News of the Day: March 2, 2010

Everyone's got a little Cap'n in 'em. Even Pep.

While many of Barça’s players are off on international duty (as summarized yesterday), the folks who remained in Barcelona had an intense day of training today, but will get Wednesday off while their teammates are playing internationals. Sounds like a fair deal.

Because it’s internationals, we’re stuck with absurd drivel about transfers, so let’s quickly cover all that is happening in that realm:

-Valencia striker David Villa is once again rumored to be so in love with the blaugrana that he’ll give up just about anything for it. He’ll play left wing for us and deputize for Zlatan Ibrahimovic when the giant Swede needs rest or is injured. What I love about this particular rumor is that the attached price tag is anywhere between “A handful of €20 notes and some nudie mags” cause Valencia is in such dire financial straits to a whopping €50million just to be able to talk to the guy. Whatever the price, I’m against this signing simply because it would merely replicate the problem we have with Thierry Henry.

-Then there’s Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery, whose supposed price tag of €80m is driving away potential suitors like he’s got the Herp, but obvious Sport and EMD just can’t help themselves despite the risks. The latest pure speculation about what we’ll do is throw in Alexander Hleb to minimize the number of euros changing hands. That Hleb is, well, Hleb and is valued at €10m means that Ribery would still be the most expensive footballer in Barça history, something that doesn’t sit well with me. Given that Ibra was ~€40m + Samuel Eto’o, it strikes me as completely unreasonable to even consider €70m + Hleb for any player on earth. And yes, there are myriad jokes available to us here about how we should be paying €90m + Hleb or €80 without him…Yet there are reports that both Manchester City and Aston Villa are interested in Hleb’s services, which could certainly change the dynamic of any negotiations with Bayern Munich and could potentially drive his value up.

Naturally Ribery’s price would plummet if he were to not accept a contract renewal from Bayern, so if you’re a huge fan of his and want to see him in Barcelona, I would suggest you hope he plays extreme hardball with Bayern in his contract negotiations. That would mean his price would fall to somewhere in the €30m range, meaning that the €80m price tag is probably not the real price tag and that putting Hleb into the deal could very well be worth it. Would you be opposed to €25-30m + Hleb for Ribery?

-It wouldn’t be international week without reports of Barça pushing to sign Javier Mascherano away from Liverpool and Rafa Benitez looking to hold on to his Argentine midfielder by offering him a higher salary. Reports coming out of England appear to be centered on the number £5m (~€6m) as the annual salary being offered on the extension, which would last until 2014 and effectively keep Mascherano in England until then. I have to assume the same €30-35m price as last year is what it would take to nab him from Liverpool and make Ramzi the giddiest kid on the block.


That’s all the time we have today for random transfer crap, so let’s get to some other, more interesting news:

-Everyone and their mother is currently reporting that Real Madrid are the greatest, richest, bested company in the world because a British-American accounting firm, Deloitte, has released their yearly “Deloitte Football Money League” rankings. The rankings put Real Madrid first, with €401.4m in revenue, Barça second with €365.9m, and Manchester United third with €327.0m. What I find fascinating about this is that no one seems to be making a big deal out of the actual numbers involved. What I mean is, Marca is naturally crowing about how Florentino Perez is the greatest human being on earth, Sport isn’t reporting anything at all, and The Guardian talks mostly about ManU.

A snippet, though, from The Guardian that I think is extremely important in this (emphasis mine):

Protests over the details of Manchester United’s business model under the Glazers, as illuminated by the prospectus issued to prospective investors in the club’s £504m bond scheme, has raised questions over whether overall revenues are the best gauge of financial strength. But Deloitte argues that it is still the most transparent and relevant measure.

Really, this is only logical because if you earn €401.4m, but have serious debts, then you are not as financially strong or stable as a business that has €365.9m in revenue and no debt. Now, before you run off and try to track down actual debt numbers (I did that for you, rest assured), remember that there is a difference between stating something as fact and showing it as fact through sources. I’m not the least bit concerned if Real Madrid is the richest, best run club in the world. Given their obvious financial firepower, it is usually surprising how badly they are run, but what’s absurd is that in order to “compete with Barça”, FloPer and Marca feel the need to trumpet anything and everything that is in their favor the highest level without regard for its actual merits.

I’m under the impression that because of some potentially shady maneuvering with their land-holdings, Real Madrid have been able to get enough bonds and cash on hand to basically clear their debts. I say shady because of quotes like this from Wikipedia: “The city had rezoned the training grounds for development, a move which in turn increased their value, and then bought the site.” That increased value meant the city of Madrid paid Real Madrid €480m for their land holdings that had previously been worth far less. The EU even investigated the deal, but whether or not they found any payments above market value, I’m not actually sure (a cursory look around the tubes of this here interwebs shows nothing, which is suggestive that no improprieties were found), but what is definitely true is that Real Madrid still have staggering debts they don’t have to really “clear” in order to remain a financially solvent company. Why? Read this article. It basically details the financial shenanigans that are possible in Spain (and no doubt taken advantage of by our own club). To claim that Real Madrid is a money machine is correct in one sense, but it is also rather misleading in another. If you’re going to claim brilliant revenue streams, you should also discuss horrible debt structure. END RANT.

-So far, the club and the players have yet to reach an agreement concerning their bonuses if they’re to win the two competitions we’re still involved in (La Liga and Champions League). Last year, the squad received bonuses totaling €50m, which the board is currently balking at repeating. The breakdown is as follows: €16m for the Champions League, €14m for the league title, and the remaining €20m split between the Copa del Rey, UEFA and Spanish Super Cups, and the Club World Cup (one assumes €5m per, but it’s not clear from this article). Obviously the income generated from these wins was well worth the bonus money doled out to the players who actually won the titles themselves so, to put it as I think Kevin might: Put up or shut up, Barça. Pay the men.

Pedro has scored 16 goals so far this season in all competitions, meaning it’s by far his best ever run at any major level at Barça. It also puts him second overall behind Lionel Messi (24) and one ahead of Ibra (15). He’s actually the most efficient player in the squad, scoring a goal every 120 minutes 11 seconds compared to Messi’s goal every 121 minutes 35 seconds. Obviously Messi just does it on a much more regular basis and in the league scores once ever 103 minutes 21 seconds to Pedro’s 165 minutes 17 seconds.

-Our sad little goalie, Victor Valdes, has been shunned once again by Vicente del Bosque in favor of Diego Lopez of Villarreal and Pepe Reina of Liverpool, saying that there’s simply a lot of competition for the spot. True enough, but doesn’t he deserve a call up and a bench spot at some point? He’s obviously an excellent shot stopper. Just ask Didier Drogba.

Categorized as Team News

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.


  1. “Whatever the price, I’m against this signing simply because it would merely replicate the problem we have with Thierry Henry.”

    I must’ve missed it, what’s the problem aside from the fact that he’s out of form, not scoring, and not playing that well when given chances?

    1. I suppose I should have expounded upon that. I didn’t mean a problem with Thierry Henry specifically. I meant the converting a striker to a winger.

    2. Ahhh ok. I read somewhere, from an unreliable source that Villa has spent some time playing on the wing this season, does anyone know if that is true?

      Also, it may have taken Henry a year to adapt, but the danger he brought to the left tine of our attacking trident last year was awesome. I wouldn’t mind trying to do the same thing with Villa.

      The problem is that Pep is constantly trying new tactics, and I have trouble envisioning how he wants this team to function in the future. For that reason I can’t decide if I would like Villa or not.

    3. From what I’ve seen of Villa recently is he plays a central striker role but often drifts left to work in tandem a lot of with Silva. He is a threat from any part of the pitch, and I for one don’t think he would have a hard time adjusting to our style of play, especially considering how well he does with La Seleccion. Villa is intuitive, great at adapting and very quick in the box, I dont think it would be hard to ‘convert’ him at all.

  2. Villa plays very well with Xavi and Iniesta in the spanish national team. The spotlight is on Torres but Villa consistently outperforms him. I would consider him. With good passes from those guys plus Ibra, he could be lethal.

  3. If -based on the reported numbers- Villa+Mascherano costs as much as Cesc then I will no doubt be the giddiest kid on the block.

    But Imagine what I will be if we picked the later instead 😀

    Hector Pills!

  4. To be completely honest, every time I open one of these news threads I get depressed. I wish that for once instead of reading about all the players we are going to buy next summer, I could read that Thiago, JDS, Gai, etc. had extended their contracts.

  5. Sepp Blatter considering getting rid of offside? What will that do to our system of play? If he is trying to get rid of controversial calls, this is not it.

    1. This would mean strikers could literally takes naps and hangout i with the goalkeeper all day waiting for the ball.

    2. Complete and utter BS. It’s all hot air, like TV replays.

      Because Blatter is such a nutcase, a journalist can publish totally BS and tag his name on it for believability.

    3. If Offside is removed, we are doomed.

      Our game is built on the defenders mantaining a high line and Puyol Orchestrating the Offside trap. Once offside is gone, We wont be able to compress the field of play.

  6. Hmmm. I think Villa would work you know. He might not be a proper winger, but we have so many youngsters who can fit the bill, why spend ludicrous sums of money on a proper winger. Villa would be pretty much a direct replacement for Henry, and i have seen him drift to the left plenty of times for Valencia (I watch them quite regularly). Since he can play on the left or in the centre he provides a lot of depth up front and he is a proven goal scorer. Plus tactically it would give Pep all sorts of options. We would have the player that can make runs behind defenders as well as the big, strong, creative player. What has happened since we got rid of Eto is that teams are not defending deep anymore, they are pressing high. They can do that because Ibra is not the fastest. Imagine having Ibra and Villa. Those two interchanging and swapping places would be insanity. When teams defend deep throw Ibra up front, when they press high drop Ibra to the left and stick Villa up front just waiting to pounce. Wow. With Messi lurking around as well i think that would leave us pretty much unplayable no matter what tactic the opposition chooses. 50m though….thats a hell of a lot for a 28 year old striker.

    1. I think Villa is worth every penny, even if we only got two years, I think like Forlan he is a player who keeps getting better and smarter with age. And yeah a front line of Villa, Ibra, and Messi would just be devastating, plus Pedro or Bojan coming in as subs.

    2. Agreed. Most of the time, Villa open to channels creating spaces for the likes of Silva to penetrate into the box.

      He is a different player compared to Henry. Not better nor worse, just different. Physically Henry is much better. I dont think Villa can deliver the defense contribution Henry offers. Technically he is more skillfull -Spanish way. Henry is better running in spaces (or was better when he was Villa’s age), Villa deal with the ball better in the crowd. Two different kind of players. I think Villa can link perfectly with the midfielders and compliment Ibra in the offense.

      Yet, even though Valencia is in a deep financial problem, they will have lot of offers for the striker, so I dont think they will have to offload him cheaply. unless if he rejected all the other offers seeking Barcelona, that will be another story.

    3. I agree with everything you said, especially the “skillful Spanish” part. Villa epitomizes the Spanish striker style. What I would love to know is how close he was to signing to E.E. or us last summer. There were so many stories I never fully understood what happened. Does he have a preference?

    4. About Villas age. There really aren’t that many world class
      strikers that are available 28 or not he’ll have plenty of admirers. Larsson played till 34 or so and didn’t too bad 4 us eh?

    5. Well, I know that Villa was pissed at how arrogantly EE were when they approached him last summer and turned down their deal…and how he burst into tears when his deal with us fell through (still sad about that btw).

      I don’t think he’d go to EE, but I also don’t know if he’d come to us now that we have Ibra. He’ll have to make a lot of sacrifices (a la Henry) and I don’t think that’s all that fair to him…I hope he comes to us (though I still pine for Silva) but he deserves a team that will cater to him.

    6. I don’t want Villa. I agree with Isaiah. We already have a dude to lead the line. And if our left winger constantly drifts toward the middle, then what? Say what you will about Henry, but he stays home, which creates space because of the threat. It’s one of my issues with Pedro!, the drifting to the center.

      And the price tag is going to be absurd. I would also argue that we’re paying a boatload of dosh to solve a problem that we already have the answer to, in Pedro!, whose upside is tremendous.

    7. I’ll also note that teams aren’t playing us high because of the pace of Ibrahimovic vs Eto’o. It’s a conscious gesture to attempt to neutralize our command/control game at the source, which is the midfield. If they give us the time and space to play the ball around, we will score. Teams know that. So kill it before it grows, so to speak. Note that Chelsea was also very effective with the high pressure in the CL semis. That they parked the bus at Stamford Bridge is a great myth.

      Playing us high is effective because we’re more stagnant offensively this year. Simple as that, rather than blaming Ibrahmovic for something else.

  7. I like Villa a lot and i think he will be excellent addition to our squad. Considering he is 28 and will have pretty much no resale value in two – three years time, i would be unwilling to offer more then 25 million for him. Same with Mascherano.

    I would not bet the house on our youth products. They are good and can become great but lets not get carried away. We have been lucky that lot of our young guys are playing well but to expect this to continue in future is optimistic and for club like us, having one bad season can be difficult to take.

  8. Bottom line is Barca need a pacey 20 goal scoring with bundles of energy, its as simple as that haha

  9. *

    An interesting look at “the fans contribution”. I put that in quotes because it only includes gate receipts, and ignores my Soci fees!

  10. Honestly, I would sign Villa just for the influence he’d have on Bojan. They’re so similar (size, instict) and I think that he’d be a great mentor for CT, ala Ronaldinho and Messi.

    The goals that come with it are a plus 😛

  11. An interesting take on Pedro! from Duncan Bishop, over at ESPN Soccernet, in arguing for P! on the Spain NT:

    Now, I can’t say that I am particularly fond of Pedro as a player, but he is as prolific as either of the latter two. Guiza is off-colour and ‘The Beast of Vallecas’ has developed an unfortunate habit of getting sent off with alarming frequency for Sevilla. Pedro has done little to get the press talking, and even the Catalan press aren’t particularly up in arms about his exclusion from the national side for this week’s friendly, but surely there would be no harm in a cameo for the man from the Canary Islands?

    If nothing else, Pedrito is a lucky player, and scores without doing much in particular. He has forced his way into the front three at Barcelona, and that doesn’t happen completely by accident – you have to take advantage of the breaks you are given. Against the best in the world, a striker who can play on the wing, score in six competitions and rack up an impressive goal tally as a substitute might just be the bit of luck that brings the cup to Spain.

    Still, he’s young, and will debut sooner rather than later if he keeps up his form. Then we will see if Pedro is the real deal.

  12. “The other big news in Barcelona is the launch of Joan Laporta’s political campaign and his fancy new website. The Barcelona president is trying to get himself elected as a member of the local parliament later this year and is using fancy new tools such as Facebook and Twitter to help him keep it real and street. Word.”
    – Excerpt from La Liga Loca

    Kxevin, are you working secretly working for LLL?

    Oh, and how many times does Higuain have to save EE’s arse before being recognized by Marca? The answer:

    “El Pipita will become a great when he scores a decisive goal in the Champions League final, in el clasico or in the final in Johannesburg on the 11th July,” strops the paper[Marca]’s director, Eduardo Inda, who probably wanted to add “AND STOPS SCORING MORE GOALS THAN CRISTIANO RONALDO!”
    -Excerpt from LLL

    Hmm. I have a small, odd feeling in my heart. Could it be…sympathy towards an EE player?! 😀

    I don’t mind Higuain (though he’s a total Madridista); he’s got class and genuinely loves his club, despite how crappily they [ie. Flo-Flo et co.] treat him. Still, I prefer Kaka’…and I still ask the question; why, Ricky, why?! He’s too classy to have to deal with that circus!

  13. isaiah… I know what you’re saying but I think villa would never replicate the “titi problem”. in the national team he plays along with torres and sometimes in the left wing. if ibra is not going to be as deadly as we expected we need some scoring wingers and messi/villa/pedro! would be more than fine. plus el guaje has never played in the premier so he knows what our football is like. I totally second his signing but the problem could be that if the swedish 9 doesn’t score much the other guy, the winger, is a machine gun and all the debate… but villa is so great that if the problem appears he also becomes the solution 😉

    1. I saw the match. Dani did so well at right mid, his play is so intelligent and he combines well with everyone. Start him, Dunga!

    2. when he came on during the confederations Cup final, it totally changed the game. Alves, despite the bitch he is, is just plain good. The fact that he’d Start in almost any other midfield in the world blows my Mind sometimes.

  14. If we were to bring in villa i would imagine we could give a different formation a shot, especially with Peps willingness to try new things out







    Now I know that this would effectivly end the width that we now enjoy, and it would be asking aclot of Dani and Abidal to cover in the back and play as full on wing backs but just imagine the triangles that this formation would produce, it would be immense.
    Also, if we were to play with this front 6, we would prolly have to revolutionize the way teams employ full backs, Alves and Abidal would almost have to play as far up as the Yaya to maintain any threat out wide.

    1. Gorka Iraizoz

      Talking of keepers and our next match in La Liga: Almeria goalkeeper Diego Alves is looking for a move to a “big club” after being linked with Tottenham Hotspur and Spanish side Valencia.


  15. For real, hasn’t anybody compiling those reports taken accounting classes. Income statements, anyone?

    Thanks for the VV clip. Valdes kicks ass. p l a i n & simple.

  16. lol. I think you are reading too much into the whole “Being the richest club in the world” my friend. As a Real Madrid fan, it means that when our club goes on a stupid/crazy spending spree of a net of around 180 million, and jams up a lot of debt, its safe to know that it’s not being done with virtual money. What i mean is, when the club is run to make 400 million a year, then its safe to say they can cover their debt. Just like what happened when Florentino first took over and got the club out of its debt. It’s not a process that takes one year, its a lengthy process.

    I should credit Barca, as much as it pains me to do so though, that earning 350+ without debt is very very impressive.

  17. man…im already licking my fingers. last year, that ibra was a threat to us signing villa and now he is our only target.
    btw, when is txiki going to renew the contracts of thiago and jds?

  18. Nice poll with adequate results. 🙂


  19. Guess what… all 5 Barca players are starting for Spain today. I could almost bet that 4 of them will play all 90 minutes.
    Torres and Cesc are omitted from the starting eleven.

    1. Hopefully, most get substituted. Del Bosque is pretty good about making subs in friendlies. It’s nice to see that all the selected players are currently starters for Spain. (I’ll be less enthusiastic if someone gets injured).

      Looks like Busquets could be the starting defensive midfielder for Spain, which is a lot of responsibility for a 21 year old. Senna is awesome, but at 34 Del Bosque probably figures he just doesn’t have the legs anymore to perform for 90+ minutes.

    2. Sorry, meant to say the Busi could be the starting defensive midfielder for Spain *at the World Cup*

    1. Great….now all the Liverpool fans will joining the Arsenal folks in b**ching in the comments.

      The question these days is who ISN’T involved in a Barca trade rumor. It’s probably a smaller list.

      Think, if all this stuff was true, we’d be buying Rooney, Torres, Cesc, Ribery, Villa, César Azpilicueta, John O’Shea, Juan Mata, Jan Vertonghen, ect….

    2. No reason to believe this other than he must be getting fed up watching Liverpool sink. I have to say i wouldn’t say no – better close control than he often gets credit for. Worry would be his injury record.

  20. The line-up for Spain:
    Arbeloa, Pique, Puyol, Ramos,
    Alonso Busquets
    Silva, Xavi, Iniesta

    Cesc and Torres on the bench.

    1. I think Arbeloa will be on the left and Ramos on the right. And its interesting to see 1) If Silva will play as a fifth midfielder or as a second striker. 2) Who will be the deep lying holding midfielder, Busquets, Xabi, or both?

    2. i agree. i see david silva behind villa, a doble pivote of busquets & alonso a la saturday’s game where both xavi & busquets took turns advancing, and ramos on the right.

    3. wow sometimes I forget how deep spain’s national team’s talent is. Spain will win world cup, mark my words.

    4. Exactly re: Arbeloa. He’ll be on the left.

      I am a little worried about del Bosque.

      Xabi Alonso and Xavi never seem to click exceptionally well when they are on the field at the same time (see Confed Cup for example). They are the Spanish version of Lampard/Gerrard or Ronaldinho/Kaka. Great players that for some reason never seem to consistently make music together. That’s a big reason why Aragones went with Senna instead of Alonso in the Euro Cup.

      Putting Busquets next to him will hopefully free him up similarly to what Mascherano did for him at Liverpool but I hope he doesn’t intrude on Xavi’s real estate too much. I think it’s going to be a 4-2-3-1 shifting to a 4-1-4-1 similar to what they did against Russia in the Euro. Silva and Iniesta can neutralize Sagna and Evra who are a big factor in France’s scheme while Ramos can bomb up and provide midfield superiority.

      Knowing Domenech’s genius, he’ll oblige and play a 4-4-2 which can promptly be countered by three in the back (two markers and a sweeper) and their midfield will be sliced and diced. If France goes 4-3-3, then I can see Silva as a second striker.

  21. i’ve got links for the france spain game but i’ll probably be too busy to use them



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