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.

By Kxevin

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.


  1. Nice article. I really admire your professional attitude and cool head. I am more of a hot head and my first intake is always an emotional one may it be with regards to our performance on the pitch, a defeat, a favourite player, somebody criticising our beloved club our somebody poaching one of our talents. The brain can agree with every point you make and see its rightfullness, but the heart,.

    On an other topic: rumour that we are interested in Pirlo, as if we need an other midfielder, why are there never rumours connecting us with a player for a position where we need strengthening: like a back-up striker, maybe a CB or LB. I would be delighted if there were a rumour linking Kanoute to Barca, or maybe Forlan.

  2. I am an Arsenal supporter and proud to be. Well at least that is out of the way. Can I commend you on a superb article that I will recommend every Arsenal fan reads. I have visited your beautiful City many times and of course, the Stadium. What struck me was the amount of training pitches outside the ground and EVERY SINGLE kid was wearing Barca shirts. Thats where you kinda think “more than a club”? Yeah this lot have a point. As far as Wenger being a farmer? Well at least he goes to the orchards where the best is being grown. Good luck in the Champions League and in beating Madrid to the Spanish title. Oh yeah and keep growing superb players like Cesc eh? 🙂

  3. Nice article Kevin, been a while since your last non-review article
    For me i don’t blame the kids for wanting to leave and play for another club if they think they have a better chance there, the problem is with Wenger, he is actually stealing the best talent he can get for almost free and he is taking credit for that, what world are we living in??.
    Yes we lure players, but we invest time and money in them, we try to make them better people and better footballers and when they start showing signs of their ability, Wenger comes and snatches them. Sorry Kevin, but there is a big difference between what any decent football academy does and what Wenger does, its just immoral.
    The biggest similarity between our system and Arsenal’s is that we both heavily depend on la masia products.

  4. I hope the day will never arrive when I call Barca’s stadium anything other than the Camp Nou. Selling the shirt is one thing but selling the name of our stadium is selling our soul, that I cannot stomach.

    On the actions Wenger, I find it ironic how Arsenal fans have nothing to say about this poaching but will forever call us classless but HEY everything happens for a reason if Toral was meant to be a future star of Barca the cards would’ve fall where they should have..

    The only issues I see in this case is how Arsenal are reportedly paying Toral over 35 times more than what Barca paid him, if Arsenal can to that then they can easily tempt so many Spanish youth players who are only paid around a $10,000 standard rate.

    1. “but HEY everything happens for a reason if Toral was meant to be a future star of Barca the cards would’ve fall where they should have..”

      i agree..sometimes i think that if we had managed to retain fabregas would we have seen xavi develop into this phenomenal playmaker that he is today or would he have had the same busi kinda role that he used to have when deco and ronnie used to play, with the playmaking duties given to fabregas

  5. Two of the more interesting and ultimately concerning aspects of the Toral situation were 1) The form of the transaction; and 2) The amount of money Arsenal agreed to pay Barcelona.

    Arsenal reportedly paid 600,000 euros for toral. That is not an insignificant amount of money.

    That 600K figure was reached by Barca essentially saying that it costs us 90,000 euro per year to develop a player + some kind of value added tax for the transaction.

    What’s of concern here is the manner in which Arsenal and Barca have “standardized” this transaction.

    Barca have functionally set a price here for their own cost of development. This makes explicit how much one of their youth players is “worth” in terms of invested resources. This price may not be the same for all youth players but it’s a sets a kind of standard for the transaction.

    Arsenal could have tried to do what they’ve done in the past and simply sign the player. Why did they pay so much?

    From Arsenal’s point of view they agreed to that 600K fee largely to avoid trouble e.g. legal action and to maintain better relationships with Barca.

    This transaction to me had the feeling of a buyer trying to maintain good relationships with the “seller” because the buyer is expecting to do additional business in the future.

    It paves the way and normalizes the business process of Arsenal acquiring youth players from Barca in the future.

    We’re likely going to see more Toral’s headed to the Emirates in the future.

    Wegner’s entire development and business models have one major problem – he clearly does not think he can find young players in England in sufficient quantity to play the style of football he wants.

    And in turn that means he needs to aggressively pick them off from other clubs and other countries.

  6. Euler, are we seeing more Toral’s to Emirates or a certain #4 to Camp Nou?

    The thing that kills me about this transfer, and all the other “poaches” is the way its done. You can offer a contract to a player which we can not. Thats what sucks.

    Now I’ve seen a few blogs still calling us classless, which bothers me. I get a little iffy. Or they brag about beating us 2-1.

    But the one that I ponder as I don’t know the full answer, is that we did the same to Puyol, Iniesta, Pedro, etc. Now I’ve always assumed we paid some compensation to these clubs and basically what we offer the players is way better training facilities, team, coaches, diet, etc. What Arsenal offer is more money, and a quicker route as they’re really only competing with other youngsters.

    Toral, you can go. You really want the money, and the GIVEN first team football in 2012. Take it, good on you. Samper… you’re a gem. You had the same opportunities but it means so much for you to play in this shirt that you’d rather wait 4-5 years than play elsewhere.

    Thats why I don’t want Fab to come back. He left the club. He left the shirt, why should we welcome him back with open arms?

    1. another point someone made is when a club does this to a big club like us, tough shit. we can deal with it.

      but when the Red Star Belgrade’s and the RC Lens of the world lose their young star for peanuts, then its a problem. Its true. Why even try to bring up young talent if it walks away for so cheap. I think the least they could do when other clubs sign these players is REQUIRE a sell on % of the fee or something where the club still gets compensated for the players further successes.

    2. I don’t think this has much to do with Fabergas.

      What Wenger is doing is analogous to taking advantage of differences in international law to create arbitrage opportunities in market (here talent) that’s globalized.

      And given what’s happening in the market in the EPL with the Andy Carroll insanity and the overall prices there – we’re likely going to see Wenger continue to try to find young players from other teams youth systems very aggressively.

      His incentive and need to do so only went up with what happened this winter in England.

      Letting Fabergas out of his contract would set a very dangerous precedent for Wenger. It threatens the entire model he’s using to build the club.

      If Fabergas wants out he’s going to have to make himself a problem.

    3. but that’s the thing, wenger is steering clear of the evils of EPL(high transfer fees) while still reaping the benefits the system has to offer(insanely high revenues, global market appeal)
      that is hard to swallow, it should be a part of the package

  7. Euler you mention that Wenger cannot find talent in England? Jack Wilshire? Theo Walcott? Keiran Gibbs? The two players Barca were so interested in? Afobe and Aneke? Mate, do your homework.

    1. That’s not many. Walcott’s transfer was INSANE and in all honestly its not going to/hasn’t paid off. He’s made of glass.

      I’ve loved Wilshere for years i’m really, really happy the kid is turning out this way (except his behavior off the pitch..) I haven’t seen much of Gibbs.

      and could you link me to a story of those two kids? I’ve been hearing we tried to poach them but I don’t remember much this summer.

    2. Oh please. You know very well exactly what I mean. This issue is widely discussed in England as it is and has been since Wenger took over.

      What’s striking about Jack Wilshere is how few of him there have been at Arsenal over Wenger’s entire time at the helm.

      Walcott has been considered inconsistent and a disappointment – even by many Arsenal supporters.

      Gibbs – we’ll see.

      Regardless, the English born players at Arsenal are the exception – not the rule. And that’s the way it’s been for a long time at Arsenal.

      I have no issue with that whatsoever. It’s a globalized market in talent.

      However, there’s no doubt as to why Wenger keeps looking for young players abroad to play how he wants football played.

      And the issue of how youngsters are raised to play football in England, the emphasis on physicality, and the limited instruction on technique are all widely discussed issues in England especially in the context of the English National Team.

    3. Sorry to flood your blog mate. But Euler, a quick check on Wikipedia reveals the following with regard to nationality among the youth at Arsenal. The vast majority are English/Irish:

      U18 League
      The following players are eligible for the U18 Academy League in the current 2010–11 season.

      Origin Position Player
      Argie GK Damián Martínez
      Irish GK Sean McDermott
      English GK Reice Charles-Cook
      English DF Nicholas Yennaris (captain)
      Irish DF Ben Glasgow
      Spanish DF Ignasi Miquel
      ? DF Daniel Boateng
      Swiss DF Sead Hajrović
      Swiss DF Martin Angha
      Irish DF Steve Smith
      Swiss DF Elton Monteiro
      English DF George Brislen-Hall
      English DF James Campbell
      English DF Samir Bihmoutine
      English MF Jamie Edge
      English MF Jeffrey Monakana
      Irish MF Callum Webb
      English MF Jordan Wynter
      Dutch MF Oğuzhan Özyakup
      English MF Chuks Aneke
      English MF Josh Rees
      Dutch MF Kyle Ebecilio
      English MF Jernade Meade
      English MF Alban Bunjaku
      English FW Benik Afobe
      English FW Zak Ansah
      English FW Nigel Neita
      Irish FW Phillip Roberts

      Here’s the amazing thing all the “Schoolboys” are English

      Position Player
      GK Billy Du-Val
      DF Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill
      MF Jamal Wiseman
      MF Luke Iffiel
      MF Josh Siafa
      MF Isaac Hayden
      MF Jack Jebb
      FW Zak Fagan
      FW Anthony Jeffrey
      FW Jordan Palmer-Samuels
      FW Austin Lipman
      FW Chuba Akpom

    4. I wasn’t commenting on the composition of the Arsenal youth system.

      I was referring to the players who have substantively contributed to the Arsenal first team who did come up through the Arsenal youth system.

      And the fact is, very few have been English. Could that change in the future? I suppose but until there’s evidence of that it’s an open question.

      Of course the majority of players in the youth system will tend to be from the home country just do to practicality.

      But the vast majority of those youth players will never wear the Arsenal shirt.

      The question is where are the talented players who make a different on the first team coming from?

      Wenger himself has been critical of the way young footballers are developed in England.

      And Arsenal’s reliance on “foreigners” has been widely discussed in England for years and years.

    5. If you read Euler comment entirely you would see he specifically said “sufficient quantity”. The players you name are only a handful of players who some don’t even feature as much. I remember last year Wenger had a blow out of the way Fran merida decided to leave Arsenal and return to Spain. Thats the same feeling our coaching staff have when a gem leaves home.

      Also the cases in which Barca acquired Pedro, Puyol and Iniesta are quite interesting. For starters Pedro at 17 years old came to barca unsure of having a future in football. At that time he was driver of various things. Puyol on the other hand came to barca in 1995 unsure of what his real position was. It was only at BARCA he gain his skills as a defender while Iniesta is as good as our own as he joined la Masia at age 12.

      Thats why we consider all of them our own and they call us home, this is something only a few Arsenal players feel for Arsenal. You never hear any of them calling London their home or giving their heart and soul for the shirt. In fact most of Arsenal players eventually leave them at some point in there career instead of retiring a legend, this is something only TRUE youth players will do,as Xavi,Puyol and Valdes will never leave us for money and will retire a club heroes.

      BTW our youth players who leave us tend to either return to Spain after getting some fine training abroad, so I don’t see Toral becoming a key player for Arsenal anytime soon.

  8. I read a very calm article (translation via TB) about Toral the other day that basically pointed out that this whole thing is happening because the boy himself wants it to.

    Toral’s style, apparently, is less like Xavi’s or Iniesta’s or Thiago’s (that would be Samper’s domain), and he’s more of a big, strong, hard-charging midfielder who’s good in the air. Way more similar to a Lampard or a Keane. His dream is apparently to play in the EPL and challenge himself against players who are more like him. He wants it so badly, apparently, that he is moving to England alone while his whole family (including the oft-mentioned English mother!) stays behind in Catalunya.

    And you know what? If that’s what the kid’s dream is, that’s what his dream is. Why should anyone stop him? Why should anyone point a finger at La Masia and tell him he owes them something, or why should anyone point a finger at Arsenal and say they are stealing? Last I heard, human workers were free to move within the EU as long as their employers could come to a mutual financial agreement. I say that if this is what the kid wants, we let him go with the same blessing you’d give to any talented 16-yr-old, and hope he succeeds in the EPL.

  9. Good post – the Anglo-American perspective(I presume the blogger is American) is going to be more “free market” than that pertaining in Europe and certainly in areas like Barcelona. This seems to be the issue for me. Can (or does) Barca stay true to its communal-ist values and traditions? If so, can it still compete? You blogger seem to be trying to find the right balance between maximizing individual choice and communal responsibility or loyalty. So does Rosell when he argues (hypocritically: http://younggunsblog.co.uk/2011/02/hypocrisy-is-rife-as-barca-point-the-finger/?) that Wenger only fishes, where as Barca develop. Rosell has to make this hopefully tongue-in-cheek pronouncement to reinforce the idea that in the area of youth development Barca is “more than a business.” This helps bond the youngsters, create loyalty that pays dividends later for the first team

    Ironically, Wenger also works very, very hard at establishing Arsenal as “mas que un club.” Arsenal do a lot of work in the North London community, and are often recognized as doing more than other English clubs. (But of course Arsenal is not caught up in regionalist or nationalist politics or cultural nationalism (cultural regionalism?), or the rejection of fascist state centralization.) Wenger also advertises an Arsenal way of playing football that combines the best of ‘British’ virtues with highly technical pass and move football, which is why they are often referred to as Barcelona-lite. (An article on Arsenal.com last week put forward Wenger’s defense of Arsenal as “not having copied Barcelona.”) However, Arsene has an economics degree and defends the free market as a way to bring out the best of human potential (in footballing terms at least). So he’s a combination of the same stuff as Barca – taking advantage of the realities of the market place yet keen to develop the spiritual side of being an Arsenal player as well – a set of values, etc., some of which might be in tension with the free market. Wenger is French, after all. Managed capitalism is strong in this one, just as it is (or was) in Barcelona – I’ve read a few Pepe Carvalho novels ;).

    So “Extreme barca fan” you are completely wrong – there is actually an awful lot about Arsenal that is similar to Barca, and that Cesc is only one of many, many players from your youth system among those that were on the pitch the other night, as well as on the bench or watching from the stands with their youth academy team mates (brought in at various ages). This is the irony of fans from Barca and Arsenal getting their knickers in a twist about one another. It’s akin to a divide and conquer strategy that Chelsea, Man City, and Real Madrid would devise in their perfect world – let the clubs who represent something more than naked financial force or the power of the marketplace undermine one another.

    Sooner or later a gooner is going to come on here and remind everyone that Jack Wilshere (a Xavi-lite?) has been at Arsenal since age 9. It might as well be me.

    1. Hey Red Sleeves thanks for the post. Please come again.

      Question though… don’t Arsenal wear white sleeves, with the entire rest of the kit being red?

    2. Red Sleeves, Welcome, you put a very good argument, wish to see more of you here.
      However i clearly said that THE BIGGEST SIMILARITY is …., i didn’t say we are not similar or that, that was our only similarity. this makes you completely wrong
      In reply to your reply to Euler’s post you mentioned a lot of names of young players at Arsenal, the question here is how many of them will make it to Wenger’s 1st team, also if you can tell me why there are more french players than English at Arsenal you might win me over.
      Also weren’t there always a group of young English players at Wenger’s disposal or did this generation of players just came out of no where, i agree with Euler’s evaluation “Wegner’s entire development and business models have one major problem – he clearly does not think he can find young players in England in sufficient quantity to play the style of football he wants.” to the fullest.

    3. Sorry if I misrepresented your position.

      As to how many English players will make it – I think I share your view that very few will make it at Arsenal. I am not sure this is a flaw in the business model, but I take the point. The standard answer is youth coaching is way behind in England –

      Number of UEFA A & PRO COACHES per country
      SPAIN ——————14,860
      GERMANY —————- 6,570
      FRANCE ——————2,588
      ITALY ——————-1,810
      NETH’NDS —————-1,137
      ENGLAND —————–1,010

      And the emphasis in the UK is still on winning, physicality over technique (which Xavi recently pointed out in a Daily Mail interview is an issue in Spain, too, but clearly there is more emphasis there on player development over winning).

      However, there is that strong crop of youngsters between 19 and 21, including Wilshere and Walcott (who came from another club but whose development clearly occurred and is still occurring under Wenger). If Gibbs becomes England’s left back in 3-4 years that’s three internationals who will start most games. (Gibbs came from another club, too, but as a left midfielder.)

      There is something that hasn’t been mentioned yet, however, which is that in England a club is not allowed to sign an English kid if his home falls outside a 90-minute driving radius. Even given the population density of London, there is no way AW is ever going to find English talent to play his kind of football. No way. So there are rules in England to the detriment of Arsenal that push Wenger abroad, just as Spain’s rule about pro contracts for teenagers leaves them vulnerable.

      Add in, as well, that Wenger would have even more foreign talent if he could get past England’s strict visa laws. Partly why he goes fishing in Spain is b/c those kids have EU passports. Imagine if he could bring in over 18 South American talent like Spain can (which is why Wellington Silva (Brazil), Samuel Galindo (Bolivia), Carlos Vela (Mexico) and Pedro Botelho (Brazil) are all (or were) on loan to Spanish teams! He failed to win visas for them so had to loan them out. As you can see, these issues over who is fishing and why are quite complicated! He tried to get Ronaldinho, Cech (when still outside the EU), and many others when young and relatively unknown, but couldn’t.

      BTW, you are still wrong. 🙂 Sharing Cesc is not the biggest similarity between us. It doesn’t make us similar at all. Plenty of clubs employ the same player. And clearly Arsenal aren’t dependent on La Masia products.

    4. But why does Ferguson for example continues to find English players and Wenger doesn’t, its because Wenger wants a different kind of players that are not available in England/London.
      Also please tell Wenger that Arsenal are not La masia dependent, and he should look elsewhere for young players, because he clearly thinks other wise: Fabregas, Merida, Toral and the attempt on Samper. So you are still wrong, LOL

    5. A few of you spout a bit of nonsense about English football.

      Fergie rarely buys English anymore – http://www.footbo.com/Teams/Manchester_United/Transfers

      Heaven forbid develop them like he once did, although Cleverly looks like a player. When Fergie does buy English the prices are very high – Rooney and Rio Ferdinand both 25 million each. Smalling, 10 million for a center back with 3 games premier league experience. Carrick – 18 million! Tottenham got a deal there. Owen Hargreaves, 17 million! Wenger won’t pay that. Not sure if its on moral grounds or simply can’t afford it.

      And mate, the team that beat you the other day had Cesc. That’s it. And he didn’t even play particularly well (thankfully neither did your superstars). Not a single La Masia product anywhere else in North London that day, apart from your squad. Time to move on.

    6. maybe I’m not reading right, I’m not english or american BUT you count cesc as arsenal’s youth system? wow. what is that system about? steal some football identity from another country? can’t disagree more on that statement, I’m spanish cule and feel kinda affended.

      when iniesta came here at 12 or so we were already playing possession football and guardiola was the mid that kids looked up to… so did don andres. what was arsenal doing before cesc went there for some money? who could he look up to? parlour??? I don’t see arsenal developing cesc’s game more than any other team would have done, like valencia or chelsea or bayern. in valencia he would have become a better player IMO 🙂

      3 candidates to the ballon d’or coming from our youth system. all came before 16 from terrasa albacete and rosario. arsenal is a good team the may win next CL game vs FCB and kick us out but how can you compare both youth systems? our midfielders have a trademark even at 16 and they will never loose it no matter how much their nice football suffers in england… yours just don’t have it or at least I don’t see a trademark anywhere. you had to get cesc you know 🙂 and now toral. and you got them because they play in a certain way, OUR way. sorry for sounding too loud but this subject can really bring the worst in me 🙂

  10. Barcelona arranged a visit to Barcelona for Chuks Aneke and Benik Afobe, two of arsenal’s best youngsters. Both decided to stay with Arsenal. Because Barcelona FAILED to lure two of our best youngsters suddenly it is immoral when we SUCCEED in luring away one of yours. Hypocrisy of the highest standard. I like your blog, well written and attractive but you cules need to get off your high horses. Xavi and Bojan are the only two players in your system that you didn’t poach from some other club.

    1. but your way of the term “poach” is impossible. unless they’re born within Barcelona, and as a youngster happen to tryout for la masia and make it then they’re “poached” by your definition.

      what about pique, and busquets?

    2. “Barcelona arranged a visit to Barcelona for Chuks Aneke and Benik Afobe, t”

      In what legitimate source was this reported? As I recall, that was a story that originated or at least spread largely out of Tribal Football.

      I’m genuinely curious as I personally have not seen this story in any reputable site.

    3. Yeah we also poached messi when he was 13 and having hormone deficiency, we even paid for his medications when no one else wanted him, yes we are poaching bastards.

  11. Busquets was registered at the club Lleida from 1999-2003 so Barcelona had to make an attempt to lure him away at 15 years old. That’s poaching. Pique started as a midfielder at Barca and was so well thought of that they let him go without even the compensation fee Arsenal are paying for Toral Harper. Then they bought him back after he made himself into a good centre back.

    1. Come on now, what serious player would remain at Lleida? Are you saying that talented players must languish in clubs with no hopes of progression for loyalty reasons? (And for the record I have family in Lleida!)

  12. As a journalist, one of my favorite parts about reading your work Kxevin is the rhetoric itself. I agree with you often which makes reading your work additionally enjoyable and I think you bring an objectivity to certain issues that’s lacking on many sports sites.

    When Assulin left, I was quite upset because I thought he had a future with us and while I don’t love Rosell, I trust our sporting directors and youth developers more than pretty much anyone besides Pep.

    If our instructors weren’t bringing Harper up through the ranks quickly, than I trust he wasn’t going good enough. Which also brings us to another interesting point…

    Had Cesc stayed in our system, would be have become the player he is, or would he have fizzled similar to that of a Giovanni DS or a Nolito?

    1. What a few gooners have mentioned elsewhere is that Cesc is so strong-minded that 1. he had the courage to leave Barca in the first place, so 2. he had the mental strength to become a great player and would have done so anywhere. (And don’t anyone kid themselves, Cesc is extremely strong mentally.) These gooners were hoping that Toral is of the same mould. Apparently he wanted to leave and play in the premier league against the wishes of his family, his closest advisors, his mates (including Samper), making him obviously also strong minded and therefore one with the temperament to make it big. (I presume that only the crassest cynic would say they moved primarily for money – these are kids, not gangsters.)

    2. Maybe not money, but as I note above, certainly opportunity which, if handled right, can lead to money. Fabregas is a bright, shining exammple of what happens when you leave a place that is stocked like a duck blind on corporate hunting day, for a place where you actually have a shot.

      Further, I would argue that La Masia is a bit more unrelenting, in that it schools in a system. You’re either good enough and progress, or you aren’t, and you stagnate. Then press reports call you a “starlet” and off you go, a la Assulin. For every Fabregas, there’s a Victor Sanches, Giovani Dos Santos or Gai Assulin, something we would do well to never forget.

    3. Harper didn’t do anything against the wishes of his family. His mother is English and in fact wanted to go home as it was reported by Soccernet. I agree Arsenal is hoping he’s of the same mold as Cesc, but his mental toughness hasn’t been tested at all considering he had all the support in the world from his closest sources (minus some players probably). Yet, most of his teammates were probably elated for him with no hard feelings, the same way Pique and Puyol are with Cesc basically anytime they’re in the same time zone.

      Just thought it was worth pointing out.

  13. Every player at Barcelona except Xavi and Bojan has been registered at a different club before Barcelona. Iniesta – Albacete 3 seasons , Puyol – Pobla de Segur 3 seasons , Messi – Newell’s old boys 5 seasons , Jeffren – Tenerife 2 seasons, Pedro – San Isidro 2 seasons, Valdes – Tenerife 4 seasons , Thiago – Flamengo 5 seasons, etc. etc.
    Don’t even get me started on Barca B …. Fontas, Romeu, Vasquez, Lozano, Soriano etc. all came from other clubs. So this myth that La Masia churns out virginal Catalonian pure breds is complete rubbish. Barcelona scour the earth looking for players just like Arsenal and every other big club.

    1. I’d quibble with your La Masia “churns out virginal Catalonian pure breds.” I don’t think anybody who champions the system is making that supposition. And as I note above, we don’t have a stud farm/nursery, so we’re getting our talent from other clubs, be they Catalan clubs or not.

      No, what La Masia does is schools kids in a way of playing football, a way that fits the notions of what the parent club wants to do with the game. It’s only with the recent success of the club, and its high percentage of Masia graduates in the starting XI that the place has become a haven featuring a Grail-like beacon.

      The articles that have been championing La Masia have been doing so mostly from the worldview of a place that teaches and supports a footballing system. It might well be that Fabregas, had he stayed, would have been another Assulin. This isn’t to deny his talent, but rather to look at that talent in the context of the Masia demands, and the players at his position.

      Assulin didn’t leave because of a lack of talent. He left because of a contextual lack of talent, i.e. the other kids were better. He might well develop into a brilliant player. His future will be interesting.

      But my notion here wasn’t, and isn’t to create a discussion where anyone can or should feel superior to anyone else, or have any one-upmanship. It’s precisely why I was so quick to note that we aren’t breeding and raising Catalan geniuses. Players have to come from somewhere, and I just don’t think it’s a “We’re pure, and you’re not,” nor is it a “You’re just as dirty as anyone else.” Clubs are businesses, and do what they do to succeed.

    2. I’m not saying Barca do either. But when Cules scream bloody murder about the immorality of snagging a youngster from their system, I’m just pointing out that at some point every youngster in La Masia was snagged from another club’s system as well.

    3. True, but that’s an acknowledged point. And not all Cules scream bloody murder, right? Lest we forget, I’m a cule, as well as a soci.

    4. you know, there’s a difference between recruiting a young player with the club’s assent and signing him just because you can do so legally

      youth transfers happen all over europe but there’s a reason why only kakutas, pogbas and machedas of the world tend to get all the negative publicity

  14. @ Red Sleeves …. great point. Don’t mean to make this a gooner orgy but there is a great Cesc interview before a UCL match on youtube where he tells the journalist how independent he is and if his family visits from Spain he says ” After 3 days I say ok go back to spain ” LOL These Cules are kidding themselves about not needing Cesc. He is way more hardened than these players who play in La Liga or segunda every week without losing his creativity. Cesc is a tough, tough kid.

    1. We may need Cesc in some time but not now. He is not played over XavIniesta in the national team, so what gives you the idea that it would this way in Barcelona?

    2. Know that Guardiola considers Busquets as the more logical successor to Xavi than a player such as Fabregas. This is becoming increasingly evident as you see how he uses Busquets, who is a mere 22 years old. One mode of thinking is that when Xavi is finished, Busquets will be ready for that role, and Iniesta keeps on being Iniesta. And the Masia has a few qualified DM candidates who fit the Barca mold.

      To my worldview Fabregas will be a vanity purchase, in the name of Catalanisme. He isn’t a player that we need, irrespective of his skills, and certainly not for the price that he will cost.

  15. Cranky today, Kxevin? I agree with the general thrust of your article, but I have a few points to add:

     Please stop calling him Harper! That is his mother’s name, as in Spanish tradition. He goes by Toral. You don’t call Xavi “Creus” do you?

     From what I understand, FCB offers a “standard” youth contract of €10,000. That’s a far cry from €350,000. Does anyone know if that is the “standard” of other Spanish clubs as well?

     I don’t have a problem with the scouting and signing of youth players from other teams, it’s part of the business, and the players have their families, agents and friends to advise them on what is best for them. Wenger’s approach does strike me as underhanded, though.

     I DO find the amount of money on offer to these teenagers immoral, though. It is no wonder that these young players in England get an inflated sense of their own importance and go off the deep end with partying and the celebrity lifestyle. Especially when they are on their own with no family around. This is where we see the results of Barcelona’s mes que un club philosophy. I can’t think of a more grounded and thoroughly normal group of players than the ones who came up through La Masia.

     Toral’s progress through the youth ranks has been steady but not phenomenal. Considering the huge amount of talent standing in the way of him making the first team before he is 25, I think this could be a good move for him. He has English connections already, so it’s not like he is jumping into the unknown, and if his game is better suited to the EPL, more luck to him. We can’t keep them all.

     There were other reasons Highbury was “dumped” than that they wanted to sell the name of the stadium. It needed modernization and the capacity was too low (less than 40,000). Selling the name was just a juicy bonus. Not a good comparison to the Camp Nou.

     So I’m confused, now you are OK with selling the shirt? 😛

    1. Not cranky at all, just realistic. And he’s Harper to me, just as he is now “Gone,” which would be a better name, were it not already occupied by “Gone Adriano.” Were this a Spanish blog, I would hew to those naming customs and conventions. It isn’t. And in American journalism, the last name is the last name. Period.

      –I am not, was not and never will be okay with selling the shirt. Don’t confuse the article for anything other than an intellectual argument. For me, RoSELL is a loathsome little git who is going to sell the club, bit by bit.

      Which isn’t to say that fiscally, that might not be ultimately a good thing …. like a root canal.

      –And don’t forget the Camp Nou modernization/expansion plans. Highbury ain’t the only place craving more seats. And Arsenal didn’t have to sell the naming rights. It was a business decision, just as it will be if our club’s board chooses to accept such a thing, pending approval by the assembly, of course.

      The analogy is apt in that Highbury was a hallowed ground, just as the Camp Nou is. And despite the efforts of cules to believe that We Are The Best And Nothing Is Like Us, that’s an unsupportable notion.

      The debate and accompanying tempest when the decision was taken to sell to Emirates was every bit as intense as it will be if the Camp Nou naming rights are to be sold. Further, comparisons are one thing, analogies are another, to wit:

      An analogy is a comparison between things which are basically not alike but which share some kind of striking similarity.

      Kinda like Highbury and Camp Nou, right?

    2. Excellent! I will be looking forward to your future reviews wherin you reference such players as Lucan, Burgos and Sanchez. 😀

    3. And rightly so.

      And in American journalism, the last name is the last name. Period.

      I am pretty sure that the major American newspaper you work for refers to Spanish players by their patronymics (when they cover soccer at all, that is). Or were the Sports pages during the World Cup rife with stories about that Lucan fellow who scored the winning goal?

    4. The thing is though, if he were to move to the States then his last name would most likely become his father’s last name. My middle name (mother’s) and last name (father’s) legally switch whether I’m in the US or Spain. 😛

    5. “Were this a Spanish blog, I would hew to those naming customs and conventions. It isn’t. And in American journalism, the last name is the last name. Period.”

      That’s absurd. Practically every article I’ve read on Spanish and Latin American figures (be they politicians or athletes) uses their first last name to refer to them. They always ignored the second last name.

    6. The “practically every article” argument doesn’t make it correct. Sorry. It’s also a situation that falls outside of American naming convention and the AP Stylebook, last time I checked (though I should have a gander at the online version).

      To be sure, exceptions are made in some cases, and those are discussed in newsrooms. So Manuel Antonio Noriega Moreno is “Noriega” in stories.

      I’ve defaulted to the commonly used names, because of the abovementioned crap.

    7. pablo diego josé francisco de paula juan nepomuceno maría de los remedios cipriano de la santísima trinidad ruiz y picasso is known as “picasso”, but i think that’s mainly due to that sounding a lot sexier than “ruiz.” ;^)

    8. Good thing you don’t cover Asian football, or you would probably be wondering why “Kim” is such a popular first name in Korea….

  16. We could discuss counter-factuals all day, but one more post. I wonder sometimes if Arsenal didn’t just help Cesc grow through more experience, playing him earlier than Barca would have, but grew him differently than he would have grown at Barca. The consequence/evidence is that when he comes on for Spain as a substitute he is somewhat different to what Spain already have in their midfield with Xavi and Iniesta, right? In which case Spain have benefited greatly from his development at Arsenal. Cesc did provide the assists for the winning goal in the World Cup Final (driving the team on like he does with Arsenal differently to the way that Xavi and Iniesta do for Barcelona) as well as playing a similar role at times in the European Cup, 2008.

    1. They had more chances after Cesc was introduced than the previous 85 minutes. Cesc gets compared to Xavi but they aren’t the same player. Cesc’s idol is Pep. He wears #4 because of Pep and he plays more like Pep. He can easily slot into defensive midfield and does routinely for Arsenal when Song is on one of his ( ill – advised ) runs forward. I wouldn’t say Xavi is cut out like that. BTW Xavi didn’t win anything as a regular squad member until 2004-2005 as a 25 year old. Cesc is more accomplished than Xavi at the same age.

    2. That is idiotic. Xavi was already U 20 WC champion with Casillas. You can like your captain you want and praise him, but you do not have to do it by talking down Xavi, somebody who has 2 CL medals and was player of the Euro 2008,

    3. None before 25 years old if you read my post. Obviously you didn’t. Xavi won the 2006 UCL and played exactly ZERO MINUTES in the final while Cesc started the same match and played 74 minutes as a 19 year old. Cesc is a Euro, World Cup, under 17 World Cup, under 17 Euro, under 17 World cup golden shoe ( best player ) , 2006 UEFA team of the season ( as a 19 year old )2008 UEFA team of the season ( at 21 ) at 23 years old. Xavi hadn’t won anything of note until 25 years old on except an under 20 world cup and olympic silver medal. Once again, read and COMPREHEND before calling somebody idiotic.

    4. Xavi could hardly play in the CL final, because he was injured at that time, but that does not mean that he did not contribute during the campaign,

      But of course del Bosque and all the other no nothing.

    5. And if I would follow your logic: the more trophies the better the player, than Busi must be better than both of them because with 22 hes won twice the Liga, once the CL and once the WC.

    6. And he was not just an impact sub for the World Cup, like Fabregas.

      The same could be said for Pedro, another 23 year old from Barca. You know, that kid that went from playing in La Tercera with Barca B to starting in the World Cup final in a year.

      Then again I agree with HB, this entire argument-by-trophy is silly.

    7. That may be the case that he is phantastic as an impact sub. What I find interesting is that Cesc can control the game while playing for Arsenal but seems to be unable to do it for Spain. After the WC del Bosque tried new things in the friendlies and due to injuries to Xavi he did go with Cesc in “Xavi”-Role and it did not work out. They were taken to the cleaners by Argentina and also against Mexico they did not look right. When Xavi retires from the NT they have to find a new way to accomodate Cesc/Iniesta/Busi.

    8. That is a valid point, Red Sleeves, that speaks to my supposition about the potential of Fabregas becoming another Assulin had he stayed. Without playing time, a player won’t develop. This is another reason that players, young and old, change clubs.

  17. hamsik puts napoli up 1-0 over villarreal. railing collapses near touchline. fan being stretchered off.

    1. I do follwo the match here, that was really a crazy scene in slomo: Hamsik celebation and in the back the collapsing raling.

    2. Yeah, that was crazy. Looked like some guy hurt himself in that mess, too.

      I’m glad I tuned in to this game though, real end to end stuff. Napoli has impressed me so far. Even without Cavani, they have several excellent players in Hamsik, Gargano, and Lavezzi to an extent. I still hope Serie A’s leading scorer makes an appearance at some point.

    3. Yeah, Napoli look good, but what the f*** has happened to the yellow submarines lately? Do they also have the february blues down there in Villaeal?

    4. What a great match to watch.

      Btw, with Leverkusen’s win Germany now has 4 CL spots and Italy is down to 3.

  18. I’m still waiting for a legitimate reference that Barcelona attempted to sign Chuks Aneke and Benik Afobe.

    Tribal Football does not count.

    As I stated above I’m genuinely curious to see this. I’ve searched for it myself and have found no legitimate source for this story. I may easily have missed it however and would like to see where this was reported.

    1. I tried searching to but most articles I find are independent pieces from unofficial sites. I knew I heard about those rumors last year but I think it was on goal.com

    2. haha are you actually using a third party website as your facts? I see no one taught you how to do research.

    3. I’ve seen numerous links to Total Barca in other comments sections on this site. Guess it’s only Legit when it wins the argument for you huh?

    4. It’s ok only when Total Barca themselves links to a legitimate source.

      And in the case of the Afobe and Aneke story that’s not the case.

      They have no source cited in that story.

    5. We use totalbarca because it translates the Spanish news reports for us non-Spanish speakers. Like all fans we love to hear anything about our club be it fact or fiction and I have never seen anyone use an article from Totalbarca to win an argument on this site.

    6. Again, consider the source. TotalBarca is an aggregator/opinion blog, just as this one is. The presence of information on that site gives it no more veracity than my printing that “Pigs can fly” on this site. Not arguing for or against the Afobe situation, just the sourcing.

      But I’m a journalist in real life. So for me, “legitimate” sources in this wild, wooly world of the Internet are few and far between.

    7. Nope. Total Barca is not a news site. They simply collect and summarize other stories.

      It’s a terrific site for supporters as it aggregates stories in a convenient spot.

      But it’s far from a source of validated information.

      For example, they regularly report the ridiculous rumors printed in Sport, MD, Marca and AS. They don’t attempt to validate those stories in any way.

      And as you can tell from that post about Aneke and Afobe – totalbarca themselves do not link to any legitimate source. In fact they don’t even have a link to any source in that post.

      They are simply passing on a vague rumor.

      Nor does totalbarca have any legitimate sources at the Club.

      So, as you raised this issue, I’ll continue to ask – in what legitimate source was this rumor published.

      The entire thing appears to me to have been yet another ridiculous story made up by Tribal Football.

      But if there is a real source then I’m interested in seeing it.

    8. But to entertain you, I now read the article. if you DID read it you would see the big and bold statement of “barca is ready to make a formal offer” to Arsenal, not talk to his parents, pay his family to migrate and also pay him 35 more times that he is earning now.

    9. I never said they made a formal offer I said they visited Barcelona and Barcelona failed in their pursuit. Once again, Barca fans cry bloody murder when we SUCCEED in luring a player away while you guys think it’s ok when you FAIL in doing the exact same thing. Hypocrisy

    10. Where is the source for this visit? Where is the evidence that this actually occurred?

      You have yet to produce it. And you were the one who brought it up.

    11. This is as good as I got – http://younggunsblog.co.uk/page/2/?s=Barcelona+Afobe

      Unfortunately the articles are whited out! No use. But it was Jaime Sanderson’s site that this information was divulged to most gooners (those who know about it, anyway). Young Guns is very well respected as a source, to the point that the British Dailies have begun to rip off his stories! And not just the tabloids!

    12. A fan blog is not a reliable source, especially to support the vehemence and certainty this Aneke and Afobe story has been used to make lines of argument.

      If that had actually happened one of the news organizations in England would have reported it. There’s been so much back and forth between Barca and Arsenal on Fabergas a story like Aneke and Afobe would have been turned into a story by one of the dailies if it could be confirmed.

  19. Well I knew from 1st glance this article was going to draw people just to register to comment. At least when you’r here outsiders please don’t just register to add stupid trolling comments. Also to add to the general theme I read from the Arsenal fans here is that most of our plays played somewhere else before coming to join La Masia. The same goes for the majority of every professional footballer, they all come from somewhere. If you wanna play CIA and do background checks on all our players go ahead, but you would see that most of them come here at age 09-15 to join our youth setup without pressure unlike the way Arsenal goes about it and actually pay a salary for a 16 year old. In Barca the youth are not only given scholarships that include football training but schooling as well that some of them even apply themselves to earn college degrees that Barca also pay for and supply.

    We even have college programs that are in barca provided free of charge for players to achieve things outside of football. Mes que un club we certainly are.

    1. I am pretty sure all clubs in England are legally bound to educate their younger players. This isn’t distinctive to Barca! Moreover, I was pretty sure that most Universities in Spain are practically free, as it was in the UK till recently. If an adult wants to get a degree and has the requisite background he is welcome to. The club doesn’t need to do anything to help. But whatever Barca does I am sure is commendable and among the best that clubs in Europe offer.

  20. The idea that buying a player from a youth rank at the age of 16 is the same as finding a player from a very small local club that has no major professional first league team at the age of say 11 or 12 is a disingenuous argument.

    It’s just an attempt to create a false equivalence.

    1. Yeah getting an 11 year old is much worse. At 16 at least he might have an idea of making it professionally. How many 11 year olds get tossed aside, their confidence shattered?

    2. But what of the 16-year-old who can’t make it, but who is filled with even more hope, because a club actually bought him? Again, it isn’t a notion of better or worse. The situation is that kids are being bought and sold like better, faster cars. Age isn’t the issue here.

      And at least clubs are compensated for it. In the U.S., a high school grooms a football or basketball player for college, and the kid gets fame and a free education. The high school gets a rush of press on Signing Day, and then nothing.

    3. You left out the $50 an hour job for not showing up, a car, expense account and everything else college boosters shower on the kids.

    4. True, but that still doesn’t benefit the high school, the training ground in this case. They still get nothing, unless a rich booster really wants the kid, and decides to donate a library wing or new building. Those situations aren’t as rare as we might like to imagine, but they are rare. NCAA sanctions are no joke, and can kill a program.

    1. I think the situation is prime for Napoli to introduce Cavani (unless I’m missing something and he’s injured). He’s obviously a big reason Napoli is 1st in Serie A, and I want to see what all the fuss is about. It’s also a rare chance to see a professional footballer with braces these days.

    2. Oh, OK. Damn, didn’t know they were playing Inter. I’ll definitely tune into that.

      Also very excited to watch the highly anticipated Dortmund vs. Bayern this Saturday. Love weekends with several good matchs happening across the continent.

    3. fuss is cus the dude is awesome. his first season really playing as a center striker & he is tearing it up(he’d usually play on either wing). i don’t know why he isn’t in the starting 11. maybe he is injured.

  21. The way I see it, no big club has any right to be morally superior with regards to youth team. With millions of dollars/pounds/euros, they can take their pick from the best talents in the world. If anyone has the right to say any club is immoral, it’s the smaller ones.

    That being said, I don’t think La Masia is as cut-throat as Kxevin is making out to be insofar as I think there is a real family atmosphere there—and I have no reason to think otherwise. I’ve seen Iniesta’s documentary (on his official website) where he talks about his experience in La Masia. He says that the people there realize that you’re away from home and treat you with a lot of affection.

    Unfortunately I can’t find the subbed version, but if you want to watch it, it’s here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhW3KJbJ-_0

    And I also implore people to watch these video (not the best quality but with English subs) talking about La Masia:


    One last thing: I don’t think using Messi to support Barca taking players from other countries is a good example. His dad and family friends arranged a trial from him in Barcelona; in other words, the Messis came to them, not vice versa. It was after the trial that Barcelona were sufficiently impressed and offered to pay for his treatment, taking the chance his talent would come through in the end, something that can’t be said for any club in Argentina.

    1. Why isn’t it? Irrespective of how Messi came to us, he stayed because he had talent that we deemed worth the investment. In effect, we outbid River Plate, who are also interested in him, but couldn’t afford to make the offer that we could.

    2. “Irrespective of how Messi came to us”

      But that’s the thing, how he came to us is what changes it for me.

      The big hubaloo that is being made because the club courts the player, but Messi’s situation was the opposite. I don’t disagree that clubs are run like a business, and Messi was seen as an investment worth making, I just think his case is a bit different than most other ones.

      IMO Messi is better used as an example of big clubs using their financial power to keep talent, as River Plate were interested but backed out of the $900/month bill.

    3. Kari; are you referring to my comment earlier??
      I said what i said in a sarcastic manner, we didn’t poach him, if anything, what barca did to messi is no less than a life saver.

    1. So then I guess we’re going to agree that there’s in fact no legitimate source stating that Chuks Aneke and Benik Afobe were actually contacted by Barcelona and that the whole thing appears to be a made up rumor without any proof behind it.

      Great. Thanks for the clarification.

    2. I’ve never seen Euler so angry but I love it. I’m in the exact same boat. I don’t remember any talk of this, but all the Gooners mention it. if you look up someone mentioned someone’s blog as a source, but still I find that pretty slim pickins.

      its like how SOOO many gooners still think the barca players came up with all those quotes this summer even though they were confirmed to be fabricated.

    3. Honestly, it’s not even that I’m angry. I just feel that if someone is going to make an argument based on an assertion of supposed fact, then there should be evidence for that statement. Otherwise it’s just hearsay.

      This happens in football all the time. People turn made up rumor into purported facts and then use those fabrications to jump on a moral high horse.

      As I stated, I just wanted to see what the source of the legitimate source of the story was as I had actually looked into it when it first was reported.

      Couldn’t find anything then. Can’t find anything now.

  22. Fantastic article Kevin. That picture of Puyol and Xavi with the Cup and la Senyera is most certainly boss. Does anyone happen to have a source with more of the same?

  23. Hey Euler,

    any advice regarding our line up for saturday with respect to our injury woes?

    1. It’s a tough question. Personally, I would play Afellay in midfield along with Iniesta and Busquets. He’s only had very limited time in the middle but when he’s gotten a chance to play there he’s looked very comfortable.

      Part of what makes replacing Xavi particularly difficult this week is that Alves is also not playing.

      That means the two Barca players who touch the ball the most are not going to be available at the same time.

      I’m concerned that a midfield with Keita in it is going to find challenges controlling the flow of the game that they aren’t accustomed to.

      At the back – I’d seriously consider playing Fontas. Milito to me looks very poor. He physically looks very limited. Maybe it’s just fitness but given his overall decline in health it’s very difficult to know how much he can be counted on.

      I’d very much like they to take an early lead and get Messi some rest if at all possible.

    2. Agree with regards to Fontas, but I think he might play for the B-Team. I think he was not called up to train with the first team today, so I think it won’t happen.

      And also agree with regards to Affelay. I know that he did not cover himself with glory during the Gijon game, but it was a difficult situation: a fired up team, a caulderon of a stadium, usw. So hope that Pep gives him a second chance.

    3. Euler, How do you feel about:
      Adriano, Pique, Abidal, Maxwell
      Busi, Iniesta
      That way we are only down 2 regular (Maxwell=semi-regular)outfield players. I don’t think Fontas has been practising with the first team.

      Gotta be said that if we get a lead it would be ssssooooo much fun to see Thiago and 3M in there together!

  24. Cavani coming on soon. BTW I didn’t know Espanyol sold Victor Ruiz to Napoli!!! Such a shock just now

  25. I don’t have any problem with Arsenal taking away our youths if proper compensation is rendered. What I have a problem with is their hypocrisy. Arsenal might be the side with the most hypocritical fans/people in their ranks. Here’s why:

    – They scream bloody murder in the face of brutal tackles, yet their manager claims himself to look the other way when their own players tackle in the same manner. Yeah I’m looking at you, Wilshere..

    – They want respect from other clubs in case of transfers, yet greedily pillage training academies all over Europe and get young talent on the cheap, when they aren’t old enough to sign for their clubs.. And then have the gall to lecture others about their tactics in signing players..

    – They want respect from players like Evra, claiming their players are respectful. They even want to crucify Pique, Puyol and Reina for a prank on Fabregas, yet they looked the other way when Fabregas and Cole throw slices of pizza at Fergie..

    – They label other fans as racist even when they themselves shamelessly replicate the hissing noise of the gas chambers when they play Spurs, who have a large Jewish following. They ignore their chants of “We’ve got Cesc Fabregas, you yids are scared of gas” and “I never felt more like gassing the Jews when Tottenham win and Arsenal lose.”

    Lastly, a lot of Gunners WANT to not be classified as another EPL team. But in reality, they are. Look a little closely, they are worse..

    (I posted this earlier but got Hectored, I think is an appropriate thread to repost it)

  26. So, err, who was it that was whining about the lack of comments? 😀

    Hey mods, poor tinymitch is such in moderation. Do her a favour and take her out! 😛

    1. Hmmm, later. Much later. I’ve got the basic outline, but no details yet. With me, it could take a couple of days or two hours–I’m just unique like that 😛

    1. you guys definitely have to catch a rebroadcast of this game. best non barca match i’ve seen in years. end to end nail biting action. still about 15 minutes to go.

    2. Its really interesting to watch Villareal. They are my “second favorite” team in La Liga. I was raised watching Real Madrid play a similar direct football like the one Villareal play right now. The sort of 2 strikers, true right winger and false left winger kind of formation that was direct and fast. With the managerial changes, that changed in Madrid, although Pelle came really close to replicating it.

      I follow Real Madrid Castilla, and the football they have been putting on since the new coach took over is absolutely magnificent.

    3. “Pelle came really close to replicating it”

      You guys would have been scary good this year had Pelle been alowed to stay. You would have had style and stability.

    4. Good to see the Yellow Submarine move forward in the Europa League, but it’ll unfortunately probably hurt their Liga efforts.

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

  28. I’m watching the Villarreal – Napoli only because of that article. Certainly more of an advertisement of football than any EPL game.. Go Villareal!!

    And how weak La Liga really is when the 4th placed team is beating the current runners-up of the Serie A?

  29. Great game. I was actually rooting for Napoli, but the result was still satisfying for me.

    Napoli can now focus completely on chasing the scudetto in Italy, hopefully beating out both Milans in the progress. And with Villareal competing on two fronts, hopefully they’ll have half a mind on Europe when we play them in several weeks.

    1. It was the Barcelona-Arsenal of the Europa what a match! I knew it would be a great one. I love watching Napoli, can’t wait for their match Monday,

  30. I didnt want to comment on here for awhile ’cause i saw Arsenal fans registered and talked nonsense and i didnt want to be in the same room as them, since i am the complete opposite and didnt want to be confused as one of them.

    I liked your article and appreciate that you saw it from both sides, not just from a fans side. I always say about any situation you have to look at it both ways.

    I read that Toral Harper wanted out of Spain and England was where he wanted to go. Liverpool, Chelsea, and Man City were all interested in him but because Harper showed lack of commitment they all pulled out. Pere and Puig begged the kid to stay but when Arsenal came knocking he already made up his mind. I heard that he would be ready for first team football for Barca in 2 years max, pretty good considering the fact that Barca are better than Arsenal, so the kid must be good.

    I can understand a lot of catalans being upset, there a big club, have one of the best academys, and are great at producing young talent, Harper and Samper are supposed to be like a Xavi, Iniesta of the future, so i can understand the anger in some. Kxevin is right when he says that its the players choice, he wanted to leave. We wanted Samper but he decided to stay and thats not a problem for me. Arsenal did not put a gun to Cesc’s head and say come with us, he chose to go to Arsenal, Toral had his mind made up to go to England even before we gave an offer to him.

    Im all for getting the best young talent out there as long as its done legally, if we did things the wrong way then i would be furious. Barca did want Afobe and Aneke, (i guess thats where the word hypocrites shows up with some Arsenal fans) when they came in for them i was not at all angry. Matter of fact for Barca to come to Arsenal and want 2 of our great prospects shows how much our academy has grown and become one of the best, we are no Masia but we are growing and becoming better year by year. If Afobe and Aneke decided to go to Barca instead of rejecting them then i wouldnt of mind, its football, Barca have a right to sign our youth players if they want just like any other club, legally, but its also up to the player.

    We have great players coming through the ranks from our academy. Wilshere is one and starts for us, Bartley a CB, Gibbs is our future LB, Frimpong a DM, Aneke a CM, Lansbury a CM, Emmanuel-Thomas can play all FWD positions, Afobe a ST, Freeman a ST. Thats 9 players right there that will probably start for us or be on the bench in the future (Walcott didnt come through our academy we bought him). Arsene has said that he sees 7 of our English youth players in the starting 11 in the future, that excites me to the fullest and i cant wait.

    One thing i was concerned about with this signing is that we are stacked at MID, so why are we getting Toral Harper in when we have our future already set? I mean i dont mind if we buy a player better than what we have but i guess Arsene would rather have a selection headache than no depth in the squad. I guess time will tell.

    Looking forward to the second leg, i hope its a classic and not a one team domination. Lets put this youngster signing behind us and anticipate another mouth watering fixture in the Champions League. Ignore the trolls if any, dont give them want they want, attention, ’cause if you do that makes them stay longer.

    I hope the people who run this site dont get mad at me for saying this but a cool thing that would be implemented on here is a ignore button, where you click ignore and the post dissapears. If its already recieved a click just once, the people who come after the comment was made cant see it and would know that its probably a nonsense comment. It should only apply to the regulars on here though and not everyone.

    1. The thing about Afobe and Aneke is they rejected us, but we offered a transfer fee. From what I hear. Which is all rumors because there’s no true source that any of this is true to begin with! I follow Frimpong on twitter, he has a kinda outlandish attitude.. Babelesque.

      the rest of your post makes me want you to come visit more as its exemplary. I agree about the ignore thing, if enough people voted to ignore it could be ignored, with an option to show it anyway.

    2. There we go again about afobe and whatever.
      Source. Cite a source.
      A reliable one not tribal football.
      Ill give you an example :
      Juan Ferrando (personal coach Cesc): “His future? Cesc just wants to play football, although he’s crazily wishing to join Barça.” [ona fm]
      source : http://www.ona-fm.cat/noticia.php?i=1952

  31. Wow, a very well written article. I am not sure I blinked during the whole time that I read the article.

  32. Great article, Kxevin. The most frustrating thing about the transfer drama between Barca and Arsenal is the vilifying of both sides, something I’ve always seen as totally unnecessary. I get why Fabregas left for Arsenal, and history’s proven that it was a great move for him, career-wise. The bottom-line is that it was his decision to leave, and nobody put a gun to his head when he made the call.

    Personally, I don’t want Fabregas back at Barca. Not because he had the “gall” to leave in the first place, but because I find his transfer to be unnecessary when you consider the price that’ll likely be involved, the melodrama that will ensue (I’ll probably have to avoid the Internet for WEEKS if it goes through) and the fact that we have other positions on the team that need to be looked at first–every week Puyol’s out injured is a week I get closer to sprouting gray hair, seriously.

    At this point, I mostly just wish both sides would sit down and shut UP already.

    (Also, this isn’t the first time that he’s annoyed/disappointed me, but I wish to God Rosell hadn’t gone public with his complaints against Arsenal. It’s ridiculous and will generate nothing but controversy, which is something I don’t like to see. Let’s leave the trolling of the press to Real Madrid and Mourinho, okay?)

  33. When the site moved to require membership there was some worry that it would discourage fans of other teams who actually wanted to do something other than troll from signing up.

    I have to say, it looks like it hasn’t been a hinderance at all. In fact, interesting posters from other teams are a lot more common than trolls, which is a complete reversal.

  34. I thought about making this a post but the thing with Gooners vs Cules for me is that the real winner is the BritPress.

    85% of the hostility that Gooners feel towards Cules is unfounded*. Sure, the fact that RoSELL and Laporta decided to make this deal personal is enough to annoy anyone, but a lot of it is off the back of last summer when our players–particularly Xavi–was supposedly running their mouths to third-rate tabloid scum.

    BritPress hates Arsenal, being practitioners of passing football and not Man Utd, and loathe us for obvious reasons. Turning the fans against each other hits two birds with one stone, they get their clicks/sell their papers, and create a wedge between two clubs who should share some solidarity (being two clubs who don’t want to hack their opponents down amongst other things).

    It’s sad really.

    ** http://bleacherreport.com/articles/473881-beware-sensationalist-football-stories-by-the-daily-star

    Barca have gone on to deny the stories on their official website.

  35. Good article. Good discussion. Thnx gunners, for voicing your opinion on here so elegantly.

    My biggest problem with the big EPL teams (not just Arsenal) is not that they take a canterano from Barça. I don’t like that they do, and I do not think it is right, but at least we are one of the biggest clubs in the world and we can take the hit of a 16 year old leaving – after all, we survived the departure of Cesc, right?

    The problem is that they do so systematically at youth academies around Europe, throwing their money around and exploiting the fact that teenagers are treated differently under other countries’ laws.

    First the Bosman ruling gave the advantage to big money big market teams. That advantage was then expanded by a change in format of the European Cup, now called the Champions League. However, raiding the youth academies around Europe definitely crosses the line. It further erodes any possibility of competing for clubs from smaller markets whose leagues might well resemble Singapore’s in a couple of years to come.

    The hypocrisy is that in the UK exists a law which states that you cannot recruit players from outside of a 90 mile radius of your club. So how the hell is it ok to recruit them over the border?

    For the record, I am against Barça recruiting outside of Spain either. I understand that Messi was an exception due to the fact that no team wanted to pay the medical treatment of a 13 year old, but still.

    1. They can only recruit youngster above 16 outside the 90 mile radius from what I understand. Toral is over 16. No wonder I see a lot of over 16 kids being signed.

      Why did you mention Singapore in particular?

  36. my human brain and logic said :
    “I totally can understand why Cesc or Toral (or other La Masia kids who left us), Arsenal offered them much bigger money and bigger chance with the first team. so good for him, and I wish him good luck…”

    but when I saw Xavi for example, it’s my Cule heart screaming :
    “a player with half-hearted can go away, just go! we’ll have other player who willing to give their heart, soul, blood, and tears for Barça!”

    Xavi had a really really tough time in his early career,
    some big clubs like AC Milan offered him bigger money and bigger chance to play in the first team back then… but he stayed, because he feels Barça, he feels it…

    “I feel Barça. That’s the biggest difference with the people who don’t feel it. I love the club. I love it, and so do they. That’s how we’ve grown up. And that’s the big difference, I mean, look, I’ve always said, I won’t leave Barça unless they throw me out on the street. I won’t leave. I won’t. Sorry, no! I love it so much here at Barça. Oh, obviously, when I see that it’s not working out and that I’m not useful at Barça, I’ll leave. But I’d still have to be thrown out. Because I love Barça and I want to be here and I feel like it’s part of me and that’s unconditional. There’s nothing…not Milan, or offers, or nothing. I mean, I kept going, kept going, and in the end, everything has turned out okay.” –Xavi-

    I just love him so much…
    here’s hoping and praying we will have more Xavi/Pep/Puyol/Iniesta in our future… 🙂

    1. Exactly

      I respect waht Cesc cited as his reasons for leaving but the fact is he wasn’t patient enough. Xavi and Iniesta are good examples. They stuck with the team when Ronaldinho and Deco were running the show at Barca and they never left because they were loyal. And I don’t buy the argument that he would not have had opportunities at Barca because nobody knows for sure. If he was good enough he would have made it. Sorry for bringing this up again i know it’s been discussed to death here.

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