Inquiries made, aka “We’ll take you, and you, and …. “

Apparently, according to Sport, the semi-official mouthpiece of the club when the sporting journal isn’t being insufferably stupid, we’ve been making contact with folks about some other folks, such as:

Angel DiMaria

Good friend of Messi, brilliant player, being buzzed about for the wing that will be open with Henry’s departure. Is this real, or Sport doing the “Ibrahimovic is leaving, Villa is the point so we need a left wing” thing again. Dunno. But his price is 40m, says Benfica, and they’re holding pretty firm to that, which is why EE is sitting pat right now. We might be looking to swoop in and snap him up. 22 years old, 10 goals in 43 appearances this season past. Huge talent, tapped by Maradumber to be the next Argentina superstar. But ….

No, he ain’t worth 40m. Fo’ sho’.

Gregory Van der Wiel

22-year-old right back, plays for Ajax at present, so the kid knows football. Would hew to Guardiola’s theory of having excellent backup players who will also put pressure on the incumbent. Reminds you a lot of Alves. Pace galore, nice crosser of the ball and can score goals. Alves is also his idol. Ajax want 15m for him, a deal I would do in about two seconds. If we can get him for less, it’s a no-brainer. 5 yellow cards over the whole season. This speaks to a cool head, methinks.

Alou Diarra

Speculation has been swirling around this dude for a while, rumored to be the replacement for The Yaya, who will be departing soon for Premiership destinations as yet to be finalized. He’s 28, and has all the skills. Yes, he’s been called “the next Vieira,” but so has every big, physical, black midfielder with excellent ball skills who is playing footy in France right now. Joined Bordeaux from Lyon in 2007, and is ready for the next step. His goal tally has increased the past few seasons, which is encouraging. He’s definitely in the mold of the classic French holding mid. We’re looking to try to get this deal done, if it will happen, before the World Cup, when a player’s price can only go up. Two more things to note about Diarra: His pursuit, if the buzz is true, acknowledges that we need midfield muscle, and Busquets ain’t it. Also, it would leave Keita as the sole remaining African on the squad. It’s not likely that Keita will be with us when the next ACN is held, year after next.

We’re also treading very carefully on this one with Bordeaux, making contact, crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s before doing anything else. Seems we’ve learned our lesson from the tale of HeWhoShallNotBeNamed. Imagine that.

–Finally, numbers are yet to be released, but on the first day of sale of the new shirts, David Villa was the big seller. Is anyone surprised by this one?

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. I had a nightmare the other night that Alves got injured for several months, it was bad. Van der Wiel for 15 million could be a steal. I think his value will only increase after the World Cup.

    I don’t know anything about Alou Diarra, but if he’s willing to be a squad player and can sorta fill the crater-sized hole Yaya will leave, I’ll be happy.

    I get the impression Di Maria has been offered to one of the candidates, and that is why we are being linked to him. He could either have a fantastic break out tournament, or could slump with the rest of Argentina. Even if he has a great tournament, he’s not worth 40 million.

    1. Another plus for Van der Wiel – it’s just been downright strange not having any Dutch players on the team since Gio left.

  2. I love me some Dutch right back. As for the LW, we can do alot better that Dimaria for 40 mil. We can get Mata, Silva or Nevas for cheaper, and Robben for about that price. All are as good if not better that Dimaria right now.

  3. WonderWall and Suarez! I want them both! Add Gojko Kacar and Diara and that would be awesome.

    or…David Silva
    or…Jesus Navas
    unfortunately, both of them will probably be playing for EE in the near future.

    1. I agree, I have been saying this forever, we have a good relationship with Ajax and can probably get them bothh for around 35 mil, (Suarez is a barca fan). He’ll I would give them hleb and 27 mil or Chiggy and 20 mil in a heartbeat. Out of all of the names being bandied about, VDW makes the most sense, and Suarez is a perfect fit. I hope it gets done before tje WC cause I got a feeling Suarez will increase his value.

  4. van der Wiel also made these comments in reference to Dani being his current idol: “We do have the same style, we both play the whole right flank. Creating combinations, taking a man on, crossing the ball in and scoring.”

    We need to try and tie up most of the details before the WC, because after the WC, his price is going to skyrocket. I just have a feeling we are going to be too complacent with this and we won’t end up going for him in the end.

  5. i see these vids or right backs and defensive mids scoring goals, but where’s the evidence of his defensive prowess, or skill in the tackle. i’m not interested in how much goals they can score i wanna kno how good they can prevent other teams from scorin them on us, thats the main reason we’re buying them isnt it

    1. I would argue that his skill in going forward is Barca defense. We play defense through possession and offense.

  6. van der Wiel certainly looks promising, but you guys seem to be thinking he’s going to be competing for our right-back spot; he won’t. Dani Alves has averaged 50+ games per season for the past 5 seasons. the guy is a physical machine and he loves to play, he’s not giving up his spot or getting rotated anytime soon. he’s at the peak of both his career and his fitness for the next couple of years at least, i wouldn’t want to upset that with the performances he’s put in for us these past couple seasons.

    now, if we wanted to give the young Dutchman a shot there and move Dani up to right-wing, perhaps, sort of in the way Pep did during the 2nd Clasico last season? that might be an option. leaving Villa to play leftish and Messi to drift through the center while Alves and vdW take the right? Dani would have to feel more comfortable pushing forward and calm down a bit in the box, but i could see it working. right-back just isn’t a position we seriously need to reinforce, with Dani playing so many games, Puyol perfectly still capable of deputizing if need be and Muniesa waiting in the wings.

    i’m still not sold on Suarez. he looks great, obviously, in the Eredivisie; but so did Huntelaar. scoring a squillion goals in Holland just isn’t a guarantee of success on a larger stage anymore, sadly. nor would Ajax sell him before the WC, since they’re banking on him performing well for Uruguay and raising the price a bit.

    nor am i sold on Di Maria, who again looks great in a 2nd-tier league despite not scoring a great many goals (particularly in comparison to Suarez), but look at the shit Quaresma got away with in Portugal and how he turned out (and i say that with no rancor; i like Quaresma, he’s just not cut out for the big stage). Di Maria is a young, raw, pacy left-sided forward who scores some pretty good goals. we have one of those already: his name is Pedro. i’m looking at our options for the left now, should we decide to buy for that position, but i just don’t see anyone that leaps out compellingly.

    in midfield, however, there are a few names who spring to mind…

    1. Muniesa plays LB and CB, though, not RB. I’m all for Montoya, Bartra, and Dalmau getting a chance, but I don’t think they will anytime soon. Dani will play a lot of games, but anyone can break down at any time. Especially during a season following the WC.

    2. Muniesa played right-back in the 1 game he got for the first team, did he not? the one where he was sent off? he apparently can play on either side. that’s 2 first-team players and a promising youth player for the right-back position; pretty good depth when your first-choice RB is playing 50 games a season.

    3. The thing about Huntelaar is not that he isn’t cut out for the big stage, but that EE ruined him, and Leonardo bizarely chose Borriello ahead of him at AC Milan. At EE he scored about 7 goals in 13 games in his first-half of a season with Madrid. That is pretty good for a winter transfer adapting to his new club, new league, and new language. Then they sold him to Milan. I don’t understand what happened at Milan, because I don’t follow Serie A, but it seems like Leonardo never gave him a chance. I think Ajax won’t sell VDW or Suarez this summer, because They haven’t won the league in a long time and they might qualify for the CL.

    4. Both Ronaldo the fat and Romario played in the Eredivisie and then came straight to Barca and we know how that worked, so the Huntelaar example shouldn’t be a measuring rod.

  7. i think we need at least 1 strong attacking midfield option to come in (not DM, if Yaya leaves we’ll need a like-for-like buy in that position as well) to relieve some pressure on Xavi and Iniesta, who have been playing year-round now for almost 3 seasons. obviously if we end up with Cesc this is a moot point as he can do that ably, but i don’t want him now and there are a handful of players we could buy at half or less the price being bandied about for the young Catalan’s services. 3 who aren’t even going to the World Cup, and therefore are readily available and won’t have fluctuating pricetags:

    Luka Modrić. #1 on my list. gritty and elegant at once, tremendous technical ability and vision. has said he’s committed to Spurs for next season but their squad is bloated and nobody’s made an offer to tempt him yet. a seasoned professional at only 24, he pulls the strings for a pretty strong (if unlucky) Croatian side and can only improve under a better manager, in a passing system and less rough-and-tumble league. a new-style enganche who covers a huge amount of ground and a perfect partner for 1 of Xavi or Iniesta.

    Paulo Henrique Chagas de Lima, aka Ganso (the Goose). had a breakout season with Santos this year, but the clamour among the Brazilian public to put him in the national team wasn’t enough to convince a stubbornly unimaginative Dunga to add him to the WC squad. a 20-year-old Brazilian who plays like an Argentinian, an attacking mid who looks to keep possession, with (importantly) a cannon of a shot from outside the box, he scored 12 goals in 26 appearances for Santos this season. if Modric is a new-style enganche, Ganso certainly shows signs of being able to fulfill the old style.

    Éver Banega. might be a bit tough to pry him away from Valenica having just taken their star striker, but rather than go after Silva and get into a bidding war with Madrid, put in a bid for the enigmatic Argentine who SHOULD have had a chance taken on him in this year’s World Cup squad. once he settled at Valencia he was fantastic last season, his problem of course being that had only had 1 true midfield partner in Silva who was often stationed well off to the left wing. even so, he ran much of Valencia’s (3rd place) offense and controlled the tempo remarkably well for a 21-year-old. he’s going to be doing the same thing for Argentina once they get a decent coach, we could get ahead of the curve. doesn’t score alot of goals, but in partnership with Xavi or Iniesta i think he could slot right in.

    none of this, of course, even goes so far as the obvious names like Gourcuff, Silva et al but they’re going to be expensive and tricky, and their prices could conceivably go quite high should they perform well in South Africa. it seems to me as though our buying options for the midfield are far more numerous than those at left-wing, and therefore we should concentrate on them first.

    1. Luka Modrić just signed a new 6 year deal with Spurs. He’s going nowhere.
      Essien also signed a 2 year extension.

    2. You beat me to Modric, not to mention that Essien has missed significant chunks of the last two seasons due to injury. I wouldn’t take that risk on him. Yonder lies madness. That is the beauty of The Yaya. He is excellent, and durable. Tough hole to fill, and I don’t think Essien would fill it at any rate.

    3. redknapp said at the beginning of the silly season that modric is absolutely not for sale and that he figures big in spurs’ future. they made the CL qualifying round and that might be enough to keep him there, for now at least.

  8. Where’s the World Cup preview pt.2? Its listed under newsnow, but gives a 404 error when I follow it..

  9. as someone else said, it’s strange not having any dutchmen in our squad seeing as though they need no time to gel in our system, they generally fit right in.
    Netherlands have never had a better chance of winning the World Cup, provided that Robben’s scans get the all clear.
    Van der Wiel is definitely the best right back on the market. Alves v2 but would score more goals and not be quite as good defensively.
    Another great young Dutchman is Eljero Elia of Hamburg. Did anyone see his goal yesterday? A rightfooted left winger who cuts inside and scores quite a few goals. He was great this season with Hamburg and would cost less than €15m.
    Good to see Gio van Bronckhorst still flying the flag setting up 2 goals. What a player

    1. van Bronckhorst is still around? That’s great. He was awesome in Euro 08, best in his position IMO. I miss him, although there is no way he could take the place of Alves or Abidal, even in his prime.

  10. NOT sold on any of the options being bandied about.

    This season should be about consolidation rather than strengthening. It should be about making sure that the squad gel together, everyone is comfortable playing with each other and we try out what we already have.

    Van der wiel maybe talented, and may turn out to be the next alves, but we have an extremely promising youth called Marc Bartra. Though we lost in his debut game, he looked EXTREMELY promising with alves like runs. He is brought up in the cantera, and knows our game. We should try him. He will also be content to play backup for the time being.

    Same thought goes for Angel di maria or any other left wing Rambo (Robben, Juan Mata, silva). We have Pedro, who looks like the next Giuly. Apart from Pedro, we have Bojan, Ibra and Villa, all of whom can play on wings. I again think we should be focusing on integrating them rather than goin out to buy.

    About Fabregas, rather than sporting reasons, my worry is the message that goes out. If Fabregas nis welcomed with arms wide open and a starting spot, it sends out a message to all the canteras – Go out and play in the EPL and few yrs latr the club would take you back. As against say iniesta, who had to wait so long for the spot.

    We have many promising players in the cantera. We have Alcantara, who ppl call the next Iniesta, Dos santos who is the next Xavi, Assulin who is very Messi like, Very promising strikers and Dribblers. It is important to make sure we tap them.

    1. Great argument. What you say would be preferable to buying new players. Well said!

    2. I have to trust the folks making the personnel decisions. I know for a fact that we don’t have the midfield muscle in the cantera, so the Diarra rumors make sense. DiMaria is just craziness that will never happen. Not for 40m.

      Bartra has at least another season of prep before he’s ready to not be another Krkic (too fast, too soon). Assulin can’t get a spot any more, and is being very difficult in his negotiations. He goes off contract at the end of June, and look for him to be gone. So much for “the next Messi.” Looks like we’re going to let him leave on a free.

      Personally, I believe that we have a gap that needs to be filled. There might well be some overlap, but a player such as Van Der Wiel doesn’t necessarily preclude Bartra’s development. Alves has another season or two with us, then we have Van Der Wiel ready to step in, and Bartra ready to do his Pedro! thing as the sudden revelation.

      Dos Santos couldn’t even make the Mexico squad, which ain’t all that talent-rich in his position. Who knows why, but he will definitely get a look with the first squad next season, as will Thiago Alcantara. Word is that if either shows anything they will be promoted. Guardiola’s no dummy, and recognized that midfield depth was a major, major issue last season.

    3. Agree on all counts.

      However, I believe for all good coaching Riijkaard and Guardiola have done, they have been extremely conservative about trusting the cantera. We have not been good in retaining the Non Catalan cantera and it would be sad to see the current crop leaving. This is explained by hunger for immediate success, where nurturing a youth product in the first team is difficult.

      Sad to see Assulin leave. Whatever I have seen on Youtube looks very promising. His persistent dribbling is very Messi like – he has a habit of keeping the ball close to his feet, Sudden changes of speed and direction, and willingness to try and dribble past a player.

    4. he doesnt have the awareness or field vision of messi, i would say he is more like capel. but i havent seen enough of him.

    5. i guess we’ll have to wait another couple of years to see Oriol Romeu than

  11. what about Ramires at Benfica…? He is young and plays like keita but with brazilian flair.

  12. how about neymar too from santos? he’s very young, and i don’t think he’ll mind being a bench player for a couple of years.

    but my first choice would still be pedro as a first choice sub for the wings. then ff. wish he could do a pedro next season!

    1. im pretty sure neymar’s penalty “faints” settled any though of us purchasing him.

  13. I also believe Van der Wiel would be a good signing but I wonder how happy he will be at limited playing time for the next 4 seasons.

    Btw did anybody see Hollands 3rd goal against Hungary? mmmm Barça and Holland, two strains from the same DNA cell 🙂

    // (Elia’s goal and Robben’s 2nd were pretty impressive too)

  14. It appears that Di Maria has told Benfica he has signed for $40M, and if so, then good for him. I don’t know where he fits in with that team, especially with them looking to sign any number of wing mids.

    I like Di Maria a lot, and he’s going to be a good player for RM sadly, but paying $40M for him is craziness. Especially since I thought Mourinho was a little more fiscally responsible. Then again, good for Benfica, sucking as much for him as they can.

  15. What is happening? Is there or is there not a WC preview part 2? It came but now its disappeared…

    1. I am trying real hard to figure out the issue right now. Word Press plus me = fail.

  16. The crop of cantera corner backs right now are promising. That said, it’s very uncertain if any of those players has the talent to be a truly world class player. Batra is talented – and I can seen him being a very good La Liga player. World class? Not sure. The fact that Pep brought in Caceres and is now looking for another young corner back may be saying something about how he sees the talent pipeline or at least the gap in when he sees a player like Batra being ready. It may be another 4 years before Pep thinks he’ll be developed to play regularly at a high level.

    van der Wiel is a tremendous talent. He really is impressive. He is a player who has world class potential. Now whether he would want to come to Barca to play behind Alves is another story. But if he could be purchased for 12-15M they need to strongly consider it because he is not only a fantastic talent, but one that would fit into the system very well. That’s the kind of young player Barca should be focused on acquiring – players with world class potential who have experience playing against good competition and have the skill set to fit into the Barca system. Those aren’t easy to find – van der Wiel is one of them.

    Playing Puyol at RB as he gets another season older (and after playing continuously for 2 years and in the world cup) is not a good idea. Who knows if the rumors are true about van der Wiel specifically but one of the things they at least seem to point to is that Pep sees RB as a priority – one that is hopefully not getting lost in the Fabergas business.

    In addition to RB van der Wiel can also play center back. He struggled there some in the past but he’s more physically mature now and might offer some flexibility there as well. AJAX youth players are often very good with both feet. I have no idea if he could potentially play some on the left but that would be very valuable.

  17. DiMaria would be a great signing for Barça, if Benfica were to sell, they’d settle for about 20m – 30m, is he worth that? Dunno. The kid’s got talent, and the other “options” aren’t going to happen (Mata, Silva)

  18. Our needs a creative midfielder to back up Xavi and Iniesta, a LWer and a backup RB.

    I personally was hoping for Ribery at the LW. Before he signed his extension, he was about to enter his last year of contract and could’ve been purchased for a reasonable price. I am convinced he would slotted in and complement Messi perfectly.

    It seems Cesc is about to come over to backup Xavi and Iniesta (and possibly play as dm when the opposition is not as physical). Speaking of, it is pretty obvious that Pep puts premium on the ball movement rather than physicality at the DM. Look no further than Busquets’ minutes during the whole season and against the Inter.

    With Cesc and more minutes for Thiago and Dos Santos, Keita can slide to DM and we can have Pique and The Ukrainian fill up if necessary (since they played that more than once in their career, pique at catalonia vs argentina no less).

    The cost-benefit analysis for Van der Wiel makes it a no brainer.

    The sale of Zlatan and Yaya should be enough to offset the purchases of Villa and Cesc. The money we get from selling Henry, Hleb and Marquez (possibly caceres and henrique too) should be more than enough to offset the purchase of Van der Wiel. At this point we would break even in the transfer period. In addition, it is safe to predict that Villa and Cesc would sell a lot more jerseys than zlatan and yaya and would be able to bring more endorsements to the club since they are local (this in case the sale doesn’t match the purchase prices).

    Once this is realized, I expect the new President (whoever he is) to pony up around 30m (or more) as a part of the presidential promises and we should make a move for an affordable LW and a backup striker who has height and strong presence in the air as his main qualities.

    Pep is (apparently) a big fan of Mata. His age doesn’t hurt either. He can be purchased for up to 20m. The rest should be used for a tall backup striker for the situations when villa and bojan up front are not yielding the results. I haven’t had time to scout but Lorente from Bilbao left a nice impression on me when he played at Camp Nou.

    This way we would add more depth/versatility to our squad to avoid the slump we were in early in the Spring season when the injuries and suspensions piled up (most notably in the atletico madrid game). In addition, all the newcomers would be either Spanish (villa, cesc, mata, lorente) and/or have an experience playing in a system similar to ours (van der wiel). This way we can expect them to start performing almost immediately and would avoid to wait (often a whole season) for the new players to adjust (henry, abidal, hleb, zlatan, chyggy etc). The best part? All this could be done while effectively spending less than 40m in total over the summer.

    1. The Yaya wouldn’t have played 2000+ minutes excluding the ACN if Pep didn’t see the need for a more physical DM on occasion.
      If as expected Yaya goes to the EPL then I fully expect another 6ft plus DM to replace him.
      And as much as Ibra haters may hope, he probably is going nowhere as Man City missed out on the champions league…

    2. I am not denying a need for a more physical player at times. That is why I said we can slide Keita (who played something similar at seville) or, push comes to shove, insert Pique or Chyggy.

      Busquets got a lot more minutes and that should tell us something. Heck, that is the main reason Yaya wants to leave.

      Another thing, if you go over the games, Yaya was more productive playing in Xavi’s spot then as DM.

      Bringing a new foreign player for the position carries the risk of him taking time to adjust (another thing I’ve mentioned in my post) and I’m not sure if we should take that road again.

      I am not a hater for simply reading the cues. The stuff Sport is printing, the fact that Ibra was signed by Laporta who is on his way out and the fact that he still holds a good value (40m) are the things to be accounted for.

      We can either keep him and hope he improves on his presence in the air and develops the timing with midfield or we can cut him since Villa already has that nailed down and bring an additional player who might have inferior ball handling skills but is proven to be a threat in the air.

  19. One problem (of the many) if you sell Ibra (which won’t happen) is that you have to bring in two players. First you need a left-winger.

    The other player needs to be a substitute big man striker who is willing to sit on the bench and can come in and make an impact late on in games when the opposition is parking the bus. He must be able to score from headers, big, strong, and willing to sit the bench 99% of the time.

    I can only think of one player that fits this profile: Luca Toni

    – at 33, willing to be a sub and not play very often
    – proven at the highest level
    – 6’5″
    – Pep is good friends with him

    – has a lead foot and would not be able to play tiki taka. At all.

    1. “One problem (of the many) if you sell Ibra (which won’t happen) is that you have to bring in two players. First you need a left-winger.

      The other player needs to be a substitute big man striker”

      You are echoing my statements. That is what I wrote in my post.

      Since I haven’t put much time into scouting, from the top of my head I would say Mata and Llorente. But I allow the other options as well. Personally, I always wanted to see Trezequet playing for us up front but I am affraid he might be too old now.

      Why would that striker sit on the bench most of the time? We can play him the first half and slide Villa to the left and leave Pedro on the bench (or vice versa). I’m sure you understand that the season is long and there will be injuries and suspensions.

  20. With regards to Luca Toni I disagree with the “proven at the highest level” part, unless of course you mean proven he has gotten old and can no longer play at the highest level.

    Strongly agree with your assertion that he is in the remarkable possession of a lead foot (or two lead feet, if you will).

  21. Btw it would be a big mistake selling Ibra. A top 10 striker with fresh legs and mind (no world cup!) wanting to prove himself after a dissappointing first season. Mmmmmmight come in handy.

    1. I think the vast majority of fans would agree with you. Or at least, advocate one more year.

      Getting rid of Ibra now is just silly, we won’t have a chance to see what he can do after being fully integrated into the squad, and he’ll have no excuses next year. If he still struggles, fuck it, sell him and use the money on a new winger and put Villa at point. For now, I like the idea of a crazy 3 man front line where you never quite know where the attack will come from. Sure, Ibrah may start at point, but if he drifts outside, pulls two defenders, and flicks a ball into the path of a onrushing Villa trucking down the center of the pitch, well shit, how do you stop that?

  22. Van der Wiel would be a complete player if he can lead his team in winning the world cup. It would be a fitting finale for his great football accomplishment.

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