Welcoming Ibrahim Afellay

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images Europe

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!)

By Isaiah

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.


  1. Nothing to do with Ibi – although it’s great to see him here. Just sitting here, glass of good Shiraz in hand and reached 60th minute in the Clasico. It just doesn’t get any better.

    Merry Christmas one and all 🙂

  2. LOL, just reached the 64th minute when Iniesta twists both ways. Has anyone seen Xabi Alonso since he went the wrong way? Talk about having to pay to get back in 🙂

    1. He had to sit out the last game because he was on 5 yellows. But yeah, that was a terrible game for him. I watched it again myself today (only I have a nice Cabernet instead of Shiraz) in HD (thanks again for posting that download link, Jnice). There were some moments of absolute breathtaking beauty that I had to replay several times.

      And watching Sergio Ramos get sent off never gets old. So sweeeeeet! 😛

  3. Hey, the guy only cost us 3 million, he gets all the time he needs from me! I don’t think anyone’s expectations of him are too high considering we all know he won’t be a starter. I am looking forward to seeing what he can do for us. And he’ll give us a little height, too (although I think we do perfectly fine with our midgets)! 🙂

  4. for the price? a great signing.

    whether or not he lives up to being a valuable (let alone invaluable) member of the squad is up to him. he’s young, he seems to have the right attitude, is suitably awed by the team and Guardiola personally, so signs are good that he’ll buckle down and learn how to integrate himself. i don’t see him replacing any of our starters at present, but he DOES give us a creative attacking option off the bench who is direct, energetic and reasonably well experienced; a huge piece of just what we were looking for.

    we’ll see how quickly he beds down, how he works out over time etc., but i’m sure most of us are pretty eager to see him play in the colours. now we need to turn to getting our B-siders up into the first team; ZubiZa’s ambiguous and noncommittal comments today about the futures of Thiago and Fontas were unsettling…

  5. Happy whatever it is you feel like celebrating y’all. I think this guy could be a good signing as many clubs were after him and he is young. Now I’m off to open me some presents.

  6. Cant wait to see him shoot we could ve used him against bilbao. Merry xmas to u all. Enjoy yourself

    Ps. How do i get in a pic for my avatar

  7. Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it!

    Happy Holidays to all who celebrate something else.

    Happy Ibi Day to those who celebrate Barca.

    Or as Eklavya said on the last thread, “Messi Christmas and a Xavi New Year!”

  8. “let’s all relax and give the guy 6 free months, just as we should have done with Henry, Ibra, and Villa.”

    I think that most people in here agree with this… in fact, most of them agree that Villa is still getting the system and adapting to the demands of this Barca’s style and therefore, he needs like a year to see how good is he for Barcelona. Same with Mascherano and Adriano.

    And the same applies to Ibi, he’s gonna need like a year to fully adapt to Barca’s style. If he adapts quickly then I’ll be gladly surprised, but I do think that… just like Henry… he’s gonna need time to understand and fit into the style.

  9. Despite the fact that Ibi is a very good player, I doubt if he was really needed @ FCB.
    We have so many upcoming talents from La Masia. If they aren’t given time, they’d end up like Cesc and Giovanni Dos Santos.
    Although both rue the day they left Barcelona, we surely lost two of our most precious stars. However, I feel the example of Cesc and GDS, yearning for a return will act as a lesson to the cantera guys. Nolito is the one who should have been given more chance.
    Is there any news of his contract extension?

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