Money, intent and a Barca Tag Day? Not likely, kids!

We’ve seen the joyous news in the English footy press, that we have about a zillion dollars in debt, and will probably have to turn to the Camp Nou travestis for some sort of revenue sharing plan, anything to make the bills, because Barca is busted! Yay!

Um, not so fast.

They won’t be needing to hold tag days for us any time soon, which must frost some people’s bacon.

To recap, for those who have been sleeping through all of this. When Joan Laporta and his administration left office, they said we had an 11m profit. When Sandro Rosell and his administration took office, they said “Not so fast, that’s actually a 400m+ deficit.”

Now, I’m not big on man crushes, but as a journalist, numbers terrify me. It’s why I chose to make my living at words. So it must now be revealed that I have a full-on man crush on the blogger who is Swiss Ramble, for the most excellent financial analysis that lays bare any and most of the high-and-mightiness that big-time footy sides bring to the table.

The latest post, titled “What’s Happening With Barcelona’s Finances,” is here. Clink the link for the full glory. It’s a delightful read, and says what we pretty much all knew: Laporta was trying to make himself look good as he scuttled down the rat lines, and Rosell was trying to make Laporta look bad, to derail the ambitions of the would-be King of Catalunya.

And the truth is somewhere in the middle. I’ll just clip some interesting tidbits then natter about them, but you should visit the Swiss Ramble site, for the full monty. Give ’em some clicks. Anybody who does work that excellent deserves them.

even in an age where we have International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), accounting is not quite as black-and-white as people might imagine. There is a considerable degree of judgment applied over which revenue and costs should be recognised in the accounts. Even Faus admitted that the old accounts were not “fixed”, but the new board had simply taken a far more conservative approach, “We opted for caution.”

Translation: Sure, we jiggered the numbers to make Laporta look like a bigger git than he is. So?

This is certainly their right, as to the victor goeth the spoils, right?

One of the fundamental accounting conventions is prudence and it does look like Laporta had a tendency to count his chickens before they hatched. On the other hand, you can be too careful. As an analogy, if you believe that it’s going to rain, you might take an umbrella with you when you go out, but you probably wouldn’t refuse to leave the house just in case you get wet.

Translation: The truth is somewhere in the middle.

you have to ask whether Barcelona set a completely unrealistic budget for 2009/10.

On the face of it, looking at the projected growth from the 2008/09 results, you would have to say no. Revenue was only budgeted to increase by €20 million from €385 million to €405 million and almost all of that growth was due to €40 million profit on sales of assets (players €25 million, land €15 million). All other revenue streams were largely unchanged with marketing revenue actually forecast to decline, as they did not anticipate a repeat of the previous season’s spectacular trophy wins.

They also forecast €13 million cost growth from €362 million to €375 million, but this looks less reasonable. Player amortisation was budgeted to increase by almost 30% (€16 million), reflecting the impact of new players, but salaries were hardly increased at all. This never made sense to me and, as we shall see, this proved to be hopelessly optimistic.

Translation: Hang on there, Joan. Talent costs money, and a lot of it.

So how did the actual 2009/10 results compare to this budget?

Using the figures after the audit adjustments, we can see that the revenue was pretty much in line. In fact, it was actually €4 million better than budget, as the negative variance due to the non-booked profit from the land sale was more than compensated by the core revenue. Marketing revenue was €7m above budget, thanks to more royalties from Nike and higher merchandise sales, while television revenue, the source of so much concern, ended up €16 million better than budget (11% higher than last year), mainly due to more money from the Champions League, following the 30% increase in the total pool. Although match day income was slightly lower than budget, it rose by 3%, helped by a 7% increase in the number of members.

However, the stand-out variances against budget were in the costs, which were an awful €103 million worse, coming in at a grand total of nearly half a billion Euros. The audit provisions are the reason for the €66 million adverse variance in other expenses, but the real damage is done in salaries. Adding together all staff (sports and administration) produces a jaw-dropping figure of €263 million, which is €36 million worse than budget. Put another way, the budget was out by 16%, which is a hell of a lot in just 12 months. It’s not as if they’re trying to forecast the lottery numbers, for heaven’s sake.

In fact, after all the audit adjustments, the total shortfall against budget is a round €100 million. Ouch. The solid revenue growth of 6% has been obliterated by terrifying cost growth of 32%. Granted, a considerable chunk of this is the result of once-off provisions, but much of it is down to player expenses – amortisation and salaries.

The wages were already very high, but €263 million is a scary figure. To place that in context, big-spending Real Madrid “only” paid out €187 million in staff costs last year (though it may have increased since then). The club identifies three reasons for the increase: new signings, contract improvements and variable compensation. The bonus payments were worth around €40 million, so Barcelona are, to some extent, victims of their own success.

Translation: Talent costs money, and boy have we been generous with the incentives and contract sweetenings.

Some have speculated that Laporta only left Rosell enough funds to either make the payroll or buy new players, but not both, thus forcing the new president to not make any marquee signings in his first summer. Others have attributed the shortfall to the purchase of David Villa, when Barcelona for once had to pay the entire transfer fee upfront, due to Valencia’s own financial travails. On the other hand, some have claimed that the liquidity crisis was caused by Rosell’s decision to cancel the scheduled price rise in season tickets, as the previous board’s (unpublicised) request for a bank loan had assumed this additional revenue as part of their business plan. This meant that Rosell had to re-submit a modified loan request.

It has surely become obvious by now that there is more than a hint of politics in this whole mess with FC Barcelona caught in the middle of a deeply personal battle between the incoming and outgoing presidents. Although Laporta and Rosell were colleagues on the board between 2003 and 2005, they have famously fallen out and now only communicate through lawyers. Rosell was elected on a platform of sorting out the financials, so he is hardly going to say that everything is “hunky dory” once he’s put his feet under the desk. Having said that, it is equally clear that Laporta would like to go out with a bang: financial stability as well as sporting success.

Translation: I told you so.

n fact, there have been so many contradictory statements coming out of Barcelona, that it’s almost impossible to distinguish the wheat from the chaff. How can a club need a €150 million loan to pay its wages, but the next minute also have a transfer budget of €50 million (sorry, €89 million after player sales)? That’s some transfer pot for a club with cash flow problems. Until we can examine the comprehensive financial statements, it’s difficult to get to the bottom of this, but something doesn’t add up.

What is clear is that Barcelona need to somehow improve their financials. The most immediate action should be to cut costs and they have plenty of scope to do this with a couple of obvious targets. They have already started the process of reducing the enormous wage bill by offloading Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez to the New York Red Bulls and selling Chygrynskiy to Shakhtar and Yaya Toure to Manchester City. The latter two sales also provided the double whammy of bringing in €39 million of sale proceeds. There may be more to come here with Alex Hleb and Martin Caceres likely to go on loan, though it now seems unlikely that the high-earning Ibra will leave this summer.

Translation: Yes, we have debt and we need to do something about it. The easiest short-term thing is offloading some stuff. Hey, looka that.

I could go on and on with a not-so-detailed analysis of the excellent analysis over at Swiss Ramble. But do yourselves a favor, and go read it. Then come back here and discuss. And I’ve even reached out to the post’s author with an invite, sort of a “Hey, we’re over here” in case they’d like to pay us a visit, and clear up any questions that haven’t been answered by a tip-top effort.

My bottom line is that we’ve all suspected that the truth is somewhere in the middle. Rosell isn’t entirely evil, Laporta isn’t entirely good. Both are self-aggrandizing, ruthless businessmen. This is good. The latter has lorded over a staggering period of sporting success, from hoops to football. What will the former do? Only time will tell, but it looks as though they are taking the right steps to address the club’s balance sheet (never mind the skullduggery), and not just because of the looming FIFA financial strictures governing European competition.

As a soci, it worries me that at the end of our deal with UNICEF (2011), that will be well within Rosell’s tenure and he might look at selling the shirt as a way to raise quick cash. As we see, however, that isn’t the only way, so it is my sincerest hope that should such a thing arise, common sense will prevail.

And that’s what I (sort of) know. What say ye?

P.S. The “translations,” such as they are, are mine. Word.

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Written by:

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

234 Comments

  1. CLUEless(John)
    August 9, 2010

    Wow, great read and super in depth as well.

  2. vicsoc8
    August 9, 2010

    An excellent, excellent article by Swiss Rambler.

    This also presents the only valid argument I can think of for selling Ibra: his wages are just too damn high.

    • Kxevin
      August 9, 2010

      But Messi makes more than Ibrahimovic, and would command an immense transfer fee, yes? 😀

      • vicsoc8
        August 9, 2010

        Hahaha, yes.

        But when you take into account value vs. cost I just don’t think there can be any comparison.

      • mei
        August 10, 2010

        ibrahimovic is paid too much , and thats one of the reasons his transfer seemed not so favourable after the end of his so-so season(by his and ours standards).
        This would have been prevented if things went according to plan and he became a blockbuster after his transfer along with messi ; but after he started declining in form ,during the time messi skyrocketed,and ibra’ marketablility just dropped .He ended up looking pale in comparison to messi when it comes to advertisement purposes.

    • jaime
      August 10, 2010

      many would argue there are also sporting reasons to get rid of ibra

      • Kxevin
        August 10, 2010

        And “many” would be misguided. Anybody who wants to slag him after a full season and offseason with the club, be my guest. I’ll be right there with you if he doesn’t meet expectations. But anybody who expects a player who showed up out of shape with a broken hand to set the world afire needs to reevaluate their standards of judgment. He did a lot better than I expected, and scored some HUGE goals for us.

        His transfer fee wasn’t our fault. That’s what the market called for, and we paid it. His salary is attendant to a player of his stature.

    • poipoi
      August 10, 2010

      apart from the sporting seasons which are still debatable (old amount of goals argument, old not-running argument) what matters me is his personality or feeling with the team, that could be another reason. Villa is sure a different character he enjoys playing soccer, or at leaast looks like it. Well, Ibra hasn’t smiled a single time after scoring, that bothers me seriously. It’s like he just killed a cat with the car or someting when he scores… with everyone coming to tap his shoulder and ibra looking down mayeb even a little pissed. It’s 1- either condolences/hugs or 2- ibra goes berzerk and shows his muscles and bad ass attitude. I only saw him smile when keita gave him a goal pass or two in this one game.

      • Luke
        August 10, 2010

        Listen, if we’re going to analyze how players react when others score, then Eto’o was the best teammate ever, cause that motherfucker smiled from ear-to-ear every goal. That doesn’t mean anything really at all, it’s just something pundits and sportswriters use as useless tropes to say a player “isn’t a team player” or some such meaningless BS.

        Ibra provides a number of excellent characteristics on the field including: holding the ball up nicely up front, height, on-field rage, skill and goal-scoring ability, etc. The only reason to sell him were if he were becoming a clubhouse problem or we got a shockingly good $40M+ deal. Neither seems to be have happened.

        • Kxevin
          August 10, 2010

          And the idea that he doesn’t celebrate goals in the “right way” is a point of contention. Look at his early-season goals. It’s a group hug, with big ol’ grins for everyone. As the season progressed and the pressure built, the celebrations became more “Thank the heavens!” The same thing happened to Messi, and nobody is slagging him for his goal celebrations.

          I’ve said it before and I will say it again: Ibrahimovic has a different standard that people apply to him, solely because of his salary and transfer fee. And it isn’t fair. Not even close.

          • poipoi
            August 10, 2010

            ok ok, sorry I guess. I know it sounds stupid even coming from me but please, it’s just an impression from a long time FCB follower, I’ve seen many players come but none with that attitude. It’s not only the celebrations it’s the constant complains (at least titi aplauded their teammates all the time) 😀 and well… just the way he looks pissed with his face red during the whole game even after scoring, you cannot play like that!!! Specially in a latino country… hello??? Plus there’s the way he confronted his supporters in earlier teams come on dude you work for them. I look very closely at players’ personalities to me it matters a lot that’s why I love Iniesta so much, he is a football freak and only smiles or shows empathy in the field, outside from it he’s only a boring ghost. I love it, sorta like messi but andres is even weirder and cooler, a true genious. Remember when he bitchslapped Thong Boy, oh lord was it great.

            I guess you have played some footy in your lives… maybe not professionally but competing whole seasons in football eleven. To me it is key the feeling that you have with your teammates, the rage/joy you share when you score, the words of your teammates to cheer you up, to ask for the ball, to ask for apologies, to ask for some hustle, etc… that you have “buen rollito” good vibes going on and in the blink of an eye you understand what the other is thinking and about to do. Etoo cheered his partners and demanded hustle when necessary like no-one in the pitch. (like when he told ronnie before playing EE: nigga are you fit? you betta be ready!) just guessing but I don’t see ibra doing any of that. I don’t see ibra saying anything to anyone and that’s what makes a dressing room the best. Many people say footy is the most psichological of sports (I’m a player, follower and a psicologo) Ibra is always pissed but not in good way like hristo was, in a way that it feels like he has to prove something and when he does prove it it’s like: “there you go suckas, who doubted about this piece of player that happens to be me. Look at me, I’m The player formerly know as Ibracadabra”. I would not like to play in his side trust me I would end up arguing with a dude like that as I ussusally do. Don’t complain think about the next play already! And cheer people up!!

            on the other hand if you played football specially as striker you’ll recognise that last goal from ibra he shot from out of the box ’cause he just could not go past the defenders or he didn’t want to try or run, I do it all the time but I don’t get paid for it, more like get shouted at. Shooting instead of running when it’s a one-on-one or one-on-two. Any other 9 would have run, you can say he has the skill to score from there as he did but the ball was suited to let it run a little im my opinion, or make a long control of the ball but no he controlled walked looked and shot.

            can’t wait for ibra to shut my mouth and see him enjoy himself!!!

            btw… what is wrong with ozil? (young, fast, left footed, great dribble, great vision, great touch, great shot….) I’d love for him to come. Last year pep did not make the youngsters play a single game me thinks (muniesa, fontas, thiago and JDS) I thought he was gonna start last year already 😉 We need a player like that, with the progression he seems to have left. The only problem would be how he handles to sit on the bench, or how ibra handles that a 20 year old sits him… well he’ll look exactly as pissed as always in the bench that’s all.

            ———valdes———–
            alves—puyi—pique—abi
            —-badia’s octopussy—–
            —–xavi——-iniesta—
            —messi—villa—özil—

            pedro! ibra? bojan keita JDS and Thiago for the mid and offense

            …. can’t JDS be a good DM??

          • Kxevin
            August 10, 2010

            It’s still an unmeetable, nebulous standard, poipoi. Eto’o, too, would look angry/exultant after some goals. Is he as wrong as Ibrahimovic, who doesn’t strike the “Gaze in wonder” pose after every goal, just the absurd ones. And you know what? He should. Look at the goal vs EE, by way of example. That is a dude on FIRE!

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHA0xplG4JY

            And after the goal, how he screams “Vamos!”

            You don’t see him complain any more than Messi does about pass placement, service, etc. And he should. A striker is only as good as his service. Further, Ibrahimovic has ego. A huge one. Find me a striker who doesn’t have a huge ego and I’ll show you a bad striker.

            I haven’t played football, but I used to be a track cycling match sprinter. Talk about mano y mano action. And we were the same as Ibrahimovic: strutting, thick-thighed balls of ego. We were always happy when we won, but your ego makes you expect to win every time you lace up the straps. An example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNeUs1QKrSY

            I wouldn’t want an Ibrahimovic with the personality of Iniesta. He would have scored about as many goals last season as Iniesta. A player like Ibrahimovic needs that kind of an ego, or he just doesn’t go. It’s the same ego that makes Eto’o warn Benitez about playing him in the “wrong” position. Every striker has it.

      • Diabolics
        August 10, 2010

        First time I post on here, so be gentle ok…. 😉

        Poipoi, I think you have a very biased view of this particular player and his abilities as a team player and about his role in the locker room. Of this you surely now as little as I, and perhaps even less. As far as I can remember, there has never been a lot of criticism reported of Ibra for his locker room role from fellow team players, past or present. On the contrary, the reports I have read show a very strong bond between some of the stars from, at least, his time in Italy. He even seem to maintain good contact with previous coaches. Mourinho for example.
        Why would Viera and Figo behave as they do in this documentary (@ around 3:45)?

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUhBwOrHKVI

        That whole documentary, all 4 episodes or so, show a very different picture compared what you try to paint.

        I’ve read every (close too at least) comment made, in every post, for more than a year, and it is pretty obvious how some of you have painted yourself into the corner of strong emotional bias towards some of the players here. I refrain from making a list of who is on what players back 😉

        My take on the “lack of” positive body language that you, and other see is spelled: confirmation bias. It happens to all of us in some regard.
        I see A do X good thing during one game, but also Y bad things. I report the X good things, you report the bad Y.

        Anyway, thanks everyone for entertaining me for more than a year, I really appreciate it.

        • August 10, 2010

          Welcome, Diabolics, and please hang around. We’re a pretty cool place, and I’m a big fan of people who come in and support their contention with data. It’s how we roll around here. The season is about to get started, and I suspect it’s going to be a wild one.

  3. aULD sUPER
    August 9, 2010

    Yes as I thought, as we all thought I suppose but nice to have the facts. Ibra is paid way too much alright but you can’t blame him for that. This thing about wanting to put a sponsor on the shirt just can’t happen without a vote by the members and will never be passed. ( If it does Rosell will be about as popular as Franco in Barcelona ).

  4. Kari
    August 9, 2010

    I love Swiss Rambler. He/she always posts top notch stuff–and without biases. Broke a lotta hearts 😀 Now if only SR could somehow stop the incessant natterings of the English and Italian press… And the annoying “exclusive stories” of the idiotic Spanish/Catalan media.

    Sigh. But that’s as good as impossible.

    –Does anyone know the times of the Spain-Mexico; Argentina-Ireland; Spain U-21-Finland U-21 matches? I’d like to know and it’s not like I’ll plan my day around those times. Nope, not at all. Not even a little bit *shifty eyes*

    –If we’re going to talk about wages and the cost/benefit of things: we all know that Xavi should be the second highest player 😀 Some would argue that he deserves as much as Messi.

    Then again, Iniesta, Pique, Alves, Valdes, Busi, Abidal could all make a case that they need pay raises too. Personally, I don’t care how much they make as long as they “earn” it on the pitch.

  5. GREECE BARCA
    August 9, 2010

    you can.t blame ibra for what we pay him.you can blame laporta for the most stupid transfer in barca.s history(overmars was the 2nd).so from 90mil budget now we are in 80.5(after adriano transfer).i am just don.t believe we made any offer for cesc.no money no honey folks.let s hope the youths be a miracle this season.

  6. GREECE BARCA
    August 9, 2010

    i can live one and two and three years without trophies.for me first is to make our dept as small as we can.that matters now.and the sunday i saw united be very good without any transfes in the team.so we will be fine without anyone else.and about berbatov.he is not a flop.

    • Kxevin
      August 9, 2010

      In fact, United signed a U-21 defender, Chris Smalling, for 12m. They also signed Mexican attacker Javier Hernandez for an undisclosed fee, both this season.

      We in fact made two offers for Fabregas. Arsenal did not want to do business, so nothing happened. Again, that’s fact. We enter the realm of conjecture when you suggest that we should pay more than a sensible price for a squad player, and who “the most stupid transfer in Barca’s history” was. Everyone who has followed this club for a while has a candidate.

      But before presenting facts, please do your research, and mind the tone of your posts. Two were deleted from the previous thread because of tone.

      We are a civil space here. Debate and argument is fine, but it should be done with respect. This is not a message board. We are all passionate about Barca, but there is a tone in Isaiah’s (and tangentially, ALL of our) house.

      • aULD sUPER
        August 10, 2010

        Hernandez was 7m english pounds.

  7. Philo Barca
    August 9, 2010

    Even with all the bonuses, the 263 million Euro figure for salaries is impossible to understand. Either we pay our janitors six figures or there is a lot of mystery “staff” on that payroll.

    • Kari
      August 9, 2010

      Remember that we’re not just a football team.

      There’s also a basketball team that won the basketball version of the CL, a handball team that also won 2 titles, a futsal team, ice and roller hockey team, rugby team, track and field team, not to mention women’s teams…

      Yeah, and there’s bonuses to account for too, which we seem to be very generous in giving. And the staff of all those teams, and the office workers.

      • Luke
        August 9, 2010

        Good call Kari. Just so we’re clear, Barça has the best basketball team not playing in the US and has Ricky Rubio as a bench player. I’m just saying.

        • Kxevin
          August 9, 2010

          Right. It’s important to remember that the number is for everybody, not just the football club.

  8. GREECE BARCA
    August 9, 2010

    and a line-up for saturday:pinto,bartra,milito,muniesa,adriano,keita,dos santos,iniesta,maxwell,bojan(he can play i think)soriano..i think it s good!and a prediction:2-1win!yeah!

  9. Kxevin
    August 9, 2010

    In the “more nonsense” category, both Sport and EMD are “reporting” that we have a deal with Werder Bremen for Ozil. One rag says 10m+variables, the other says 13-15, and that the deal is just waiting for Guardiola’s approval.

    Sighhhh

    In the words of Ozil: “For now, my situation for the next 12 months is clear. Only the facts count and the fact is, I am under contract with Werder. I cannot know what comes after that.”

    Yes, Werder would be crazy to let him play this season without a renewal, this much is true. If they play him in the Champions League match that is looming for them, then in effect they have said they are fine with him leaving on a free, because no way that club keeps him. Not after the World Cup he had.

    But for us? Can anyone see us doing that deal, given the Fabregas lust that Rosell seems to have?

    Just checking.

    Meanwhile, we know that Iniesta passed his physical today.

    http://www.fcbarcelona.cat/web/english/noticies/futbol/temporada10-11/08/09/n100809112358.html

    Just walk gingerly around the Camp, Ghostface. We need you this season.

    • Kxevin
      August 9, 2010

      RAC-1 and Cadena Ser are saying that Guardiola has rejected the Ozil transfer, saying that he prefers our youth products. Yay!

  10. GREECE BARCA
    August 9, 2010

    ok.i will ask sorry from all of you for my tone.i will try to write without passion but with logic.cu.

    • August 9, 2010

      We all have passion, and passion often makes logic go out the window. That’s cool, as long as respect doesn’t.

  11. Simon Says
    August 9, 2010

    I saw the link to this site from the Swiss Rambler’s site and i have question that you addressed to a degree saying that the soci’s would reject any vote for a shirt sponsor.
    Why is Barca so reluctant to have a shirt sponsor?
    A sponsorship in the €25-30 range is conceivable. UNICEF is already on the shirt, so why not a paid sponsor?

    The Rambler by the way is a he and an Arsenal supporter.

    • jaime
      August 10, 2010

      why not a sponsor on the shirt??!? sorry, but it gets me worked up when people ask that. The reason FCB doesn’t have a corporate sponsor on the shirt is because we are “more than a club”,because the colors and crest on that shirt mean something,because it would be to deface the blaugrana putting a corporate sponsor on the shirt,etc

      in our long history (and considering our success) it makes me very proud that FCB kept corporate sponsoships off the shirt, even longer than Athletic Club Bilbao and specially considering how much money it could bring in to the club. I was even against putting Unicef on the shirt.We could have have had the same deal and put their logo all over the Camp Nou…but it shouldn’t have gone on the shirt.

      Unfortunately I think we will have corporate sponsorship on the shirt before Rosell’s presidency is over…I think the socis will fight it as long as we can, but eventually there’ll be too much pressure and we’ll cave.

      as a matter of fact I don’t know if anybody noticed that the Herbalife logo was featured on the right side sleeve of the shirt during the preseason.In all fairness that sponsor was picked up during the Laporta regime, but I think it’s a sign of things to come.

  12. ML
    August 9, 2010

    My lineup for this saturday, and yes, i do expect ibrahimovic, bojan, milito and messi to be fit 🙂

    Pinto
    Adriano – Milito – Muniesa – Abidal
    Dos Santos – Sergi Roberto – Keita
    Messi – Ibrahimovic – Bojan

    If the selected players are available, then im predicting a 1-3 victory. Visca el Barca!

  13. August 10, 2010

    Hi, I’m the guy who wrote the article, “What’s Happening With Barcelona’s Finances?”

    Kxevin invited me to this site and I would be happy to answer any questions you might have. As “Simon Says” above, I am indeed an Arsenal supporter, but I like to think that my articles are balanced.

    I have worked in the world of finance for over 20 years in a number of roles, though they usually involved simplifying financial issues for board directors and executive management. On my blog, I’m just applying those skills to the far more interesting world of football, as fans are normally presented with misleading, if not incorrect, analysis of their club’s finances.

    • Kari
      August 10, 2010

      Well, I think you are relatively balanced–as sure as heck couldn’t tell you were an Arsenal supporter until maybe the end of the article, but I wasn’t sure.

      Regardless, nice job!

  14. Hannibal
    August 10, 2010

    @Swissrambler, I’ve read most of your articles and have sent various links of them to friends of mine (be them Barcelona or PL-fans). I see your work as ‘the’ reference for people trying to understand the financials behind football clubs. Thanks very much.

    And no no no to shirtsponsors, I wouldn’t buy the whole marketing aspect of more than a club, but its just too nice to say to madridistas that they had to sell their virginal white shirties to some commercial conglomerate because in effect they were broke.

  15. GoonerInBarça
    August 10, 2010

    Very good point above about the Basketball section of Barça. The football club essentially subsidises the basketball (and all the other sporting sections).

    To be completely honest although the financial situation isn’t fantastic, it’s by no means critical. The only thing that would worry me from that side would be the fact you are at the very top of your game and there’s not much scope for improvement as far as sporting success (and therefore prize money) goes. If the success disappears would it cause big problems to the bank balance? Who knows (other than Rosell)?!

    What would really worry me is what Rosell could do to the club. As mostly foreign supporters here you don’t have the Catalan mentality as far as emotion goes so see things more logically. Rosell was voted in partly on the fact he was promoting Catalan values at a time of emotion (the new constitution, protest march etc.) and so scooped up the votes. What he seems to be doing is going against that. Even going as far as interfering with the sporting side of things. If I were a Barça fan the thing that would worry me most is if he began to drive Pep out of the club. It’s not impossible that he could leave next summer especially as he’s already won everything here.

    I’m going to speculate wildly but what would you say the chances are of a “Wenger-Pep manager swap”? Both contracts run out this year and both could leave for differing reasons (Wenger’s lack of success, Rosell intefering). However both would bring something desired to the each of the clubs: Wenger would bring great financial control (one of his undoubted talents) and Pep would be a young successful manager who could win things. Very hypothetical but by know means impossible…

    • barca96
      August 10, 2010

      Oh yes Sir…
      I have been longing to see Wenger at Barca since they sacked Van Gaal(2nd time).. He is perfect for us in many ways.

      p.s.Thank God the thumbs up/down is gone 🙂
      Otherwise I would be the record holder for the most thumbs down for this post 😆

    • August 10, 2010

      Always quality contributions. even for an Arsenal fan in the season of insanity 😀

      – Regarding Sandro: He is doing exactly what we thought he will do. I’ve been voicing my concerns about him since years now (when he was labeled as the father of all success). I can see a vote of no confidence waved in the air within two years if he keep riding this dragon.

      – Wenger-Pep swap will not work, if we judge based on the current performance of the two coaches (though things change with changing clubs). Wenger will not survive in Barcelona if his titles records will be even two times better than it is with Arsenal. At Barcelona there is no tolerance that “We were ok”, or that “We are second”. There are complains already because last season we only won the liga and reached CL semi finals. So you can imagine. Pep in the second hand is a bid too demanding in the transfer market for Arsenal. Even with the quality of the squad available we saw lot of transfers adventures. No offense for Arsenals squad, but i can imagine the demands of this perfectionist if he coach in London.

      Besides, I am not sure if Arsene -after being the king of London- will accept anything less than being the one who decides at Barcelona. With Sandro on board? I dont think so.

  16. barca96
    August 10, 2010

    Is the amount that we pay for staffs the highest in the world?
    Anybody knows the exact amount for the football team alone?
    How about the amounts paid by Man U, Inter, Bayern, Chelsea, Liverpool etc.
    I really don’t believe that we are the highest payers.

    • GoonerInBarça
      August 10, 2010

      I think it’s fair to say that Barça and Madrid are in a league of their own when it comes to salaries.

      This is a good recent article:

      http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/post/The-10-highest-paid-sports-teams-in-the-world?urn=top-230688

      What it shows is that there are only 3 football teams in the top 10 best paid sports teams in the world. Also that Barça and Real are pretty similar with Chelsea next in line but still a way back (700k dollars less per year on average compared to Barça).

      They’re quite astonishing figures when you consider that it’s just an average and that includes some of the canteranos. Messi & Ibra must be washing themselves in their Euros! Also bear in mind that the tax is lower in Spain compared to other countries (at least for now). This doesn’t affect Barça but it does mean the players are getting even more money than elsewhere.

    • August 10, 2010

      This club is probable the club with the highest number of teams in different sports. From Basketball, to Ice Hockey, field hockey, Baseball, skating, volleyball, rugby, wheelchair Basketball and Athletics with the same demand for titles as in football.

      Add the social area where we have lot of administrative positions as a result of being extremely integrated with the fan base in general
      and Catalonia in specific.

      No doubt there were some mess that should be fixed. But if even with all that mess added to the demanding environment of the club we are still close or better than most of the big clubs in the world in that matter (Salaries), then we can hope for better without complaining much:)

      As for the football team, we have at least 5 to 7 of the best players in their positions in a best 11 worldwide selection. We have -to keep it humble- one of the best youth academies and -my friend- that cost cash.

    • August 10, 2010

      The total Barcelona salaries for 2009/10 were €263m, split between sporting activities €235m and administration €28m. We won’t have any more detail for the sporting break-down until the full annual report is published.

      For other clubs, Real Madrid’s staff costs last year (2008/09) were €187m, though the chances are that they have also significantly increased following last summer’s purchases of Ronaldo, Kaka, Xabi Alonso, etc.

      The salaries for English clubs are considerably lower (though these almost always only cover football). Taking an exchange rate of €1.20 to the £1, these were the salary costs for 2008/09: Chelsea €185m, Manchester United €148m, Arsenal €125m, Liverpool €123m and Manchester City €99m. Again, these are likely to have increased over the last 12 months.

      Bayern’s wage bill is only €139m, which is to be expected, given the Bundesliga’s focus on controlling costs.

  17. August 10, 2010

    Welcome on board, Swiss Rambler. I will certainly post my 5 cents on your article later today.

    —————A Ramble On Shirts and Sponsorship———–

    I already posted a comment about it on the previous post but I will rephrase it here again.

    First lets -for a moment- avoid riding the high horse of “more than a club” slogan because 1) It sounds as if its just a blind emotional statement when it turn to be the absolute reason. And I don’t like radical absolute “facts” no matter what. 2) Because it damage the reality that such slogans is not just a passionate statement but also a business motto that bring real cash and financial success.

    – The “More than a club” radical approach Vs short sighted shirt sponsorship reminds me of the endless struggle between Romantic Marketing and aggressive sales in business. Trust me its not fun at all. Romantic Marketing is when the marketers focus so much on branding and image that they avoid anything which may scratch the holly reputation of the business so they end up in that delusional cycle of absolute quality without keeping their feet on the ground humbling their means to meet the market demands. They live in their own orbit far from the Market and the sales automatically decline enough to make those same Marketers lose their jobs. Thats not a theoretical fairy tale, its a common case that I personally witnessed from the small business of my neighbor who seek perfection when he offers you to paint your house and is so quality-oriented that the price he demands is sometimes 3 times thats of the market, and the case strike up to some of the biggest companies and brands in the world like the Mackintosh of the nineties.

    In the other hand, you have the aggressive sales who are only interested in straight short-term cash generating that they may sell bibles in a nightclub if they can guarantee one extra dollar in the account. Such sales you need to keep out of your firm regardless of the promising return because they will burn your brand into ashes and soon you will be booted permanently out of any market.

    I am not a big fan of previous board business model (as a whole). They were able to structure the basics but failed to bring the best out of it. Though, its important to give them the credit that they created an interesting business model based on productive branding. Its true that Barcelona Pays UNICEF for having it on the shirt. But it is also true that Shirt sales increased BECAUSE of that agreement. This is a club owned by the fans and totally financed by the fans either directly or indirectly. The more fans the club generate the better return it gets. There is the short sighted version of Sandro: Just stamp a Spaghetti picture on the shirt and count the money earned. The other version is to be more focused on the values that make people care more. Create an engagement with global cases and people will buy the shirt more to finance their two passions: The club and the moral causes it represents. The more you enhance the brand, the more fans you attract, the more merchandise you sell. Simple math, challenging science. Its not easy to progress based on such strategy but it is the one with the best potentials compared to the limited -already exposed- strategy of commercial sponsorships. Moreover, there is more immunity in this one if you take the crisis that pop out of domestic economies in the world of business. Commercial sponsorships rely too much on a handful amount of big brands that is usually located (originally) in some specific markets. Any collapse in that market and voila! Merchandise sales based on branding and fans base is a wider umbrella where it may decline but never collapse because it is based on numerous entities.

    Regardless of all the propaganda of Anti-Barcelona that stormed in this club face since its new successful cycle, the club is still expanding like fire in ashes. Its not only because of the titles won, but because of the whole model with the engagement created with moral values and fair cases. That must not be subject to any compromise. Defensibly its stupid to put it for sale with a price tag of 30 M. That’s the value of 3 Hlebs packed in one. Now how ugly is that?

    There is more awareness toward the importance of the engagement between business and moral values as a key method for branding and creating business image. Nowadays you barely find a company that is not involved in some none business related causes from Global warming to charity activities to social events, etc… It all cost money and take some of the cash from the bank but is it really a cost (or less return)? Not on the long term. Barcelona after being one of the pioneers in that matter, cant retreat now that the rest are following.

    Besides, I dont understand the need to have a sponsor. It was always a subject on the table. every time the team faced a financial problem that was the first suggestion. It was always declined at the last moment, and guess what! The club survived and only got better. The club now is in a better financial situation than in 2003. If we evaluate achievements Vs costs it is still without any doubt the most successful model. Even if we consider Shirt sponsorship as the last insurance shot, obviously we are far from needing that pang already.

    • poipoi
      August 10, 2010

      The club is only of the socis… so referendum to the socis no big deal. don’t think he can do that unilaterally. whatever they vote it shall be. wasn’t sandro the one so concerned about the soci??

      • August 10, 2010

        True, but the socis gave him the highest voting basket for a president in the history of the club. Between the panic attack resulting from Sandro’s acrobatic accounting, and the “Give me a Sponsor, I give you a Cesc”, one has to admit that Alexandre is playing dirty, but smart.

      • poipoi
        August 10, 2010

        I sure don’t know but maybe you do… any other team without commercial publicity in the shirt? If we are the only ones, even though Unicef is there I’d like it to stay that way… but I’m not a soci just a die hard supporter.

        my opinion: THEY SHOULD WEAR “FUENTEALBILLA” LIKE ATLETI DID WITH “MARBELLA” lol … or maybe “bodegas iniesta”… or even better, imagine a private entrepenour that founds an enterprise called “give me 10 euros each one of you and we’ll get cesc”, aimed only to gather money and bring the kid home, that slogan could be in the shirt… like those ones with “My boyfriend is out this weekend” …nonsense…

        • August 10, 2010

          “any other team without commercial publicity in the shirt?” I can safely confirm that all the big clubs I know, are struggling financially more than Barca, though they have commercials on their shirts.

  18. GREECE BARCA
    August 10, 2010

    guys what do you think about ozil?can he play as a LW?for me if we buy him is one great signing!and for 10m??i want him now!

  19. GREECE BARCA
    August 10, 2010

    i just read that in last decade we were the 2nd in transfers spending!!first madrid with 1billion!!we spend 713millions!that means 71.3m every summer!!

    • August 10, 2010

      Regardless of how accurate the numbers are (And obviously I have my questions there), do they mention how many titles we won in that period? How much of that transfer spending is a debt?

      And, GREECE BARCA, are you the one responsible of bringing exclusively the passive news? 😀

      I dont mind it, but its just interesting…Why dont we make an agreement? Bring one positive for every 10 negatives you post. It doesnt matter, you can post 10 negatives for Laporta and one positive for Rosell. Just for the fun of it 😉

      Cheers!

  20. Jake
    August 10, 2010

    Getting Ozil really brings us to the delicate argument of how much we should rely on our youth system. One could argue that we don’t need him, as we have Pedro, and although it isn’t his natural position, Thiago for subs on the wings. We also just signed Villa. However, the counter argument is that putting too much pressure on youth players at such a young age can be detrimental to their development (see Bojan).

    10m is an absolute steal for any club who needs, or can even fit in a player such as Ozil. He is without a doubt one of the brightest young talents around, and if we don’t sign him chances are he’ll come back to haunt us with another club once he is in his prime.

    Our youth players are still at the club to benefit us in the long term, becoming players who can contribute to the first team. If we don’t have the faith that Thiago, JDS and Pedro are, or will be more valuable to the first team than Ozil can be, than we should sign him up ASAP.

    Thiago, JDS and Pedro have been loyal to the club and can certainly be better players (or more valuable players to our system) than Ozil. With this in mind, there is absolutely no need for him. We have just signed Villa who will be a definite starter this season, bar some unforeseeable problems. If he or Messi is out, Pedro, Thiago and Iniesta can cover the wings. We required one attacker for this season, and we have him. Let’s focus on a DM, as well as a CB (unless we choose to rely on youth here, but Senna would’ve been perfect).

  21. GREECE BARCA
    August 10, 2010

    jake i am the first who i don.t want any transfer now and i believe in our boys!but if there is the chance to take him for that money i say yes without second thought!!he will be our LW for many many years!tiago and dos santos are midfield players and they will have their chances!don.t forget that last summer we paid 25m for a defender and with fontas,botia,muniesa in that position!

  22. Flippy
    August 10, 2010

    eeerrr özil wouldn’t play in the front line if he came to Barça, he would play in either of the two attacking midfielders position, where Xavi and Iniesta play. Besides he is most likely staying at Werder Bremen this year and going somewhere else next year for free. And frankly, with JDS and Thiago, I don’t see any room for özil, who is the same age as JDS. Yes, he’s shown immense potential at the WC (which are the only games I’ve seen him play), but signing him bring many complications.

  23. Kxevin
    August 10, 2010

    Question for Swiss Ramble:

    Regarding the looming UEFA fiscal strictures, how likely is any big club to meet those guidelines? 2013 is not that far off. Clubs have always played it rather fast and loose fiscally, with big clubs being faster and looser than most.

    • August 10, 2010

      That’s true, but UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules focus more on a club’s profitability, rather than debt. Taking Barcelona as an example, until this year’s big loss, they reported profits 6 years in a row, so they should be OK. Real Madrid made a profit last year, as did Bayern Munich.

      What will be interesting is that there are a number of adjustments/exceptions allowed, so it will be interesting to see how firm UEFA are in practice. The intent is clear, but do UEFA really want to kill the geese that lay the golden eggs? In other words, would they really want to exclude the big clubs from the Champions League?

      I wrote about this, focusing on English clubs, a while ago:

      http://swissramble.blogspot.com/2010/05/uefa-say-fair-play-to-arsenal.html

      • August 10, 2010

        Kinda what I was thinking. Thanks so much, and by the by, though this goes without saying, stop by anytime. I know that this whole Fabregas business has riven two clubs who are fans of the other. We’re all hoping the Gunners can get it done this season. Pretty football should always win, IMHO.

  24. Jnice
    August 10, 2010

    All the Ozil talk is really pointless, considering he just said he is going to fulfill his contract and that he hasn’t heard anything about an agreement with Barça. His manager has also said there is no agreement, nor have they received an offer. That news is dead.

  25. Hilal
    August 10, 2010

    We dont really need Ozil, just like we dont really need Cesc. Ozil it too good a player to spend most of his time on the bench, even if he is only 15m. He is at an age where he should be playing a lot of games. I would much, much rather give JDS and Thiago more time on the pitch, either of them could end up better than Ozil anyways.

    A much more interesting swap/transfer deal that seems to be on the cards is Hleb+10m for Macherano. I know a lot of ppl dont like Mascherano here (not sure why though) but I think that would be a great deal. Not only that but his agent has already stated that Mascherano understands that he would be competing with Sergio for DM and is not guaranteed a starting spot. We need a proper destroyer now that Yaya has gone and while he may not be the most technically gifted Mascherano is one of the best (if not the best) midfield destroyers in the game. To land him for 10m + a player we dont even want would be an amazing deal..

    • Jnice
      August 10, 2010

      Wouldn’t it be like 15m + Hleb? Even though his agent said Mascherano could be bought for half of what Liverpool were asking last year, I have my doubts when push comes to shove. I think they will end up wanting about 20m+.

    • Kxevin
      August 10, 2010

      Interesting, though I would say, jackass qualities notwithstanding, that we need Hleb more than Mascherano. Keita or Correia can stand in at DM. But we still lack proven, high-quality midfield depth. As a ball holder and distributor, Hleb would be excellent. He isn’t a winger, and never will be. All the skills that I have seen him evince, and the reason I was so pleased when we signed him, is dude can take a beating and retain possession, while making the right pass.

      But he killed his chances with us with his mouth and attitude.

      • Jnice
        August 10, 2010

        I would disagree that we need Hleb more than a proper DM. I like you (I don’t know if you remember), was one of the biggest supporters of the Hleb to Barça deal. I love him at Arsenal and I thought he was crucial for them, but most of the credit went to Cesc. I actually used to LOVE watching Hleb dribble and weave past everyone. Sure the old Hleb would be great, but that is clearly not going to happen. I think Thiago/JDS could do a good job filling in there and I don’t think current Hleb would do much better and it doesn’t seem like he is going to get that chance anyway.

        As for Keita or Adriano playing DM, for me, that weakens our team. Keita is not a pure DM and you can see it when he plays in that position. It just doesn’t seem like he’s comfortable and the ball movement isn’t the same. I’m willing to bet that Adriano in that position would be worse than Keita.

        I don’t like Mascherano much, but if we can get him on the cheap, we need to think about seriously doing the deal. We need a proper DM to rotate or backup Busquets. Options like Keita and Adriano should only be for when we are in a serious pinch and have our backs to the wall. If we go into the season without one, I fear there will be some problems.

        • Kxevin
          August 10, 2010

          Foe me, it’s proritizing. I would love both, but if we have one key injury in midfield attack, we’re screwed.

          • Jnice
            August 10, 2010

            But can’t we say the same about the DM position?

            You figure if we have an injury to one of our midfielders, we put in Thiago or JDS.

            If we have an injury to Busi, we play Keita or Adriano. From what I’ve seen of Keita in that position, I seriously don’t think the performance of the kids would be worse than the performance of Keita or Adriano.

            Maybe I’m putting too much fait in the kids, but I’m not worried if Thiago is alonside at least one of Xavi or Iniesta. If both get hurt then, okay, we have a problem.

            But that’s why I have been advocating for an attacking midfielder and DM since the end of the season. We have 40m euros left, no? Two players can’t be bought with that?

          • Hilal
            August 10, 2010

            Hmmm, I think we are more screwed if Busquets is injured than if we have one key injury to attacking mid. Iniesta was injured for a lot of last season and we did ok. Keita is much better as a backup for Iniesta than as a backup for Sergio.. We have JDS and Thiago now who will be there to take the pressure off Xavi/Iniesta so hopefully this will lead to less injuries. On top of that, MEssi can fill that role if its really needed.

            DM on the other hand, well, if Sergio picks up a long term injury we are in trouble. Keita is okay as DM, but I would no way feel comfortable going for a long stretch with him as the DM. Adriano we have yet to see in that role so who knows; could be decent, could be awful.

            For $10-15m + Hleb I would take Mascherano in a hearbeat. He can be a little rough around the edges but he is an excpetional DM on his day and gives Pep something we lack completely. HE also seems willing to accept that he has to fight for his spot, which is great. Sergio definitely needs REAL competition. The last thing we need is for him to get comfortable and revert back to his bad habits. I really, really dont see a downside to this deal..

          • Kxevin
            August 10, 2010

            Dunno, I’d be more confident rolling into a key match with Keita at DM than Dos Santos in an AM role.

  26. GREECE BARCA
    August 10, 2010

    ramzi i don.t write that for bad!we won 4 ligas 2 cl played in 6 cl semifinals 4 spain super cups 1 eupope and 1 world cup!!
    it s numbers of last decade(gaspart+laporta)!i will not defend rosell again here cause i am the only one!

  27. Kxevin
    August 10, 2010

    Three comments in one:

    –Shirt sponsorship is, while fiscally expedient, also philosophically vile. UNICEF I like on the front, because of what it represents. The payoff for the meager cost to us (1.5m per annum) is huge.

    Commercial sponsors, on the other hand, corrupt a shirt front. I am not a fan. I’d rather see one less signing than a shirt sponsor.

    –Ozil says that he has talked to no one, so reports of any deal are nonsense. Werder is saying that the possibility of a deal this summer is becoming more likely. In club speak, that means “Come and get him!”

    –The Mascherano rumors have resurfaced. For the record, it will not happen. The age and quality of Busquets argues against spending what Mascherano costs, never mind the necessity of playing him an amount attendant to his transfer fee.

    • Jnice
      August 10, 2010

      I agree with you about the Mascherano thing, but if what his agent is saying about his transfer fee being half of what Liverpool was asking last summer is true (30m, I think), then maybe we should really look into that. I don’t know, I mean, what are our options at this point? Finding players in this market is tough, especially when teams want more money because you are FC Barcelona.

      • Bundy
        August 10, 2010

        nah, I there is no way liverpool will agree to what ever Mascherano’s agent claims.

        Kxevin put it the right way,

        as for the sponsors, giving into profitable shirt sponsors just makes us more dependable rather than keeping a mindset that will drive us to become more self sustainable and self driven.

      • Kxevin
        August 10, 2010

        But if the 30m brings with it headaches (cost, playing time, etc.), how good of a deal is it? How long will it be, if we pop 30m for Mascherano and he doesn’t play that much because Busquets is the starter, before the voices of discontent about our business practices and transfer policies start cropping up in this space? “Hmph! 30m for a squad player? We could have gotten (insert name here) for a fraction of the cost. Guardiola is stupid!”

        We have two significant needs: DM and midfield depth. I prioritize, as noted above, midfield depth. Xavi is irreplacable, Iniesta isn’t, nor is Busquets. Xavi has a lotta, lotta miles on his legs. He’s basically played non-stop for almost the past three seasons. You can only ride a horse so long before it pulls up lame.

        • Jnice
          August 10, 2010

          I meant half of 30m, so 15m. No way would I want Mascherano for 30m.

          • Jnice
            August 10, 2010

            Um, I just reread his agent’s quotes, and I was wrong, lol. He said a transfer fee “half of what Cesc would cost.” That means he would still be expensive, so buh-bye Mascherano.

        • mei
          August 10, 2010

          Nobody is irreplacable , not even xavi or messi.We have won championships(and lost) with them not featuring always , we have gone through some very tough games with them on the sideline or with them going trough a rough patch.
          I know xavi is THE reference in our current squad but even without him we have coped , and we can cope again.
          The fact is that all of these players(xavi iniesta messi AND busquets) are automatic starters in our squad. Replacement for busquets cant be a highly promising foreign talent brought for good money(10-15 million isnt exactly peanuts) or ,even worse, a world class destroyer.
          That would either disrupt our squad harmony or invite the papers for screaming against our transfer dealings ,selection policy, agent talking etc.

          • August 10, 2010

            For me, Xavi is irreplacable. Nobody else is.

            Your note about automatic starters is the big problem with any squad additions, despite people clamoring for them. Our starting XI is etched in stone: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Messi, Villa, Ibrahimovic.

            (Let’s pause for a second and say a collective “Dayum!”)

            These players are, with the exception of one, durable. So then what? Good question. It’s why Guardiola will almost certainly opt to campaign with the kids this season. Who else will be happy playing as a Copa/blue moon sub?

  28. Lou
    August 10, 2010

    Wouldn’t getting an excellent DM help with attacking depth? Then if necessary we could play Busi as an attacking midfielder. He did very well there when playing with Toure, and I think he has the potential to do even better if given time.

    • Kxevin
      August 10, 2010

      Good point, but what I’m thinking Guardiola is envisioning is, if preseason is any indication, Ibrahimovic dropping back into more of that attacking midfielder zone, to assist with playmaking and possession. Obviously we won’t know until the full squad lines up, though.

  29. Jnice
    August 10, 2010

    It’s funny when Sport claims to know more than the player and club itself. They are still insisting on the Ozil rumors and claiming that Ozil and Bremen know more than they are letting on. I really would like to be in the Sport offices and watch how they work.

    • barca96
      August 10, 2010

      When they don’t have anything to write about Ibra or Cesc, they will choose Ozil 🙂

  30. GREECE BARCA
    August 10, 2010

    hahahaha!the joke of the year by steven gerrard!joe cole is better than messi!what do you drink stevie??

    • mei
      August 10, 2010

      Theres nothing wrong with praising a newly signed player for your team, especially when you happen to be the captain of the club.Its not as if players are demanded to be objective .
      Plus his actual quote , if the guardian is to be believed(no paper seems remotely close to trustworthy these days) is that “joe cole is a player of the highest quality , and he can do some amazing things like messi , IF not better.”

  31. Kxevin
    August 10, 2010

    A giggle, and a smile:

    First, the smile. You can leave a message for your favorite Barca player, and the best ones will be posted on his locker:

    http://www.fcbgamper2010.com/eng/index.html

    (No, I don’t have a favorite player. But if I did, the message would be “Watch out for squirrels.” That would win. For sure.

    Now, the giggle:

    “Messi can do some amazing things, but anything he can do Joe can do as well, if not better. He used to shock us in training by doing footy tricks with a golf ball that most players can’t even do with a football.

    “I really fancy Joe for the [player of the year] award this season.”

    As mei notes above, a captain is supposed to say stuff like that. And the context is clear that he means ball tricks and other cool stuff, rather than global player pre-eminence.

    • barca96
      August 10, 2010

      Haha poor EPL players think that doing tricks with a golf ball automatically means a good player 😆

      • Jnice
        August 10, 2010

        Ronaldinho would laugh at Joe Cole’s “tricks.”

        • poipoi
          August 10, 2010

          robinho can do those tricks also… and who envys his game?

          pep guardiola could not do three touches in a row without letting the ball fall to the ground… many envied his game.

  32. Luke
    August 10, 2010

    I am serious about this: If Barca signs Mascherano, I may quit on the team. Seriously, $30M+ for a guy who hasn’t been good in 1.5 years when we could pay $25M for Javi Martinez if we need depth so bad? Argh

    • August 10, 2010

      Don’t make me come over there, Luke! 😀

      We are about as likely to sign me as to sign Mascherano. Relax.

    • barca96
      August 10, 2010

      To be fair, he was OK during the WC.
      Can’t really comment on his club form as I never watch Liverpool play.
      But no matter what, it would be a blow to Busi. He needs to play and be our #1 DM for many years to come. I don’t want anyone to threat his future with us.

  33. mei
    August 10, 2010

    I will jump on that wagon that most most managers do when one of their players comes back from a long term injury, and say that iniesta will be our best(along with villa!speed and scoring from the wing yay!!) signing this season , and will make us forget the words about midfield cover .They young ones will get time for rotation purposes and things are gonna be smoooooth 😀

    • Kari
      August 10, 2010

      Another plus for Villa: Iniesta won’t be playing LW (at least, not when Villa’s available).

      Now, he can finally form the Xaviniesta midfield that we so sorely missed that season. Say what people want about Yaya-Busi DM thing, but the reason we didn’t win the CL was because Andres was injured.

      We had long term injuries to both Abidal and Iniesta and some people were still complaining we weren’t good enough last season. Damn, spoiled are we? 😀

  34. Kxevin
    August 10, 2010

    As a reminder to newcomers, comments that include URLs are placed in the moderation queue. If you have a URL, paste it into the comment, and put a backslash or asterisk (or something) in front of it. Then your comment will still be visible until your hard-working moderators can go in and make the link live. Word.

  35. Kari
    August 10, 2010

    No way to Mascherano. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: he’s pure destroyer. His style of football, IMO, is perfect in the EPL. At Barca, or in Spain, no way he’d get away with some of the crap he gets away with in England.

    I’m not convinced at his passing abilities. At Barca, you’re not just a destroyer, you have to be able to pass from the back and be a link between the midfield and the defense. I wouldn’t trust Mascherano with this job. And for 20-30m, that deal would suck

    Luckily, it’s only rumors and won’t be happening.

  36. August 10, 2010

    @ Kxevin:

    “we need Hleb more than Mascherano. Keita or Correia can stand in at DM. But we still lack proven, high-quality midfield depth.”

    Regardless of where we actually lack more depth, and the fact that I am usually Hleb’s defensive minister, I believe in Busquets as a center midfielder more than Hleb. So if I had to choose between Mascherano-Busquets-Iniesta or Keita-Hleb-Iniesta for example in the absence of Xavi, it won’t take me long to pick my choice.

    Even with the absence of both Xavi and Iniesta I still can make a better argument for Mascherano-Keita-Busquets (Even Mascherano-Maxwell-Busquets) over Busquets-Keita-Hleb. All that without taking the Messi option as a CM in consediration where needed.

    Not sure how keeping a CM like hleb (even if he exeeded all expectations) and using Keita in a position he is not used to (though he can do well) is better than signing a holding midfielder and if needed using Busquets where I believe it’s his natural position (CM).

    The basic stereotype people lock Mascherano in is that he is not a good distributor. In the recent world cup his passing average was even better than players like Gerrard, Shwansteiger(you know who I mean!), and almost any holding midfielder we’ve seen in that tournament. Statistically speaking.

    • Kari
      August 10, 2010

      “The basic stereotype people lock Mascherano in is that he is not a good distributor”

      You’re talking about me, aren’t you?!

      Yeah, well, in the–wait, one, two, three, four– four games I’ve seen him play at Liverpool, he looked pure destroyer to me, so you and your fancy stats can take that! 😀

      Saying his passing average is better than Gerrard isn’t saying much–in fact, considering that England squad in general, it could be detrimental to your argument 😀 . Better than Schweinsteiger, though, is more impressive.

      It’s just that he seems like a reckless player. I don’t like how he flies into tackles sometimes. But just like how some people inexplicably (or maybe not) dislike Busi, I don’t like Mascherano.

    • Hilal
      August 10, 2010

      I agree. Not sure why so many people dislike Mascherano. I have always been a huge fan of his. He is definitely more of a destroyer than any other player we have, but he can certainly pass the ball as well. Lets not forget that he plays a key role for Argentina who, on their day, can keep the ball extremely well.

      I think he gets a bad rep because he has a bit of a “dirty” side, in that he can be overly agressive at times. Well, sometimes you need a player like that. I also think it is vital that Sergio has some REAL competition and the current options do not provide that. Plus, he seems to have a real desire to play for Barca and understands his role will not be that of an automatic starter, something that most players of his stature and in his position would not accept.

      Also, I dont see why price is such a big issue. $25-30m is the right price for somebody of Macherano’s quality. We sold Yaya for 30m so we would essentially be replacing him with a player of similar quality – one who is actually willing to fight for a spot.

      • Jim
        August 10, 2010

        Not sure if his desire is to play for Barca or get out of Liverpool.

        I watch the EPL every week and have to say he strikes me as a player who is lucky if he escapes a yellow card most weeks flying into tackles ( and in La Liga players might well make more of his challenges) but also one whose passing is not great and ball retention no better than average. That is not what is needed at Barcelona imo.

    • barca96
      August 10, 2010

      Yup. He really impressed me during the WC2010 as I watched him closely since he was our target last year.

      p.s. Happy fasting month

    • poipoi
      August 10, 2010

      pedro! is so damn good he can do interior (OM) also… in emergencies

  37. y2k156
    August 10, 2010

    Even i find it difficult to understand what others are saying about Masch. I would be surprised if he comes here but otherwise i shall be delighted if he joins us. He is a fantastic player in his position. I guess his abilities as destroyer are well known but in all the matches i have seen, i have rarely had to question his passing. This is a guy who has played quite a important role for Argentina team in last five years and though he was not the most eye catching, he surely contributed to their pleasing style.

    When people question his passing abilities, i have to say that i am scratching my head. Can they please elaborate on what basis do they make the claim.

    • Kari
      August 10, 2010

      I meant passing abilities a la Xabi Alonso. Liverpool’s midfield flourished, in ’07?–the year they almost won the EPL title–because they had a destroyer in Mascherano and a passer in Xabi Alonso working in tandem. Gerrard most likely benefited from that as well, giving him freedom to move forward and supply Torres.

      Mascherano hasn’t been impressive in the four matches I’ve seen him play. I don’t like the way he tackles. It’s all reckless and stuff.

      I also just don’t like Mascherano, so it could also be my bias talking. 😛

      • Hilal
        August 10, 2010

        Are you seriously basing your opinion on 4 games? I thought you were joking in your previous post. All due respect, but you cannot judge a player on 4 games, or 10 games for that matter. Can you imagine what some people might think of Sergio if they watched the wrong 4 games. lol

        As somebody who has seen him play dozens of times over the last few years I can assure you he can pass the ball. HE is also not as reckless as you think. He is an extremely good tackler and reads the game very well, breaking up attacks before they even happen. Personally I think he would do very well in our midfield, especially against the more aggressive teams.

        • Kari
          August 10, 2010

          I was joking in my previous post. Don’t get me wrong. 😀

          You’re right in saying I shouldn’t base my opinion on a few games. Honestly, I haven’t seen Mascherano play (see the aforementioned 4 games) and when I watch Argentina, I’m usually watching Messi 😀 , so I do like your (and Ramzi’s and y2k’s) input on him. I’m open to different players, but let’s just say my first impression of Mascherano isn’t the greatest.

          *shrug* I guess I should watch him more, but watching Liverpool play right now–with all due respect– is as appealing as watching Thong Boy and Guti on a Boy-Night-Out in Madrid.

    • Hilal
      August 10, 2010

      I am not sure why people get that impression either. Living in the UK and watching most EPL games I have seen Liverpool play dozens of times in the last few years and not once have I looked at Mascherano and thought – “that guy cannot pass”. Fine, he is not Xavi, but he is more than capable of holding his own in a midfield that is dependent on passing. More importantly he is one of the best pure destroyers in the game and that is valuable to ANY team. It gives Pep yet another tactical option as well as depth and competition.

      • Benj
        August 10, 2010

        Ive been following Liverpool for the last 10 years (Dad is from there, so I watch them in the EPL) and I’d say Masch is a great player to have on your side as a defensive player (destroyer if you will) but will not contribute to an attack.

        He has a great pass completion rate, but that is because he always plays the little square ball or back pass, never a defense splitting xavi-esque pass or a lofted through ball. He never had to worry about that before last season because he had Xabi Alonso to do that for him, hence the success of the 08/09 season with Xabi and Masch anchoring with Gerrard in front, one of the best midfield combos ive seen in a while.

        When they got rid of Xabi and got Lucas and player the same formation, it showed that they had 2 players on the pitch that loved short passes and playing defensively, hence a 7th place finish.

        My point is, if we need to close up a game, he would be ideal, but not for the sort of money they are asking. Not for someone who should be a squad player at Barca…

  38. August 10, 2010

    idk. 15 mil + Hleb for Mascherano? I’m in! If Xavi or Iniesta get injured we have adequate cover with Keita and Busi (who can move forward a position) or Messi (who can drop back to MF if need be). Plus we have Thiago and JDS, one of whom we should expect to make the step to squad member.

  39. Blow-Grenade
    August 10, 2010

    Excellent Article by the Swiss Rambler. Thanks for bringing it to us Kxevin.

  40. August 10, 2010

    I didnt mean you, Kari. Well, not just you 🙂 its a common belief here. You mentioned an interesting name: Xabi alonso. You know what…Here you can make your comparisons Mascherano Vs whatever:

    /http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/statistics/players/compare/index.html#tA=43860&tB=43948&pA=249462&pB=191178

    Keep in mind that Argentina was a big mess in the midfield which is not easy for a Holding midfielder seeking outlets. If Passing is not Masche’s strong point but he still manage such stat. How can I complain?

    • Kari
      August 10, 2010

      It looks like Fontas is going to be our back-up DM though–if Pep’s comments are anything to go by.

      Oh, and I did use that stats comparasion thing. If we go by that thing, we should all buy Felipe Melo–who has a 90% completion rate with basically the same number of total passes as Mascherano. Wonder how much Juve will sell him for… 😀

      In the end though, the moral of my story is: those who no nothing should keep their mouths shut until they learn the material they need to start blabbing. I don’t know much about Mascherano, bar the stereotypes I read and the matches I see (which, as I said, wasn’t much).

      • August 10, 2010

        That Melo thing is a good one. I’ll give you that 😀

        I for once, hope we don’t sign him. I want a season vacation from defending players. If the player who benched Yaya generated all that anger, you can imagine what will happen to the player who will replace him!

        • Kxevin
          August 10, 2010

          All of the Mascherano talk is pointless. He isn’t going to come, because he won’t cost a price that will suit what we are willing to pay for a squad player. Simple as that. I like what he does. It’s just too expensive, in terms of Euros and potential discord when the press/fans start whining about why isn’t he playing more?

  41. Blow-Grenade
    August 10, 2010

    Since the discussion has ventured towards Difensive Mid, I want to put in my choice for signing – MARCO SENNA!!!!

    • BA
      August 10, 2010

      thank you. Senna is the only real option here. Mascherano is looking for any point in a storm; we’re the second club he’s offered himself to behind Inter. if for that reason alone, no thanks.

  42. y2k156
    August 10, 2010

    I like Senna and have been advocate of him being our reserve since beginning of this discussion.

    I think Masch is not a passer who controls the game or who can spot runs ala Xavi. He is neat passer who can keep the game ticking but needs more creatives around him who can make things happen. Without going into stats and based on more than few matches i have seen, he rarely makes stupid passes. As for defending, he is a good reader of game and excellent tackler.

    All said though, I do not think we need him.

  43. GREECE BARCA
    August 10, 2010

    i put a name too!simao!he play here in panathinaikos from mozabiki he is young and in few years will be one of the best dm in the world!remember that name!(don.t forget yaya played here in olympiakos!)watch
    him
    in C.L this season!also sotiris ninis is a great talent!i hope barca and panathinaikos be in the same group!

  44. Kxevin
    August 10, 2010

    Read where the first-teamers are going to play only 15 minutes in the Mexico friendly. Pardon me for asking, but why in the hell would you take someone to Mexico to only play 15 minutes? What is point of that?

    • mei
      August 10, 2010

      I read that somewhere too and didnt believe it because it came along with the quote : barca players travelled 20.000 miles only to play 15 minutes , attributed to VDB.
      What is he gonna sub them all in on the 75th minute??its ridiculous!

    • jordi™
      August 10, 2010

      I can think of a few million reasons *http://www.topnews.in/files/euro-notes.jpg

      I’d bet spain hardly plays a friendly at home in the next few years.You know, so Villar and his muppets can line their pockets.

  45. Diego S.
    August 10, 2010

    I think we should buy Yaya Toure .. He’s a very good player .. And can play in the AM position .. Fast, Strong, and a good passer .. He’ll be great cover for Busi

    • Kxevin
      August 10, 2010

      Too spendy. Some crazy club set the price at 30m for him.

  46. Kxevin
    August 10, 2010

    Called up for the SuperCopa (complete with nicknames, when they look to be first-teamers):

    Jonathan Dos Santos (Johnny Two-Time)

    Thiago Alcantara (ShamWow …. okay, pay attention here. I have some cycling shorts, where the seat padding is made of alcantra. The padding is called a chamois, and that fake chamois on TV is called ShamWow! So there you go.)

    Sergi Roberto

    Oriol Romeu

    Sergi Gomez

    Andreu Fontas

    Marc Bartra

    –More Xavi quotes, as reported in the Small Heath Shopping Gazette:

    “Fabregas will come. He has the Barca DNA. He even has some of MY DNA, because …. never mind. Besides, we will use magic to turn Arsene Wenger into a newt. Yes.

    “We have talked, and he is already unhappy, after just one visit to the Emirates toilet. He misses that 1,000-year-old aroma that you can only get in the Camp Nou loo.

    “So he will come in January.”

    • Kari
      August 10, 2010

      Xavi is making people say weird things:

      *http://www.7amkickoff.com/2010/could-someone-junk-shot-xavis-gaping-maw/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+7amkickoff+(7amkickoff)

      Do Americans really use the terms “junk shot”and “maw”?

    • mei
      August 10, 2010

      I still dont get how some people believe that xavi actually said these things.
      And that “some” is actually a pretty wild number of supporters , of whatever club.
      Still its obvious that everybody waited for the chance to jump on the hatewagon anyway.Its the price of our recent success.

      • DontPanic
        August 10, 2010

        Easily, because Xavi was running his mouth all summer. I love the guy, he’s my favorite Barca player but goddamn man shut the hell up.

        • Kari
          August 10, 2010

          “Running his mouth all summer”

          Kinda hard to do that when you’re at the WC for half of it and on vacation for the other half.

          Funny, they also had people believe Messi had a creepy obsession with Oasis; something that, surprise surprise, turned out to be fake.

          I love Xavi, but I doubt he’d spend most of his time talking to a third-rate English tabloid and Italian rags.

          The reason they always link to Xavi is because he’s honest and sincere in his interviews. If people were to apply logic–a rare things these days–, no matter how close they are, I doubt Xavi would say anything like “Arsenal will be out of the race by January so he’ll join us then”, especially to the English press.

          I hate how “journalists” are making up stuff and people are lapping it up like a cat to milk.

    • BA
      August 10, 2010

      that Shamwow analogy is a bit of a stretch, Kxevin….

  47. CLUEless(John)
    August 10, 2010

    Oh boyyyyyyy this ozil shit is getting serious!!! Leading Soccernet and reports from el pais!! If we get Masc & ozil for 20-25 mil + hleb, I’m in.

    • Kxevin
      August 10, 2010

      Yes, but the reports are all Werder rubbishing the “news” from the Catalan sporting press. I repeat: Ozil is not coming. Not to us. What would be the point? I would love it if he was, as I think his up side is tremendous. But Rosell has Fabregas lust pretty bad.

      • jordi™
        August 10, 2010

        I get the feeling Sandro still wants to sign *someone* sparkly and shiny.I dont think he’ll want his only singing to be Adriano.Whether pep wants the player is another thing.

        • poipoi
          August 10, 2010

          true, if yaya+titi+marquez+chigro (4) leave, we only sign adriano+villa (2) and don’t win any major trophy people will blame sandrusco (he only signed adriano) and the few signings for sure. The midfield has to be reinforced with either canteranos or a good skilled offensive player like özil, we shouldn’t rely on keita much me thinks… I don’t like to see keita there in a game in which we are supposed to rule and score many goals, like the ones vs inter. Our problem last year wasn’t the DM or the offense it’s that the difference between xaviniesta and keita is too big. We don’t play as nice and fast according to my eyes with keita, I’d like to see a player that can actually dribble and touch the ball way better than the average player.

          I wanna see milito one full year!!

  48. Jnice
    August 10, 2010

    I just hate that the squad is short just like last summer. Pep was agitated the squad wasn’t deep enough last summer, yet we are kind of at a worse place this summer. What are we doing with the 40m?

    In other news, Madrid has signed Ricky Carvalho for somewhere around 8m euros. Not a bad buy, I don’t think.

    • Diego S.
      August 10, 2010

      I guess it’s not a bad buy .. but the guy is 32

      On another note .. I still believe we should buy a DM and keep either Hleb or VicSan and sell the other .. Busi/New Buy as DM .. Xaviniesta as first choice with Hleb and Keita as a first cover .. and JDS/ Alcantra to acquire experience .. The year after that we sell Hleb and Keita .. Fabregas comes depending on the condition of Xavi ..

      • poipoi
        August 10, 2010

        I remember when that carvalho was younger, in chelsea, and played against us. I’ve never see anyone fear etoo so much, I remember his face like it was yesterday. I fear pepe more than him. He is supposed to be good but defending in madrid is not the same as chelsea … on the other hand defending in Mourinho’s madrid won’t be as in Pellegrini’s I think. Besides as said above he’s 32!! 8 millions+high salary for a guy who’s 32?? I think they just signed him to be Thong Boy’s room mate 😉

        hope he does “a cannavaro” this year 😀

    • Dave
      August 10, 2010

      I share your anger Jnice, its ridiculous. Injury to Iniesta or Xavi (heaven forbid) and we’re screwed.

    • jordi™
      August 10, 2010

      Atleast they arent trying to sign Mata.I might break something if we sign Mata.

  49. poipoi
    August 10, 2010

    hasn’t anyone come up with a good nickname for Mourinho? darth maul or something? 😉

  50. Barcathegreatestever
    August 10, 2010

    Saying Ibra is one of the 11 starters set in stone is disrespecting to Bojan and Pedro who started the end of last season with the last chance of a title on the line. Breaking the bank for him is still having repercussions as Sergio and Keita are not enough. Relying on Barca B players to fill a gap and deliver a championship is not the formula for success. Sergio and Keita are very similar relying on their quickness and receiving a lot of contact. I’m left wondering all the time if Keita is going to get up.

    • Kxevin
      August 10, 2010

      Disrespect how? By saying we want to take a shot with one of the most talented strikers in the game? I’ll take that disrespect. If Krkic were the answer, we wouldn’t have bought Villa. If Pedro could provide the width to make our attack go, we probably would have trebled again.

      Guardiola knows his squad, what he wants and who he wants. I was sitting in front of some locals at El Clasic, whining about how Krkic should have been the sub, right up until Ibrahimovic scored a wonder goal. Then it was “Molt be, molt be!”

      Pefro is a firestarter like Giuly, not a starter. Krkic is potential, and lots of it. Ibrahimovic is a striker who has proved himself in the land of catenaccio, came to us injured and out of shape, and stilll wasn’t that far off his goal tally of the previous season, with Inter. If Guardiola didn’t etch his name in stone, I would question his sanity.

      • ooga aga
        August 10, 2010

        Pep doesnt have Ibra’s name etched in stone (como titular), thats why Pep didnt start Ibra in those games at season’s end, and the choice appeared to be a good one.

        It all depends on form, attitude, and the whole “horses for courses” thing….who the opponent is, etc.

        Even in your words Kxev, nobody is guaranteed a start, and that’s the way it should be. Ibra needs competition and if that means benching him when need be, Pep would be fully sane to do so. I would question his sanity if he *did* etch Ibra permanently in the starting 11.

  51. Barcathegreatestever
    August 10, 2010

    I guess Messi can fill in at defensive mid as Barca are so stacked at forward. I mean really the hopes of this amazing team are on Iniesta not getting injured this year? Last year Maxwell played left mid in the biggest game of the year. And so far Barca sells YaYa and gets coy with Cesc when he’s worth every penny of the 50 mill bantered about.

  52. Barcathegreatestever
    August 10, 2010

    Ibra scored most all his goals in the first 10 games with that injured hand. And I think it was a reflection of La Liga giving him too much respect early on. With Villa and Iniesta everyone is going to see better chances. Your most talented striker has a lot of baggage and he’s brought to Barca, getting himself benched in the meantime. If this season is a fresh start for him so be it, but if Pep stays with him as excruciatingly long as last season, I’m out of the Pep camp for good.

    • jordi™
      August 10, 2010

      “I’m out of the Pep camp for good.”

      Will you also forward your resume to the club as a potential replacement? :/

  53. Barcathegreatestever
    August 10, 2010

    You say Pedro was the reason no back to back? Are you kidding me? No way! Yaya sat the bench at home against Sevilla and away to Inter. Mascherano might not be such a bad idea.

    • Kxevin
      August 10, 2010

      No, I said lack of width. Pedro was partly culpable. So was a mostly worthless Henry. As the season progresses, nobody, including Messi, will be etched in stone. But you start the season with the strongest lineup, and that lineup includes Ibrahimovic. Fitmess, or lack thereof, catches up with you. So a player will tail off.

      It’s also important to note that Ibrahimovic had more space when Henry was in the lineup. Even an empty threat still created space. As Henry rightly found the bench, that width, even fake, went away. And our total attack suffered, even as Messi thrived, thanks to the space created by the Ibrahimovic threat. It’s why Messi, absent one of thoae transcenxent games, was eaaier to play without Ibrahimovic in the lineup.

      This season, with real width in the form of Villa, you should see our offense as potent as it was in the year of the treble. Width is the answer, rather than Ibrahimovic being the problem, as his detractors are fond of believing.

      As for Guardiola, it would take a lot for me to leave his fan club. He knows his club and his players. It’s why Krkic didn’t get time when he was ineffective, which was, lest we forget, most of the season.

  54. GREECE BARCA
    August 10, 2010

    the truth is we won la liga without ibra in final critical games.and yes ibra is not a automatical starter.he has to fight for a spot this season!thats
    good!but in C.L is another story!he was so poor in both semifinals!we wanted a plan B and we lost our beautiful game with sami..

    • Kxevin
      August 10, 2010

      We won La Liga as a team effort. It couldn’t have happened without Ibrahimovic’s goals, or Pedro’s, or Messi’s, or any of the other players who stepped up and made significant contributions to the club’s efforts.

      We lost the width that made the Henry/Messi/Eto’o trident work so well. It isn’t any one player. Yes, it’s fashionable to say “Barca screwed up by selling Eto’o and getting Ibrahimovic.” I don’t go in for fashion. You can watch the matches and understand what happened.

      No. Width.

      Ibrahimovic was poor in both semis. What did Messi do? What did Iniesta do? What did Xavi do? We know what the defense did. It let in 3 pillow-soft goals that put us in a hole going back home. We know what Krkic did, he pushed a header wide that would have been the difference.

      But yes, that’s all Ibrahimovic’s fault. Makes perfect sense to me. As I noted, blaming Ibrahimovic doesn’t stand up to analysis.

      Ramzi’s challenge for you is an interesting one. Don’t take this the wrong way because blogs and message boards are filled with folks like you, but you’re very negative. Almost constantly. It’s why Ramzi suggested that for every 10 bad things you say, endeavor to say one good thing. Just one.

  55. Bundy
    August 10, 2010

    Why does everyone think Pep took a dig at Ibra for playing Krkic in the last part of last season?

    I think Pep pointed this out before, but Krkic missed out on the first part of the season with a very unfortunate injury in the first league round of last season, that really struck his chances of getting playing time, let alone a starting position. But I think out of respect and confidence Pep let Bojan play the last bit of the season for many reason, but I think the main reason was to give Bojan his chance he never got because he started off injured last season.

    This doesn’t mean that Ibra was in any good form at that time, he was pretty off colour. But we all know what kind of coach Pep is, no matter who you are, Messi or Xavi, if your not performing then Pep will not hesitate to take you off, pure and simple, no one has a secure position in the XI. But on the other hand, Ibra managed to shut his mouth, well maybe not his agent. But Ibra took the benching well and didn’t cause any trouble. Unlike Yaya or Hleb, Ibrahimovic understands his role and he understands when he is not performing, that is normal, he is a competative man, but he is also rational.

    I respect Ibra because he is driven this season.

    • vicsoc8
      August 10, 2010

      It’s not a question of taking a dig at Ibra. Krkic was just playing very well at the time, and Ibra wasn’t. Krkic deserved the games at the end of the season due to his form, nothing more nothing less.

      • Jnice
        August 10, 2010

        Exactly. Bojan was hot, why take him out?

        • Mikel
          August 11, 2010

          It’s my believe that we wouldnt have won the league with Ibrahimovic playing those final games instead of Bojan. We wouldnt have won the Sevilla away game no way. I think Bojan grew as a player in those games, and with the first team experience he has and him being still extremely young he could be one of the sensations this year.

          I wish Ibrahimovic has a great year this season, but I still believe he was a flop this year. Maybe if he hadnt cost so much damn money I could say he had an acceptable season, but in my opinion you always have to judge a player for the money he cost, even if it wasn’t his fault he cost so much. Same like with everything in life, if you listen to your cousin play the guitar and she plays it not very good you don’t care too much, but if you pay a lot of bucks for a concert and the performeris horrendous then you will be in your rights to heckle her. In that sense I could say that last season he was an innocent flop.

  56. GREECE BARCA
    August 10, 2010

    and a question:what exactly ibra proved in italy?winning titles with inter without strong milan and juve?and what he did in europe?and for us?a goal in el classico home and 2 in arsenal.yeah for all that we pay him 10m?but now we have a better striker than ibra i hope we don.t waste him in L.W

      • Kxevin
        August 10, 2010

        Agreed. Go back and watch the matches. It’s easy to hate Ibrahimovic and his transfer fee. Video doesn’t support said contention.

    • Diabolics
      August 11, 2010

      and a answer:
      – Won the title every single year. (even though the Juve one was taken away due to some crazy deal in the Juventus managment)
      – top goalscorer the first/third season in Inter
      – Third season he was the top goal scorer (Capocannoniere) in Serie A with 25 goals
      – Against Parma in the final league matchday on 18 May 2008, he returned from a chronic knee injury and scored both goals as Inter won 2–0, clinching their third straight Scudetto
      – 2008–09 season “goal of the year” in serie A
      – Serie A Foreign Footballer of the Year: 2005, 2008, 2009
      – Serie A Footballer of the Year: 2008, 2009
      – UEFA Team of the Year: 2007, 2009

      Exactly what did he prove in Italy? That he was one of the most influential players for several years maybe?

  57. vicsoc8
    August 10, 2010

    Jan Vertonghen as our last signing please.

    He is young, wouldn’t be too expensive (15 million-ish), can play both CB and DM, plays for Ajax and would be able to adapt to our system without too much trouble, and is very highly rated by Crujff.

    I can’t figure out why he isn’t on the roster yet.

  58. Kast
    August 10, 2010

    Mourniho and RM are winning La Liga this year. Our squad is too thin. We have the best starting lineup in the world. We only have adequate depth for our forward line. We need another defender as Puyol-Pique-Milito are the only the cbs we have. But the real problem is our midfield. Busquets-Xavi-Iniesta is a great midfield, but the only sub we have for all 3 positions is Keita.

    People on here who are bitching about Mascherano are clueless. Mascherano is just what we need, what happens if two of keita-xavi-iniesta-busquets get injured at the same time..WE WOULD BE SCREWED. A player of Mascherano’s position is a MUST.

    • jordi™
      August 10, 2010

      So you’re going to completely disregard the youth players pep says hes going to count on?I think we need more players but its not so extreme.Id rather we didn’t sign a defender anyway, we signed about 2 good ones in the last decade(Gabi, Rafa), all the rest have not worked out, someone like fontas at least knows what the demands of a Barca CB are.Defensive midfielder is necessary for sure though.

      • Benj
        August 11, 2010

        I respectfully disagree with you here Jordi.

        In the last decade, we have signed Abidal, Thuram, Maxwell, Alves, Pique, Edmilson, Sylvinho, Oleguer, Toure(played as CB a couple times – pushing it I know), Belletti, Gio VB. With the exception of a couple, they have all played pretty big roles in our squad (not Puyol sized roles but big nonetheless).

        Even if you just took the ones from the last 5 or 6 years and you have Alves, Pique, Abidal and Maxwell, who were all massive especially over the last 2 years.

    • Jnice
      August 10, 2010

      I mean I’m frustrated we haven’t signed anyone else, but to say RM are winning the league on August 10th is ridiculous. That’s a sure fire way to get people to not take your post seriously.

    • Kxevin
      August 10, 2010

      “Clueless?” Really? I haven’t seen your name before and you pop in and start flipping about insults? People are entitled to their opinion, just as you are. It doesn’t make them “clueless.” It makes their opinion different from yours. Those are two very different things.

      Our club is between a rock and a hard place. Ideally, we would have two separate starting XIs to roll out, like Chelsea. But that would involve expenditures that we cannot, and should not make. Guardiola is going to roll the dice with canteranos such as Dos Santos and Thiago. If it works, he’s a genius. If it doesn’t, that’s life. In many ways, a trophyless season or two would lose whatever fair-weather Barca fans are trolling about, which wouldn’t be a bad thing.

      Some like what Mascherano does, others don’t. My simple contention is he is too expensive for what we would need from him. Simple as that. Talented? You bet. World class? Absolutely. Expensive? Indeed. Busquets is the starter. We have the starting XI, with Xavi and Iniesta. So where does Mascherano, at 30m+, fit in? We’d buy him for Copa and platoon duty? How happy would he be with that, and for how long?

      If you believe that The Other Spanish Team with its import coach are going to win the Liga, go right ahead. Their board over at The Offside could use your support. Here, we believe that Barca is going to win the Liga again, and will live up to our role as Champions League favorites.

      I refer you to this site’s “What We Have, What We Need” post. Position by position, we take a look at starters, depth and needs.

      What you contend could be true of any big club in the world. If your Liga champions suffer injuries to Higuain or Thong Boy, what happens to their chances? If Chelsea suffers injries to Frank Lampard and Drogba what happens? If Arsenal suffer injuries to Van Persie and Fabregas, what happens?

      On another note, the increasingly negative tone in this space is distressing, and it’s coming from the new folks. Not sure what’s happening out there in the world at large, but I’m not a fan of its presence here.

      • Kast
        August 10, 2010

        Where would Mascherano fit? Possibly as the starter ahead of Busquets, as he is a superior player, BY FAR. The only thing Busquets has over Mascherano is that he understands the Barca system, but with time Mascherano can learn.

        Canteranos like Dos Santos and Thiago are not players you can rely on. Maybe they come good maybe not, but to put all your season on the line for Canteranos is not smart.

        • Kast
          August 10, 2010

          I just took a look at that post you were talking about and you yourself said we would be screwed: “we go from 2 1/2 (Keita is the half) defensive mids to 1 1/2, which ain’t a good number. We’re a wrong foot plant away from being screwed”

          Looks to me like we are on the same page, except I’m being realistic and you’re being too optimistic.

          • August 10, 2010

            Again, “realistic” and “too optimistic” is a subjective evaluation, based on what someone believes. A DM sub is something we need. Everyone agrees on that. The difference is the who, and how much.

        • August 10, 2010

          Busquets and Mascherano are different players, just as Busquets and The Yaya are different players.

          Dos Santos and Thiago might be ready to bust out this year, just as some kid named Messi did. You bring them up, give them some first team time, and let them run. Sometimes, it doesn’t work out. But it definitely doesn’t work if you don’t try it out. When Busquets started getting playing time, it was “Who the hell is that, and why is he taking time away from our Yaya?” Now look.

          But to say that Mascherano is the “superior player, BY FAR” implies that you have seen Mascherano play in a system such as ours, that you have seen him transition from destroyer to attacking mid to box crasher and back again, playing one-touch passing with Xavi and Messi. I haven’t seen that, so Mascherano’s being a better player for us, in our system is not a contention that I can make.

          I do know price, however. And his would be expensive. I don’t want to buy success. That is the surest way to destroy your youth system. If we have to have less success while laying a groundwork for the future with the likes of Romeu, Dos Santos and Thiago, I’ll take it. Clubs don’t win everything, all the time.

      • john
        August 10, 2010

        You start with how everyone’s opinion is equally valid then turn around with this bit about how we need to get rid of fair weather fans. They’re just as entitled to root for Barca. Being knowledgeable about Barca doesn’t really make you a truer fan. The club itself doesn’t really distinguish it that way, other than maybe if you spend money on the club or not. And I’m sure the club doesn’t feel the same way you do about going through trophy-less seasons just so you personally won’t have to deal with fair-weather fans and can feel a little more special about your hobby. And guess what, unless your idea is for us to never win any more trophies or play terribly all the time, they’ll be back.

        I also enjoyed that your response to someone suggesting that our squad is too thin to win La Liga is for them to go be a Madrid fan. Way to respect them opinions!

        If you want to get to the discussion. A 30m Mascherano would be too expensive. However most suggesting to get Mascherano are hoping for a cut-price deal. With Inter pulling out, Liverpool having signed Poulsen, they are in a poor bargaining position and are resigned to losing a very unhappy want-away Mascherano. Just because Liverpool fans keep bandying about the 30m fee doesn’t mean that’s what they’re going to get. If we can get Mascherano for 12-15m + Hleb how would that not be worth it? Isn’t this the one benefit of getting Rosell, that’s he’s fiscally responsible and a tough negotiator? If we can’t even get that…jeez. And if we can’t get him for that fee, then I’d agree, forget Mascherano. But if we have a chance to get another world class midfielder to rotate with Busquets when we only have one first team DM why the hell not? He’s not exactly the same as Busquets either. That’s what we wanted to do with Yaya until Yaya left. If you trust the gaffer then Mascherano was certainly someone he wanted last year.

        Not ignoring the youth players, I agree they need playing time. But come on dude, you’re throwing out Jonathan dos Santos’ name and comparing him with Messi? I’ll bet anything Jonathan will never be anywhere near Messi. Jonathan was playing in Juvenile A a year ago before being promoted to Barca B last year. By 20 Messi was Fifa Word Player of the Year runner’s up two years in a row. Your argument is that we should risk wasting the best years of Messi, Iniesta, Xavi’s careers by laying the groundwork for the off chance that JDS and Romeu might become very good first team players? That’s who we are as a team? I beg to differ. We’ve had a lot of promising youth players over the last 10 years. Many of them have not made the first team. I want to stress that point, many of our promising youth players have not made the first team because they simply weren’t good enough.

        This is the best team in our history. We are in a golden generation of talent in the cantera with Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Valdes and so on. It may NEVER be replicated. I’m sorry if I don’t share your idea that I’d rather go trophy-less if necessary if we can keep promoting canteranos every year. This is the single most important time for us to win trophies.

        It doesn’t take away from the legacy of Barca if we buy Eto’o, Deco, Ronaldinho. If our only goal was to play cantera or Catalan based players we could just copy Athletic Bilbao. I think you might have been implying that somehow buying a Mascherano or Ozil takes away from our identity as a club. It’s doesn’t. Our goal is to start with the academy, build a foundation, incorporate other good players who can play the same way, including the best players in the world, express our style of football the best way we can and entertain the fans with our way of football. Not counting on JDS or Thiago as our 5th midfielder does not mean we are ignoring our cantera. Let them be 6th, 7th choice and prove themselves in the Copa and then we’ll rely on them once they’ve earned those minutes.

        Please don’t make it sound like I’m trying to sell the club’s soul. I’m not in any way suggesting we should sell out the academy. It is certainly our basis, and the most important aspect of the club. My contention when the club is obviously short on depth and there are world class players available, we should be looking into whether or not we can get them for a reasonable price. We’re not Madrid or Man United with a ton of depth, we can still find playing time in smaller games for Thiago & JDS even after buying another important midfield squad player.

        • theMaginator
          August 11, 2010

          “My contention when the club is obviously short on depth and there are world class players available, we should be looking into whether or not we can get them for a reasonable price.”

          And who is saying that the team is not or should not? I think the the team is and I think we all wish they do. But that does not mean that when we find a theoretical backup we won’t make a cost benefit analysis. Will the ~20m we pay for Macherano outweigh the performance he will bring to the team. Since we know that Busquets has made himself a big part of the team, and even though he is not an automatic starter, replacing him as a starter would be a hard task. So suppose that he is a back up. Would he be happy as such? Would we be happy with a 20m bench warmer? Was that not our primary contention with a Cesc transfer? Not to mention that it would also takes time from the kids. Same thing with Ozil. This has nothing to do with Barca being too holy for foreigners. I never read into Kxevins comments like that. it should be easy to deduce how Kxevin feels about transfers when you look at his history. Did he not like Henry,Ibra.

          Like you said “I think you might have been implying that somehow buying a Mascherano or Ozil takes away from our identity as a club”.This is what you interpreted not actually what he said far from it actually. But hey I could be wrong.

          Also he said its ok to express opinions even if that opinions is “I think you are wrong”. The problem is when you start calling people “clueless”, “classless”, and say they are “bitching”. IMHO those are different than “fair weathered fans”.

          Other than that I agree 🙂

          • Jnice
            August 11, 2010

            I agree with theMaginator aka Tutomate.

        • Kxevin
          August 11, 2010

          You’re completely misinterpreting my words.

          1. When a team loses, it separates the fair-weather fans from the “real” fans, who stick with a side no matter what. That’s fact. Barca has a ton of both. Adversity will tell. Simple as that. This space has changed. A lot. New names, new tone, mostly unpleasant. I don’t know who’s a fair-weather fan and who isn’t. What I do know is when (not if) we stop having immense success, or ANY success, some people will flit away, leaving a core of support. A club such as ours needs a core of support to weather it through. Again, simple as that. Barca is the fans, and the socis. It’s the backbone of the club, and that backbone needs to be strong. Some fair-weather fans become die-hards, then socis. Awesome. Others don’t. Adversity cleanses in a positive way sometimes.

          2. I personally don’t feel that a true fan of the club would ever say that EE is going to win the Liga before the season has even started. I won’t ever say that is going to happen until it is a mathematical impossibility for it not to happen. Yes, I do believe that people who believe such things would be more comfortable in another space, with like-minded people. They will be difficult to find here. Our club isn’t as thin as it was last season, and we won the Liga, and came within a misguided Krkic header of making the Champions League final. This year, we have real width again, a mature, improved Busquets, Correia to give real ooomph in the midfield and on the wings, and Maxwell is looking very, very strong. Milito is also back. In the midfield, we are only missing Yaya. Big miss. Enough to kill our chances of success? No. We only had Xavi last year, we only have Xavi this year. People are acting as if not buying two or three players means we’re doomed. I disagree.

          3. I never said that our sole goal should be to play canteranos. I do believe that young talent such as ours should be nurtured. Krkic happened too soon. Now look. We are in a situation on and off the pitch where we need to be careful. We can’t afford to run around bargain hunting. If the talent that we can in fact afford to buy isn’t any better than our farm can provide, why not keep it in the family? If I have to lose a match because a player makes an error, I’d rather it were Fontas or Romeu rather than some 10m import DM, acquired for price rather than ultimate quality. Guardiola would probably say the same, which is why he will most likely stand pat with the main squad, buttressed with canteranos.

          4. No club on the world stage has a ton of depth. Look at what happened to United and Chelsea when Rooney and Drogba, respectively, went down. There were no Premiership clubs in the Champions League semis, which I think speaks eloquently to their depth. People act as though we are the thinnest club in world football. Far from it. Every big club with transcendent talent is an injury away from being less brilliant. I believe that we are better equipped than most to deal with it. Messi goes down, Ibrahimovic leads the line, Villa stays put and Pedro comes in. Iniesta goes down, Thiago potentially grows up fast, or we insert Keita to play off Busquets. Xavi goes down, and Iniesta slides over and Messi slides into the Iniesta role, with a punch.

          5. This is a rare club. And it’s a club whose hallmark, whose core, came from the farm. 7 of its starting 11 came from within. Philosophically, I think that counts for a lot.

          6. The implication isn’t that buying Mascherano or Ozil takes away from our identity as a club. It’s that those players aren’t going to join a club to sit, or be a squad player. And the Catalan press isn’t going to let such a thing happen. Players have agents, agents talk crap. Then what. Another Yaya? Another Ronaldinho? Ozil has had a very good World Cup. We don’t know how he will work in our system with the players that we have, nor do we know how comfortable a star will be with sitting. If Ozil comes, does Fabregas still come? What of the canteranos?

          7. Dos Santos and Thiago have immense potential. If you compare anyone’s development to Messi’s, they will come up short. You grossly misinterpret my words if you think that I made a direct comparison between Dos Santos and Messi. Messi is a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. But prima facie, Dos Santos and Thiago might be ready to bust out like Messi not in terms of his mercurial brilliance, but in terms of suddenly being ready for first-team duty in a limited, but important role. Messi is beyond comparison. After all, we just cut the “next Messi” loose on a free transfer. But look at how Xavi developed as another example. And look at what he is now. It’s a delicate balance of timing. For every Xavi there is an Assulin. But if we have another Fabregas situation, I’d rather it was because the farm had too much talent rather than because we bought someone and chased the talent away.

          8. If Liverpool is stupid enough to take Hleb and 10M for Mascherano, we should do the deal. But they aren’t that stupid. We can’t even find a cut-rate buyer for Hleb. What makes anyone think that Liverpool would do that deal, for a player they don’t need, either?

          9. Finally, I respect everyone’s opinion here. But don’t think that I don’t have opinions of my own. At The Offside, we started with fewer than 10 comments per post. In this new home, we’re usually in triple digits, more with a post such as this one. Lot of opinions. But this space is a home. And in that home, I believe you should respect the hosts and the family. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who disagrees.

          • Philo Barca
            August 11, 2010

            Plus, we’ve had 4 canteranos in the last three years break into crucial roles at the club (Bojan, Pique, Busquets, and Pedro) to such an extent that we ended up selling off or loaning people who they were initially competing with for playing time, like Hleb, Caceres, Toure, Marquez, and Henry.

            When those canteranos joined the first team squad, no one would have predicted that they would soon be getting more playing time than those players who have now left. Fontas, Muniesa, Thiago and JDS are now in a position to do something similar.

            Also, if they fall on their faces, we can look to spend the money for a new midfielder in January, when we’ll at least know who is or who isn’t working out.

            We need to stop buying people out of a panicked sense that we need to add players to keep up with our big-spending rival. Pedro had a bigger impact on La Liga last year than either Kaka or Benzema.

  59. Miguel
    August 11, 2010

    you have a good time @the game, isaiah? place looked pumped.

    frustrating to see @first, but brasszzzil really settled into the fluid, attack minded side i think mano was going for. weird seeing el mister start off w/a doble pivote of ramires and lucas, though.

    *http://santapelota.blogspot.com/2010/07/manos-brazil-project-for-2014-or-more.html

    • Jnice
      August 11, 2010

      In my home state and I didn’t go. Great young Brazilian team out there, plus my UMD dudes Gonzalez and Edu (most consistent player for US) started and played the whole match. I’m a dummy.

  60. BA
    August 11, 2010

    if we buy anybody in the next year going into next transfer season, we need to look at Ganso. he was *brilliant* tonight, and if he keeps developing he’s going to fulfill Riquelme’s potential to it’s fullest.

    • Jnice
      August 11, 2010

      Yeah, I like the way he plays. He looks calm and he picks his moments.

      I also liked how Dani played with that squad. I feel like Dani was a better fit for this game than Maicon because of his little short passes and combinations. He is so intelligent with his movements in those situations… sometimes he may do a little too much, but I love it. It made me look forward to the season and the combinations he’ll have with Messi.

  61. Jnice
    August 11, 2010

    EMD now claims that Pep is still mulling over the Ozil operation and although he is closer to saying “no”, if he gives the okay, the deal will be closed within 24 hours. Uh huh.

  62. nikhils
    August 11, 2010

    Hola,

    What do you guys think of this fast-getting-hot Ozil rumour? Maybe the club will decide to loan him out for playing time? Although, I have serious doubts about this signing cos that almost tells Cesc (Yes, yes. I am sorry) we are not gonna come after you for a while, which is hard to believe.

    On the off chance that this deal does materialise, who was the last German we signed? I can’t remember!

    • Jnice
      August 11, 2010

      Not going to happen. But if we were going to sign him, we wouldn’t loan him out. That would defeat the purpose.

      The only German player I can think of is Schuster.

  63. Bundy
    August 11, 2010

    yer, I don’t think the recent Ozil rumours are even true, three weeks ago EMD and Sport were banging on about how Rosell was travelling to Bremen to finalise a transfer.

    anyway, with reagards to our youth system, we look at our b-team’s progression over the past two/three seasons and they have managed to get promoted twice in that time, while also having to adjust to a new coach, when Luis took over Pep’s place. we also can look over the number of recent youths who have managed to gain a position or appearance in their respective country’s NT. I would take all this as an indication that we should have some sort of confidence in the potential of the current crop.

    Again, like we have witnessed in the pre-season friendlies, the youth players do show a lot of quality and promise. Pep might or might not decide to promote any youths, but I am sure that he is thinking thoroughly through the values of buying or promoting.

    plus, Maxwell can play midfield too…

  64. poipoi
    August 11, 2010

    if the amunts that are all around are true (15 or at least under 20 mill) WHAT’S WRONG WITH GETTING ÖZIL??? He sure is good, and we can later sell him for more money… don’t you think? He plays here a year of two and if pep doesn’t like him we sell him, a skilled ex-FCB player still with many years of good footy. There’s no way we will sell him for less than 15. He can even be part of a CESC OPERATION later, offering özil+money not hleb. Pedro bojan thiago and JDS are really really young still. Only pedro! deserves all confidence by now according to the last two years. If we don’t buy him I hope thiago plays a lot this year with us. But I wouldn’t mind getting Mascherano either.

  65. Flippy
    August 11, 2010

    özil is not going to Barça, ôzil, himself, has confirmed it. Repeat: he is not coming. He is staying at Werder Bremen.

  66. Jnice
    August 11, 2010

    Mascherano’s agent (courtesy of Barcastuff):

    ”A transfer is in the hands of Barcelona. Economically, things are very easy if they want him. If it was for him, he’d already be playing for Barcelona for four years. He would be delighted. Inter is no longer interested, Benitez is out, Liverpool needs money, so the price has dropped a lot. Barça could include Hleb in the deal because Hodgson wants him. Guardiola has the last word on this.”

    Hodgson wanting Hleb makes this interesting. I just want to know the exact figure Liverpool are asking for Mascherano.

    • Flippy
      August 11, 2010

      If the price is somewhere in the 10m – 20m + Hleb and Mascherano accepts a role as a squad player, I would take it in a heartbeat. But I don’t think any of those things are likely, and besides he is 26 and would likely want more playing time, as he is approaching his best years. While I doubt the signing will happen, I will be happy and welcome him, if he comes.

      • August 11, 2010

        When it come to the price, he was available for around 30M last summer. As for now 1) he didnt renew his contract with Liverpool yet and 2) he clearly wants to move.

        Taking all that in consediration, I think 20 M + Hleb is too much.

  67. hannibal
    August 11, 2010

    @ Kxevin, I agree with points 1-8 except 2. It is not because you believe or say that B is going to happen but hope/support A to happen that your not a true fan! Even less the fact that one in that case should join a B-minded society (i.e. EE-minded).

    Furthermore, I believe YAYA’s loss will be felt tremendously. While we have strengthened our Width, we lost more depth and quality in our Central Midfield an area where injuries have had a big impact for us the last couple of season’s. Going from arguably 5 Quality-proven starters to 4 with 2canteranos is in my opinion a risk. I’m not doubting JDS or Thiago’s potential but that means that we’ll have to count on them as 1) competition for our 4 starters, 2) our only midfield Game changers available right after the first injury or suspension.

    Offcourse we can put Messi in a CM-position or slide Ibra back a lil more often but an extra DM or CM of “proven quality” (whatever that may be) seems absolutely critical for succes on multiple fronts.

    For the record, I firmly believe in our chances. Nonetheless, I believe we’re more vulnerable than last year due to the fact that imo the center/core of our squad offers less depth than last year.

  68. Kast
    August 11, 2010

    Kxevin, I will agree to most of your post but there is just one thing that I can’t wrap my head around.

    When you say, “I personally don’t feel that a true fan of the club would ever say that EE is going to win the Liga before the season has even started” it makes me think you don’t know what a fan is. A real fan is one who supports his/her club when they are having success and when they aren’t having anyway. The fact that I don’t think we will win La Liga doesn’t make me any less of a fan as you are. A Fan isn’t someone who believes Barca will win La Liga every year. Just because I think RM will win La Liga doesn’t mean I am no longer supporting Barca.

    • poipoi
      August 11, 2010

      EE win win la liga? w-h-a-t???

      not with iniesta in our side 😀 😀 😀

      • Kxevin
        August 11, 2010

        It’s why I qualified it with “I personally.” I can’t even entertain the notion. It generates actual nausea. And I would never say before the season has even started, nor would I concede the title before a ball has been kicked, just because the club hasn’t signed the kind of player I think it should sign, or lacks the depth that I think it should.

        That’s my opinion, and you have yours. If you believe they are going to win the Liga, that’s your right. But as I said, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone here who, on this date, would agree with you. As for me, even if, coming into the last match of the season, we have Sevilla and they have a two point lead in the standings and are facing a newly-promoted side who can only field 9 men due to injuries, I STILL won’t say they will win the Liga. That’s just my belief.

        • Jim
          August 11, 2010

          Can’t argue with that 🙂 Count me in.

  69. August 11, 2010

    Getting Mascherano would be very smart. You guys are forgetting (or forgetting to mention) that this is a post WC year. Count on injuries. Either Xavi or Iniesta get injured and we could move Busi forward while Masch covers DM. That way JDS and Thiago get the chance to go for 1st team without it being a make-or-break situation for them. Also Masch seems to have seriously wanted to go to Barcelona for a while now – can we assume that he has affections for our blaugrana? He offers something we do not really have in our squad, a dirty rotten bastard, lol. And he knows how to play that role in a team geared towards offence (Argentina). 20 million seems like a good price to me. If it doesn’t work out we can still sell him next season or the one after.

    I say nay to Ozil, mainly because I want Cesc next season.

    • poipoi
      August 11, 2010

      absolutely right on masche! It’s great that both want to go to FCB… but to me busi is at least half-way bastard too

  70. August 11, 2010

    @Kast thinking EE wil win the league before it has begun does not make you any less of a fan. It might make you less culé though :p

  71. Jnice
    August 11, 2010

    But in other news, Ghana plays today! I know you all are excited… right? Right?!

  72. Barcathegreatestever
    August 11, 2010

    Some serious high horse comments getting slung around. My opinion stands on the premise that Barca have a huge responsibility to the magical core of players that they have right now, that they are a once in a lifetime event and that even with their massive talent, their chance to put an emphatic stamp on the sport is fleeting and whimsical. Three years ago Rikjaard put Bojan into the fire, you know how that turned out. Last year Sergio faltered without an Xabi Alonso at his side at the expense of Yaya I might add. Now you want to put the season on the line with who? The time is now. This is not a rebuilding session where you try a bunch of stuff and see what happens. We have Villa this year for 40mill last year 45 was too much. Csec is worth 40 but not 50. Mascherano is too much? Messi broke out last year not in the trifecta year. That team did not depend on one player and I say it is no good to put this season on a Sergio and a Thiago.

    • mei
      August 11, 2010

      Your views are distorted.
      No messi did not broke out last year,he has broken out for some years now, but really excelled as a goalscorer during the trifecta year when he :
      won POFTY , Ballon dor , 38 goals in all competitions + 18 assists.
      Last year he was just a little better , mostly because of the fact that we did not have enough service from the rest of our main strikers : ibra’s form declined , henry disappeared(perdo covered for him but still).
      You cant say messi broke out last year , you just cant get much better than winning every individual award there is along with every collective one , and all these done with style.
      Or from another perspective you cant say that messi had declined if he scores 30 goals this year , if villa , pedro and ibra cover for it.
      Last year sergio was excellent and cemented his place in the starting 11.The world cup simply made him look even better.
      You might not like him but thats a fact(for both guardiola and VDB) and whoever is willing to come he better compromise his plans about playing time with the notion that he will most likely mainly cover for busquets.
      The team never relies on one player to perform and win.
      NEVER.
      Some players are more important than others but thats that.
      Nobody claimed that we will use a youth as a starter but as a cover.Thats a huge difference.

  73. August 11, 2010

    “Messi broke out last year not in the trifecta year. That team did not depend on one player and I say it is no good to put this season on a Sergio and a Thiago”

    Opinions will be divided on this but for me the moment Messi broke out was when he scored his hattrick at home against EE. If we can call a break out that everybody knew and felt would happen sooner or later a break out. He definitely did not break out later than that clasico though.

    Also I do not understand why it is no good to put this season on “a Sergio”. You mean the same Sergio who outplayed the Atomic Yaya for most of last season. Sergio, WC-winner Sergio? I think we will be fine with Sergio, although I would agree with bringing Mascherano to the New Field (ah, see what I did there :p ). Comparing Sergio to Thiago is a bit strange, since one has pretty much proved it all last season and the other is completely unproven up until now.

  74. Kxevin
    August 11, 2010

    I don’t think that anyone is suggesting that we put the fate of the season in the hands of canteranos. What I personally am saying is if we are bargain hunting, unless the bargain is an extraordinary one, I would rather take risk with a player who knows the system.

    Word is that Liverpool has made contact with Hleb and his agent, which boggles my mind. If we can do Hleb+15m for Mascherano, something that further boggles my mind, it’s a deal we have to do. I would worry about complications with expectations and playing time, but it would be a no-brainer. Mascherano for 30m is too expensive, given our needs from him.

    As far as readiness, we won’t know until the roll the canteranos out there and turn them loose. Krkic was a special case. There was some pressure to bring him up because at the time, there was some worry about losing him. In hindsight, making him first-team was in error. Guardiola wouldn’t have done such a thing, but Rijkaard did. So we’re stuck with it.

    Dos Santos wasn’t deemed ready to play for his NT, so how in the hell is he ready to play for Barca, right? From what I’ve seen, he’s more than ready for platooning, sub duty, etc. Would I be comfortable with Dos Santos starting for an injured Xavi in a Champions League elimination match? At present, no. But perhaps he’d prove me wrong this season.

    I think that below a certain level of player, we’re better off with canteranos. I also think that the addition of a young player such as Ozil would make the likes of Thiago and Dos Santos wonder about their future. And if they go somewhere and turn out to be better than Ozil, what then? Do we buy them back also, as we’ve tried to buy Fabregas back? Good question.

    • August 11, 2010

      – Good argument regarding youth Vs transfers.
      – I think JDS missing the WC was more a tactical decision more than being a quality indicator. Its more that he was not needed, than he was not good enough. (Cesc to Barcelona is another example of the difference).
      – I think with Hleb, we already have a concern about playing time. We’ve been there before. Its up to Pep how far he will rotate. If he hesitates, there will be a problem everywhere. But as you pointed out Hleb+15. More than that, will be overpaying. Then better go for other options available, including Senna if for his age we cant worry about his injury proneness.

  75. Jeff
    August 11, 2010

    somewhat to Kxevin’s point: We’re talking about coverage in the squad. Look at EE or any other team in La Liga…they’re barely getting by on or even have a starting XI! We know who are starting XI are and besides some questions about ultimate quality (not coverage) in CB/DM we are solid across the board. Injuries are inevitable. Guess what? EE will ahve injuries, too. Kaka (granted, hasn’t been that good recently) is out 4 months. Crynaldo has a history of injury. I just don’t see EE as talented as Barca is.

    So to the question…should we go out and spend more or rely on the the youth system? First, look at the integration of other players who we bought recently. It takes time for them to integrate (Ibra, Maxwell, Chiggy didn’t even get a chance). My opinion is that it doesn’t make sense to buy a short term solution because it won’t reap any dividends. They won’t have time to integrate to payoff. However, bringing in the youth you might have the same integration issues (but not as much because they know the system) but you pay nothing for them and can still be a long-term solution (youth and if even one of them fulfills potential it’ll be worth it).

    The great thing is we can save the cash now and if we need to fill-in with transfers we have the January window. This also gives us the luxury of knowing who is fit and in form.

    We also seem to forget that we have the best attacking front-line in the whole world right now. Villa-Ibra-Messi with Bojan, Pedro waiting to dive in. I don’t think we’ll be lacking goals.

    This is a team that had 1 loss in the league last year during its toughest stretch of the season. 1 loss! Where are we weaker this year? CB/DM coverage! Coverage! Not starting talent! I’m going to maintain my (and many others) belief “In Pep We Trust.” I don’t see any more signings.

  76. fcbfan
    August 11, 2010

    Of course we depend on canteranos, our squad is 50% cantera and isn’t that the policy? It’s a matter of the farm and the system.

  77. Kari
    August 11, 2010

    Well, just to let you know: I’d gonna stick with my first impression of Mascherano. There’s this fancy saying that you should judge people on your first impression, but gimme a break. Who doesn’t? 😀

    And if you say you don’t, you’re not being honest with yourself.

    Anyways, I’ll be watching Cuddly (Bojan for the newer people) and FF (Jeffren) in the u-21s.

    English stream: /http://www.iraqgoals.net/11194-finland-u21-vs-spain-u21.html

    • Kari
      August 11, 2010

      *shouldn’t judge people (can you tell I’m biased lol)

    • Miguel
      August 11, 2010

      awesome! i hadn’t been able to find a stream. already down 1-0, huh?

      • Kari
        August 11, 2010

        Yeah, but Spain’s defending left a lot to be desired. Finland’s goalkeeper made a fantasic save from Merida from point blank range-ish.

        Cuddly’s getting some rough treatment. No respect being paid by the Finnish defense.

        I may be spoiled by Barca and the Spain NT, but this kiddy Spain’s ball control and passing have been pretty crappy.

        • Miguel
          August 11, 2010

          yeeaahh booooooooyyyyy!!!

          bojan puts it in the back of the net(penalty).

  78. Hilal
    August 11, 2010

    What a great debate going on here! Thats why i love this blog! I know there has been a bit more of a negative vibe recently but it definitely promotes more debate so I am all for it!

    10-15m + Hleb for Masch is a no brainer IMO. Any more than 15m and it becomes a little too expensive. His agent has already said that Mascherano understands he will be competing with Sergio for DM so I do not think that will be too much of an issue. Sergio can also be pushed into a more attacking role so it just adds more depth to our midfield and more options for Pep.

    As for the whole canterano vs buying stars debate, well I guess it depends wholly on the cantenaro and how good he can be. One thing is for sure, when it comes to the young players in our team Pep knows his shit. Very few ppl trusted Sergio at the start of the season and who ever could have imagined Pedro would reach the heights he has. Well Pep clearly knew. He even knew enough to play Sergio ahead of a very dependable Yaya, much to the dismay of many a fan. Some calling him crazy and accusing him of favourtism. I even heard a few ppl accuse him of being racist! So I think if we can all agree on one thing it should be that when it comes to the cantenaros we should trust Peps judgement. If he thinks that either JDS or Thiago or whoever else is ready to play a part then I am certainly going to trust his judgement. I think it is a LOT less risky depending on a player that our coach knows inside out and a player who knows how to play our way than it is buying a player who may or may not get it. A player can be exceptional in another team, under a diff system and then be a complete flop for us.

    Also all this hype about Ozil is a bit much. HE had a few good games at the WC, so what. There are a lot of players who play great for their NT and not so well for their clubs and a lot of them happen to be German!! (Does anyone remember Milan Baros!?!?!) From what I have read Ozil had an inconsistent season with Werder last year. From what I have seen of him vs what I have seen of JDS and Thiago, either of them could end up as good if not better. Betweem Xavi, Iniesta, Keita, Adriano, Maxwell and even MEssi we have the attacking mid positions covered. That is without even bringing in any cantenaros. I think a far more important position to fill is the DM. Senna or Mascherano would do nicely. Aside from that we are set.

    Mourinho and MAdrid can bring it. They are GOING DOWN. I cannot wait to beat them home and away three years on the trot!

    • theMaginator
      August 11, 2010

      EXACTLY what I think. But far more eloquent.

  79. Kari
    August 11, 2010

    GOAL BOJAN! From a well taken penalty.

  80. Miguel
    August 11, 2010

    do you know the line-up? who’s playing other than bojan, merida, & capel???

      • jordi™
        August 11, 2010

        In addition, from what i saw Javi Martinez is captain, alvaro dominguez, and botia afre the CB’s, De gea goalkeeper ,theres parejo and canella and im not sure who else,Azpilicueta maybe, i didnt see from the start.

        • Miguel
          August 11, 2010

          thanks. i thought that might be javi martinez but had no idea he’d be called back to the u-21’s. might be azpilicueta.

  81. jordi™
    August 11, 2010

    Anyone catch Botia’s beard? 😀

    • Miguel
      August 11, 2010

      is barca able to exercise his buy back clause right now or do they have to wait a year?

      • Jnice
        August 11, 2010

        I would think a year, but I seriously don’t know why we didn’t keep him on for preseason at least.

  82. Jnice
    August 11, 2010

    Ibra has scored within the first 4 minutes of the match.

    • Miguel
      August 11, 2010

      you know, i don’t mind ibra going back to his national team but does puyol really have to play w/la seleccion knowing how thin barca is in the back this season? wouldn’t he have been available for the game vs sevilla had he still been retired?

  83. Barcathegreatestever
    August 11, 2010

    Well all respect we have very different views on Sergio because in 09 Yaya delivered those trophies to Barca on a platter. He was phenomenal and won games by himself sitting in front of a torn up back line. Last year the back line became the most respected in world football and Valdes got to Spains national team for the first time. Why? Because he was so brilliant in the one on ones. He stopped 20-30 maybe 35 chances. How is that happening? Sergio has featured and is great in possession but doesn’t have the presence of a Yaya or a Mascherano or a Xabi Alonso. He has been surrounded by the greatest players of a generation and they have covered him when he struggled. Sergio has yet to show that when nothing is working up top he can shut down the middle. I don’t think Keita is that player and I think that was the problem last year when Messi delivered the end of the season almost singlehandedly.

    • Kxevin
      August 11, 2010

      And yet, we had a better record in every statistical category in La Liga, and won the Liga. Would The Yaya have stopped any of those goals against Inter at the San Siro? Not from what I saw.

      Yes, there were 1-v-1s. Has anyone compared the number last season, as opposed to the season before? Further, could they have come from teams learning how to play and attack us?

      Finally, Thierry Henry fans might argue that the width and goal scoring threat the he supplied “delivered those trophies to Barca on a platter.” Xavi fans might say the same. Eto’o fans might say the same.

      Here’s something else to think about re: Busquets:

      http://www.zonalmarking.net/2010/07/16/sergio-busquets-world-cup-final/

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