There’s some pretty funny stuff that goes on during the break for Internationals, some that makes the bravest attempt to pass for actual news. So with this, we begin the futile, Quixotean attempt to be a sliver of what Pep’s Place was for Barca fans: A great source of news and information.
Wait, we’ve already given up (boy, that was fast!).
We’ll still do news, but we’re going to be calling bullshit on “news” where it’s warranted, with plenty of commentary, because that’s just how we roll.
Okay. Now we’re ready.
–Goal.com has ginned up reports of a winter transfer list coming from unnamed sources (the same one that told them Villa was signed?) that includes the names of Poulsen, Vieira, Affelay and a blast from our “signed, sealed and delivered” past, Hernanes.
The first two in particular are considered to be temporary replacements for The Yaya and Keita, who will flitting off to the African Cup of Nations tourney. Now, we know what you’re thinking: “Those DMs are crap!” But not so fast. In the case of Vieira, he’d be cheap and capable of playing for the time needed, then given a perpetual day pass and a train ticket to Montserrat.
–And here’s how nasty rumors get started: The Sunday Mirror has raised the spectre of the possibility of us offering Thierry Henry in part exchange for Robinho, but that Citeh’s owners wouldn’t be inclined to do so, because our Titi isn’t the kind of player they want any longer. Which didn’t stop this bit from becoming “news” until, like a perverse game of Telephone, it’s now almost a done deal. Read my lips: Ain’t gonna happen. No matter where you put him, Robinho is the same kind of player. And last time I checked, Guardiola had about zero inclination toward players who wouldn’t track back on defense if the ball was covered in diamonds.
–In an exclusive interview with Goal.com/UK, and proving that they can misintepret even their own crap, apparently Cesc Fabregas has “rejected” a move to Barcelona because he’s more comfortable in London. Then you read the interview and you see: “I know all about the speculation about Barcelona but you have to understand I am a professional and I am an Arsenal player….You can never know what will happen in football, and it’s always an honour to be linked with a prestigious club like Barcelona, who I know all about. But let’s see how Arsenal does this season. I am sure we will win something soon.”
In other words, I won’t say anything to rile up Gunners fans, and let’s see what happens.
–Radio station Catalunya Informacio, is reporting that Guardiola and his staff have been locked up through 2011 with new contracts. This includes Tito Vilanova and the fitness coaches, as well. The apparent goal was to keep a new board from coming in and saying “Throw the bums out!” But in Catalan. Now if you read Sport, they are saying that Vilanova, though he has an offer on the table, is not part of the mass renewal, because he wants to see what the new board has going on.
–In one of the funnier rumors of yesterday, both us and EE are preparing January bids for Rio Ferdinand. Makes sense, right? An aging, increasingly oft-injured central defender who shows tendencies toward getting smoked by little, quick dudes with killer ball skills (none of those in the Liga, right?), for 30+ million. You betcha. They sussed out Barca’s intentions again. Those folks must be mind readers!
–The BritPress, in specific the Daily Mail, are nattering about Lionel Messi and his new contract, rumored to pay him something near EUR14m per season, through 2016. “It’s a lot more than John Terry’s deal,” they observe. Duh.
–Quote of the Day comes from Andres Iniesta, our own Ghostface Killah: “I’m not losing sleep over my contract.”
—Pep Guardiola received a standing ovation at Friday’s Coldplay concert at the Montjuic Olympic stadium. He gave an “aw, shucks” kinda wave, then sat down and proceeded to rock the hell out. But calmly, as is his style. He was invited backstage to meet Chris Martin, and apparently tried to just slide into the stadium like just another concertgoer, an effort that was pretty quickly sniffed out.
–In a very interesting piece in Sport on how Zlatan Ibrahimovic is adapting to the club, he has already become great friends with Carles Puyol, who has become his living, breathing Barca Advisor. He chose Sylvinho’s old locker, as it is next to that of El Capitan. He’s already picking up some Spanish, and the players are helping him out by addressing him in Spanish. At team meals, BANGS always shares a table with Messi, along with Dani Alves and Maxwell.
–In International duty, our lads kicked ass and took names. The Yaya notched against Burkina Faso, in a performance being described in this space as “ridiculous.” BANGS notched the winner for Sweden against Hungary. Henry tallied for Les Bleus in what should have been a win against Romania, were it not for the fact that their coach is stupid to ten decimal places, but still hasn’t burned those compromising images of France Football officials. And so he stays. Messi, if you believe some of the absurd reports surfacing, was the sole cause of Argentina’s 3-1 spanking at the hands of Brazil, in which Dani Alves played quite well as a second-half substitute.
Here’s the thing about Messi’s performance, which most of us watched: He kicked ass and took names, but didn’t have any help from his star-studded cast, in the service of a club hamstrung by a coach who is quite possibly even worse than Les Bleus’ Dumbenech.
Xavi was spectacular for Spain in its 5-0 hammering of Belgium, in which Gerard Pique, our own Piquenbauer, also nabbed a goal. Chygrynskyy played the full 90 for Ukraine and did so with power and style, adding a long-range shot at goal that was chockablock with danger.
–And, a new ‘do for Ibrahimovic, our very own BANGS. No more of that sloppy, floppy, stringy nonsense. And apparently, unlike Samson, his powers don’t seem to have been affected by the new look.
–Finally, is everybody ready for a laugh? The EE’s own Granero says that they have a better squad than us. So there. Neener, neener. I guess that means equating size of transfer budgets with quality, or something. And speaking of, did y’all know that the valuation of our 10 first-team farm boys: Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Puyol, Valdes, Busquets, Muniesa, Pique, Krkic and Pedro! matches that of what EE spent in the summer transfer window?