Before I get down to brass tacks tomorrow with the first installment of my full on La Liga preview (I had to wait for the end of the transfer window…or at least that’s my excuse), there is news afoot in Catalunya that’s worth discussing. First and foremost, Carles Puyol, our beloved captain, injured his left calf in Spanish national team training on Tuesday. I’m not sure if the injury actually occurred during warm-ups for the Racing match, but regardless, it seems rather irresponsible that he then went to full training with the national team. It’s both Puyol and the medical staff’s fault for not keeping him out when he was obviously not 100%. There’s no official word on a timetable for his return, but 3 weeks is the going rate for such an injury, unless it’s less severe than previously thought.
The news on the Mascherano deal is that it’s €20m plus €4m paid by the player himself. I don’t know if that’s him giving up a cut of something or if he’s got to dig into his own pocket. Either way, the deal looks better at €20m than €22m, though the total valuation of Mascherano at €24m reminds me of another player that recently cost that much (actually 2, but more recently just the 1).
Speaking of that player, Andoni Zubizaretta came and said the Ibra deal was done for sporting reasons rather than anything else. It doesn’t much matter, really. Clearly Guardiola wanted him out and, as I wrote over on Soccernet yesterday:
What was last year a dream buy is this year a horrible investment and the blame lies with all sides. Guardiola is a coach first and a friend second. He has a style and an approach that allow for no individuality and no questioning. If you are interested in playing for Barça, you must accept his totalitarian rule. If this acceptable, the club will occasionally find themselves on the receiving end of bad business. Other times, players like Pedro will surprise everyone, including themselves, and turn into World Cup winners in the span of a few years. So it is partially Guardiola’s fault for not being willing to iron it out with the player, but it is also the player’s fault for not ironing it out with the manager. And if we as cules make our bed in Guardiola’s camp, we have to lie in it, come what may.
Obviously Luke got to most of those points first, but I think it’s important to note that around these parts we say things like In Pep We Trust (I have IPWT tattooed across my back*) and if we really mean them, we should really do that intead of questioning his moves. I personally can’t write that I don’t agree with selling The Yaya and bringing in Mascherano if I’m then going to use IPWT as my reasoning when he brings in Maxwell or Adriano instead of a known quantity at this level. I can’t say IPWT when we buy Ibra for €46m and then question his logic when Ibra is sold 12 months later, unless, of course, I no longer trust in Pep. But I do, so while I wonder what’s going on in his super cerebrum now and then, I don’t question his actions. I can and do question the board’s financial moves sine those aren’t directly connected to Guardiola’s decisions, but if we had to get rid of Ibra, we had to get rid of him to the highest bidder. If that was Milan at €24m, then we were actually great at business instead of terrible–but that’s not something everyday fans can really know.
The loanees had various deals worth noting: Víctor Sánchez signed with Getafe and Keirrison signed with Santos with those clubs paying 100% of their salaries; Martín Cáceres signed with Sevilla, who will pay 90% of his salary; Henrique stayed at Racing Santander, who will pay 85% of his salary; and Alexander Hleb went to Birmingham City in a late deal, with the English club paying 75% of his salary. Apparently Hleb made it difficult by refusing to go to any club except Birmingham, which is why the high cost for us.
So then. David Villa, Javier Mascherano, and Adriano are our new boys while we lose Alberto Botía (Sporting), Dmitri Chygrynskiy (Shakhtar Donetsk), Henrique (Racing), Rafa Márquez (NY Red Bulls), Martín Cáceres (Sevilla), Yaya Touré (Manchester City), Víctor Sánchez (Getafe), Alexander Hleb (Benfica), Keirrison (Santos), Thierry Henry (NY Red Bulls), and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan). 11 players, €39m in immediate sales with €24m coming in a year for Ibra and possibly some €5-10m for Cáceres come next May.