Barca – Ibrahimovic – Milan: A Zero Sum Negotiation

The negotiations around Ibrahimovic’s potential transfer at this point in time are relatively opaque and confusing. Why all of this has come to a head now is unclear and will still take time to figure out.

But from what has been reported, let’s take a look at where the negotiations stand and why they are proceeding in the complicated fashion they are. In other words, let’s follow the money.

The Ibrahimovic deal has evolved into a zero sum financial game at this point in time. By that I mean there is a fixed sum of money that Milan is willing to invest to acquire Ibrahimovic’s services. From what’s been reported Milan is willing to pay a transfer fee of 40M euro and pay Ibrahimovic 8-9M per annum in wages for the next four years. In total Milan is willing to invest 72-76M euro to acquire Ibrahimovic’s services for the next four years. However, this sum of money is less than the sum total that Barca spent in cash to acquire Ibrahimovic last summer (49M euro) plus the remaining amount guaranteed to Ibrahimovic on his current contract (approximately 48M euro *note there have been conflicting reports for Ibrahimovic’s wages with some estimates as high as 14.5M euro but that figure seems to include prior bonuses. More recent reports have set the figure at 12M/ year.). So there are two magic numbers at work: 97M euro vs. 72-76M euro. That’s a gap of roughly 21M – 25M euro.

What these negotiations are currently about is which couner party – Barca or Ibrahimovic – is going to absorb those losses and by what proportion.

Milan has shrewdly positioned themselves as the only viable exit solution to remedy a situation in which there is tension between the team and the player. Galliani has done a masterful job of coming in late to the transfer window while trying to engineer this deal. From the start what was clear is that Milan wasn’t going to do badly in terms of finances here. While taking on a striker who will age is a risk, Milan clearly feels that Ibrahimovic’s “star” status is worth it to them and is in accordance with how they’ve recently run their business.

If Milan couldn’t get the deal done on their financial terms they would just walk away. That’s their leverage – they’ll just leave Barca and Ibrahimovic to each other and the burgeoning problems developing between them. Barca opened itself up to the other party having this kind of leverage because it did not pursue a sale earlier in the transfer period. By not creating a situation where multiple teams would bid up Ibrahimovic’s price, Barca left themselves vulnerable.

Milan first proposed a loan deal because a loan put Milan under the least financial risk and importantly was the only way Milan could pay all of Ibrahimovic’s wages at their current rate. Milan doesn’t particularly care who gets their money – Ibrahimovic or Barca. What they care about is the total money they will spend. So if they did a loan no transfer fee would be required and they could just pay Ibrahimovic his current contracted wages. This was the most straight forward way to structure the deal for Milan and Ibrahimovic.

Clearly, however, a loan would be a financial disaster for Barca as they would lose millions. So they rejected that arrangement. At the same time they clearly want Ibrahimovic out and don’t want to pay his wages. So what to do?

Milan then agreed a to sale. Barca sought a transfer fee of 40M euro. Remember Milan appears to have budgeted around 72-76M for Ibrahimovic so this transfer fee isn’t a direct problem. It’s within budget for them. However, 40M plus the remainder of Ibrahimovic’s wages as guaranteed by his current contract is more than Milan is willing to

By agreeing to a transfer fee of 40M Barca would absorb 9M in losses from what they paid in cash the year prior. So of that 21-25M gap 12-16M remains after Barca takes it’s losses.

At that point, the key thing to make this deal work from Barca and Milan’s perspective was to try to get Ibrahimovic to assume the remaining 12-16M gap in losses by reducing his wages. Barca gets their 40M cut to give up the player that way and Milan stays within the range they want to spend. Again, from Milan’s point of view they primarily care about their total expenditure and less so about which parties will get what money from them. Milan just needs to offer Ibrahimovic enough wages so that he will not wind up an unhappy player for them. That’s what they’ve been figuring out and negotiating directly with Ibrahimovic these past few days.

In essence, Barca and Milan are asking Ibrahimovic to subsidize his own transfer by absorbing this 12-16M loss.

This makes no economic sense for Ibrahimovic as he has a guaranteed contract. A footballer’s career is very short and Ibrahimovic is currently at the stage in his life where he is likely at his maximum earning potential. Turning down money when you are at your peak earning power is turning down money you will likely never see again.

But it is now clear that Ibrahimovic himself no longer wants to stay with the club and has in turn opened up negotiations for a new contract with Milan at a lower annual wage. There’s been some reports of Milan being willing to do a 5 year deal which would add one year of guaranteed money to Ibrahimovic compared to what he has now. That extension will help make up for some of Ibrahimovic’s lost future earnings. An extension of this type is Milan’s way of trying to build good will with Ibrahimovic and keep him happy.

Nonetheless, Ibrahimovic and his agents aren’t foolish and they see what’s happening. He is the counter party guaranteed 48M over the next four years who is being asked to absorb a 12-16M loss to subsidize his own sale. This more recent talk about Ibrahimovic getting an “exit bonus” isn’t unexpected in light of this. Railola’s goal for his client in this transaction will be to minimize how much of a this financial hit Ibrahimovic assumes in the process of leaving a club he no longer wants to be at. An exit bonus or Ibrahimovic receiving a percentage of his transfer fee would decrease Ibrahimovic’s losses by forcing Barca to assume more of the gap than the 9M they have agreed to already take on. In addition of course the agent will also likely want his cut of the pie as well.

As is evident, these are extremely complicated proceedings given the amount of money at stake and the complex, triangular negotiations. Much of what’s been reported is likely false or incorrect, particular in terms of the exact dollar amounts being discussed that will exchange hands. The big picture of these negotiations at this point in time is this: whether or not the deal gets done and how much money Barca loses financially both depend on how much Ibrahimovic himself is willing to lose in order subsidize his own transfer.


  1. This drama rules!

    They were saying that they would take legal action.

    Ooooh sn~aaap!


    Next episode we’ll see: The Return of Seluk. Preview shows a Seluk-Raiola style b**ch fight and a Yaya HULK SMASCH. Don’t miss it!


    “Can you blame Mascherano for going to Barca? Poor dear is just sick & tired of having to work up a sweat in league games. Sitting around the center circle barely moving for 85 grand a week? Sign me up!”

    “Seems like the Barca players are having the ‘Cesc Fabregas Media Cunting’ withdrawls. As reported by Mirror, when asked about the Mascherano situation, Messi said:

    “Javier won’t play for the club again, I can assure you of that, and I think the Liverpool coach knows that now. Javier’s family are unhappy and the pressure of seeing that is making him depressed. Liverpool must act humanely and let him go.”

    I don’t know if they threatened to take his growth pills away but this is just sick. Making a player respect his contract is inhumane?.. no, inhumane is forcing Mascherano to shower, or Mascherano not showering in the first place (thats a complex and very sensitive issue in the Anfield lockers, I hear)”

  2. Wait a minute …. WHAT!!!! Official communique from the FCB Board.

    The executive committee of the FC Barcelona board of directors would like to publicly denounce the conduct over the last few days of the agent of our player Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sr Mino Raiola,whose declarations have put into question the honour and moral integrity of our coach Josep Guardiola. These declarations have affected the relationship between the coach and the player and as a result the willingness of the player to fulfil his obligations. As such the declarations are a flagrant breach of the contract which Sr Raiola’s company have with the club for representation and management.

    Our legal department is therefore considering the possibility of rescinding this contract and the cessation of the annual payment Sr Raiola’s company receives from the club as part of this agreement.

    Once the department has reached its conclusions and taking into consideration how this matter develops, the club will take any measures it considers necessary.

    1. Hi kxevin… i see u comment at real blog on offside and i do here too.. i have kept quiet without any comments here for quite a while… but i cant stop my self from commenting… being a madrid fan and labelled as evil empire on this blog i cant stop laughing seeing its barca that has become this empire…
      First cesc transfer.. big mess… (irresponsible comments)
      yaya.. big mess..(the way he was treated)
      javier… its also a mess the only reason it happened quickly is because of the dire conditions liverpool is in..
      and now ibra…
      i dont like ur players but the way u treat them after service is atleast unprofessional….
      and i love this quote “In pep we trust”…what the f!
      cant u all see its not milan that is acting this late its ur own board who want to sell him late so that ibra cant have any say and now they are blackmailing his agent…
      does every agent yaya’s and now ibra’s become evil when a transfer is about to happen…
      I know u all will not agree with me but i am fine with that coz these are my opinions… and for a change barca seems to be the evil empire coz no player on our side wants to leave even though no assured starting position… i feel happy coz our players are happy… cheers!

    2. We’ve commented already on how Rosell is moving us closer to acting like those Real Madrd fucktards… but thanks for the heads up 😉

    3. u can’t say that man… it happens in every team. what about robben and scheineider last year? what about raul and gutti? and what about pellegrini? are they all happy? is the same shit rite? i can see spanish footbal is different from the English’s. We play football with a winning mentality. We want to have a good team and win something at the end. Even though i’m totally against the way how they treat the players. But it is the fact that we have to build a good team to win something. it just my opinion. and no team is perfect…

  3. What a mess.
    At least Barca has decided to try to end the contract with the idiot Raiola. I can not for my life understand why someone wants to be associated with such a person. You say dollars, I say HELL NO!

  4. Well to be honest this could either be just damage control , pressure to reduce the agents and players exit demands or the real deal.I hope its the latter but well see soon enough.

    1. Please dream with me momentarily.

      Best case scenario is that we are serious about this Raiola business and he is the one to blame for this Zlatan fiasco. Zlatan and FCB fire him and make up. We go on to win the Champions League.

  5. It’s not clear that this is a very fair description of the situation:

    “Barca opened itself up to the other party having this kind of leverage because it did not pursue a sale earlier in the transfer period. By not creating a situation where multiple teams would bid up Ibrahimovic’s price, Barca left themselves vulnerable.”

    No one, other than Man City, was in a financial position to bid for Ibra earlier in the summer (same thing with Eto’o last year). If we had multiple potential suitor clubs, I’m sure we would we have pursued a sale earlier.

    We lost leverage on Ibra when we signed his contract last summer at a financial level that his productivity during the year did not fully justify.

    1. Disagree. We signed Ibrahimovic for what the market would bear for a player of his quality. He’s been making around that for some time, and producing at roughly the exact same level at which he produced for us. The only aberrant year was his last year with Inter, @29 goals.

    2. Let me clarify.

      I understand why we ended up paying so much for Ibra: he was coming off a career year in Serie A, and Kaka had already gone for 65 million, so Ibra was not going to be valued at anything less.

      My point is just that his original fee and current contract, which no one else wants to pay, removes any leverage we might have in a sale.

  6. “We lost leverage on Ibra when we signed his contract last summer at a financial level that his productivity during the year did not fully justify.”

    While this is true, we signed him on a 5 year contract. We should at least give him a second season to fully prove himself. It’s not like he was terrible last season.

    1. I wonder if the Laporta board would have done ANY OF THIS!!

      It is such a bloody mess now. What is the purpose of the statement/threat of legal action? What is it going to achieve? Obviously Raiola didnt orchestrate this whole thing on his lonesome, as much as I would like to believe he did.

    2. No way, Mesalles and Seluk were just as bad, Mesalles even called Laporta a liar and read out texts,in that press conference .Im glad we finally given one of these guys the backhand.Long may it continue.

    3. I recall something Euler put up on the last post…

      “I hope cule’s now don’t try to paint this as the usual it’s the player/ his agent’s fault.

      Make no mistake about it – it was the Club who pushed Ibra out of the door. They didn’t want him – probably due to the money spent on him and owed him in wages – and they fostered a situation which would make it very difficult for him to stay.

      The only way this deal could get done was for Ibra to assume a wage cut. A player has to feel very uncomfortable to agree to that.”

  7. Tee, hee!

    Mino Raiola: ” If everything goes well, we’ll even have to hurry to get it done before the market closes on Tuesday.” [via sportmediaset]

    As a down side, it sucks that on a day on which the club has dramatically improved itself, we’re going nuts over this nonsense.

    1. Ugh, I want Pathetico to win, but they really are pathetic. Inter should win easily (damn!)

      But, maybe I can hope Forlan and Kun pull something out of their arses….?

  8. Raiola: “The contract of Ibrahimovic with Milan? It will be longer than two years and shorter than six years.” [via sportmediaset]

  9. We lost leverage on Ibra when we signed his contract last summer at a financial level that his productivity during the year did not fully justify.

    Any time you make a deal there’s risk involved. Buying an asset in a very hot market only increases that risk.

    Barca and Pep very well knew the market conditions. Despite that they chose to buy. That was a speculative decision related to how the club felt their needs lined up with the supply of talent.

    The club not only went hard after Ibra they also went after Villa and Mascherano. They clearly wanted to buy last summer and were willing to absorb the related risk.

    The issue wasn’t them losing leverage with the deal last year. It was the club taking on risk.

    But what’s done is done – those are fixed costs that can’t be unraveled (unless you can get the player to take a wage cut to off load him…)

    Once you decide to sell the process matters. In order to get the best deal possible you need to do everything possible to get as many teams involved in bidding as possible. Even if it’s only 1 other team, two bidders give you far, far more leverage than you have when you have only one bidder.

    And the key thing here was to engage Man City. Barca failed to do that. There was a lot of talk about Ibra not wanting to go there due to lack of CL football. But I bet he would have jumped at the chance compared to going back to Italy while taking a pay cut.

    Mancini loves Ibra. People think Man City is acting irrationally but in many ways they are not. They only have 2 more years to use their financial clout before the UEFA finance rules come into play. Then the spigot of money largely stops. That’s why they bought so aggressively now.

    Barca bough Ibra during a historically crazy market. That’s always gong to be problematic if you look at it as a return on investment. But this season they had the chance to sell to a historically large buyer, one the sport may never see again.

    They failed to even engage that bidder. That’s poor management.

  10. All in all not a great day for me. Happy enough with Ibra going as for me he never fitted in and disturbed our style. However, his departure leaves us thin up front and no time to bring someone in. Masch is another I don’t think fits our style and as others have said I fear that in Spain his style will lead to trouble with referees. I wonder if he’ll manage to cope with the pressure teams try to put us under at the back.

    I just hope we don’t end up playing both he and Busi at the same time.

  11. Whether warranted or not, putting out press releases threatening agents with legal action prior to a deal being made just makes the club look even worse.

    It just drags the club further into the muck.

    It’s very clear we’re going to see the usual story here – it was the agent’s fault.

    I’m sure he’s far from blameless but neither is the club.

    It looks like they got a case of big time buyers remorse and leveraged multiple angles and disturbances in order to get a deal done where they would minimize their financial losses.

    Very ugly way to run an organization.

  12. Euler, this is a great write-up.

    Kxevin, I agree with you on the 40 million euro number. At this point, the relationship is (from what the press wants us to believe) so beyond repair that 40 million is a steal.

    Not only is 40 million a fair amount based on the situation, but I also believe it stays in line with how much we budgeted to spend on Ibra.
    I think we were prepared to spend 22 million on Ibra, per year.
    49 m. transfer fee + 60 million in salary (12 million per year for 5 years)=110 m.
    110 m./5 years=22 million euros per year.

    If we sell him for 40 million euros, and are freed from paying the remaining 48 million in salary we owed him, then all we lost was 22 million euros (110-88=22).

    However, we established above that we were going to pay 22 million a season for his services anyways. So what did we really lose? Essentially, whatever we could have gotten for Samuel Eto’o last summer. But cash-wise, I don’t think we lost anything more than we expected.

  13. Every year some or the other fiasco comes and leaves a bad taste in the mouth..

    Before season:
    10/11 – Ibra AND HeWhoShallNotBeNamed
    09/10 – Ibra Eto’o
    08/09 – Ronnie/Eto’o
    07/08 – Henry (not that bad though)
    06/07 – Henry again..
    04/05 – Beckham (lulz :P)

    (05/06 – exception to the rule)

    I think it all started with and it’s all Judas’ fault..

  14. Seems like Barça have agreed 40 mill with Milan. But it isn’t true that Milan have nothing to lose. Their fans have been crying out for a big signing this summer and they have barely made any additions to a squad which was very poor in the UCL last year.

    Its difficult for any cule to understand what is going on here. Both Ibra and Pep seemed to be on good terms until Ibra’s sudden outburst. I am not sure if Ibra is acting churlish after finding his place threatened by Bojan or if Pep has lost faith in him because he has failed to adapt to his (Pep’s) expectations.

    If we sell him, its a financial loss and a sporting one, Ibra could serve as the perfect foil for Villa but if we dont sell and fail to rehabilitate him, the equations are going to get a lot worse by next year. Imagine a Bogarde case with one of THE highest wages in the world.

  15. U know what the more I think about it the more I like the idea of suing the shit out of Raiola. Fuck him. Maybe it will serve as a lesson to any other agents that if they badmouth our coach and try and stir shit up we are gona go after them.

    I cannot say I like the way Laporta dealt with Seluk, essentially give him a 6m prize for acting like a jakass for 2 years. That certainly isnt going to deter agents from acting up. Suing the crap out of them might.

  16. What exactly would happen if Barca succeeds to rescind the contract with Raiola? How much money would we save?
    And in how far does it affect Maxwell?
    Damn, I really wish our legal actions against him work out, and afterwards both Maxwell and Ibra send Raiola to hell! 😀

  17. 40m would be a steal .. If we wait one more year He’ll be older and It’d be harder to get rid of him

    So What if we paid 22m for the time He stayed here .. Look at it this way .. For 22m we got :

    1-La Liga (Crucial goals against EE,Mallorca,Espanyol,etc)
    2-We Sold Shirts .. I don’t know how much money but it must be something
    3-Goals in UCL against Arsenal and Some Highlight moves that must’ve meant something in Merchandise and Advertisement ..

  18. Something to think about, that might help this all make a little bit of sense:

    Ibrahimovic would be 5th among starters in terms of minutes. Xavi, Messi, Iniesta, Villa, Ibrahimovic. And you start to wonder if your 5th dude is the best place to have 40m+ resting, and clarity suddenly occurs.

    Or not.

    1. Transfer season never seems to be about clarity, but rather about acrimony.

      Or maybe I am just burning out on it . . .

    2. I see your point, but that was true at the start of the transfer season too. Why leave it to the last week to try and make a deal. Its just stupid, it puts us in a corner that we dont need to be in. Rosell is not that stupid. We may not like him, but he just isnt that dumb. In fact isnt he supposed to be some master negotiator? We got a good deal with Adriano and a good with Mascherano. Why does this deal stink to high heaven? Why was it dealt with soo damn badly?

      I can only think that something must have happened between Pep and Ibra that made Pep realise that we are better off without him, for whatever reason. If it was Rosell orchestrating this then I cannot see how he would let it come to the mess it has come to. Nobody is that idiotic. Like him or not he is a very wealthy and successful business man and he didnt get to where he is making idiotic decisions.

  19. I agree with everyone who finds the current management of the club distressing, but I disagree that this is anything new with Rosell.

    Just in the last two years, there have been a variety of distressing incidents. Off the top of my head:

    1) The way we handled negotiations for Eto’o’s contract renewal and transfer last summer. Remember the midnight contract extension offer via email, which we only sent after his agent threatened a press conference?

    2) The “security audit” on Presidential candidates.

    3) The bizarre financial arrangements with the Uzbek club.

    4) Spending 25-million Euros on a cup-tied Ukranian defender, because Pep demanded him publically as the only remaining transfer he wanted.

    5) Spending a lot of money on players, Henrique or Keirrison, who the coach never wanted.

  20. Okay, I’m sitting here trying to look at things from Mascherano’s view. Why is he so keen to come here? He knows he’s second to Busi who is much younger than him, Catalan and, I would argue, better technically. Can it just be money?

    Also, is somebody who was willing to breach his contract with Liverpool going to be any easier for us to handle once the bench time starts to mount? I have to say Cesc handled himself better in his saga – but then again didn’t end up getting what he wanted !

    Just dying to hear Pep’s account of events of the last week.

    1. Off the top of my head:

      The weather
      The language
      The prestige
      The environment
      The weather
      The money
      The language
      The titles

      Did I mention the weather and the language?

    2. Some news reports claim that he and his family were unhappy in England. I don’t know how well he or his family speak English nor how assimilated they are into English culture, but if they failed to do both, then I could see how the living situation could be miserable enough to off set the loss of a starting position.

      Plus, don’t forget that Liverpool is now a struggling team with no Champions League play (the Europa league doesn’t compare — did you see who won it last year?). So Mascherano has switched from a struggling team with a new coach to an established juggernaut who is favored to win La Liga and is a major contender for Champions League. So maybe Mascherano looks at this and says to himself: “Sure, I am not a guaranteed starter, but I have a fighting chance to play great games with a group of the best players in the world. And they have good morale, unlike Liverpool.” This seems like a logical way of looking at things.

      And the icing is that he will now be in a country with a closer cultural connection to his home country and thus his family is likely to immediately feel more comfortable. Bonus.

      Of course, it could just all be about the money. What do I know? 🙂

    3. Xocolata!
      Posh digs on Pssg. de Gracia
      Did I mention xocolata? (Just checking)
      Best club in the world.
      One perfectly weighted ball from Xavi
      Playing with the best players in the world
      Understanding, as we do, that he vaults Keita in the playing time order.
      A great meal at La Fonda
      Hearing the Himno at full throttle

    4. Since Keitee is 30 .. Do you think Masch and Busquet will take the DM and the Keitee position starting next year .. I think Keita will be sold

    5. Ok. You’re all right of course. 🙂 It’s a bit reminiscent of Monty Python and the Romans isn’t it? What has Barcelona ever given us?

      Can I add

      the beaches
      the views from Tibidabo and Montserrat

      Not sure about vaulting Keita though. That’ll be worth watching.

    6. Macherano:
      “I don’t do much stuff in my free time, that’s the truth,” Mascherano said. “I could go to London with my wife to do some shopping but I have already been to London 1,000 times and if I want to go to another city I would have to take a plane.

      “What kills me about living in Liverpool is that there are only two Argentinians here with me, Emiliano Insua and Maxi Rodriguez. Insua and I live in a private neighborhood. He lives in one tower and I live in the other. There are 15 metres between us and we used to look at each other through the window.

      “Sometimes Zabaleta comes from Manchester but there is no way Carlos Tevez comes here. If I want to see him, I have to go to his place and knock on his door. He doesn’t like to leave his home. So during the winter, during those four or five months, I have to stay at home all day with my family.

      “I have no problem living in Liverpool, but I think my wife and daughters deserve to enjoy every day to the full and live their lives – but they have to be at home all day. My wife doesn’t speak a word of English, so she depends 100% on me. I live here with them. That’s my world, that’s my life.”

  21. And I actually meant that to be an optimistic post. We’ve experienced a great deal of team unity and success on the field, despite what has often been a circus off of it.

  22. I have to say I am not happy with this transfer saga but maybe we got a piece of our own medicine with how Barca has gone about with the Cesc transfer saga.

    Ibra leaving just before the transfer market closes. I am sure we will not get buying anyone as his replacement and Villa will be considered his replacement. What the hell did we give up Eto for free for then? Why give Ibra just one year to shine? And where the hell is plan B?

    If Barca are good enough without Ibra then he should have gone at the start of the transfer window, not now. It is part our fault because at no time did we say we want to keep him when Milan said they want him. We said sure come talk and we will see. All this other crap that has come up has only come up so there can be a speedy decision made here.

    I am not a happy Barca fan right now! Ibra would have taken us to the next level with Villa on the left…

    1. Oh, in regards to that other drama, I don’t think anyone here has denounced Milan even once. It’s all being directed inward, whether at Pep, the club, or Raiola. They’re just doing business.

      I wonder what’s going to happen next? A surprise return by Eto’o who laughs manically at Ibra while kissing his second treble medals? A mental attack by Yaya against Mascherano? A Keirrison performance at the Oasis reunion concert at the Camp Nou? Everyone being Hlebbed?

      Oh, the possibilities. We need to Banquillo this sh*t.

  23. Two comments…

    1)A fine post. Are you an economist or an entrepreneur, Euler?

    2)Those must be some Hector Pills Isaiah has on him.

  24. From Pep: “Barcelona president Rosell is since today on holiday at Ibiza. He’ll return to Barcelona if there’s a final deal on Ibrahimovic this weekend.”

    I wish I could take a vacation from being a fan for a few days when things got heavy, but I’m afraid it only works that way if you are the president. This is the equivalent of the President of the U.S. going on vacation in the midst of a stock market crash or a peace treaty or something along those lines.

  25. the loss of Ibrahimovic and the addition of Mascherano is going to dictate quite the change in our entire system of play; the obvious destination being 4-2-3-1 from our standard (and successful) 4-3-3. where is someone to write that up?

    1. Masch and Busquet won’t play at the same time .. Rotation .. with Pedro/Villa/Messi Upfront ..

    2. Sure they could. Just slot Iniesta in for Pedro!, and Busquets partnering Xavi with Mascherano as the heavy. Or for some Champions League ties, you roll out Pedro!/Villa/Messi up front, with a stifling midfield of Xavi/Busquets/Mascherano. Plenty of options.

    3. you can’t rotate the captain of Argentina, who is going to demand playing time, and World Cup winning, 7-games-out-of-7 playing Busquets who’s playing the best football of his life. that’s untenable. Mascherano is a bad buy because he’s going to (rightly) demand playing time; he’s not accustomed to and didn’t change clubs to sit on the bench in the prime of his career. nor is Busquets going to want to sit at all (as we saw when Yaya played ahead of him last season or the season before), especially after doing such a job at the World Cup and his form is excellent.

      a 4-2-3-1 is the only way to play them both together; anything else is going to lead to unrest in the locker room. and in any case Mascherano’s obvious deficiencies in passing and moving the ball require him to have a deeper-lying player alongside him (Alonso at Liverpool) to receive the ball and move it into more advanced midfield positions.

      i will repeat: this is part of why Mascherano was a bad buy. just all-around bad.

    4. Yes They Can Play Together .. And I hope we do that Specially in the CL .. But What I meant is that in La Liga I think Pep would use the 4-3-3 Formation ..

  26. Ahem. I know that Ramzi calls me “Devil’s Advocate,” and I don’t mean to be …. really. But think about this:

    What if all the grand dreams that we all had about an unstoppable trident, in reality, dissolved into a miasma of recriminations, blame, and “Give ME the damn ball!”

    Ibrahimovic functions best as a sole striker. He has had his best seasons thus. Villa likes to work as part of an attacking team, but as Opcion N. 1. Messi wants free rein to be able to kick out the jams.

    Ibrahimovic and Messi worked together really well for a while last season, and Henry was kinda sucking hind teat. Villa will not. Nothing turns a smile to a frown faster than not getting your share of the glory. What then? Could Messi, Ibrahimovic and Villa really work together?

    Eto’o, Henry and Messi could because the first two had clearly defined roles. Eto’o was mostly worthless on the wings, and Henry couldn’t play point man as well as Eto’o could. That was easy. Messi simply raised hell around them. Plus Eto’o wasn’t a full-on Supa-Dupa star like Ibrahimovic and Villa are, and Henry was, but willing to do the donkey work for glories that eluded him as an Arsenal player.

    Who knows when the realization came. Who knows if I’m not doing anything except talking out of my butt. But perhaps at some point recently, once the folks all returned from World Cup duty and started working together in earnest, did it occur to Guardiola, and the process began. Could the timing have been better? You betcha. Would the price have been higher? Possibly not.

    About the only club capable of footing Ibrahimovic’s wages that was also looking for a target man was Citeh. They signed Balotelli for about 29m. Is Ibrahimovic worth 11 more than Balotelli? You bet. Is he worth, say, 20m more than Balotelli? Now you start getting into complex questions, that include messing up the salary structure of the team, which means raises, and all kinds of craziness. Then what?

    Milan comes in and say “Hey, here’s 40m. Whaddaya think?” And the process begins.

    This is all speculative, but just asking the question.

    1. I should share some Hector Pills with you Kxevin. You need an extra strong dose being a journalist by profession.

      Too bad Ramzi, Isaiah and I are hoarding them all.

  27. ****

  28. What kinda message does this send to all the players out there, present and future whose dream it is to play for our club when Ibra isnt even a s**ts chance to show his worth This was/is supposed to be his season of truth and the signs of improvement are as clear as day.
    Reputations of clubs are not built over night.

  29. I think a combination of things has led to this situation…
    Pep clearly wants Messi playing centrally, in the tail-end of last season he played centrally and tore shit up.
    Ibra doesn’t seem to be as professional as we thought he was – where there’s smoke?
    He is only expendable gigantic wage in our roster who will also generate a transfer fee.

    Also, the Robinho thing has reared it’s head for the second time in 2 summers. I’m guessing that Pep likes him. He certainly adds versatility to the squad and more of a scoring threat than Jeffren.
    If you compare the finances, Robinho would probably earn €5million per season less than Ibra and his transfer fee would probably only be €20million meaning that if we traded Ibra for Robinho we would be €40million better off. I’m sure that Pep doesn’t rate Ibra €40million better than Robinho.

    1. Makes sense but does Pep values Robinho’s off court behaviour (or professionalism) in the same way as he does Zlatan’s?

      sorry for double post

  30. Hahahaha Kevin, I think this is called post-hoc rationalization.

    Ibra-Villa-Messi would’ve been a dream, an absolute orgasm of attacking football. He’s gone now, but let’s not pretend it’s good from a footballing standpoint. Maybe financially, but not football-wise. Are we dead and buried and some crap team now? Of course not. But our potential is less than it was last week.

    I raised the Mascherano issue on another thread, it was my question exactly how he would fit in to the team’s first XI. I think there has to be rotation because Pep is not going to play a defensive looking 4-2-3-1, I don’t think. Well, we’ll find out soon enough.

  31. Makes sense but does Pep values Robinho’s off court behaviour (or professionalism) in the same way as he does Zlatan’s?

  32. Down 1-0 with 12 minutes or so to go Rafa just removed Sneijder, the world’s “best” midfielder, and subbed in Couthino, who is 18.

    Inter are unable to maintain possession or build up play. Atleti has been the much superior side.

  33. Yeah!

    Atletico Madrid rocks 😀 Thanks a lot for defending our Sextuple title.

    The way they are playing today, they might really be a title contender. Even their defense is quite solid – although Filipu Luis is still injured.

  34. Atleti have badly exposed Inter’s lack of pace, especially across the backline.

    Inter had to open up the game down 1-0 and when they stopped being able to stay compact that lack of pace was thrashed.

    Rafa is going to get roasted in Italy. He’ll have to live with Mou Mou’s shadow constantly. That said, Inter has played very poorly.

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