Could Zlatan Ibrahimovic, shown here rocking his new coif, be considering retirement from international footy? Good question. What he said most recently is “That possibility will be considered after the World Cup finals. It is important for a player of my level to play internationals, but I’ve been to two European Championships and two World Cups.”
He wouldn’t be the first to start thinking about the wear and tear, and how it relates to his paying gig. Craven and self-serving? I’m sure that Sweden football fans would say yes. But this cule says “Yay!” (Which is always a vowel away from Yaya.)
–We nabbed in-demand Georgian attacked Giorgi Chanturia. He’s an attacker who, at 16, is already on the radars of a great many European sides, and we got him. He had a stint with our kids club this past summer, and knocked everybody for a loop. Here’s some highlights of him.
—Iniesta is fully fit and raring to go, scheduled to make his debut against Getafe this weekend, along with Rafa Marquez. Don’t expect the two to start, but look for some significant minutes as they work their way back into the starting rotation. With 7 matches in 22 days, there will be plenty of minutes for everyone. This is great news, as the left side of our attack has missed Ghostface Killah very much.
–Valencia winger Juan Mata has moved on psychologically. We were unwilling to meet Valencia’s asking price and for now, that’s that. “I am only focussed on what’s waiting for me with Valencia, blah, blah, blah” said the winger, when asked about the possibility of playing for the best club in the world, versus one in financial difficulty, that will battle for a Champions League spot this season.
–Guillem Balague, of the large ego and craven Web site, says that Fabregas will be coming home within two years. He writes on SkySports.com that “I’m convinced that Barcelona are talking up the possibility of Cesc Fabregas joining the club because they understand either from the player or the family that this is what he wants to do.”
Fabregas, rumored to be linked with presidential candidate Sandro Rosell, is denying those links. And when asked about rumors about a move to That Other Spanish Team, he said “Two or three years ago, there was something. Real Madrid and its fans have always been very good to me and for that I will be forever grateful. There has never been anything serious with another team since I joined Arsenal.” The implication, of course, is that although he is Catalan, fans of said club have never given him a hard time for those indelible national roots, and strong link with us, not “Boy, they’ve sure been nice to me and I would love to play there.” Just saying.
–We have given Pep Guardiola a blank check, saying in effect, “Name your own terms.” Wow. This makes sense, and Laporta’s chosen candidate would like to able to say that his folks assured the club’s continuity by re-signing the coach who has already made history. Stay tuned.
–Club PR chief Manuel Estarte says that yes, Flo Flo’s signings robbed some majesty from the attention paid to our triplete, “But it will be with us forever.” Of course, Flo Flo’s intention was to steal some of that thunder, as a world basked in the admiring glow of a club that many are saying is one of the best ever. So there.
–Like luggage, Robinho just won’t go away. Buzz is increasing about him being out of favor with Citeh boss Mark Hughes, and the Brazilian striker, with a permanent spot on the All-Potential squad, doesn’t want to have to fight for his place in the starting XI. So would someone please, please explain to me why he thinks that moving to a club at which the coach demands that his players work like dogs, pressure the ball and who thrives on active competition for squad places, would be a better thing for him?
We have Henry, and make no mistake, any swap rumors being bandied about are utter nonsense. Various Spanish publications have Guardiola “loving” the want-away winger. But to me, that would violate everything that Guardiola stands for, which is hard work, ball pressure and effort. Do we really want a guy who stands there demanding the ball, then pouts and flails his arms when he doesn’t get it? Can he be changed? Possibly. But it’s a risky venture and if he can’t be changed, he rides the pines, coming in as a sub which, given our squad, is what he’s cut out for at any rate. Would I take him over Jeffren? Yes. But not for 40m. We already have Jeffren, and he was free.
–Here’s the full list of players in the squad for the Champions League. Because it’s essentially everybody and their mamas except for the Cup-tied Chygrynskyy, there are no surprises here, except for newly-signed (on a free transfer) Espanyol youth product Jonathan Soriano. Valdés, Alves, Piqué, Márquez, Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta, Ibrahimovic, Messi, Bojan, Pinto, Henry, Keita, Busquets, Pedro!, Milito, Maxwell, Abidal, The Yaya, Marc Bartra, Oriol, Jonathan Dos Santos, Ruben, Assulin, Fontas, Muniesa, Jeffren, Soriano.
–On the political front, Joan Laporta, despite many raised eyebrows, will be attending a demonstration in favor of full Catalan independence. “Anyone can go to a demonstration as an expression of individual freedom,” said our current (but lame-duck) President, widely rumored to be all atwitter about larger political possibilities after his run as Barca chief ends.
–Note that you don’t see the name of Thiago on that Champions League squad list. He’s going under the knife this week for a torn meniscus. Wish him well in his recovery.