News of the Day: September 1, 2010

What were you thinking?

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.

*Not really

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater Philadelphia area.


  1. If Pep is going to sign a new, longer contract then this is great news. Not only will Pep stay, but that would indicate he is sufficiently happy with his interaction with Rosell – both personally and professionally.

  2. Keiteeee!

    “I also do not speak to Guardiola. I am here to work and earn. The boss speaks to me on the field, and always makes sure that I am able to do the best for the team.”

    Guardiola to Jeffren:

    “I want you to be the new Pedro, but it all depends on you. Do not move – remain at Barcelona.”

    Kxevin to Mascherano:

    “Same advice that I have to Ibrahimovic: Shut up. Just shut up. By sniping at Liverpool and Hodgson, you do yourself no favors by distracting yourself from the task at hand, which is playing for a spot in a team that is very difficult to get into. So less talking and more kicking, please. Thank you.”

    1. Hey Kxevin,

      I wasn’t aware of Mascherano sniping at Liverpool. The stuff I read was pretty complimentary actually. Do you have an example?

    2. “When they started to involve my family and to say things that didn’t make sense, I obviously suffered. They’d promised me something for a whole year and they never fulfilled their promise. And that didn’t have anything to do with my family or anything else. When you read or hear lies, you obviously get angry.”

      No, it isn’t as mean-spirited as the Ibrahimovic stuff, but why say anything? You’re gone to a better place (we like to believe). Move on. As with the rest of our players and the made-up quotes, you giggle about it in locker room, and move on.

    3. Oh ok. Thanks. I hadn’t come across that quote before. Yeah you’re right, he shouldn’t have said that

    4. Well to be fair Kxevin I think Mascherano has a right to speak out after what was said about him in the British media and the way he was portrayed over here. He was seriously villified for his actions and if there were lies told in the press or via Hodgson then why shouldnt he defend himself? He played for Liverpool for a long time and that is where he made his name, I am sure has a strong affection for Liverpool fans so I dont think we can begrudge him for trying to clear his name.

    5. But you don’t see (or more correctly, hear) Guardiola strutting around, countering things that Ibrahimovic has said. My mother always said the best view is from the high road. People who say bad things about you often belittle themselves by saying them. All you can do is add fuel to the fire by responding. The people who know better, know better. The ones who don’t won’t care, and the ones who already have their totems in place will be unswayed.

  3. i still feel the Mascherano deal was a bad idea, for reasons i’ve already outlined at length.

    but dammit, after watching that interview he gave to BarcaTV… he’s just so damn cute.

    1. 😀

      My jury is still out. I don’t think the addition of some spine to the midfield is a bad thing. But it means less time for Keita most likely, which I think is definitely a bad thing. Dude’s playing out of his mind right now.

      On the other hand, Guardiola found time for Busquets and The Yaya last sesaon, so I think we’ll be okay there. And as I’ve noted before, you could see the tight-as-a-drum midfield being Xavi/Busquets/Mascherano. T’would be doubtful that anything would get through to the defense.

    2. no doubt Mascherano will help lock down the midfield; he’s not Argentina’s captain at DM for nothing.

      the question is do we really NEED such a player? we had the best defensive record already in Spain last season and our center-back pairing conceded the fewest goals ever at a World Cup, so surely strengthening our defensive line in front of them would have diminishing returns. our problem last season wasn’t our defense, it was a lack of options and guile in attack; and even with the addition of Villa i don’t think we’ve added enough to that.

    3. Well, I think that part of that tightness was from The Yaya, so I do think that Mascherano was to address that towering absence. I’d tend to agree with you about the guile/options side of things. And given that we are probably, with some regularity, going to have to deputise Ghostface for left wing, that’s going to be another complexity.

  4. For me, Ibra was a sporting disaster. The guy was always 5 steps behind every body else in terms the position he had to be in. I only believe what I see, and I saw very poor performances from Ibra in the second part of the season. These were the performances of a person who lacked the confidence to score goals. From a pure sporting perspective, he had to go. It does not matter what his salary. At the end of the season, Barca were playing so much better with Bojan leading the front line, it was clear that Ibra was a sporting disaster.

    Some of the things I noticed towards the end of last season were that he was unable to take on defenders, (btw he likes to take on defenders near the centre circle where Xavi, Iniesta Busi operate, he needs to take them on near the opposition box), would be ambulating offside a lot(Barca were playing one person short for periods of time on the pitch).

    The biggest problem with his game, which mirror the essence of his comments which he is making to the media in the aftermath of the Milan transfer. When he is on the pitch he expects everybody to reorganize around him. It is the other way around at Barca. He has to move into space based on where the play is happening.

    1. 🙂 :). Seriously, Yesterday afternoon, I kept getting a message telling me that I’m typing too fast!!! Thats not true because my style of typing is equal to a chicken pecking around for that rare crumb.

    2. That was a momentary glitch. I got that message too a couple of times, that I was posting comments too quickly. It was fixed pretty quickly, or fixed itself, one or the other.

  5. @Kxevin

    Re your post above about Mascherano and speaking out, I can see your point, but I still dont think it does much harm for him to say his piece. He wasnt rude or disrespectful (unlike Ibra) and if lies were told that the majority of Liverpool fans are likely to believe then he has to defend himself. The situation with Pep is different. Pep doesnt have to say anything because the whole of Barcelona stands behind him in support. Ibra is coming off looking the really bad one, not Pep.

    This brings up another issue, which is the constant lies and fake quotes that come out here in the press surrounding Barca. IT is actually quite ridiculous. I dont think you guys get the full weight of it as not all the stories get picked up by, etc. Every other week its something new that Xavi, Pique, Puyol or Messi said. Most of it utterly stupid and obviously nonsense, yet the people here lap it up. They dont even consider that these quotes might be fake. The image of Barca this summer has taken a battering here in the UK, not sure how bad it is in the rest of Europe/US, but over here its pretty bad. I wonder why the club doesnt do something about it? Sue some of these papers or at the very least put out some denials, they dont even do that! I wonder why…

    Mourinho had something similar happen to him a few weeks ago. There was a fake interview in some UK tabloid and he very quickly denied it and is looking at pressing legal charges. Thats how you have to deal with them!

    1. A lot of those fake “interviews” and quotes probably go by completely unnoticed by Barca and the players because they don’t read the English tabloids or Puyol was made aware of one of the articles where he was “quoted” on the whole Cesc saga, and he denied it on his blog and twitter. Perhaps the club just doesn’t bother to address these stories because they assume that the English public is intelligent enough to realize how ridiculous they are? How wrong they are!

      Personally, I find the stories hilarious. They seem to particularly have it in for Xavi, who comes across as some kind of Svengali-like figure intent on dragging poor helpless Cesc back to Barcelona and damn the consequences!

  6. Actually Masch should keep his mouth shut OR say what those promises were, because what he is saying doesn’t make a lot of sense.

    It is Mascherano who brought up his family as a reason for wanting to leave England (I saw the interview on TV), not Liverpool. And the promises he is alluding to are likely the fact that Liverpool would sell him one summer later (as in, this summer). They have, so what’s the problem?

    The one who also should have kept his mouth shut is Liverpool coach Hodgson who claimed Masch refused to play because Barça were “turning his head”. Nice one, coming from Liverpool. One year ago their first squad contained 60(!) registered players, most of whom had their head turned at some time or another by being offered big bags of money.

    On the contrary when a player himself puts up crazy money for the transfer to be completed you cannot claim that we are turning his head, since he obviously really wanted to leave.

  7. Now that Zlatan keeps talking, let’s look at a summary of his time at barcelona…


  8. Some things I learned from this morning’s ticket business:

    –Apparently the system was screwy. Even though there were tickets available, it was telling users that there were none available. Almost certainly a symptom of an overloaded system.

    –Regular Camp Nou visitors/socis have all been reporting a disastrous experience. Nice to know that it wasn’t just me. Apparently the system isn’t designed for that many users.

    –ServiCaixa is the place to go. Problem is that with some (not all) people, it wasn’t prompting them for their soci details, which means that their tickets are going to be voided, since the pre-sale was for socis only. Another glitch. The same was happening with TicketMaster.

    –It is officially sold out, but tickets will be going available through the Seient Lliure system a few days before the match (for socis), with another batch going on sale to the general public the day before the match.

    I’m still debating going, because even if I can’t get into the match, it will be on the telly, and it’s still a week in Barcelona with my lovely wife (who, after 19 years of marriage, I’m still over the moon about), which is never, ever a bad thing.

    And that’s what I know. Sounds like our club needs to work on its Web site. I guess the problem was that a lot of non-socios were gumming up the works. Last year, I was done and dusted with my ticket in half the time it took me just to get on the system this morning. Yow.

    1. Well, from a selfish reader point of view, I’d like you to stay because El Clasico is, for me, one of the most important reviews of the season (or at least, highly anticipated).

      The other, more human side, says to go anyway. A week in Barcelona, with nice apartment to boot, would be a dream. And who knows, you could still get ticks to a CL game…maybe. Or a decent La Liga match.

    2. Hell, go if you can! You might luck out and get last-minute tickets. At the very least you will have a week in beautiful Barcelona, and I bet the weather is a lot better there in November than it is over here!

    3. We’ll see. It would be nice to see my family during a Thanksgiving for a change (hehehe). We’ve been in Barcelona for the past few years. We’re discussing it now. The apartment will be there, Barca will be there.

    4. I for one would suggest to wait for the CL knockout stages and then pass a week in Barcelona.
      The quarterfinals are being played in the first and second week of April, the weather will be much better compared to end of November.
      And I suppose that for any CL match (except of against the EE, which would also be possible – although I expect RM to fail in the round of 16 at the latest) cards will be available a lot easier than for el Clasico.

  9. New Busquets compilation by the guy who does the Barça tiki-taka videos


    1. People keep saying that He’s Overrated , and because of that He’s actually underrated 😀

  10. So I was just over at, and they have that quote from Keita that Kxevin mentioned above:

    “I also do not speak to Guardiola. I am here to work and earn. The boss speaks to me on the field, and always makes sure that I am able to do the best for the team.”

    But they have naturally put a spin on it to make it look like criticism, saying that he spoke “negatively about his boss”:

    Barcelona’s Seydou Keita admits he does not speak to Pep Guardiola, apart from when out on the pitch. “…just like former colleague Zlatan Ibrahimovic.”

    This actually made me laugh out loud, since I can’t imagine any player *less* like Ibra than Keita or less likely to criticize Pep. Naturally there was no mention of Keita’s statements the other day calling Pep “a good coach and a good person”, or Pep avowal that Keita will stay as long as he is manager. No, they prefer to paint a picture of Pep stalking around giving players the silent treatment unless he barking orders to them on the pitch. LOL.

    1. Which goes to show that “journalists” are really no different than we are, as we discuss things in this space. Ideally, your journalist is an objective observer, who understands context and associated quotes and comments. If you read those, it’s very clear that as with Puyol who said many of the same things as Keita, the player is happy with things, and understands that you come, you do your job as best you can, so that you can look in the mirror the next day.

    2. What if?
      What if your perfect Coach is not perfect after all?
      What if he is much more smarter than you think?
      What if in his evil wickedness He thought of a plan to get rid of Eto and give Ibra only one year at Barca?
      What if it was Pep’s plan to push Ibra’s button? Giving him little time on the field or no time at all to be little him. Ibra with his ego won’t take it and decide to leave. Pep looks innocent and very professional and Ibra looks impatient with a bad temper. While everyone talking about Ibra’s misfit with the team Pep Say that he has no problem with his football and blame it on his personality “person comes before the player”
      Pep keeps everyone wondering what went wrong and he decide not explain it further.I think because he can’t expose his plan from day one, how to get rid of Eto then Ibra after one year?

    1. He comes on and everything immediately goes through him.

      Bojan just helped setup a goal for Capel to make it 2-1 Spain.

  11. I really think that everyone on the Barca boards should just boycott that goal site for a couple of weeks just so until they get their shit together. That Keita story and all the Ibra and Masch stories they’re posting is doing nothing but flaming a negative vibe on our team. If everyone on this site and on the offside and total sites is down with this for a couple of weeks maybe their editors will start to be a little more objective. I’m pretty sure I speak for everyone when I say that I’m not looking for them to post articles that paint Barca as the best thing since ice cream…but the Keita article is a new low.

    1. But what would be the point? It’s not like they would notice if we boycotted the site. They are there to play to the lowest common denominator, and that is the main part of their readership. I check it out because they occasionally have good features from their regular contributors, and I find the constant anti-Barca stories amusing.

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