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

  1. 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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