State of the Liga: A Deeper Look at 3 Teams

International break is always a bit vexing. I like to cheer national teams, but I also like to see the games used to find new ways through. France seems to be doing that and winning too. Spain? Not so much. The US did, but were lucky to get out of Capetown with a victory after a horrible match by both sides. Anyway, it’s back to La Liga and it’s back to wondering why Messi always has to play 90 minutes in friendlies (was there a sub limit in that game? Menezes only used three subs and Batista used two).

It’s been a bit since we talked about other teams around here and while I’d love to continue that trend, the season is nearly 1/3 of the way done so I suppose there’s something to discuss. Technically the first third of the season ends basically the 60th minute of the clásico, but I’m not going to publish a State of the Liga then, so now, when there’s no midweek game, you get your fill of me babbling about teams that aren’t Barça.

The top 2 are uninteresting to me at this point for obvious every day blogging reasons and we just played the 3rd place team, so let’s start with Valencia in 4th and Sevilla in 5th. Both have 20 points from 11 matches and are 6-2-3. Valencia started out 5-1-0, then went 0-1-3 in the next 4. Their last match was a win against Getafe, but it doesn’t get easier for them as they travel to Villarreal on Saturday and to Real Madrid on December 5. Interestingly, they’ve beaten every team from the bottom half of the table save Zaragoza, who they drew 1-1 in the midst of their funk, and they’ve lost to everyone in the top half that they’ve faced save a 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao and a 1-1 draw with Atleti. (I saw that Atleti match and while it could have gone either way, Atleti should have put the game away early and not allowed Valencia back into it). Aritz Aduriz is their leading scorer with 3 while Pablo, Soldado, and Joaquin all have 2.

Sevilla have been a mixed bag all season. Their 11 matches ended like this, starting with the first one: W-D-W-D-L-W-L-W-L-W-W. They were hammered 5-0 at the Camp Nou, but then 1 week later took apart Valencia 2-0 in what was a foregone conclusion after about 15 minutes. Alvaro Negredo is their top scorer with 5 of the team’s 18, but neither he nor anyone else really convinces in front of goal. While the Barça match probably shouldn’t be taken as indicative of much since they were missing Andres Palop and Fernando Navarro (and have been without Jesus Navas all year), that they were so thoroughly dismantled and then sprang back for a quick win is telling. Gregorio Manzano hasn’t done as much as I would have expected after taking over. A 2-0 loss to Hercules sealed Antonio Alvarez’s fate, but subsequent 2-0 and 5-0 losses have met with shrugs towards Manzano.

That Espanyol sit in 6th with 19 points and is a stunning surprise to me. Only Almeria and Depor have scored fewer goals (9) than the periquitos (and Racing Santander has scored the same) and away from home, both Espanyol and Osasuna have scored just 1 goal in 6 matches while both have allowed 11. Espanyol’s 5-0-0 home record is the only thing keeping them afloat while their solitary away goal netted them 3 points at Mallorca. They now have 4 away points thanks to last weekend’s 0-0 draw against Racing. Callejon, Datolo, and Osvaldo each have 2 goals and are joint leading scorers for the team. They might be benefiting from an easy schedule at home and a hard one on the road, though, as they haven’t played anyone currently ranked higher than 11th (Getafe) at Cornellà-El Prat while they’ve visited RM, Villarreal, Real Sociedad, Mallorca, Depor, and Racing. It remains in that mold until December 19 and the Catalan derby.

It’s simply shocking to see Espanyol this high in the table. Every time I watch them, they look dreadful and every time I fail to watch them, they batter someone. I think I’ve seen 4 of their matches so far and they were puke-arific each time. 9 goals? For heaven’s sake, step it up Pocchetino. Last year they scored just 29 goals, the lowest in the league, and still came in 11th, so perhaps I shouldn’t be so shocked, but I am anyway. They’re terrible!

That’s the European places, then. Tomorrow I’ll cover the rest of the league. There are a few teams I’m going to talk about in-depth and a few teams I’m going to gloss over, so feel free to guess in the comments as to which will be which. And of course I’ll compare my opening predictions to what’s going on right now.

Fun Facts:

-Lionel Messi’s 10 goals currently outscores 4 teams (Espanyol, Racing Santander, Almeria, and Deportivo) while it ties Sporting Gijon and Levante.

Marca is claiming Crynaldo has 12 goals when, in fact, he has 11, but since they’re the ones who officially tally for the Pichichi award…

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.

70 Comments

  1. Outerspacedout
    November 18, 2010

    I’ve wanted to join this forum for quite a long time now and have been following it for a few months, so now I’m actually getting around to it. Hello everyone! Just to introduce myself, I’m Maldivian (though I lived in Malaysia the past four or so years), seventeen and waiting to get into college, and been a Barcelona fan since I was seven or eight, although we didn’t have sports cable (and thus I’d never seen a game) since 2006 (liked playing them in the FIFA PlayStation game) but only really became a die-hard fan after I got sports channels in 2006… and have been the only La Liga fan in a school where everyone- except one kid who supports Madrid- follows EPL the past four years. Well yeah hi everyone and thanks to all for the great content and good comment threads.

    • barca96
      November 18, 2010

      Welcome. Haha I know how you feel. It’s an EPL-loving country there. You should’ve seen the Man U boy’s & girls crying during the CL final at a open cafe that is also the Man U fan base haha.
      I flew back from my holiday in Bali(Indonesia) just to watch the match there. Priceless!!
      And flew back to Indonesia the next day to resume my holiday 😆

    • Jose
      November 18, 2010

      Welcome! I grew up on an island too. 😛

    • Outerspacedout
      November 18, 2010

      Haha, when Barcelona were having that nightmare 07/08 season and Arsenal were topping the EPL, my Arsenal-fan friend made endless fun of me. Which makes the current situation of things so satisfying.

      • stowe
        November 21, 2010

        i’m guessing he closed his mouth at the end of that season

  2. barca96
    November 18, 2010

    No writings about Atletico? They could make a comeback. They are capable of it.
    Credit to… for posting this video in the last post. Ronaldo pmsing.
    **http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NaX8NTtkllw&feature=player_embedded

  3. soccermomof4
    November 18, 2010

    Hi y’all
    We drew Athletic Bilbao for Copa del Rey round of 16; EE drew Levante, UGH! Wish these things were seeded!

    • Louis
      November 18, 2010

      EE’s half of the draw is much tougher though. (Atletico, Sevilla, Espanyol, Villareal, & Valencia)

      If we get past Bilbao, it’s a pretty simple road to the Final. The only team currently in the top of half of the Liga table is Getafe in our half of the draw.

  4. Nick
    November 18, 2010

    Are MD just selling papers or has Dani’s agent really rejected our latest offer?

  5. jose89
    November 18, 2010

    barcastuff had something about a possible thigh strain for pique. does anybody have any more information regarding this?

    • Helge
      November 18, 2010

      Piqué should miss the Almería match anyway, because of a possible yellow-cards suspension. And he will be physically fit for el Clasico.

  6. Helge
    November 18, 2010

    Goin back to the Portugal-Spain match, what do you think: Could it have a positive influence on our Spanish players for el Clasico?
    They now will want to prove themselves, in particular the likes of Busquets and Piqué who got partially out-classed by Crynaldo and his ‘dribblings’. They also got smoked by Nani sometimes, who obviously doesn’t play for the EE, but they’ve got a similar player in Angel Di Maria.
    During the last el Clasico, Piqué was such a beast against CR and also Busquets was practically error-less. I’m kind a happy that they’ve (hopefully) had their bad day in a friendly and will step up to the challenge on November, 29.
    And they’ll need to (unless CR doesn’t has a bad day for el Clasico). Yesterday, CR was pretty unplayable, at least with the attitude of Spain’s whole defense and DMers.

    • soccermomof4
      November 18, 2010

      Spain v Portugal was so depressing. Hopefully all the bad is out of their systems and they are ready to open up a can of it on league and CL opponents. Fate in the form of Nani at least insured that CR still has yet to score against Barca…um, I mean Spain.

      • poipoi
        November 18, 2010

        looks like del dosque relies a lot on “self-management” (autogestion) like rijkaard did. and we all know how that ended up. we cannot loose to portugal and argentina like that!! It’s so embarassing even in friendly games. It’s all a porterori but llorente could have played, he could have tried the other ath bilbao dude or cesc instead of alonso, lots of possible things to do to pump the team up a bit.

  7. Josep
    November 18, 2010

    Nervous about the leg in San Mames.
    But as noted we have an easier draw after that hopefully we can pull through that and coast to the final.

    CR9 it was a shame that Nani stole the goal(what a joke, what selfishness, no need for that. why did he do it? It was clearly going in. I still can’t believe it), but as a captain CR9 was waaaay out of line. HE THREW THE CAPTAIN’S ARMBAND ON THE GROUND!

    He’s clearly only about himself. And personal goals.

    • poipoi
      November 18, 2010

      ath bilbao is always fun. I like facing them a lot, more fun game sin camp nou 🙂

      thong boy. what can you say, he threw the captain armband and went psycho for like 3 full minutes ALL IN A FRIENDLY GAME, his team wins 4-0 and he is probably pissed in the end of the game for not scoring that single goal… what can you say? only that he defines the term “gilipollas”. he has never been and will never be the best, he only got an award one year, period. football is a team sport and ronaldo is a player others players hate. xavi iniesta messi are players that players love they make the game better (IMO).I don’t like to see that “vulgar dispay of power” ronaldo provides I wanna see some defenders with their asses in the ground, some passes that no one thought about. Thong boy feels he ain’t the best and he craves for attention every single game, it’s so sad to see a player like that be worshipped by so many people. I don’t think many veteran or amateur player outside madrid like ronaldo’s game and I know some players inside madrid dislike his game. Call me irrational but at least I try to justify myself 😉

  8. cliveee
    November 18, 2010

    This is a really timely piece, Isaiah.

    I would like to see Valencia bounce back so much. They play good football in my eyes. Similar system to us, good players, good spirit overall, and a very balanced squad.

  9. Kxevin
    November 18, 2010

    Welcome to all the new faces. Nice to see the family growing.

    –I don’t know if Les Bleus are full-on back yet, but their iwnership of England IN WEMBLEY made me so happy. Still not convinced by Gourcuff, but hats off to Blanc for putting just about the best defensive LB in the world where he belongs. At left back. May Dumbenech roast in eternal damnation.

    Yourh, pace, ball movement and aggression were all awesome to see. This side, with this coach, would have better at World Cup.

    –Portugal took things seriously. Spain didn’t. The end. My loathinh of Thong Boy is positively soul-lacerating. Every time I see his hair-gelled face I pray that goblins will descend upon the pitch, and flay the skin from his preening bones.

    –Messi! That is all. Pastore is clearly talented, but the money that Palermo is talking about is absurd. We don’t need him, nor does EE. The Prem? Citeh certainly need what he does.

    –Bad news last: Alves has rejected our final offer, and has neen told by the club that he can leave. Rumor is that we will look to sell in January, but I doubt that will happen. Gone in summer, for sure.

    And good riddance. We all know that he can play. But anyone who doesn’t can and should leave. No player will hold this club hostage. Everyone is familiar with my Three-Year Brazilian theory. So it’s time, anyway.

    What he does for the side is beyond dispute. But more than Xavi? No. No way. If he wants to chase the money, rock on. He and The Yaya can discuss financial advisors as they watch Champions League on TV.

    –Bilbao? Tough draw. Copa is their only real chance at silver, and they will go for it with a real lineup. T’will be tough. In my view, not having Copa matches to contest wouldn’t be a bad thing.

    • soccermomof4
      November 18, 2010

      But who could replace Alves? I’ve been trying to think of RBs and I can’t come up with a good one that would be available (for a reasonable price). Maxwell can play/has played on the right and so can Adriano but we need a world class RB. Who’s out there for us?

      • Diego S.
        November 18, 2010

        Van der Wiel. The likes of Bartra and Dalmau getting promoted.
        David Luiz of Benfica who can play CB,RB,LB. Caceres who’ll probably be sold.

        • November 18, 2010

          I like that you listed all the alternatives with Caceres in the same comment. They are all on the same level. Uncertainties.

          • Kxevin
            November 18, 2010

            Caceres? Here’s a big glass of “Lord, No!” Drink up. 😀

            Good points on all the rest.

            I also think that you can’t think like for like when talking about players. Alves is unique.

    • Josep
      November 18, 2010

      Hmm I doubt that we’d agree to a sale in January for him to move in July. He’s cup tied so I don’t see why Citeh would make a move anyways.

      I know you’re gung ho on VDW but who else do you have in mind? Certainly someone who can rove the right flank..what about Diego Renan he’s another young similar Brazilian.

      Or go full blown and buy Rafael from United. I just love the da silva twins.. thats all.

    • November 18, 2010

      I have a mixed feeling regarding Alves. Does he deserve the salary of Xavi and Iniesta? It depends. The question is not if he is better or worse compared to them. They are the best in their position. Now if we can find a player of his lever who accept lower salary, pack Alves as a Christmas gift to any club with a big socks filled with money and hanged on the transfer Cheminee. Or else, the situation become tricky. There is a big difference between his case and that’s of Yaya. 1)Yaya was not a starter last season. 2) The reliable replacement was in the market. 3) Yaya wanted to leave, unlike Alves (at least based on what we know). 4) As I used to say, Yaya was not as indispensable as people here made him look like.

      Alves demands are understandable, in the sense of quality offers, alternative choices, and demands. He is demanding what his market value dictates. So We cant complain that he is overestimating his worth. Its just the position he plays that make his demands sound absurd. For what he brings to the table, he is definitely the closest squad member to Xavi and Iniesta in the sense that a replacement is not a possibility.

      But again, I have no scouts in the market. If there is a reliable replacement, refreshment is a bless.

        • poipoi
          November 18, 2010

          I have a bad feeling about alves and FCB, catalans are famous for their will to save some cash in any given situation, rosell is a money man and there’s bartra coming, you know 🙁

        • Kxevin
          November 18, 2010

          All true, Ramzi. My only objection to the matter is philosophical. A player can value himself however he likes, but it is also up to the club to say “No. That’s too much.”

          EMD says that the two sides are 1.5m apart on dough. That’s a lot. And if we’ve made our final offer, and it’s been rejected, that’s that.

          I did a previous post about players that I deemed essential. Once you consider that no player outside of Xavi and Messi is essential, you can move forward from there. We haven’t played many matches without Alves, which points to his durability. But we kinda did okay in that Champions League final, if I recall correctly. 😀 And we did just fine before he came. Further, in many it will be nice not having to plug the acres of space that attackers can run into as he gets caught in the opposition end.

          I don’t know that there is a player of his level out there right now, as regards quality and durability. But we will have to find a way to make do, since the player that we have apparently doesn’t want to stay, at least not at the terms he’s being offered.

          –Just saw another little buzz about Afellay’s arrival meaning that Thiago and Krkic will be leaving. Ha! Krkic might, but it’s doubtful. Thiago? No way. His father made that abundantly clear, but apparently not everyone reads the same news sources as the rest of us, right?

          To be sure, Afellay is going to take playing time from somebody, as he works his way into the lineup. But Krkic doesn’t really have any playing time to begin with, so his knickers shouldn’t be in a bunch. As for Thiago, he’s the future, and he knows it. His place in our side and team’s plans is assured.

          • November 18, 2010

            “Once you consider that no player outside of Xavi and Messi is essential, you can move forward from there.” And Iniesta. Thank you very much.

            But again, I think if the club forgot to pay Iniesta’s salary for couple of months, he will be too shy to remind them and die starving. So no worries concerning his contract.

          • cliveee
            November 18, 2010

            Oh, die starving? I thought Iniesta lives on sunlight.

    • blitzen
      November 18, 2010

      Dammit, Dani! Just how rich do you need to be? You’re playing with the best players on the best team in the world, in a beautiful city where they speak your language and there is everything your heart could desire. You’re playing with Lionel Messi, for goodness’ sake! How many people are ever going to be able to say they did that?

      Well, I hope you have fun in dull grey Manchester where you can spend your shedloads of cash rainproofing your mansion and flying in edible food from Spain. Your wife can wallpaper your house with euros while you are off playing Europa League football on rain-soaked pitches and dreaming of that Champions title you won that time.

      Grrr.

      • Josep
        November 18, 2010

        I wonder if the fact that Dani is excelling, especially with the national squad now, has to do with this? I mean he’s taking Maicon’s place, and doing very well. I wonder if its all getting to his head.

        • Jnice
          November 18, 2010

          Nah. He has played in what, 4 friendlies since the world cup, with part of the team being experimental? That shouldn’t get to anyone’s head. I think it’s like what Ramzi said, he is demanding “what his market value dictates.”

      • Kxevin
        November 18, 2010

        I don’t envy players wanting to make as much money as they can, while they can. A top-level player’s useful life is short, and when they are done, that’s it. Why not have as big a nest egg as possible?

        I do think that it points to how lucky we are in that we have a core of players that just wouldn’t consider leaving. On the other hand, if we hadn’t been handing Messi renewals whenever he sighed wistfully, who knows what might be going on with him right now? The Xavi talks didn’t go as smoothly as they might have, but there wasn’t much doubt that we were going to reach an accord.

        Alves is at a club that, for him, is a perfect fit. It has even adapted its playing philosophy a bit to meet his skill set, such is its value. In that equation, Abidal is just as valuable as Alves. Without his pace, Pique and Puyol are more stretched, etc, etc.

        Players come, and players go. And clubs adapt. Recall how deep the knee depressions at the wall of tears were when Ronaldinho was sold. What happened next? Exactly.

        I’m a big Van der Wiel fan. For sure. We can sell Alves, buy him and have change left. Direct replacement? Nope. He’s also still developing as a player, so who knows?

        Ultimately, I’m just not wedded to the idea of any player being irreplacable.

        • Jnice
          November 18, 2010

          Ronaldinho was past his best, though and wasn’t having the same impact he once had. Dani Alves is in his prime right now and gives the team a lot.

          Especially when you consider that Messi hardly plays on the right anymore, but Dani keeps the defense busy ALL MATCH on that side of the pitch.

          • Kxevin
            November 18, 2010

            Immaterial. We can learn to play, and be just as good, without him. Ramzi’s point about The Yaya was solid, in that he wasn’t an automatic starter any longer. The real question is should we destabilize the team’s salary structure for one player who isn’t named Messi?

            No.

        • blitzen
          November 18, 2010

          Now that I’m finished ranting, I should just say that I actually don’t find Dani’s demands that unreasonable. He is the best in the world in his position and deserves to be paid what he is worth. I’m just really disappointed that both sides seem to be so inflexible and so far from coming to an agreement. I also don’t think Dani will be anywhere near as successful in the Premier League as he has been in La Liga. It’s a different kind of football. I think he will find that a EPL manager will want him to play in a much more rigid position. I just can’t seem him getting the same license to rampage around up front from the likes of Ancelotti or Mancini, or even Wenger. And I *do* think quality of life should trump money in the final analysis. I’ve been to Manchester. I don’t want to live there. Look at Mascherano. He took a wage cut to get out of Liverpool because it was the best thing for his family. Alves should think about that too.

          • Jim
            November 18, 2010

            Ok. There has been a flood of comments talking about Alves’ being irreplaceable. But what skills exactly are we looking to replace?

            If we are looking for someone to get up and down the park like him it’ll be difficult but not impossible. That’s not a top class skill. So what else is there? He’s not a great crosser of a ball. He doesn’t score as many as he should given the number of times he finds himself receiving a great ball in space on the right, he ruins our FKs, he play acts and is only decent defensively, escaping blame as he’s up raiding most of the time.

            Now I’m saying this only half seriously as I do think he brings something to the team and I don’t want him to leave. But the same level of skill as Messi, Iniesta or Xavi? Not even close, so there will be a replacement somewhere.

  10. Diego S.
    November 18, 2010

    In the 5th time they faced each other, This is the first time C.Ronaldo’s team scores against Pique’s team.

    Previous Matches :

    2-0 Bar-ManUTd
    1-0 Bar-EE
    2-0 Bar-EE
    1-0 Spa-Por

  11. November 18, 2010

    Messi: “The lads admitted they were surprised how skilful Mascherano was, having been used to seeing him doing so much running and battling” (Barcastuff)

    Its not bringing a smile on my face or anything. Just keeping you updated.

    • Kxevin
      November 18, 2010

      Note: Is ANY match a friendly for Mascherano? 😀

      • November 18, 2010

        Having nice time with his son in the backyard.

        *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8coc4PkcOOc

        • Kxevin
          November 18, 2010

          Yeah, but I bet that off camera, he got stuck in on the kid. 😀

    • Diego S.
      November 18, 2010

      Mascherano has been a foul magnet, and so has Busquet. Other teams are okay with the likes of Messi and Xavi having the ball. They just can’t stand when Busi or Masch have it. 😀

  12. Euler
    November 18, 2010

    Very unfortunate news about Alves if true but it has appeared this was the direction things may have been headed towards.

    They’ll need to find a new RB this summer. The canteros aren’t going to be ready to fill in full time yet.

    It’s a tricky thing. Dani’s game is just so unique. Not only will they need to find a new player at RB, they are going to need to change the way they play their system tactically because whoever that new player may be isn’t going to be have the same skill set as Alves.

    Traditionally RB has been the position where the least talent is stationed. It’s largely been in Brazil where this bias hasn’t existed. And that’s why so many of the world’s great full backs – especially RB – have been from Brazil.

    Here’s the fundamental disagreement as I see it:

    Barca is trying to place Alves’s worth based on a scale which sees him as a defender. Defenders traditionally get paid less than attacking players. That’s the pay structure on Barca now.

    Alves is pricing himself as a footballer regardless of position.

    Barca is well within it’s rights to structure how it pays players. But in terms of supply and demand and market forces, Alves is well within his rights to make it a point that confining him to a “defender” bin is inappropriately diminishing his value.

    The market is not going to value Alves in that narrow fashion. Especially not when there is such a dearth talented RB in the world.

    • Jnice
      November 18, 2010

      Barca is well within it’s rights to structure how it pays players. But in terms of supply and demand and market forces, Alves is well within his rights to make it a point that confining him to a “defender” bin is inappropriately diminishing his value.”

      Exactly.

    • Josep
      November 18, 2010

      Is this going to be a story similar to Makelele at EE?
      I hope not.

      We all know Alves’ talent, but wherever he goes.. Citeh, Chelsea, etc. he won’t be the same. This system plays perfectly to him. He knows that. I don’t know if its just his push to get more money but I don’t know how this team would be without him.

      I’ve been saying we need to bench him more, especially in lower matches, or give him some rest, so we can see what we look like without him. Just a thought.

      • Euler
        November 18, 2010

        Part of the reason why you pay Alves a great deal of money is because he provides you with the freedom to change your system.

        Some players you bring in and you have to accommodate and redesign how you play to get the most from them. Some players you bring in because you want to redesign how you play at a system level and their skill sets allow you to do that.

        Teams that want to acquire Alves will modify how they play to fit his game.

      • blitzen
        November 18, 2010

        I just made that same point about him not playing the same in the Premier League above. ^ Great minds, and all that.

    • Diego S.
      November 18, 2010

      Alves has every right to demand higher salary or decide to move. Not because His value, but He wants to look out for himself and family. A football player works 16 years in his whole life. He should get as much money as he can.

      Hunger and titles, Alves achieved everything except the world cup. He’ll have a shot at 2014 regardless of his club.

  13. Diego S.
    November 18, 2010

    Alves has been essential for us. We didn’t tiki taka without Alves so we can’t know how much he’ll affect us (Guardiola brought Alves with him). He’s the best in the world in his position. I think he’s as essential as Messi and Xavi. Those 3 players have been consistent for us for the last 3 years. With Messi shifting towards the centre. Alves has the whole right flank to attack and defend.

    Cafu (Legendary RB) disagrees with the Three-Year Brazilian theory.

    • Miguel
      November 18, 2010

      the dani deal was in the pipeline long before guardiola was in the picture. ask txiki how he thought zambrotta panned out.

  14. Kxevin
    November 18, 2010

    Good news Tweet from @barcastuff:

    the goal.com story that alves “has been told he can leave the club” is invented by paul macdonald. the “reports in spain” don’t exist.

    • Diego S.
      November 18, 2010

      If Alves leaves, Is Oleguer still available ? 😀

  15. Euler
    November 18, 2010

    Probably the most comparable recent situation to Alves’ has been Philip Lahm’s recent contract renewal.

    Lahm is most often plays LF for Bayern but he is naturally a right footed player and can play on the right as well (where he often does for Germany).

    Lahm and Alves are very comparable players. You can argue which one is better but that largely depends on which skill sets you want to prioritize.

    Lahm recently signed a 45M extension with Bayern that is going to pay him 9M per year.

    That’s particularly noteworthy because Bayern decided to pay Lahm at the same level that they resigned Ribbery – an attacking player – for.

    Lahm’s contract is likely what Alves and his agent are looking at and what they think his market value is.

    It’s an interesting difference in organizational philosophy. Bayern isn’t trying to pin Lahm into a certain pay grade because he’s a defender. Rather they are paying him at the level of his quality.

    It’s an extremely antiquated way of structuring a pay scale to simply put less monetary value on a player because he is technically designated as aa defender. To do so is to misunderstand vital aspects of the modern game as a whole and how barca plays in particular.

    • Kxevin
      November 18, 2010

      But I don’t think they are valuing Alves as a mere defender. I think they are rating players according to a sliding scale of value to the side. From what I have been able to glean, Alves would slot in behind Messi, Xavi and Iniesta? Not bad. If that isn’t good enough, I don’t know what to say except good luck in Chelsea.

      • Euler
        November 18, 2010

        From what I’ve read (and this may be completely off) is that they are slotting him into their pay structure at a similar rate to Puyol and Pique.

        It seems like their wage structure splits into Messi-Attackers-Defenders.

        It’s difficult to draw distinctions in this situation because Barca has world class players all over the pitch. How do you create a scale of how to play payers who while playing different positions are each amongst the best in the world?

        For example, on pure quality, Villa should not be paid as much as Xavi or Iniesta. He’s simply not as good a player. But he’s paid as much if not more than they are. That has to be because he’s a striker. There’s a market argument for that as strikers are generally paid more than anyone else. But it’s a harder argument to make on quality.

        Is Villa really a better player than Alves? Is he more integral to how Barca plays? I’d guess those are some of the questions Alves and his agent are asking. I’d also have to think they are looking at what Lahm just got as a full back as a model.

        Directly or indirectly, does position seems to be part of the Barca pay structure, though that may be incorrect.

        • Kxevin
          November 18, 2010

          I hope it isn’t, because Alves is an aberration, a true two-sided player who gives you just as much at the attacking end as he does at the defending end. But the worries about upsetting the team’s wage structure are also valid, I think.

          Sometimes, what keeps a club of superstars stable is a fiscal pecking order. Look at the Ibrahimovic situation. I can only imagine what his salary did for the SMS bills of Barca attackers and their agents.

          • Euler
            November 18, 2010

            But the worries about upsetting the team’s wage structure are also valid, I think.

            Absolutely. This is a difficult set of issues. For example, I’d guess that Bastian Schweinsteiger is going to argue that he should be making more than Lahm now that Lahm has signed his deal.

            Contracts can quickly escalate. It’s not an easy situation.

            I also hope that they aren’t slotting players by position but are looking at individual quality but it seems like position is having an influence.

  16. Josep
    November 18, 2010

    Fuck it. I’ve got it!

    Here’s what we do. Move Abidal to CB.
    Play Maxwell on the left with Adriano to spell him.
    move Pique back to RB!

    DUH ITS SO OBVIOUS!!!!!

  17. mei
    November 18, 2010

    while you were on who is indispensable for our team , wouldnt you count guardiola and pique amongst them?

    • Kxevin
      November 18, 2010

      No. That would mean that when “indispensable” players left, a side would dissolve into a morass of mediocrity. Barca has reset time and again, and will again. Eto’o, Deco, Ronaldinho, etc. left, and we kept on winning. Alves leaves, and we will do so again.

    • blitzen
      November 18, 2010

      I count Pique as indispensible, but not because of what he does on the pitch. It’s what he does for Puyol (our indispensible captain). Puyol has said in many many interviews that he was in a very bad place after the 2007-2008 season, and the arrival of Pique was one of the main things that made him turn that around and stop taking everything so personally. He was destroying himself psychologically taking on too much responsibility for the team and how they were playing, and Pique showed him to enjoy life and football again. Guardiola was also a big part of that.

      I’m sure Kxevin will heartily disagree. 😀

  18. Victor
    November 18, 2010

    I guess I’m a softie at heart, preferring to believe that one’s favorite players would choose to play with the team they have meshed with so successfully in the past, all other things being equal. I guess I prefer not to think of the “this is a business” reality whenever issues like this pop up.
    Speaking of business, it looks like the TV revenue issue is taking a step forward…

    • Kxevin
      November 18, 2010

      Excellent points, Victor. It’s why I’m never a fan of any player. One of many reasons, actually. Players come and players go. Clubs remain.

  19. pulpo
    November 18, 2010

    I with Kevin on this one. There is so much talk about Alves being key in our system, and no other rb can fill his huge role. What no one is questioning is this- Is it even optimal to give alves or a rb such an important role in our team? Dont get me wrong, alves skills would be above average in most teams, but not in ours. Since messi has moved to the middle, the number of successful attacks down the right has diminished. The crossing threat is now close to zero and Alves has recently been quite poor at threading through balls to anyone but Messi. Our attacks down, even though less frequent seem to have better final balls.

    Dont get me wrong, I understand Alves role in stretching the field, in our curretn system. But I think in a team as talented as ours, we should rely on Alves’ temperamental style too heavily. And when he is bad, he really does kill our attacks like no-one else. We will have to change our game slightly, simple as that, and I think we could actually benefit given Alves’ record of having off days in big games.

  20. Alexinho
    November 18, 2010

    Great post. I love these Liga updates, because sometimes it can be difficult for those of us, particularly Americans, that are only estudiando espanol, pero no habla (correctamente?) to keep up with the entire league and remember there’s more to Liga than Barca and EE.

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