Official: Ibrahim Afellay to Barça in January

So excited to come to Barcelona, I shall dance!

Today, possibly prematurely, PSV Eindhoven’s official team site has revealed that a deal has been reached for the transfer of 24-year old attacking Mid / Winger Ibrahim Afellay. Rumors are that the fee is to be between 3-4M Euros, which is a damn steal honestly. No word on the personal terms, but rumors have it as a 4.5 year deal beginning in January.

A little background: From Utrecht, Ibrahim is 24 years old and has been a regular starter for PSV for well over 3 years and has made 154 appearances, scoring 34 goals for the side, with 5 already this season. Afellay was also a member of the Dutch National Team at the World Cup, making relief appearances against Denmark, Japan, and Slovakia. He says Barcelona is his dream side, then again, who wouldn’t? So good on him for that.

Ibrahim will not come in as a big-time goal scorer. He will be here to learn from our midfield maestros and fill in on the wings when other players need a break. He’s a quick kid who passes and has drawn the occasional comparison to Cesc, although he’s not quite that talented yet. Still, he will be an excellent, addition, especially at that price. Hopefully his transfer will work out for the best. I am not sure who else we go after, though I am fairly certain Thiago will still be promoted, but who knows?

Suffice to say I am extremely pleased with this deal. Hopefully we can get some better technical discussion from one of our tech guys, but this is a good player. Oh, did I mention he won the Cruyff trophy for best young player in the Eredivisie. Good for him.

Video for you (not the best though):

Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images Europe

In order to provide everyone with as much info as possible, I am going to quote our technical writer Euler’s comments about Afellay in the comments section so that no one misses them. Good info about the player and where he might fit in.

There are different ways of beating a team that is committed to maintaining it’s shape by playing deep lines, staying narrow and remaining compact. Given that Barca sees these types of defensive tactics so often they need to have as many tools as possible to break down those kinds of sides.

Right now while Barca has numerous ways of breaking down these sides they are would benefit by expanding two areas – pace on the front line and shots from outside the box.

Rapid bursts of pace to explode by the back line, particularly on balls played through diagonally, are an effective way to get behind a “parked bus.” Shots from outside of the box force those defenses to adjust how compact they can stay and can disrupt the way the defense spaces the pitch.

Afellay provides both of those qualities.

He’s adept at one touch football but his style is more direct than how the La Masia trained players tend to play. It’s important to have players come in from the outside who will not only fit the system but expand the elements in it.

His primary position at the club level is as an AMF. He’s going to be able to give both Xavi and Iniesta rest. He’s also very ambidextrous and highly skilled with both feet. This will allow him to play both wings. Barca will now be able to play both him and Pedro on the wings with Messi at the false 9 and have significant acceleration across the front line.

Villa is playing better and better. But he is still adjusting to the pace at which Barca plays – especially how grueling it is to defend on the press and track runs. He’s doing a great job of that but it’s just extremely demanding physically. While Villa isn’t old, he’s not 22 either. And it does look like he’s tiring in games around the 70 minute mark.

Afellay will give Pep a very nice option in terms of substituting for Villa at the end of matches when he tires. He’s exactly the kind of pacy player that works well as a late match sub to take advantage of tired defender.

Very nice move given the price.

Afellay could have played for almost any team he wanted to in the entire world. Given how flexible and talented he is and how minimal his transfer fee is he could have played in a host of places.

On a team with Xavi, Iniesta, Villa and Messi players know what to expect in terms of playing time. He could have gone to a team like Man U and gotten much more playing time given their aging midfield. Man City desperately needs a creative advanced midfielder. Liverpool wanted him. Inter really could have used him very badly as could Milan.

But in the end he chose Barca. This was a move completely driven by the player as he was the one with all the leverage.

It’s great to see him want to take up the challenge.

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128 Comments

    • Jose
      November 15, 2010

      Sad sad day for those who don’t like seeing a young man’s dream come true. 🙂

    • Kari
      November 15, 2010

      Meh, there are other fish in the sea.

      • Kxevin
        November 15, 2010

        Sorry cleareyes, but as I noted in another thread, the amount of development that he should see on the practice pitch will be even better than match play. Playing against our starting XI on the practice pitch beats hell out of starting against Gijon, Getafe or somebody, I say.

        His dream move has come to pass, and we get a screaming deal. Everybody wins, except our opponents.

        • Yeah, I wasn’t really sure how to respond to that when you said it before. At first I couldn’t believe you actually believed that, but now I am seeing that you really do.

          Obviously, no Barca player who isn’t playing should ever be loaned anywhere because of how much they learn from practice with the greats, but I’m wondering if you can quantify this better for me. What teams on planet earth are good enough that a player would be better off starting for them than practicing with Barca? I’d actually like to know what you think–I assume this is a very short list.

          • November 15, 2010

            Oh, I definitely believe it. I’ve had the luck of watching some Barca practices, and they are, when the 11v11 drills go on, full-on match simulations.

            I think that when we loan a player, it is for one of two reasons:

            1. They ain’t gonna make it with the real side, and we’re hoping that somebody else will love them (Victor Sanchez, Botia, Caceres, Crosas) or we want them GONE (Hleb, Ibrahimovic).

            2. We want to get them match time, even with a lesser side, because sometimes matches bring out qualities in players that practice doesn’t.

            To your second question, if Afellay could have started for Arsenal, that would have been good for him. It’s open, flowing football in a league that will toughen him up, and quell that temper of his with some of those niggling, rock-hard Premiership challenges.

            The (real) Evil Empire, if he could have gotten a shout, but that just wasn’t going to happen. Dynamic, attacking football played at pace. He would fit right in.

            Chelsea, who could use him right now, actually. You really saw the lack of midfield creativity hurting them against Villa on Sunday. Everything came up the wings from the fullbacks.

            Let’s look at the clubs that were rumored to be after him:

            Juventus: Would have ripped out the kid’s soul, playing in Serie A, land of the 0-0

            Inter: Wouldn’t have gotten much playing time. Benitez is conservative, and Sneijder is durable. Wing play tends to come from the backs for them.

            Arsenal: see above

            Liverpool: “Right, kid. Hoof that long ball up the pitch, and off you go.” They already have Ryan Babel and don’t know what to do with him.

            United: Could have been a good move, as good if not better than with us. Aging midfield lacking in creativity, and we’re really seeing the effects of that this season.

            And I hope you don’t construe my “he’s better off practicing with us” comments as arrogance. I truly do believe that sometimes, it’s better for a young player to develop in the shadow of talent in practice, than starting with a lesser club.

            The departure of Thierry Henry, I think, damaged Bojan Krkic more than we know. You could see him beginning to play like the master, from that constant exposure in practice. Now, he doesn’t seem to know what to do. Weird, that one.

          • “And I hope you don’t construe my “he’s better off practicing with us” comments as arrogance. I truly do believe that sometimes, it’s better for a young player to develop in the shadow of talent in practice, than starting with a lesser club.”

            We’ll have to agree to disagree, but I DO see that as arrogance. I’ll agree that players can learn a lot “in the shadow of talent in practice”, but unless you’re under the impression that lesser clubs just never practice, you’re saying that “practice under ‘lesser’ talent PLUS starting game time experience” is less than just “practice under talent”. If, as you say do, you appreciate the value of actual game experience, the only way that equation works is if you believe that Barca’s talent is THAT MUCH better. Your team is really good, but…that’s just arrogance, man.

          • Kxevin
            November 16, 2010

            Of course everyone practices. I’m beginning to wonder if I in fact lack rudimentary writing skills, or if people think I’m just stupid.

            But yes, I think that playing against Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, etc. in practice every day is more valuable to a young player’s development than starting for a lesser club. All day and all night.

            Sure, Afellay would start for Gijon. And what would he learn, except how to park a bus and take a beating like a man? And how would those skills help him develop as a player? And if developing his talent is part of what this is about, and moving to that next level, why should Afellay want that next level to be a club that probably couldn’t beat his current one?

            Making a run and taking a pass from Xavi brings a very different world of possibilities than making a run for a pass that never comes from a less-talented player on a lesser side. Arrogance? I prefer to think of it as reality.

            And he IS going to play for us. Anyone who knows our side knows that he meets a need. To suggest that he is just another bauble for Guardiola is as misguided as people suggest that we are arrogant.

            I can appreciate a good intellectual argument, but those usually involve a willingness to at least see the value of what the other side is suggesting. And if I’m wrong pardon me, but you’re seeing this through a lens of Sevilla wanted him and you all took him, you’re bad for the Liga, etc, etc. Which means that no matter what I type, it will be filtered through that lens, which makes further typing on this matter pointless for me.

        • November 15, 2010

          kxevin, that is the most ridiculous thing i’ve ever read from any fan of a big club. just to check, because i had to, do you remember what you said a month ago about young bojan?

          “It is still my belief that a loan would be the best thing for his development. He needs playing time, match in and match out, something he isn’t going to get with us. Not right now, barring a Villa mishap or something presently unforeseeable.”

          please, kxevin. explain yourself, or shut up and enjoy your club’s riches. don’t try to justify this.

          • November 15, 2010

            sorry for the inflammatory ^^ up there. we’ve been tracking afellay for months, with no other teams really rumored to strongly. so to see a big fish swoop in and gobble him up is quite disappointing. i’m done.

          • November 16, 2010

            Easy. Krkic has learned all that he can from us, and I don’t think that he is ever going to make it in Barca colors. Too much pressure, and burden of expectations. New surroundings would be like a colon cleanse for the kid’s psyche. And if he continues to suck in the new surroundings, then we know.

            But he’s had four years in the first team, and a lifetime in the system. This is different from Afellay.

            My statement isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds, when you think about it, justfied ire at being pipped for his services notwithstanding. Who’s your club, by the by? I confess to not having seen many of your comments, though the avatar looks familiar.

            My view is that he will be playing for and against the best club in the world (yes, I’m biased) every day in practice, and watching how that club operates in matches and day-to-day life. If he takes it for what it can be, the development opportunity is extraordinary.

            I know it sounds arrogant. I don’t mean it to. I just think about what Chicago Bulls players used to say about practicing with Michael Jordan, who demanded game simulations and effort in practice. They all would say that games were much easier than practice, because they were practicing against the best team in the world.

          • Kxevin
            November 16, 2010

            Oh, and no worries on the inflammatory bit. Passion is good.

            And I don’t know that we still have “riches.” We have the smallest squad of any of the real Champions League contenders, and need reinforcements. I think we still need another or two, unless we promote some Caneteranos in January.

          • Jose
            November 16, 2010

            “we’ve been tracking afellay for months, with no other teams really rumored to strongly. so to see a big fish swoop in and gobble him up is quite disappointing.”

            Ohhh… I didn’t know Sevilla had been tracking him for months! Explains a lot of the whinging we’ve been hearing from Sevilla fans, disguised as “high-minded” preaching on the virtues of parity.

            Makes sense.

  1. Euler
    November 15, 2010

    There are different ways of beating a team that is committed to maintaining it’s shape by playing deep lines, staying narrow and remaining compact. Given that Barca sees these types of defensive tactics so often they need to have as many tools as possible to break down those kinds of sides.

    Right now while Barca has numerous ways of breaking down these sides they are would benefit by expanding two areas – pace on the front line and shots from outside the box.

    Rapid bursts of pace to explode by the back line, particularly on balls played through diagonally, are an effective way to get behind a “parked bus.” Shots from outside of the box force those defenses to adjust how compact they can stay and can disrupt the way the defense spaces the pitch.

    Afellay provides both of those qualities.

    He’s adept at one touch football but his style is more direct than how the La Masia trained players tend to play. It’s important to have players come in from the outside who will not only fit the system but expand the elements in it.

    His primary position at the club level is as an AMF. He’s going to be able to give both Xavi and Iniesta rest. He’s also very ambidextrous and highly skilled with both feet. This will allow him to play both wings. Barca will now be able to play both him and Pedro on the wings with Messi at the false 9 and have significant acceleration across the front line.

    Villa is playing better and better. But he is still adjusting to the pace at which Barca plays – especially how grueling it is to defend on the press and track runs. He’s doing a great job of that but it’s just extremely demanding physically. While Villa isn’t old, he’s not 22 either. And it does look like he’s tiring in games around the 70 minute mark.

    Afellay will give Pep a very nice option in terms of substituting for Villa at the end of matches when he tires. He’s exactly the kind of pacy player that works well as a late match sub to take advantage of tired defender.

    Very nice move given the price.

    Afellay could have played for almost any team he wanted to in the entire world. Given how flexible and talented he is and how minimal his transfer fee is he could have played in a host of places.

    On a team with Xavi, Iniesta, Villa and Messi players know what to expect in terms of playing time. He could have gone to a team like Man U and gotten much more playing time given their aging midfield. Man City desperately needs a creative advanced midfielder. Liverpool wanted him. Inter really could have used him very badly as could Milan.

    But in the end he chose Barca. This was a move completely driven by the player as he was the one with all the leverage.

    It’s great to see him want to take up the challenge.

    • Nik
      November 15, 2010

      Euler, you are the man when it comes to discussion about tactics. I seriously feel my football IQ go up after reading your stuff.

  2. BA
    November 15, 2010

    for the price we could hardly go wrong, but colour me unconvinced as yet. either this kid is a diamond in the rough that other clubs are just passing over, or there’s a reason why he’s 24, been hyped for 5 years and nobody’s plucked him out of Holland yet. from what i could glean from Youtube, he usually plays through the center for PSV but appears to be deadliest out wider, where he can use his admittedly outstanding pace to simply skate past defenders.

    which begs the question: where do we want him to play? from the available evidence it appears as though he can play either left-wing or one of the 2 in our midfield, but i haven’t seen him in a game yet where he’s put under the kind of pressure our midfielders experience so i can’t say whether he’ll cut it there. if we’re looking for someone to slot into our midfield to play that kind of position, i would easily promote Thiago before considering Afellay, but i can’t say no to more players given the size of our current squad.

    out on our left, well, he could certainly be dangerous but the Galactico in me was hoping, in the absence of any real options coming up through the B side, of a *really* dangerous player being bought for that position; giving us the trident attack we saw in 08/09 and the ability to overwhelm teams with threats once again.

    but as i said, for the price he’s an excellent purchase and we’ll see how well he slots in during the Spring. i’m excited that we’ve at least begun to address the problem of our squad size already, that shows some vital forward thinking on ZubiZa’s part.

    • barca96
      November 15, 2010

      With him, it was the case of,
      next year is his break-out year, but it kept on going on and on until now.

  3. Diego S.
    November 15, 2010

    The big question is :

    How will pep integrate him in the team ?

    He’s coming in January. Last 16 in Copa del Rey, Second Half of the Liga, Knockout Stages in CL. All are hard and big games. He needs to settle in, work with the current system, Play a few matches before Pep consider him as a game changer or as a substitute in a difficult match.

  4. GREECE BARCA
    November 15, 2010

    Fantastic!Welcome Ibrahim!I am still surprised!Good job sandro and zubi!

  5. November 15, 2010

    Good signing for a good price.

    Alright…now before he arrives, lets make a deal:

    No expectations till next season. Let the guy adapt. Whatever he offers in the following 6 months is a generous favor from his behalf.

    I do believe he will contribute and gel well. But lets keep it simple and give a word to have patience no matter what.

    • Diego S.
      November 15, 2010

      Ok, It’s a deal.

      I have a question to ask, People commenting on this signing in different websites put him as a winger and say he’s taking Pedro’s place, I thought he’s AMF ala Iniesta. Anyone knows his position ? (Original position in which he plays best).

    • Kari
      November 15, 2010

      No expectations? Let him adapt? At Barca? Madness.

    • simple_barcafan
      November 15, 2010

      in Barca and with the in/famous Spainish press??.u must be joking…

    • Alexinho
      November 15, 2010

      Agree 100%. Even if he comes this season, I doubt he’ll get many starts at all until this time next year.

      I rather view Afellay, from only seeing club highlights and his play for the Netherlands, as much more of a wide attacker than a creative passing midfielder that can take Xavi and Iniesta off the field. Way too much pace, and not enough passing. The price is right (in fact, if the Rosell/Zubi firm push through more deals like this, I won’t be able to complain, but let’s see how the player fares of course), but I think Thiago, Busquets, and JDS will be the ones to take time off of the X-man. This is not to say at all that Ibra II is not Barca quality, but he strikes me as a much more natural forward. But we’ll have to see.

      Since the opportunity is here, might I present my view of next year’s Barca midfield consisting of Iniesta and Busquets, with Mascherano behind them? Perhaps the XavIniesta + Busquets combo may be the ideal selection, but the first choice sub next year could be Mascherano for Xavi. Any takers??

  6. Stephen
    November 15, 2010

    I want to agree, but I have a feeling of a trade signing more than a keeper, especially with that Cesc obsession Barça has going on..Unless of course he is really good and the club decides not to sell him in the summer.

  7. Nick
    November 15, 2010

    So what do we think about Rossi now?

  8. barca96
    November 15, 2010

    Great buy! I love it when we buy small time players who don’t demand playing time and are not superstars. That way, they are more motivated and the fans wouldn’t demand too much off them.

    Btw, If I’m not mistaken, he won the Cruyff award many years ago when he was still considered a talent(young).

    • Diego S.
      November 15, 2010

      It says so in the report :

      “Oh, did I mention he won the Cruyff trophy for best young player in the Eredivisie.”

          • Luke
            November 15, 2010

            He was 21 then… I mean, it’s not like he’s lost everything since then, he’s extremely talented and did his best work for a middling team.

  9. Spiro
    November 15, 2010

    given that Jeffren usually was our added pace to the wings, i can’t help but think that Jeffren’s long list of constant injuries helped fuel this transfer. The question now is, will Jeffren stay or leave? however its probably not that important.

  10. DBarcaMan
    November 15, 2010

    Yaaaayyy Ibra’s back!!!! What………what?

  11. Euler
    November 15, 2010

    Diego-

    Afellay has primarily played as an attacking midfielder for PSV. However because of his excellent pace and skill with both feet he can also play on either wing. Even as an attacking mid he moves from flank to flank often.

    The Dutch NT poses a somewhat similar playing time problem for Afellay as being on Barca does. The Dutch have outstanding midfielders and great depth there. Afellay has come one to play attacking midfield for them in relief of Sneijder and Van Der Vaart, etc. But he’s played on the wing for them as well.

    Recently in a match against Sweden as part of Euro 2012 qualification Afellay started at LW for the Dutch due to Robben being hurt yet again and Eljero Elia also being out. He played what may have been the best match of his entire national team career that day.

    So he’s primary position is as an advanced midfielder but he’s very versatile and can play on the wing quite well also. Most advanced midfielders can’t play on the wing well because they lack the pace and/ or the shot on goal needed to play there. Afellay has a great deal of pace and a fairly good shot on goal.

    People are talking about him playing the wing for Barca largely because Barca’s midfield is manned by two legendary players already. I do think Afellay will be used to rest both Xavi and Iniesta.

    I don’t know if Lev is around but I’d bet he’d have a interesting things to add regarding how Afellay might be used at Barca.

    • Diego S.
      November 15, 2010

      Thanks. Guardiola apparently prefers versatile players over a crowded squad. I’d love to see him play but it’ll be difficult for him to start. Maybe as a late substitute against a weaker team. Like Ramzi said, “Whatever he offers in the following 6 months is a generous favor from his behalf.” Let’s start judging him by next year.

  12. Alexinho
    November 15, 2010

    I was SO about to post a link to a story about this. Damn you!

  13. blitzen
    November 15, 2010

    From Iniesta’s interview with EMD:

    “Seeing the goals that you have scored, wouldn’t you think that you should shoot more often?

    A lot of people talk to me about that. Honestly, the decisions are made so fast on the field that when I shoot I think it’s for the best and when I pass I’m proud of my game. I try to improve that facet of my game for both myself and the team.

    Is it a difficult thing to change since you’re so used to giving the final pass?

    That could be part of it but another thing is that I don’t have the mentality of a forward. Whenever they get the ball all they see is the goal. Sometimes people think more about passing than shooting but that has to do with the type of player you are.”

    He must have heard Kxevin yelling “Shoot, Ghostface, shoot!” from across the Atlantic Ocean…:D

    Translation at Total Barca:

    *http://www.totalbarca.com/2010/news/iniesta-there-was-never-any-doubt-that-villa-would-adapt/#more-56844

  14. Momo
    November 15, 2010

    Nice, but how disciplined is he defensively? Our system requires intense pressing and tracking back. Then again Pep probably wouldn’t have agreed if he was lacking in that aspect.

  15. Alexinho
    November 15, 2010

    Good video of Afellay vs. Sampdoria, it is called…Afellay vs. Sampdoria.

    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKJnZwrZeAA

    From this I can most definitely see how the new boy can play in the middle of the field. He has a lot of skill, and his passing his very good without being novel in this particular game, I would like to see how he does with his final ball. Pace galore, though I don’t see him spending too much time on the wing, which really surprises me to be honest.

    Perhaps I’m being overexcited, but he does rather remind me of Xavi in this video. I cannot tell if he has the kind of command on the field and over his team that Xavi does from this, but he gets the ball in the same general areas, distributes well, and does a lot of those simple things that Xavi does to perfection. He even has those showcases of cool dribbling every now and then. And when you consider the length of the video and the frequency of takes, it looks like the guy gets a ton of touches.

    His mobility is outstanding, sometimes. I would go so far as to say he’s rather like Xavi in the backfield, but in the attacking half, he is more like Samir Nasri–whose trademark, for me, is the ability to receive, dribble, pass, repeat on a constant run (of course Iniesta is very good at this too!). I see a bit of that, especially in the second half part of the video.

    He also seems to be unafraid of going into a challenge, I hope those “defensive highlights” (if there is such a thing) are frequent for him.

    What I’d like to see more of: final balls (as mentioned), long passes (the few lofted balls in the reel aren’t quite as finessed as what I’m used to watching Barca), finishing (see 7:00).

      • Ryan
        November 15, 2010

        Rather, bad news for our opponents. 🙂

          • poipoi
            November 16, 2010

            still keita IMO. NOLITO is bad news for bojan 😉

  16. cliveee
    November 15, 2010

    done! good job, Barca.

    Paying 100% focus on what Pep will do to him.

  17. Kxevin
    November 15, 2010

    I don’t think that the Afellay signing has to be bad news for anyone. We desperately need depth, and he provides it at two positions, midfield and wing. He isn’t a Keita type of player. Nobody is. And he isn’t a forward really, so you Cuddly Toy devotees can relax. He is really something that we don’t have: A fast, direct player with a bomb of a long shot, who likes to get up with wing with pace, and doesn’t waste time with too much frilly stuff.

    A young Henry? You could certainly say that, in the role that Henry played for us.

    But most importantly, he’s a staggeringly good bit of business. EUR3m for a player of that quality? Chalk up one for current management. That’s one hell of a deal, and two very nice bits of business that we’ve done, the other being Maxwell.

    The other good news about Afellay is that it means no more farting around with Iniesta on the wing. If this dude has the quality that I believe he does, the wing problems are solved. If anything Pedro! and Jeffren need to be concerned. P! is safe. He and Afellay are very different kinds of players. But Jeffren? I don’t think he was safe even before the arrival of Afellay.

    Now, does this move certain players down the depth chart? Not necessarily. If Guardiola needs a striker, Krkic will still get the call. But this does mean that we gain versatility, with Afellay. You can play Messi in the middle, bookended by Afellay and Pedro!, still leaving the Xaviniesta monster in the middle. He’s also, as noted above, a late-match sub, or a destabilizer in a match that is in the balance. There really is absolutely nothing wrong with this transfer, except that we have to wait until January to see him in the colors.

    But if you think about what it has done, recall that yesterday, people were speculating about what to do if we need offense, and Messi, Villa and P! are already out there. We just stole an answer for 3 million Euros. I’m thrilled. Even if he’s half as good as we think he is, it’s still a bargain.

    • Kxevin
      November 15, 2010

      Oh, crap! I almost forgot the best part. SoMa gets to fire up the Pig Latin mad skillz, yo. Ixnay on da asspay, Afellay. Elcomeway ootay Arcelonabay.

      Awesome!

    • Jose
      November 15, 2010

      Oh God, yes, if this means we can keep Iniesta in the midfield, then this move will pay off on that alone.

  18. Kxevin
    November 15, 2010

    I also think, as Ramzi does, that everyone needs to still their expectations. At 24, he is still developing. I do think that his arrival, if he has the quality that everyone thinks, puts paid to Fabregas, at least in the short term, and maybe in the long term.

    You can easily see this future attacking lineup:

    Thiago Iniesta Busquets
    Pedro! Messi Afellay

    For me, I’m happier about this buy than the likes of Suarez. I don’t doubt the quality of Suarez, but it’s Afellay’s pace that knocks me out. Those of you who actually read the gibberish that I write know that I’ve been clamoring for a player to bomb up the pitch, Henry style, to destabilize defenses. That Sampdoria clip that someone posted the link to, or his excellent performance (goal, assist) for the Oranje shows what he can do on the wing.

    I believe he will contribute some right away, but next season, after a full blooding in the system, will be when we can really start to evaluate him.

  19. Lev
    November 15, 2010

    given his extremely low transfer price he is an excellent pick-up. More Iniesta-like than Xavi-esque due to his dribbling. Not afraid to take on three, four defenders as if he were our very own Messiah difference being that Ibi never finishes it off with a goal. A very elegant player, a bit of a hothead sometimes, has a good and powerful shot but not enough goals.

    Indeed had his best international outing against Sweden recently, scoring 2 – tellingly the first time he scored in 34 caps. Although he has been prone to spells of immaturity (well, which Ibra hasn’t?) he possesses a strong character – chose for Holland despite the fact that he is of Moroccan heritage, thereby risking the ire and hatred of Holland’s most ostracized community, and despite the fact had he chosen Morocco he would have been the star of the team – good luck breaking into the Dutch squad with Robben, Van Persie, Sneijder and Van der Vaart ahead in the pick order – which, incidentally, is why you have seen him play on the wings, a position on which I believe he does not play for PSV. What it does mean however is that he is not afraid of competing for a spot, a personality trait that should come in handy at Barça.

    Scored only 4 goals last season, although that was partly due to his idiot coach playing him as a holding midfielder. Said idiot coach has now restored natural order and he has been back at Attacking Mid this season, scoring 5 goals in 10 matches.

    All in all Ibra is very talented. The way I could see Barça use him is as a hybrid Attacking Mid / Left Winger in the Don Andrés mold, notable difference that although Ghostface is the superior player due to his passes, dribbling and vision, Ibi´s play is a lot more direct, dribbling past opponents to create shooting opportunities for himself – a directness that could complement Xaviniesta’s pass first mentality nicely.

    Maybe what Pep has in mind is another step toward total football, Ibra and Ghost interchanging between the wing and midfield. Actually if that works it could be pretty fucking awesome.

    Thing I don’t get is didn’t we need help at the striker position and midfield? Then again, given our forward situation, best believe he will play more than Bojan. For the price that Barça picked him up this is a win-win situation. I was not sold on the idea at first, but I am liking it more and more now that I have written this post 🙂

    MARHABA IBRAHIM

    PS – absolutely must check video below. If he ever does this in a blaugrana shirt I will worship him forever.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUrDf0Ejiu4

    • Lev
      November 15, 2010

      correction: meant to write help at the striker position and central defense. oops

      • Lev
        November 15, 2010

        and yes Kxevin – afellay is a better buy for us than suarez would be, i think you may be right on that one.

        • barca96
          November 15, 2010

          Was waiting for your view on this. I too thin that he is more Iniesta like unlike what some above said.

          Why did you thank Afellay all of a sudden? 😆
          Random

  20. November 15, 2010

    And we shouldn’t forget: 3 million dollars. That is, in the context of a big club’s finances, no money. It’s essentially a no-risk deal. Hell, we’ll be able to sell Jeffren for more than that.

  21. Louis
    November 15, 2010

    I know you can’t put too much stock into highlight videos, because anyone with enough time can make anyone look great.

    However, what a video maker can’t hide is that this guy has pace galore and an absolute cannon for a leg (how accurate it is, well soon find out). Two things our offense could really use.

  22. adwivedi
    November 16, 2010

    Congrats guys on such a great buy… lets hope that ur team is injury free and if it has some afellay can provide the backup….

    waiting for classico to give u the taste of defeat… good luck

  23. Reagan
    November 16, 2010

    Woot Woot!! Now there’s a economically viable deal if ever there was one!

    It would be interesting to know what his market value would be if he had 2-3 years left on his PSV contract. My stunted financial senses suggest he’s worth at least $15m-20m.

    Watched a bunch of Afellay videos these past few days and he looks fast but not as fast as people are suggesting on this site. Is he Gareth Bale kind of fast (off the ball) or Messi-ish? who is the fastest of them all (on and off the ball) anyway? Has there ever been a survey to determine this?

    • Lev
      November 16, 2010

      actually in Holland he is not really known to be fast…not saying that he is slow. just saying though

  24. Reagan
    November 16, 2010

    For all the crap that the current management has sprung, we have to give them credit for this. It’s a super super buy primarily because of the cost.

  25. Spiro
    November 16, 2010

    This is probably not even true, but maybe this transfer was the reason why we passed on signing ozil :ninja

  26. soccermomof4
    November 16, 2010

    Hey, y’all
    Please tell me that:
    a. he is not cup-tied (don’t know what PSV does/did in Europe)
    and b. he is some kind of aerial threat up front

    • Lev
      November 16, 2010

      a. i think he is but i’m not sure (does europa league count as cup-tied?)
      b. definitely not

      • soccermomof4
        November 16, 2010

        Dang!(answer b)- really want a target for our crosses

  27. Roz
    November 16, 2010

    So if we buy Afellay in the winter, who do we get in the summer?

      • Vj
        November 16, 2010

        Pessimist!

        Though I think there are rules that you can’t sell a player in the same year I guess.. Anyone care to elaborate?

  28. Vj
    November 16, 2010

    Whoa! The dude’s fast and has a solid strike from range! Niceee…

  29. Eklavya
    November 16, 2010

    Ibra De Jong’ing:

    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYSgmxFtw3I&feature=topvideos

    • Diego S.
      November 16, 2010

      Materazzi left the field and got substituted. He was carried by an ambulance and left the stadium.

    • Nik
      November 16, 2010

      The video only gets better and better with repeated viewing. They’re both dicks, so all I can do is laugh. Although, if you look carefully, his feet really don’t do any damage. It’s more of the impact from the shoulder.

    • November 16, 2010

      1) There is a long history between the two. Those who follow the Serie A were predicting that one of them will not survive this match. It was obvious from the first moment of the match.

      Sample: *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okNah_cPTQA&feature=related

      2)Players know each other well, and can predict the second move. If you watch the link you posted again, objectively, you will noticed that it was a 50/50 craziness in the challenge. Materazzi is known to close his eyes and make Kamikaze clashes. Just search youtube, or start with this:

      *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpG4AHlZrL4

      Noting that this sample was uploaded in 2006. afterward plenty of similar moments happened.

      Not saying Ibra is not a bruce lee sometimes. And I didnt comment on this indecent even though the link was posted many times before. But just lets not become too obsessed to clone a Raiola-stic* attitude.

      *Riola: Ibra’s divine agent of course.

      • Eklavya
        November 16, 2010

        All true. I didn’t want to say too much either – hence no real “comment” on it. And as Diego says, it wasn’t really a kick but more the elbow.

  30. MoSSi
    November 16, 2010

    It’s really weird if we call hem Ibra, Ibra is Ibra. He’s teammates call him Ibi..

    • Kari
      November 16, 2010

      I think it’d be perfect. 😀

      Ibra II, Ibra JR. , IbraAfellay, -insert Pig Latin reference here- (although it’s pronounced ah-fill-eye)

      • Kxevin
        November 16, 2010

        Ibra has too many bad connotations for me. He will be Afellay to me, naturally.

  31. Blow-Grenade
    November 16, 2010

    Interesting acquisition. Lets see where he is used, and how the team performs with him in it.

  32. Helge
    November 16, 2010

    mmh… this is strange:
    “Muestra de ello es la entrada que presentó el estadio azulgrana en los dos últimos encuentros frente al eterno rival, cada vez más abultada. El sábado 13 de diciembre de 2008, a las 22.00 horas, 96.059 aficionados presenciaron el partido en el coliseo barcelonista que acabó 2-0 con goles de Eto’o y Messi. El domingo 29 de noviembre de 2009, a las 19.00 horas, tuvo lugar la entrada más alta de toda la temporada: 97.138 espectadores coparon las gradas del Camp Nou y disfrutaron del triunfo azulgrana por la mínima ejecutado por Zlatan Ibrahimovic.”

    During the last 2 Clasicos, the Camp Nou was not even completely filled. Does that mean there’s most-likely a chance to get a ticket straight at the stadium shop right before the game starts???

    • Kxevin
      November 16, 2010

      The Camp Nou was not completely full because some crazy folks decided to stay home, or couldn’t make the match for some unfathomable reason. El Clasic remains the most difficult ticket in world football.

      Having said that, if you are in Barcelona and willing to be patient, there is a chance. A sale for socis will happen on the morning of the 26th, online only. (Yay! Another system crash!) On the morning of the 27th, what’s left goes on sale to the public. Then, last-minute seats freed up by Seient Lliure might be available.

      Short answer: No.

      • Helge
        November 16, 2010

        Ok, thanks a lot.
        This is a risk I won’t take, although for a short period of time I thouhgt about booking a flight to Barcelona.

        Do they sell tickets at the box office short before other matches, say Valencia? Or can you only buy them online / weeks before the match starts?

        • Kxevin
          November 16, 2010

          You can walk right up and get a ticket for most matches. Only the high-demand ones require strategy. 97,000 seats is a lot of butts.

  33. MoSSi
    November 16, 2010

    Some quotes from Ibi..

    “Barca is fantastic, a great club and a great team”

    “No player would say no to Barca”

    “I’ve never visited the Camp Nou, as a player nor visitor, it’s also a dream for me that I’m able to play there”

    “I really can’t wait for my debute in the Camp Nou, I really enjoy Barca when I watch them play on tv. Everybody does because they play attractive football.”

    “Wich position I play really doesn’t matter, midfield, attack or against the sideline, I play where the trainer puts me”

    Source:

    *http://voetbalzone.nl/doc.asp?uid=128165

  34. Kxevin
    November 16, 2010

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe that Affelay is Cup-tied. I think that a Champions League club is allowed to register a player who has played in Europa league competition such as Afellay.

    • MoSSi
      November 16, 2010

      Jeup!

      18.07 Excluding the UEFA Super Cup, and subject to paragraph 18.18 below, a
      player may not play UEFA club competition matches for more than one
      competing club in the course of the same season. A substitute player who is
      not fielded is entitled to play for another club competing in the same season’s
      UEFA club competitions, provided that he is registered with the UEFA
      administration in accordance with the present regulations.

      18.17 For all matches from the start of the round of 16, a club may register a
      maximum of three new eligible players for the remaining matches in the
      current competition. Such registration must be completed by
      1 February 2010 at the latest. This deadline cannot be extended.

      18.18 One player from the above quota of three who has played UEFA club
      competition matches for another competing club in the current season may
      exceptionally be registered, provided that the player has not been fielded:
      – in the same competition for another club;
      – or for another club that is currently in the same competition.

      Furthermore, if the player’s new club is playing in the UEFA Europa League,
      his former club must not have played in the UEFA Europa League at any
      point in the current season

    • Kxevin
      November 16, 2010

      To wit:

      One player from the above quota of three who has played UEFA club
      competition matches for another competing club in the current season may exceptionally be registered provided that the player has not been fielded:
      – in the same competition for another club,
      – for another club that is currently in the same competition.
      Furthermore, if the player’s new club is playing in the UEFA Europa League, his former club must not have played in the UEFA Europa League at any point in the current season.

      And don’t forget that EE was able to register one of their two signings for Champions League, two seasons ago.

    • Cam
      November 16, 2010

      One player can be registered during the January registration period if he has played previously for a club playing in a different UEFA competition, as long as his previous club are not now in the same competition, or have been previously.

      This also known as the EELOL Rule wherein Madrid bought both Diarra and Huntelaar without knowing that only one of them would be able to play in the Champions League. We will all recall how we laughed when Madrid unsuccessfully petitioned UEFA for an exception.

      I think PSV finished last season on a bad note and were pipped for second by Ajax at the very end which put them into the Europa League. Good news for us.

  35. Miquel
    November 16, 2010

    How does Afellay compare to Ozil? Both were purchased for a good price. Who has gotten the better deal? Barca or that “other club”?

    • Diego S.
      November 16, 2010

      Ozil for 15m.
      Afellay for 3m.

      That’s the only comparison you can make. We’ll have to wait and see how Afellay plays for us.

  36. MoSSi
    November 16, 2010

    What a goal!

    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTO6mTTP7Rg&feature=player_embedded

    • Kari
      November 16, 2010

      Amazing goal, but LOL at the fans’ celebrations.

  37. Kari
    November 16, 2010

    Oh, and Happy Eid or Eid Mubarek (sp?) to all who are celebrating!

    • Diego S.
      November 16, 2010

      Thank you Kari, for your kind wishes. 🙂

      It’s Eid Mubarak 😉 . You always get one letter wrong.

  38. Bill
    November 16, 2010

    Finally! A return to sanity in our offseason purchases! I really like this move. Affelay is a very good player at an even better price. It’s a steal that ranks right up there with the yaya purchase.

    At the back of my mind, I’m always worried about an Iniesta injury because that completely takes away one of the most important elements of our game. The Affelay purchase really settles that worry for me. He may not yet be as good as Iniesta, but he provides an attacking element that lacks in all our other Iniesta subs. His speed and attacking abilities are also extra dimensions to Iniesta. Once he gets used to playing in our squad, him switching places with a healthy Iniesta will be a thing of beauty too. Really happy about this one.

    And, once he establishes himself as a great player, if Barcelona are still obsessed with Fabregas in about 2 years, Affelay may be leverage enough for a straight swap.

    I saw a comment somewhere that, “Affelay better bring an extra ass to help him sit on the bench at Barcelona” lmao.

  39. soccermomof4
    November 16, 2010

    Really new to the blog but lovin’ it.
    Please clarify something though. I know you’re talking about Real Madrid (ugh!) when you say EE. But what do the letters stand for. My best guess is “Evil Empire”.

    • Helge
      November 16, 2010

      Congratulations, you got it right with the first guess 🙂

      My first guess was “Eternal Enemy” when I first read about it …

      • Kxevin
        November 16, 2010

        Another smart SoMa, or SoMo, more appropriately. Welcome very much.

  40. Tyler
    November 16, 2010

    I hesitate to even ask this question, but with this signing, is it possible we won’t be looking to sign “he who shall not be named” from that English club? Seems we would have a bevy of midfielders, which is great, but not exactly making sense. I’m glad we bought this guy, we need depth, we need outside shots, we need pace, this guy seems to have it. But I won’t be surprised if it takes him a while to adapt, considering all players (regardless of quality) seem to have trouble adjusting when they come to the best team in the world.

    • Nik
      November 16, 2010

      If you mean Fabregas, then I certainly hope not. My desire to have him back died this summer when he left both Arsenal and us in the wind about his future. If he wanted to come, he should have come out and said it. If he didn’t, he should have told Barcelona to back off. His behavior was disrespectful to both clubs IMO. He didn’t man up when the moment called for it, so he can stay in London for all I care.

      However, He Who Shall Not Be Named does have that all-important Barca DNA that is loved by the board, so I could see it happening.

      • Kxevin
        November 16, 2010

        If we believe Rosell, then David Villa was the last big-money transfer that we will see. He’s on the record as saying that we won’t make any more budget-busters, which, if Fabregas’ price is what Arsenal have him at, would rule him out for the entirety of the Rosell term which, curiously enough, is about the duration of Fabregas’ contract.

        But as Euler (I believe) noted previously, if you want to leave a club, you take your chances and let it hang out. You don’t hedge your bets by signing a 5-year deal, then saying/not saying “I want out.”

        I also think that the speed of the Thiago development will negate the necessity for the purchase of Fabregas. And I’d rather put our money in places where we need it, like striker(s).

  41. Kxevin
    November 16, 2010

    By the by, is anyone seeing the PACE that the above video shows? Recall that one thing we miss on quick counters is numbers. The player with the ball is always there, with others coming up. By the time they get there, the moment is lost. What Henry gave us was that pace to run out ahead of the counter, outstrip the defense and create chaos. Looks like Afellay has those same qualities. I love the pace, and the strength to ride out challenges. And look at the control and quality of his first touch.

    • Hilal
      November 16, 2010

      I know. Its something I noticed as well. The raw pace, something we are lacking at the moment. Henry used to be great on the counter, now we lack that. I really hope this kid can be that outlet because we lose so may chances on the counter cos nobody can keep up with the attack. So frustrating!

      • November 16, 2010

        I’m a little lost there. Are we seriously saying that our Messi/Villa are not fast enough? Pedro and Bojan…maybe not the fastest in the world, but hardly slouches. The midfield needs pace, not the attack, but you’re citing Henry….

        By the way, what does this signing mean for Jeffren? His name hasn’t been raised once, even though he has been our first-change winger when fit.

        • Kxevin
          November 17, 2010

          That is indeed what I’m saying. Villa isn’t fast, he’s quick. And Messi’s first 10 steps, particularly with the ball, are better than anyone on the planet. And P! moves with much alacrity.

          But none of them are winning a footrace with a fastplayer such as Henry. It is precisely that kind of pace, parti ularly up the wing, that we need. He will play more than people think

          Jeffren is gone, but he was toast even before the Afellay signing.

  42. Soy Culé
    November 16, 2010

    Anyone read FoxSoccer.com?

    This is why I hate the English:

    /http://msn.foxsports.com/foxsoccer/premierleague/story/Webster-Bale-rivals-Messi-for-title-of-worlds-best

    • Helge
      November 16, 2010

      Wow, and this prick is seriously an official writer (maybe even commentator) for FSC?!?
      Nonetheless, there are also some cool English guys, like Ray Hudson, Sid Lowe, Phil Ball etc.
      But that article is definitely the tip of the iceberg, I still want to believe that he is joking – but he isn’t!

  43. November 16, 2010

    In the “did you know” file, there is apparently a clause in the deal between us and PSV that lets us out if Afellay gets a serious injury before January. Wow.

    • Cam
      November 17, 2010

      I would be surprised if most pre-agreements like this don’t have a similar clause. Why would a buying club take the risk if a selling club is going to continue to field a player until the transfer window opens?

  44. Soy Culé
    November 16, 2010

    Hey guys, I’m new around here. I found this blog surfing other sites, and I must tell you, it is awesome. The writing is top notch. This definitely has to be the best Barça blog on the w.w.w.

    • Kxevin
      November 16, 2010

      Thanks, Soy Cule. We like to think so. The blog’s founder, Isaiah, set up a space that would feel like the family living room. We like it a lot, and are glad that you do as well. Welcome. Glad to hear from you.

      • Victor
        November 16, 2010

        I’m gonna do a “Me, too”, and add my appreciation for this blog and the message board. The writing and the discussions are very fine. It’s good to see talk about Barca, because there don’t seem to be vocal cules here in the Pacific Northwest.

        • soccermomof4
          November 16, 2010

          me three—and I LOVE Isiah’s little skit things!

  45. stowe
    November 17, 2010

    who doesn’t love isaiah’s more creative pieces?

    still watching some videos. Love his tenacity on the ball, he plays strong. I think we will see him mostly on the wings and then backing up our attacking mids. to me, he’s a bit of a poor man’s cesc. cesc is obviously more skilled but also taller and maybe faster than our dynamic duo. If Ibi can play an henry role then that would be amazing and add so much to our game. hope he stays healthy and adjusts quickly. ramzi, i’ll hold off any judgement until next fall.

  46. Sharawy
    November 19, 2010

    Hey I know this has nothing to do with Barcelona but I just wanted to present this fun fact to reply to Kxevin’s post about how the Serie A is the land of 0-0:

    2005/2006:
    Serie A: 31 matches ended 0-0
    La Liga: 27 0-0’s
    EPL: 32 0-0’s

    2006/2007:
    Serie A: 39 0-0’s
    La Liga: 36 0-0’s
    EPL: 34 0-0’s

    2007/2008:
    Serie A: 30 0-0’s
    La Liga: 27 0-0’s
    EPL: 26 0-0’s

    2008/2009:
    Serie A: 17 0-0’s
    La Liga: 18 0-0’s
    EPL: 42 0-0’s

    2009/2010:
    Serie A: 31 0-0’s
    La Liga: 31 0-0’s
    EPL: 32 0-0’s

    So far in 2010/2011:
    Serie A: 15 0-0’s
    La Liga: 9 0-0’s
    EPL: 13 0-0’s

    So If we take the average out of the past 5 years (excluding this season) ull find that:

    Serie A has averaged 29.6 0-0’s
    La Liga has averaged 27.8 0-0’s
    and the EPL has averaged 33.2 0-0’s

    Therefore, if any of these 3 leagues deserves to be called the land of 0-0’s, its the EPL, not Serie A. (even though they’re all really close to each other relatively)

    P.S. Im a hardcore Barca fan but I also watch all of Inter’s games.

  47. Sharawy
    November 19, 2010

    P.P.S I just found this blog by chance today and I must say, I am extremely impressed! This really is the best team blog I’ve ever seen! Il’l be coming on here a lot from now on!

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