The Forgotten Ones

You have all just been Hlebbed.

Now that you’ve recovered and haven’t smashed your monitor in a fit of rage, let us return to the task at hand. That’s right, it’s time for the mid-season (sort of) report on our loanees. Barcelona has been firing on all cylinders and with the form of players like Abidal, the excitement of a new signing in Afellay, and Alves’ protracted contract negotiations it is easy to forget the six players we are currently loaning out. Or perhaps you are more like me and actively try to ignore the fact that we have any players loaned out; if only I could get my hands on some Forget-Me-Nows.

Add to that that Madrid just lost… wait, Madrid just lost?!?! What’s that? They’re now 7 points behind us, and we’ve only lost 5 points so far this season?!?! It’s a good thing Pep is more grounded than I am, because I’m going out to celebrate. Ok I’m back. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, the loanees. We’re going to begin our journey with the man of the hour, Alexander Hleb.

Wild Hleb can be found primarily in England and Germany. Rarely they can be found making a sojourn to Spain, although they never stay for long. A versatile creature, Hleb’s have mastered very few unique skills and are known for their ability to perform many skills well. This versatility may have been predicated on the fact that they are known to avoid aggression – they would prefer to move on to a new locale than to stay and fight for their spot. In the summer of 2008 Hleb’s were worth around 15 million Euros on the black market (any transfer between Arsenal and Barcelona), but authorities have been unable to determine a market price for a Hleb since then. Hopefully there will be breakthrough this summer, but the discovery of newer, younger creatures has sharply dampened the demand for Hleb in recent years.*

Next on the list is Martin Caceres. Caceres was originally purchased for a reported fee of 16.5 million Euros from Villareal in 2008 after performing well on loan at Recreativo Huelva. He spent his first season at Barcelona, where he had a difficult time adjusting. After a somewhat successful year on loan to Juventus he is on loan this season at Sevilla where he has made 14 appearances.

Yeah yeah, you all know the history, and you want to hear about his future. The club has expressed their interest in selling him as Sevilla has the option to purchase him at any time during the season for a measly 5 million. I sometimes look at our back line and wonder what it will look like 3 or 4 seasons in the future, but Caceres has never been part of those day dreams. While he has quality and potential, his ball control, passing, and comfort on the ball aren’t strong enough for him to fulfill Pep’s requirements for defenders. I for one hope Sevilla exercises their option to purchase at the end of the season.

Now here is a man who has entered my day dreams… when thinking about defenders in Barcelona’s future of course. Henrique is only 24 and performed well in his three years on loan. After a loan to Bayer Leverkusen where he played across the back line he was brought into the team for preseason in 2009. Unfortunately, in the match against the LA Galaxy he gave away a foul right outside the box which Beckham converted. He was loaned out to Racing Santander shortly afterward and has made 43 appearances for them.

Henrique is the one player on this list that I would like to see in the squad list next season. He may not be Barcelona quality right now, but it is hard to know what would happen if he was working along side players like Puyol, Pique, and Abidal. Not to mention that he can fill in at right or left back if absolutely necessary, and he has a lot of attributes that could make him a successful squad player. If he were to replace Milito he wouldn’t see too much game time anyways if he struggled, and if he struggles he is still a good short term solution until one of our burgeoning cantera centerbacks are ready.

Keirrison, Keirrison, Keirrison. I honestly don’t know where to start on this one as thinking about his future is like a crazy mind puzzle. Trying to understand his transfer and his future is like trying to solve Einstein’s Riddle, so let’s just start with some history. After banging in goals with the Coritiba and Palmeiras in Brazil, he joined Barcelona in 2009 for somewhere around 15 million Euros. He was one of Barcelona’s two Traffic transfers that summer, the other being Henrique. Since then he has had half season stints at Benfica and Fiorentina where despite some promising glimpses he failed to impose himself. Last summer saw him move back to Brazil on loan to Santos.

Keirrison was given a 5 year deal when he signed, so at the end of the season he will still have 3 years left on his contract. It is tempting to look to him as a backup striker solution, but his difficulty in adapting to European football is troubling. I’m concerned that at the end of the day he isn’t the type of player who will prosper in Pep’s system. Still, I’d love for him to get a chance. It would be a shame for us to sell him without before he played a single game for the club.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I give you the allosaurus in the room, the man who has been discussed ad nauseum on these pages, the enigmatic Zlatan Ibrahimovic!

You all know his history with the club, and we’ve all shouted ourselves hoarse about him, so I’m going to be brief. He has been performing well in Italy this season, contributing 17 goals in 25 appearances for Milan. Considering his acrimonious split from the club the best thing would be for Milan to sign him permanently at the end of the season. I keep hoping that a bidding war for him will magically pop up out of nowhere this summer like those jack in the box toys that are made to scar children for life (not that I know anything about them…).

And now take a cleansing breath before our final subject of the day.

Now this is a loan I can support. Victor Sanchez joined Barcelona at the age of 18 and worked through the C team and B team ranks to find himself in the first team. An unassuming fellow, his contributions to Barcelona’s treble season are often forgotten. Even I was surprised to see he made 12 appearances that season, including 3 appearances in Europe. However, as much as we all like to see youth players succeed in the senior ranks, there will always be players who don’t make it.

Victor Sanchez, being mature, spoke with Pep Guardiola and realized he wasn’t part of his first team plans. He spent the year “on loan”** to Xerex in 2009-2010, although his contributions weren’t enough to save them from relegation. He is off at Getafe this season, and has made 11 appearances. This in my mind is a fantastic loan. While Sanchez isn’t good enough for the team, it is heart warming to see the club giving him chances to go prove himself elsewhere without putting too much pressure on him. I hope he finds a home in another team in La Liga.

There they are, our six players on loan. I find it frustrating that between them they will have 12 years on loan at the end of this season. This speaks to the fact that we are having trouble offloading players who haven’t been up to snuff, and it appears we have no real long term plans for one or two of the players. Add to this the fact that all but one were fairly substantial purchases, and it is easy to get frustrated with the club’s loan policy.

… But then I just remember how phenomenal this Barcelona team we have the pleasure to watch is. Having a long loan list is an unfortunate byproduct of our success, but it is better to have this unfortunate side effect than to not be successful.

* This is meant to be read in David Attenborough’s voice, NOT Sigourney Weaver’s.               **My understanding is that because Xerex had too many players on loan (in anticipation of being relegated again), Sanchez was actually sold to Xerex for 0 Euros, with a 0 Euro buyback clause.

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  1. vicsoc
    January 30, 2011

    PS – sorry for being MIA lately. Unfortunately my free time is like the tides, it’s cyclical depending on my test cycle. Every 3 weeks I’ll have a low tide, followed by a high tide in between.

  2. January 30, 2011

    Um, that’s not Henrique, that’s Gone Adriano, versus Here Adriano. Jeez, dude. But I forgive you, because EE lost to Osasuna!!!!

    • vicsoc
      January 30, 2011

      All too aptly named Gone Adriano, as the chance of him actually donning the shirt is very low.

  3. OSBAG
    January 30, 2011

    I dont really follow ‘the forgotten ones much’ but i am not sure i would prefer henrique bck to caceres, remember he recentlu conceived a penalty aginst us also.
    Pls where is gudjohnsen presently? Did we sell him?

      • OSBAG
        January 30, 2011

        To where please
        Concerning the bojan pics i feel they are mean and we fans shouldnt be doing that to our players. Someone said if he comes here and sees them, he would be motivated to try harder. I beg to disagree because as they say , he is only 20. But then this is just my own opinion. Nice of you to offer to stop but am not the only one here. Thanks

        • vicsoc
          January 30, 2011

          Gudjohnsen is playing at Stoke City these days.

        • blitzen
          January 31, 2011

          OSBAG, with all due respect, you need to chill out. No one here hates Bojan, it is all done in good fun and with plenty of affection. Bojan doesn’t even speak English, so the chances of him coming in here are miniscule to say the least.

          And frankly, any professional footballer (and any pro athlete, really), knows they are going to come in for a lot of abuse during their career, from rivals and even from their own fans. It’s part of the job. They develop thick skins and strategies for dealing with it.

          If we seem mean to you, I’m sorry, but we are just joking around.

    • January 30, 2011

      is that bojan in the corner? maybe pep’s tactics for trying to build krkic’s self esteem aren’t so great.

      • January 30, 2011

        No, Krkic is in the front. With the orange hat. 😀

        This was a theatre company (Geronimo Stilton) that performed at the National Theatre of Catalunya. The look on the kid’s face at far left is priceless!

        • blitzen
          January 30, 2011

          Is that one of Pep’s daughters?

    • MoSSi
      January 30, 2011

      Man, that woman on the left with the kid is B. E. A. U. T. F. U. L.!

      • mei
        January 30, 2011

        you missed a letter.
        But like kevin says , who the hell cares , i cant wait to read tomorrow’s madrid press.

  4. January 30, 2011

    “Unfortunately, in the match against the LA Galaxy he gave away a foul right outside the box which Beckham converted. He was loaned out to Racing Santander shortly afterward and has made 43 appearances for them.”

    i was at that game. dude blew it, not that i remember much about the end of that game. i do remember yelling, “tiki taka!” at the top of my lungs, drunkenly.

  5. January 30, 2011

    Looks like Torres to Chelsea for some undisclosed number (50m?).

    • Víctor
      January 30, 2011

      Is that good news or bad news? Or just news in general.

  6. January 30, 2011

    By the by, in ’06-’07, we rolled into February with a 6-point lead, and lost the Liga on head-to-head to EE.

    • soccermomof4
      January 30, 2011

      Pep will keep the team humble. We have the luxury of celebrating and relaxing a little bit that Pep and the team do not have. We also have the responsibility to be classy about it when dealing with our misguided madridista brethren.

    • Jnice
      January 31, 2011

      The mentality of that 06-07 team was one of complacency. It was evident in that match we lost to Sevilla in the UEFA Supercup to start the season.

      This squad is mentally tougher, more humble, and without the lazy 06-07 Dinho. Plus, like SoMom says, Pep will make sure the players don’t feel like they’ve won the league already.

  7. soccermomof4
    January 30, 2011

    Dude just Hlebbed us—can’t believe the dude just Hlebbed us! Where’s the outrage!

  8. January 30, 2011

    Nice review Vicsoc. It’s easy to forget about these players. The loan situations have been very rocky.

    Part of the complexity with the loans is the overall financial health of La Liga. Most teams have been in such a precarious financial state that there is limited financial flexibility.

    Though not a loan, another player Barca may want to think about bringing back is Botia, depending on what Pep wants to do with Fontas next year.

    Milito may or may not be here next season. Even if Pep wants to start giving Fontas regular first team playing time, I think they’ll need another CB, preferably one with some experience. Puyol and Abidal will only be a year older.

    I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Botia at Sporting. He’s not a starter at Barca, but I do think he would be a positive addition as a 4th CB on the bench. His buy back clause is 3M. They’d be hard pressed to find a decent CB from another club for less than that minus whatever fee that got for Botia in the first place (or was it a free?)

    • Jnice
      January 30, 2011

      Feel the same way about Botia.

      Nice piece, vicsoc.

      • BA
        January 30, 2011

        i’d prefer to have Botia back as a replacement for Milito than Gone Adriano. the latter just doesn’t seem up to our standard, and center-back is a very important position in our system.

  9. jordi™
    January 30, 2011

    Guillem Ballague tweets “ is the most rubbish web page of the online world. Makes up stories, steals others without quoting writers etc”

    …Yes…no irony here…None whatsoever.

  10. Pyro
    January 30, 2011

    Guys one thing. What does getting “Hectored” mean? and what do you guys think about Arsenal losing Nasri?? Apparently he has a bad hammie

    • January 30, 2011

      Being “Hectored” means that a new post goes up, right as you have posted a long and/or thoughtful comment in the previous post.

      As posting frequency increases here, the hope is that “Hectoring” will become a thing of the past, as people realize that a new post doesn’t kill its predecessor, particularly if there’s an interesting discussion going on within.

      We hope ….

  11. January 30, 2011

    Pedro!! has 8 goals in his last 6 matches, and has 19 goals to Villa’s 17, on fully half as many shots. As with last year’s expensive import, Pedro!! is outperforming this year’s as well. Ah, La Masia ….

    • OSBAG
      January 30, 2011

      Pedro has played more minutes and games than villa though

    • ooga aga
      January 31, 2011

      pedro is one of the better finishers i can think of in football right now. period.

    • mei
      January 31, 2011

      40million villa though is really gonna outperform 40million + etoo Ibrahomovic , by february!..

  12. xavi
    January 30, 2011

    Haylloooo guys!!

    vivid follower, been following ever since the site started. Used to comment too, but stopped because I no longer had my PC. And what better time to get back than when the EE lose to the Basques eh!?

    I am proud of the long way the blog has gone, good work Kxevin’s & Isaiah’s. soma’s too confusing for my brain :angry: :p kari’s analysis are awesome 🙂

    Coming to the topic
    Alberto Botia SHOULD be bought back next season. But some how I don’t feel there’s the love for the boy. I mean the press talks about every other defender on the planet except for Botia. My heart wishes him to be bought back but my mind says that’s not going to happen 🙁

    Also there’s was huge discussion about how Pep is not a good tactician very recently… no??
    Well not very long ago we were losing in the first half at Camp Nou, in the hands of Valencia(a loss would have been devastating for our season!!) But Pep won’t let that happen, he made a very small change that day. If I remember right, he made Xavi play further up the pitch bringing back Iniesta which did the trick. Even in the Classico, Xavi played really high up the pitch, moreso than Messi!!

    So all I want to say is, Pep might take time for substitutions… But he’s a hell of a tactician. But what he should have probably done
    in the last match was, bring out Villa for Fly! That’s no downfall at least if not an improvement & then the advantage of fresh legs too!!

  13. OSBAG
    January 30, 2011

    To where pls.
    Concerning the bojan pics i feel they are mean and we fans shouldnt be doing that to our players. Someone said if he comes here and sees them, he would be motivated to try harder. I beg to disagree because as they say , he is only 20. But then this is just my own opinion. Nice of you to offer to stop but am not the only one here. Thanks

    • January 30, 2011

      I beg to differ. Krkic is a young man who had first team status handed to him on a silver platter. He has been first team for four seasons. The notion that he somehow deserves more care and feeding doesn’t wash with me.

      This season he has been terrible. And as a first team player, his performance speaks for itself. Players get lampooned. I don’t see anyone sticking up for Hleb, whose name has become a modifier that describes futility. Is his osyche any less fragile than Krkic’s? No.

      The poking fun is good-natured, and I imagine that if he came here, he would giggle along with the rest of us.

      • blitzen
        January 31, 2011

        Futility, thy name is Hleb.

        (see my response to OSBAG’s same comment above.)

  14. K_legit
    January 31, 2011

    hmm..Marc Crosas? he’s a forgotten man at Celtic too by the look of things..have we sold him permanently as I remember he was sold with a buyback?!

    • xavi
      January 31, 2011

      His career is totally dead at Celtic… such a wrong move to send him there. Some Spanish club would have done him wonders, he had to choose a filthy Scottish club of all!! Even VicSan is doing better now

      • Jim
        January 31, 2011

        Hang on – I’m no Celtic fan but “filthy” ? Why?

  15. Eklavya
    January 31, 2011

    Um, Vicsoc, you forgot Botia? Newbie Fail #2! 😀 J/k

    My thoughts:

    -Sell Caceres this summer. He’s a good player and has talent but he’s not made for our “ball-playing” system. He’s good at de-possession-ing people but doesn’t know what to do with the ball once he has it. I think he’d do well in Serie A or EPL. Hopefully we can get some amount of money back.

    -Sell Milito this summer. He wanted to leave to this winter and I think it’s likely he’ll do it during the coming summer. Hopefully, for a good price. I suspect it’ll be between 5 and €10m.

    -Bring back Botia, mostly to cover up for Milito. That would make us have 3 CBs + 1FB-CB: Pique, Puyol, Botia and Abidal. He’s has experience in Sporting.

    -Play Fontas as much as possible during the preseason. I like this guy…he’s bulky. We already know the qualities of Pique, Puyol and Abidal. Fontas is our best B-team CB and he might or might not be better than Botia. I like both frankly, and I don’t want one to hamper the other’s process. Both play regularly in their respective teams and bringing back both maybe isn’t such a good idea.We don’t know if Puyol will still be able to play regularly next season, so, we should give them both a good look during the preseason.

    -Bring back Henrique, at least for the preseason, and give him a chance. I think he’d be a solid FB replacement. He did really well in his first loan to Bayer Leverkrusen, becoming a sort of leader in their defense. I don’t understand why we didn’t let this guy adapt instead of buying (Here) Adriano. That’ll make 5 FBs: Alves, Abidal, Maxwell, Adriano and Henrique. That’s obviously too many but I expect Abidal will have more of a central role and I’m assumes Alves’ stays.

    -Bring back Keirrison, at least for the preseason, and let him play with the others and see. Dude hasn’t even had 1 second to prove himself.

    I can see him doing well. With him we’d have 5 strikers: Messi, Villa, Bojan, Pedro and Keirrison (assuming Ibra will permanently move). Villa and Pedro are at their best on the wings and can’t lead the line on a long-term basis, so they will likely continue to play towards the wings leaving only Messi and Bojan as our only real Center-Forwards. Bojan still doesn’t know how to keep the ball away from his defender and has his confidence problems.

    So, practically speaking we have only one CF: Messi, who plays almost every match. So, I can see Keirrison work. Giving Messi/Pedro rest, bringing something different off the bench.

    This has its disadvantages, such as, Afellay being mostly restricted to the midfield therefore Thiago potentially getting less time, Bojan getting even less time and of course there’s still the possibility that he might be a FAIL. That’s why we should play him as much during the preseason. Oh, this probably means Jeffren and Nolito leave during the summer as well.

    -Sell Hleb. Duh. Or let him even go for free. Why are we still hanging on to him?

    -Sell Ibra. (I know, duh).

    -Either sell or keep VicSan on loan to Getafe. Whichever. I don’t think it matters much. I don’t think he’s ever gonna be a real Barca player.

    I don’t think all of these will happen, because we’d be WAY too stacked. Personally, I don’t think the Henrique and Keirrison move will happen.

    @Soccermomo4: Hehe, I think there would have been more outrage if Vicsoc had used this pic instead: 😀

    • Helge
      January 31, 2011

      Watch your own mouth, Eklavya 😀
      Botía has been transferred to Sporting in 2010, with a buy-back clause of 3m. But he is not on loan, Sporting Gijon pay his wages etc.

      I would loan Keirrison for another year, to a Spanish la Liga team, and afterwards decide whether to keep him or not. I don’t even know if he’s a regular starter for Santos FC, but isn’t it the club with Neymar and Ganso? So there will be a tough competiton for him, I doubt that he plays regularly.

      Martin Caceres is actually not doing bad for Sevilla, they should want to buy him.

      Ibra is the saviour of Milan, they HAVE to buy him.

      Hleb… I even forget that he is still on loan. Saw him play few minutes at Birmingham, that dude has crashed his whole career with leaving Arsenal. Doesn’t seem to get along in any team / league now.

      Dunno about Henrique and Sanchez, they never striked me when playing against us.

    • soccermomof4
      January 31, 2011

      Now that picture was just plain mean! ;-D

  16. blitzen
    January 31, 2011

    Thank you very much for this post, vicsoc! I haven’t really been following our loaned out players, so I appreciate this summary. To tell you the truth, I had forgotten all about Victor Sanchez!

    I know very little about either Henrique or Keirrison. From what I understand these were Tzxiki signings and more about business than football. I can’t really blame Pep for wanting to distance himself from that. I think we should just cut our losses and sell them both.

    Ibra, sell, of course. Milan would have to be crazy not to exercise their buyout clause after what he has done for them this year. It’s just too bad that Rosell couldn’t have negotiated a better deal for him.

    Caceres–I kind of like the guy, but he’s not Barca quality. If Sevilla is happy with him, we should sell him. If they don’t want to keep him, let’s find him a permanent home elsewhere. Maybe we can throw him in as part of a deal for Cesc? 😛

    Hleb. What can you say about Hleb? I would feel sorry for the guy if he wasn’t such a jackass. Throw him in to the Arsenal deal, too. You know he would kill to go back there. Not that they want him.

    And just for comparison, I checked. RM has two players out on loan, Valencia has 8. So 6 is reasonable.

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