The bright sides of the Neymar transfer

You shouldn’t be interested in Neymar revisionism or any sorts of nonsense. To be clear, his leaving sucks. Bad. He is an irreplaceable player whose signature moment in the colors was as architect of a Champions League comeback that had us all gibbering like loons in between weeping big, fat tears of joy.

When a player leaves, a fanbase tries to soften the blow with, “Well, he wasn’t that good anyway,” or “He never reached his potential,” etc. Don’t. Don’t even consider such a thing. FC Barcelona has lost the second-best player in world football. Any notions to the contrary shouldn’t be taken at all seriously. He was a fantastic player who changed the way that Barça plays in ways that are all good. We can say that even as we can’t really say that we wish him well in his future endeavors.

This is also the perfect time for FC Barcelona to have lost the second best player in world football, primarily because it has the best player in world football.

The big winner in this Neymar transfer saga is PSG, like it or not. This places them on the stage as a major player from the standpoint of not only being able to attract talent (don’t scoff at money. It’s the principal motivation for 99.99 percent of players). The club will also be able to attract talent, using Neymar as bait.

Yes, there are ancillary concerns, such as team mentality — though it will be buoyed by the arrival of Neymar — and what if the massive cash outlay doesn’t result in a Champions League? Everyone will be waiting for them to fail, and from the depths of my Blaugrana soul, I hope that Barça draws them this year, and kicks the ever-loving shit out of them. But that’s another story for another day. PSG won. Huge. Petty? Sure. Money-based? Absolutely. None of which ameliorates their having become a player, thanks to the club’s monied parent tossing the equivalent of pocket change at Barça.

The big loser in this Neymar transfer saga is Neymar, who is taking a massive risk. PSG is a top team in a third-tier league, the flat track bully who couldn’t even beat a team of kids, Monaco, to the L1 championship last season. And the egg is still dripping from its face after having been shelled in the Camp Nou in Champions League. On Saturday, Barça played a friendly on the same day that PSG played a French Cup match, and the only thing anyone who wasn’t involved in the French Cup match cared about was the friendly. That is what Neymar is leaving. If you want to be the biggest player in the game, should you turn your back on the biggest match in the game? His marketing profile takes a hit, which won’t be making his friends at Nike exactly giddy.

He also gains a reputation — even aside from the one that he already had — as someone who uses a club as a piggy bank. PSG won’t care, because its parent, Qatar, has cash reserves approaching 50 billion. The 222 million fee isn’t really even money for them. That Neymar is a short-termer with them won’t matter as well, because he was always going to be thus. Figure him to stay there a couple of years before moving on to Manchester United or Real Madrid.

Neymar also has acquired a newly earned reputation of shirking in the face of greatness. He wants to be a great player, wants to win the Ballon d’Or. But what could he honestly do at PSG to win it? Nothing, because the club with all the money is beating up on farmers and budget signings in wait. He will need to win Champions League and the World Cup, and sparkle like a diamond while doing so. But people believing — no matter how true it might or might not be — that he is punking out in the shadow of a giant will affect how he is viewed.

Yes, he gets richer. He will double his salary. But money doesn’t buy everything.

Another loser in this is Josep Bartomeu. He is president, and this transfer happened on his watch. This is true even as there is nothing that he or the board could have done to stop it, even if they were willing to pay Neymar the same 30m per season as PSG, because Messi would still be there. Neymar left for hope, and money. Gobs and gobs of money. In this new game, where teams are made rich by absurd TV contracts and sovereign nations with deep pocketbooks, Barça is a traditional club who can’t compete in that sphere. The club will clear more than 700m for this season, and still can’t compete. Think about that for a second. On the same day that Qatar bought Neymar, the nation also dropped 5 billion on some warships. PSG is the mutant in the financial game now.

What will help Bartomeu is the lingering enmity among culers over Neymar, the way he handled his time here and the way that he left the club. But this still happened on Bartomeu’s watch, and he will suffer some short-term damage. Will it be sufficient to help Agusti Benedito make the almost 17k soci signatures he needs to force that censure motion? Doubtful. Why?

Because the surprise winner in all of this is Barça. Yes, the club has lost the second best player in the game, and suffered a minor blow to its prestige in that giant clubs don’t lose players such as Neymar. But that blow is already being softened thanks to the general worldview of this transfer, which is the truth: there is nothing that Barça could have done to stop it. The team has everything that a top player could want, except all the money in the world. The game understands that, and will quickly move on from any perception complexities that might arise.

Last season, Barça won the Copa. Just the Copa. The time is right for the team to reconsider what it does, with a new coach and the beginning of a young cadre of players, all of whom show bright potential.

They also have more than 220m to play with in a transfer market that is only going to get crazier. The rumored 150m for Kylian Mbappe will be north of 200, should he have another season like he had this past one. Ousmane Dembele’s rumored 110m fee will match Mbappe’s next summer, and the only teams in with a shot at those kinds of players will be … PSG. This is particularly true if you look at the reality that Sky overpaid for the Premier League TV rights. Viewership couldn’t possibly perform up to that expectation. But next summer the market will still be crazy so as strange as it sounds, there isn’t a better time to have 220m to throw around.

Another dirty little notion that makes Barça a winner is those who legitimately wonder if Neymar has peaked, if the PSG assault is it for him and there is nowhere to go but down? Or across. Neymar is, presumably, going to PSG to be The Man, to get out of the shadow of Messi. Do you shirk from that if you think you have growing to do as a player, with a significant shot to become the best in the game? Nope. None of this means that Neymar is going to decline as a player. But if you are a team who signs a young player, one who you know is going to leave at some point for his next team, why not sell him at the peak of his value and use that money to lay the groundwork for the future?

The other thing about Barça and the way that it plays under Neymar is that like the Guardiola system, opponents were figuring it out. Wall off Neymar, isolate Suarez and put another wall in front of Messi. That became the way to control MSN. Barring that, foul Neymar and bet that the ensuing set piece would amount to naught. So it was time for a change.

If the friendlies, particularly the one against Real Madrid, were any indication of how Valverde wants his Barça to play, a change is in store, a change that makes a player who does what Neymar does less essential as the game returns to midfield, high pressure and ball control. This last is even more crucial, having seen what happens when Barça loses possession to a quick opponent. The risks that Neymar takes in possession, therefore, become increasingly expensive (potentially) as Suarez isn’t tracking back, nor is Messi.

As supporters argue for a return to midfield supremacy, a system that makes sense given the personnel that Barça have (particularly if Iniesta is in your XI), is Neymar a player you want to use for a possession-based game? Did Neymar see that time coming, and choose to get while the getting is good?

On the surface, this transfer sucks. Reality is that it isn’t as bad as we might think. Neymar wasn’t going to stay with the club forever. Some of us predicted he would leave this summer. The club gets a massive wad of cash, has to rethink the way it approaches things at the right time anyhow. Lemonade from lemons? Perhaps. But as people run around saying, “I never liked that dude anyhow,” consider the above.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Recent Posts

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.

101 Comments

  1. Davour
    August 2, 2017

    Thanks for such a quick reflection! Here’s hoping that PSG will strike a deal with Barca instead, too, to give us 250 to avoid the taxes or whatever. I fully agree with your point of view – I have adored Neymar, though also felt unsure wether MSN was sustainable in terms of overall team tactics. As you indicate, Neymar does give up possession quite often, as well as takes his time on the ball rather than favouring circulation. However, nobody else in the world will have the same ability to play 1-2s with Messi in tight spaces and create something out of nothing. But we might get a more balanced team – the whole might benefit despite the loss of a golden piece.

    The scary part is a Messi injury, of course.

    It will be tremendously interesting to see how the club acts now: Dembele? Mbappé? Seri? All of them? It is hard to see who would come to “fix” the midfield (aka. back-up Iniesta). I hope Valverde is ready and that his word will be worth more than any reflex galactico-thinking.

    Anyway, relief the circus has ended (well, still waiting for the money). I do not wish Neymar well, but I will thank him for great enjoyment and all the moments of brilliance he has offered. All in all, however, I am not sad to see him go. It was, as this article points out perceptively, time on many levels.

  2. TITO
    August 2, 2017

    Well, it looks it’s Coutinho on our way.
    Unless there’s an injury or something else, he’s not even on the bench tonight for Liverpool against AM.

    • Davour
      August 2, 2017

      Ah, so my dream of Mbappé & Dembélé is over? 🙂 Well, let’s still hope for the latter, at least! If this rumour is true, it means we spent more than 100m on Coutinho ,a very good player who is known for being a bit inconsistent and prone to injuries, yet to be a superstar. Man…

      • August 2, 2017

        Coutinho played yesterday, so only natural that he would be left out. DiMarzio, who is my gold standard for transfer talk, said before anyone that the club is after Dembele, which makes sense. Mbappe will probably be 180m, and isn’t really what I would like to see (note the avoidance of “what we need,” since I don’t know what Valverde is thinking). Dembele could probably be had for 90-100m.

        • TITO
          August 2, 2017

          Surely that’s not a reason to be left out. After all, he could have played one half, Mane was there tonight, Firmino, Lalana…
          Nevertheless, his absence tonight is strange to me. Getting Dembele wont exclude the purchase of Coutinho.

  3. Jim
    August 2, 2017

    Yeah, a fair account of the situation, Kxevin, although for me, and this is, as you know, nothing to do with his leaving because I’ve said it several times this season, I don’t see much of a difference between the Neymar that arrived and the one that left. He was for me third best in the world when he arrived ( well, Xavi was still here so that wasn’t even close) and he’s now second.

    I was sorry to see that things turned ugly with some fans . We don’t want that. Nothing’s worth that. I’d agree with you that he probably is the second best player in the world although I would argue that he’s not the second most important player to this Barcelona team. For me, both Suarez and Pique ( and possibly Iniesta ) are more important to the way we play and would be missed more ( I’m excepting Messi from all this because we’ll all weep the day he gives up !)

    On to the positives. It was good to see Valverde stamping his authority on the situation and sending Neymar packing from the training ground . He has some tactical possibilities to get his head around before we start for real and that will have done him no harm with the squad.

    As is correctly mentioned in the article if Valverde wants to move back towards a possession based passing game ( should never have left it – looking at you, LE ! ) the absence of Neymar is in some ways beneficial . It allows a four in the middle which means Ini is relieved of the extra running in favour of getting forward or freedom of movement for gluing the passing game and should also mean we don’t lose possession nearly as much which makes counters less likely. It also means we can afford a less gifted but mobile ( and deserving!) player like SR there whereas I wouldn’t be playing him in a three.

    Btw, just watched the pictures on Sky Sports News. Is it just me or did Neymar look pretty sad as he got on his jet, leaving Barcelona for the last time ( because it probably will be, given the atmosphere – fans don’t tend to forget ) ?

    Just to be clear, now that Barto has correctly decided Griezmann doesn’t fit, tell me we aren’t planning to spend 100m on an unproven teenager from Monaco ? Not particularly enamoured of Dembele either although he has his moments. He looks like a poor man’s Neymar with two left feet and whose said feet are much quicker than his brain. Mind you, tough decision as whoever comes will be seen as Neymar’s replacement. That’s a gig nobody wants. . .

  4. Jim
    August 2, 2017

    Ah, took so long typing the last post I hadn’t seen Tito’s comment. Yes, well colour me still one of Coutinho’s admirers if anything comes of it although others are right to raise the fragility issue. But then I’d have Thiago in a heartbeat and take the chance that the Spanish sun would cure him . . .

  5. Jim
    August 2, 2017

    Just spotted Kxevin’s comment this time. Makes sense. I’m giving up…

  6. Jim
    August 2, 2017

    Positively last one. From Barcastuff :

    Neymar wants to play his last game for Barça v Chapecoense due to it’s significance & charitable nature, not yet ruled out [@Alfremartinezz]

    Now let’s think this one through, son …

    • georgjorge
      August 2, 2017

      Charitable? I know some fans who will feel anything but!

  7. Ron
    August 2, 2017

    All this talk of Neymar living in Messi’s shadow is just BS, almost every game the past few years was Messi basically passing to Neymar whenever he had the chance, giving up penalty shots to Neymar so he could break his goal-scoring droughts.. Time will show it was Neymar living under Messi’s shade and that experience where he got to interact with players such as Messi and Iniesta who, for multi millionaires had almost no ego is what protected him from the glitz and glamor of the football world.

    Also, since I got Hectored with my last post, I’d like to post it again, if that’s ok-

    My issue with the whole Neymar debacle is that Valverde probably didn’t know about the Neymar issue till maybe a few weeks ago, which means he probably thought Ney would be part of our team and made plans (team plans/positioning/formation etc) for a month or two (especially looking at how much Neymar played in the friendlies, there would be no reason to play Neymar if he wasn’t going to be part of the squad for the season from a sporting standpoint) which may be redundant now that he is missing an important piece. He might have to just go back to the drawing board and may not even be able to plan seeing as our new recruits may be delayed by long contract talks.

    On one hand, getting rid of Neymar may actually allow Valverde to tactically fiddle with our system even more now with the new recruits more suited to a high pressing game which we seem to be going for, I’m excited to see the players we get.. Not sure about Coutinho as I haven’t followed liverpool in some time but I really hope we don’t take the bait and use all that Neymar money on a 200mn+ move for Mbappe, there’s no way he’s worth that much based of just one season!

    • Chiu
      August 2, 2017

      – Agree with you Ron. It’s Messi who nurtured him since the start of his european career like a brother. Exchanging pass after pass, sharing penalty even free kicks, not showing any ego as the best player in the world, and all the good words Messi always said about Neymar to made him ready to play at the highest level of football with Barca. Not mentioning how Puyol, Xavi and Iniesta provided a good mentorship and “school boy” environment to shield him away from superstar lifestyle that could ruining his career earlier. It all made him a great player worth today.

      – Neymar is gone now. We thank his service. Time to move on to prepare for the new season. Excited to find out who will be coming as reinforcement. Lots of interesting names and potentials circulating in the media. Hope Valverde and the technical team make a right transfer choice. Onward, forward, Visca Barca !

  8. TITO
    August 2, 2017

    I have watched Dortmund more than enough last season to have an opinion about Dembele and as far as im concerned he is still a kid with a terrible decision making calls, worse than Delofeu had once (now improved a bit). He is fast, he is young, he might become a great buy but not now and not for 100 mill euros which is nonsense.
    Again, if i had to choose for a similar player i wouldnt think for a second and buy Martial.
    Sell Rafinha, Arda and Gomes and with those 100 mill from them go for Hazard.
    Hazard, Coutinho and Martial for me is a perfect summer (since we cant have Verratti). Anyway, having a wish is one thing, let’s see what Valverde and the board have in mind.

    • August 2, 2017

      Anybody you buy now is going to be potential, and a risk. But a club has to get in now while prices are only insane as opposed to batshit crazy. Think how much Neymar would cost in today’s market. Mbappe has had, effectively, one good season and not even a full season. He’s 150m. Dembele is 90, Coutinho 100. The market is out of its mind now, with no end in sight. Now that Neymar has gone for 222, what’s the limit?

      No way Turan, Rafinha and Gomes get 100m. Turan would be hard-pressed to go for 20, Rafinha 25. rumor is club was offered 40 for Gomes.

      • TITO
        August 2, 2017

        This all situation with an inflate football market reminds me of that 2008 when the whole world economy went downhill. Simply it has to blow sooner or later because is unrealistic and artificially inflated.. We’ll see.
        But for sure we can get 30 or more for Rafinha, around 30 for Arda and between 35 and 40 for Gomes. Im talking about players who have little or no influence at all in our game, for the moment. Maybe our coach have plans with them, who knows, we will see.
        I want players who are more or less suited to or style of play and have gained enough of experience. I dont want kids, we have them enough in our own backyard.

    • Rami
      August 2, 2017

      Your Dembele concerns resonate with mine.
      Messi and suarez are in their 30s now, That dreaded rapid decline will happen anytime soon, Is it wise to spend these precious few years left in them, Pairing them up with a 20 year old player that still needs three, Maybe four years to reach his full potential?, That doesn’t sound right to me.
      The kid is very talented and has a big future ahead of him, But as you said his decision making is still lacking, Also he’s inconsistent, something we expect with a player this young, But by the time he over comes them, Suarez and maybe messi have past it.
      So warning to everyone, If he does come this summer, Dial your expectations down, He’ll stick out like a sore thumb when next to messi and suarez, He’s no where near neymar level, At the CURRENT time, He’s certainly a player for the future, But not now.

      Griezman will be the perfect player to pair with messi and suarez, But it’ll never happen, For many reasons.

    • Davour
      August 3, 2017

      Happy to hear an assessment from somebody extensively watching the rumoured players, Tito! The little I have seen of Dembélé is certainly not impressive enough to warrant a place in our starting 11, though he looks a massive talent. To be honest, the little I have seen from Mbappé impressed me more; he looked strong and clever in his movements, already a real player. But two games is not enough! I agree with you that Hazard would be the best replacement, and I’m sure Coutinho would add something – they are more established players, more likely to deliver from day 1 (or soon enough). I would be very surprised if we could get Hazard, however, unless he is dying to come, and we already had a bid of 100m rejected for Coutinho (rumour has it). Tough. Also, let’s not all buy luxury players; somebody needs to track back…

  9. squeen
    August 2, 2017

    I thought very highly of Neymar, but what I loved most were his 1-2’s with Messi. No other player on the team accept Iniesta was capable of that (after Alves left).

    I cried tears of joy watching the CL comeback, and hoped Ney would finally get the love and recognition I know he craved. But, honestly, he didn’t (from me at least). So what my problem. He’s a great player—2nd best in the world.—but something about him just didn’t fit the narrative that drew me to Barca initially. Those “capering sprites” you frequently mock, the one’s who’s time has past in the football—well I admit it, I miss them. The notion that a group of small guys that can collectively beat the thoroughbreds of the sports world. I’ve always love the notion. I don’t know why I don’t get as much joy out of a lightning counter-attack as I do a team goal. But I don’t. I’m sorry, its just what I like.

    Neymar was a thoughbred. He could out run just about anyone. His high-jinx were enjoyable because of (solo) the skills, but almost everything else left me feeling flat. I want an uber-skilled Barca midfield team that no one can touch. It’s what thrills me. I’ll take the downsides of not being able to get through the wall in the final third, even if it means losing games.

    He was awesome. He got along with Messi. He tried hard, was unselfish (even though I think it hurt him). Our enemies rightly feared him, and he helped us win.

    But somehow I am *relived* to see him go. Weird.

  10. Chiu
    August 2, 2017

    – Great summary Kx. Fully agree with your thought!

    – Agree with you Ron. It’s Messi who nurtured him since the start of his european career like a brother. Exchanging pass after pass, sharing penalty even free kicks, not showing any ego as the best player in the world, and all the good words Messi always said about Neymar to made him ready to play at the highest level of football with Barca. Not mentioning how Puyol, Xavi and Iniesta provided a good mentorship and “school boy” environment to shield him away from superstar lifestyle that could ruining his career earlier. It all made him a great player worth today.

    – Neymar is gone now. We thank his service. Time to move on to prepare for the new season. Excited to find out who will be coming as reinforcement. Lots of interesting names and potentials circulating in the media. Hope Valverde and the technical team make a right transfer choice. Onward, forward, Visca Barca !

  11. G6O
    August 3, 2017

    So La Liga just rejected the buyout payment.

    How long will this drag on now?

    • August 3, 2017

      It is such a shit show. This really doesn’t help Barca one bit, and I suspect is being influenced by Madrid in an attempt to draw this out, making it more difficult to sign viable replacements. Certainly I am sure they are worried about Barca hijacking the Mbappe deal and it is public knowledge that Tebas is a RM fan. Honestly I just cannot wait for this to be over!

    • georgjorge
      August 3, 2017

      Well, a telenovela of average length can go on for four or five seasons, so I don’t see why “Neymar’s Way” should be less. I’m just waiting for the part where it is revealed that his long-lost twin-brother, whom Neymar didn’t know about, went to Qatar ten years ago and is now the owner of PSG. The whole thing is just his attempt to unify the two brothers!

      In all seriousness: it is getting old already.

      • Ron
        August 3, 2017

        “Neymar’s Way” Starring Nike, PSG, Neymar Sr with a special guest appearance from FC Barcelona….

        This really is the worst case scenario for us though.. I hope we get a swift statement from UEFA before this escalates into the most retarded transfer saga of all time!!

  12. Rivaldo
    August 3, 2017

    So… Here goes nothing*breathe*
    Why not bring back Sanchez for Neymar? 50mil max? A steal in this market. We could also still get Coutinho for the prices mentioned and if the Inigo Martinez rumours are true – his buyout 32mil can be met as well.
    Thus…
    Neymar out – Sanchez back (ouch!)
    Sell Arda (no need for him), Rafinha (Coutinho offers dribble penetration), Munir (Sorry dude), Douglas (I never understood), Vermaelen (Inigo Martinez all day),
    And…
    We would still have a World Class Squad of (24) players capable of playing differing styles at a very high level.
    The only change would be if Valverde really wanted Paulinho (he offers energy, a goalscoring threat and disrupts oppostion play all from midfield – “I guess Enrique had good ideas after all”)- we’d get rid of Gomes then.

    • Rivaldo
      August 3, 2017

      Any thoughts on a Sanchez re-purchase?

      I think it makes sense price wise and quality wise – a player who offers a wide range of skills – and he comes at a different stage of his career where he can be “the man” of that left wing and from what I’ve seen in pre-season, Neymar was going to be allowed to come inside more like Messi does – Sanchez does that well.

      • CentreBackJockey
        August 3, 2017

        I don’t think Sanchez would ever want to come back to Barca. Besides he predominantly played on the right side and he didn’t seem happy at the club playing second fiddle.

  13. Quaizar
    August 3, 2017

    What’s up with these release clause?. PSG can trigger ours but we can’t buy Verratti because they don’t have any release clauses. Isn’t that very unfair?

  14. Andh'ol Roin
    August 3, 2017

    First of all salutes @everyone, i’ve been lurking a while and i wanna say it’s always a pleasure reading through the articles and comments. Fantastic, amazing, awesome work! \o/

    Second of all discussing a bit the Ney side, i have to tell you it tore a hole in my heart cause he was an outstanding player and i really enjoyed his humiliating of Bilbao when the basque shepperds were hunting for injuries and it wasn’t only the PSG fairytale but also the guts he seemed to have in the last seasons and the extreme unluckiness in front of goal which peepz don’t seem to understand it is only because he was a forward now playing delivery, of course it affects your natural instincts when the new you first looks for a pass when all your life you had been looking at goal But, man, if you go to church in Spain at exactly this moment you will probably find every right back in La Liga by the altar, thanking God for Neymar’s departure. Also, the price of Carvajal just doubled.

    But in all seriousness, it was obvious that he didn’t belong because there were simply too many players who didn’t defend. And we forgive Messi that, but not to anyone else, even the second best player in the world.

    But only now i get to my problem: tactics.

    Give me a coach who can’t integrate the second best player in the world and i will eat my keyboard starting with the letters “C R A Z Y”. So why don’t we have the coach who can do that?

    I was actually really upset with you Kevin when i read your critique of LE’s short career at Barca, because it didn’t reveal THIS one major problem which was obvious even then – our best players in the team cannot and will not defend, so there has to be a solution. A tactical solution. Innovation!

    There should’ve been a higher up pressuring Pep style team, or a team which defends with 8 people and keeps MSN near their goalie, there should’ve been a 3 goalkeepers+ rakitic+MSN disposed in a circle and with Jordi on a parachute or there should’ve been something which could be done to help Ney who was obviously struggling and leaving a lot of hard work on the shoulders of Iniesta and Jordi, There was a solution out there.

    I think Mourinho would’ve seen the problem and would’ve found or at least searched for a solution. Conte is another bet i would make. Not to mention Pep. The point is, i think there are coaches who would’ve seen it.

    Cruyff would’ve thought it before it even appeared.

    But nobody in our HQ searched for it because a fantastic forward trio keeps winning matches with a more desperate and tired team backing them up everyday, up to the point where if you would be Iniesta you would scream “Give us one more man in def or we die here and it all ends”. And winning is a terrible mask for incompetence.

    And of course it is seen in the team and of course people in the locker room will think you lost too many balls and circulation is not quite arterial so it’s your fault and you should feel bad cause this blancoc suckers are champions and Barcelona Jr. came second though you literally took them closer to finals by yourself etc etc

    But it’s not. Cause even the modernestestest best player in the world doesn’t defend. L10 doesn’t. cr7 doesn’t. So why should 11jr?

    And here it is, the small difference between good coaches with good discipline and good ideas and great coaches which are capable of rethinking the game.

    But we are Barca, and we should have one of those. And if we don’t, we will only go deeper into this hole we are plunging into, not having yet a replacement for Dani, Andres, Xavi, Suarez and i think people often don’t realize how great Raki is for us.
    We are plunging by trying to play with other people’s tactics instead of adapting to a better playstyle which can rarely be afforded because it assumes you basically have the best players in the world.

    We just hit that and sent it to the history bin. I feel like an enormous mistake has been made, for the sake of football in general altough perhaps it may be true that while Leo still plays we will still outmatch most of the teams.

    But football lost a big chance, a huge revamp. I don’t think there are positives in Ney’s departure, I think there were negatives in our team which we failed to correct.

    But for the sake of conversation i will mention my special signings which would appease my troubled soul, they are a bit controversial:

    1. New forward: Dybala, for being the most pacey copy of Leo available. We need pace.
    2. New mid: Toni Kroos from the evils. I know it’s crazy but this guy gets so little recognition that he should be on a plane to Paris by now.
    3. New left: Ronaldinho, for obvious reasons.

    Cheers and sorry if i am a bit harsh, i’m going through a tough break-up while everyone else seems to be doing good 😀

    • georgjorge
      August 3, 2017

      Fantastic comment, thanks a lot!

      I’m not sure though why you seem to say Neymar didn’t defend. He tracked back and defended a fair amount of time last season. It’s true that he wasn’t as good as, say, Rakitic at it (and that’s where one of your solutions was definitely needed) but he put a lot of effort into it. I fully agree that last season was not bad, but below what the quality of the players on the pitch could have brought us.

      Toni Kroos? Not a big fan. He’s a very good player, he’s very good at passing the ball around, but not very good at evading opposing players at close range or producing a crucial throughball. Or maybe I’m just spoiled by having watched Iniesta for so long ; ). Anyway, even if he were what we needed EE would make us bleed for him, what with the transfer season almost over, Barcelona not having secured any big players so far, and them not really being dependent on selling him. And hating us.

  15. Lionel Richie
    August 4, 2017

    222M in + 40M remaining.
    We must re invest in the squad.
    262M can buy a lot.
    Who do we get? I’d go for..
    1) Hazard
    2) Dembele
    3) Seri
    4) Inigo

    Let’s roll.
    Neymar, see you in the CL group stages.

    • August 4, 2017

      Wow. Lionel Richie called that one. Apparently the Inigo Martinez deal is done. We paid the clause.

      Lots of talk about defense here. The biggest difference in Guardiola’s team and its successors is that it legitimately defended with eleven. Neymar, for me, had his best season in the colors last year because he worked like a dog on defense. It wasn’t to Henry levels, but that defensive work cost him at the offensive end for sure.

      At present, if Barça rolls out its Gala XI: Ter Stegen, Vidal, Pique, Umtiti, Alba, Busquets, Iniesta, Rakitic, Messi, Suarez, ???, three of those players aren’t all that useful on defense (Iniesta, Suarez, Messi). The Guardiola teams were so impressive because we not only had the best players in the game, but they were the hardest workers, chasing everybody all over the pitch.

      Ibrahimovic’s arrival began to change that, Villa’s arrival exacerbated it. It could be argued that results declined because of that lack of numerical superiority all over the pitch that Guardiola’s treble side enjoyed.

      Right now, Valverde will have to rethink how the team defends. Luis Enrique tried. For a while there, Barça’s defensive record was fantastic under him. People have already forgotten that. The problem for Barça is possession, in particular lost possession. So if Neymar or Suarez tries something and lose the ball, the break is potentially devastating because of numerical mismatches. Valverde will have to devise a way to fix that.

      Guardiola fixed it by fetishizing possession. As he said, “We’re crap without the ball.” So the answer becomes keep the ball. A similar approach will be needed with this team, but for a different reason. Iniesta has so much to offer still, but he can’t be forced to chase the ball. That isn’t in his legs any longer. Suarez isn’t that useful pressing because of his position on the pitch, and if Messi is going to save all of his energy for offense, he isn’t tracking back either, even though he has been so far in preseason, even as I don’t see that continuing.

  16. August 4, 2017

    Looks like we have our first signing… Inigo Martinez. We just paid his 32M buyout clause. I have to say I like this move and it demonstrates the board are listening to Valverde. He is a solid player with good experience, doubt he will be a starter in big games but provides a high quality sub and will allow Pique to rest a bit more.

    • Rami
      August 4, 2017

      Valverde request for martinez indicates he wasn’t convinced by vermaelen or marlon performances, The latter one going on loan (It’ll either make him or break him), And knowing mascherano is on his last legs, Being 33 years of age now.
      I agree, It’s great to see valverde request accepted so readily, I can’t emphasize more how crucial it is to bring all the pieces the coach needs.
      Luis enrique had a dream like first transfer window, And he gave us a treble.

    • Davour
      August 4, 2017

      Not done, but close. Seems a reasonable transfer to boost the squad capacity. Vermaelen is too risky, even if he would be good enough. 32m is money, but word is that Barca won’t pay the 26m “loyalty bonus” to the Neymars, which almost covers the transfer without even dipping into the 222m. With the pre-existing transfer budget + possible further transfers (say 15-20m), we should still have a minimum 250, and possibly 270-300m to spend! Let’s just no spend it blindly – we need to let youth have a go.

  17. Kd
    August 4, 2017

    Sorry Lionel but PSG cant be drawn with us in the group stages.
    And bye bye Neymar, we loved you but now that u r gone, we shall refocus towards our beloved Barca.
    Also time to bring back the tiki taka with high pressing 🙂

  18. Kd
    August 4, 2017

    Luis Enrique also had a dream like 3rd transfer window. According to he himself. And we ended with Copa. Now dont get me wrong, I quite liked him and his intensity. But I think the defense was found lacking at crucial moments. And thats something he should have planned for.

    • Rami
      August 4, 2017

      That’s seeing a glass half empty instead of half full.
      The outcome of last season, Doesn’t negate the validity of providing a great transfer window for the coach, It’s then up to the coach and the squad to match the expectations given them.
      The failure to deliver last season, Shouldn’t give the club the right to screw over valverde.

  19. Davour
    August 4, 2017

    Caught a glimpse of the friendly today. A rather uninspired affair, but as always Samper offered some enthusiasm and some good moments, and Alcacer scored a beautiful free kick goal. Vermaelen was injured, I think… well, two impressions that have remained throughout pre-season: Give Samper a shot and sell Arda.

    • Rami
      August 4, 2017

      Well i watched all of it, And putting aside that it was a borefest and an eye sore to watch, It was quite alarming seeing a mid-table second division team go toe to toe with our bench, Who are much. Much more expensive, And “theoretically” should be much better than their opponents.

      The players performances were below average if not terrible across the board, The only ones who were slightly, Just tiny bit less terrible, Were semedo, Roberto, And maybe samper.

      • Davour
        August 5, 2017

        I agree – I did see maybe 40% of it, and it looked awful. I wouldn’t worry too much about the inability to dominate, as the players looked less than enthusiastic about the game (glorified training session). I felt Roberto made a few mistakes that were very uncharacteristic and can only be explained by lack of concentration. Semedo had a fw good moments, yes. Samper did his thing; I mainly commend his attitude on this occasion!

        But yes, even an uninspired second string should do better than this…

  20. Ron
    August 5, 2017

    Is the Martinez deal done? I haven’t heard anything of it yet….
    Arda was a joke, I actually thought now with Neymar being sold, he might stake a claim for the LW role but he doesn’t seem to be interested in anything apart from waiting out his contract and collecting the $$$..

    In other news, I heard Juve rejected a 120mn bid for Dybala- seems he’s not going anywhere atm.. Sad seeing as he was one of the few CL tested forwards we had been rumored to go for..

  21. Davour
    August 5, 2017

    Exciting times, frightening times… Personally, I realise that I do not watch enough football apart from Barca to really be able to expertly discuss transfers at large. However… :), I am amazed by the support for Nice’s player Seri. Have anyone really watched his full game? His highlights give that his expertise is long, sweeping passes, which is hardly what we need now (would have made more sense with Neymar still here). Highlight from recent game against Ajax gave more in terms of through balls and short passing, looked better. But another name that’s been thrown around seems, agains from my limited position, Napoli’s Jorginho. From what I can tell, he is precisely a controller, great passer and recycler of the ball with ability both to penetrate defences and defend well.

    From what I have seen and heard, my money would be place on him, rather.

    • August 5, 2017

      Most transfer “needs” are fashion, ginned up by social media advocacy and YouTube reels. As a devoted football junkie who watches every match and league that he can, have seen enough of Seri to like his profile. He’s got tactical discipline issues that can certainly be ironed out by a coach such as Valverde. He’s a massive talent but as you correctly note, defo not a controller. Saddest at his arrival would be Rakitic.

      Jorginho is late to the dance. Barça Twitter has begun to pick up the echoes of him, based on the notion held by some that Napoli plays more like Guardiola’s Barça than Barça itself. Again, if that bygone era is your avatar then there isn’t a player in world football that does what is needed for that system, unless Xavi discovers a fountain of youth.

      What makes Seri useful is if Valverde’s teams play as usual, and Barça plays as we have seen in the pre-season friendlies, his pace and physicality will be every bit as necessary as his ball skills and passing vision. We’ll also have to look for him to improve his control. People don’t realize how difficult a time most players have controlling a pass that gets spanked at them by a player used to high-speed rondos and that sort of control.

      We’ll see. What’s funny is that the player who does have that kind of skill, Coutinho, has already been discarded as not worthy for some reason. He’s a brilliant player with exceptionally quick feet and good close control. But he, like Seri, would need some tactical discipline.

      For me, I’m still not sure any of them are a brighter prospect than Alena, who we already have. So many have the “Yeah, well,” with Alena. But he understands the system, and the ball explodes off his foot. With the level of competition the quality of his game didn’t change, and he possesses an innate understanding of the way Barça plays.

      The market reaction is usually to buy. I wouldn’t even be that jazzed on going for a left winger if I thought that Deulofeu was anything like ready to become the player that his talent suggests. Valverde is definitely interested in returning to midfield control, but I think more for the mess the team becomes when it loses possession, vs any sort of sepia-tinted visions of the past.

      But the team is also going to have to sign some pace, to deal with the counters when possession is lost. Semedo can run with Bale. That’s fast. Part of why Barça gets done on counters is that overall, the team lacks pace. Hopefully that need is also addressed in the window. Semedo and Vidal are probably the two fastest, but they play the same position. Alba has lost a step, but is still faster than Digne. Umtiti has pace, PIque doesn’t.

      Neymar leaving will mean less risk in possession just as a consequence of the way that he played the game. That should help with the conceded counter goals. But there’s basically a month left in the window. We’ll see what happens.

      • Davour
        August 5, 2017

        Thanks for an elaborate response, Kxevin. Good to hear Seri seems like a good signing, as it seems a real possibility. Alena should definitely not be forgotten, but from what I saw of yesterday’s friendly, he is still learning, and we shouldn’t count on him this year already, though he should get plenty of minutes, between A & B.

        Do I understand it correctly that you do not rate Jorginho as a good signing? I thought he might be an upgrade on Rakitic in terms of the passing game, linking up with Busquets and facilitating/feeding playmaking Messi.

        Just watched a bit of the German supercup final; some good moves and a fine assist by Dembélé. Of course, he is nowhere near Neymar’s quality, and shouldn’t be named “replacement” if signed – but although I think it would do him good to remain another year at Dortmund, I would not mind him coming, all things considered. I also like Coutinho’s close control and technical abilities (saw a few Liverpool games last season) – but not sure he is worth the money required. And he would be more of an “obstacle” to Alena, perhaps.

  22. seattlefan
    August 5, 2017

    I like Sid Lowe’s recent article where he talks about the Gaspart history. I hope we don’t feel that we now have $250+ million burning a hole in our pocket. Any team with a potential shiny object to sell to us will be thinking tourist prices times ten.
    The board will be tempted to a marquee signing just to placate anxious fans.
    Assume we don’t sign a forward as a like replacement for Neymar.
    We’ll have:
    Mats/Cillesen-GK
    Semedo/Vidal-RB
    Pique/Umtiti/Martinez/Masch/Marlon-CB
    Alba/Digne-LB
    Busquets/Gomes/Samper-DM
    Iniesta/Rakitic/Roberto/Denis/Rafinha/Turan-MF
    Messi/Luis/Alcacer/Deulofeu/Munir-F
    That’s a very strong, balanced and deep team. We were an Iniesta injury away from perhaps winning the treble again last year and players were probably too tired by the third year of LE’s style. It’s rare for any player to adapt to Barcelona’s style of play in one year and younger players even more so. I expect big improvement this year from Gomes and Alcacer. You could already see it at the end of the last season and preseason with the latter.
    Roberto will no longer be a makeshift FB and he, Vidal Denis, Umtiti and Digne are all relatively young players who are on an upward trajectory. Samper and Munir did not really convince in pre-season although they are another year physically stronger. The best thing for them and the team is another year out on loan. Alena is the real deal. A Masia mid-fielder that actually likes to shoot from distance and has extreme self-belief. Although another year leading the B team with guest appearances in the first team will be best.
    Semedo was a great signing – you can’t train speed. His presence will substantially improve our defense. Martinez will aleviate some of our Piquedependencia.

    Turan was the biggest disappointment of the pre-season for me. Perhaps, Barca is actively shopping him especially if Coutinho comes. Also, we didn’t see Rafinha and his propensity for injuries is a worry but he provides added scoring, Rafinha, Denis and Vidal are all weak on the defensive side and could stand improvement there.

    Spending half of the Neymar money on Dembele or two thirds of it on Mbappe are long shots like gambling away money you just won on the tables. I’d rather go for Griezman next year who is more proven. Maybe Deulofeu will make us forget about Neymar. OK, the odds are against that but I agree with kxevin that less goals this year can be compensated for by letting in fewer goals.

  23. Hamid
    August 5, 2017

    Let’s put the money factor aside for a minute and try to look at Ney’s transfer situation from Ney’s lenses. Some basic questions would come to mind:
    – What if, unlike Barcelona, PSG had a real mid-to-long term project with a clear vision? Look how its board is managing transfers (getting rid of Ibra, bringing Draxler and sticking to Verratti) and building a solid squad. And look how Barça board bet everything on 30-year-old Messi and humiliated 25-year-old Neymar.
    – What if, unlike Barcelona, PSG was a team of 11 and not a Messi + 10? Neymar will be in the company of a balanced team with gifted players (Cavani, Verratti, Dani, Silva, Pastore, Draxler, Rabiot, Aurier, Matuidi…).
    – What if, unlike what we think, the Ligue 1 is not third-tier but a rising league with a huge talent potential? Let’s not forget that if it were not for Neymar, France might have had 2 teams (PSG + Monaco) in the last round of the CL last season.
    – What if, unlike Barcelona, PSG was a team of tomorrow not trying (in vain) to duplicate past glory?
    – What if, unlike what some of us maintain, the big loser in Ney’s transfer is actually Barcelona? Let’s not forget that each time Messi did not show up, Neymar led the team and was Ney + Messi.

    • Rami
      August 6, 2017

      -What if i told that the simple fact PSG are willing to spend nearly 600m euros on a single player, And bringing a 34 year old RB and paying him a salary of 14 million euros just to convince even more that other 600m euros player to come Just illustrates how desperate they are and have ran out of ideas, Where is the clear vision in that?
      -What if i told you, That with exceptions of verratti and now neymar, We have the better players in every single position on the pitch, That’s 9 out 11 positions, And if they hadn’t exploited the greed of neymar and his father with these absurd amounts of money and the fact they’re owned by a state., It’ll be 10 out of 11!, Holy molly, Our bench?, Same story.
      -What if i told that the UEFA coffeicncets and Association ranking places ligue 1 at position 6, Behind La liga, bundesliga, EPL, Serie A, Liga NOS (That’s portugal), But hey let’s not be too harsh on them, They’re still above the russian league.
      -What if i told you that in the running for the european golden shoes, Unlike the top 5 league that gives 2 points for each goal, Ligue 1 get’s 1,5 points per goal, Same as Russia…..
      -What if i told you That this state owned, Money pumped club, Which theoretically no team can even compete against, Has such a pathetic structure and mentality, That they lost the league, To a team of mostly young players, And bottled a 4-0 first leg lead, Something that have never happened in history.
      -What if i told you that the reason why PSG are not duplicating past glory, Is because they have none, And the same neymar a few months ago after the remuntada was making fun and trolling them on instagram,
      -What if i told it’s always the player that loses when leaving FCB, Because it’s our style and the talented roster we have is the reason why messi or even neymar can shine the way they do, And our club isn’t a one-player trick club, That’ll fall apart because one decided to leave.

      To tell you the truth, There isn’t anything redeeming about your post, It’s not your feeble attempts to glorify PSG that bothered me, But it’s feeble attempts to undermine our team that did.
      We all know that there is the stereotype that cules, Are Ever panicking, Doom anticipating, Always gloomy fans, But your post buddy, Takes it to a new level,

      • Davour
        August 6, 2017

        Indeed! I would say the Neymar moving was not just about money, but also general spotlight (and possibly the social factor). To me, Barca are losers in this affair only in how they had to accommodate this circus and being left with less time to act on the transfer market. It is obvious Neymar was not sincere. Not smacking a higher release clause on him was also a mistake, in hindsight (mainly considering most other leagues don’t seem to use them, which makes replacement harder), but perhaps he would not have accepted it anyway.

        But Hamid, man – that is some serious contra-factual ramblings right there! Ligue 1 is hardly up and coming! Monaco will barely have any players left, Lyon just sold their star attacker to Arsenal, and Seri is on his way. PSG is an anomaly because they are a marketing tool for Qatar (oh, Xavi, why did you have to be one, too!). In a sense, it is really the perfect club for Neymar…

        • Rami
          August 6, 2017

          Having a higher realease clause wouldn’t have kept neymar for two reasons, First one being our club isn’t the kind that holds players prisoners, It’s toxic to keep such figures in the squad.
          The second one, Neymar would’ve forced his way out anyway, If the past 3 weeks have taught us anything, Is that neymar has no problem playing dirty, For weeks his situations in barca was volatile, Fans panicking, The board doesn’t know what’s going on, Neither his team-mates, Who constantly pleaded him to say something, And what did he do?, Nothing, Ignored everyone, While everything around him was in flames, Not mentioning how conveniently he started a fight with a player who just arrived recently.
          In the light of that, Can you imagine what neymar would’ve done if he wanted to leave and the club refused with PSG unable to pay his clause?, It would’ve been a nasty mess, Much more than we went through this time, And we would’ve been lucky if we got a 130m for his sale.

  24. Rami
    August 6, 2017

    To change the mood and take our minds out of these stressful weeks. Here is a fun documentary of the US tours, Where the camera follows the players shows what they were doing, It’s very enjoyable and informative.

    https://youtu.be/PX7FGSPjb9w

  25. Víctor
    August 6, 2017

    If Neymar really wants the challengue to make PSG win the UCL then yeah… he’s up for a real struggle… maybe he should have gone to Arsenal to make the challengue even more difficult… however, it is obvious that money was the real motivator for his move. Well, that and avoiding the Spanish authorities that just went over Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

    I agree that Barcelona actually wins with this. No benefit with holding a player that isn’t that interested in doing more sport achievements.

  26. Hamid
    August 6, 2017

    You totally missed my point Rami. I have been a culer for more than 35 decades. On an exclusive basis. I can confidently say that I know a little about our history and values. So the idea that I was undermining Barça (and glorifying PSG) is reductive, ludicrous and a bit low. Remember that my comment was an invitation to look at the situation from Ney’s lenses. I was merely trying to start a conversation about what could have prompted one of our most brilliant players to leave our ranks. It is easy to brush Ney as a traitor and a money-grabbing son of b****. What is not easy is to recognize is that we are not prepared for the post-Xavi/Messi/Iniesta era, that our recruits in the past 4 years (except for Neymarand Umtiti) proved sub-par and a waste of money and that we are lacking the consistency and vision that has allowed us to dominate world football. Rami brother, if you consider that any criticism directed to the board, to the team or to the players (including Messi) is a sign of duplicity or disloyalty, then you are hopelessly missing the intention of this forum.
    I happen to disagree with some comments made in this blog, but I will always assume (rightly or wrongly) that they stem from the love and devotion that their authors have for the team.

    • Víctor
      August 6, 2017

      35 decades? Whoa… you are a fan from even before the team was created.

      I’d say that Suarez is another great signing of the club, despite the fact that it was after the Chiellini bite incident.

      You are correct, though, in the sense that the team doesn’t seem to be prepared for a post-Iniesta era.

  27. Hamid
    August 6, 2017

    Thank you Victor. I meant 3 decades and an half of course.

  28. PPos
    August 7, 2017

    ALRIGHT BOYS!
    Well looks like Neymar had his move planned out weeks ago. The one that needs to really step up now is Deulofeu. How awesome would it be if the castaway came back roaring and led us to greatness? The man has pace just as much as Neymar did. Ha, referring to Neymar in the past tense now comes a lot easier. Let’s turn the page. Neymar is gone.
    The big rumor is that Coutinho might come tuesday. He’s an excellent player and can play multiple roles. Dortmund apparently wants more than 100 million for Dembele. I’m still not convinced about him. Yeah, he’s fast, and has moves, but his finishing sucks and then again so did Neymar’s last season. He is only 20 years old so there’s that.

    I read the ESPNFC article about the best move for us right now would be to do nothing. Lets just let the money burn a hole in our pocket. The market is overinflated anyway. Many of the players being sold aren’t worth that much money. It’s like the US real state market before 2007. It’s gotta pop eventually.

    I think the biggest cancer in the FC Barcelona organization right now is Bartomeu and his lackeys. They don’t instill any sense of security and leadership. They’ve been made the laughing stock of the world with the way they dealt with the Neymar transfer, because apparently Neymar Sr. was in our corner trying to convince JR. to stay, but the board’s attitude put them off. It is what it is. I hope that the no confidence vote happens and we oust them, because they’ve been honestly just bad, Terrible.

  29. What is the benefit of signing Coutinho? I don’t get it. In terms of controlling the midfield Rakitic is way better. No idea what is so great of Coutinho! He is a good player who produces occasional brilliance. I haven’t seen anything to suggest him making into first eleven ahead of Rakitic and Iniesta. We need someone who could control the midfield not yet another flashy midfielder. Also we need a back up for Busquets, if he is going to have a season like last year we could be in deep trouble…

  30. Jim
    August 7, 2017

    It’d be great if Deulofeu did step up. He has the pace, passing ability and finishing but tbh there are still huge questions about his defensive abilities or rather about his willingness to put enough into it. He’s much better in being where he should be defensively but still lets folk go past him at will. Neymar wasn’t much better at that aspect but his attacking made it worth while. Still think the best performance I’ve seen from Deulofeu was in an Everton game where he came on and played as an attacking central mid . With more space he left his man easily and found some great through balls. Anyway, he’s certainly gonna get a shot at some point. If he gets it right he has one of the cleverest CFs in Suarez to get on the end.

    Still hearing the board taking a pelting over the Neymar business. I’m not clear exactly why. It now seems Neymar knew well in advance that he was going to go but didn’t tell anyone. I’m not even going near buying that his dad tried to persuade him to stay and if his discontent with the board is based on them trying to avoid paying him millions in loyalty bonus then great on them. So what should they have done ? They’ve brought us TS, Umtiti, Suarez, ( Rakitic, if you think he’s been great) and Neymar ( well, mainly the previous incumbent who I never warmed to ). Yes, there have been poorer choices but I’m in the camp where if you have a sporting team telling you they want Gomes, Suarez, Rafinha, Vidal, Turan at el you either back them or sack them. They have managed to keep Messi, Ini, Pique, Busi and Suarez despite more money on offer elsewhere.

    They have brought us trophies plus financial stability ( wealth ? ). That’s not to be dismissed. I can understand Kxevin’ point of view regarding the corporate side of selling the shirt, new stadium cost etc but can’t say I agree. These days you need to have the money coming in to do any of the things we want to do. Messi’s last renewal cost us an arm and a leg, don’t think we’ve even been hit yet with Iniesta’s and Pique is coming up this year. These are going to be huge for ageing players but we need to keep them to have a hope.

    Valverde seems so far to have been a reasonable choice by all accounts although I’ll wait to see what his ” gala” eleven turns out to be, how he wants to play and whether he genuinely gives youth a chance, where they are good enough.

    So we’re left with Neymar. As I understand it he signed a renewal last year for five years. I think it’s reasonable to expect that he would at least see out the first two or three. You can’t keep your eye on every player in a squad where your concentration is forever on the next renewal. This is all down to Neymar not the board. They made it clear they wanted him to stay, as has been said the squad asked him to stay, Messi has certainly adapted his game to work with him and I TS be a huge surprise if we don’t win anything again this year. Neymar, it seems, has gone behind our backs, made his mind up early and put various things in motion while concealing his actions. His current buyout was ridiculous in itself and couldn’t be activated my in any legal way given the fair play regs. The board may well have asked for an even higher one and Neymar, knowing he wasn’t planning to stay refused for obvious reasons. That to me is as likely as incompetence on the board’s part. Not sure what the board’s attitude was because I don’t know what happened. However, imo they quite correctly refused to meet any new demands for money ( if they happened ), sent Neymar packing from the training ground and they are now having to work sharply to bring in quality players . Neymar’s timing, not theirs.

    So no, there may be other things they have done which merit disapproval – which board could we not say that about and my biggest beef is still that they changed the soci rules just as I had gained approval from my other half to become one ? – but even if you don’t like them it’s hard to call them a disaster.

    • Jim
      August 7, 2017

      I’m gonna take a stab in the dark here and say that’s the biggest lot of hooeey since Neymar kissed the crest ! Click bait or what ?

      • Doug
        August 7, 2017

        I think you’re right. Should have thought twice before I posted that – Tribal Football is not one of the more dependable sites, to say the least.

  31. Jim
    August 7, 2017

    Wasn’t getting at you in any way, Doug. Just sorry I couldn’t control myself and clicked on it anyway 🙂

  32. Ron
    August 7, 2017

    @ Doug I Doubt that is true as we don’t stand to gain enough to warrant Iniesta leaving besides Iniesta values the club too high to leave them when we need him the most!

    There seems to be more rumors spreading that we are prepared to offer Andre Gomez for Coutinho to sweeten the deal for Liverpool, a Player+$$$ swap for Coutinho with Gomez valued at 40m would be a pretty decent deal imo..

    Also,
    https://www.fourfourtwo.com/news/bartomeu-neymar-exit-no-player-bigger-barca

    Great to hear Barto putting his foot down and prepared to tell other clubs that the club won’t be held ransom just because it has a pile of money sitting around.

  33. Jim
    August 7, 2017

    Just sitting down to watch the match. A great gesture by the club and one to be borne in mind when slagging it. A great day for Chapacoense and their players.

    Is there anyone else would love to see the second half start with Messi marching onto the pitch in a Chapacoense strip unannounced and playing the second half for them ? They’d never forget it ( let them keep a twelfth man on so nobody gets bumped) and watch Messi delight in torturing our back line who wouldn’t dare to leap in . . . Pique’s worst nightmare.

  34. Kd
    August 7, 2017

    Wow this has become a long thread!!
    I don’t understand why people have a beef with our current board, especially their handling of the Neymar saga. In fact in my eyes, they have redeemed themselves a little by not bowing to unreasonable demands by a player who thought he could arm twist “an entire nation”. Regarding the previous transfers, the board backed the coach and got him what he thought were the players he needed to make the squad more competitive. And now with Neymar they have once again acted in the best interest of the club. Not once was there a leak or a story indicting neymar during this whole saga. Now they r working double hard to satiate the socios. I agree with Jim here 100%. And also with Rami earlier when he said that as a board you must back ur coach and his demands and back him early enough in the transfer window.
    I for one am actually hopeful of Gerard the prodigal son making a name of himself this season. And what a lovely gesture to invite Chape. It’s the first full match of the season I am going to watch and guess what, Deolefu starts!!

  35. Jim
    August 7, 2017

    Not only does he start but . . . . Just wow !

  36. Davour
    August 7, 2017

    This Gamper game has zero percent value as a sporting challenge for the team, but has symbolic value for Deulofeu. So far he has shown some promise, both in terms of plays and attitude. He looks more humble and determined. Perhaps the idea of being sent away a third time has its effect. I never warmed to him before, but if he would step up now, post Neymar, and show a constructive attitude, I would wish him all the best. It would also be useful even if we got Dembélé (as he won’t be 100% ready, either), and truly invaluable if we don’t get the Frenchman. It is obvious he has potential; let’s see if he can fulfil it. 3’s a charm, ain’t it?

    Also, Suarez needs to score; some great moves, but he looks too annoyed at missing for it to be healthy. I noted that Messi seemed irritated during some prior friendlies – excessively annoyed at not getting the right passes or missing shots, etc. This has continued today, during the first half. Speculating, has the whole Ney-situation bothered him? Or is he deeply determined to do well this year (might be both, of course), and his focus takes this expression? Probably annoyed with the board 😉

    Anyway; this team is still fabulous and can beat any side in the world, though I am worried about depth, still. One or two injuries away from trouble.

  37. Half and Half
    August 7, 2017

    Bartomeu isn’t very bright, is he? Complains about Neymar’s loyalty and wonders why he cant be more like Messi and Iniesta……. I wonder why that might be!? That’s what happens when you shift the focus away from La Masia players, who majority of the time have Catalan blood running through their veins, and at the very least have real affinity with the club having been brought through the ranks, in favour of shiny new big money signings and the culture all being about money.

    Early days of Valverde make his appointment look ok, promising in some areas of our play, but still on the whole we need change at the club.

  38. Davour
    August 7, 2017

    Chaotic late second half – some sloppy moves from most players (including our beloved Alena and Samper). I must admit I like how Marlon carry himself; I hope he stays.

    Most noticeable: Arda did not play.

  39. Jim
    August 7, 2017

    I think chaotic is a bit strong but we certainly could have done with a bit more calm at times. Bit hard on Alena and Samper. It’s really hard to come on for the last 10/15 minutes and get straight into the stride of the game. What I saw from Alena was what I’d seen before ; very mobile, strong, looks for a quick pass and return but needs to work on first touch. Gets rid of the ball a bit quickly for me. I’d like to see him try to create more but that’s a bit much to expect when he’s trying to play his way into the side. If he can show a creative side he could challenge Rakitic for some minutes. Certainly he’s worth some minutes this year.

    I’m beginning to sound like a one man fan club but I thought Samper was pretty good actually. Completed 12/13 passes ( a fair whack of them forward !) and the other one was a thirty yard one which forced the defender into a mistake which created a decent chance for Paco. He showed excellent quick pressing and seems much more mobile than I remember him. Loved the aggressive way he won the ball to start that counter. What is becoming clear, though, is that somebody needs to take him aside and show him how and when to tackle. He’s a bit bull in a china shop and while nobody gets past him now those fouls will mount. (That person maybe shouldn’t be Busi though. Did anyone see his two footed lunge which he got away with ?) Anyway, he’s a keeper and all the better if we can flog Gomes for 40m and give him the minutes. Check for yourselves. It’s at

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-KxQ4fxJdlE

    In other news ( hopefully not fake – did anyone see it’s now spread to the Kenyan election ? We’re in deep doo doo my friends ). I thought Suarez looked sharp – has he lost weight?- and Ini was majestic.. He actually twice stopped with the ball with three players around him and they were so hypnotised they couldn’t move !

    Very proud of the club and team today.

  40. Jim
    August 7, 2017

    Forgot to mention Deulofeu. Great first half. Doesn’t matter the opposition weren’t great. What was good to see was his pace, passing ability and particularly decision making. All were excellent and that doesn’t change with the quality of the opposition. Don’t think he was great defensively ( duh) but at least he was pretending to be interested in it ! I suspect he made a big effort tonight and will have to keep that energy going but at least everyone saw the positive side of his game after years of slagging. I have to say, for me, he looks dangerous and best of all he’s not into that stopping the ball stuff that Neymar did. That could pay dividends this year. Worth another chance at holding it down. What a cheap option that could be.

  41. PPos
    August 7, 2017

    Our boy Deulofeu is definitely stepping up. I was really glad with seeing his game today. He was full of running on both sides of the ball. This could be his breakout season. Why is Arda Turan holding on to the number 7? He barely even plays anymore. I gotta say I’ve always loathed him ever since he threw a shoe at a referee while at Atletico. I hope he’s sold. He’s just dead weight at this point. He’s just trying to run down his contract, collect the cash and do minimal work. Pathetic.

  42. Kd
    August 8, 2017

    I was also impressed by Deolofeu. Kept the game ticking, tried to combine with Messi and was full of options. In fact if I remember it correctly, there was a moment in the game where he tracked all the way back to our D and dispossessed a Chape player. Now before we start looking at him as “The answer” he must consistently perform at the same level and for that I hope he is given the required no. of games to do so.
    Suarez tho, kept missing and missing and missing. Glad it was just the Gamper. Now on to the supecup. I hope we press the same way. It is one of the things which has Valverde written all over it.

  43. Ron
    August 8, 2017

    Might just reserve my judgement on Deulo for when we meet Madrid for the cup, but things are looking good right now. is it too soon to say Neymar who?? 😛

    MSN might just turn into LSD this season (Leo Suarez Deulo/Dembele) so hoping for a dope season ahead!

  44. TITO
    August 8, 2017

    Guys,
    I know that i shouldn’t, but i got a ticket for tonight’s Supercup game and is played at my hometown, so, i’m going, and i’m planning to wear our shirt or jersey. 🙂

    • Rami
      August 8, 2017

      I think your mission is clear.
      Keep jinxing RM, Try every voodoo magic possible.
      All the luck to you!

      • TITO
        August 9, 2017

        Wow, first time seeing them live, but wow, MU is at most a mid table La Liga team in a relative mess.
        Not that RM were so superior, as much as these others were so bad and as long as they have Special Five at their helm they won’t achieve anything.
        Anyway, as RM were superior to MU, based on what i saw last night, WE are superior to RM :), and, we should definitely go for Isco as i said in the beginning of this transfer window.
        He controlled the midfield and almost everything was going through him, he was everywhere with great vision, control, stability, awareness… i don’t know how much are Rm willing to sell him, but i would loved him in our team.

  45. Rami
    August 8, 2017

    Absolute chaos out there, It’s “silly season” on overdrive.

    Coutinho has been signed about 5 times now, With fees ranging from 100m to 130m, He’s also been not leaving liverpool about 5 times now.
    BvB set a price of 150m for dembele, Now reports say it may be done at 120m, Astronomical numbers, He removed BvB info from his instagram and twitter, Is he pressuring or is it because it’s a done deal?

    My advice is stay away from this mess, And just occasionally check our official website for done transfers, And for the love of god everyone, Stay away from twitter, It drove me to the edge of my sanity.

    • Davour
      August 8, 2017

      Smart advise. Been following it a bit and it’s insane. Trying to keep a distance and enjoy the madness and drama. Caring too much drove me, too, to the edge.

      Watched some of the super cup; for parts of the first half, RM toyed with United. Another game (after Barca) that Pogba perhaps secretly wished things had turned out differently. Despite the result, United are far, far behind. No speed in their passing, lack of cohesion and horrible touches. They kept fighting and RM dropped off for some reason, but the difference in quality was huge. RM will be a hard nut to crack this season, too… Hopefully we’ll buy everyone and their mothers, including Lucifer himself!

      • Rami
        August 9, 2017

        Well Davour let’s be honest with ourselves, We won’t win the supercup, Will we….

        The evil empire have just won the European supercup, After coming from last season with a double and a historic back to back CL, The team dynamics instilled by zidane is as efficient as it can be, And the psychological momentum is as high it can get for them.

        Us?, Since team will need months to fully readjust and implement the new coach’s ideas, We’ll be at a disadvantage in terms of team dynamics , Our US tour was turned into a very distracting circus, Yeah and by the way we’ve just lost our 2nd best player, The supercup is just 4 days away, The end of transfer window is 3 weeks away and we’re still looking for STARTERS for our team, A LW and a Mid, These are the stuff of nightmares.

        The reason i’m saying all of this, Isn’t because of a lack of faith our the team, Or general pessimism from my part, But by bracing ourselves for it, We perhaps won’t over-react and over analyse it more than it should, It’s just that the timing of the super-cup came at the most inopportune time.

        • Davour
          August 9, 2017

          Yes, we are certainly underdogs for the super copa, but despite everything we still, I think, have a slight psychological advantage in the clasico, which hopefully will decrease some of their general upper hand. They did tire against Man U, but at times looked frighteningly strong as a team.

          Something I reflected on was the inability to contain Ramos on set pieces (didn’t score, but always close); if teams could come up with strategies to limit Messi’s influence as a false 9, how the devil can they not prepare to limit Ramos’? He must be a master of space, ball trajectory and timing, while having some “dark magic” at hand, too (elbows and whatnot).

          Anyway; I believe we can surprise them, but should enjoy the battle for what it is – early season “title”.

          • Rami
            August 10, 2017

            Hardly anything anyone can be done about ramos, Other than to make sure he’s marked by a player of ours that can match him athletically (Who that might be?, Umtiti?), Definitely not like what happened in camp nou last season, Where Mascherano seemed the one to mark him, Only stumble on the ground after a few steps, Leaving ramos with an open header.
            Also as far i’ve seen, Our of way of defending corners hasn’t changed with valverde, It’s still combination of zonal and man marking, I think.

            I disagree with us having a psychological edge, The departure of neymar not only it was a blow from a sporting standpoint, But also psychologically, When you see the attitude of our main players to his potential departure, It’s easy to see how much they valued him.
            Pique, Messi and suarez made serious efforts to convince him to stay according to many reports, Ineista in a press conference, Said neither 200m or 300m will be able to replace a player in the caliber of neymar, Sure one can dismiss those words and actions as being purely diplomatic moves from his team mates, But i don’t believe that, I think they genuinely saw neymar as a main pillar of FCB, And the rightful successor of messi, Just like many of us did.
            Seeing him go, Must have hit them hard, Yet i don’t expect them to show it on camera.
            What makes things worse, Is that we still haven’t signed a replacement for him, To put the squad into ease, Mentally.

            I haven’t lost hope in the supercup, Anything is possible with that little on our side.

  46. August 10, 2017

    Sounds like Dembele is on his way for a reported 130m! That is a ludicrous amount of money for a 20 year old player, but I guess the market is what it is and you either pay up or shut up. When players like Lukaku go for 75m and Walker 50m, well you know the market is fucked. We were always going to overpay given the amount of money we are sitting on. I am therefore trying to look at this signing outside of the context of how much it is costing, since well, it is what is it, and frankly it aint my money and as long as it improves the team I am all for it.

    So the big question is…. does he improve the team? Prior to this summer I had never seen Dembele play and frankly, never even heard of him (aside from the fact that we showed some interest in him last summer that came to nothing). I have therefore been doing a bit of research on him and what I have found is actually very interesting and promising, certainly in terms of profile he would seem the best fit in the market (more so than the others we have been linked with).

    The things I like – great with both feet, very fast, has some good dribbling skills.
    The things I am not sure about – finishing? pressing off the ball? defensive duties?

    His Youtube reels are impressive as hell, but so are Queresma’s so lets take that with a grain of salt and focus on his stats….

    Which are actually pretty good, better than I expected for a player his age, going to a new league. 21 assists tops Neymar by 1 and while goal scoring is relatively low at 10 goals, in context (age, experience, league) it really isn’t that bad. In fact it is better than Neymar’s first season with us, if I recall correctly he only scored 9 goals. Let’s also remember that the role he is coming to fill is not really that of a goal scorer, but more of a destabiliser and facilitator for the other two (just like Ney was).

    Would be interesting to get the thoughts of somebody who has seen him play regularly, but from what I have read and seen this looks to be a very exciting signing and one that can help to fill the hole that Neymar is leaving. Obviously I do not think anyone is expecting him to be anywhere near as good as Neymar, but given his age and the players he will be learning from, he may get close within a few years. Definitely an investment for the future, just as Ney was when we got him,

    Now let’s just see if it actually happens “in the next few hours”…. which seems to be the new line every paper is going with when they actually have no clue what is going on! Coutinho has been a few hours away since Monday! Haha

    • Rami
      August 10, 2017

      I also admit i haven’t seen much of dembele outside of CL, But i did talk with a lot of dortmund fans, And from i gathered he’s a very big talent, With huge potentials considering he’s still 20 years old, Some are confident he’ll be in the top 5 players in the world in a few years, If not higher.

      As you said, He’s fantastic as a dribbler, Loves associative play and setting up his team-mates, His finishing is actually good, But most of the time he likes giving assists and key-passes more, That’s why his goal tally isn’t high, He is truly ambidextrous with his feet, So he can play as a RW and a LW (He’s a RW most of the time in dortmund), And a great evidence to illustrate how good he is with booth feet, Most of his goals are from his right foot, Most of his assists are from his left, In general FCB love players who excel at different areas of the pitch, It suits our style of play.

      Dembele weaknesses is what you’ll expect from a player of this young age, He’s inconsistent Has questionable decision making, Loses the ball often, And he’s not good at defensive contributions, But none of those are a deal breaker, If he works hard, He can overcome them with time.

      In an non-crazy world, He’ll cost about 50m, But PSG and City have distorted the market prices beyond recognition, When we’re hearing 180m for the likes of Mbappe, 130m for dembele seems like a good deal.

  47. omoh
    August 10, 2017

    O ye fellow Barcelona fans, it is the 10th of August and barca is yet to identify an ideal midfielder to sign, neymar replacements are not forth coming and the club is afraid of upsetting a 33year old defender.

    I hope we survive this nightmare board unscathed.

  48. omoh
    August 10, 2017

    I wanted tobsat that barca should start debasing the release clauses of our players then I remembered we don’t actually have any world class young talent that clubs would be willing to break the bank for. Instead we allowed them leave through the back door.

    How did we get to this level. What did we do wrong to deserve this mediocre board.

  49. Davour
    August 10, 2017

    Dembele trying to force his way out is interesting, but not necessarily good. Does it sway Dortmund? Not for certain beyond that he can leave for the right price. On the one hand, they bought him for 15m last year, and he openly stated that he rejected Barca cause he wanted to learn more first. Dortmund would make an absurd profit and should respect his wishes. On the other hand, why sign a 5-year deal without buy-out clause if you regard the club primarily as a stepping stone? It is late in the window and Dortmund need him to challenge (well dreaming of) Bayern. With the money Barca has and the rumoured price of Mbappé, why settle for reason?

    Bottom line is that PSG (and also City) has completely shattered the market logic by paying so much for Neymar (and 180m for Mbappé, rumour has it). Last year, Pogba’s 100m seemed absurd, now the shit has really hit the fan. And I’m afraid we have to roll with it and fork up a sum that – hopefully – will seem absurd next year, for Dembele. It is the price to settle (or counter) the storm the Ney-affair has caused; money has lost some of its value, in this context.

    Long term, this could be dangerous for European football, for sure. I’m in favour of regulation in the sense that for example NHL uses, with set amounts (I realise it is harder to implement in European football). UEFA – and FIFA – will have to do something (but they probably won’t, courtesy of Qatarian influence).

    A mess, this is. But if we emerge with Dembele and perhaps another player (Seri, Jorginho or whoever the coach wants), with a few dimes still to spare, it will be enough for me.

  50. CentreBackJockey
    August 10, 2017

    We should change the release clause due to the recent inflation of the market but that would mean we have to re-negotiate every player’s contract. That will take months and cost more money. I’m not fussed about the release clause tbh. In the end it comes down to the player and if they don’t want to stay then Im happy for us to let them leave.

    Does anyone know why Iniesta didn’t train recently? And why our club would anounce this with no explanation?

    • Jim
      August 10, 2017

      No, the bit about Iniesta worried me too. I have this recurring nightmare that he’s gonna say he’s getting too old and quit. Yet, his performances have shown him a class above everyone bar Messi.

  51. Ron
    August 10, 2017

    Dembele for 120mn sounds like a ridiculous gamble, I’d much rather we go for 120mn for Dybala or maybe just try and manage with Deulo and paco for now and wait till next season for a decent winger rather than splurge blindly on untested .

    These rumors for coutinho and dembele are getting absurd now with each time one of them misses training or forgets to smile for a camera getting interpreted as they are trying to force a move to us, make no mistake both of them JUST signed 4-5 year contracts last year and their clubs are under no obligation to sell, even if we sent in Winston Wolf himself to negotiate the purchase.we might be better off trying to poach some skilled winger from a Liga side where buyout clauses are common rather than going for a player from other leagues for insanely inflated prices…

    • georgjorge
      August 11, 2017

      Very true. I had hoped the club would make some transfers like Umtiti, a relatively unknown defender with no rumours around him who just fit the profile perfectly.

      I just cannot believe that there are no very good midfielders and forwards around who, despite being out of the spotlight right now, wouldn’t improve the team nicely. Dembelé is good, and so is Coutinho, but I don’t think they are so much better than some other players to warrant all the drama and cash. Going for the hottest players on the market is flashy, but with a great scouting network maybe we wouldn’t have needed to do that.

  52. August 11, 2017

    The sums being thrown around for these players are quite frankly grotesque. This squalid, unseemly ‘show’ is slowly draining my interest in this game, and the seeds of contempt have been sown.
    It’s tempting to severe the football cord for awhile, put it in the ‘attic’ until the actual season starts. Then just turn on the first game when it happens and go- “oh, so that’s who they signed amidst all the stupidity, absurdity, lies, deception, and base level soap drama”.
    Meh {shrug my shoulders}.

  53. squeen
    August 11, 2017

    Chew on this thought:

    This past season Neymar saw his assists go up and goals go down. He was being asked to do more of the team leg-work and you could see he was smiling less. When he did get to goal, his legs were tired and he more often than not muffed his shot. He did what was necessary, and did it well, but after only one year of Messi not feeding him, and taking the goals for himself again (after three years of supporting Neymar and Suarez), Neymar’s ego couldn’t take it. He is a glory hound at heart, and you could see all year long he’d lost a lot of the joy of the game when he was asked to step away from the goal-scoring spotlight. He’s 25 and he want to be the star of the team and world. His Dad’s recent statement to the press was something along the lines of “how can he win the Ballon d’Oro with Messi at the club?” [and his son playing second fiddle]. Hell, the Ballon d’Oro is given out by France Football. It’s a major leg-up to be in the French league.

    He moved to PSG because he couldn’t take (mainly) playing a supporting role on a team. Barca has a rigid system, he was being asked to play like a midfielder/full-back, and getting disciplined for bad behavior by the coaching staff.

    He wants instead to be a foot-loose “star” and be above the rules. He lives for the spotlight and party scene. It seems natural and commonplace that he is like most footballers and craves recognition and special treatment. Neymar is at least partly the tantrum throwing brat we’d all most likely turn into given that much money and attention at a young age, but reigns it in because he knows it doesn’t play well on the world stage. It amazing that he was able to (mostly) suppress that desire at Barca for four years, and us fans were lucky because of the amazing results.. But enough is enough, and a leopard can’t really change his spots. At PSG he’ll be the main man, surrounded by a cortege of Brazilian pals (I’ll bet Marcelo ends up there next year, while Cavani and Verratti will be looking to get out). He’ll play wherever and however he wants, and it will be up to the rest of the team to adapt to his whims. He’ll be in heaven. Oh yeas, next year he’ll be smiling again—until he plays Barca in the CL, because (I hope) selfishness and indiscipline will always loses out to sacrifice and rigor in the end.

    On the other hand, Messi is this weird, fascinating anomaly that we watch but feel like we will never understand what exactly make him tick.

    One way of looking at it?

  54. Rami
    August 11, 2017

    Crazy stuff out there.
    Coutinho has officially handed a transfer request to liverpool, There were some sources denying it at first, But then they all confirmed it actually happened.
    Transfer requests can’t legally force a club to sell, But it is a clear intent that the player doesn’t wish to stay anymore, In a way it twists the hand of the club to sit and negotiate, Forcing an ‘unhappy’ player to stay, Isn’t a pretty sight.

    Also, Transfer requests aren’t purely symbolic, They can have ramifications on the player, The most important one being, He’ll lose the potential to collect the loyalty bonus many players receive on top of their salaries at the end of a season, And it’s a lot of money.
    What i mean is, If liverpool ignored his request and forced him to stay anyway, He will not receive the few millions he should get at the end of next season, Despite him staying, This is why it’s considered a measure of last resort.

    We still don’t know how liverpool will respond to this, But i’m sure our club is already preparing another offer, Higher than thr 100m liverpool rejected.

Leave a Reply