Bright future or looming disaster? Expectations and youth

It’s enough to make you scream, isn’t it? When Sevilla put the wood to us on Saturday in their house, many were talking as if we’d rolled out a lineup of total scrubs against their first-choice unit, which isn’t entirely true.

But, at issue here is that we had 4 canteranos: keeper Mino, center back Sergi Gomez, midfielder Dos Santos and defensive mid Oriol Romeu, in positions that are key to the success of our club. It was a grand experiment that, for about 62 minutes, was working to perfection.

And now comes the debate: Was Guardiola right to trust so much to the kids, how bright is our future, and how in the hell do you integrate future stars into a side, so that the Catalan press doesn’t go nuts as we try to buy back another farm product.

I went to a White Sox game this weekend past, and aside from wanting to gouge my eyeballs out with knitting needles at the insufferably boring spectacle, an interesting tidbit about a player brought my mind to our beloved club.

At issue was a guy named Juan Pierre, a former Cubs player who wound up at the White Sox, and his ultimate quality. A Cub fan at the game was talking about how much he sucked. The White Sox fan said “He’s a solid player, but when the Cubs sign a player and he doesn’t take them to the World Series in his first season, the fans turn on him.”

And I started thinking of so many things. But let’s start with the rather disgruntled-looking face up above, Bojan Krkic. This dude has talent coming out the wazoo. If he had Keita’s body to go along with it, he’d probably be leading the universe in scoring or something. But he doesn’t. He was brought into the first team when the club was under the reign of Frank Rijkaard, and he had some good matches with the senior side, after setting the world afire with the B team. He was a sure thing, right, the next amazing striker, and he was home-grown. Whoa.

08-09: 10 goals, 4 assists. Last season, 11 goals, 3 assists. Excellent numbers for a squad player, but Krkic isn’t meant to be a squad player. Expectations are immense, and balancing those expectations are his age. He’s only 19 years old, and is expected to grow into his talent.

And yet, we cut loose Gai Assulin, who was purported to be the next Messi by many judges of horseflesh, at the same age. What’s the difference? Good question.

I think the main difference is that when Krkic got his first-team chances, he showed aptitude for the job. Assulin didn’t. Simple as that, or is it? If Krkic were still a canterano, would we be talking about keeping him for the first team, or would we be discussing him as a project who needs to keep getting some first-team time, but let’s see how he develops under Luis Enrique? Another good question.

Expectations were immense for Krkic, expectations that will dog him forever, ultimately limiting the player that he will become, and his effectiveness for us. It’s a very different situation from those of two more recent promotions, Pedro! and Busquets. Both were brought up under the aegis of current coach Pep Guardiola. Neither had set the world alight on the B team, or scored a zillion goals. They were just talented players, who arrived in the first team to greetings of “Huh? What?” and not just by Keita.

And look what happened: Pedro! did indeed set the world alight, but as a first-teamer, scoring goals like crazy, crucial goals, and Busquets only made Planet Yaya expendable. Both shone in the most recent World Cup, as well. Both are also examples of managed expectations. Both are also, respectively, 23 and 22 years old, and arrived in the first club with absolutely no expectations except to be a good player for us. What we got was gravy.

Expectations brought Krkic, Pedro! and Busquets into the first team. Only two of them, in my estimation, should be there full-time. Krkic might, in two or three more seasons, develop into the kind of player that everyone thinks that he will become. I say might, because he’s in the first team, where he has to compete for minutes with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Pedro! and David Villa. How does anyone think that story is going to end? He would have been better served developing with the B team with managed expectations, honing his craft and getting the constant playing time that he needs to develop into the player he can potentially become, playing time that I just don’t see him getting with the first team. But you can’t send him back. Expectations might ultimately damage his career.

Was Krkic too young? Good question. Messi made his first-team debut at age 17 just like Krkic, who eventually broke Messi’s record for youngest goal scorer. And the expectations for Messi were even bigger than those of Krkic. So what’s the difference? To my eyes, talent and confidence. I don’t doubt that Krkic is hugely talented, but he often lacks the confidence to go along with that talent. I think that he doubts himself. Messi is immensely talented but more importantly, never, ever doubts himself. When he runs at 5 defenders, he believes that he is going to beat them. Every time.

But expectations for Messi were managed, greatly assisted by coming into a team that included the likes of Ronaldinho and Eto’o. Krkic’s expectations should have been, on paper, managed well. He was the sole bright spot in a desultory season, so there was nowhere to go but up. Then suddenly the team exploded into vibrant, 6-trophy life and expectations changed. Krkic had to live up to deserving a role on our Murderers Row of attackers, without the consistent playing time to be allowed to do such a thing. There go those damned expectations again.

Jonathan Dos Santos is supposed to be the next Xavi. And if you look closely, you can see flashes, flashes that from time to time become full-on lightning bolts. He will most likely be promoted to first team this season, with the attendant expectations. Again, however, those expectations will need to be managed. People watched him against Sevilla, and churlishly gave him a low match rating, commenting on his speed of play leading to an overall lack of control (bastards! Off with his hands!). Those same people, aside from the evaluative necessities of that match report, saw a player who, for 60+ minutes, helped hold down the 4th-placed Liga side’s first team. Crazy. It is those kinds of expectations, carefully managed, that will give Dos Santos the best opportunity to become the next Xavi (whatever form that might take).

The same is true of Thiago Alcantara, who entered the match in the stead of Dos Santos. Again, ginormous expectations, amid rumors that he, too, will be promoted this season. But in the cases of Dos Santos and Alcantara, rather than coming into the side as sterling, can’t-miss examples of canterano excellence, they will be coming into the side as examples of canterano excellence that are works in progress, and have progressed to the point where they need what the first team can give them. Like Messi.

As for the other names such as Fontas, Muniesa, Oier, Mino, Soriano, B teamers who are being tapped as having the talent to make it in the big show, again it’s about managing expectations. Between Luis Enrique and Guardiola, there is not a shard of doubt that expectations will be managed in the way most likely to give those players the best chance to develop. Muniesa isn’t being called “the next Puyol.” He’s being called a talented defender who has the potential to maybe become as good as Puyol. There’s a difference. Will any of these names become what people expect? Who knows? But managing expectations and development are crucial. It’s one of my biggest worries about a premature Guardiola departure.

In that SuperCopa match, we saw delightful glimpses of the future from a coach comitted to supporting that future. I kept imagining Dos Santos with another season or two of maturity, or watching Mino scream at his veteran defense like a veteran keeper …. and it made me smile. So far, so good.

–Now, returning to the Juan Pierre situation for a moment, and fans turning on a player. My mind not only thought of the club, but of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Dmitro Txigrinski, two players who in their first season with the club, have been labeled failures by many. One has already been sold, and the other many would like to see sold. Things went from “Yay!” to “Boo!” in a flash. But again, it’s an example of managed expectations.

Perhaps price tags, like gaudy goal totals with the B team, make it impossible to manage expectations. “For 40+ million, I wanna see about 947,000 goals.” This from a player whose best season to date has brought him 29 goals in all club competitions. Last season, for us, he got 21 goals in all club competitions. So should expectations have been managed by past performance and the condition in which the player came to us, or his price tag? Good question. I figured that his first season with us would be about like Eto’o’s first season with us. I was pretty close. You could even say spot on, if you count assists. Eto’o tallied 28 goals (0 assists) in his first season with the club. Adding to Ibrahimovic’s 21 goals is 9 assists.

So what, looking at Ibrahimovic’s annual club goal output (19, 15, 19, 10, 15, 22, 29), should have been the expectation, given his fitness level and the system? Probably right about what we got. Kinda funny, that. But he’s a player who will always, for the remaining season that he is here, battle the expectation created by his price tag and salary.

Dmytro Txigrinski is a different matter altogether, because defenders allow goals rather than tallying them. When he was purchased for 25m from Shakhtar Donetsk, in a world in which transfer prices had gone mad, expectations were immense. Never mind injuries, a step up in league quality which takes some getting adjusted to, language barriers and other complexities. “Where’s my 25 million dollar defender, dammit!” His transfer fee created a case of impossible expectations. So he was sold, in part, for not meeting those expectations, for not being a combination of Puyol and Pique, rather than being seen as a work in progress who showed flashes of being precisely that.

Kinda makes you wonder what kind of a world Cesc Fabregas would be coming into, doesn’t it?

As Rodney Dangerfield used to always say while doing stand-up comedy, “Tough crowd, tough crowd!” That is FC Barcelona fans. Expectations are immense, and players have about 12 seconds to live up to them. Thierry Henry will always be defined by his last season with us, rather than the treble season. Because the expectation was, even though he came from Arsenal injured and in the throes of a bitter divorce, that he would score as many goals as he scored during his glory days at Arsenal. Those expectations were impossible to meet. Sometimes, expectations kill players. Other times, expectations just kill how a player is remembered. I know that this post won’t make cules any kinder, gentler or less ready to jettison a player after a single season.

It’s just something to think about.

Categorized as Thoughts

By Kxevin

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


  1. A nice and balanced view on things.

    CT does have talent for me and as you rightly pointed out, he is just 19. As he cannot be demoted to junior team, he just has to accept being 4th/5th striker and prove people that he can be among the first 11. He has lots of talent to succeed for sure and i can potentially see him maturing into Romario or Villa like striker. I think he should be given at least 2-3 more years assuming he is willing to work hard.

    One thing that I think is harsh on him is being compared to Messi. Messi is just special as some players are. I hope people do not keep on comparing him to Messi.

  2. Awesome write up, I’m hopeful about the kids and with any luck the ones Guardiola promotes will do the business.

    BTW are we doing the fantasy league again this season?

  3. I’d like to point out that if CT was playing a supporting striker role, playing of the main striker/target man he’d be starting. Another part of the problem is that he isn’t meant for a position in 4-3-3.
    IMO He might adapt to the winger/striker role better than the lone forward. At 19 he still has time and did very well to prove his worth end of last season.

    Even if he can become a super sub getting 25 minutes he would be fulfilling his expectation.

  4. Very insightful Kevin. I just published an article about the DM position and now I see how far it concur with some of what you wrote here. So I will avoid being repetitive.

    Some fast notes:

    – “Was Guardiola right to trust so much to the kids” I dont think he had a choice anyway. The question is: Is it right to count on them as squad players for next season? It depend. Every player is a unique case.

    – Bojan: “If he had Keita’s body to go along with it, he’d probably be leading the universe…” He has Villa’s body though. So I will not take that against them, nor it is an excuse for him. If he want to be a villa he needs to do the effort Villa did to improve (and have the same mentality and desire).

    – Bojan: He was promoted too early, no doubt. But after Barca B relegation there was no choice. Either promote him or lose him. At least, he was not willing to stay one more season the playing in third division. I think he, his father and the fans who put pressure in that direction) were wrong. The club didnt have lot of options.

    – Barca fans expectations: Preach…
    – Thiago and JDS: I am worried that we may end up with another Gio Vs Bojan situation. One of them -at least- will get burned when a scapegoat is needed.

  5. Agree with the general points, but I think your being rather stubborn trying to defend the Txigrinski signing( note signing, rathan the player). No matter how you view the expectations, 25m needs to be evaluated ito what we could have got. First season was completely unusable. So we werent buying a 25m player now, we expect 25m defender to materialise in the future. Many fans, including myself didnt think this likely(we will never find out) from looking at his first season. I liked the look of him, sure, and he could be a usesful backup player to Pique, but not for that price.

    1. If he was on a team other than Shaktar (rich owner, doesn’t need the money), he would have cost way less than 25m.

    2. Or if Pep was a bit more conservative while demanding him publicly at any cost.

      Though, I have to agree that we should have waited one more season before buying him even if we had to pay for a first option. He wouldnt have cost more than the price we bought him for anyway.

      Yet, that has nothing to do with evaluating his performance. He didnt force anyone to pay that transfer, so it is not his problem.

    3. No, price has nothing to do with evalulating his performance, but everything to do with evaluating his transfer, which was what I was getting at. No criticising the player personally

  6. Bojan Indeed needed more time at the B squad .. But sometimes when you have a player with immense talent and keep him in the B squad .. He might doubt getting time the A team so he may moves to another club seeking play time .. So in order to please him they promote him early ..

    Barcelona Youngsters are of course talented .. It is the best club in the world IMO .. It won’t accept any kind of players only those who have great potential .. But we have to think two things :

    1-We Can’t promote every year 23 players from the B squad .. Only those who are immensely talented are promoted ..

    2-Not every cantanero will be Messi,Xavi,Pedro, etc .. Some we may have to sell

  7. great read!

    Any player is his own man, we shouldn’t compare the youngsters with big players, Only when the players are little kids they want to be someone else. Xavi suffered from his constant comparisons with pep and I think it is a bad thing for them to make them look like another player. For what I can recall puyi’s case was different, he wasn’t compared to anyone, no-one thought he could make it, only (read close) van vaal. It was when he grew as a player that people started to compare him to migueli, after seeing him play and judging from his style and look… not only his position!!!! It looks very clear to me that JDS is no Xavi or Thiago is no Iniesta. They have more differences than things in common, but it’s how the press and fans work. Who can be compared to players like puyi xavi or iniesta??? Right now nobody, maybe never ever. to name something and just by now – 2CL’s, 1 WC —- all hand by hand and entertaining the world

    btw… henry is remembered for dissapointing everyone all seasons but one, in which he satisfied some fans, not me. I expected much more from such a big footy star, like I don’t know… dribbling for instance πŸ˜€

    1. and I don’t know what’s wrong with bojan (looks like something is), but it’s not his body for sure. Just look at pedro! he looks weaker…. but he knows how to do his thing, avoiding contact and running the hell away. bojan gets hussled out very often and easy, when he gives his back to the defenders, which I think undermines his confidence play by play.

    2. Bojan needs to learn how to use his body like Messi and the rest. Put your body in between the defender and the ball and learn how to ride challenges. I have no doubt Bojan can bench press more than a lot of people on the team, but he has to learn how to use his body on the field.

    3. I don’t know. I don’t see Bojan as ever excelling in a wide role. He can’t really dribble and he doesn’t have outstanding pace. To me his best skill is in making small diagonal runs in the box and the timing of those runs. He finds space in tight areas. Although he isn’t a traditional leader of the line he does get goals when he plays centrally.

  8. here some thoughts for next summer:alvez to city for 40m(we take F.D.WIELL)abidal for 8 to lyon(we have adriano,maxwell)we take david luiz and promote fontas,muniesa taking back botia.milito sold for 6m.promote romeu,tiago and buy attack we are ok.

  9. @kxevin,just a week or i first logged into this site and since then i have read all the post and subsequent comments.FYI i m supporting barca from the rivaldo momment against valencia.this is my first post.

    IBRA: when don andres saved us against Chelsea everybody was saying that we need a PLAN B,ie a target man who can breach parking the bus system,and if rumours to be beleieved PEP wanted this type of striker in his 1st season(ADE,DROG).and then IBRA is Brought.he helped us a lot ,but not in a way we wanted,true he scored in el classico,mallorca,made that delightful assist to pedro,some crucial goals in the liga,but his peformance against inter was pathetic(well in the ist leg all r but he was the worst).didnt we bring him just for this cases?since when we r playing a target man,the last target man 4 barca was if the barca fans rant against him 4 that he should have accepted that and keep on working not sulking.this is barca,not any other club(RM aside),where expectations is always sky high,he knew dat and he came here so he should accept that or he may go to some other club.but i am against ibra leaving now,his season was good and i think this season he will be better.but please dont say the xpectations on ibra is way to high(when we pay 10 m,we want sky high expectations).

    Bojan: harsh on bojan,when he was being given extended run of games at the end of the last season he did wonderful.but when used sproidacly he didnt do 2 much good,he should be given a senior squad/bench player role(if such a thing exists).then we can c in 3 seasons.pity for bojan that he is a forward and he plays for barca and that barcas forward should be the megastars,the world beaters.
    and plz dont compare anyone with messi,he is a once in a geneartion player.

    hey Kxevin,i have read many of ur comments and seems 2 me that u didnt rate messi 2 much,m i right?or u didnt write enuf of him coz many r writing on him?let me know.

    finally we have four player for 3 MF we need another xperienced DM prefarbly masch.then JDS n thiago can gel with the team without the burden of expectations.


    1. “didnt we bring him just for this cases?”

      Some say Ibra cost us up to 70 M (for me his cost was less than the cash we paid). Either way, if we bought him to do what Crouch could have done better for 5 million transfer fee (less than Ibra’s salary), then How stupid are we? Well, we will be even more naive if we ignore all his amazing qualities and became so shortsighted that we only saw his physical attributes.

      No. We bought a striker for the team. Our team. Not Inter’s team, or Chelsea’s team or so. He can help in such situations (defensive teams), and he should. But we didnt by him just for that. If he didnt score against Arsenal, may be we wouldn’t have reached the game against Inter (where he was supposed to help).

      His obligation is to perform well against every team we play against. He cant do it alone. And the team cant do it without him.

    2. Anybody who wouldn’t rate Messi is blind, or crazy. I am neither. I do think that his game has deficiencies that he needs to correct. He’s selfish, and thinks of passing ONLY when he is out of options. Sometimes, the best time to pass is when you have viable options, yes? But no, I think he’s brilliant.

      Harsh on Krkic? Maybe. He will have plenty of time to prove me wrong. He was given many runs of minutes during the season as well. People only remember the end of the season when he was better, rather than the great majority of the season, in which he was mediocre and invisible.

      The expectations for Ibrahimovic should have been a number in keeping with his goal scoring numbers in previous seasons, probably not the highest, but not the lowest, either. I’d say he met expectations, and then some.

      On paper, the comparisons with Messi are valid: both were first team at 17, both came with immense expectations, both have great talent. Don’t forget that people were calling Krkic a “once in a lifetime” talent, as well. It is only reality that has tempered those huzzahs.

      And nobody is saying that Krkic is a failure. It’s too early to tell, yet, and he’s a player who will never, EVER run out of time. I do think, as noted above, that being in our first team (I would have loaned him) is hurting his development. He can’t get the minutes that he needs to figure it all out.

  10. why pep brought chgsy i have no idea.@25m he is 2 much for a defender.keep fighting for IBRA and i will support unconditionally on that but please not chgsy.

    1. I am not fighting for Txigrinski. He’s gone. Too late. I am saying that he, like Hleb, was a better player than people’s memories are letting them realize, just as Krkic wasn’t as good last season as people are believing. You see what you want to see, another quality of expectations, and price-based expectations.

      Txigrinski had positioning disasters, and wasn’t particularly quick (first 10 steps) or fast (last 10 steps). He had to rely on positioning, and when he got caught forward he didn’t have the pace to get back. He made some tackling errors as well. He’s also widely considered to be the man who cost us the Copa last season (but don’t forget that he fouled the man outSIDE the box, and the pooch was screwed by others, hanging him out to dry. Anyone who thinks any other defender would have done any better against a man running full-tilt at him is misguided.).

      That’s the bad. As for the good, there was the height and size, something not to be underestimated. Space occupation on set pieces is significant. Did anyone notice on Saturday how we became full-on midget when Ibrahimovic went out?


      Txigrinski was figuring out the positioning thing and how it related to his lack of pace. His long passing was exceptional. He was almost as good an attack starter as Marquez, without having to drift as far forward to do it. He never came back from his injury as the same player that he was going into it.

      But unlike Hleb, he didn’t talk his way out of town. He was committed to working hard for a place in this club, and he was sold. So that’s that. But you can fix positioning errors, and a player learns the tendencies of a league and its players. But as the saying goes, you can’t coach size, and you can’t coach talent. You just have to give it a chance.

      Another way to look at it people are saying that Ibrahimovic was a bust, and he scored almost twice as many goals and had twice as many assists as Krkic, the player that some of those same people are clamoring for as an Ibrahimovic replacement. Is there any player who has been given as long-running a chance as Krkic? Mind you, that question isn’t a judgment, just an observation.

    2. u r comparing ibra who is a definite 1st eleven 2 bojan who is not.if i m not mistaken his contribution 2 barca in terms of goals is 11,7,4,13 which IMO is pretty damn good for a squad player.

      chgsys positional disaster,lack of pace contributed in his departure,when u have 2 fix a 25m defender about this then he is doomed(its not his fault that his price is 25m).i m with rossel on this.just bcoz pep guides us means we have 2 yes his every decision

    3. See Rosell is a smart and shifty man, why else would you think Rosell sold Chygry? obviously to make the chygry signing look like a failure on Pep’s behalf?

      do you think Pep wanted to sell Chygry? definetly no, Chygry was a long term project, Pep said that about 8769543234 times last season, so why would Pep suddenly change his mind?

  11. Unfortunately, many Cule’s are in a cycle of increasing expectations for young players. The club’s recent success once again built on the cantera keeps raising the bar because past successes are used as the standard for future potential.

    Pedro was successful therefore Romeu will be successful, etc.

    It’s fairly common to hear an argument now that goes something like this as an example: if Busi was never given his chance on the first team then you’d never know what he could do. Therefore, you don’t know what Oriol Romeu can do unless he is given a chance. Conclusion- Oriol Roemeu should be Busi’s backup.

    The argument implicitly compares Romeu to a Busi. It implicitly compares the young player to the biggest successes the cantera has had. There’s a great deal of selection bias there.

    At the same time it ignores how Busi was very slowly integrated into the first team. He was developed carefully – not just thrust onto the stage.

    It also doesn’t take into consideration what the best way for each individual player to be developed is. That’s the situation that Bojan got caught in.

    It’s not great for first team circumstances to greatly dictate player development. Part of the issues this year isn’t the readiness of a JDS or Fontas individually. It’s that they may be asked to be ready as a group. There won’t be time for careful integration because so many young players with limited experience will be providing squad depth at the same time and at very young ages.

    Can 3-4 cantera players all be integrated at the same time to the first team without it damaging their development?

    BTW Juan Pierre and his career .714 OPS and .324 wOBA is terrible regardless of what team he’s playing for!

    1. Jonathan Mensah is a Ghanian defender who plays for Udinese. Dude’s got skills. I doubt we’d sign an African defender because of the ACN reality and having a key player leave. And despite Jnice’s rather partisan suggestion, he’s the business.

  12. oh thanx kxevin!i will try to watch him thats season!but what about david luiz?do you think is good for us?

    1. Luiz has talent, but it’s hard to tell how anyone would be in our system because of its very specific demands. Players all have to be good with the ball at their feet, good passers, quick (if not fast) and capable of thinking 2-3 passes ahead, like chess players. It’s no wonder people have a hard time fitting in here.

    2. Mensah’s on loan at 2nd division club, Granada, so it will probably be hard to watch him. But like Kxevin said, there’s no way we would sign him and I was just kidding, anyway.

      David Luiz is good, but Benfica want upwards of 30m euros for him. He’ll probably end of going to Chelsea or Madrid next season. Same ‘ol story.

  13. Nice piece man..Usual great writing from you. I was thinking that there may be an alternative reason that many cules disliked chyggy.

    Yeah, he had a not so great season with us, but it must be acknowledged that the transition is super hard from one league and style to the next (*something you mentioned, so sorry for repeating*)

    I think the alternative reason is the mentality of a lot of fans. The guys who live for strikers, who can’t resist a buy in fifa 10 etc. even if their team is already loaded with goal machines. These guys tend to undervalue defenders, and its a lot easier for them to accept 25 mil on a striker, than on a defender…Its human nature to see the guys who score emphatic, classy goals as being naturally more important than the guys who prevent them from happening..

    1. the most costliest defender is in the world dani alves who cost us 31 dat with chgsy and compare dat with what alves has done in his 1st season.ok u may say he is not a fullback but a wingback,so the next in line is who score emphatic, classy goals as being naturally more important than the guys who prevent them from happening.
      Its human nature to see the guys who score emphatic, classy goals as being naturally more important than the guys who prevent them from happening.well said .football i think is a sport which is decided by goals and the striker scrores them so definitely their price is higher and btb when u buy a defender from the russian league u xpected 2 pay 10m not 25m.

  14. Kxev that is the faires evaluation of Bojan anyone has written, ever. Let’s hope the boy comes good.

    Personally I wonder what happened to the grit and tenacity he showed his first season under Rijkaard?

  15. jnice maybe you find my question stupid!hehe!i am just wondering cause carles is the leader,the heart,the soul of this team for so many years.and for me the best central defender the last decade(ofcourse english media tall about terry,ferdinand,vidic e.t.c)i hope muniesa be the replacement after the captain retired in 3-4 years!

    1. Haha nah, it’s a good question, actually. Who knows who will be his replacement. Fontas, Bartra, Muniesa, and Sergi Gomez will all be vying for a spot in the coming years. Botia may even be bought back as well. We’ll just have to wait and see how that pans out.

    2. Keep in mind that because Puyol started out as a striker, then bounced around between DM and RB, he has ball skills that the average defender doesn’t have. The striker time also gives him that anticipatory sense of feeling where the ball is about to go. That’s critical to note in calling someone the “next Puyol.”

      I think that we have a number of once-in-a-lifetime players that are going to be extremely difficult (if not impossible) to replace: Messi, Xavi, Puyol, Iniesta.

  16. I just had a dream that Barcelona was playing .. Iniesta dribbled past two players and passed it to Xavi who scored with his heel .. The goal was disallowed and called Offside .. And The next Attack I saw Hleb , Gudjhonsen , Pedro , and Bojan .. So I don’t know who was Our DM .. Anyway Gudjhonsen passed the ball to Bojan in the six yard area for a simple tap-in but he smacked it against the post ..

    1. “Anyway Gudjhonsen passed the ball to Bojan in the six yard area for a simple tap-in but he smacked it against the post ”

      LOL, that made me chuckle.

  17. It is true that Puyol started out as a striker, but this is far from exceptional. A looooooot of players play as strikers at youth level and then get converted to defenders in their later teens. What is more surprising is that having played as a striker our capitan always fails when he is one-on-one with the keeper. Excuse the blasphemy though, cause I love Puyol just as much as y’all do! lol

  18. Great write up Kxevin! I remember the whole Bojan v Giovanni debacle and didn’t think it did either of them favors. I always wonder what it would have been like if Guardiola had been in charge, he seems to manage expectations of his players really well.

    I do hope that we get the players we need before Liga starts, we do seem a little spare, even more so than last season. Here’s to hoping that Villa-Ibra-Messi develop a good trident and that both Xavi and Iniesta stay healthy and injury free.

  19. Watching our first leg match against Arsenal right now. I can’t wait for the season to start.

    1. Thinking of those last 15-20 min and the Puyol red still annoys me. Ugh.

      The first 60 minutes, however, makes me smile when I remember it. The first half had me in so many different emotional states that I think I was a vegetable by half time. I don’t even remember if I wiped off the drool.

  20. Didn’t read all the comments yet, but it is important to note a difference between Bojan and Gai. Bojan at 19 is a very good squad player, it is hard to expect much more than that, and honestly the people who do expect more than that aren’t being realistic. Gai on the other hand couldn’t even earn a starting spot on the B team for much of last season.

    Both Are examples of the dangers of overrating youth and expecting too much from them, but each are examples of this in very different ways.

  21. I stand by my claim that Bojan is the potential to be as good as Villa, and will fulfill it in due time.

    Expectation? What expectation?

    — T-minus 5 days, 30 min. until Villa’s debut for us. It’s also some other dumb businessman-come-president’s debut after refusing to show up to the Pizjuan because the aforementioned president decided they wanted their debut at a home game.

  22. Your Ibra bias just goes on and on completely unchecked. Who are these people sucking up?

    Ibra had 5 times maybe 10 times the minutes Bojan had. And consecutively. So he’d have to put between 50 and 100 goals in last year to match Bojans output.

    1. LOL what?

      You were wrong! Every Ibra goal costs us 3 goals not 2! You should be loaned to 2nd division with us playing your salary for your punishement!

  23. A major factor, I think, is Bojan’s lack of confidence. He was brimming with it under Rijkaard, but I think he lost a lot of it when Pep came–not because he doesn’t like Pep or anything, but because Pep isn’t the one who brought him up and it’s obvious that Pep, being a former B-teamer himself, knew that he was brought up too quickly.

    If Bojan had the confidence of, say, Thiago, it’d do him a world of good. That said, only time will tell…

    1. Hes also unlucky, not just hitting the posts, but having moments taken from him, imagine if that goal against inter had not been chalked off, he wouldve been a hero and it would have done wonders for his confidence, still credit to him as he still managed to get crucial goals after that but a goal to take us to the cl final tops everything.

  24. Spot on Kxevin.

    I for one think we should’ve kept chiggy.

    and i get these strange thoughts late at night – of pep, ibra, chiggy hooking up with yaya, silva, and balotelli at citeh come next season.

  25. Apparently, now Deportivo want either Muniesa or Planas for left back. I hope one of them get to go and play.

  26. as for keeping Chiggy I would agree with Rosell. I mean I know it was not the dude’s fault that he cost 25 mil, but how bad does one have to play in order to be considered a failure?? He had not impressed me in even one single match in the blaugrana. if we have to cut our losses 15 mil is not a bad price.
    I do understand the argument for keeping him though, especially given our lack of depth at his position.

    As for the 4 youth who played, the problem is not just that there were 4 of them in a match against Sevilla but also that their positions covered the Axis of the field GK – CB – DM – CM. They did pretty good all things considering, indeed BarΓ§a seemed in control until fatigue kicked in. I did think JDS played plenty of bad passes though, but I trust the kid to be calmer when surrounded by 1st teamers, like he is supposed to be.

  27. @kxevin

    when u say in paper bojan and messi is comparable then i can say wt bout pique and chgsy(the matter is dead horse now since he was sold).both r slow,have height,positioning,can initate attack(although i havent seen chgsy doing that).pique cost 5 million,inexperienced(although honed his skill and muscle @MU).on the other hand chgsy was captain of the UEFA CUP winning team,experienced but why didnt pep trust him enuf?if 25m defender is brought for a back up then i have no complain having cesc for 50 m(god knows h happy i m dat wengi refuses dat).
    messi salefish.yes dat was true 3 seasons ago,not now.(look how he played in the WC).moreover he is a forward,and there is adage in football that forwards should be salefish.(47 last season,but i remember his assistance 2 pedro in the final la liga game,he was chasing ronaldos record,but instead of taking the glory,he gave the ball to more suitably positioned pedro).

    @ramzi,yah ibra was brought as our striker,to score in all games not only in big games,u r r8, u r also r8 when u say dat if he wouldnt score against the gunners,we couldnt meet mou,all r r8.but dont we have a striker before then,dat one was allegedly a rebel in the locker room who helped us winning a treble,and allegedly wanted a pay rise,dats why he was booted(peps feeling) point is we trade him with ibra who is way much costlier(its not ibras fault.)what really pissed me off that he is paid more den xaviniesta,puyol(not his fault).IMO barca wanted 2 buy a marquee signing after the galacticos V2.o and dey got ibra who is much much better then etoo technically,give the team another option apart from scoring but who 2 me doesnt have the teanacity of etoo.i m not a ibra basher,just trying to say that he hasnt set the world alight lyk CR (he did way better then kaka).i m betting my money dat he will shut my mouth this season(hopefully)

    1. But don’t forget that Pique started out in our system, and was playing at United. He was already tested on the highest level. All we knew about Txigrinski was that he had the skills and talent. He had no knowledge of our system, and hadn’t yet been tested at the highest level. And as I noted, he started out very well, then got injured and was never the same.

    2. pique wasnt part of MANU 1st eleven,he was just a squad member who sometimes filled the void left by rio.
      on the other hand according to u chgsy wasnt tested @the highest level,but still brought 2 barca by a whooping 25m on the insistence of PEP,just bcoz he impressed against us.sorry cant agree.

      btb he started very well,got injured and never get back,we all know his performance in the copa,but started well??????????which games can u xplain?h many games he started in the 1st season?just wanna know its not sarcasm.

  28. Bojan should go out on loan to a side where he’ll play every week so we can see how good or not he really is.

    1. Puyol rejected the idea of a loan out when he wasnt a starter in barcelona at the age of twenty(and didnt really become one until later on).Didnt really turn out that bad for him.
      Bojan has to forget about anyones expectation and focus on improving . Realistically if he looks at the other young talents under guardiola, their explosion happened at the age of 22 : pedro , busquets .
      He had less playing time because rijkaard wrongly registered him with the first team , but more time training with the first teamers and getting direct valuable experience with them.So yes he didnt play much with the B team which he should in order to further improve physically and mentally , but i wouldnt say that this fact hindered his process because training daily with the first team and playing in big matches some times does wonders for someones improvement.
      Oh and I think that rijkaard putting bojan on the big show too early was a try to relieve the pressure of not winning for two years , the press having him underfire for the second season since its beginnings , and his not professional handlings of big stars like ronnie that laid the way to them underperforming and evolving a terrible attitude that drove them out of the team.
      You had to give the fans and the press something to brag about , why not giving them the second messi ( even if he is not , and youre gonna slap a label on that kid that will just put terrible pressure on his shoulders).Messi was a revelation and the exception , above all in the sense that he was the first one coming out of the youth team with such abilities , personality and didnt really have a weight on his shoulders to perform. Even if he didnt work out , he would return to the second team(his father has specifically was told that , like he said in a documentary) and nobody would point at him and say : you re no messi!

  29. @kxevin.

    i never ever gonna say ibra and bojan r compatible.u r talking bout the whole last season.if i can correctly remeber in the 1st half of last season bojan didnt started any game and 2 say that ibra has twice many goals and assists is not suitbale to i remeber in the game against tenerife (i think in the 2nd half of the season or 1st half) bojan started and gave 3 assist 2 messi.u cant compare bojan with ibra.bojan is a pure striker while ibra is something different.

    i think all the barca fans are saying give bojan some playing time lyk the rijkard era(where the first substitute is always iniesta)not to replace ibra with bojan

  30. @sab i also prefer Eto’o over Ibra but fact is now we have Ibra. The reason Bojan played a lot less games than Ibra is because every time he did play for during first 3/4th of the season he SUCKED.

    1. will come back later lev about this topic,gotta sleep.have office 2 do.

      BTB wt do u do?which country u r from?

      just asking these bcoz i share ur feelings(and ppl alwasys want 2 know more bout ppl whom they have something common.)


  31. Part of why people are always going to be disappointed with Ibra is because they see the role of the striker through one lens – goals scored.

    Ibra was not only brought in to score goals. That’s not why Pep wanted him in particular over every other striker in the world.

    Ibra was brought in to do many things. Scoring goals is a critical function. But if that’s all Pep wanted Barca could have purchased a goal poacher.

    If you’re going to reduce a player on Barca to goals scored – even the striker – then you’re going to be disappointed because it’s easy to ignore much of what the player does.

    1. Exactly. How many goals does Iniesta have, right? You don’t have to look much farther than Saturday’s match to see the effect that Ibrahimovic can have when he is in and out of a match.

  32. what do you think of barca b this season?our starting eleven oier-montoya(dalamau)muniesa,fontas(s.gomez)planas-romeu,tiago,s.roberto(riverola)-rochina,nollito,tello,soriano and some more experience players.i believe lucho has a very good squad and playing every week with good teams like thelta,betis,tenerife e.t.c our youths will win experience and that will hepl them for the first team!

  33. Kxevin made an interesting point about Chiggy, that he started well but after the injury wasn’t the same. Injuries are a huge issue when it comes to new signings. Chiggy, Hleb, Abidal, even Ibra to some extent, all started well then got injured and were not the same again during their debut seasons.

    Honestly, it seems like the biggest factor affecting the success of our new/young players is playing time. Unfortunately because of our lofty expectations and how much pressure Madrid was putting on us, Pep was very reluctant to give squad players playing time. And I think it hurt their development.

    Early during Pep’s first year, he did a lot of experimenting early. Noone could guess his lineups, and I think THAT was a major reason for our success. Even players like Guddy were playing well, in part because of the playing time they got, and also because they believed they had a shot at cracking the starting 11.

    I think Pep will have to rotate the team better and stop making subs so late.

  34. i am tired and sick of people talking about martin palermo said that messi lacks leadership cause he grown up in fancy barcelona and no in some poor argentina.s village.yeah man you are right.they all talk about a 23years old player with a health problem who against all situation became the greatest player in our know something mr.palermo?messi have bollocks that you never will imagine.enough stupid enough.let leo alone bastards

  35. Top post Kevin. I am concerned with the expectations been placed on la masia graduates in particular. Anyone with potential that shows glimpses is immediately called ‘the next(insert appropriate name)’ Cue head shake. While I agree that new signings can block development, I also believe they can beneficial by diverting media attention off young players allowing them to quietly develop. On the other hand one may say you can’t wrap them up in cotton wool forever.

    I believe JDS is not ready to be the new Xavi- but then again who is frankly? I think our replacements for Xavi, Puyol etc will be signings AND THEN maybe JDS and muniesa will be ready. Also in the ideal world we would have identical replacements, but that doesn’t mean we can’t alter our system.
    If you take Manchester United-they tried several players to replace Roy Keane- all failing. United then compensated by moving from 442 to 433 and went on to win the Cl in 08. Slightly simplified πŸ™‚ but my point is you don’t always have to replace like for like. Its always been the case

    1. I think this is a really good point that often goes overlooked.

      We have our 4-3-3 style that was so successful, but perhaps in the near future it won’t be. Not something that I think will happen until a key piece leaves us or falls off (Xavi or Iniesta), but something important to keep in mind as we acquire players and develop talent.

  36. This is totally off-topic and more of an operational issue with the blog itself but:
    Am I the only one who would like to see a “jump to most recent comment” button? It would help me so much when I’m accessing the blog from my iPhone because I wouldn’t have to scroll through all the comments.

    Of course, I just upgraded so there’s certainly the possibility I’m doing it wrong.

    1. OOH iPhone, you have my deepest heartfelt sympathies. Im glad to hear you just upgraded. God forbid you had to access on the’basic model’ πŸ™‚ Certainly Your Majesty

    2. I’m not exactly sure what to make of this comment, but I’m still laughing my ass off to it.

      I swore I’d never become that pretentious, obnoxious iPhone user, it’s just so useful now that I never get a chance to sit down at my computer.

    3. Had the iPhone, iPhone 3G, and 3GS. Now I have the Samsung Captivate (Android 2.1)And I’m glad I switched.

      Anyway if you have your iPhone Jailbroken there is an app on Cydia that can help you with that. If you are interested let me know. **

    4. oops did not mean to post my email now im going to have all kinds of spam.

      Luke, Isaiah, Kxevin can that be edited to:

    5. I like the droid platform, but for me right now the iPhone is sufficient.

      Not jailbroken yet, but it won’t be long. I’ll keep an eye out for the app, and if I can’t find it I’ll email you.

  37. Hey guys, Sergio Garcia joined the Pericos, hopefully this ends like his last two clubs la segunda πŸ˜€

    1. Wouldn’t that be funny. Pericos playing against Barcelona B in the Catalan Derby.

    2. Ditto πŸ˜€

      Ohhh, how I wish those Pericos would go down. They really really really get on my nerves.

  38. Just for the record, I just completed season 2015/2016 in football manager and Bojan has surpassed Cesar as our all time top league goal scorer at 198 goals.
    He wasn’t fantastic first season but I gave him time because playing Messi in the hole created enough chances for him to become world class.
    If only real management was that easy πŸ™‚

  39. kxevin i wish that will be a preview for the barca b before season starts!i know that you guys have not much time but i hope for it..

  40. I desperately want transfer season to be over. It is wearing me out. Let’s get on with the task at hand, rather than nonsense such as claiming that Guardiola wants to swap Ibrahimovic for Robinho, and AC Milan have contacted Ibrahimovic directly with a loan offer, because of course he wants to return from whence he came. Maybe he will just bypass Serie A and start at the beginning beginning, with Ajax.

    I think a few people are, in my case, misinterpreting analysis for advocacy. I do have views, and they have come out in the comments:

    –Txigrinski got a raw deal.
    –Krkic should be loaned out.
    –If we sell Ibrahimovic we’re crazy.

    But those are outside the main points of this piece, which has sparked some most excellent discussion, and once again made me proud to be part of this space. Thanks to all.

    1. Speaking about discussion, I don’t think Bojan should be loaned out for three reasons:

      1. He is currently training with three of the best forwards in the world, and one of the best coaches in the world. There is no better way to learn a trade than by being taught by the best. If you watch Bojan play you can already see that he picked up some of Henry’s tricks. By learning from three stellar forwards who each have their own style he will have the opportunity to assimilate their knowledge and make himself better with it. Not to mention they are three very different style forwards, increasing the multitude of skills he can learn. Finally, there is no better coach he could be learning from than Pep.

      2. By staying with the team Pep can continue to shield him from too much pressure. Bojan has proven to have confidence issues and he clearly plays better when he doesn’t feel the weight of expectations on his shoulders. Pep has worked hard to remove expectations from him and to give him a resonable and proper role in the team for his age. If he were to go on loan there is no guarantee that he would be protected from these pressures, and it could very likely have a negative effect on his development.

      3. Bojan is already playing right around the right amount of minutes at Barca for his age. Let’s not compare him to the best player in the world. Instead think of Xavi and Iniesta, neither of them had significantly larger roles than Bojan does now when they were his age, and look where they ended up now. Look at Busquets and Pedro, neither of them were considered for even a cameo inthe first team when they were Bojan’s age. The fact is he already holds an advanced role in the team for his age, and he is moving along a proper development path. He should be allowed to continue on this path at the club and not be forced to expedite his development away on loan because some cules unreasonably expect him to be the next Messiah.

  41. Vicsoc8 the most sensible comments yet, which can be extrapolated to the cantera in general. When Bojan gets to play with Villa and Messi beside him and Iniesta and Xavi behind him, he’ll have the best of all worlds.

    Playing next to Ibra is not going to help him develop, in fact this time last season he was taken out off another crappy Ibra pass that left him injured for a month at least.

    The next question is how can Pep leave the season on the shoulders of a second year defensive mid without any experienced back ups?

Comments are closed.