Quick Hits: July 18, 2010

So, there’s relatively little to talk about right now, but there are a couple of interesting things. First and foremost, I’ve started writing for ESPN Soccernet and my first post can be found here. Don’t worry, though, I’ll be here as always, continuing to eat too much chocolate and blathering about Tin Tin and whatnot during match previews and editorial spins around the block. And the rest of the team will still be here continuing to show me up with their facts and intelligent opinions.

The news today is basically a series of “who is the baby mama?” links and speculation, as well as the fact that Sport thinks that in looking for a backup to Busi we’re considering Marcos Senna. He’s 34! That’s how awesome today’s news is. Marcos Senna has been linked to us (finally), but of course it’s completely absurd. Carlos Marchena and Gilberto Silva round out the “gimme a break” category, in case you were wondering.

There are 9 other names, of course: Mascherano, Wilson Palacios, Nigel de Jong (at least he wouldn’t take guff from Xabi Alonso in a clΓ‘sico…), Moussa Sissoko, Etienne Capoue, Mario Bolatti, Alberto Zapater, Alou Diarra, Mathieu Flamini, and Tonny Annan. Of those, I haven’t seen Sissoko, Capoue, Zapater, Diarra, or Annan play, so I’ll let you all talk about them in the comments. I’m not in favor of Mascherano (overrated and too expensive), de Jong (see link above), Bolatti (who I’ve only seen play with Argentina, but he made me shrug then), or Flamini (was never very impressed with his overall abilities). So that really leaves Palacios, who I’ve actually always enjoyed watching despite being unsure of his capabilities–that’s sort of how I feel about all of Tottenham though: they’re fun to watch, but are they really actually any good at all? I don’t know!–so, really, I would rather take a gamble on a highly rated Sissoko or Capoue than on an over-priced player like a Masch or Flamini.

More tomorrow as the newspaper continue to spit things out.

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater Philadelphia area.


  1. Congrats, Isaiah! I commented over there also.

    As for the DMs, I love Ghana, so of course I’m gonna be biased, but I love Anthony Annan. He’s one of the reasons Ghana did so well in the tournament. He breaks up attacks well and keeps the ball moving with simple passes. He’s only 23 and would be available for cheap compared to some of the other DMs out there. He’s tipped to be the next Essien. Bad thing about him is that he’s pretty short and he really isn’t that versatile, but Sport says out of the 12, he’s the most suitable candidate and I can’t argue with that.

    Other than him, I would want Moussa Sissoko, even though he’s more of a box to box player and Ettiene Capoue who is more of a straight DM. All 3 of them are young and pretty physical and that’s what I like. But like I said yesterday, since it’s reported in Sport, we probably won’t sign any of them. I want a midfielder soon, though.

    1. As a Norwegian RBK-fan (Annan’s club) watching Annan every week, I think Annan in many ways is an excellent Def Mid, certainly way too good for the Norwegian league. But as with De Jong, he has a competitive streak, and is infamous in Norway for his overly aggressive play (elbowing, shirtpulling, etc.). He also has some shortcomings, such as the amazing ability to place every single longshot at least ten meters off target. 0 goals in over 60 appearances says it all. So all in all, I really don’t think that Annan is good enough for Barca.

    2. I’ve seen some of those incidents and some of the time, I feel like Annan is unfairly targeted and made to look like the bad guy. But like I said, I’m biased, but I think Annan could do well for us and he has plenty of room for development.

    3. Isaiah, finally getting the sportswriting respect he deserves on the ESPN–way to go!

  2. Congrats man.

    Well, as Busi will be the starter, i think a back up of someone who has one or two years left would be the best. In that sense, Senna makes perfect sense assuming he is willing to take the back up role.

    1. I disagree. Why get someone old? Busi will be the starter, but we need healthy competition and we have to think about the future as well. It would be a waste of money to sign someone for 2 years. I know we have Romeu coming up, but I would rather sign a younger DM.

    2. And for example, if we sign someone like Moussa Sissoko, he can just fill in when Keita leaves and be our box to box midfielder.

    3. old, hah! Senna is brilliant even at 34 and i’d take him in a heartbeat if the price was anywhere around 10m. he might not be able to play every game in our season, but i’d feel a million times better about our defensive problems if we picked him up. he can easily fit into a rotation with Busquets, and works better (in my opinion) with Xavi and Iniesta than our intrepid youngster anyway. the guy is simply brilliant at everything he does. for my money still the best defensive midfielder in Europe, and would take some of the creative pressure off of Xavi and Iniesta. i just love watching him play.

      apart from he, only the Frech players (who i also haven’t seen much of if at all) are worth taking a look at. de Jong is a pure destroyer, as is Mascherano; neither can pass the ball worth a damn and that should be enough to disqualify them. Palacios is just not good enough, but Flamini is an interesting option. i’m not sure if he can cut it either, given his struggles to make it into a decidedly subpar Milan side, but perhaps he just wasn’t being handled in the right way? it’s a position we NEED to fill now.

    4. BA, if we pay 10 M for a player who will serve for one season and added his annual salary, he will be the most expensive player in the team (he will cost -annually- more than Messi).

      I dont think he is what we need. But as a short term solution if all other options failed, may be for 3 or 4 M, and that’s still not cheap.

  3. RAC 1 is reporting that although he was called by the club to be ready for preseason on Monday, Henrique is staying in Brazil until he’s future is sorted. He is most likely going to be loaned to Racing again.

  4. Tottenham bought Palacios for 15 M. He had a successful season with them. They might not be the shrewdest experts in bargaining (Check Darren Bent for more information). But I doubt they will be interesting to think then reject unless we offered 25 M.

    I know that Mascherano is not the most popular here. But if we will end up paying 25 to get Palacio while Mascherano is available for more or less the same price, that’s no doubt a Tottenham-ic transfer.

  5. Whoa!

    I just realized that Barca plays FC Seoul on my b-day! They better win or, or, or… I’ll kiss my Xaviniesta jersey goodbye (bullsh*t).

    Okay, okay. I’ll be sad. Do they really want to make an innocent person cry on their day of birth? πŸ˜€

  6. I’ll take Annan, Palacios (but not for more than $15M), Capoue, but not Senna. Christ, he’s old, and liable for injury.

    In better news: Thiago scored the equalizer today for Spain U-19 as they went on to beat Croatia 2-1.

  7. We have a 40 M budget plus Marquez, Caceres, Hleb, and Henrique. Its easy to generate 20 Millions to add to the 40 M.

    60 M are more than enough to buy a CB and a DM. One of them as a quality squad player and the other one as a quality starter (doesn’t matter who is what, though better to invest more on the DM). Two players and we are fine.

    If the shopping tour in France proved more expensive than we like, I won’t mind paying the 30 M buy out close for Martinez (though I think for 25 M he will be packed and delivered). He is young and can play as a DM, B2B and CM. And we will still have 30 M, or 15 M if we keep everyone -including Hleb- and sell only Marquez. For 15 M we can find a good defender.

    The point is that there is no reason for temporary solutions. Bring quality.

  8. I agree Ramzi. Hleb should fetch €8-10million, Caceres something similar and Marquez around €5million giving us somewhere just north of €60million.
    Signing Adriano at the price we got him opened a whole load of possibilities. It guarantees that Puyol will be used solely as a central defender. My fear is that by seasons end, Puyol may no longer be first choice alongside Pique. Milito is certainly a great player when fit but I would feel a lot more comfortable if we were to sign a quality defender to challenge for that starting spot and also play Copa del Rey etc.

    Bruno Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz and Vidic were on Marca’s list of players that Mourinho is looking for.
    Apparently EE are looking to sign Thiago Silva of Milan to tackle Messi and co. I think we should sign the other Thiago Silva (UFC) to tackle Thong Boy.

    I wouldn’t mind Alves, Silva or David Luiz actually but the figures being talked about for David Luiz are crazy (€30million).

    Of the DM’s being mentioned as backup to Busquets there are a few I like and a few I don’t understand.

    Senna, Marchena & Gilberto Silva are no goers because of their age.
    Mascherano & Palacios will both be expensive – €25million plus and Mascherano is not the type of DM that we actually need HE CAN’T PASS A BALL and is a midget. Palacios is more of a box-to-box midfielder a la Keita.
    Mario Bolatti was underused by Maradona during the world cup and isn’t a bad player. Not sure if he’s Barca quality but has the right physical attributes.
    Anthony Annan is again not what we physically need. Our team lacks height with the exception of Pique, Busquets & Ibra so DM is definitely a position where it is needed. He’s 1cm taller than Xavi?

    Alberto Zapater would fit the bill if money is an issue. Over 150 games for Zaragoza and a very good season with Genoa shows his quality and consistency. He scored this goal against Barca a few seasons ago *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InpvFTx05dU
    Etienne Capoue and Moussa Sissoko are both quality youngsters but have never played at the top level. I do believe that either would be able to make the step up. For those who do not know of them, Capoue is a more traditional DM who does not venture too far forward. He tried a lot of long range passes and is fairly good at them. He has the height necessary but his discipline may be an issue. Sissoko is a more deep-lying attacking midfielder who is physically strong and aggressive. He gets into the box and scores a few goals. If you watch videos of Yaya from his Monaco days you’ll see all the same characteristics.

    My choice Sissoko, Capoue & Zapater in that order

    1. man all the hatin on Senna for his age after he did such a fabulous job against us over 3 periods last season. plenty of players are useful in the right positions into their mid 30’s, and i’d argue that DM is one of those positions. a position that necessitates positioning and canniness in distribution above all is one that ages well, and the guy is only 34. i watched him week-in, week-out last season and injuries apart, he was outstanding in a weak Villareal side. here’s the breakdown as i see it:

      cons: age, higher than usual wage bill, possible injury worries?
      pros: likely price. proven at a high level. can play (very) well with our existing midfield. is the smartest DM on the ball in Spain, possibly in Europe, and can therefore take over some creative responsibilities from Xavi in particular. would likely accept a role in rotation with or as partner to Busquets; a midfield of Busquets-Senna-Iniesta sounds pretty good to me when our Creator-in-Chief needs a rest.

      the key point in all of this is that we need a DM who isn’t just a tackler like Mascherano but one who can relieve some pressure on Xavi and Iniesta by filling other roles when 1 or even both are rotated out or injured. apart from Senna and my obvious bias in his favor, the only player i can pick out on that list after some research who’s got all the attributes we want is Sissoko, but he’s an unproven quantity at this level.

      the sad part is that the DM who best fits our profile… we just sold.

    2. Thing with Senna is, there’s no way Villarreal lets him go for less than 10m euros. They have financial troubles and I don’t see the rationale in paying that much for a player who is getting up there in age and has been plagued by injuries the past two seasons.

      I would like Sissoko, but I think Toulouse wants no less than 20m. Capoue is the next best thing for me and I think he would be cheaper than Sissoko, but he still might be too expensive.

    3. “Mascherano is not the type of DM that we actually need HE CAN’T PASS A BALL and is a midget.”

      Well I am not sure where this slogan came from, but he CAN pass. Really well. In fact his passes are perfectly fitting for a holding midfielder type who is not Busquets (and that’s exactly what we need. Someone to complement, not to clone).

      And I bet if you make a stat, this midget with his exceptional positioning sense, character, and dominance intercepted more set piece crosses than any other DM that may cross your mind. Thats something I’ve been following for a while, he always impress me in that matter.

      But I usually deal with unfairness cases toward Barca players (wondering who will be this year’s victim). Mascherano is not one of them yet, and I doubt he will be. So better he receives the hatred than one of our knights. I am all fine with that πŸ™‚

  9. I’ll join in with the congrats! That is awesome! I’ll make sure to check your stuff out over at SoccerNet. πŸ˜€

  10. In other news, it looks like Henrique is going to be loaned out to Racing Santander for the season again.

  11. anybody know when we’re going to see a full season schedule? or is it available somewhere already?

  12. Congrats, Isaiah! Since the new season hasn’t officially started, I’d like to remind everyone that we only lost 1 League game all of last season. 1 game! That is incredible. We broke the Riazor curse (and I’m pretty sure not-so-super Depor had Filipe in the line-up that day), now hopefully we can break the Patetico curse and handle Espanyol. 1 Loss. That is awesome. Tell me again why some journalists are favoring Inter to win it again? And can someone tell me why Messi and his truckload of goals and wins are not enough to put in in the top 5 candidates for the Balon d’Or? Was this not his best season? World Cup years don’t make much sense.

    1. You’re right. That is their curse. It has just been a tough place to play at for us.

  13. man, Isaiah is taking all barca writing as a job, lucky man!

    why the hell was Adriano looking at the interviewer’s forehead?

  14. Well, Sissoko is great, but not constant… Palacios yes, he could be a good choice, and yes Masch overrated and too expensive. But Flamini???? Please, “gimme a break”… πŸ˜€

    1. Flamini wouldn’t make it in La Liga–Isaiah is right when he says that he never impressed him technically.

      That said, I loved him at Arsenal. He was the anti-Fabregas that made the midfield so potent that people were talking for so long about Arsenal winning the title. The next season, Denilson “replaced” him, and though he probably had his best season in terms of appearances if little else, he was no Flamini. The Flam’s loss was such that the next season we had to have TWO midfielders to do his job, and still the midfield wasn’t as good as the 2007-2008 edition (with all due respect to Alex Song). For a player under 30, it was unbelievable that Wenger got so stingy with him. Maybe he–like the Yaya?–shouldn’t have been so demanding/impatient/inordinately unsatisfied himself.

      Oh, what could have been…

  15. I know I’m probably a bit late but you guys should check out Pep’s (from fcbtransfers) twitter profile http://twitter.com/barcastuff. It’s public so you don’t need to sign up or anything. He has a translation of an EXTREMELY enlightening Guardiola interview.

    And congrats Isaiah!

  16. Our requirements of a DM are just too varied, i for one cant think of any. We literally need a Pirlo-Like-Gattusso. Is that even possible?

  17. Capoue seems more composed as a passer from deep, but also athletic
    I think height should be a consideration defense from set pieces etc. Remember we’ll be competing against a Mourinho team.
    I like Sissoko also but to replace Keita in a year. Capoue seems to have great potential.
    I’m a huge Senna fan but maybe a bit old.
    Don’t like Bolatti,Mash is too expensive (and short)and De jong too reckless.
    Marchena is a funny one. Very clever (and cynical) player who can play in defense-but age is a factor.
    Annan too small.

  18. Pep interview was really interesting today for what he said and what he installed between the lines.

    Signing a midfielder is a must. we may not sign a CB if Pep is considering Abidal there.

    Its still a long way till the end of August. Anything may happen. But sooner better.

  19. Some of the bigger points from the press conference today:

    – admitted to having a hole in the midfield
    – said Abidal may figure in at centerback if we don’t fill the void there after losing Chyggy, Henrique, and probably Caceres
    – said he’s real stoked on Adriano
    – on Bojan: “i hope i can give him the playing time he deserves”
    – if we don’t sign a direct replacement for Toure, Keita could play that role (and i figure we’d sign more of a normal CM, maybe Javi Martinez…i’d like Javi Garcia)
    – on Marquez: it is his decision to stay or go
    – said he wanted to keep Chyggy but the club wanted to sell for financial reasons
    – on Villa: said he is a replacement for Henry, will play on the left forwardish position often
    – Hleb will probably go back on loan

    1. The way he said it sounded like Marquez is definitely going.

      Man it is so worrying to hear or own coach say we are thin in the midfield, seriously! do something Sandro!!!!

      also sounds like Fabregas is 100% not coming.

    2. “worrying to hear or own coach say we are thin in the midfield” – This has been a fact.

    3. Good summary. A complete translation of Guardiola’s comments are on Pep’s (from fcbtransfers) twitter account. I posted the link earlier but it’s still awaiting moderation. The link is twitter DOT com SLASH barcastuff (hopefully the link goes thru this way).

      You don’t need to sign up or anything. It’s where I go to get my hourly Barca fix πŸ™‚

      I personally disagree with putting Abidal at LB but I do like that he admitted he was wrong about Bojan. And he confirmed what everyone was saying about why Adriano was purchased

    4. Abidal has the pace to play at CB which is something I’ve been advocating but I hope this never comes to pass as his positional sense is very poor imo and that is vital at CB.

  20. Now I may get some harsh words for this, but I’m love to see Michael Bradley play for the club sometime. At 22, if he continues to improve as he has been, he could be good enough to be a midfield utility player for us.

  21. I saw pep’s pess conference live and he repeated like 1000 times the concept “X player will leave only if he wants” “he left because he wanted to leave” “I tried to make him stay” “he will decide his future” “a player that big decides his future” my ears hurt since I was and still am a big eto’o fan. did he also want to leave? did he decide then?

    he also said he really trusts the youngsters and will make use of them, oh please pep do so

  22. barca are considering charles kabore age 22 playes for marseille from burkinabe. but a poll on sport fans prefer capoue so far

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