On chicken farming, stadium names and Mes que un what?

If you were going to get Arsene Wenger, Arsenal coach, a birthday gift, what would it be? What, oh what, would you get the man who has almost everything (he could use some silver, yo ….).

Personally, I’d recommend one of these lovely t-shirts, that are available here. T’would be just the thing, given his affinity for luring young’uns from our warm, welcoming bosom, right?

Not so fast there, sparky.

The last time that I saw dudgeon flowing so fast and heavy, was oh, the last couple of summers, when the Cesc Fabregas transfer mill was in full flight, and Arsenal fans were acting as if we had stomped into their living rooms and were looking to pillage and plunder, rather than offering a young millionaire the chance to become even more of a young millionaire, enriching his employer in the process.

Words such as “classless” and “principle” were being bandied about, as if one club or the other had some divine right to the player. Irrespective of what side you take, the whole thing is, was and will always be stupid. I find player transfers and the whole business loathsome, as loathsome as fans who presume some sort of bond with a businessman/athlete. “Arsenal DNA,” “our captain,” blah, blah, blah. It’s all preternaturally silly, because here’s the thing:

Fabregas wanted to go to Arsenal, something we should never forget. He wanted the move, and Daddy-O wanted the move. Why? Because they knew that he didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of playing for us as a regular before, oh, 2 or 3 years from now. And he wanted to be a star sooner than that, so he took the deal that was being offered by Farmer Wenger. It worked out very well for him, right? And what’s wrong with that?

Now we have “the new Fabregas,” one Jon Miquel Toral Harper, who sounds a bit like a supermodel, or multi-monikered black actor from the ’80s. Instead, he’s 16-year-old midfielder of some talent, who has become something of a symbol now that Farmer Wenger stole up like a thief in the night and yanked him away.

And lordy, are we vexed. “Immoral” is one of my favorite words flying around, which is awesome. But here’s the thing: Harper did the same math that Fabregas did, and came to the same decision. His path to someone’s first team, millions of dollars, dates with superstar singers and whatnot, would be a lot quicker in England, a place where the player and his parents have decided best suits his style anyhow. So what?

Wenger also tried for Sergi Samper, but because Samper actually has a better shot at playing for us than Harper, the answer was no. I can only imagine how insufferable the blather would have been had he nabbed Samper, as well. Yes, insufferable, because here’s another thing:

In the U.S., top high-school prospects in big sports, are a big deal. Colleges court them, and their signing decisions are immense because the right player can change the fortune of a program, just as it can for a football club. What if Messi had decided to stay home? More importantly for the player, the right program can pave the way for his path to professional athletics, which is the point of all this stuff. The very same thing is true of our young players.

“Wenger should raise his own talent,” snuffles the Outraged Cule. Why? We’re doing a great job at it, and if our youth players are susceptible to his blandishments, then we need to look in the mirror, or more correctly, at the depth charts, in the same way that the player and his family is doing. Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Thiago, Dos Santos, Rafa, Afellay, Samper are just some of the names that math whizzes in the Harper household did some calculations on, and decided they’d rather take a shot at their kid becoming the next Fabregas, rather than the next Assulin. Nothing wrong with that.

Is the cule outrage because of Wenger’s action, or because maybe, just maybe, we’re just another club in that rather than a genteel little nursery that churns out little Xaviniestas, La Masia (soon to be all fancy and state-of-the-art) is a cutthroat place, where kids scrabble and clamber over each other’s shoulders to become the next star whose name is ringing through the Camp Nou, being shouted by 90,000 of the faithful. Good question, right?

Just like a high school basketball player has the right to choose whatever program will make him the best and enhance his chances, why should a youth footballer be any different, whether we raised him or not?

–We volunteered to pay Messi’s medical and living expenses, because we suspected he would be amazing.
–Our players came through La Masia, a place that, last time I checked, doesn’t have a stud farm and nursery, where future players are born and raised. We lure them with the promise of a bright, shining future. Just as Farmer Wenger did.

So we should just shut up about it, because just like La Masia will go from a squat stone building in the shadow of the Camp Nou to a glitzy facility, Modern Times are beckoning for our club. The signs aren’t just in the youth program, that we are fast moving from More Than A Club to Just Another Modern Club. As only the cave-dwellers need updating on, we sold the front of our shirt to a corporate sponsor. Gussy it up in all of the self-serving, feel-good bollocks that you want, but to me, Qatar Foundation is no different than Betfair, or Emirates, because we are being paid to carry the logo of an entity.

Welcome to modern times, right? Also this week, a 5m offer from our shirt sponsor for the stadium naming rights was rejected. Why? Draw your own conclusions, but my guess would be because it was too low. Don’t forget that RoSELL was putting stadium naming rights on the table, a rumor that has become reality. And why not, right? As long as we have already sold the shirt, why not go full-on modern? Arsenal got a hell of a deal for Emirates Stadium, at some 100m pounds, plus extra for the shirt. Ya-HOO! Wouldn’t that go a dang sight toward erasing some of that astronomical debt that the dastardly Joan Laporta has left us in. Boy, howdy.

Please pardon the base analogy, but you don’t lose some of your virginity. Was the UNICEF deal a preparation that got people used to the idea of a sponsor on the shirt front? Laporta said no, not on his watch. RoSELL didn’t say anything except “How much?” Who’s right and who’s wrong in these days of leveraging the hell out of a valuable commodity? Just as a player has to make all the money that he can while the sun shines, shouldn’t a club, also? (Man, am I full of questions!)

Our very own Tom Johnson suggests that the time is now for our club to ease its way into the modern world, with things such as luxury skyboxes and increased attention paid to marketing. And he makes very sound points.

RoSELL, of course, is a whiz at marketing. Has he become president of our sleepy little backwater of a club at precisely the right time? After all, everybody wants a piece of us. All the pundits say that next year, we will indeed be the top-earning club in the world, a status buttressed by our stunning success on the global football stage. And only a fool wouldn’t capitalize on that status, right? Another good question, and here’s still another one: Has Arsenal shown us the way? Highbury was an iconic footballing ground. When it was dumped for the fancy, pre-sold Emirates Stadium, garments were rent and hair yanked out at the roots, just as happened when we sold the shirt. But ask yourself what the move from Highbury to Emirates did for and to the club. Hmmmm ….

What I know is this: Irrespective of what happens to naming rights, the front of shirt, youth players or luxury boxes, Barca will still, for me, be mes que un club.

What that phrase represents, completely outside of the self-righteous, bastardized meanings that epithet-hurlers have attached to it, is the club’s deep roots in the life, culture and history of the Catalan people. You can sell the naming rights to the Camp Nou, you can sell the shirt, but can you really sell the soul of a club and a place, a soul paid for in blood? For years, the Camp Nou was the only place that anyone could be Catalan — to speak the language, embrace the culture, cheer until hoarse for the region’s brightest, most glittering symbol.

Soul is in the heart, in the beliefs, in the value system of the club and its cules. You can sell the body to whomever you like, and I leave the debate as to whether the time is indeed right to sell out to you all. But I say that just like a blues player who might be on a major label but still has the blues in his soul, Barca will be, forever and always, mes que un club, no matter what RoSELL or anybody else does, buys or sells.

This picture symbolizes a lot of what the modern era represents for our club. It’s Puyol and Xavi, clad in the shirts of the Spanish national team, carrying a World Cup trophy that they won while playing for Spain, as they are holding a Senyera, the flag of Catalunya, a region that (dependent upon who you ask) would luuuuve to have its full independence from the aforementioned Spain.

Modern Times, a place full of tempests and compromises, are indeed beckoning for our club. And no matter what or how it happens, love remains the same.

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Written by:

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.

230 Comments

  1. BarcaGirl_Indo
    February 24, 2011

    and YEAAAYYY for Villareal…
    I support them, though I kinda like Napoli too… 😀

  2. blitzen
    February 24, 2011

    Thrilled for the Yellow Submarine!!!!! Wish I could have seen the game.

  3. February 24, 2011

    Kxevin continues to write his heart out and this piece is particularly brilliant in the midst of all the negativity the management has been bringing to fans. thanks a lot.

    Question: Is it possible to simply snap a “buy back option” to all youth players just like what we did to Botia? Or is it because we would be too unfair to the kids when we do so then we don’t? Answer me all you smart people.

    • mei
      February 24, 2011

      No , you cant.
      Botia was not just a youth player , he was a player under contract that barcelona agreed to sell for a fixed amount.
      A transfer is, the consent of a club given to the interested party , to held talks with a contracted player for a fixed amount of money.
      The club the player is under contract , can request a clause in the contract proposed by the interested party ,which can be triggered if an offer of the agreed amount during a fixed also preagreed amount of time is made, and allows the former club to get in contract talks with the player and if he agrees , he can come back for this amount.
      The players mentioned here, are not under a contract.
      They can be signed for free , although as weve seen in the past, if barcelona decides to claim a fee, they will get some kind of training compensation via the court way, like in fabregas and fran merida cases.
      Its interesting enough that in both these cases barcelona received a fee and in fran merida’s case , quite a big one too.

      So its not like what arsenal are doing is neither completely “moral” by some people , nor legal if we understand the logic behind these court decisions too.

      Toral’s case is different.
      Although arsenal got into talks without the parents club’s permission(which is legal) but not common route for clubs that are frequently doing business together(especially when the one that was up in arms accusing us of tapping up, just because barcelona’s offer was too low for their valuation ,lol!), they got back to barcelona and agreed a fee.
      (After the player agreed to their terms).

  4. BarcaGirl_Indo
    February 24, 2011

    I know Mei has posted this from @barcastuff :

    Juan Ferrando (personal coach Cesc): “His future? Cesc just wants to play football, although he’s crazily wishing to join Barça.” [ona fm]

    now, here’s come a very good question from barcastuff:

    “are there are also rules about a player and his entourage tapping up a club or can only clubs tap up?”

    • blitzen
      February 24, 2011

      What is a “personal coach”? Is that like a life coach? 😛

      • BarcaGirl_Indo
        February 25, 2011

        girl, I had no idea… 😛

      • BarcaGirl_Indo
        February 25, 2011

        [I]TES[/I]
        [B]TES[/B]

      • BarcaGirl_Indo
        February 25, 2011

        hahaha… FAIL…

    • Miguel
      February 25, 2011

      ibra e testa di cazzo. 😉

  5. Pyro
    February 24, 2011

    Since we are talking about Botia. I want that guy back. He is playing better than Gabi Milito right now and now he was La Liga experience to go with. We need to activate that clause

    • soccermomof4
      February 25, 2011

      Ditto!

  6. Jose
    February 24, 2011

    My own take on the Barca/Arsenal issues presented here…

    I’ve generally tried to take the POV of Arsenal fans when it comes to a lot of subjects. I think I often fail.

    Mes que un club

    This is our motto, and a powerfully fitting motto for the role that the club has played in modern Catalan history. People, particularly British and EPL fans, need to get over their initial urge to see this as some arrogant slight on them. It’s not about you. It’s about Barca representing–for many years–the only place where Catalan culture and language could be expressed. Not only that, but the important place that the club holds for an entire nation, i.e. more than simply being the local football club.

    Player Transfers

    I don’t like that they’re actively fishing throughout every academy, in France, Holland, Spain searching for young talent. I also don’t like that they brag about being some sort of financial paragon for how a club should be run when their practices are ruinous to many continental clubs. But I can’t blame them for playing their advantages. And I also sympathize full with those players that leave Barca to get more playing time and/or money at other clubs. I wish Toral the best, I really do. And I think that Fabregas might have made the best choice for himself hindsight by going to Arsenal. He wouldn’t be the player he is today (with so much experience) were it not for Arsenal.

    Barca DNA

    This is just the most childish thing to get upset over. If a young man grew up in North London, went to his first Arsenal match before he was 2 years old, cheered for the club all his life, went through his developmental years in Arsenal’s youth academy, then YES, it is a proper figure of speech to say he has Arsenal in his blood. He has Arsenal DNA. How is that so flippin’ controversial?

    Fabregas

    I think it is abundantly clear that Cesc wants to come to Barcelona. I also think it’s clear that Cesc has a lot of love for Arsenal and doesn’t want to do anything that will tarnish his standing with the club and its people. When he says that right now he just wants to win everything he can with Arsenal, you know it’s sincere. As Xavi said, the situation is a putada, because he wants to play for us as well (especially now that Pep is coach, who knows for how long), our players/coach want him to come, but it’s simply is not feasible. No one can expect Arsenal to hand over their best player for far below his market value.

    (Let me make it clear, I don’t think we need Cesc, and I definitely don’t think we should break above $30MM to get him. I don’t think we deserve any any special discount due to the fact that he is a canterano, only as far as it means that he evidently really wants to come here and that does hold some market weight.)

    It doesn’t get said enough, but a lot of the fault has to land on Cesc for signing such an absurdly long contract. Seriously, if his contract was up next year (2012), Barca could afford to get him for ~$25MM this summer. He would be happy leaving his club amicably, our players would be happy to have him, we wouldn’t need to break the bank and Arsenal would get dutifully compensated. But it’s not. That’s why it’s a putada.

    Also, I’ll say that I thought all that stuff our players were saying over the summer was in poor taste… before I found out they weren’t saying any of it at all. And that Pique and Puyol prank was “un chiste pesado” (a joke in poor taste) but it’s also a joke between old friends. The collective fit from the Gunner nation ignored that context.

    Finally, as much as I try to put myself in a Gunner’s position, I can’t find the reason for such concentrated ill will toward our club and our players based on what has actually happened. If another club in the football world, say ManU, started talking up Pique and the ManU players would sing his praises and say they would love to see him back at Manchester, I wouldn’t hate the ManU players for it. If some of them held a special relationship with Pique, I wouldn’t assign some larger, sinister cause to their comments (as in “Barca club is manipulating Cesc through their players to lower the price, those tapper uppers!”). And I’d also laugh it off. Because our players aren’t going anywhere. If any club came a knockin’ for Messi/Xavi/Iniesta, I wouldn’t take offense, particularly because they ain’t going nowhere.

    It seems to me that some of that ill will stems from their knowing that their very own captain and hero would prefer to be at this other club. This same club that put your club to shame in the last competition. So you make mountains out of molehills. It’s much easier to blame Barca (and complain about “Barca DNA” or “tapping up”) than to say “this situation is just a putada”. Or assign some sinister intent to everything the club does.

    All joking aside, Arsenal is the kind of club I’d like to like. God knows we’re running out of those. But since last summer the thought of even wishing good things for them is just exhausting.

    • Jose
      February 24, 2011

      I would appreciate any feedback from the nice Gunners that visited us today. Also, that last line should be in the context that last season I was genuinely disappointed that you weren’t able to pull off that final push for the Premiership title.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      February 25, 2011

      the problem with Cesc saga is the media, they make it even worse…

      Interviewer : would you like to see with Cesc back Barcelona? and do you think it’s gonna happen?

      Messi/Pique/Iniesta/Xavi/Puyol : well, yes, of course I love to play with Cesc in the futture. He’s our close friend, a great person and a great player. He always said he wants to come home, it’s his dream, he has Barça DNA… so I think he’ll end up here, but I don’t know when…
      (is there anything wrong with this kind of answer? seriously?)

      HEADLINE:
      “Messi/Pique/Iniesta/Xavi/Puyol Thinks Cesc Fabregas Should Go To Barcelona”
      “Messi/Pique/Iniesta/Xavi/Puyol : Cesc Fabregas Has Barça DNA”

      and then hot headed gooner fans screaming and cursing :
      Aaaaaaaaaaggghhh!!! They’re tapping up our captain! Somebody call the police! Hands off our captain! Leave him alone! F*** off Barça! Barça DNA my arse!

      not to mention fake interviews made by British media…
      thinks are getting worse and worse…

    • Josep
      February 25, 2011

      Beautiful post Jose.

  7. K_legit
    February 25, 2011

    1. I have a read a LOT of alleged ‘news’ on the internet of those young Arsenal players visiting Barcelona but nowhere reputed.

    2. As far as I am concerned, Toral did what he thought was good for him and fair play to him but Barça did get the compensation which will mean a precedent maybe? Mainly because we heard a lot of Sergi Samper and have been hearing a lot more because of his ‘potential’ potential to replace Xavi. Maybe Toral was never hyped because he was never as good?

    3. Did you read about the Football Manager player who applied for the Middlesborough First Team coaching job?

    4. Iniesta, when asked about Toral: “I prefer to play 5 minutes here, than to play 90 minutes somewhere else.”
    ^This. Always

  8. February 25, 2011

    Very nicely written article. I love this objectiveness you are providing. Always a delight for a Non-cule (or rather anti cule?) like me.

    Barcelona and Real Madrid are in the spot light. Its how it works. The two richest and biggest clubs in the world, why the hell would the spot light not be on them? When this happens, it puts the club under excessive scrutiny. Is Barcelona’s attempt at buying Cesc wrong? Is it what the gooners make it out to be? It most definitely is not. If it was, then why do transfer windows exist? This is a game. Transfers and buying players is part of the game.

    A team with the capabilities of Barcelona has the right (and financial strength) to pursue what they believe is best for their club. If that is buying Cesc then what is the big deal? Anyways, its not like if they said they want to buy him then its a done deal, its a much more complicated process. How many times have we seen a club accept a transfer fee only for the player to reject? It happened when Milan accepted Man Cities bid for Kaka only for him to say no.

    Here is what i think Arsenal fans are afraid off: They are afraid that their beloved captain really wants to leave. If someone bid for Casillas right now, and the bid was accepted, i would not be afraid. There is no doubt in my mind that my club captain would do everything to stay at the club. Is it Barcelona’s fault that Cesc wants to join them? I dont see it. I see it as Arsenals fault for not being tempting enough for Cesc to stay. And its become sort of a nightmare for them with Viera, Henry, Hleb and many more of their top players leaving for other big teams. I think its a matter of silverware, as Arsenal has become more of a develop and sell kind of team rather than develop and win kind of team.

    As for buying youth players, then what has been said by Kxevin covers it.

    As for Barcelona becoming a modern club in terms of merchandise and finances, i think thats normal. Most clubs in the world (at least the big ones) are involved in charities and community work. Its part of the business. Up until Senior Perez, our club was not a business machine like it is now. And to be honest, i find it useless. Despite our enormous debt, the club is making enough money and profits each year to keep it more than safe.

    If you really want to talk about whats fair, i say both our teams should let go of the TV rights they have. Barcelona and Real Madrid have around 70% of the TV rights in spain. We need to go back to financial equality were Betis was a club capable of making a 28 million bid for players.

    My last point, have you guys been watching Botia this season? Yes he has La Liga experience, but is he really that good? I think the center back position is a clear problem for the future. I say that because a player like Pique needs a Puyol kind of player next to him. What i mean by a puyol kind of defender is that the defender playing next to Pique is the one that has to be the fast, run at attackers, step off the defensive line to break attacks. Once you dont have that, you end up have an unbalanced defensive partnership. Botia is not the fastest (actually very slow) and is not compatible to play next to Pique, IMO. I have seen Fontas play, and he is really good, but again you have to consider the compatibility. In defense, especially when it comes to center back partnerships, the partnership counts much more than the talent does. I would take two average but compatible defenders over one good and one average but non compatible defenders. Is there anyone in your ranks that fits the Puyol kind of defender?

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      February 25, 2011

      I cant believe a comment from EE fans is more classy and rational then some Arsenal fans who registered here..
      Bassam, I love you… LOL… 😀

      “Is it Barcelona’s fault that Cesc wants to join them? I dont see it. I see it as Arsenals fault for not being tempting enough for Cesc to stay.”

      This. something that most Arsenal fans forget/pretend they don’t know, this whole transfer saga, their captain is the one who started it!

      “Is there anyone in your ranks that fits the Puyol kind of defender?”

      big question… I see Muniesa, Fontas, or Bartra has the potential to be our next CB…
      and you absolutely right, Pique is not the fastest defender, which is not his fault…
      he needs a perfect partnership, but who? I don’t know…

      • barca96
        February 25, 2011

        The next time you have trollers on your site, do inform us!

  9. barca96
    February 25, 2011

    Ibrahimovic (Milan): “My problem at Barcelona was one man – the ‘philosopher’.The first 6 months at Barcelona were great but then Guardiola stopped talking to me. Still don’t know what happened.”

    After reading that and this last night;

    ”If you don’t have someone to motivate you then you don’t want to fight, this is why there are coaches. ”
    “I would have killed for Jose Mourinho, for the motivation he gave me and for how he used to stimulate me.”
    “With the other [Guardiola] there was football, but a coach must adapt his play to suit the players, especially after spending €70 million on one.”

    I really got mad. I really hoped that it wasn’t a comment taken out of context or an interview by a fishy newspaper.
    But it wasn’t.
    I really can’t believe most of the fans actually fell for his act.
    I hope he never ever wears our jersey anymore.

    I just don’t get why he wants to continue talking s**t about our club or Pep. He must be jealous over there playing in La Liga and not getting any press.

  10. Diego
    February 25, 2011

    Cesc is a son who went out against his parent’s will, got lost with no money, signed a five year contract at a shop, then He’s calling his parents asking them to come get him and try to solve the matter with the shop’s owner.

    Do I want to see Cesc playing for us ? Of course.
    Am I willing to pay 45m for him ? Absolutely Not. A year ago, He signed a five year extension making his contract end at 2016 instead of this Summer, If he really wanted to come why did he sign the contract ?

    We Have Thiago, Afellay (I think he’s better at midfield), Iniesta, Busquet, Mascherano They’re all young and can go for the next 5 years. With a small purchase here and there we can do well (Borja Valero, Bruno.) I’m not even mentioning the canteranos who can come up in the next 5 years (Sergi Roberto, Oriol Romeu, etc)

    I want Nolito in next year’s First Team and Jeffren gone. If they’re both selfish, erratic, and careless with posession, Nolito is at least not that Injury Prone.

    • blitzen
      February 25, 2011

      I knew it! It’s a plot by our enemies to destabilize the club!

  11. Lev
    February 25, 2011

    Apart from Toral, this year several top 16 yr-old prospects from Ajax and Feyenoord were snatched up by Man U, Chelsea and Arsenal. Ditto for France.

    I almost* start to wish that were Barça eliminated from the CL I would prefer EE to win it rather than any of the EPL teams. And no, it is not for the eloquent comments our friendly enemy Bassam posts on BfB, but because of the damage the EPL is doing to other countries’ football leagues by raiding their academies.

    *almost…and i would say that the point of no return is in sight. Were there a final EE-Arsenal tonight I possibly would not know until the match is played who I want to win (read: who I want to see lose more). For all that I despise Real Madrid (and this year even more so with Mourinho, Ronaldo and Carvalho) I simply despise the EPL more right now – they are the true Evil Empire, snatching up younglings throughout the whole of Europe.

    @diego lol yeah i saw that too. tan bobo

    • Extreme barca fan
      February 25, 2011

      Lev: Tempted by the dark side you are

      • Lev
        February 25, 2011

        lol, I didn’t even like the (last) Star Wars films, but I couldn’t help myself.

        I am serious though – I hate Madrid, but I LOVE to hate them. I don’t love to hate the EPL, but their play for power has gone too far, it is effecting the quality of football in stadiums throughout the whole of Europe. Something should be done about this.

      • soccermomof4
        February 25, 2011

        I know what you mean, Lev. Lately, I’ve been thinking that I MIGHT want EE go go through. Would it make me happier if EE, Villareal, and we get far in the CL and EPL teams don’t. One more thing, despite never wanting EE to win anything, is it better for us if they are stretched by having to be in another competition.

  12. soccermomof4
    February 25, 2011

    I’ve refrained from commenting on this because y’all know that Arsenal is my seconds team and because I haven’t been following this sport long enough to know the intricacies of transfers. For what it’s worth, my take on it:
    1. Clubs should be allowed to recruit young talent. It’s what turns these kids dreams into not reality, but at least a shot at it.
    2. Transfers of young talent should be allowed( if done fairly), but taking advantage of the differences in laws between countries seems a little fishy to me!
    3. If a player is homesick, then he should NOT sign another long-term contract. REALLY! We’re supposed to pay beaucoup bucks to get a homesick player back! Well tough buggers! He shouldn’t have signed that contract and should stay at Arsenal and be homesick. That being said, later in his contract when he is cheaper is the time to talk transfer. Sorry, Cesc, you signed the damn contract, now live with it. (ooooh, somom just said damn, the horror)

    • soccermomof4
      February 25, 2011

      second not seconds
      boogers not buggers (honest spelling mistake- I know it means something else but it wasn’t intended)

  13. Lev
    February 25, 2011

    Another very troublesome development in European football these years, of which Barça is also guilty, is the recruiting of teenage African footballers.

    In France alone there are reports of approximately 7,000 African teenagers who are now either homeless and/or are stuck in France without a working visa who have found not good enough by the clubs to which they had been offered. They have either been recruited by club scouts, or (more often) recruited and flown to Europe by dubious third parties (agents). The financial risks for the club are zero. Even if 1 percent of those players are good enough to make it professionally, the clubs will benefit from it either financially or in terms of the quality of their team.

    They don’t give a F about “99” percent who are discarded, about the money their family might have spent to send them to Europe, which for a lot of African families is a fortune, about the fact that they might never return to their families again, about what will happen to them in a continent where they are not allowed to work, about the cost to society where a lot of people are (unfortunately) less than sympathetic to foreigners, and especially those living in Europe illegally.

    Now, I am sure that Barça (and probably the big EPL teams) are more responsible with their African youth talents, but I would very much prefer them setting up academies IN AFRICA which stimulate sports in Africa where talents cannot leave to Europe at least until they are 18 or older. Ajax has (or had, I’m not sure) Ajax Capetown, a team that plays in the South African league. The vast majority of their players never make it to Europe, but the team (I think or I HOPE) plays a positive role in stimulating African football and gives to Africa rather than taking away from Africa.

    One good thing Barça does, and Cruijff has played a big role in this, is that the Masía is més que una academia de futbol. I had never known this until recently, but the kids actually spend only 1 hour a day playing football. The rest of the time is devoted to school.

    • barca96
      February 25, 2011

      Yeah. We do have a satellite team in S.Africa. In fact, one of them made it big or at least made a life in Europe, if Im not mistaken, it was Pius Ikedia(sp?) and maybe there was another one.
      I followed that team actually for a while but they were a mid-table team. But that was over 10 years ago. Maybe they’re strong now after benefitting from the partnership with Ajax. Man, I miss Ajax!

      You’re right about the teenage African kids. Actually same thing is happening to S.American kids. I watched a documentary on it over 10 years ago on a Dutch speaking Bellgian channel.

      @Kari, it was me who complained about the lack of comments/posts. Hehe

      • barca96
        February 25, 2011

        Then you have cases where these poor African or S.American kids being conned into travelling to Europe for a trial. Can you imagine, a young kid travelling to Europe and then get stuck without a passport and have to work illegally in the country to earn the money in order to be able to fly back.

        But then again, those cases were over 10 years.
        Maybe those things dont happen anymore.

      • Lev
        February 25, 2011

        Really? Didn’t know about that the same was happening to latino players. Guess I figured that there are enough opportunities to become a professional football player in Latin America and that the vast majority don’t leave until having played pro in their own country.

        It is really sad.

        There should be a law against contracting players younger than 18, so that:

        1. children are protected against exploitation
        2. smaller leagues are protected against exploitation

        Even better would be to revert to 3 foreigners on the pitch per team at all time…

  14. barca96
    February 25, 2011

    “By selling 2-3 players, and a couple of B-team players (with buy-back clause), Barcelona would have a summer transfer budget of 60-65M ”

    Who are they trying to sell? Milito is definitely one of them. But who is the other one? Jeffren? Most likely right?
    B team? I hope it’s the older forwards. We do have a few over 20yo players. Id rather have the cantenaros getting playing time rather than players like Edu who is 26 years old.

    • Lev
      February 25, 2011

      how about spending a bit less money on new players and NOT selling the naming rights of the stadium?

    • blitzen
      February 25, 2011

      Rumours are afloat that Nolito will be promoted this summer. I hope so, anyway. At his age it is make-or-break time. Give him his chance and see if he steps up. He has been playing very well lately. And if they won’t promote, they should sell.

      Sell Milto. I’ll be sad to see him go, but I understand that he wants to be where he can get more playing time. And right now, he is just not good enough for us to rely on. Replace him with Fontas, who will be happy enough to ride the bench and take his chances to play when we need him.

      Sell Jeffren. Although he is so brittle, I don’t know who would take the chance on him. Do we even have an estimated date of when he will be fit enough to play again? Poor kid. Maybe he should take up a non-contact sport like….curling?

    • Mila
      February 25, 2011

      Buy whom?

      Bale? Spurs will not sell and frankly I cannot see him leaving England, if he goes, it will be one of the EPL clubs.

      Neymar? Oh puhlease, both his talent and his attitude have been discussed to death around here and around tens of other fora.

      Fabregas? Why? Why do we need him? What is so damn important about him that spending 45 mil or more on a benchwarmer makes it ok? Don’t say he has Barca DNA. DNA will not pay the bills and we have the left flank to worry about instead of flunking a whole summer budget on someone we do not need and hamper the development of Thiago and Affelay all in one move!

      Our left back position remains a liability when King Abidal plays at CB. Let’s face it, Captain Caveman is not getting any younger, the 2 will probably share the CB duties for a couple of years and Maxwell (as much as I love the guy) is not good enough for Barca either in CL or against strong teams in La Liga that time and time again have pulled his pants down.

      So why oh why oh why do we need to sell our youth?

      Sorry, rant over 🙂

      • Jim
        February 25, 2011

        Happy to have you put down any examples where teams have “pulled Maxwell’s pants down”. If not, please stop saying it. I’ll say it again. I can’t think of the last time Maxwell caused us any problems defensively. I can give you examples where he saved our bacon by good positioning.

        On the other hand I could mention the two Arsenal goals where Abidal was at least partly responsible for both and his poor pass to Busi which led to the penalty against Bilbao. That’s just in the last two games !

        Not getting at Abidal, just saying let’s be objective about this and if you can’t point to a problem that Maxwell has caused which puts us in bother don’t just repeat what others say. Sorry, Mila, don’t mean to be cranky but this gets my goat. Maxwell has been rock solid defensively for us. Offensively? That’s a different story.

  15. February 25, 2011

    How do you guys and gals do it? How do you cope with the utter BULL***t
    that, that DISGUSTING EE coach lets out of his mouth?! I try and try to keep my calm but he just CAN”T stop PROVOKING us…
    Now he MOANS about us arranging our schedule and not playing as many games as EE at 10pm… and how that altough he talks and talks nothings actually changes since we (Barca) have always a schedule better arranged…
    I need advice…on how to cope with his insanity without thinking violent stuff…argghh
    kinda funny I have a master in Psychology and still can;t help myself!

    • Lev
      February 25, 2011

      It is easy. I look at the class with which Pep behaves himself and it makes me happy that we didn’t hire Mourinho a couple of years ago.

      It would be harder to cope if it were our own coach…

      (anybody remember this?)
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=do5-ZNVjZPY

      • K_legit
        February 25, 2011

        LOL Lev you made my day…that brings back so many memories..
        Van Gaal and (at times) Cruyff brutalised Spanish with their Dutch phrase transliteration
        Anyone remember En Un Momento Dado?

      • Lev
        February 25, 2011

        whooooah Cruijff didn’t brutalize, he innovated! (and not just Spanish, but any language, including his own lol)

      • Lev
        February 25, 2011

        btw I would love to see the documentary about Cruijff’s years at Barça, En Un Momento Dado

      • Vj
        February 25, 2011

        Translation please..

      • barca96
        February 25, 2011

        Van Gaal ha ha.
        I remembered in his first stint, he was really mad at the journos and kept showing the newspaper. I cant remember at all what he was saying, but the commentator in Holland was laughing when presenting that piece of news 😆

      • Lev
        February 25, 2011

        it is hard to translate, because it refers to an infamous press conference Van Gaal gave when he was still at Barça (check the link I posted)

        he says to a journalist in poor Spanish with an even worse accent:

        “you are very bad to say I have broken the pact of the dressing room.
        Because I have talked to Rivaldo, and I have said…How do I have to explain…
        You are very bad. Va…very bad.

        (journalist raises finger)

        Van Gaal continues:
        “No, no, no, no. You are very bad. Broken the pact of dressing room.
        (screaming) Your interpretation, always negative! Always negative! Never positive!

        Years later Van Gaal played in Spain as the head coach of AZ Alkmaar, I think it was at Villareal, in the Europa League, and the crowd was still singing at him: siempre negativa! Nunca positiva!

        The second interview (K-Legit’s link) was conducted during the semis of last years’ CL.

        Van Gaal to a Spanish journalist:
        “It could be fantastic. In Madrid, against Barcelona, with Van Gaal. Siempre positiva! (always positive!)*

      • Vj
        February 25, 2011

        So that’s why I had a difficulty comprehending his Spanish (Although I get only a few words right now..)

      • K_legit
        February 25, 2011

        I posted links for the Documentary you requested but its under moderation

  16. K_legit
    February 25, 2011

    For Lev
    Ask and you shall etc

    http://rapidshare.com/#!download|260tg2|97683452|Johan_Cruijff_-_En_un_momento_dado.part1.rar|104857

    http://rapidshare.com/#!download|297l35|97698994|Johan_Cruijff_-_En_un_momento_dado.part2.rar|104857

    http://rapidshare.com/#!download|245tl2|97780643|Johan_Cruijff_-_En_un_momento_dado.part3.rar|104857

    http://rapidshare.com/#!download|744tl|97792087|Johan_Cruijff_-_En_un_momento_dado.part4.rar|104857

    http://rapidshare.com/#!download|617l36|97803052|Johan_Cruijff_-_En_un_momento_dado.part5.rar|104857

    http://rapidshare.com/#!download|181l32|97813355|Johan_Cruijff_-_En_un_momento_dado.part6.rar|104857

    http://rapidshare.com/#!download|335tg|97823868|Johan_Cruijff_-_En_un_momento_dado.part7.rar|104857

    http://rapidshare.com/#!download|702tg|97823922|Johan_Cruijff_-_En_un_momento_dado.part8.rar|531

  17. Lev
    February 25, 2011

    Great. March starts with 3 games in 7 days time, the third of which is Arsenal…

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