Champions League draw day, welcome Chygnasty, and some news (update!)


Here he is, making it verrrry clear how he prefers to have his name spelled, folks. It’s the latest addition to our back line, Dmytro Chygrynskiy or, as he prefers the back of the shirt to say, Chygrynskyy.

But let’s just agree to call him Chygnasty, and be done with it, shall we?

His transfer will be announced on Saturday, after he makes an appearance at the christening of a new stadium, as we agreed with Shakhtar’s boss. So welcome (almost) Chygnasty.

More on the long-tressed defender. He’s 22 years old, from Iziaslav, Ukraine. He’s 6’3″ tall, or 1.9m for you metric-sized folks. His strengths, as have already been laid out in videos here and here, are positioning, height, long passing, attack starting and heading ability. And having watched those videos again, I must say that I love his defensive positioning. Keep in mind that highlight videos never show the clunkers, but he reminds me so much of Piquenbauer, but….

We already have Piquenbauer, so anybody thinking of Chyggybauer should just forget it. I’m just saying. ๐Ÿ˜€

The deal has been confirmed by Txiki B., of 25m transfer fee, with a sliding scale salary that starts at 1.2m per annum over 5 years. Note that this dude took an immense pay cut to come to us. He was pulling down 3m per annum at Shakhtar, in a much more favorable individual income tax environment than Spain. It’s sort of proof of the pudding that, as Ibrahimovic said, players would play for free to be with us. It isn’t quite free, but I like the attitude of “How much money do I need, really? I’m 22 and if I kick ass, I’ll get a raise but more importantly, I’m now with the best club in the world. And I get to make the hair band back line with Puyol and that gimpy Argentine dude. Yay!”

And TV3 got the money shot, when Chygnasty and Guardiola shook hands as the various delegations arrived. No video or images are up at the TV3 site yet. I’d love to see it.

“Tomorrow it will be a very special game for me,” said Chygnasty at a press event today. “It will be my last game with the shirt of Shakhtar. After that I will leave for Barcelona. I feel proud that they have signed me.”

Note to Guardiola: I recommend that all plays come down Chygrynskyy’s side (he ain’t Chygnasty ’til he dons the colors). Really, how hard is he going to play against/foul guys who are going to be his teammates, a day later? ๐Ÿ˜€

–It’s Champions League draw day, an event that will happen at 7:45 p.m. Monaco time (do your own math, as any journalist will tell you that numbers make me angry….there are so many of them!). We are the top seed, which only makes sense as we are also the defending champion. We’re also in Pot 1, which includes Chelsea, Liverpool, Milan, United, Arsenal, Sevilla and Bayern.

As I have said before, I want as easy a group as possible. I think that we will be tempered competitively by the Liga and other competitions. I want to coast through the group stages so that key players can relax and we can remain as stress and injury-free as possible in the early part of a loooong season. But we’ll see in a few hours.

–All-business Guardiola is grumbling about individual trophies and whatnot, saying “We’re here to play football, dammit!” You have to love the attitude. He makes it clear that he doesn’t begrudge individual accolades for his charges, just do it on a non-match weekend. Man, I love this coach.

Marquez and Iniesta will travel with the group to Monaco (since they want to be in the trophy presentation picture), but they will not play. There is no real reason to rush either one of them back, particularly as we will now have Chygnasty for the full Liga campaign in the case of Marquez. And I just can’t see Jeffren going anywhere before January, in light of our not having bought any wing help.

–Laporta has confirmed that the Guardiola renewal will be put off until next year, with the new president. Again, I like the style. No matter what he does this season, he is in effect saying “I don’t want any political crap to sully my tenure here. So if the new guy comes in, whoever he is, and he wants me, we can do a deal. But I’m not coming as baggage.” What a man.

–You European posters were probably wondering what that horrible noise was that you were hearing yesterday. That was a Monument, dragging, kicking and screaming in contemplation of being moved to England. Gudjohnsen doesn’t want to leave us, for both Sporting and personal reasons. He has a kid in the academy, and likes Barcelona. Given that his deal to West Ham is a loan anyhow (they consented to pay his full salary), I say we revel in the midfield depth he provides, and keep him. As I’ve said before, I would sub him in with a quick hook at the ready, but why not? Is he ultimately Barca quality? No. But he does have value as a one-touch, possession passing aid in control of a match in its late stages. And he’s a consummate professional, which is never a bad thing to have around. (Note that I wouldn’t be saying any of this if we’d signed some midfield depth.)

–In what I think is good news for us (if it’s based in truth), Arjen Robben will be sold by the EE to Bayern Munich. He’s dangerous as can be when he’s healthy, and I’d rather see him in some other league, where he can’t single-handedly change matches and vex the crap out of our backs. This news is coming from one of Spain’s comic books, Marca, so it’s probably true. But I’ll believe it when Corey and the lads are rending their garments. Sneijder I could see selling. But Robben? I like! But I kinda don’t want to see Bayern in CL now, with Ribery and Robben bombing up both wings.

Messi’s new contract is almost done, and it will include a 300 million Euro buyout clause. Let’s think about that one for a second. Three. Hundred. Million. Euros. Holyfreakincrap, that’s a lot of money. Scary thing is, you could still see a cash-rich side deciding “Hmmm, we’re willing to pay that,” and trying to pony up for the best player in the galaxy.

–And speaking of the best player in the galaxy, some clarification is in order. In a previous comment one post ago, I stated that there were certain players the club couldn’t do without in the case of a temporary injury. I didn’t have Messi on that list. Some misconstrued it as my believing that Messi is not critical to our success. Far, far, from the truth. As Jason correctly sussed out, the point was that we’ve played without Messi before, are used to it and can do so again, a fact that in no way ameliorates his astounding qualities. But certain other players, in light of what they do, would be more damaging were they to be absent.

Messi is all crazy possibilities and otherworldly skill, a man who can turn a match on its ear, as he did on numerous occasions last season. Make no mistake, we are a better team with him. A far, far better team with him. But we could get along for a month or so without him. Xavi is another matter, for example.

Hope it’s clearer now.

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


  1. yogi
    August 27, 2009

    Robben out would be nice. The guy can do serious damage. With him and Ribery, Bayern could be a force though their midfield is not that good.

  2. Kxevin
    August 27, 2009

    And how fitting that one of our newer posters, Han, should be welcomed with today’s “You’ve been Hectored!” award. ๐Ÿ˜€

    For the unfamiliar, “being Hectored” is when a new post goes up, leaving your intelligent and/or long comment as the last one in the previous post.

  3. Kxevin
    August 27, 2009

    Prima facie the Robben deal is stupid, unless some cash goes the other way and Ribery comes, either now or in January. Next year, although that part has been denied by Bayern folks, is a long way away.

  4. August 27, 2009

    I agree on Xavi point. At least he is the only player the team never performed without him as it performs with him. We had the chance to play without evryone else before, and it wasnt a problem.

  5. Han
    August 27, 2009

    Wondered how that “you’ve been hectored thing” worked. Thanx for the clarification.

    Actually that German team with Robben could be a nice force in CL if they would only buy a decent keeper (Casilias anyone) and a RB (Ramos anyone).

  6. Kevo
    August 27, 2009

    So we’ve got another giant in our squad, i like.
    I see Pep now working a looot with set pieces and crosses. I can hear him saying “usad tu cabeza! cabron! usad tu cabeza!” (use your head…)

  7. Han
    August 27, 2009

    On to our team:
    Guardiola not signing a new contract is actually good, as Kxevin explains.

    Chygnasty is still expensive, but the wage part alleviates much of my worries.

    Marquez and Iniesta back = hurray (btw did Rafa sign a new contract?)

  8. eklavya
    August 27, 2009

    Whats our tallest lineup?



  9. Muhammad
    August 27, 2009

    I surely hope Robben is sold.
    we had to suffer all that fantastic depth of Madrid’s squad shit for so long, glad it is coming to an end..hopefully.
    now without Sneider and Robben their bench is smaller than ours, although I totally agree with Hilal that our squad is even more complete this season than the last.
    bare in mind too that some of their subs are there simply because they couldn’t offload them, like the Gudjohnsen case with us. namely Van Der Vart who was actually offered to other clubs, and he wasn’t so happy about it, so even if he stays he is not going to be as bad as last season, he is going to be worse, if possible. keeping in mind his playing time last season and his performances, I don’t think he will create much difference anyway.
    Van Nistelrooy is a great striker no doubt, but after being sidelined for a whole season, and at 33 years, I doubt he will be effective enough to score 15 goals. and he has to score them coming of the bench too.
    why would any one consider players like Drenthe, Torres and their likes creating depth ? Guti and Raul are not any younger either.
    the one thing in the world that is more overrated than C.Ronaldo price is this called Madrid squad depth.
    I think your point about Messi is true, Kevin, but only for Xavi, I can see us winning eventually with Messi coming in the 80′ minutes, but without Xavi we are not the same.

  10. Muhammad
    August 27, 2009

    I took so long to write the comment, that most of what I wrote was actually mentioned in the previous comments.

  11. Kxevin
    August 27, 2009

    But no less worth saying, Muhammad. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Marquez still not renewed, but that’s an easy one. Though he is probably going to regret not having done it before we got a taller, younger version of him to sit alongside Piquenbauer. Salary-wise, Chygnasty might also be cheaper.

    Okay. Okay. I’m totally geeked now. I’m sure we all recall the jailbreak on the one set piece v Bilbao, in which Henry’s header just missed. Now imagine coming at clubs with (on set pieces) Henry, Ibrahimovic, Pique, “Air” Puyol and Chygnasty.

    I predict more header goals this season!

  12. Muhammad
    August 27, 2009

    plus Busquets, who scored against Bilbao with a header in the second game in the league, Yaya and Keita too.. it is hard to imagine them all in one line-up though.
    bring on Chelsea.

  13. Han
    August 27, 2009

    Not only will we score some more headers this season, at least we may expect it, but I will probably feel a lil bit more reassured when crosses come in VV’s direction.

    Pep really seems to work on our height in general and as long as we don’t get too slow it will help us bigtime.

    Nice look at Marquez his contract situation in combination with Chygnasty. Maybe Marquez will feel more clublove ๐Ÿ˜‰ and agree to a lower salary ?

  14. Kevo
    August 27, 2009

    You know what? I think it’s a good lineup
    Really… HOWEVER, the back four seems a little stiff to me. It feels like Chy has a similar playing style as Pique and Henriquez hasn’t flourished that much, HOPE HE FREAKING DOES so he can sub Alves for a couple of games.

    Yaya can cover for Xavi, Busi knows how to play DM and Keita well Keita is everywhere…

    Iniesta-Ibra-Henry… now that’s still badass.

  15. Kevo
    August 27, 2009

    Kevin you forgot Keita, even though his size isn’t massive but that dude can “dunk” some neat headers (against Villareal) and also Marquez knows how to head pretty well.

  16. Randal
    August 27, 2009

    Iniesta & Messi are of same height… Why not just keep Messi in our TALLEST squad instead of Iniesta!?

  17. August 27, 2009

    Gudjohnsen would actually start over Keita because he’s an inch taller.

    Iniesta and Bojan are 1cm taller than Messi and Pedro! buuut Jeffren is taller than all of them at 5’9″.

  18. txikidracula
    August 27, 2009

    during our last game ibrahimovic headeded away a ball during one of athletic’s corners. i completely agree w/you.

    marquez makes me all warm inside but i’m glad we’ve got a worthy successor to his throne in chiggy pop…although, i thought the mexican was going to take muniesa under his wing for whatever time el kaiser has left @ the club.

  19. Kxevin
    August 27, 2009

    Han, I think Marquez is shitting bricks right now. Can a player ever anticipate that they will sign a younger, taller, stronger version of him? You have to not think that way, right? But that’s what’s happened.

    The sticking point with Marquez and the club was over contract duration, IIRC. The Kaiser has done well by us, and let’s hope that goes smoothly.

    The thing is that we suddenly have a kick-ass back line for years. Alves is just fine, and then we have Pique, Chygnasty, Muniesa, Fontas and Botia. Abidal has a couple more good seasons in him, as does Maxwell.

    Man, does anyone remember the time when we were all really worried about defensive depth? ๐Ÿ˜€ Seems so long ago, doesn’t it?

  20. txikidracula
    August 27, 2009

    we’ll see how chygnasty adjusts but marquez did want to retire @ the club where he spent his formative years(atlante) in mexico anyways, right? ;^)

  21. Kevo
    August 27, 2009

    Well Marquez also wanted to assist Muniesa in his development, which kinda means that he’ll stick around even if not playing but i feel that Marquez has found a home at Barca.
    Marquez is one of a kind, so i dont think that Barca nor him are worried about his future at Barca he even said that he is not worried about his expiring contract.

    My thought is that Chyg is probably relacing Milito in the squad?!?!

  22. Helge
    August 27, 2009

    I think if Robben goes to Bayern for only 12.5m (that’s what I’ve read in German Teletext) Bayern has made the deal of their life ๐Ÿ˜€

    On the other hand, if the transfer fee is that low, we can be sure to see Ribery next year in evil, white jerseys…

    Oh, and don’t worry about Bayern Munich being a serious title contender in the CL with Robben and Ribery, the defense, the keeper and the rest of their midfield is pretty trashy, their performances in the Bundesliga are horrible so far. I don’t believe they would improve enough. They will reach the quarter-finals, as long as they don’t draw us or an English team in the round of 16.

  23. ElShowDeJason
    August 27, 2009


    In Mexico, Marquez played for Atlas.
    Then Monaco, and then for Barcelona.

  24. txikidracula
    August 27, 2009

    that’s what i meant…oops. i’m glad he gets to go back to the stade louis II even though he doesn’t get to play the match.

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