It’s business

Most supporters view the game through the eyes of an anachronism, something that modern players such as Neymar remind us of periodically.

In our passion, we think of players as our players, warriors who, once they don the blaugrana, are here for life. Part of why we think that is the miracle of an extraordinary Masia class that has come to define not only expectations from a group of beings as capricious as children, but how a superstar player deals with his club and that status.

How lucky are we to have players, the core of the team, magnificent athletes all, who would never leave the club. It lets us laugh at transfer rumors, even when some Twitter ranter goes on about the board wanting to sell Messi, or how he should leave the club. We laugh because we know that he never will. We know that Iniesta is for life. So is Busquets, so is Pique.

In the bosom of La Masia, they learned not only how to play the game, but how to be culer.

When Sandro Rosell took over presidency of FC Barcelona, he talked of a modern club, of marketing and making the club into the cash cow that its exalted sporting status deserved. And Neymar was his icon.

When people said that Neymar was a short-timer, it is for the simple reason that the modern player is as much businessman as athlete. They know how their marketing profile is in Jakarta and Senegal, learn the value of their next team as a destination, a bloodless decision based not only in money but overall gain. Neymar came to Barça because he wanted to learn how to run a team, how to be a superstar from the best player that the game has ever seen.

Many said that in a few years, Neymar would have learned what he needed and would be ready to move on. It appears that time has come and that’s perfectly fine, because the modern game brings with it modern players, mercenaries mostly at the upper echelon who flit from club to club, for status, bigger paychecks and other things such as marketing muscle. Neymar was never culer, was never going to be a Barça lifer like the core of this great team. What is much more surprising than his leaving the club are the people who assumed that he was culer, that he was a lifer.

Neymar is a businessman. One who understands that his work at Barça is done, mostly because he wants his own project and understands that as long as Messi is at Barça, that will never be “his” team. And at the rate that Messi is defying aging, by the time Messi is ready to hang up the boots, Neymar will be, say, 29, on the outside of those prime earning years, particularly for an athlete whose physical dexterity and flexibility need the gift of youth.

What’s interesting about these rumors — the latest being that he has told teammates he will be leaving them — is the outrage that greets them. A devoted fan base that excoriated Neymar for wanting to attend his sister’s birthday party, for hair, for Instagram, for marketing — is screaming “How dare he leave us,” as if any other outcome was possible.

A player’s job is to kick ass and take names for the club that pays him. Neymar helped the team win a second treble, and helped it to a double. He stood in capably for Messi during his injury, and almost single-handedly sparked the greatest comeback in Champions League history. For those of you who, like me, have a mean streak, his was the deal that removed Sandro Rosell from the club presidency.

If you were to leave your job tomorrow, dependent upon how good you were and how long you had been there, they would have snacks and coffee to fete your departure, and wish you well in your new position. They wouldn’t snarl about you on social media, or say things such as “I knew they were no good all along.” That isn’t how business works. What we don’t fully understand is just how much of a business the modern game is, and how much of a businessman the modern elite player is.

If you were to leave your job tomorrow, what would your employer get for you? Nothing. Footballers have transfer fees. When Neymar renewed his contract, a process that included a boosted buyout clause, even as he is leaving, it’s also worth noting that the club is getting paid. Paid like a big dog. He could have shilly-shallied and waited until the next to last year of his deal, at such time making it clear that he wasn’t going to stay and forcing Barça to sell for a fee much less than he was worth. But no. He renewed, and consented to a higher clause.

Did he know he was leaving? Depends on who you ask. From this chair, he had an idea. With all the talk about MSN, it was only S who was doing headers in a hot tub with Messi during his honeymoon. N was on vacation and a promotional tour, kicking footballs at goals atop buildings on a popular late-night American talk show, and being seen at spots such as NBA games.

So many Barça supporters weren’t prepared for Neymar, the way he functioned on and off the pitch. They thought the stuff that he did was silly, snarked about the boot changes during matches that required the close-up camera shot that was marketing gold. But so what? What does it hurt? Why are our minds stuck in an era of one-club players and black leather boots?

The game has moved on. Perhaps our psyches, like Neymar, should move on as well.

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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.

90 Comments

  1. Yaredinho
    July 21, 2017

    Excellent points! I was always saying Ney is with us for 4/5 years. My only disappointment is him not alerting the club to get ready ahead of time, especially if as reported the move this time is initiated by his side not from PSG. He essentially is hurting his team mates’ chance of winning in the coming season. On the other hand, considering PSG as a real option surprised me. He could easily engineer a move to City or United and define his own era.

  2. Rami
    July 21, 2017

    Trying to smack some sense and logical perspective into a fan of any sport is extremely difficult, Sports and emotions, Naturally go hand in hand, It’ll take a lot of time conditioning oneself to learn to separate the two, And allow oneself to see the world of sports as what it really is, A BUSINESS.

    There are guidelines that i personally use, If a player follows it, There won’t be ill feeling developed toward him

    1-Stay away from RM
    2-Bring a respectable offer to our club in occurrence to your value to the team.
    3-Don’t pull any shenanigans, And make sure your exit is clean and quick.

    At this moment, Neymar seems to be following all of the above, So naturally i have no reason to feel indignant or dismal of his departure, All i have to say is, goodbye.

    You hit the nail for me when you talked about messi influence on his decision, Because if there is one thing neymar has learned in his 4 years at barca, Is that short guy will still dominate for years to come, And he should forget the idea of getting a tan anytime soon, Because he’ll be staying under his shadows for many years to come.

  3. Davour
    July 21, 2017

    Cynical, for sure, but I’m sure a correct analysis – whether Neymar leaves or not. I guess we hold on to the obsolete notion of caring for the club, since it makes the game and being a fan more meaningful. Why cheer someone who does not care, at heart, about the club? Mercenaries, of course, only care about themselves, by definition. This can of course always be twisted to claim that it is in Messi’s or Piqué’s best interest to stay at Barca (because that’s where they fit best as players, despite more money elsewhere), but that is not correct. Of course they want glory, too, but still retain a sense of the collective. In a world of mercenaries, there is only the temporary alliance; brotherhood does not exist, or rarely so (Suarez-Messi? N was missing not necessarily because he is a misfit, but because he is younger and leads a different life, of course, but sure, it’s symbolic).

    Really, the sport is – as has been noted here before – not moving in a pleasant direction, being all the more commercialised by the season, and adding the anomaly of Quatar money, the game is rigged. Sometimes I – and many more, I think – have felt that the allure and magic of the Barca generation will make it hard to move on when they are gone (Busi, the youngest, hitting 29). And maybe the reason is precisely what you outline, Kxevin: an anachronism, or simply sentimentality. If Barca continues its path towards being run “like a business”, buying too many players for B, not tending enough to La Masia, I don’t see myself maintaining my current level of engagement – the sums and attitudes disgust me, to be honest.

    But who knows!

    • Rami
      July 21, 2017

      If the definition of a mercenary is someone who only cares for him self, Then bad news, Almost all the players in the world are mercenaries, Because their self- interest is always first and foremost.
      What will might differ in players, Is how much they value their sporting ambitions over money, In most cases, They actually align together (You move to bigger club with a bigger paycheck), In some cases a player will reject a bigger offer so he can come to barca for example, And the reason will be is that he values the sporting aspect of playing with the best players and the best team in the world (Sporting ambitions over money), On the opposite spectrum you have players like oscar, Leaving EPL to china, A clear indication where his priorities lie.
      But in all cases above, The main driver is SELF interest.

      Here is a hypothetical scenario, If barca was punished by LFP and was sentenced to spend 3 years in the 2nd or 3rd division, How many players of our starting eleven will stay?, My guess, Almost none, So does that mean our current beloved starting eleven now is actually filled with mercenaries?

      Sports has always been a business, And if you want to be at the top for a long period, Especially in modern football, You need to keep slapping these logos to your kit and renaming your stadium, Without that FCB has no chance remaining at near top, It’s a sad reality, But reality it still is.

      On a side-note “buying too many players for B” has nothing to do with running the club “like a business”, It was a good move and necessary one for barca B vitality, Segunda is very competitive, With an average age of players about 24-25 Y/O, In the season barca B were relegated, The average age in of their squad was 19 (I think,) A squad filled with to many very young-inexperienced players competing against much older senior ones, One of the main reasons why they were relegated.
      Barca B need to have a healthy mixture of those very-young talented players coming from la masia and more senior ones (being bought) to have a high chance of remaining in segunda and avoid the whole relegation debacle again.

      • Víctor
        July 21, 2017

        Well, if Neymar is the one who actually initiated the move towards PSG (after renewing contract with Barça) then I guess it is safe to say that he is a “mercenary”.

        However if this is PSG’s idea and decided to make an incredible offer that would certainly attract most players then I wouldn’t call him a “mercenary”. Why is that? Because we gotta be realistic and realize that players, just like anybody else, are people and their value their own interest’s above all: fame, sport career, money, well-being and all.

        However this isn’t definite yet. So it might happen that Neymar won’t leave this season.

      • Davour
        July 23, 2017

        Yes, I obviously know sports has always been about business to some extent – though I do think that Barca of late have been something of an anomaly. That was my point – a slight break from normality that might be hard to get “unused to”. I think I did elaborate on and explain the notion of mercenary attitudes; in this case, it entails not caring for the club, but ONLY seeing it as a spring board or income. Neymar initially chose Barca despite more lucrative offers elsewhere, due to Messi, and if that was only to learn, not the prosper – it is a mercenary attitude. Which, I agree, is the normal these day, but was not AS normal some years past (affected, of course, by the restriction regarding foreign players, for instance, and less TV-money and oligarchs).

        I do not fully agree with you on Barca B; I do think there should be a balance between young and old, and transfers are necessary – but as Xavi pointed out: Busquets and Pedro, and others, came right from lower divisions and did alright. A big chunk of B should be devoted to prospects, not pure B players.

  4. Ron
    July 21, 2017

    I feel there is more venom is the average cule’s views because of the actual anticipation and hope for Neymar, he was the chosen one , the one to replace the unreplaceable.. guess we are going to look to replace him too..
    Ugh… hope this deal is done soon so that we can focus on getting a replacement and prepare for the upcoming season. Having long transfer sagas is always detrimental to the team in the long run..

    • Ron
      July 21, 2017

      *irreplaceable* gosh its late and i type like a dyslexic when I’m sleepy.

  5. CentreBackJockey
    July 21, 2017

    If Neymar does end up going to PSG, how many seasons will he be willing to play there?

  6. omoh
    July 22, 2017

    This is a very interesting question that I think Neymar and his handlers failed to really think about before jumping to the PSG project.

    Whether they like it or not Barcelona is an European and world power house. Barca may be experiencing difficulties now but in time surely a traditional power house always bounce back.

    PSG on the other hand is a project like any other we’ve seen for a long time. It is not sustainable.

    So back to your question that how many season’s will he play in Paris. well I can categorically say that once he signs on those dotted lines, He becomes hooked for the next 5years or till the and of his career and the reason is pretty simple. PSG will never want to make the same mistake barca made with his buy out clause they will set it so high that I believe no single club will be able to afford him and from there it gets interesting.

    PSG will never sell him unless a club meets his buy out clause.

    If things don’t go according to plan and he is not able to achieve the success he so much craved(which I am presently 70% sure it won’t because chances of a player from french league winning the balon d”or is highly limited) then he becomes stuck.

    He would have to score 150% of whatever the highest goals scorer from Spain, Italy or England scores to be considered for an European golden shoe.

    Winning a CL becomes more difficult considering it took chelsea almost 10years since abrahamovich invested his billions. During that time, barca on the other hand won CL 3times. Mancity is yet to get to a semi-final inspite of their almost 9years relationship 38th etihad billions. How old is PSG and Qatar’s relationship?

    Ronaldo became the first and only player so far to win the world footballer of the year in premiership history in It’s over 100years of existence and it took him close to 8 years to do so.

    Honestly the Neymar deal is a loose loose situation for everyone else except PSG who stands to makes lots of money from his image rights but like I’ve been saying, I really don’t care much about the fact that Neymar is departing. I care more about the circumstances with which he is departing.

    If the club had shown signs of a good footballing project that will place the club in a truly feasible position to compete for trophies, He wouldn’t have thought of stepping out of Messi shadows with a club that is obviously a step down from the current one he is in.

  7. CentreBackJockey
    July 22, 2017

    The best reason I can think of is that a season in french league will be the path of least resistance for him leading up to the world cup. But you do have a good point in that PSG can choose to force Neymar to see out his contract if he gets bored and wants to go elsewhere.

    Alternatively, PSG could end up like Malaga and Neymar just gets shipped off to another CL team.

  8. lovell
    July 22, 2017

    Wtf!
    Neymar is not leaving
    Chances of that happening is zero
    Never gonna happen
    Not this year .
    Not the next
    Not until his contra expires in four years .
    Really ??? Kxevin

  9. lovell
    July 22, 2017

    And for those of you wondering
    Yes! Neymar was at Messi’s wedding
    And Yes! Neymar prefers chilling in the US to sitting in tubs with messi which is strange indeed

  10. July 22, 2017

    I can understand why Neymar would have a desire to step out of Messi’s shadow so to speak, and Barca will be Messi’s team till he retires, which is probably another 3-4 years, What I do not get is how he thinks this will happen at PSG. Yeah, fine they will build a team around him, but Ligue1 is just not a competitive enough league for him to ever win the ballon d’or there. At least I don’t think so, and once he goes there, he will be stuck there. No chance they will sell him on, and they don’t even have buyout clauses in France, as we saw with Veratti. He is not stupid, he must know this. He must realise that no matter how much money PSG are willing to spend, that does not translate to automatic CL trophies. It took Chelsea 10 years to get the one, City are nowhere close, PSG themselves have been spending for years and pretty much always get knocked out at the same stage. From a sporting perspective this just doesn’t make any sense. If he wanted to step out of Messi’s shadow he has to go to an equivalent team…. Bayen, RM, Juve, even UTD/City would be better choices.

    This has to be a financially motivated decision, which frankly I cannot begrudge him for. If the numbers being thrown around are true (30m net for 5 years + 40m signing bonus), I do not see how anyone says no to that. My only wish now is that the deal gets done fast, like within the next few days fast, and that we make our moves equally as fast. 222m is a lot of money, especially when you add it to our existing kitty. There is no like for like replacement for Neymar, but I tell you what, if the board makes some smart moves over the next few weeks we could end up better off.

    The timing of this is what bothers me more than anything, right as the preseason is starting.

  11. georgjorge
    July 22, 2017

    Kxevin, you seem to be right that football has become a cold-hearted business for the players at the level Neymar plays at. I agree that he has every right to go to another club even as I wish he stayed.

    But here’s the thing: the very players who treat it as a business (and here I’m not at all talking only about Neymar) don’t let an occasion go by to assert the fans that it’s not at all a business. Upon signing, they talk at length about how they always wanted to play for this and that club because they grew up with it as a child. They mention the great friendships they formed at the clubs. They project an image of the team as a big family (anyone remember how MSN were portrayed as such a close friendship?). A couple of years later, with the club still being the club they always wanted to play for, and their supposed friends still there, they want nothing more than to leave.

    I realize that players do that because many fans expect them to. But it’s dishonest. It’s hard for our minds to move on (like Kxevin said) when players take every opportunity to ensure us that football is still all about friendship, team-spirit, and devotion to one club. Better tell us right off that you’re here to play well, develop yourself, and see if a better offer comes up.

  12. TITO
    July 22, 2017

    Goal.com is reporting that Alexis to PSG is almost done, which is strange considering the Neymar case.
    Anyway, since this deal is more and more likely, along with the eventual departures of Rafinha, Arda, and with some funds that we already have in our books it seems that we would have more than 300 mill euros to spend this summer if all that doesnt breach some regulations.
    I hope we spend wisely.
    Another point, maybe this is the real time to sell Ney and try to convince 2,3 world class players to come to us. Veratti, Coutinho, Hazard, Dembele, Isco, we can definitely fill the gap because a team is always a better prospect than an indivdual.
    In the end though- Que Sera, Sera.

  13. Jim
    July 22, 2017

    Yeah, thanks for that, Hilal. For me these days Hunter is a bit hit and miss with a tendency to state the bleeding obvious but it was interesting that the article revolved ( for me) round Neymar’s maturity.

    To be honest, ( and probably for the first time in a while, I know ) I’m not really sure what I think of this situation. I’m fighting an emotional urge to have a go at him for daring to want to leave us ( allegedly) but no matter which way I throw it about, this just doesn’t make sense for him. For me,

    – He doesn’t need the money – no, if I had his millions at present with squillions still to come rolling in no amount of money would affect my judgement

    – it may be a Scottish thing but if my dad had tried to affect my career or job choice he’d have got his head in his hands ! Definitely a Scottish thing is that he wouldn’t be seeing much of the money 🙂

    – my top priority now would be to become number one in the world and rack up the trophies on the way to doing that. PSG? Really ?

    – (as Hunter hinted at and I’ve been saying ) he’s not the complete player yet. Distribution, decision making, goal scoring all need improvement. If he doesn’t improve these he won’t ever be number one and no place better than Barca for improving these things.

    – if you’re him no point in having a team of your own unless that team is the best or second best in the world. PSG are well out of that league.

    So, what am I left with ?

    First, I’m tempted despite all evidence to the contrary to say I’m not convinced this will happen. I know it’s all done and dusted etc but it’s craziness on his part, unless . . . .

    What if

    – He genuinely is lonely at Barca and doesn’t feel a complete part of MSN, at least off the park with these settled fathers. I could see that with the Brazilians at PSG. If so, he gets a pass from me for that.

    – last season, despite him saying it was his best he knows like some of us that it really wasn’t all that good ? What if he is worried he won’t ever show up well enough with Messi in the side and he’s leaving to avoid the comparisons ? Is it easier to go to a much poorer side where it’s easy to be the stand out ? Could be.

    – what if being the best in the world just isn’t as important to him and that he’s happy being an ( exceptional) show pony, as many Brazilians have in the past? Maybe he doesn’t want the restriction of, as Hunter says, dedicating himself like Messi or Ronaldo, to such a level to improve his game ? He can party, visit his sister any time he likes, blatantly tie his boots and go back to the triple rolls every time he’s hit. Maybe.

    Whatever happens he has lit up quite a few matches for me and I never tire of seeing his tricks. There has to be a place in football for such supreme skill and maybe that’s his destiny. I hope he doesn’t go. I hope he stays, works on a few areas and turns into the player he can be, a genuine successor to Messi. If he does, I hope he tells us why and if it’s a sensible reason then he goes with my blessing. If he mentions the ubiquitous new project he can rot in hell !

    On a more cheerful note, Fotobirajesh, I finally got round to reading that Xavi interview you mentioned a few articles ago. Brilliant ! Thanks for that and thanks to the person who translated it as well. A thankless task at best but certainly made my day. I think I’ve seen some of her translations on the Grup 14 site as well. Great job. I love listening to his approach to football and you couldn’t miss the dig at LE as well. Can’t say I disagreed with that either.

    Looks like we have an exciting end to the transfer season coming up. I just hope that the sporting team have a clear idea of what was wrong with our setup and and even clearer idea of how we get back to it and who could help do that.

    Nope, even after all this verbiage I’m having trouble believing that Neymar could throw all this away . . .

  14. Ron
    July 23, 2017

    Man just as i was getting tired of all the Neymar news, he basically stamped his authority on the Barca vs Juve friendly game playing just the first half .. his 2nd goal where he ran circles around 5 Juve defenders and scored past Buffon was eerily similar to how messi does things from the right wing. Make no mistake about it, he is a future Ballon D’or winner and even at 200m Euros, the price on Neymar is not hot air, he’s the real deal and worth every penny.

    One a side note , I agree with Jim that Ney is having problems with being the only Brazillian in the barca first team and isnt as close knit as Suarez and Messi are, which may explain all the rumors that Barca are going for Coutinho, another Brazillian, (maybe to appease Neymar?) Just speculation here, but I think Ney may not even have wanted to leave barca, but was convinced to leave by his father. and make no mistake about it, his father stands to gain the most in only one deal, which involves him leaving Barca for PSG.

  15. dl
    July 23, 2017

    My first thought about neymar and psg was that he has an eye on the world cup. He’ll be playing everyday with the core of the nt, and in Brazil the wc has far more cachet than the champions league.
    Jim– regarding dads and advice etc, I think it is the difference between Latin and northern European.

  16. Víctor
    July 23, 2017

    It seems that he won’t be leaving afterall…

  17. Mishti
    July 23, 2017

    Let me start by saying that Jim has almost perfectly described my own mental state about this whole Neymar business. There are good and bad reasons for him to want to leave, and the main good reason for me is that he is really a classic Brazilian # 10, and has grown as a player to a point where his best expression is in a free roaming role, rather than a classic left winger in the strict JDP model. For him to be his best version, you need your system to be built around him, not try to fit him to some system. He is Brazilian. Not a product of the Ajax school. He will do risky things, and your system will have to cover him for that, and not worry about it. He is built for creativity, not necessarily efficiency at all costs. That’s who he is, and no point trying to mould him in the La Masia mould. That has always been the inherent tension between the footballing concept that is Barca, and Neymar the footballer. On the other hand, PSG being the destination makes zero sense if having a quality team built around him is the issue. Makes no sense at all.

    Having said that, let’s talk a bit about the theme of Kevin’s article, as usual brilliantly written, which is the money aspect. It is probably not a small factor in all this. Fair enough. And the modern businessman athlete that Kevin portrays, fair to say Neymar is probably a prototype. What I would like to add to that description is the other side of the story. Kevin alludes to it, but let me elaborate. Make no mistake, the clubs, particularly the so-called super clubs like Barca, are no mere victims of this model. In fact the clubs, and football organizations like FIFA and UEFA, are the creators and the main beneficiaries of this model. Modern football clubs are huge profitmaking businesses. At least the ‘successful’ ones are. Now, where does the money come from? Ticket money? Only a small part of it. Most of it comes from TV deals, and so called commercial revenue, which includes sposorships and marchandise sales. So, these clubs, like any other business entity, make money by selling products. Starting from winning spectacles on the pitch as entertainment, and all the way up to merchendise attached to their star players. Notice what is the key ingredient in all these products that they sell: players. The spectacle on the pitch is produced by players. I think we’ll all recognize the fact that the reason Barca is such an enjoyable spectacle to a global fanbase is that Lionel Messi plays for us. And other players of high calibre. Who sells the shirts? The names of the players. So, in a way, footballers (and many other team sportsmen) are a unique bunch in economic terms: they are both paid employees, and also the main product, of profitmaking entitites that are football clubs. When we think, speak or write about ‘loyalties’ of a modern footballer, this idea is worth keeping in mind. If they are marcenaries, then most producers who have bargained with their distributors about a greater share of the profit, or any employee who switches jobs in the hope of a bigger payday are marcenaries too. Does it mean that they didn’t have integrity while working for their previous employer? Does it mean that some of their colleagues did not really become their friends? Does it mean that the first big job that kickstarted someone’s career was, at that point of time, exactly the dream job that he or she had previously wanted? Fair to say, none of the above.

    We as fans are tribalistic in our thinking and feelings. I count myself among them, it will hurt me deeply to see Neymar play in a PSG shirt next season if that comes to pass. That’s my emotion. But I am not oblivious to the bigger reality of the humongous business that modern sport has become, and as the cliche goes, I’d rather see the guy who plays and provides me so much joy on the field, namely the player, get a bigger share of the money, rather than any other party in this complex production chain.

  18. Jim
    July 23, 2017

    Just watched the whole game from last night over breakfast and about to head out to golf so This’ll be quick, well for me.

    It is SO good to have Barca back after what seems an eternity. However, it is only the first game and a friendly so need to be careful about reading too much into it.

    What I saw . . . .

    First half, amazing. This is the Barca I want to see. Comfortable on the ball and pushing it around then suddenly changing pace and going for it. Brilliant.

    I want to believe that Neymar’s inclusion, performance and attitude mean that he isn’t going anywhere. If, as reported, Barto met him and it didn’t go well I’m thinking he wouldn’t be on the pitch. No point. So that’s great. His goals were terrific, especially the second. How did he do that ? Difference from a lot of his misses last year is that both were completely instinctive moves. There’s no stopping that.

    Movement of the ball with complete economy of effort was my favourite thing. Good to see Granada hasn’t destroyed Samper. I didn’t think he put a foot wrong the whole half and looked the perfect sub for Busi. if I were Gomes I’d be more than concerned. He hasn’t looked that comfortable all season. I thought the first ten the veterans were reluctant to give Samper any difficult balls and it was great to see them start to feed him more as time went on. The great thing for me is that his skills are the sort that scale up when facing more difficult opposition. He just gets better and you see his skills more clearly. That was low gear stuff for him last night.

    There’ll still be some who try to find something wrong but it will be interesting to see what. If anything, I reckon he played it pretty safe as he knew that any mistake and he might not get another look but anyone could see the effortless way he sent Neymar off twice early on and how well the passing flowed through him. You just can’t do that in a side like Granada. Folk reckon that you should still be able to do your stuff but passing isn’t a solo activity and in a side where nobody gives you a return pass you just look daft. Also, very mobile. Defensive side, which I’ve had a few issues with, is MUCH improved. Good to see but all he’s done is earn another chance at the moment.

    Favourite moment, apart from the Neymar goal, was when Iniesta who had been strolling About decided to remind us all that he’s still with us with a quick turn, drop of the shoulder and suddenly ten yards of space from nothing. Beautiful.

    Second half I’d reserve judgement on. Not as much fun to watch but there were reasons. Firstly, Juve had a stronger front line which put a little more pressure on our defence but also we had a lot of reserves on which doesn’t help fluidity.

    All in all a great start.

  19. TITO
    July 23, 2017

    Dont get me wrong but i was much more impressed with Alena than with Samper, simply because he was more involved in the build-ups and he wasnt affraid to get the ball on his feet.
    I liked the second half as much as the first one apart from those first 15 minutes.
    It is only a friendly first game of the season, but it was against Juve and we did more than good which is satisfying. We have resources for more glory, lets be smart and use them as best as we can.

    • July 23, 2017

      As with Tito, Alena impressed me much more than Samper, who mostly played like a player afraid to make an error. Valverde will have to give him the confidence to take risks and screw up. He had only a couple of proper forward passes all half. Very tentative. Busquets put on a display that we can hope Samper was paying attention to. Yes, he was better in that first half than he was all sesaon at Granada, and will improve. But the reason Valverde was guarded after the match about him was that he saw the same stuff a few of us saw.

      Is it fair to compare Samper to Busquets? Nope. And we can be sure that with more confidence, he will play with more freedom. For now, he’s a talented work in progress, which is about as much as can be gleaned from a harmless, worthless kickabout in a U.S. park. No pressure on anyone.

      • Davour
        July 23, 2017

        Alena looks much improved compared to his few cameos last season – but of course this is hard to judge, given that he is given more space and time in a friendly. I agree that Samper was playing it a bit safe, but do not see it as a negative. He is re-finding his Barca-rhythm, while displaying a smooth first touch, several key passes (only one cross off, as I recall), movement and some great interceptions and readings of the game. Only judging from this, I have seen everything I need to see – play him or sell him. Loan will not do. If we are lucky, he can develop further in tandem with Alena, and we have us a nice pair for the future. Maybe Denis can join in, too, as he looked the part.

        Semedo did ok, also playing it safe – let’s give him time to settle, but impressive technique and speed, for now.

        I don’t like to speak ill of our players, but I deeply wish Arda will not be around when the season starts. He has nothing to offer, that for example Denis or Roberto or Vidal (etc.) can’t.

        But fine start overall – fun game!

  20. Jim
    July 23, 2017

    Well, it looks like we’re looking for different things from our DM ( team?) . It was only the first friendly and I guess we’ll all take different things from it. However, what I look for in a Barca DM is firstly the ability to be the enabler of the passing game between defence and mids. He needs to be able to receive a hospital pass, control it absolutely, turn the right way on a sixpence and then turn it into good possession. He needs to be mobile enough to cover large areas and most importantly not lose possession. Samper to me showed all those in spades but as I said all he has earned so far is another shot.

    In all of this I’m not sure where an emotive word like “terrified” has any place. He played as many forward passes as Busi so maybe he was terrified as well ? In fact Busi should be more terrified as he lost possession on two out of the three occasions he tried it whereas Samper didn’t at all. In fact, I only recall him losing possession on one long cross field ball to Neymar although I could be mistaken. Xavi has patiently tried to explain on numerous occasions why hoofing a ball forward quickly is an easy option but in the end not neccessarily the best one. The way of Busi, Iniesta and Xavi is to pass the ball about, wait for overloads in one area then play the killer ball. Samper is of that mentality and to me it’ll be good to get back to that if indeed we do.

    Don’t want to compare Alena as he’s young and a promising talent. He’ll do well if he keeps working hard. I would say at this stage that the first thing I’d be working on is his first touch, turning and control because he’ll need that to be superb in our midfield.

    Have to say I’m starting to get genuinely annoyed at Neymar. It’s in his control to say something about the situation. If he strings us along preventing us from replacing him or ending up with an even more mega deal from us the fans won’t forgive or forget quickly I reckon. If it’s more money I hope Barto won’t give in although he must be in a difficult position with a vote of no confidence around or has that floundered yet ?

  21. July 23, 2017

    Pique on Instagram with a picture of he and Neymar: “Se queda.”

    Perhaps the first clue was an MD citation quoting Neymar Sr. as saying he wanted his son to stay at Barça, but Dani Alves was trying to turn his head.

  22. CentreBackJockey
    July 23, 2017

    I remember ages ago Fabregas labelled PIque as the prankster in the dressing room. This could be Pique’s greatest work at fooling us all

  23. Víctor
    July 23, 2017

    Well, it was entertaining and dramatic… but at the end all is well and Barça will keep the MSN upfront. Meanwhile, weren’t we saying that the team needs to bring on some signings?

  24. dl
    July 24, 2017

    Jim, For ( I think): I’ve searched for a xavi interview as mentioned above, but only the usual suspects pop up. Would you post a link please to the translation you mention? Thanks!

  25. Jim
    July 24, 2017

    There have been several in the last year or so, DL, but for the most recent one it was Fotobirajesh who put me on to it. Haven’t seen it on any site as it was a translation on a Twitter account https://twitter.com/dianakristinne . It appears in parts as an image on several different tweets.

    Now, you know me and Twitter. I’m not sure if it’s okay to direct folk to someone’s personal account. If not, Kxevin please delete this but I found it back several days on her Twitter “feed” ????? ( am I getting this? ) . You’ll have to go back even further so it may be a huge task. Kxevin, did you not have something to do with the Grup14 site ? I’m not sure why she hasn’t posted it there as its a great piece of work and deserves to be seen more widely. Maybe you could persuade her to put it up there as I know she has done translations there in the past?

    Well worth the effort anyway, DL.

  26. Oh DL am so sorry to hear that.. I will try too and if I can see them, I will try to copy it for you..
    But I dont know, last time you asked for some links, my reply with the links were moderated, never was seen here..

  27. Jim
    July 24, 2017

    Fotobirajesh, have you nothing else to do ? 🙂 leave these things to us retired folk. Unfortunately I have no idea how you did that. Does each tweet have a unique URL ?

    Seriously, great work. I’m just going back to re-read them again !

    • haha, Am at work Jim, thats when am peeping here too.
      No , I think every cule, or football lover has to read that.
      I didnt know what to do, but when I right clicked on that, it said save image address, and voila.
      At least I learnt a new thing.
      Me too, I have read it thrice now.

  28. TITO
    July 25, 2017

    How real is the Coutinho rumor?
    Something like Rafinha + Gomes and some cash. I would go for it. And Neymar probably needs some more brazilian friends.

  29. Ron
    July 25, 2017

    Thanks for that Fotobirajesh! Your work doesn’t go unnoticed!
    Interesting to see Xavi’s perspective on the youth system and how dire the situation actually is. Barca B being in Segunda or Tercera makes no difference and what is important is the Barca value system being inculcated into the kids. I agree wholeheartedly and feel our current model of just purchasing new players at exorbitant numbers isn’t a sustainable model for the long run.

    If (when) he moves to a coaching role, I hope he starts with the Barca B team or some youth team like Pep did rather than start straight into a top league team. I see him coaching Barca in the next decade for sure!

  30. georgjorge
    July 25, 2017

    In other news, RM are expected to buy Mbappe (18 years old) from Monaco for, oh, between 160 and 180 million Euro.

    “Gigantic bubble” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

  31. Jim
    July 25, 2017

    Disclaimer : I know nothing. ( with apologies to Jon Snow )

    Ok, so now that both clubs have called pressers for tonight I reckon he’s gone. If he were staying, today was the day he’d come out and say so in order to have any chance of keeping the fans onside.

    If so, question is how will the club spin it in theirs ? They pretty much need to have an immediate response in terms of a signing ( well, I’m not actually sure they do but I reckon they’ll feel they do given the likelihood of a no confidence campaign). If it does all go down this way I’d love them to come out and say that the Neymar camp asked for too much and that nobody at Barca will be put onto the same level as Messi, because there is nobody close to him in terms of ability or importance. If someone doesn’t want to be here we’ve no intention of keeping them. Should work as I can’t see anything other than throwing large bags of money at him which might have worked.

    Or they could do the more in sorrow than anger thing . . . But that’s no fun. Anyway, are either of the pressers likely to be on the net ? If so, at what time ? Have pity on me and give it in real time ie. GMT !

    • Rami
      July 25, 2017

      The only reason neymar hasn’t already signed for PSG, Is because the legal maze of avoiding breaking the FFP rules are still being worked on by PSG, Or maybe neymar and his father aren’t yet confident enough and haven’t received guarantees that they won’t be punished by UEFA, It’s the only reason this circus hasn’t ended yet.
      Don’t believe for a second this “Pique, Messi, Suarez are convincing him” BS, This is a potential transfer that involves hundreds of million of euros, It won’t stop because pique had a chat with neymar, Or some other absurd story we see in the papers.

      If it were up to me, I would’ve stop this circus by now, By telling him and PSG that the door is open for him to leave, And no UEFA headache is needed, We’ll willing to sell him for verratii + 100m, This way they get what they wanted, And we get verratti, a 100 million euros, And most importantly we get rid of neymar and his toxic and greedy entourage, Which even after we got dragged in courts for years of him and his father, They’re still finding way to milk us, They’re not welcome anymore.

  32. Ron
    July 25, 2017

    @ Jim: Paris is 1hr ahead of London so if the article has the time right, the PSG presser should be at 10PM and the Barca one half an hr later

    Hmm so looks like Ney is leaving after all.. unless this presser is to say Douglas is joining PSG instead 😉
    The Verrati to Barca rumors don’t make sense if Neymar is joining PSG though.

    This transfer season will probably remembered in the history books as either the worst or best transfer window in Barca’s history at the current rate…

  33. Jim
    July 25, 2017

    Thanks all. I’m scurrying from account to account and finding nothing. Might try the Barca presser but the app is forcing me to log into Twitter.

    I’ll cheer myself up meantime by reading Xavi’s interview ( again!) glad I’ve never met him. I’m turning into a stalker of every word he says . . .

  34. lovell
    July 25, 2017

    what use are two captains on a broken ship anyway

  35. lovell
    July 25, 2017

    How smart our board
    Buying a £90m doll (coutinho) for neymar
    Why not give neymar the cash , just not as salary so messi feels good
    So Everybody(neymars greedy father) stays happy

  36. Ron
    July 26, 2017

    It seems multiple clubs (RM and Man City) have 180m offers for Mbappe.
    If these numbers are to be believed then 200m seems something of a banality in today’s market which makes Neymar and Messi’s 250m buyout clauses really have no meaning.

    Also how does FFP work?? doesn’t the club have to manage their money from income only from transfers and ticket sales and merchandise? what is the use of financial fair play if any club can just ask their sugar daddy for a 500m transfer kitty and bypass regulations altogether?? And is the failure to comply with FFP just resulting in a fine??

  37. Right now, am feeling very disappointed over the situation. We are nearly at the end of July and instead of us being in the heart of a big midfielder purchase, we are pondering about if one of our best player leaving. And absolutely no news on who is that central midfielder we are all wishing for.
    Thats very sad, really. I hope the club will not buy some one like Andre Gomes (surprising transfer of the last season) in the last minute and then would say we got the best what was available in the market!! If am late to get to the market on the weekly market day, I will only have left overs…

    • But if they come up with Isco on 30 of August, I would be very happy. But his name is not there anymore, isnt’it.

  38. Jim
    July 26, 2017

    No, the situation doesn’t seem to be ideal on the face of it but you never know until it’s over. Can’t see how the Neymar issue is of the club’s doing unless reports of his general unhappiness have any merit. Only they know that or whether his lifestyle was starting to have an effect. Were they putting a little pressure on him to improve decision making and keeping possession and he didn’t like it ? Don’t know.

    I’m not sure what folks have against Coutinho. Unlike a lot of the names mentioned I watch him almost every week playing for Liverpool and I have to say in a pretty poor side he shines. Technically and creatively for me he’s right up there with the best. Slight worry about fragility but he would thrive in our quick passing environment. He can also play mid or further forward and I’ve seen him play both really well. It would open up more options game by game and maybe allow us to give Alcacer some time to have a final look at him. He has shown the odd glimpse and unlike mids if a striker isn’t scoring he looks bad , maybe worse than he is.

    I’m also not upset about Deulofeu’s return. As someone to bring off the bench he’s the explosive sort who could make something happen. That’s the kind of player who is useful for changing a match. Just don’t see him holding down a place, even if Neymar leaves.

    My main concern remains the midfield which Coutinho would undoubtably help greatly. If he can settle quickly we have options there as well. Main problem remains Gomes for me. No sign yet of how Valverde might rate him but at his current value and with all the other options for me it’s a no brainier to move him on. Does anyone think he can do anything Samper couldn’t in covering for Busi ? That leaves us with Denis, Rafinha, Arda, SR and Rakitic. More than enough. Not saying any of those are massively better than Gomes but if anyone genuinely wants him for 45m lets get a move on.

    Barring those niggles and assuming we have chosen wisely in our new RB I’m reasonably positive about the new season. Wasn’t a great fan of LE’s ideas or lack of them ( you may have noticed ! ) and I’m hopeful Valverde has some thoughts about getting back to our style, particularly a formation for getting the best out of Iniesta. If Samper can do well , still a question , we even have the luxury of moving Busi forward without affecting our passing game.

    Even after saying all this, however, I’d still rather have Neymar. 🙁

    • Dar_vincy
      July 26, 2017

      With you on the Coutinho purchase. A significant upgrade to the crop of midfielders in our ranks. Could have easily got him last year for the same price we got Gomez. Geez! What were they thinking?

    • Mishti
      July 28, 2017

      Preach, Jim, preach 🙂 I am a bit perplexed at the extent of anti-Coutinho sentiment among Barca fans. I for one watch him regularly play for both Brazil and Liverpool, and undoubtedly he is the best Brazilian player out there who is not named Neymar. Technically he is brilliant, with a great passing range and vision. The issue is that he is a bit frail, and also not so strong on the defensive side. And, he is more of a trequertista than a controlling midfielder. I honestly don’t see why he can’t play as an interior for us. And as for price, in this crazy market, if Morata is worth 100 million, then I can see Coutinho being 150 million.

      Now, can we afford that? Do we already have enough midfielders, so that we don’t need him? Should we just bank it on Alena and give him time to develop? That is a different set of questions. But there is no doubting the guy’s quality, that’s for sure. Ask Xavi, he was of the same opinion when last season Barca seemed to launch a charm offensive on Coutinho. If I recall, his statement was something like, Coutinho is a player who can definitely improve our squad. I don’t know whether he was simply being polite, but I share the sentiment.

  39. Hamid
    July 26, 2017

    Once upon a time, the game of football was played by MEN with full moustaches, hairy legs, tight shorts and no-name jerseys. They cherished the company of their teammates and the chance to play for their respective clubs and national teams. They also showed respect to coaches, adversaries and referees. They also were educated, smart and charismatic. Today, the game is played by BOYS still struggling with acne. They make in one week what some people make in a lifetime. They have overblown egos, snooty attitudes and bad haircuts. They have low IQs and they don’t really care because they have millions of followers on Twitter and Instagram.

    Before starting to analyze the joke that the transfer market has become, we should maybe ask ourselves: Is the beautiful game still beautiful? Where are we going with all the drama, speculation and buzz? Is it ok to start valuing billions (we are close)?
    Yes, the game has moved on. But it has moved in the wrong direction.

    Maybe we should start watching more rugby instead. At least it is played by MEN… for now.

  40. Jim
    July 26, 2017

    Yeah, Hamid. . Men who don’t mind losing bits of their anatomy and not even getting a foul for it 🙂

    With regard to the low IQ bit I wouldn’t assume that. Some of the best footballers to pass through my school were pretty astute and as far as our local football team was concerned they asked for a regular report on anyone being allowed to miss classes for footballing reasons. if I was their Year ahead I had to write it. If they weren’t working or fell behind they had a conversation with their coach at the club during which it was made clear that this was a two way street. I had very few complaints with the way they dealt with any slackers and in fact more than one pupil was dropped by them for lack of application at school.

    Having said that we are still talking about fairly young men who will have known nothing apart from the footballing world and more money than their peers. I remember again the local club arranging for a group of its younger players to spend a week on a building site to show them how the other half lives. I’m pretty sure there will be similar things happening at La Masia to help them keep their feet on the ground.

  41. Davour
    July 27, 2017

    Just caught the game late. Some quick thoughts:

    -Alena with another convincing display – great alacrity and awareness, quick and precise with the short passes and movement. Promising! Too bad Samper only got a few minutes. It would be so much fun having these two giving it a go to retain the connection with La Masia. If Alena keeps this up, he will be fighting for a starting spot before long!

    -Neymar and Messi continue to display great connection. Screw it all, I want him to stay. Do wish Messi allowed him a few free kicks from the left (not to “suck up”, but because it makes sense). If things go well, they will be (even more) devastating. Seems as if they are playing closer together; don’t know if it’s tactics or improv.

    -As it stands, I would start Roberto before Rakitic as CM. Sergi is much more dynamic and able to break the lines. And man, I would give 100 m euros to have Pogba instead of Ivan…

    -There is no – NO – way that Arda and Munir can be part of the squad this season. I really hope Deulofeu can provide some threat off the bench; it cannot be less that these two offered today.

    -Beware: the club’s going to pull another “Puyol is our new CB signing” using Vermaelen….

    Finally: Cillessen is seriously challenging Ter Stegen for the spot if he keeps this up.

  42. dl
    July 27, 2017

    Fotobirajesh: belated thanks for those links — they’re much appreciated. I’m traveling for a bit so it will be a few days until I can get a chance to read them.

  43. omoh
    July 27, 2017

    As hard as it is to take for any team to loose a great player like neymar, barca can still take positives from the deal.

    First negotiate with PSG let them include verratti in the deal plus a £150m asking cash(they can beat it down to £130m lowest or £120m plus various add-ons).

    Take the cash(plus possibly £20m) to Chelsea and buy Eden hazard(who is yet to sign a new contract waiting for a bigger team to come for him).

    In the end, we have veratti, we have a pretty good & experienced neymar replacement and a non EU slot open for another non EU player.

    The only problem is that both Hazard and veratti combined are not as marketable as neymar but we’ve for no choice.

    After a few years when Neymar might have being humbled by lack of real success in PSG, we may choose to repurchase him(for a much lower fee and a reduced salary) or we may tell him and his money hungry father to go to hell.

    Lastly, we must include an anti Real Madrid clause in his sale contract.

    If only the brain dead board can think of it.

    • Rami
      July 28, 2017

      So after turning the US tour into a circus of constant transfer speculation, Disrespecting club and it’s fans, Becoming a nuisance and a distraction to his team-mates, And outright ignoring their pleads to put an end to this uneasy atmosphere, He now decides to pick a fight with a team-mate, Who is a newcomer!, Still learning the ropes.

      Weather this was an isolated burst, Or an orchestrated shenanigan to force the club to make a deal with PSG, I think we had enough, Give us the 220 million and bugger off.

  44. Jim
    July 28, 2017

    Thanks for that, Hilal. The Daily Mail is a rag but there’s no denying the video so I suppose he is on his way. . It’s difficult to tell from the video whether Semedo, as a new boy, was trying too hard to impress by having a real go at Neymar or whether he over reacted or maybe it was just the pressure he must be under ( self inflicted I know).

    I’m torn about this. I reckon there is probably more that we don’t know about Neymar’s time with us but when it comes down to his departure it’d have to be pretty bad for me to want him to go. If he was thinking about going it’s difficult to know what he could come out and say that would help the situation – maybe ask club for permission to speak to PSG and make clear he hadn’t made up his mind ?

    I’m also totally confused as to why, if he is going, Valverde has played him in the pre season games so far unless it’s a contractual thing with the promoters. We need to try out other options and if Neymar had said to the club he was thinking about it the club could justifiably tell him that we need to look at other options in case. Whichever way we look at it though, I don’t think the club can be blamed for this. It’s on Neymar.

    The reason I’m torn is that I believe strongly that he is the only player who could reasonably take over Messi’s position in our team. The names you mention, Hilal, are great players but for me not great enough to build a team like Barcelona around. I think Neymar in a more central position would be a revelation and was hoping that on the seasons we still have Messi he would have learned the discipline that needs to attend greatness, particularly in keeping possession and decision making.

    The final irony is, having seen the Man Utd match now, although I didn’t think the football we played was great there was no denying the sharpness of our players, maybe especially the front three. Everyone looks up for the new season and I thought several other good performances from us.

    Either way, this needs settled now. Barto needs to step in. I saw an interview he did recently in NY and thought he spoke well about everything but this now risks ending in acrimony on all sides. I find myself wanting to blame Neymar and doubting his desire to improve. His team mates although probably understanding of a player’s desire to earn more will not be best pleased with the distraction and I’d be surprised if Messi and Suarez are also not starting to get upset with him.

    All in all a bad business and an early test for Valverde. Not sure he’d have envisaged this when he took the job.

    • Jim
      July 28, 2017

      On rewatching the video two things strike me ( I’m sure experts in body language would have a field day with the differing reactions of the players but I’m not up to that.)

      The first is that it doesn’t look to me like Semedo has done much other than to hassle Neymar severely for the ball. I was always taught that training has to be real or doesn’t count so unless it’s a two footed tackle a bit of determination is fine by me. Should also say that even in my days playing at a low level there were always guys in the team who took delight in going up to the limit. These things happen in training and if not for the context could be easily smoothed over.

      Talking of smoothing over, I’m intrigued by Valverde’s reaction . He’s having nothing to do with it, even when Neymar departs Not sure that’s the best approach if he wants to establish his authority although I’m sure he’d have a word with both afterwards.

      • Davour
        July 28, 2017

        Considering Valverde’s reaction, I don’t know: in my experience it is rarely a good idea to act hard-ass in the heat of the moment, especially if he was unsure about the details. Better let it cool and then – as you say – have a calm but stern word. This is normally not a big deal, but the context makes it so. If Neymar was unhappy, just say so, no need to lash out. It is obvious that he is not in balance at the moment, and if he would admit as much afterwards it would be fine. Seems too proud for such admissions, however. I would greatly lament him leaving, as he is absolutely irreplaceable, but we beat RM in the final clasico without him, and in the best of worlds the team could be better balanced, with the right replacements.

        All in all, I can understand that he is tempted by a historic offer, going to a club full of Brazilians (as this seems important to him), and being the undisputed main man. BUT – this said – it is absolutely disgraceful not to make a decision already. And the club is looking weak in the process. I cringe reading about star players being soft in speaking about it (obviously aware of his abilities), and wish Messi & Iniesta would sit him down and explain how to act like an adult. Do what you want, but do it now.

  45. July 28, 2017

    @ Jim, I was like you very torn on Neymar, but the more time that passes the less torn I am. From my point of view the club and players have done everything they could to keep him, as they should have. I agree with you that there is no other player in the world who is better positioned to take the mantle from Messi, the players will all know this, which is why they are so desperate in their attempts to convince him to stay. That said there is a point at which this becomes toxic and it is reaching that point. Frankly the way Neymar has handled things so far has not been all that bad, what I would say is that if he wanted to leave he should have left by now and this has dragged on way too long now. His behaviour in training today was completely unacceptable and like you pointed out, Semedo did very little wrong from what I can tell, and he even walked away immediately trying to avoid any confrontation and Neymar tried to instigate more. Time to move on I am afraid. If we were to get Veratti + 150m in return (which seems a possibility now) and then use that money to buy a player like Dybala or Hazard I would be more than happy.

    Regarding the other players mentioned, while it is true that none of them really have the potential to take over the way that Neymar may have, I think what is clear is that Neymar was never going to wait for Messi. If he wasn’t leaving this season, he would leave next, or the year after at the latest. Messi has a good 4-5 years left in him and as long as Messi is in the team, the team will be built around him.

    I have to say not all that surprised by Valverde’s reaction. He is so new to this team, something like this is better suited to the captains to sort out, although like you, I am sure he will have a quiet word with them.

  46. TITO
    July 28, 2017

    I’m yet to see a brazilian around us who’ll be loyal till the end.
    It was obvious since we purchased him that time will come when he will leave. Burst-ups at training grounds are always there, nothing new in this case, the only odd thing is that involves Neymar.
    We really don’t need a player to build the team around him. Messi wasn’t alone in his prime, he had Iniesta and Xavi, So, i’m more than confident that any combination of Hazard, Dybala, Coutinho, Veratti or some other will fit just fine in our team.
    If Messi reigns for the next 4-5 years, that means that Neymar would have 29-30 by then and it wouldn’t matter if he would carry the team or not.
    If he stays, good for him, if he leaves, that’s it, we move on. Either way, it won’t be bad for us.

    • georgjorge
      July 28, 2017

      Being “loyal” until the end at a big club is something we are going to see very little of, regardless of the players’ nationality. Competition at these clubs is so intense that even very good players won’t be able to take their starting spots for granted towards the later stages of their careers. Plus – as Kxevin wrote in the article above – it’s not as if the big clubs display so much loyalty to players: if they perform below par for some time, they are out.

      Take Dani Alves, for instance, who was declining at Barca and walked away because he wanted a starting spot (and more money for it). Very few players who were formerly among the best at their team will take kindly to being slowly relegated to the bench if they can still be a central piece of a team somewhere else. I don’t think many players of the current squad will retire at Barca – Piqué, Iniesta, Busquets, maybe Messi as well. Though who can tell?

  47. Ron
    July 28, 2017

    Interesting video on the Neymar bust up, a few points:

    Would we have the same reaction criticizing Neymar if he hadn’t any transfer rumors associated with him? I feel we are trying to make a mountain of a mole hill and over-analyzing simple things.. training ground bust-ups are pretty common, as long as the players leave their disagreements on the training ground it’s fine by me. If it was Messi instead of Neymar getting tackled we might have had people saying Messi should be protected and it’s Semedo’s fault for risking Messi, in a pre-season game no less!

    Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending Neymar, far from it, but maybe I feel our leaders such as my man Iniesta should have had a word with him and tried to defuse the situation.

    Anyways, looks like the deal is pretty much sealed with Neymar cancelling his China trip with the reason cited as “transfer issues” by him.

    What worries me is that non Liga clubs dont have an obligation to sell players if the parent club wants to keep them due to the lack of buyout clauses, which means we have have to fork out obnoxious amounts of $$$ to get players of half the caliber of Neymar which doesn’t look good. The players named here such as Hazard and Coutinho, Dybala are great if we can land them (Hazard especially) though This has to happen sooner rather than later to help the them integrate into the team asap which won’t happen unless Neymar sale happens.

    I feel, (pure conjecture) that PSG are having issues with paying the 222m upfront and Barca will ensure that they pay it upfront which may lead to PSG activating the buyout clause only towards the end of the transfer window, which may have a detrimental effect on our chances of integrating whatever replacement we get from the funds..

  48. July 28, 2017

    I’m sorry to say it but I think it would be best for Neymar to leave now, and it’s not because of the training ground nonsense. I love the thought of him remaining and improving alongside Messi and co, but the hard truth to face is he wants to leave. No matter how talented the man is, having him remain risks poisoning the dressing room. He is an immense talent, and I think he would have continued to thrive at FCB, but obviously he doesn’t seem to see it that way. His head has been turned, and if that wasn’t the case we would have heard otherwise in an official statement from the player of some description. His silence on the matter is beyond ominous.
    What irks me is it is saturated in blind self-interest. If he wants to leave just say it and everyone can prepare and move on. It appears he is insidiously waiting for PSG to solve the FFP issue first, all the while having absolutely no intention to stay. As soon as the green light is confirmed (regarding the FFP) he’ll be off. It is sorely lacking in integrity. Football has been lurching into the dark side for years now, but this sorry spectacle is quickening its demise.

  49. Hamid
    July 28, 2017

    That’s what I meant in my MEN vs. BOYS comment above. Neymar is acting like a spoiled child and his attitude in and outside the field is not improving with age. Those in the corporate would tell you that it is necessary at times to let go a talented hard-working member of the team if their presence disrupts the peace and the harmony in the group. Neymar has proven again that he will never be a leader.
    Also, we seem to have taken for granted the absurd idea that Neymar can’t shine in the presence of Messi. A football team is a unit where players complement each other. You are part of the glory and of the fall, whether you directly contributed to it or not.
    I think we should set him free before things get worse. The problem is that he can’t make his mind. And that’s the boy in him!!

    • Davour
      July 28, 2017

      Well, perhaps he has made his mind up, but – as is noted above – PSG have not solved the money issue. Then it of course be a very tense situation (as he would not be eager to tell anyone, in case the transfer would fail). However, even if this is the case, he should make his intentions clear to the club – or the club must make him do “a Verratti”: a statement of intent, and then the club might regain som initiative and stop this pleading attitude. This seems to be very poorly handled overall. Sad, really.

  50. Rami
    July 28, 2017

    Neymar leaving is the easy part, It’s what we’re going to do with that 220m the real conundrum.
    Logic dictates we should spend it as efficiently as possible, Make every penny count, The biggest talents for as little money as possible, But how will this be possible in this transfer window?, The very existence of the 220m coupled with only a month left and the fact it’s impossible for the club to bluff and pull a poker face, Will double or triple the price of any player we dare to gaze upon!

    I believe that to form a successful team for many years, There is no better way than to commit to the coaches project and vision, That means pulling valverde into a room, And telling him he can have any player he feels he needs, To make his project work,

    But we all know that’ll never happen, With the board facing a “No confidence motion”. They in no doubt will go after a “high profile” signing that the fans will want, Instead of what the coach really needs.

  51. omoh
    July 28, 2017

    If there anything to I learnt from that burst up even before watching the video, it’s that Neymar is frustrated.

    Frustrated at everything going on around him. Personally I believe he and his team miscalculated and their miscalculation has now turned to bite them in the back. I believe it was an issue of one smart game too many.

    From my angle I believe their initial plan was to put a word out through a Brazilian media that PSG is interested in other to force an upward review of his contract like he has done almost on yearly basis only this time around barca doesn’t have the financial capacity and had to call his bluff. Now PSG has taken it serious and his team’s ego won’t allow them to accept defeat and make a turn around.

    I think he never really wanted to go to PSG and even of he did, maybe he has now realised how poorly thought and disastrous that decision could be on his career but the charade has reached a point of no return. He is now in a limbo.

    He can’t announce his own departure. It will be a great embarrassment for him to come out and announce his departure from a club of Barcelona’s calibre to PSG. From a top league to a second class league.

    The buying club is not sure of being able to conjure up the figure needed to sign him without flauting the FFP rule. So they too cannot announce his capture.

    The parent club is not ready to to release him therefore is not ready to announce his departure or impending departure until the buying club pays.

    Whereas, the love from the fans is diminishing because the charade has dragged for too long and they now see him as an outcast or a fugitive.

    Presently the guy has no friend anywhere until the transfer saga is sorted hence the frustration. In the end, whatever he decides, he is bound to have enemies on the team he decides against.

  52. Davour
    July 28, 2017

    Man this just does not look too good:
    “In addition to players coming through the ranks, Real have been busily bringing down the average age of the squad with back-ups now available for every first-team player: Theo Hernandez (19) and Dani Ceballos (20) will join Llorente (22), Mayoral (20) and Jesus Vallejo (20) in the senior squad next season. The combined transfer fee for those five players is €52 million. In 2015-16 Barca spent the same amount on Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal, two squad members they can now not shift for love or money.” (http://www.espnfc.com/club/real-madrid/86/blog/post/3167622/roles-now-reversed-in-real-madrid-and-barcelonas-cantera-versus-cartera-debate)

    But of course it’s skewed: they have several ageing stars, like CR, Modric and Ramos, and we do have younger stars like Ter Stegen, Umtiti, Semedo, Marlon and Denis (and Neymar…?), as well as possible La Masias in Samper and Alena, as well as a few promising prospects. But something has been (is?) rotten in the organisation, for sure.

    • Rivaldo
      July 28, 2017

      Run those same figures between the to two clubs from 2000 to now, 2017. See what you come up with…

      Also, how long has it taken Perez to get it right? Any grace left for our own?

      Sheeezzzz

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