Slippery slimy bastards.

So, it is official: Arda Turan will make blaugrana mattresses from now on. Javier Faus negotiated a deal of 34 million euros plus 7 million in variables to meet the 41M release clause of the 28-year old midfielder. Curiously, the transfer includes a buy-back clause that would allow the club to sell the player back to Atletico Madrid for 90% of the purchase price, which is valid until July 20 and would give the newly elected president exactly 48 hours to make a final decision.

Of the four presidential candidates, only the outgoing president was in favor of signing the Turk. In my previous piece about Arda Turan, I dealt with the technical and strategical merits of this transfer as well as the ethical dilemma of whether or not an interim board can make a € 40M deal for a player. Of this I would like to revisit the ethical aspect and look at the transfer from an electoral point of view. As expected, only one candidate supported the interim board’s signing, namely the one who stood to gain from the transfer, Josep Bartomeu. I quote:

“I don’t have a problem with the interim board signing Arda. He’s a request of the coach. Luis Enrique has earned the faith of everyone at the club and deserves the signing.”
“I don’t have a problem with the interim board signing Arda. He’s a request of the coach. Luis Enrique has earned the faith of everyone at the club and deserves the signing.”

Equally expected, the other candidates were less than thrilled:

“I respect the Management Committee. The transfer window closes on August 31 which would leave the new president sufficient time after July 18 to negotiate this signing.” Toni Freixa
“I respect the Management Committee. The transfer window closes on August 31 which would leave the new president sufficient time after July 18 to negotiate this signing.”
Toni Freixa
“Bartomeu could have signed Arda before stepping down. The urgency to do so now is out of place and this is an attempt to create an advantage for the candidacy of Bartomeu, Rosell and Co. There’s a lack of transparency, they are demented in how they managed this signing, just like in the case of Neymar… They want to use Arda to hide the way they made fools out of themselves with Pogba. Barça is strong enough to get the player to wait for the new president and our relationship with Atletico Madrid is good enough to make this happen.” Jan Laporta
“Bartomeu could have signed Arda before stepping down. The urgency to do so now is out of place and this is an attempt to create an advantage for the candidacy of Bartomeu, Rosell and Co. There’s a lack of transparency, the way they managed this signing is demented, just like in the case of Neymar… They want to use Arda to hide the way they made fools out of themselves with Pogba. Barça is strong enough to get the player to wait for the new president and our relationship with Atletico Madrid is good enough to make this happen.”
Jan Laporta
“The Management Committee should take only those economic decisions that belong to them and a decision of this magnitude does not. Other candidates could have alternatives on their list, players that are different from Turan.” Benedito Augusto
“The Management Committee should take only those economic decisions that belong to them and a decision of this magnitude does not. Other candidates could have alternatives on their list, players that are different from Turan.”
Benedito Augusto

Did the Management Commission abuse their mandate? To examine this, it is worth repeating article 35.4 of the club’s statutes:

The Management Commission will exercise the functions of governance, administration and representation as bestowed upon the Board of Directors, but will be limited to necessary and essential actions for the maintenance of the Club’s normal activities and the protection of its interests.

The main role of the Management Commission will be to call elections to constitute a new Board of Directors, which it must do within a period of three months of the day that its members took office. In that case, the voting may not be performed between 15 and 30 June.*

The responsibilities of the interim board are thus summed up in three sentences. Many voices assert that the club’s normal activities constitute paying for the utility bills and not much else. The fact that its main role is to call for elections supports that opinion. However, the statutes are sufficiently vague. After all, normal activities and protections of its interests leave more than a bit of wiggle room for interpretation.

My view is both as simple as it is contradictory. Negotiating transfers are part of the club’s normal activities in July. Especially in a case where negotiations have started before the Management Committee was put in place, the interests of the club are for those negotiations to continue. If the club is then in danger of losing out on its target due to external factors such as the selling club wanting to negotiate with other buyers, it would be in the club’s interests to sign the player. Nevertheless, although not explicitely mentioned, the spirit at least of article 35.4 would seem to exclude signing players.

The problem with the arguments put forth by candidates, whether they come from the one who supports the deal or from those who oppose it, is that by definition presidential candidates are not trustworthy. It is reasonable to assume that Luis Enrique asked for the player and that he pressured for the deal to be completed as soon as possible. Since the Asturian has a reputation of being honest, those statements are too risky to be lies. It has also been claimed that the negotiations were initiated more than two months ago. If true, its conclusion is logical. Why negotiate for months only to risk losing the target due to the elections? The statement also paints the Managing Committee as acting upon a process that had been ongoing for some time. Alas, we might never know when the contact with club and player was initiated.

The criticism is also political. Freixa and Laporta aren’t upset that Turan is signed, they’re upset that Bartomeu will get credit for the signing. Indeed, if the deal were to have fallen through during the next twelve days, they would start their presidency with having to explain to their strong-willed and treble-winning coach that he could not get the player he asked for because they did not like being outmaneuvered during the elections. As for Benedito’s preference for a different player (Verratti), his agent has since outright dismissed the possibility of the young Italian midfielder leaving Paris Saint-Germain.

Does Arda Turan give the outgoing president an unfair advantage to be re-elected for a second term? Hell yes, and the buy-back clause inserted into the contract adds even further insult to injury in this regard. Now Bartomeu can claim he got the player while at the same time safeguarding the legitimacy of the deal by giving the new president the option of returning the package to the Calderón – as if that were an option once the player is under Luis Enrique’s orders. But this is not the only bird Bartomeu killed with the proverbial stone. With the squad complete and a transfer ban in place, no candidate can use the true-or-false promise of a big name signing to sway voters. Most of Laporta’s followers are familiar with the story of how his camp swung the 2003 elections in his favor by promising he would sign David Beckham from Manchester United. He knew only too well that Real M*drid already had a deal in place with the superstar- it was thanks to his running buddy Sandro Rosell’s good relationship with M*drid president Florentino Perez that our rivals kept their deal quiet as not to torpedoe Laporta’s campaign strategy.

Will those readers who giggled when they first heard the Beckham story raise their left hand? And could those who are upset about the Management Committee’s signing of Arda Turan raise their right hand? How many of you have two hands in the air right now? Politics is, after all, a dirty game and Barcelona has seen it all, from false promises regarding signings to false rumors spread about a front runner’s sexuality. In comparison, the actual signing of a player who arrives by the express wishes of a treble-winning coach is not so bad…

If only Bartomeu were that smart when it came to circumventing FIFA bans and managing shirt sponsors, the choice for presidency might be a whole lot easier.

 

————–

* If you read the last piece, you’ll notice a difference in wording (though not meaning) of the statutes. This is because while I first translated the statutes myself, I later found them in English. The version in this article is the official one.

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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...

56 Comments

  1. ooga aga
    July 7, 2015

    Good read Levon. I agree this move by barto might be good for the squad but leaves a bad taste no matter what. Can’t say I like any of these weasels. Maybe Ray Hudson could be president. Someone should see if he’s available.

    • July 7, 2015

      Lol, I’d probably go for Phil Schoen in that case!

    • Tardigrater
      July 9, 2015

      Glad you’re back man, I really love your pieces.

  2. Lord Eddard Stark a.k.a. Brichimbrodvoken, the vulnerable one!
    July 7, 2015

    .

    I just read the last post.
    Also saw that there was very little love shown.
    Let me say, thoroughly enjoyed reading that entertaining piece.
    Nice effort.

    • July 7, 2015

      Wow, a massive thank you because you are right, I did miss the love on that piece. I’m glad you enjoyed it, I had a lot of fun writing it.

  3. dl
    July 7, 2015

    Politicians are after power, first and foremost, so there ‘ought’ to be no surprises when something like this happens. But on the subject of Turan and the team, I think other than Masche he will be the only legit ‘hard rock’ on the team. Just via the tv he made me cringe to think of having to play against him (tenacity, physicality). I didn’t get to see the earlier versions of barca, so I may have a inaccurate picture of the team being kind of dainty. A touch of Calderon in Camp Nou might be good.

  4. Calvin
    July 7, 2015

    “the protection of its interests”

    While signing Turan may be in the interests of the club (let’s assume he was #1 on Enrique’s to sign list) the timing of his signing was only in the interests of one candidate.

    Therefore, if Turan would have signed for the club even if it was necessary to wait until after the elections (he would have), the managing committee is not taking an action to protect the club’s interests – the result would have been the same if they did nothing.

    It also isn’t “necessary and essential” for this signing to be made before the election.

    I’m sorry, I don’t see how there are any grounds at all to say this was an acceptable move by the managing committee.

    PS – comparing Laportas lie about Beckham to this signing is a complete and utter false equivalence. Yes, this is politics, but Laporta did not manipulate the club itself to help his position. Terrible comparison

    • Jim
      July 7, 2015

      I’m not really up on what happened with Beckham but my scant understanding of it was that Laporta lied to the club’s supporters and was in cahoots with RM over it. Have I got that wrong?

      And Barto has gone ahead and let the management committee sign someone LE said he wanted specifically which was some kind of replacement for Xavi. I’m struggling to see what he has done wrong at all. Is he even a member of the committee?

      Not denying I think it might help him electorally but most here obviously don’t think it will as they seem to assume other Barca fans wouldn’t see through it whereas they have. Just maybe other Barca fans think it was wise to go ahead and get the team sorted before pre season starts?

      Sorry, but to me blaming Barto for this is torturing what little we do know to fit a stance. Don’t see how, even if it were true that he manipulated it, which we don’t know, it even comes close to what Laporta did.

      For the record, I’m not anti the other candidates or even Laporta. Just think Barto has had a raw deal on this site from day one. Still struggling to see what his regime has done wrong in any way – other than possibly not repealing the colour copying ban ? Does anyone even think that ever happened ?

    • July 7, 2015

      I couldn’t agree more Jim. I really do not see what the big deal is. The coach wanted a player and the club signed the player for him. I do not think Barto would lie about Turan being at the top of LE’s list, given what we know about LE I think Barto knows he would get found out fast if he was lying. LE is not about to be used as a political pawn. Turan’s agent also said the same thing.

      People are saying that Barto is using this signing to benefit his candidacy, and maybe that is true, but at the end of the day the person who benefits from this the most in my eyes is LE. He gets the player he wants, without having to worry about the ensuing politics of who gets elected. You already have Benedito upset because he wanted to sign Veratti, but does the coach want Veratti? Laporta is promising Pogba, but is that what the coach wants? What if Turan had not been signed, Laporta won and then said to LE, sorry you cant have Turan because we need to money so splash 90m on Pogba next year. Then all of a sudden we have a thin midfield with god knows how many games to play next season.

      To me this seems like something that has been pushed by LE a lot more so than something that has been pushed by Barto. It’s not all positive for Barto, he is a getting a lot of negative press and critisism as a result of doing this. It is all positives for LE though, he gets the player he wants and he gets the team he wants when the season starts. It could have been a lot messier otherwise.

      I am not a huge fan of the Barto clan and if I was voting I would probably vote for Laporta, but I do not see this as being something majorly wrong that they have done.

    • ciaran
      July 7, 2015

      Hold on Calvin, Laporta got elected originally on the promise that he had signed Beckham even though he knew that Beckham was going to Madrid and bargained with Perez to not reveal it until after the elections.
      Laporta manipulated the people to get elected. Bartomeu manipulated the timing of signing supposedly Lucho’s main transfer target. One is politics the other is lies.

      Bartomeu, as Jim has alluded to, had gotten an unfair deal here because he took over from a corrupt Rosell but has made plenty of right decisions since.

    • July 8, 2015

      (In a one-off visit …)

      The big deal about the signing is that it violates the spirit of the (admittedly vague) club bylaw. It’s also electioneering. It’s easy to say “Well, Enrique got the player he wanted, so where’s the harm,” but that for me is reducing things to “Well, the team is fine, so …”

      There is a club, a team, and a process, not to mention endless politics and the attendant slime trails.

      The Managing Commission has a job of calling the election, running the election and paying the electric bill when it comes due. Everything else should be greeted with “Call us back on July 19, when the club has a president.”

      That is the spirit of the bylaw. When elections were called and everyone resigned, part of risk is that players are going to come and go that might have been purchased if the club had a president. If players and agents can’t understand that, then godspeed.

      The Managing Commission, because of the haze of that bylaw, can deem pretty much anything it likes “essential business.” Midnight groundbreaking of the new stadium project? Why not? It’s essential. (Pardon the hyperbole.)

      When the president and the board resigned, the management of the club should have reverted to bare essentials, rather than business as usual. That didn’t happen, and that is wrong.

      It also violates the spirit of fair play (such as it is) with these elections, because the Managing Commission is, with every deed that it does, burnishing the mantel of the most recent president. That’s Bartomeu, and that’s unfair. Laporta would be doing the same if he was in Bartomeu’s shoes. He almost was in Barto’s shoes and did to pretty much the same, conducting business while facing a censure motion and raising eyebrows of people who asked the same question some of us are asking now of the Managing Commission: is that your job right now?

      As for Jim’s assertion that Bartomeu has gotten a raw deal on this site from day one, I actually went back to look at posts, and even did a keyword search for his name. There isn’t that much evidence that he got that much of a raw deal here. He has been given credit for signings and successes that resulted from those signings, and credit for other proper actions.

      Because I don’t post or come here much (but am active on Twitter), folks here missed my notion that the more successful Bartomeu is of stripping himself of the baggage of Rosell, the more successful he will be. It would be difficult to see anyone beating him right now, even Laporta, who is flailing.

      But questions remain and should be justly asked, namely, was he just standing around while complex decisions were taken that have landed the club in court, led to a transfer ban (which, again, the club is flouting the spirit of, if not the direct language of) and raised other questions. Or was he directly involved in those decisions, beyond just signing his name where he was told to sign.

      Will it be business as usual as regards a sponsor that many are finding complexities with? Is Qatar really the only high bidder for the front of the shirt, (leaving aside those of us who prefer no sponsor at all) without even bothering to examine other bids? Are there other bids? And what about the stadium project?

      Other things to wonder about are in 5 years, the Rosell/Bartomeu board has gone from assuming the reins of a club that Bartomeu, in a direct quote, deemed “unsustainable,” to being able to spend 80m+ in three consecutive summers, and insisting that a 600m stadium project will pay for itself in less than 5 years. That’s pretty remarkable, even with player sales, sufficiently so that many are looking askance at it all, and wondering where the austerity club went that couldn’t afford color copies.

      What has Bartomeu himself done, as president, that is so wrong? Nothing, which is why he hasn’t really gotten much of a deal at all from this site, much less a raw one. Is he viewed with suspicion? Absolutely. All of them are, and will continue to be.

      I am not one of those people who fall for the nonsense that the club will be destroyed if Bartomeu wins, etc. Nor do I believe that Laporta is anything except a different kettle of shit. Barça has really never had a truly good president, and all of them have faced soci uprisings. It’s part of the job. But there are questions worth asking, even as none of it matters except in the ephemera of debate about an outcome that is already ordained.

    • Davour
      July 8, 2015

      In principle, of course, this is correct. But the “Well, the team is fine, so …”-notion has been ignored for several seasons before Enrique got his men for last season. Feels right (even if it isn’t) that the team and the coach should be the prio, regardless of the politics (and now I am assuming the LE wanted Arda).

      Even though I was hesitant to embrace this signing initially, it is growing on me as a good solution as things stand. And I really hope the transfer is not reversed; after reading Arda’s comments, it would be so cruel to the boy…

    • July 8, 2015

      Nice comment.

      My biggest issues with Bartomeu as a president are his dealings with Qatar and the handling of the FIFA ban. He might not have been decisive regarding the cause of these issues, but he didn’t do much to solve them either, indeed, every time he talks about those issues it makes me less confident. Barça B and the Masía are also a cause for concern.

      As for Laporta, I am disappointed that he has not come with a clear plan. No club has ever gone wrong when being advised by Johan Cruijff, but the appointment of Abidal smacks of opportunism and his discourse so far makes me wonder whether we would go from one rancorous president (Sandro) to the next (Joan).

      Another thing I really dislike about Laporta is that he wants to use the club to further a political cause that far from all socis support (independence).

    • barca96
      July 8, 2015

      Laporta’s plan are pretty clearly stated out in his interviews. It’s more or less the same as his last tenure. Cruyff, La Masia, mes que un club, values of the club, Unicef, protecting the players from the media. All over Bartomeu in my book. And I’m not sure how his political ambition will affect the club. Didn’t affect the last time around.

      Only downside with Laporta is the hiring of Abidal. I like that hell be back but not sure if he’s qualified for it but hey, he has to start somewhere. What better place to start where he’s lived and respected. Besides that I’m also worried about his transfer record. They’ve been pretty poor but that could’ve been due to Pep and Txiki. The president doesn’t really have a say in transfer targets. At least what I hope so.

    • July 8, 2015

      Laporta never really meddled in the technical decisions. Not even Cruijff had much of a say in transfer policy.

      As for the his political ambitions not affecting the club the last time around, the situation is very different now. 2003-2010 Barcelona did a great job of representing and promoting Catalunya. In 2015 independence is a much more divisive issue.

      I’d probably still vote for Laporta, but it would not be a “happy” vote. It is just that I really, really, really dislike and distrust Qatar.

    • Jim
      July 9, 2015

      Nice to see you back, Kxevin.

      I’m not sure the not doing much as President is fair. If I recall his first act was to take over and hold a presser on Neymar where he was totally transparent ( more so than I’ve ever known any club be about details of transfers), he impressed me greatly in his demeanour and words around Tito’s passing, he had to run a club which had misfortune tattooed on its forehead for a year, acted to bring in LE despite Tata’s coming close, bought Suarez, a particularly bold move which could have unravelled his presidency, handled the RS debacle well by keeping his nerve but probably working behind the scenes with the senior players ( really impressed by his handling of every question thrown at him in over an hour of questioning by the Press) , called the elections for end of season which was a very clever move as it reduced any tension but didn’t de-rail our season – and then won the treble ? Maybe a little more credit is due than he has been getting ? Certainly must have been the hardest tenure of any President in recent history and doesn’t deserve the accusation that he hasn’t done much.

  5. barca96
    July 8, 2015

    Like I said in another blog, 13 days is a very long time in a transfer window. If Turan tells Chelsea or whichever team to wait that long, they will just focus on other targets. No team is going to wait for Barca’s elections.

    • barca96
      July 8, 2015

      I always believed that Transfers should be decided by the managers. They’re the ones working with the players. So if Lucho is the one who requested on Turan, then good on the managing committee. But at the end of the day, I’ll still vote for Laporta thank you.

    • July 8, 2015

      Not sure if I agree with you there. A technical director has a LOT more time and resources to analyze players that are not at the club than the trainer.

      Luis Enrique should be part of the decision making, but not the be-all and end-all of the process.

  6. TITO
    July 8, 2015

    If i remember correctly, in his last days as president, Laporta bought Villa and splashed 40 something million euros. It wasnt so necessary and it could have waited until after the elections.

    • July 8, 2015

      Villa would have probably cost more than 40 had the club waited until after the WC, though.

    • barca96
      July 8, 2015

      It’s always to better to do business before a major tournament and in the summers where there are no tournaments, do it quick before there is a bidding war. Again, if Pep is the one who requested for Villa, then it’s fine and it turned out very well for us.

    • barca96
      July 8, 2015

      He came a season too late imo. Should’ve gone for him in 2009 instead. Likewise with Suarez. He wouldn’t have costed so much. And we wouldn’t have wasted 1 season.

    • Son
      July 8, 2015

      Agree with you about Villa and Suarez.
      I haven’t seen enough if Suarez in his Ajax days. But WC 2010 was his breakthrough. I told to myself, I would close my eyes and splash money to land Suarez if he is available back in 2010.

    • barca96
      July 9, 2015

      I actually wasn’t a fan of Suarez coming here back then because he would’ve been a RW which I highly doubt that it would work. Remember, back then until last season Messi was our #9 so the only place Suarez could play was RW. It wouldn’t have suited him and I am not sure if Messi would be as mature as he is now back then to give up his position and goals to another player.

  7. Dar_vincy
    July 8, 2015

    Brilliant article, Levon. On a sporting note, his signing couldn’t have come at a better time especially when you look at the lack of depth in the midfield department that used to be inundated with wunderkids(or adults). What do we have as back up now? Rafinha and Roberto. While the former, admittedly needs time to develop, there hasn’t been any concrete evidence signaling sufficient creativity in his play, his work ethic notwithstanding. Sergi Roberto is simply enjoying the goodwill of a coach who, strangely, retains faith in him despite not offering any substancial value offensively or defensively. His growth has stunted exceedingly. Wouldn’t mind if his spot his taken by any of Denis Suarez or Samper (not as a dm this time).

  8. K_legit in Oz
    July 8, 2015

    I love Turan! He has great close control and has the directness needed to maximise the MSN output! Reckon he’s a great signing personally.

  9. agar2515
    July 8, 2015

    Very much agreed with the article. Also, well said Kevin, agreed on your views as well. Personally I prefer Laporta Very much agreed with the article. Also, well said Kevin, agreed on your views as well. Personally I prefer Laporta for his desire to distance us from Qatar and to bring back our reliance and focus on youth. That said, I am under no illusions that he is any less a politician than any of the other candidates.

  10. agar2515
    July 8, 2015

    As for Arda,

    “It’s going to be hard not playing for six months but the important thing is that I will play for Barça,” Turan said in an interview with Spanish radio on Tuesday. “I will work until I am able to make my debut in January and I will help the team to win all the trophies,” he said, adding that it will be a “dream” for him to play in the same team as Lionel Messi, Neymar and Andrés Iniesta.

    That’s really all I need to read. He’s one of those players that you hate to play against, but would love on your team. A real fighter, tireless work ethic, and engine. Maybe LE didn’t ” 100%” specifically ask for him, but he surely gave the final ok and after this season he deserves our trust on who he decides to bring in.

    • georgjorge
      July 9, 2015

      I think even more than playing in the same team as Messi and Iniesta, his dream is not having to play AGAINST them anymore so he won’t have to throw a shoe ever again. Just kidding, I think Turan might just be what the team needs. Rafinha might need another year to make the jump to the high level of quality needed at Barca after all.

  11. Son
    July 9, 2015

    I thought that players list for UCL is to be finalised and submitted to the UEFA before UCL kickoff begins.

    How is it possible that someone, who is not registered by the club till mid season plays for UCL?

    Moreover, how are January transfer players eligible for UCL who are not cup tied?

    Can anyone clear my ignorance?

    • barca96
      July 9, 2015

      As far as I know, there will be a new registration in January so our new signings will only be registered then.

    • Son
      July 9, 2015

      Okay. That may be the case. Thanks alot.

  12. barca96
    July 9, 2015

    Why are there so many Pedro rumors all of a sudden? I get that he can still be sold even after signing a renewal but that would be such a loss to lose him. It’s not like we have suddenly have someone who can take up his place. Munir, Adama and Sandro are not ready to step up, to be the first to replace MSN. 2nd choice yes but not the 1st choice back up to any of the MSN.

  13. Jim
    July 9, 2015

    I reckon his main motivation might be his place in the Spanish team. If he keeps just getting the last fifteen minutes he won’t keep that.

    • barca96
      July 9, 2015

      It didn’t make a difference last season and I’m fully hoping that Lucho will rotate the front line more especially Messi. So Pedro will get a lot more minutes compared the 2nd half of last season. Plus, none of the Spanish forwards are on form anyways. Soldado just disappeared, Negredo is struggling to get a start. Likewise for Torres. Diego Costa was in and out of form and battling injury. Morata is the only solid one last season. So the competition isn’t that tough for Pedro.

      Not sure if Messi played for Spain he could rely on that front line. Argentina’s look better better on paper. Perhaps with Spain he wouldn’t need to play the provider role. He would have good service from the midfield and the players know how to play with each other. If only he had chosen Spain, Spain could’ve gone far in 2014 as well. There wouldn’t be any doubt as to who the greatest ever is.

    • Davour
      July 10, 2015

      I would think Pedro’s main motivation is to simply get playing time (Euro’s being one sub-factor). He really played very little last season, and if the front trio all refuse to rotate on a regular basis without fuss, I don’t see what would be his argument for staying, bar some intangible love for the club/city/team.

      And yeah, Messi in the Spain NT is a wet dream. But I’m sure a nasty narrative would have had him as a judas, or mercenary or whatnot. I guess he simply feels Argentinian (your sense of nationality is often strengthened abroad, as it were…). And he went far in the 2014s, even when the Spanish team didn’t!

  14. Jim
    July 10, 2015

    OT but it doesn’t get better than this. Wine in hand and Murray vs Federer in the semis.

    Don’t know who I want to win.

    • Jim
      July 10, 2015

      This may be the best game I’ve seen in years !

    • Jim
      July 10, 2015

      Well, one in the eye for the ageists in my circle of friends. Kept telling me Fed was to old to play at that level any more. Note for the future – don’t dismiss people because of their age. Murray didn’t play badly. That was the complete performance.

    • Davour
      July 10, 2015

      Jim, you are going to miss Xavi badly, aren’t you?

    • Jim
      July 11, 2015

      Certainly am, Davour. He and Federer stood head and shoulders above the rest of their profession for me in terms of the poetry of their movement ( only word that sums it up although I know it sounds trite) and their ability to dictate how a game played out.

      If you ever get the chance to see Fed live, take it. He glides across the court. Henman had it right when he said that the key to all movement was balance and this had ensured Fed had stayed free from injury and competitive. Neither he nor Xavi ever looked like they were exerting themselves.

      I’m in no doubt Murray would have beaten any other tennis player on the planet yesterday ( probably including Novak) with his first serve going in 75% of the time and his more aggressive forehand than previous years. He played really well. I watched Federer’s court side interview and he’d obviously just towelled himself. I sat waiting for the sweat to reappear – but it didn’t !

      So yes, one of the greats gone to Qatar and another with only another two or three years at the top. Time moves on – I just don’t like it when legends are written off early because of lazy watching.

    • Davour
      July 11, 2015

      Indeed, I agree. There is a raw focus on youth and new talent that often obscures experience (in sports as well as an in other areas). I have never watched Fed live, but several times on TV (despite not being a big tennis fan), and agree as to your assessment. He is fabulous to watch, as were Xavi (still remember a few games during South Africa WC when I just marvelled at his dominance and omnipresence). Still don’t like the Qatar move, but it does not take away what he did on the pitch.

  15. Son
    July 10, 2015

    Imagine VV was desperately forced out from Barca to join some club like Benfica, whereas he still want to give his all to Barça, where he spent his entire career, how do we justify our board?

    How do we see RM w/out Casillas?
    Will DDG finally land to the capital?
    Do you think RM board members were right to offload their legend at this stage? Well it happened to Raul too.

  16. ciaran
    July 10, 2015

    Every word out of Laporta’s mouth makes him look more desperate. ‘Messi will be more comfortable with me in charge’
    Then he tells Freixa and Benedito to give up and put their support behind either ‘Bartomeu/Rosell’ or him.
    I’m very disappointed with him

    • barca96
      July 11, 2015

      When I wrote a comment on Laporta a fee days ago, I forgot to add a topic; players happiness. During Rosell/Barto’s times, the players look less protected by the board. You had the Abidal issue, Messi’s contract renewal and tax issue, Madrid, etc. The players were not backed by the board.

      So yeah. Definitely Messi and co. feel more comfortable with Laporta.

    • Jim
      July 11, 2015

      I’m not sure there’s much in it, tbh. Was it not Laporta who hired a private investigator to snoop on the players’ private lives – or did I just make that up ?

    • July 11, 2015

      No, you didn’t. A total of € 2 million was spent on spying on players, other directors, judges and future political rivals of Laporta.

  17. Davour
    July 11, 2015

    It seems Samper will not be included in the pre-season squad, after all. Only Munir, Sandro and Halilovic are as of yet announced to participate. That is very disappointing… I have not followed the B-team closely enough (only reading reports), but from what I’ve heard, Alen did not impress. On the other hand, Samper was benched… Who knows what has been going on in that crazy team!

    But either way, if this remains standing, I can see only two explanations: 1) Samper will go out on loan, or 2) LE does not believe in him that much. Anybody heard anything?

    We’ll see.

  18. luisthebeast
    July 11, 2015

    [Comment deleted]

    The comment threads are to discuss the articles or other matters related to football and/or our club. I will not repeatedly ask you to refrain from commenting about politics. Kindly be advised.
    – Levon

    • Jim
      July 11, 2015

      I thought you were talking about Laporta until the last sentence, Luis. Now you have me confused.

  19. deerwithwings
    July 11, 2015

    Hey Levon,

    I don’t mean this to sound cheeky, but I don’t really understand why other topics can’t be discussed here. It also seems like a relatively new standard to this space albeit I have only been following this blog for three years.

    Is it just politics that cannot be discussed, e.g., earlier Jim was talking about tennis? For me, the past addition of other topics serves to color this space and historically the discussion here is (in my opinion) of a higher caliber than other spaces in part because of the off topic conversations which are not about the new Fifa game, but politics and opinions.

    Obviously I respect your rules, but I would like a little clarification on the reasons why they are being implemented all of a sudden.

    Thanks.

    • Jim
      July 11, 2015

      Not to speak for Lev, Deerwithwings, and I’m happy to refrain from non football topics if required but I think the point was that political discussions in particular tend to go south very quickly.

    • July 12, 2015

      Hi Deerwithwings,

      We try to keep this space as “rule-light” possible and certain political discussion is indeed possible, especially when linked to an article such as the one we had up not too long ago about the ramifications of Xavi’s decision to go to Qatar. There was also a spontaneous discussion about the Scottish Yes / No vote, which for rather obvious reasons showed similarities to the situation in Catalunya, a region / nation that is represented by the club.

      However, political discussions can easily unravel into intense and unpleasant arguments. If a topic comes up (in this case, the crisis in Greece) that has not only nothing to do with the article, but is also written in an inflammatory tone and/or risks receiving inflammatory responses, I will delete it to prevent people to start arguing over a subject that has nothing to do with a blog about Barcelona and football.

      I trust this answers your question and I thank you for your understanding.

  20. deerwithwings
    July 11, 2015

    I just bought the new Barça streaming pass without reading the fine print. NO LIVE MATCHES!

    Seems like it will work out well for the Champion’s League (only a 2 hour delay) but 72 hours for Liga and Copa matches?!? I would very much like to support the team but I am never going to pay for cable.

  21. GKWimz
    July 12, 2015

    This is similiar to the Beckham situation just that its not a surprise after the elections. There is huge hope for a glamorous signing like Pogba only to get a player of supposedly inferior quality. That same player ends up flopping at madrid and our signing is killing it at Barca

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