Ibrahim Afellay shits rainbows. I once saw him score a goal from 50 yards. And it was a backheel. He out ran Usain Bolt in an Olympic trial, but decided against competing in the real thing because it was unfair. Women swoon when he farts. He will be the greatest player in the history of Barça. 30 goals in the second half of the season, easy. Maybe 100. We’ll never lose again. He’s not Deco’s or Dani Alves’ successor, they were his successors in the past. He controls space and time.
So he’s 5’11, like 160lbs, plays wing or attacking midfielder, and has already played more than 30 times for the Netherlands. Pretty good for a 24-year old, eh? Some 200 plus appearances for PSV Eindhoven led to 36 goals and probably some assists that no one tracks. I am quite excited to see him in action, but I think that while we discuss everything he’s done, all that he is, all that he might be, etc, we shouldn’t lose focus of the fact that he’s a new member of the squad and, as such, will have a measure of adjusting to do before he’s a full member of the squad.
What I mean is, when Thierry Henry arrived, we all said “Yay we’re going to have the greatest striker in history!” and then it didn’t really work that way because he wasn’t playing the same position as he had at Arsenal. So we got Zlatan Ibrahimovic and we said “Yay we’re going to have the greatest striker in history!” and then it didn’t really work that way because he wasn’t playing in the same system as he had at Inter Milan. So we got David Villa and we said “Yay we’re going to have the greatest striker in history!” and so far, it hasn’t really worked out that way because he isn’t playing the same position as he did at Valencia. But then again, and this is very important pay attention stop reading Twitter and focus, all 3 of those players–Henry, Ibra, and Villa–were or are extremely good players for us. But expectations have led to various “hate” from the fans and that is something we should be aware of.
Take Adriano, for instance. Or Maxwell. They came in with very low expectations thanks to 1) their low prices and 2) their lack of superstar status. When they play well, they’re praised and when they play badly (or merely not well) everyone goes “okay, well they need to improve,” shrugs, and then moves on to the next thing. Piqué falls into that category too, really, since he was purchased for €5m and was basically a ManU reject. But when a superstar who was purchased for gobs of money doesn’t razzledazzle every game, do backflips off of trapezes, the fans get restless and antagonistic. Why did we pay this much for a guy who doesn’t score every single game!? Nevermind that we’re winning the league with 99 points or a Triple or whatever meaningless achievements there are, someone has to be doing badly and why wouldn’t it be the most expensive addition?
Back to Afellay, who is the point of this whole thing: His contract is through 2015 and has a buyout of €100m. He was born in Utrecht, the Netherlands, a city of some 300,000 in the middle of the country about 25 miles south of Amsterdam. If he has an amazing personal story–all of our personal stories are amazing in their own right, but you know what I mean–I don’t know it, but what little I do know suggest that he played a lot of football as a kid. Imagine that. He joined PSV’s youth academy in 1996 at the age of 10 and then spent the next 8 years learning his trade before he debuted with the full team at 17 on February 4, 2004 in a cup match. He became a regular first teamer in 2005-06 (I don’t know if the Dutch league works the same way) and has since made, on average, 35 total appearances and 26 in the league, scoring 5 goals per year. This year, however, he’s already made 30 appearances, according to Wikipedia, and scored 9 goals. That’s a rich vein of form that he can hopefully get more out of with us, but it shouldn’t be expected.
This is a new team, a new system, and a new coach. You can’t ever tell what you’re going to get and in an effort to prevent another disaster of Hlebbian proportions, let’s all relax and give the guy 6 free months, just as we should have done with Henry, Ibra, and Villa. Maxwell is still working on free time, judging by the comments, and that strikes me as a little unfair. Also, everyone seems to forget that no one scores more than Lionel Messi in our system, so that comparison is absurd and Villa (who has scored 11 times in 15 appearances!) will continue to start. I hope Afellay adds depth off the bench, but to suggest he’ll be a starter this year is, I think, absurd. Sure, he might start in a meaningless Copa match (if we get past Athletic), but not in the league until we have it all wrapped up.
But whatever, I’m excited. It may not have sounded like it, but I am. I always am when there’s a new player coming in because of the potential. So good luck, bon sort, buena suerte to you, Ibrahim Afellay–Ibi as he’s known–and may your first half season with us end in so many trophies you won’t be able to fill them with all the gold bullion that flies out of your ears whenever you sneeze.
And because I would be remiss if I didn’t say this, we are sooo close to our goal in the BFB donations drive. We just need one or two more donations we’ll be at our goal! This could be your chance to save the universe. Donate! (And you won’t have to see the donate page as our homepage anymore!)