Best price for your best player?

If you are FC Barcelona, you are going to consider a certain type of player when looking at the transfer market. It isn’t a matter of prestige as much as it is that you already have top-quality talents at your disposal.

As a consequence, players of a certain level, one necessary to even have a shot of making a team that includes such talent, will almost certainly be the best or one of the best players at a given club. And yet, culers believe that Barça should just be able to walk up, say “Send him” and the selling club will willingly do so.

Why should it?

This is the most telling statement from the communication issued by Borussia Dortmund on the Dembele talks:

“… the representatives of FC Barcelona submitted a bid which did not correspond to the player’s extraordinary footballing and other abilities nor to the present economic market situation of the European transfer market. BVB therefore rejected this offer.”

The other big rumor involves Phillippe Coutinho over at Liverpool, a player who just signed a new contract in January, in a league without release clauses. Is he their best player? No, but it’s difficult to think of a better one. He is also a player who is important to his coach and his plans for the coming season.

But even more importantly, he is a player with whom, as with Dortmund, his club feels it is important to make a statement. Note that both Liverpool and Dortmund have said that they aren’t selling clubs. In a crazy summer in which a fiscal bully is strutting around, buying what it likes from a bottomless well of cash, other, “normal” clubs have a different situation.

Aside from Neymar, have there been any other big transfer moves this window? Lukaku? Morata? Those have been about the biggest. Real Madrid has been filling in squad needs, even pulling out of the Mbappe hunt. They have also bought from Liga sides, where players have release clauses. Pay and go.

Barça is in a very different situation, because it lost a key team member in Neymar, whose clause was paid by PSG. The pressure is on, because a club at the level of Barça can’t lose a player such as that, and not replace him, even as Neymar isn’t replaceable.

Compounding the complexity is timing. FC Barcelona’s U.S. tour included promotional demands that were tied to Neymar. So despite all the silence, and all the questioning, and all of the speculation, the reality is that the club’s board should have been planning for the player’s departure so that they weren’t sitting there on August 1 with 222 million Euros and nowhere to spend it.

Were they, and are now facing the reality of that “best player” difficulty?

Supporters always think that transfers should be easy. Player wants a move, club wants to buy him, selling club comes up with a price. Supporters of big clubs are also used to getting players that they want, and when it comes to transfer dealings, there are bigger and smaller clubs at every level. Liverpool supporters are snarling at Barça like Southhampton supporters would snarl at Liverpool. Everyone has a potential bully. Even the big clubs.

Clubs also need to make statements, and pick and choose those times to do it. Liverpool is making one. So is Dortmund. They can do that as they are in leagues without release clauses, and players who are under long-term contracts. Dembele joined Dortmund last year, Coutinho signed a new deal in January. What incentive is there for them to sell? Keeping an unhappy player? That athlete will be a professional because he won’t want to affect his future value.

So a club can say, in the case of Liverpool, “No,” or in the case or Dortmund, “We’re sitting on a gold mine, so pay up.”

And a club like Barça is in the position of being cash-rich, with nowhere to spend it. But what if the club had taken stock and said, “We know that you, the supporters, want and deserve a certain level of player. We also know that at the moment, the transfer market is too unstable and overvalued for the club to reasonably participate. So the club, even as it understands the difficulty involved with the loss of a talent such as Neymar, don’t see any targets that could be acquired, given the unstable and inflated market conditions.”

Would supporters have lost their minds, or lauded the club for showing that Catalan value of seny?

Instead, the club made offers for Coutinho and Dembele, two of the players of the quality required to make such a team as Barça, and have been rebuffed in both cases. So what next, aside from us understanding the arrogance of supporters assuming that their big club can just roll in a buy another team’s best player?

La Liga is hamstrung by release clauses, a legal right that governs free player movement. Spanish law treats its footballers like any other employee in that they can switch to a better job, provided the employer is compentated. Pay and go. The clause is, usually, related to a ratio based on the player’s salary. Many have wondered by Barça set Neymar’s clause so “low.” 222 million is not low. It doubles the game’s transfer record, and makes any potential deal worth, all said and done, something around a half-billion Euro transaction. That sum should have made Neymar untransferable and it would have, except to the one team backed by a sovereign nation with deep pockets.

In this window, PSG is has bought Neymar, and is rumored to have closed a deal for Mbappe from Monaco, for 180m. The club’s chairman is also in Madrid, looking to nail down Oblak from Atleti. Again, the price is known because of La Liga buyout clauses. What of Financial Fair Play? Ah. That rule was devised to stop clubs from going fiscally mad, and making them live within their means. And it has, by and large, done that. But what of PSG? From this chair, that situation cannot be allowed to continue if the game’s governing body has any kind of power or control.

The Neymar deal was structured so that the money isn’t coming off PSG’s books. This leaves them free to spend their 250m per year “sponsorship” from the Qatar Tourism Authority in other ways, such as Mbappe and Oblak. Technically, PSG isn’t in violation of FFP as it stands, because FFP isn’t really about financial fair play as much as it is making clubs live within their means to ensure that teams and leagues aren’t going bankrupt.

Should PSG vex in tnat context? Qatar isn’t going broke anytime soon, so neither is PSG, who is indeed living within its means. So what’s the problem? That they can buy whatever player they like? That’s only a problem from the viewpoint of the club trying to resist that financial colossus. PSG doubled Neymar’s salary and paid Barça 222m without a second’s hesitation. It was a statement transfer for them, just as Coutinho and Dembele are statements for their respective clubs.

Is there a solution to all of this mess? Assuming Spanish law isn’t going to be rewritted to eliminate buyout clauses in La Liga, the game will have to consider player movement and the restrictions placed on it by the current contract structure. A contract is a legally binding document. Players want security so they sign long ones. Clubs want to be able to count on players, so they ask for long ones. The problem arises when the prospect of a better job comes up.

Should a player be able to move freely? What of the contract?

The game should make release clauses standard, tying those clauses to a multiplier of a player’s salary with a set maximum. Messi’s release clause is 300m, which is roughly ten times his salary. Dembele and Coutinho have no release clauses because their leagues don’t. So their value is, essentially, whatever the club wants it to be. The club doesn’t even have to sell if it doesn’t want to.

The Bosman ruling brought the free transfer to football, a form of free player movement. How long will it be before a player lawyers up and challenges the current buyout clause structure, or how long before a Liga club decides that its league is at a competitive disadvantage and heads to court?

And what of Barça? What if it had made the above statement about the market being silly, and filled in squad holes. It picked up Deulofeu and Semedo. Finish off with Jean Seri from Nice, and call it a summer. What then?

Well, midfield depth and right-sided fullback would have been addresed, as well as having a player capable of playing left wing to a level of proficiency more than necessary to meet the needs of the structure set up by Valverde. It also keeps a light burning in the window for Carles Alena, who is already ready for the first team and will certainly be next season, along with Palencia and Cucurella.

The gala XI remains intact except for Neymar, who is replaced by a left winger that depends on the opponent. If a midfielder type is needed, put Denis Suarez over there. Or even Iniesta, because Seri or Sergi Roberto can be deputized for midfield duty. Messi and Luis Suarez are intact, with Semedo solving the right back difficulty and Aleix Vidal able to come in when a winger type is needed.

At CB, Pique and Umtiti were always going to be the starters, with Mascherano in the mix and Marlon shuttling back and forth as needed. Another CB is needed, unless the club just has to tread water until January, when the rumored Yerry Mina arrival happens.

Don’t forget that the current, woeful XI (if you follow the worldview of some supporters) would have beaten RM home and away last season, were it not for a brain cramp leading to a late set piece, and what should have been called a foul in the buildup to the equalizing goal. And that is at the end of a season filled with mental lapses seen nmost notably in the absent concentration that affected finishing.

Barça doesn’t suck, and should be in for a legit shout for a treble. Meanwhile, the transfer market is a mess, and it is very difficult to buy a team’s best player, particularly when there isn’t a system that defines the value of that player. Why is anyone surprised at that?

By Kxevin

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


  1. In a sense, your suggestion to not buy crazy is of course the most rational. But it might also mean being left behind, and I’m sure that is a risk the board are not willing to take. If we do not win anything, nobody is going to thank them – as an American senator once (mis)defined the most important aspect of his position: “To be re-elected”…

    We got crazy money for Neymar, thus we can spend crazy money, this one summer, at least. It is not a normal situation. And the truth is – or seems to be – that the team will need reinforcements to improve, and have a cushion against an injury to Messi or Iniesta. Buying Dembele and Seri doesn’t, supposedly, even mean spending it all – even Dembele and Coutinho would fit, at least if you add the pre-existing budget and sell one or two players to raise 20-30m.

    I think the board knows that buying Dembele (for sure) and, say, Coutinho, is a popular decision. If it fails, they will not be blamed. I hate to have become more similar to RM of before, and buying our way out of a problem, but it might be the way to go – I for sure don’t know, of course.

    Then again, if the board wants to take a real chance, they would do as you say, Kxevin, and buy Seri, and maybe another CB, and save the money. If the market has cooled next year, we will be in pole position. But if it haven’t, and RM buy Dembele (which would make sense if they sell Bale, at least), we are potentially much worse off than now.

  2. I wonder what our scouts are doing all season around Europe and South America.
    Because most of the names that are floating around are more or less a supporter wish, a popular name and media favorite.
    Surely there are other names without us having to spend so much and be hold ransom by their respective clubs.
    Ericssen instead of Coutinho along with his teammate Dembele, maybe Griezman, maybe Auba… there are other names for sure.

  3. This Neymar move kinda reminds me when Barça “forced” Fabregas purchase a few years ago. It was almost the same situation, Barcelona wanted him so badly and he wanted to come as well… Arsenal, obviously, didn’t want to sell, but they were “bullied” to do so…

    Aside, there was the rumour that Barcelona was looking for Draxler, but seems that he doesn’t want to get out of PSG… not even to other top teams like Juventus…

  4. Thanks the for the piece Kxevin!

    “The Neymar deal was structured so that the money isn’t coming off PSG’s books. This leaves them free to spend their 250m per year “sponsorship” from the Qatar Tourism Authority in other ways, such as Mbappe and Oblak. ”

    Could you expand on this please? I don’t seem to be aware of how PSG are going around paying for players like Neymar and the money not coming off their books…Wouldn’t that make FFP pretty much useless?

    1. The release clauses are not being paid by the other club, they are paid by the player himself.

      So from a legal point of view the deal goes like this:

      1. Qatar gives Neymar the 222M as if it is endorsement money
      2. Neymar pays Barca the 22M
      3. PSG sign Neymar as a free agent
      4. PSG has paid exactly 0 euro for him, officially at least

      Needless to say, this only works if you are backed by a bottomless pit of money such as the Qatar government. Barca could not do that because there is not separate entity to pay the buyout clause of a player the club wants

    2. Thanks for the reply G60!

      So doesn’t that make FFP useless? PSG could basically buy our entire team for a couple of billion dollars that way with no consequences?

    3. There are indeed provisions about related third party transactions, which in this case would relate to the Qatar government, who is very easily seen to be a third party related to the club. I know PSG think they are in the clear, I’m personally not so sure. But UEFA will not look into this till the end of year accounts are submitted by clubs. I suspect there will be some drama about this in the long run.

    4. Also, in the first press conference after the signing, Al-Khelaifi was asked who exactly paid the release clause, and I heard him say clearly that PSG did, Neymar didn’t. That was a bit of a surprise for me, because the rumor till then was about this sponsorship deal.

    5. If that’s true, several things would have hapened.
      First, Ney would have to pay 52% tax on that personal income.
      Second, the money has to be proven clean, i.e. not money laundering. A legal minefield if you ask me.
      Third, PSG would be in for a huge amount of risk since Ney could, in theory, sign with anyone, or even sign a new contract at Barca without any repercusion since he is a free agent. PSG could work out some kind of contract with the player, but those are not enforceable.

  5. In other news, looks like Coutinho is off the table !

    LFC released a public statement saying “We wish to offer clarity as regards our position on a possible transfer of Philippe Coutinho.

    The club’s definitive stance is that no offers for Philippe will be considered and he will remain a member of Liverpool Football Club when the summer window closes.”

    Looks like that’s that…

    1. That’s actually good news, if you ask me. I could never understand where he was going to fit in the team.

  6. Wouldn’t like o be in the board’s shoes at the moment, even if, for me, they’ve done nothing wrong.

    We could call it quits now and concentrate on what we have. Not a disaster although we’re only an injury or two away from disaster. Too many average players on our squad. I’m tempted to think the most important thing, given the difficulty in the time of bringing in a top name, might be to re- establish that we give our home grown talent a chance I could see a situation wher Deulofeu, Samper and even Alena rise to the challenge in the minutes they are given. And that would be a great message for all those working their way through La Masia. Certainly, if they can’t do it we’re as well closing it down as they are all great talents and shouldn’t need the time others do to adjust to our style.

    We could dash out and make a couple of big signings but how many previously have hit the ground running. I can think of Neymar and Suarez, possibly Umtiti although he’s not the finished article. Someone suggested we get him to mark Ramos. He’d get murdered tbh. He’s not great in the air and starting position isn’t good yet. Will be if he works in it and he’s an awesome prospect but he needs to keep working. Pique is the only one who could handle Ramos and we seem to think he’s needed to fill his position in the zonal.

    Point is though that certainly Dembele and maybe even Coutinho would take some time to fit in so not an immediate answer. For those advocating going down the good chain a bit, the further down you go the more likely it is that they’ll need more time. If they’re not ready for this season the hoard is in bother as the view will be that we haven’t replaced Neymar adequately ( not sure you can) .

    For those players who were hailed upon arrival last summer now is the time. They’ve had their adjustment period and we need to decide if they’re keepers. My own views on this are well known but I could be wrong. We’ll see. We then have Alena and Samper who haven’t had a season to adjust or much time to see what they can do. Do we persevere with them or not ? For me, we keep them and give them the minutes we can and judge at the end of the season.

    What do you do if you’re the board ? Dembele looks within range at a stupid price for an unproven youngster., Coutinho looks out with our reach but if he has put in a transfer request that could be a game changer. He’s hiven up his loyalty bonus by doing that so will be pissed if he’s kept there and yet misses out on the bonus. However, for me, he’s doing it the right way unlike Dembele. Going AWOL doesn’t endear him to me at all and speaks to his character making him less appealing..

    Having said all this, I’m still not sure why Fabregas didn’t do better with us. He is a top class player and I was completely wrong because I thought he would excel with us. In fact, in some ways it occurs to me that he, rather than the twins might have been the final straw for Thiago. Anyway . . .

    1. People need to remember that Valdes, Puyol, Xavi and Iniesta emerged precisely from the previous period of instability and poor performance that the club went through 15 years ago. I am not sure they would have had that not happened.

      So maybe this is a blessing in disguise in a way.

      The problem is that someone needs to stop Madrid from winning the CL…

  7. When they say the PL is the toughest leagues, they must mean the running due to inability – and unwillingness – to retain possession, and the disappointment from all the misplaced passes. Arsenal do not look impressive. Wenger seems to have pulled “a Luis Enrique” and stayed one year to long… 😉

  8. The solution to the current problem at hand is not to panic. We all know that Neymar cannot be replaced. So, instead of thinking on replacement, it will be best to focus on how to address similar situation from happening. As it is now, barca already have too much players than it needs. Some of the club’s best prayers or even best players in the world were developed by the club. Spanish release clauses aren’t going anywhere anytime soon and the transfer market is already out of control. Going back to basics and maintaining the club identity is better. Now some would say there isn’t enough talent to fill the void but I strongly disagree. Football is always evolving. The club signed six players last season and still lost Laliga and champions league even with Neymar’s presence. So, overspending on a player who’s not at neymar’s level may not be ideal.

    1. Good point. Still, is there enough creativity in the team to carry it, should Messi and/or Iniesta be injured? The latter was injured several times last year and will likely not be able to play more than 60% of the games.

      I think with should panic, but remain calm!

  9. Neymar was a catastrophic failure from the club. The stats since Neymar joined are shocking:
    Real Madrid won 2014, 2016, & 2017 CL.
    Real Madrid and even Atletico Madrid ended their La Liga droughts.
    Penaldo won Ballon Dor 2014, 2016, and likely 2017.

    I’m glad to see Neymar out.

    1. Yet, Barça also won another treble during Neymar’s time at the club… not to mention that Barcelona also won two more CDRs and another Liga…

    2. Wow! You can’t put that down to one player, especially one who, until last season, carried his fair share of goals and assists. He is an astounding player and one who I wish was still with us. I’ve criticised his lack of desire to improve often here but that’s from a ridiculously high starting point.

  10. So, Paulinho is in for 40 mill. Was that necessary?
    Our all kind of midfielders: Busi, Iniesta, Rakitic, Rafinha, Arda, Sergi Roberto, Gomes with Alena and Samper and now Paulinho.
    I’ve lost counting but isn’t that too much?

  11. 40 mil for a 29 year old midfielder. Ouch.
    At least we’ve got our own meme player, social media have already jumped on it.

  12. Let’s not cry until it is official, with Paulinho. I for one am close to shocked about even the possibility, as I thought he was a make-Neymar-happy-transfer. Word is that it Robert’s decision, not Valverde’s, which makes it even worse, if true. If we do sign him, and neither Dembele, Coutinho, Seri or any other creative, technical force, we are going into this season with a massive discontent. Imagine the hearts of culers when Paulinho arrives and Samper goes out on loan and Roberto leaves for Chelsea, and Arda and Douglas cannot be offloaded… I predict Iniesta to Juventus and Messi to City, as a reaction to the board!

    1. The board is not the smartest in the world, but they are not so stupid that they would sign Paulinho if they were not very, very confident of landing at least one of Dembele/Coutinho (if not both). Anything else would be suicide and they are already under a huge amount of pressure. In fact I think it is more likely that they have decided to spend 40m on Paulinho, and circa 120-130m to land Dembele and Coutinho, than it is they are going to wrap up the transfer window with just Paulinho.

      Also, to be fair, the team does need a player with Paulinho’s profile. Is he the right player? I don’t know. Are there others who fit his profile who might have been better/cheaper (Matuidi springs to mind)? Maybe. I confess I have not seen enough of Paulinho to have all that much of an opinion on him. I know he brings strength and power to the MF and he is a box to box player, something we have missed since the Keita days. His age makes me raise an eyebrow a bit, but this is clearly a short term signing to fill a perceived gap in MF so I am willing to give him a chance as I would any other player who puts on the shirt. Hopefully he surprises us all.

      We will definitely need to do some offloading in MF now though. We have way too many players. At least 3 need to go now.

    2. Pretty much agree with everything you said.
      I also don’t believe the board and robert taking such a high risk, Unpopular transfer, Without being confident that they’ll get dembele And/or coutinho to calm and please the masses,, Especially when there is a “No confidence census” coming against them very soon, If they fail in getting these two players, Then they’ve practically committed suicide, They’re not the brightest, But they’re certainly not that dumb.

      Yes, Paulinho does bring that “physicality” seydou keita used to provide and that we lost, Also it’s worth pointing out, That when keita arrived he was only 6 months younger than paulinho now, So the age doesn’t bother me, Kieta gave 4 good years, And we all loved him.
      Yet kieta, Wasn’t a 40m euro player, Even in today’s crazy market, Nor he was on a 5m euro yearly wage (reported from some sources ), So as a player profile, paulinho is great to have in the squad, But as an actual deal, And with these numbers thrown for him, It’s a terrible deal.

      But can we now talk about the PR cluster**ck that is the timing of his signing.
      No matter how much robert, The board, Or valverde believe in his abilities and what he can bring to the team, He’s not the singing you want to announce first after you’ve lost the 2nd best player in the world, This is basic common sense, PR 101.

      What baffels me about the paulinho deal is that it’ll be a lose-lose situation to the fans anyway, If he doesn’t deliver they’ll get blasted, And even if he did, He can never live up to the 40m price tag, And will still get blasted, And will also be blamed for taking away from our youngster, Robert and the board really shot themselves in the foot with this deal.

      Who knows, Maybe if we’ll win a treble, We’ll forget or forgive them for this deal

    3. @Rami, I was thinking exactly the same thing about timing! That is probably what makes the least sense, I can make sense of the transfer itself in the context of the player’s profile and the fact that one (or two) of Coutinho/Dembele are coming, but surely you would announce this last not first!! Unless they have one of the others wrapped up already and they are planning on announcing both officially on Monday? It is certainly possible.

      P.s In Klopps post match interview today he was asked about Coutinho and said he has to accept what owners decide and sometimes what players decide. That sounds to me like Coutinho is done, how much we will have to wait and see…

    4. Is it a coincide, We suddenly signed paulhino right after coutinho handed his transfer request?, Maybe.
      Or maybe we’re including a midfielder of ours in the deal of philippe, Since they’re in need of one, Maybe rakitic, gomes, Or denis?, Anyway i don’t think it’s likely, But i don’t rule it out, Since at this late in the window, It’ll be very hard for liverpool to find a midfielder or a LW available.

  13. Not sure why we don’t go for the 40mn rated Seri instead of Paying the same amount for Paulinho.. Well I bet this season’s transfers will have a direct impact on whether the board survives a vote of no confidence so there’s that at least 🙂

    Is the Paulinho rumor confirmed ?

    1. Well they are completely different players. Seri is a controller type in the Xavi mold, whereas Paulinho is a strong, box to box mid. Not defending his signing as I think it is pretty nuts, but just pointing out that one signing does not rule out the other, Seri could still come.

      It is also worth noting that a lot of people (myself included) want Barca to give players like Alena/Samper a chance and buying a player like Seri would pretty much kill their chances, especially Alena. Can’t have it both ways.

    2. Agreed, my point though, was that spending 40mn for a 30 year old may not be wise in the long run compared to buying a player like Seri who’s almost 10 years younger..
      Plus it seems hypocritical from the board, that wasn’t willing to give a 30 year old Alves a contract extension and now blowing 40 mn on a 30 year old 😛

      I’m sure Alena could still fit into the side regardless of whether Seri joined or not and I do like the looks of how Alena is developing , maybe in 6 months time we might see him stake a claim for a spot in Midfield?

    3. Dunno, Barça spent 40m on an almost 29 years old David Villa and it seemed like a good move to me…

  14. Thanks Kxevin. Great read. I would favour fiscal conservatism in this market, but I fear it will never stabilise with what Dortmund & Liverpool are asking. The other caveat is that Bartomeu has to bring in a “galactico” to save his presidency. I would personally like to see the back of him & the board. The legal issues & questionable ethical standards set since the former president & current one have been in office has tarnished our repuation. We are still Barca! We still have the greatest ever player still finding ways to get better & improve. Doing things no one has seen. I can see Messi playing until his late 30’s. He will be able to slot back in 4-5 years & run the game better than dare I say it, Xavi.

  15. He’d be awesome but he couldn’t do the job Xavi did. He’d have to up his movement considerably just for starters . . . And he loses the ball. Xavi didn’t.

    Ok, I confess I now have little idea what we are doing or where we are going. Thought we were going back to a ball playing, controlling midfield , thought we were going to give youth a chance. Seems like that was wrong but it ain’t over till it’s over. Might work out but biggest issue for me is if Valverde didn’t ask for Paulinho. That would be crazy.

    If rumour is true, there will be some interesting news re departures on Monday. Longer term there could be a bigger head rolling. This won’t go down well.

  16. If this board has signed a 29 year old midfielder retired in the Chinese league then they are the biggest fools ever.

  17. I moan about the board a lot, and want them gone yesterday, but if this Paulinho thing is true then they have surpassed themselves in ways I thought not possible. This guy was absolutely dog sh*te in the EPL, I can’t stress that enough. He was a lazy uncommitted individual who was part of a group causing big problems at his club (Spurs). Then he retires to the money in China, now we want him at 29 for a huge fee… Just wtf!???

    If Valverde wants him then it’s not a good start. If it’s the board it’s another nail in the coffin. It would be another sh*tty decision that leaves me more and more feeling disillusioned with the club.

  18. Barca is in such a desperate moment now.
    In such a moment, it is easy to forget that appearing desperate is a choice.

    I used to wonder, during the Pep era as to what the nature of the fall would be, given the supreme heights we reached and the noble aura that surrounded every aspect of the club. It followed with tito’s illness and demise, club legends leaving or retiring, the 7-0 bayern drubbing, transfer bans, president resigning and convicted (good one this), and the image being systematically tarnished, aura completely vanishing, an unimpressive EE racking up 3 CLs and our prestige being taken for a ride.
    Enter Neymar who left us stranded and unprepared with clubs now simply taking the piss by quoting 150M and other ridiculous sums for players just leveraging our desperation. They don’t have to sell, but we need to buy.

    Not a great spot to be in.

    I know fans want success and want it immediately. Not to mention the year following a great success for our eternal enemy. But what this club needs now is a strong leader. Not on the pitch, but in the boardroom. If i were president (maybe thank god that i am not as what i’m about to say won’t go down well with new culers), I would say enough is enough. This is Barca. You don’t want to sell your player? So be it. You don’t want to accept a more than reasonable fee for a player? So be it. Good luck with keeping a dissatisfied, disgruntled, frustrated employee. Nobody holds this club hostage. Nobody takes a piss with us. Fortunately we still have the GOAT.

    Can you imagine what would be if we didn’t have Messi? How many times has he decided games on his own? Even the most recent Clasico. Even after 10 years since he started making a habit of destroying the EE. He is still at it. Still with the ability which essentially lets him think “ok, i’m just gonna go all the way, whatever it takes” and be able to execute it. Who in the world has that ability? EE would be the happiest seeing the back of this player. What are we going to do 4 years from now?

    I really get it. It isn’t our money. We should do whatever it takes to strengthen the team. Do whatever it takes to support Messi and help him win ballon d’ors and satisfy fan bases. I get it. It isn’t our money. We shouldn’t care. But do you really want to dance to the tune set by others? I’m not so sure.


  19. OK, I don’t want to be the guy screaming how the sky is falling, but what a difference…

    Yes, it was a friendly, but a Classico can’t really be a friendly, and we were finding openings with ease in the in that game, the reason it was competitive is that we let in a couple stupid goals and missed a lot of easy chances.

    Now we are without Neymar and we look completely toothless

    Meanwhile he provided a great assist and scored a goal in his debut for PSG.

    Things are not looking good at all at the moment.

    1. Strange to see your comment directly after I wrote mine ; )

      RM are right now one of the best teams in Europe, and I don’t see them having had much of an advantage in the first half. That’s good, isn’t it?

    2. Why are things not looking good at the moment? We are playing Spanish and European Champions without our second best player in the world and we are doing just fine. First game of the season and i like it. Maybe we need to be more focused in the final third but other than that we are ok. The only thing that worries me is Vidal’s defending.

  20. Ok, I love this team.

    After all the media hype, the drama and the criticism, it’s just good to see the guys passing circles around opponents and doing unexpected things on the pitch again.

    Good game so far, pretty even against what I would consider right now one of the top 3 teams in the world. Neymar is missing a lot (thanks Captain Obvious), and I’m not sure I want to see the midfield when Iniesta is out (did the ESPN guy really just say that ‘Iniesta definitely needs to improve from last season’?). But some very nice combinations, and solid in defense (as I said, against a very dangerous team).

    But Piqué…we know you have courage…next time, just don’t go for the backheel when you’re three steps away from your own goal and Gareth Bale is behind you. Please?

    1. As it turns out, the oft pathetic defense wasn’t solid. Vidal was AWOL defensively. The way the coach has set up our defensive system isn’t different from what we’ve witnessed​ post Guardiola – abysmal. I hope we can really learn from this clusterfuck of a match.

  21. What a fuck happened in the second half????
    Total chaos, confussion, lack of organisation and calmnes.
    We got absolutely hammered and totally deservedly so. Shocking.

    1. Nothing happened in the second half that was substantially different than the first.

      We continued to be toothless, and not to be at the need level in midfield, eventually they tore us apart on the counter. As expected.

      This is what half a decade of severe mismanagement of the club leads to.

      Prepare for another several years of this, because it is not getting fixed anytime soon. We just signed Paulinho FFS…

  22. A poorer version of a combination of poor Pep’s indirect approach and LE’s Direct approach.

    Indecision as to should the team attack direct or play a tiki take.

    Simply chaos. Everywhere you look. from the topmost echelon of the club to the grass except for a few.

    With Bartomeu heading the club, barca is in deep deep shit.

  23. I hate to say this but I am not in a bit surprised. I saw this coming a very long time ago.

    Some people on here even said I was too perssimistic.

  24. I fail to see what we need Paulinho for, if it is actually true that we’ve signed him. The clasico turned out to be a rude awakening. If I were Bartomeu, I’ll leave the team as it is and start a slow rebuilding process instead of squandering our 222m on some 20-year old one-season wonder. Although this might be unpopular, I think we should go back to utilising our youngsters. I’ll be OK with just the league title or Copa till we get it right. Its time we hit the reset button completely….. This is my First comment but I’ve been here since 2012!

  25. It’s our first real test this season but getting a good result at this stage is not that important. After losing a big player it’s not so surprising to hear that we struggled. It does give Valverde some more insight, and luckily we still have time before round 1.

  26. Well, at the risk of going against the grain, I enjoyed that match. It’s so good to have Barca back again. Restores my sanity after being reduced to watching Sky box sets most of the summer. Paulinho may be a bonkers signing but is nothing compared with the batshit crazy last series of The Leftovers !

    Btw, having watched the two EPL games today and Chelsea yesterday I’m not gonna jump down our defence’s throats. The defending in all those games was way worse than anything we saw tonight. Perspective my fellow fans.

    So, what did we see ? Well, I saw a settled team who are (probably deservedly European champions play marginally better than us and have that exaggerated by the long range goals. I didn’t think we were great but, at least when Ini was on it was a good tussle.

    I saw a Barca team who have been more concentrating pre season on giving everyone minutes and therefore don’t know what our best side is, compounded by a scoundrel who left us at the last minute leaving us scrambling around. That lack of rhythm showed tonight but will come.

    There were some who have marched into the station demanding a one way ticket out. For me, those were Vidal and Rakitic ( really is anyone still gonna give us the guff about having to babysit the RB ?) The RB barely crossed the half way line and certainly not with any menace that I saw.

    Deulofeu, unfortunately shot himself in a potentially fatal place first half. Big chance and he fluffed it. He found the quicker players and better anticipation of the RM too much to handle tonight. For me, his biggest mistake was that he looked scared ( not something I thought I’d ever say about him ) to use his pace and dribbling skills. He won’t get a place by playing short passes across and back. That’s not what a forward for us does. On the plus side he is definitely putting more effort into his defending. It’s not great but he’s getting back more often and much more quickly . Won’t keep him in the side but worth a mention. If he gets another chance, we need the greedy Gerard back.

    As much as I respect him SR was a real downgrade on Ini when he came on. Ran about but it reminded me of when he used to play in midfield. What does he do there? I can see him doing Rakitic way better than Rakitic but not much more. His strongest suit is his engine and carrying the ball through e lines. Didn’t see much of that . . . but still a keeper. Denis was slightly better and showed more aggression. Still not sure what his killer skill is so I won’t be sorry if he goes but probably worth another look. Problem is we have too many players to get minutes to make sensible decisions.

    Think I saw Paco on the pitch but can’t be sure but I am starting to think that Rafinha and/or Gomes may not see any more minutes with us.

    On the plus side, MOTM by a country mile was Jordi Alba. Can some really not see how good he is ? Both in defence and attack he was awesome. Played two of the best passes all night from midfield.

    Messi is awesome. He is also extremely fast ! Let’s not have any talk of him declining. He really carried our attack on his back tonight.

    Now, the goals. Pique’s OG was one of those things. He was in the right position, TS probably maybe had it covered anyway but as a defender you just can’t let those go past you. He was moving quickly back and actually went slightly too far and got the ball caught below his legs. They had at least a couple of similar situations and neither wound up in their net. Shit happens. I thought he was stupid to get booked early because that limited his options on the breakaways but other than that the long rangers weren’t his fault.

    Ok, the breakaways. Look familiar? Darn tootin’ they were. On the first our two CBs were fifteen yards into the opposition half with no depth between them. That is a dangerous place to be but not fatal. They are watching their men well and it is the third man (old film ref) Isco who causes the damage because Vidal is. . . . . well he’s not really doing anything other than not marking his man. Isco creates the 3 onto 2 and we’re screwed. Pique actually matches Ronaldo for pace, not a harbinger of great things to come for CR10 ! , but his body is facing the wrong way, it’s maybe inside the box and anyway he’s been booked so can’t challenge. Not entirely comfortable with TS’ starting position but you have to say it was a great strike.

    Gonna draw a veil over Umtiti’s shocking marking for Ronaldo’s sending off ( other than to say my reaction to it showed a certain degree of shallowness, I know) but seriously he needs to be goalside and had the time. Don’t think it was either a pen or a dive. My good lady went shooting up in my already high estimation of her when she remarked that Ronaldo’s torso looked ” revolting” ( she was obviously comparing it to other more pleasing examples of the male top half ! ) Suffice to say I’m still chuckling hours afterwards .

    Ok, so about five minutes later I thought I’d done my usual dozing off and was watching a slomo of their second but alas it was now their third.

    The two defenders are mightily screwed again by the hordes advancing. This time I’m gonna say it was down to SR to do a little better. Alba goes on the overlap which should ring alarm bells about defensive cover in his mind but nope. Umtiti does well stalling but look at Asensio bursting through. Denis just watches him go and Vidal isn’t much better. Busi doesn’t escape the side eye either. We need to have our defensive heads on as soon as we lose the ball and at the moment we don’t. Needs work.

    Anyway, it’s a meaningless trophy although would be better winning than not. I suspect all hell will break loose with demands for signings and whatnot but it wasn’t bad just a little flat. The only ones who will regularly create chances are Ini, Messi and Suarez. End of. And that’s an issue – as is the length of this. Kxevin, you need to assign me a word limit to keep the rambling to a minimum this season.

  27. for a team that just lost a key member Barca didn’t suck .. we just need to keep the rithym going and Denis deserve a chance. kxevin where’s my first comment

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