News of the day, March 5, 2010

To start with, an apology: No new posts for some two days has the suck. We’re aware of this, and it doesn’t fill our hearts with song. It won’t happen again.

Now, to begin with, an interesting perspective on the Eto’o-Ibrahimovic swap. No, it doesn’t come from a “reputable news source,” but precious little does in this world of ours. The long and short of it is that we came out ahead. Now, I know that this startles some people, who believe that the Ibrahimovic experiment isn’t working and “Lord, how I wish we had Eto’o back.”

But the piece is worth a read.

–Meanwhile, who the hell is Park Sheng Ho and why do we care about him? Well right now, we don’t. But if the 13-year-old fulfills the promise of being “the Korean Messi,” we will care a great deal in 5 or 6 years. We have apparently outstripped pretty much every big club in Europe in securing the signature of the wee one, who will be joining our La Masia for proper indoctrination into the Barca Way.

–Is Txiki B out? Well, it depends on who you ask. Some say that he has already decided to leave, and will announce his depature in April. Others say that presidential candidates and wannabes such as Jaume Ferrer and Alfons Godall will rock the “Please, baby please, babybabybaby please,” on him, assuring him that he won’t be a sitting duck when front-runner Sandro Rosell turns the trick, wins the election and fires his ass. Stay tuned.

–And speaking of Rosell, eminently reliable source AS, an entity that is but a consonant away from being appropriately named, says that Rosell has been trying to lock up Franck Ribery, but that Scarface has said that he only wants to play for That Other Spanish Team. Whatevs, kids. Whatevs.

–You may have stumbled across a Facebook group, “Si som 5,000 em presento.” This is the cyber-entity of Carles Rexach, who is saying that if 5,000 people join the FB group, he would stand for the Barca presidency. He’s got ’em, so let’s see. (By the by, you can find fun stuff and people by searching for various names on Twitter and FB. You’ll find Xavier “Your mama dresses you funny” Martin,” and Alfons Godall, to name a couple.)

And speaking of presidential shenanigans, Jaume Guixa is calling for the resignation of Joan Laporta, saying that the King of Catalunya’s aspirations threaten to distract from the club and its mission, and heaven forfend that a president should distract from everyone’s mission by having ambition, or having press conferences that call for very successful presidents to resign from the club.

Um, wait. Never mind that last one.

–Xavi is defending Henry, sort of, saying that he thinks that too much is being made about the fact that he isn’t playing. (Um, say what now?) Further, that Henry works like a dog in traning, is always trying to make the most of his efforts and is a role model in the locker room. So people who are saying that he’s washed up, and good riddance should just shut up.

Guardiola is saying that if he is washed up, it’s all his fault, and that he’s here to help whenever Henry decides that he’s ready to become a French lion again.

Henry acknowledges his deficiencies in both fitness and match pace, and says that he understands his role on the bench, and why he’s there.


–Messi sucks, if you believe the Argentine media, who are on our small wonder again after his sleepwalk through the friendly with Germany. Good thing we know that he doesn’t.

–In the “without” basket, as he head to plucky-but-doomed Almeria, we will be without Pique (suspension), Keita and Abidal.

–Now for the “Huh? What?” file, rumors that we are going to sell Gabi “We hardly knew ye” Milito to Inter Milan, are bouncing about like mad. Some are calling bullshit on them, others are saying not so fast. I say it isn’t such a bad deal. He’ll play well, be healthy and be on borrowed time with that knee of his. But with the young back line folks that we have out on loan (Botia, Caceres, Adriano), in addition to the ones in the pipeline (Muniesa, Bartra), we can afford the sale before it creates a hole in our roster.

And Hleb’s agent says that we are going to recall his recalcitrant Belorussian charge this summer. My guess, however, would be so that we can make sure he doesn’t have the plague, then ship his ass off to the highest bidder. In something that will appall, word is that we’ll take 5m for him. Damn, yo. That’s cold. It’s also one hell of a depreciation from the original sale price.

–Everybody missed this one, but the president of La Liga has noted that the Big Two are even bigger now, and it sucks, for both the aspirants, and the show. But he has no freakin’ idea what to do about it, other than to try to impose fiscal logic on the Liga minnows, which will make the gap between them and the Big Two …. well …. even more extended. Go figure.

–Keita and Abidal are progressing, and should both return early from their injuries. Both are still working apart from the group, but well ahead of schedule, as per usual with our physios. Keita is expected to be available for Valencia.

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Written by:

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. Hilal
    March 5, 2010

    Maybe im just blind but i cant find the link to the Ibra/Eto piece you mentioned…

  2. Cesc Blanc
    March 5, 2010

    The Messi sleepwalking stuff against Germany is a bit rubbish. He was probably the most active player and his one challenge against Lahm should have made those SOBs cherish him and love him again. But the Argentinian media is really really lame.
    With regards to Milito: Milito is one of Messi’s best friends and as a character and everything an integral part of the team. He is more than just a player. Maybe there’s some truth to the rumors, maybe it would be big business, but I don’t really see it happen.

    • Helge
      March 5, 2010

      I also think that Messi was the most-active forward for Argentina. I was just saying to my pal “damn, Higuain really disappointed me, I’d have expected a lot more from him” and then, Mertesacker and Adler made this big mistake to give away a goal for Higuain. But besides of this goal, which was a present to him and not really due to Higuain’s class (ok, you have to chase that ball, but it wasn’t anything special), Higuain didn’t do anything. Compared to other matches from Argentina, Messi was good. And the German commentator also had some praise for Messi. Argentina’s press sucks, that’s possibly the only thing me and Maradona would agree on 🙂

  3. eklavya
    March 5, 2010

    I’d sell Marquez before Milito. BTW, why would Inter need Milito anyway? They already have Lucio and Samuel rocking the CBs, Zanetti’s having it his way on his side and Maicon – the apparently best right back in the world – on his. Not to mention their favorite prodigy Santon.

  4. Kevin O
    March 5, 2010

    Guys, i know i may get a bit of bashing for this but… Why does every1 despise Hleb? i mean, he was a fantastic player at arsenal, and pretty technically gifted A couple bad games for us and we havta ship him out?? bit confused..

    • jordi™
      March 5, 2010

      It was a more than a couple.And its his bad mouthing thats the deal breaker.Hes doing it at stuttgart too, so the common denominator is obviously him.I was all for giving him a second chance till his verbal diarrhea.Atleast he got a chance though, guys like K9 and Henrique who didnt get a look in are the ones we should feel a bit sorry for if anything.

    • Kxevin
      March 5, 2010

      Here’s what happened with Hleb:

      We bought, he came, and started kicking ass. He took a bad tackle (against Getafe, maybe?) and got an ankle knock that kept him out for a while, almost 8 weeks. By the time he returned, the juggernaut was rolling, full force, and he couldn’t work his way back into the lineup for love or money.

      So when he came in, he was trying too hard, plagued with a Krkic-like uncertainty. Somebody posted a YouTube clip of a dog chasing its tail as being similar to what Hleb did with the ball, and too much of the time, that’s an accurate analogy.

      But Hleb wasn’t as bad as people remember, and IMHO, still has value as a squad player, particularly in a possession-based midfield attack. He has excellent control, is a good passer and can take a battering without giving up the ball. All those skills would stand him in good stead in our midfield.

      Then he started talking crap, about how much he misses Arsenal, and Guardiola didn’t trust him, and not bothering to learn Spanish (compare this with The Yaya’s mastery of Catalan), and he basically screwed himself out of town.

      Hleb is a whiner, unfortunately. He’s talented. When he came, people were expecting him to be a left wing force that banged in a few goals. But his value for us is different, and worth considering. Yes, he talked a lot of crap. So did other players, and people cut them slack because they produced.

      I’ve said in another thread that I’m for giving Hleb another shot. It won’t happen, however.

      • Hilal
        March 5, 2010

        YEah for me the problem with Hleb is his attitude not his skill or his talent. He is a very talented player, there is no doubt about that and with the right attitude I am sure he would have made a very good squad player. Unfortunately, as mentioned, he is a whiner. He whined when he didnt get played at Barca and he is whining now at Stuttgart.

        Not bothering to learn the language is basically a slap in the face to all the other players on the team, that to me is crucial. Look at Chrygy, he barely plays and yet he is making every effort to learn the language. Its so important when integrating into a team and becoming a member of, what is essentially, a family. Imagine not understanding most of your teamates and visa versa…never gona fly!

      • Miguel
        March 5, 2010

        i’m not. i really hate whiners but that’s not even the reason. i’m for giving alcantara/dos santos more playing time in the midfield; screw him. and if he were to play on the wing he’d be taking away from pedrito’s time…oh…i mean henry’s time ;^)

      • jordi™
        March 5, 2010

        The thing i dont understand about him is he was so close to joining up for preseason, I mean it was like a week away and by all accounts pep, txiki and the coaching staff were on board for his second chance at redemption.Now this is the part where most players say, ill work hard knuckle down etc. to win my place.But not Mr.Hleb, he decides to release a bomb to belorsussian newspapers.I remember thinking, why now dude? Does anyone think if Henry had that same attitude, He’d have gotten a second chance?Thierry whinged about playing out of position and what not during the season, but when it came down to it in the summer he said he would work hard come next season to be better.Hleb to me, behaves with a false sense of entitlement.Something tells me hleb didnt want to come back either way.I reckon he’ll do like Petit and write a book when he retires about his “nightmare in Catalunya” 😀 .

      • cliveee
        March 5, 2010

        His “I am worth it and I don’t deserve this crap” attitude is exactly what makes him try to do too much and thus failed. too bad.

  5. jordi™
    March 5, 2010

    Gabi is a leader of men in every sense of the word.Hes great for the dressing room and even in his lay off pep let him do the team speech ,before the club world cup final i think it was.And against Stuttgart at halftime coming out of the tunnel, the camera showed him rallying the guys like pique etc.Id definitely get rid of Rafa before Gabi.Yes he may get injured again, but it wont be a risk like it wouldve been before we signed Pique, and now we have guys like Botia,Muniesa,Bartra and Dima as insurance.It would only be a problem if We were banking a season on Gabi as our only back up.Besides we arent a selling club, selling experience players who still have a lot to give is something Arsenal would do (no offense to the gunners).

    • Hilal
      March 5, 2010

      I dont buy that we are planning on selling Gabi. You dont spend that much time and effort rehabilitating a player only to go and sell him, especially when he comes back from 18 months injured and basically rocks the shirt from day one. Just pure class that guy. IF anybody should be sold its Marquez. I can kinda see the upside of a player like Marquez and what he brings playing the ball out of defense, but he has become too much of a liability defensively. Gabi is a solid, well rounded defender. The type of no nonsense, aggressive, commanding defender we need. As long as his injury doesnt recur I could see him and Pique being extremely dominant at the back…

    • gv
      March 5, 2010

      much as we all hate rafa, i think he can still be a valuable asset to our team with the wealth of experience he has, his leadership skills and talent he has (or had). no doubt, we all know rafa’s vision when it comes to passing the ball from the back. that is one talent he has an advantage against puyi or gabi. i am not saying i want to see rafa playing every game. i’d rather see him in our training ground with our young defenders.

      • Kxevin
        March 5, 2010

        Yes, but I would contend that Txigrinski and Pique have that ability. Txigrinski also has more range (i.e. a more direct translation of the Marquez skill set) with his long passing than Pique. Recall the last time he played, and that amazing ball that he dropped right at Pedro’s feet, from just outside Valdes’ box. Dude is the for-real shit. He just needs reps.

        And you know that the Masia-trained lads already have the ability to fire start from the back, because that’s how our defenders roll.

        I don’t hate Marquez. I just think that at this point, his diminished skills put him on the deficit side of the ledger, compared to the one skill that he still has. Sort of like Beckham, in my book.

    • March 5, 2010

      I absolutely love, LOVE, Gabi Milito. I really hope these rumors are false.

  6. March 5, 2010

    Its good that Xavi came out defending Henry. Thats the least expected from one of the captains. And Xavi always know whats the right thing to say.

    Its Henry job now to get back to form and earn starting role. Now that the season is approaching the crucial period, we need every player available in the squad. Fit and in the right form.

    Not the first time Milito is on the selling news list. When he was injured the majority labeled him as transfer listed. I can understand the injury conserns, but his quality worth the risk. I will wait one season or two at least before selling such a world class defender. Youth are promising, but uncertainty. Chegrnskiy? owuch!

    Park Sheng Ho? so far it means more assian market for me. nice…

  7. cliveee
    March 5, 2010

    too excited for the first asian to be in blaugrana! will be drawing a huge profit from asia when Park Sheng Ho grows up and play for the first team. (if he will)

  8. Eto'opologist
    March 5, 2010

    Say what you may, or quote who you want (sportingo???) but barcelona fans are slowly getting to the point where they are realizing what a terrible deal it was. You should have been at camp nou in the last month and hear what people are saying there. Theres lots of dissappointment going on.

    Fact is, he is being outscored by two members of his own team, is only the 4th highest scorer in la liga(2 guys aren’t even strikers!). At a time when Barca should have achieved nirvana of football, that is, complete domination and the intimidation factor based on what they won last year, barca is squeeking by teams. Teams actually believe they can attack barca, and push lines forward! Barcelona are only scoring in boatloads when Ibra is on the bench.

    Trying to compare him with Eto’o now is looking for anything to make you feel better about this terrible deal. Yes, Eto’o isn’t doing very well at Inter, he has lost some form. But he is also playing as a second striker, and his partnership with Milito isn’t working very well. Basically, it’s like this: remember how Eto’o loved making those one-two’s with xavi/iniesta/messi/ronaldinho/any intelligent player at barca? he never gets the ball back! He is not working out very well there, and may have to change his playing style back to what it was in mallorca…lot’s of solo runs.

    Back to Ibra, you can claim how great he is working his behind off, but the guy isn’t a striker. Has he broken down any player for a goal? By breaking down I mean, create some space with his so called marvellous skills to score great goals? He has only been exceptional in one facet of striking, latching onto passes for a one-time hit. The rest ill give him a D+.

    For 70 million, barca became madrid like, splashing millions just to splash, simply because they got scared of what madrid was doing. It was a terrible buy.

    • jordi™
      March 5, 2010

      We did not spend 70 million.

      That is all.

      • Kxevin
        March 5, 2010

        I’d say that the objectivity of your supposition is damaged by your screen name, Eto’opologist.

        If you look at Eto’o’s first-year stats, then Ibrahimovic is on schedule to at least match those numbers. And that’s in a first year that began with an injury and continues with him trying to work his way into a side that is still playing as though another player occupies his role.

        I’d say he requires more patience. But any first-year player does in our system. I am, by the by, curious about who the other Barca player is who’s outscoring Ibrahimovic. I have him at 12 goals in the Liga, second only to Messi on the team. That’s 12 goals with him still working his way into the side. Henry had 19 goals last year, in a season that was considered exceptional.

        If you use another player’s context to define Ibrahimovic, he will never measure up.

        Further, it would be erroneous to misconstrue citing a piece as advocacy. The perspective is interesting, as in it’s interesting to read. Period. If you want to defend Eto’o, you’d probably have more success at the Inter board, as he is an Inter player.

        If you want to jump down my throat for having the temerity to post something that is interesting as a point of discussion, save your breath, because my tolerance for that these days is as low as it has ever been.

        My role here is to offer news and information that will be interesting. The link and summary of said link is precisely that. To construe it for anything more, is, as I said, erroneous in the extreme.

        People in the Camp Nou aren’t any kind of a barometer. Many of the ones who are socis might have voted to remove Laporta from office, which would have meant what for last season? And some of them are whistling a guy who scored the goal that gives us the advantage in the Stuttgart tie, and won El Clasic. I fail to see how that makes them paragons of footballing intelligence.

        Finally, surely by saying that “barcelona fans are slowly getting to the point where….” you mean some, rather than all. Because I would rather imagine that there are some Barca fans who recognize that a player takes time to work into a system, and deserves that time. Simple as that.

        And you compare us to EE in our expenditure? Again, this presumes that Guardiola is a jackass who had no idea of what he wanted to spend money on, or any kind of plan, just that he wanted to spend money. Be serious.

        I don’t care if anyone is an Eto’o fan. Personally, he became dead to me the instant he stopped wearing Blaugrana. Same for Ronaldinho. The same will be true of any of our players. But to slag the club, the coach and the system, just because they had a sporting notion that didn’t include a certain player? Not sure what to say about that one, except good luck to you.

        • Eto'opologist
          March 5, 2010

          1. Pedro has more goals total
          2. Pep also bought chygrynsky, Hleb
          3. You dont get rid of 22 goals in 22 games simply so you can spend more than 5 months still trying to make things work.
          4. I think barcelona fans at camp nou know something about football. They were there to witness it last year, and this year first hand.
          5. If you don’t have patience for this stuff, and only like reading and linking whoever agrees with you, don’t read it! Just like I don’t read your stuff when I don’t have patience for it. Fair?

          • Eto'opologist
            March 5, 2010

            By the way, ive said it before and I’ll say it again, Eto’o IS NOT my favorite barcelona player. This moniker was developed last year because I felt some were dismissing Eto’o as if he wasn’t important to the team. Now it’s clear what barcelona got rid of. Without Messi’s immense contributions, barcelona would be no. 5 in the league right now.

      • Eto'opologist
        March 5, 2010

        I read your stuff! Don’t really comment alot because I read on crappy phones and its not easy to comment, but I read!

  9. Lev
    March 5, 2010

    Kxev I do agree with the points you make about ibra, his scoring rate is very decent so far and hopefully he will become better for us with time while he learns our way of playing.

    One thing I am shocked to hear though…Eto’s is dead to you? The guy has bled for us and played such an integral part in bringing us 2 champion’s leagues, got kicked out of Barça against his will and still proclaims his love for us in all interviews since. I really do not understand why Pep was so hell bent on getting rid of him and would love to find out one day why he had this ‘feeling’ he should.

    Anyway thanks for posting the link. I personally never thought Eto’o the worlds best striker at any moment, but I did feel he was perfect for Barça. It is only to be expected for him not to do as well for Inter as for us – I think basically any striker is better suited playing for Barça since we create so much more goal opportunities than other teams.

    As for comparing the two they are sooo different. Ibra is definitely the more creative and skillful player and possibly has a better passing game (or at least a more flamboyant one). I believe Eto’o has more heart and comes up huge in the big games.
    Zlatan does not seem to have the same killer instinct – apart from his CL failures a penalty shootout with holland at euro 2004 comes to mind. I remember him walking up to the penalty spot and his face was of a palish green hue. I honestly thought he was gonna throw up but instead he kicked the ball a good two meters over the crossbar. Now maybe he’ll develop this and I truely hope he does. Scoring in el clasic and finding the net in the CL knockout stage for the first time are encouraging signs indeed.
    Another thing is I think Eto’s complemented the other players better. We already have enough creative players and Sami’s pace and work rate just took advantage of the teams creativity. For the life of me I do not understand why we interchanged the two, especially not while dishing out the extra millions, but I hope it is going to work out for us and I do support Ibra.

    Oh and most importantly my brother respect those who bled the blaugrana. When Pep went to Italy, he wasn`t dead to us. Barça legend. When Koeman went back to Holland he wasn’t dead to us. Barça legend, even though he’s a bit of a prick to be honest. When Cruijff left he wasn’t dead to us. Barça legend. Man even Larsson who only was with us for a little while and though I wouldnt go as far to call him a Barça legend I still have love for him. Basically every player who wore our shirt with pride and still shows love to us can never be dead to me. Ya know?

    • March 6, 2010

      Don’t get me wrong, I respect the contributions that players have made to the cause, and perhaps “He’s dead to me” sounds harsher than it is. But I don’t follow them, or really care about what they do when the leave the colors.

      As far as Ibrahimovic, I don’t know yet. The signs are encouraging, and my two favorite goals of his this season (Clasic and Stuttgart) have both been clutch. If it works out the way Guardiola hopes, we could come out of it pretty spectacular. It won’t this season, however. It rarely does with a first-year player in our system. But it should still be pretty good, and leave us with at least 20 goals in a (hopefully) successful Liga campaign.

  10. Lev
    March 6, 2010

    true put it this way and I agree 100%, I mean apart from wanting Eto`o to do well in his life and career, do I really care??? noo, I prefer Zlatan to rock for barca even though I dont like him as much lol

  11. Well… that’s interessting but to be honest i have a hard time determining it… wonder how others think about this..

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