that regard but I’ve seen Samper do it and like what I see. He’s also, I reckon, needing to play with better players than he had this season. Kxevin’s piece was spot on about La Masia. If we get nothing other than Samper for our first team it’s still a success. We’ll never see a crop like we’ve just had again.

    Btw, I’m quickly going off Abidal and Cruyff with the comments they are making, even if it’s election time. Looks like it’s turning nasty. You’d have thought Cruyff would have had the sense to stay quiet after his howler about Messi and Neymar not being able to play together. Now he’s on about the jersey as if we no longer pay UNICEF for it. FWIW, I’m not sure we need to bring in anyone this close season.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Jim. I think it’s quite the compliment to compare a 22 year old player to Roy Keane. Their skill set is very different, though, but I’m sure this is a discussion for another time.

      Samper is very young, but a lot of people agree that he is a great talent. I’m not sure if he would be well suited to play CM, haven’t seen enough of him. I do wonder why he lost his starting spot in Barça B towards the end of the season.

  2. My opinion is extremely simple – if Enrique wants Turan, Barcelona should buy Turan. I’m not exactly a huge fan of Turan but Enrique has earned the right to get the players he wants. I support the Vidal transfer for the same reason, it was clear the way it went through that he was a player Enrique had specifically asked for. There was no fanfare, no campaigning, no media leaks, the board just signed the player.

    What I don’t like about the Arda issue is how political it is. I understand that the candidates are going to put names out there about which players they are going to sign, but in my opinion there is no reason to be signing players before the election is decided. This isn’t a scenario where Barca is going to miss out on the player if they don’t act now. The way this is being handled it’s impossible to tell if this is a player Enrique specifically asked for, or if it’s just a big election ploy – that bothers me.

    1. if Enrique wants Turan, Barcelona should buy Turan.

      There’s certainly something to be said for that argument. By all accounts he had a huge say in who came last summer: Bravo, Rakitic, Mathieu were all asked for by the coach and according to some reports Luis Suarez as well. Each single one of these players performed better than I expected they would.

    2. There was a time when I didn’t trust him, but he has earned the right to get the signings he wants. Would I prefer him to give more time to some younger players coming up? Absolutely. However, I’ve never been super impressed with Rafinha so I do think another midfielder is necessary.

      And agreed that the signings that were “his” from last summer were all great

  3. Could someone explain how we’re going about buying people with a transfer ban in place?

    1. It is simply buying the player but their registration doesn’t go through until Jan. They will be unable to play until then.

  4. Arda is a tough call. I struggle to see him starting any big matches and I’d prefer to rotate extra minutes to Rafinha and the Sergi boys than a €35m man.
    If Pedro leaves then it makes sense as a forward but he doesn’t score enough for me.

    I don’t see where he fits in a 4-3-3.

    1. Haha, I keep jumping between yay and nay myself! I think that Arda is a better player than Pedro, who no longer scores all that much himself. Pedro might very well be a better player for Barça though, taking into account that he’s played there all his adult life.

      As for the Sergi boys, despite being decent in the game time he’s received this season, I still don’t believe SR has got what it takes. As for Samper, we need to bring him slow-ly.

  5. I think Arda will be a perfect cover for Iniesta. To me they posess the same skill set albeit on different levels. If he comes thats where he will most likely play.

    1. I can’t see the same skillset though, yes Arda can dribble but I have never seen him pick out a pass and been wowed by it.
      I hope that I’m wrong but €35m for what he’ll bring isn’t worth it for me.

    2. 35 million is a bit steep but the market is what it is. Iniesta has statistically been a very poor footballer. His numbers are shabby but as we all know his game is much much more than that. Arda was a big part of Atletico’s recent success. He is the player who went against the grain of Cholismo. He added the falir and vision Atletico lacked. Part of Atletico’s problem this season has been the down turn in Arda’s output. Another thing, if he comes, is that playing with better should improve his game a lot.

    3. I’m not a great fan of the transfer, Ciaran, but he has always struck me as one of the cleverer players around. Certainly the one I worried most about in the AM side.

  6. Thanks Levon. I am glad there are others out there who like Arda. I like him a lot. He was a big reason for Atleti’s success in the past two seasons. And he can dribble, can pass well and above all can get physical too. I think, LE might be looking at him as an upgraded version of Keita. Replacing Iniesta with him in the 60-70 minutes would not do us much harm. And above anything, I like his incredible attitude. I only laughed, when he throw his boots, even if it was wrong.

    Yes, if LE asked for him, the club should get him. LE has earned it.

    Also am with Jim about Samper. He could be a follower of Busquets,and I think Busquets can replace Xavi, better than anyone else.

    On another note Levon, you had immediately edited/deleted a comment by Luiss…. when he said something about Greece. However, in the past post someone is raising racial tones against Kevin, but nothing seems to be done.. Am one person who often can disagree with Kevin, or cant even agree with his tone of negativity against some culers sitting somewhere in the world tweeting about Barca. But I will never use race to discuss. It is very unfair that those comments are still there in the last post.

    1. I can’t be everywhere at the same time, fotobirajesh. Thanks for letting me know, though. I deleted the comments.

  7. Arda seems to be the true embodiment of what simeone has created at a.m. im surprised he wants to leave. I personally cant see how he will fit in at fcb, or who he will displace..his style seems more epl suited to me.. also, i didnt care for the shoe throwing incident. You got to respecte the refs..

  8. when are we going to get over Xavi and just move on? when will this hunt for Xavi’s replacement come to an end? can’t we just develop a style centering on the players we have and their skill sets? ok look at last season, Rakitic wasn’t barca quality cos he didn’t fit into either the Xavi or Iniesta mould but see what LE used him to accomplish. This team is great, we just need to start looking for other ways to control matches without Xavi or a Xavi like player cos there is really just one Xavi. As for me, I don’t mind if we can’t control matches against top teams, save we can sit back and absorb pressure without caving in like at the Allianz Arena

  9. Hi Levon, I am glad you brought this subject up. I don’t post here often but read the comments regularly. Lot of negative stuff in twitter about Arda Turan.

    I was thinking about our season. Iniesta was asked to do the water carrier role the whole season. He never really got forward and helped with link up play except in a handful of matches. So for the role LE has in mind, may be Turan is better suited than Iniesta. Iniesta could well be playing the Xavi role, though I would think he will feature more. May be this will free up some of the defensive responsibilities from Neymar. Someone has to pick up the creative job for our team. For all the flak Guardiola team received for being a one man team, we were completely dependent upon Messi for creative play last season. I am glad Leo Messi decided to take that responsibility. Wonder what would have happened say in the CL final if he stayed up front!

    1. Thanks for your comment. I think Iniesta’s done very well in the role he was asked to play last season. In my mind, Turan can rotate for both midfield roles. Given the transfer ban, he certainly has time to practice with his team!

      In the meantime, I put up a new post about the elections. Have fun!

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