An occasional feature where T. Johnson, BFB’s business correspondent, examines the economic situation and ways to improve The Club’s management.

The team is entering the most fun part of the season. The stakes are high and so are the emotions. Coming out of the customary “February slump” and dealing with health issues and suspensions, the rumor mill has picked up steam. As good as this team is, some adjustments are required.

Learning from mistakes

It’s not the fact most people would rush to acknowledge but every defeat carries a valuable lesson. Smart is the man who can get over the emotions and be able to learn from the unpleasant experience. Let’s examine the most notable “failures” since Guardiola took over: Hleb, Chygrynskiy, Caceres, Henrique, Keirrison, and to a lesser extent Zlatan, Henry, and Eto’o.

A few patterns emerge:

  • Foreigners (ex: Zlatan, Hleb and Chygrynskiy have Eastern European mentalities)
  • Young and not mature enough to handle the pressure and responsibility at a club as big as FCB (Caceres, Henrique, Keirrison, Hleb, Chygrynskiy)
  • No La Liga experience and limited familiarity with the language and culture (Eastern Europeans, Henry and Abidal)
  • Ego (Eto’o and Zlatan; in this particular case the amount of money invested raised the expectations and put significant pressure on the player)

Another equally important factor is the humbling one is likely to experience when practicing every day with the core of this current FCB’s team. Sure, any newcomers get a general idea watching the tape and, if (un)lucky, head-to-head on field. It is, however, different than seeing Messi, Iniesta, and Busquets do amazing things as a part of their daily routine.

You can imagine the impact it can have on someone coming from the outside where he enjoyed star status, constant praise, and admiration. It takes a strong character and time to handle this effect. I am speaking from a personal experience. It is why Henry underperformed during his stay at The Club and why Hleb was a total disappointment. Same goes for Caceres and Henrique. It took Abidal two seasons to get accustomed to it.


Armed with this knowledge, it is easy to devise a list of requirements. Some will weigh more in decision making process than the others:

Top priority

  1. Necessary skill set for the position (exceptional ball handling skills, quick decision making, fast with and without the ball)
  2. Cost (transfer fee + salary vs. projected on-field contribution and endorsements)
  3. La Liga experience and familiarity with the language and culture
  4. Psychological profile (intelligent, strong work ethic, family and team oriented)

Additional details:

5a. Medical history

5b. Played in a similar system

5c. Familiarity with EPL top teams

For the CF position in particular, the focus should be on athleticism (height and robustness), maturity (to cope with the expectation and limited minutes), and proven track record.

Making sure a player scores high in the aforementioned analysis would virtually ensure the shortest possible adaptation process before he starts to contribute in a meaningful way. The long-term investments (a player scheduled to yield returns not in the immediate future) are excluded from this analysis.


Now that we identified what kind of players are more likely to succeed, let’s look at the areas that need to be improved on. I prefer to look at the bigger picture, starting my analysis with identifying general needs and then looking for different ways to satisfy those needs at the lowest possible cost.

The needs listed below are ranked from highest to lowest priority:

1. Impact players available on the bench to come in and change the momentum (the lack thereof was painfully obvious against Arsenal in London).

2a. Establish a credible threat on the left wing. If “we” can consistently get at least 80-85% of what Messi-Xavi-Alves partnership is yielding on the right side this team is going to be almost “unplayable”. It being a LB or LW, one marquee signing is a must.

2b. Add depth, versatility and athleticism to the forward line.

3. Add new weapons to our arsenal (set pieces and long distance shooting)

4. Slightly increase the roster size in order to lower the risk of injuries and the potential impact they might have

Funds available

Shortly after successfully completing the election campaign, our new president guaranteed €50M for transfers. More recently on February 9th, Vice-President of finance Javier Faus stated that the transfer budget will be in the €40M ballpark. It is interesting that the transfer budget seemingly shrunk even though the shirt sponsorship deal has been signed in the meantime.

Yet some details are still unknown:

a. How did they determine the budget? Are the proceeds from future expected sales already accounted for?

b. If so, what is the valuation for selling the loanees and possibly a starter?

c. Zlatan’s transfer. If the expected funds from this transaction are going towards the transfer budget, is it going to be only the first payment or the lump sum (rumored €24M). Is there an option in the contract that allows Milan to include a player in the deal and reduce the cash outlay?

Management would be wise to look for additional funds through:

  1. Salary reductions (I’m struggling to understand why exactly Villa is paid as much as Xavi and Iniesta on the top of the €40M we already sunk in)
  2. Cut the on loan players without perspective (Hleb, Henrique, Keirrison)
  3. Trim the fat (Maxwell, Bojan, Jeffren, and even Keita) for €20M+ in transfer fees and salary savings

Central forward

“For the CF position in particular, the focus should be on athleticism (height and robustness), maturity (to cope with limited minutes and expectations), proven track record, and consistency.”

This player is scheduled to have limited minutes and will be introduced mainly:

  1. Against very defensive teams
  2. In the 3-4-3 alignment. Such system would accommodate both Messi or Iniesta at “false 9″ and a more physical striker.

This formation would confuse the opposing defenders and present them with a dilemma. To lose shape (step up to block shots and/or prevent Messi dribbling) or stay back to cover the striker and allow Messi to shoot. Either way, they will have to contract to the middle which would in return leave greater amounts of space on either flank for a winger and a quality, offensive-minded LB to exploit by either hitting a useful cross, one higher than 6′ off the ground that someone is actually able to connect to, or go straight for the goal.


I Higuain (23, 6’1″), Llorente (26, 6’5″)

II Forlan (31, 5’10″), Nilmar (26, 5’11″), Kanoute (33, 6’3″), Trezeguet (33, 6’3″)

III Moving Villa to the middle (only in 3-4-3)

For the record, I value Higuain very high. Good on the ball, sturdy, and fast. Most importantly, he keeps things simple and is fairly comfortable with his weaker foot. He rarely holds the ball too long or tries to make an extra dribble. Add the age and durability, sans the current back issue, and you have yourself a very competitive, long-term solution. Madrid would be right to pay Capello a hefty bonus for recruiting and developing a player like that.

It is always fun to fantasize. Life, however, is not a video game. Higuain and Llorente are too young and too good to have limited minutes. Even at Barça. High salary demands and the interest of other clubs further rightfully complicate things. I would authorize paying the premium only in case “we” have excess cash and other major roster improvements had been made at a discount.

The team would also have to start playing in the 3-4-3 alignment more often, something that Rijkaard had been experimenting with, most notably at Anfield trying to offset the 1-2 first leg loss.

Consequently, the options I am looking at are Forlan, Kanoute and possibly Nilmar if the required fee is reasonable. Lacking height, Forlan would be acting as a “Larsson” with more confidence, the most recent Golden Ball winner, and the minimal adaptation process. His above-average long-distance shooting would be a great weapon to add.

Kanoute had an obvious impact in “our” most recent trip to Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán. He would bring more height and probably the least amount of drama in regards to the playing time due to his character and the required investment.

Once again, a less pricey option would be advisable considering the expected playing time and to avoid putting too much pressure on the player. The transfer amount can hamper his production level.


The player currently occupying the position, Villa, is a work in progress. Compared to the beginning of the season the improvement is evident, but he still lacks consistency.

What I would like to see at the position is someone who can stretch the opposing defenses by dribbling quickly and successfully to his left followed by a useful cross to the box. Picture Messi playing at the left and look at the first half of the most recent USA – Argentina friendly for the hands-on explanation. Villa is cutting almost exclusively to his right (80%+) and doesn’t trust his left foot nearly as much as he should.

An additional player would provide much needed depth to the front 3. The team’s only option at the moment is Bojan. Not something a smart manager is likely to rely on. Ideally, “we” would be able to field a Pedro equivalent: a hard-working, consistent player who keeps it simple at an affordable price.


I: Kun Aguero (personal favorite), Rossi

II: Mata, Jesús Navas

III: Nolito

This list excludes Pato and Neymar because I have them scoring slightly lower thanks to higher uncertainty about the adaptation process and level of contribution. Let me be clear, they are both exceptionally talented, but the latter one would be a long-term investment with the uncertain outcome due to his reported character. It would also force us to enter a bidding war and pay a premium.

Taking into consideration that there is no guaranteed starting spot, the acquisition shouldn’t warrant a big expenditure. Mata and Navas emerge as the most logical options. Mata is not what you would call a high profile player. Pep has praised him and it is easy to see why: a Spaniard familiar with La Liga and some of our players from the time spent with the Spanish National Team.

Navas is a player that mimmicks Pedro to larger degree only he is even faster. An additional flexibility would come from being able to move him to the either side when neccessary. As for the negotiations, playing for Sevilla at the moment, it would give us the opportunity to use Caceres and some others as a makeshift weight.

The alternative? In case the team doesn’t increase the threat coming from the LB position, I would approve to commit more funds and pursue Kun or Rossi. With Villa being close to 30 and limited ability described above, a smart acquisition here would have both immediate impact in terms of depth and variety as well the long-term effect once that player gets more familiar with our system and develops the timing with the mid-fielders.


Now that the “Alves saga” is over, the defensive needs are easier to assess. The main question would be: are we bringing this guy in to be a starter? If so, how long is it going to take for him to adapt and start producing? A detail allowing us more flexibility is that it is all but certain that Abidal will be in top physical shape and hungry in August. That is going to allow the potential newcomer much needed calmness and time to develop.


a. Abidal starting

b. Adriano starting

c. Make an acquisition

The individuals I have identified as potential targets are Clichy, Coentrao, and Bastos (not necessarily in that order). I had limited time available for scouting and I do allow there is a prospect already playing in La Liga that I had overlooked.

I have Clichy (25, 5’8″, 154) ranked slightly higher due to his athleticism and familiarity with EPL opposition he brings. Also, he would probably be cheaper to acquire than Coentrao. A detail of minor importance, I was very impressed with that cross he hit at Camp Nou last year. A first touch cross that had both a tremendous spin and velocity, right on the money. As close to being perfect as ever. A cross that brings a smile to every striker’s face followed by a rhetorical: “Why can’t every cross be like that?”

Coentrao (22, 5’10 1/2″, toothpick) has cultured left foot and scores more often. He would probably be able to adjust more quickly than Clichy since he is more familiar with the language and culture. On a down side, I am worried about his build. He looks very thin and fragile and as such is more likely to get hurt, be pushed around, and “dive”. Let’s also not forget the absence of common sense concerning the valuation Portuguese clubs place on their players. A bidding war resulting in paying a premium price is a likely occurrence.

The advantage Bastos (27, 5’10″, 156) has is the experience playing for a high quality side like the Brazilian National Team. I also believe he would be the easiest one to have flexed up field in the time of need. Kinda goofy looking and would complement Alves in that department. The relatively good relationship we have with Lyon after acquiring Abidal should help us craft a favorable deal.

Having a player like Abidal on the same roster would prove beneficiary to either Clichy or the Brazilian. Not only does he speak the same language, he has actually spent considerable time playing at the position and was recruited from the outside. Such input is very valuable when entering a new environment and is likely to speed up the adaptation process.


The system “we” have in place doesn’t require the defenders to be exceptional tacklers or have tremendous presence in the air. Focus is on the ball handling skills, mid to long range passing, vision and understanding of the system (positioning). The latter one would take considerable time for any newcomer to master. Look no further than The Ukrainian. A individual with well-above-average intelligence, he struggled. As a general rule, preferably all the defenders would be able to communicate in the same language and quickly.

A lot depends on what happens at the LB position and if Abidal will permanently slide to the middle. Now that Fontas is promoted and pending what Milito decides to do, the only adjustment I would make is to bring back Caceres and/or Henrique. I don’t see any other prospects that fit the profile and the budget. One of the Bilbao’s defenders could possibly be worth a second look and Zubizaretta would likely give us an edge in negotiations.

(Never have I seen Bojan as tensed. Look how determined he is to make sure that ball travels another yard)

Caceres is doing very well at Sevilla and has enriched his experience by playing against the Serie A opposition. He is likely more mature and confident than when he originally joined us. The move would also give us an additional option at the RB when Alves is not available or the opponent requires a more physical approach.

Henrique might be ready but I think he is out of favor with Pep. There are some questions about his confidence level too.

The related depth chart would look like:

RB: Alves, Adriano, Caceres

CBR: Pique, Puyol, Caceres

CBL: Abidal, Puyol, Milito, Fontas

LB: Adriano, Abidal, Acquisition

This gives us n!/(n-r)! = 3,024 permutations minus specific player’s inability to play on the opposite side (ex. Alves, Abidal) and different position (ex. Adriano in the middle, Fontas at RB).

Prodigal son

Then there is Cesc Fabregas. The valuations have been thrown around by sources of questionable credibility but the truth is we don’t know the transfer fee at the moment. Is management planning to throw in some loanees/surplus to ‘sweeten the pot’? Does Cesc have a personal agreement, much like Villa and El Jefecito, with Wenger to leave this summer and under conditions not closely related to market forces?

Sometimes it sounds like Sandrusco is out there trying to buy himself a boy toy. You forget that Pep said in no uncertain terms how highly he values Cesc and the feeling seems to be mutual. Both Presidents have acted not on their own but by following instructions from the staff.

As for Cesc himself, he doesn’t strike me as someone who is going to question the limited minutes he is most likely to get during his first season (pending injuries by Xavi and Iniesta). And I think he would accept the same salary or even make a concession like the Captain of the Argentine National Team did. A virtual guarantee of winning silverware every year, a “dream come true” of coming back to Barça, proximity to friends and family, familiarity with the culture and huge upgrade in terms of food and climate, women too, should help him cope with coming off the bench and a lower paycheck.

(Snooki was pissed so she turned her back to the camera)


  • Fabregas is somewhere between Xavi and Iniesta. He’s more athletic with better dribbling, distance shooting, and finishing than Xavi, but isn’t quite as lucid as Iniesta. The team could count on at least 5 goals coming from the mid-field position. Certainly more than what Xavi is producing at the moment.
  • He would also bring familiarity with EPL opposition, a valuable asset to have come spring and the Champions League knockout stage.
  • Last, but not the least, he was raised at La Masia and has great relationship with our captain and some other team members. Cesc would be able to slot in and have a high level of production almost immediately. This process usually takes weeks, or months in some cases, for a newcomer.

If the fee is under €30M including the potential makeweight and the player accepts the Level III salary then I say the management needs to seriously consider making the deal.

On the down side, this acquisition would negatively impact Thiago’s and Afellay’s progress and playing time. It will be interesting to see Pep’s reasoning now and what kind of timetable he had set for these two youngsters.


As usual, the market is insensitive to one’s wishes, plans, and spending power. Availability and the forces of supply and demand are dictating terms. Some adjustments might be absolutely necessary and all buy assured to yield great benefits. That, however, means little in itself if the player is not available or requires a significant cash outlay. If such needs can’t be satisfied in a prudent manner–or satisfied at all–the management should look to take care of what is next on the priority list.

One thing is certain: the acquisition can’t include both a huge transfer fee and a huge salary unless he is a Messi or Iniesta equivalent. The players listed, with a possible exception of Kun Aguero, are definitely not worth such effort.

Better cost management, planning ahead of time and not trumpeting our interest would go a long way in making the necessary adjustments possible.

T. Johnson is studying finance at an US institution.



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  1. hammeronmessi
    March 28, 2011

    not read the post yet.
    Started reading the girl with the dragon tattoo.seems quite good.

    So bored without barca footy

    • Barcaleya
      March 29, 2011

      Also just finished reading the book – it’s great!

  2. Camero
    March 28, 2011

    I have to disagree with you on Henry- I don’t think his struggles were to do with the humbling experience but were down to many reasons that had nothing to do with attitude. Firstly he was hardly fit in the first season and also had injury problems in his last.

    I also don’t like the idea of focusing on players with liga experience as this not only limits our options but makes our club to homogeneous ito of culture. Part of the advantage of being a big club is we can attract the best superstars from around the world. Also, some of our best players that were bought have been from abroad and didn’t first play in la liga – Ronaldinho, Abidal, Yaya, Deco. For me seeing outside players makes our team so much more interesting.

  3. Josep
    March 28, 2011


    Was the Spain U-17 game today? I can’t find links to an upload yet, I assumed it was Friday.

    To all you suckers who were at Int’l matches this weekend I was at the Chicago Fire game where we won 3-2! Take that! I got to witness possibly MLS goal of the season (He did the same thing last season, home opener, where I was also in attendance)

    Also, I was on TV during our second goal and my friend took a picture. I’ll upload it later.

    Finally, does anyone know if we have a pre-contract on Gerard yet? Everyone seems to be keen on the boy wonder. I’m really excited about him, I’ve been following him for the last 2-3 years and his progress has been immense.

    Could someone (jnasty?) link me the Spain-Belgium U-17 match, I think rojadirecta is banned here a work.

  4. hammeronmessi
    March 28, 2011

    read the post.

    1.henry was brought at the last year of the rijjkard era.barring his last one year he wasnt a flop.under pep,in his 1st year,henry produced his best.his biggest asset,pace was waning cause of his advanced years.

    2.keirison,henrique never got a chance to play with the can a player deemed as a flop if he wasnt given a chance?

    3.hleb was mature enough when he joined barca

    4.clichy a big big NO.he got pace.but positionally he is very very poor and he looses his concentration way too much for a top notch defender.

    5.higuain is virtually impossible.kun would be a great signing plus it would be a marquee signing.

    6.if villa doesnt deserve his salary then u should also ask how the hell pique earn as much as puyi.villa deserved that salary by scoring at least 15 goals per season for the last 7 years.regarding villa,people should understand that he neither underperformed or overperformed.remember abi was a weak link for 2 years at our club(at that thme,we were not the best footballimg club)thats why he survived.animeabi.

    P.S. When villa missed those chances,i just wanted to shoot him.

    8.larsson should be kanoute.cause of his physique and ball skills. we should buy those who have experience for the top EPL clubs?no.its not a pre requisite.whenever we play them they defended collectively.

    10.caceres can be a puyi i believe.he is over enthusastic and doesnt possess good skill a la pique or dani.those can be shorted given chance.give him a chance.

    This is my 1billion cents on the post.

    Sorry for any spelling or grammatical mistakes.

  5. Josep
    March 28, 2011

    Just read the post… so we’re calling Henry’s time a failure now?

    I like some of your points, but what you try to do is make this a video game world. Yes, it’d be awesome to cut salaries but again we can’t do that! Villa paid as much as Xavi not deserved? Yes, the all time leading goal scorer for Spain doesn’t deserve to be paid?

    Cut loose ends? Keita? Bojan (though some agree) and bring in players like Pipita.. who I don’t know if you’re sure what team he plays for.

    Forlan?! Have you watched him at all this season?? Though I’m glad you admit its fantasy almost, but you named zero players outside of La Liga. I probably don’t speak for myself when I say that I’d rather us try to stay away from stealing the last remaining talented players in this league.

    You talk about paying a premium for Pato or Neymar but I’m certain that Aguero would cost even more, and Rossi would be in the same payscale. Again, you name only La Liga players. I don’t know when Navas has every played at LW (someone could correct me easily) As far as Caceres as a trading piece for Navas, they have a right to buy him for around 5-7m I believe and would certainly just use that option.

    Now I’m starting to see why you want a La Liga player, but I think you overthink the whole adaptation process. For Lb I understand your choices, but there’s better options than Bastos as well. And certainly not Clichy, the last thing we need is another Arsenal player.


    • Josep
      March 28, 2011


      and cesc. I’m pretty sure, that with Cesc in Thiago’s dad throws a hissyfit and asks for a transfer. Do we really want someone who left the squad to come back all of a sudden since we’re winning trophies? Seriously does no one else see this? He was all happy to leave when we were in the biggest struggle in recent years, he was never linked with coming back when we blew the league in 07. We win six trophies, and guess who wants to come home? if he leaves, don’t bring him back. unless its on a free, I don’t think we should consider cesc.

    • blitzen
      March 28, 2011

      ^ Pretty much agree with everything you just said.

      • blitzen
        March 28, 2011

        Except the Cesc bit, although it is true that Mazinho would throw a fit.

        • Josep
          March 28, 2011

          Well my thing with Cesc is yeah he’s fantastic, he’s great. He’s from our youth squad, etc. etc. But its almost a vain purchase. We’re buying Cesc, the one who got away. Not Cesc Fabregas, amazing midfielder for Arsenal. Thats my problem.

          Not only that but people mention how he’ll play more with Xavi aging, and injuries, etc. But Cesc himself is called Fabreglass for a reason. The kid is always injured, and I don’t think a 50m injury prone signing is the smartest idea.

          And most importantly, thats where we’re stacked. We have some amazing potential with young mids we’d be just throwing away if we sign Cesc. Basically Cesc couldn’t see his way into the first team. We’d be Cesc’ing youngsters by signing Cesc.

          • blitzen
            March 28, 2011

            My head agrees with you, but my heart still wants him. 😀

            And the injury thing—honestly I don’t think he would have nearly as many problems at Barca. At Arsenal he seems to be going through a cycle of getting injured then rushing back to play too soon and exacerbating the original problem. I blame the physios for that.

          • Eklavya
            March 28, 2011

            ” We’d be Cesc’ing youngsters by signing Cesc.”


  6. hammeronmessi
    March 28, 2011

    is jerard the deolefeu one?
    I just dont trust those youtube clips.they can make heskey a messi.

    So did any1 see him play match by match?is he really worth the hype?what are his assests?

    (fingers toward JNICE)

    • Josep
      March 28, 2011

      Oh he’s legit, he looks a lot like Messi did around the same age. He is intense on the ball and his finishing is pretty quality for his age. He doesn’t always look for the pass but he can play some side splitting ones. I personally think he’s what we wish Bojan was.

  7. hammeronmessi
    March 28, 2011

    i think aguero would cost a post of sid about this.

    And pretty much agree on fact IMO he is poaching us

    • Josep
      March 28, 2011

      Pretty sure Atletico turned down a bid from Spurs worth more this January. Not 100% sure

      And it’s Josep, Jose is someone else 😀

      • hammeronmessi
        March 28, 2011

        p is missed by my fingers.
        My apologies

  8. hammeronmessi
    March 28, 2011

    ditto on buying cesc,the one got away.
    Nicely put.

    Bout gerard.lets hope he can be a messi(very much doubtful whether there will be another messi)is he catalan?

    Lazy to google it

  9. Lev
    March 28, 2011

    Personally I agree with Tom: if Arsenal wants to let Cesc go for 30 mil that’s a no-brainer, regardless of Thiago or Afellay.

    Cesc is arguably the best midfielder in the EPL and from the Masía to boot, Pep and our players want him in the team.

    Agree with Josep on pretty much all the other points he made, though.

  10. Lev
    March 28, 2011

    btw, Kun signed a new contract with Atletico 6-8 weeks ago. Transfer clause was set at €40 million. I agree it would be a great signing, although I’d like to note that we did in fact make a marquee signing for the left forward position last summer – David Villa.

    Also think that I would prefer us to spend more on an elite LB.

  11. Alex
    March 28, 2011

    Anyone know what the hell is going on with Puyol????

    He has been out for an eternity it seems like. We need him bad for this insane April run we are going to have.

  12. blitzen
    March 28, 2011

    I’m struggling to understand why exactly Villa is paid as much as Xavi and Iniesta on the top of the €40M we already sunk in

    Seriously, dude? He is one of the top 10 strikers in the world. No matter what you personally may think of his performance this season, a player with his pedigree is always going to make top dollar. The market demands it.

    Jesus Navas’ usual position is on the right wing, not the left. He also just re-signed a new contract with Sevilla and has anxiety issues that make him, in my mind, unreliable.

    I don’t know why you don’t think Mata is a high-profile player, he has had an excellent season for both club and country and is one of the stars at his club. I believe he signed a renewal with Valencia in January that extends his contract to 2015.

    Forlan has been rubbish since the WC. He is also “old” at 31, and demands a high salary. Too much for someone who will ride the bench more often than not.

    Caceres will never come back to Barca as long as Pep is coach. Yes, he is doing well for Sevilla, but as a traditional defender. He just doesn’t have the on-the ball skills we demand. I hope Sevilla uses their option to buy.

    Rosell will sell Keita over Pep’s dead body. Unless Keita himself asks to leave.

  13. Miguel
    March 28, 2011

    parejo scores. i’m not sure what to feel right now.

  14. blitzen
    March 28, 2011

    Oh, Jnice, I have something just for you:

    3 Barcelona B players have joined Twitter today: Andreu Fontas @afontas26, Marc Muniesa @muniesa24, Sergi Roberto @sroberto_18

    from barcastuff, of course.

    • Jnice
      March 28, 2011

      Haha, yup already on it. Glad this was just for me, though. 🙂

  15. Josep
    March 28, 2011

    JNice won’t stop talking about how nice Parejo is. personally, I think he’s alright. that FK Goal was mostly down to bad keeping but JNice thinks he’s so good.

    he also thinks Leeds should sign him?? 😕

    • Jnice
      March 28, 2011


      I think Parejo his a little above average at best. He’s incredibly stiff. Thiago could start for Getafe.

    • Josep
      March 28, 2011

      he also keeps saying “silks” everytime Thiago dribbles. 😀

  16. Miguel
    March 28, 2011

    i’ve said this earlier, then ramzi preached the same thing so i know i’m not crazy, but a tall striker means it makes it that much harder for opposing teams to allocate resources. maxwell/abidal wouldn’t be left wide open anymore and dani wouldn’t be double marked if a left back had a target to aim at in the center. that’s how you create width. i don’t get why people think bringing in a new left back(coentrao) would fix any of this. depth up front is a much more pressing issue for me.

    • Lev
      March 28, 2011

      Yeah, but if you want a target man in the center, where will you move Messi to? His best position is the one he is currently playing (leading Europe in Goals and Assists should leave no doubt about that).

      Maxwell/abidal being left wide open is because offensively they are not strong enough to consistently take advantage of the space they are given. And elite LB (would coentrao be the one?) could change that.

      • Miguel
        March 28, 2011

        on the right next to dani. or wherever the hell he wants: he’s messi. 🙂

  17. Blow-Grenade
    March 28, 2011

    I love the idea of having Torres lead Barcelona front line. I hope that it will one day come true.

    • Lev
      March 28, 2011

      naaah forget about it. First of all Torres has been playing like Bojan for the last year. Second of all, even IF he regains his form he will be waaaay too expensive.

  18. Helge
    March 28, 2011

    Oh damn… watching some pictures and a video of the pitch in Kaunas, Lithuania really scares me!
    Even the Lithuanian players don’t want to play on it…
    It’s irresponsible from the UEFA, and if any player gets injured tomorrow, be it a Spanish or a Lithuanian, his club shall sue the UEFA for millions of €s.
    Plus, if a Barça player gets injured because of the bad condition of the pitch, I will personally walk to the UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland and make them feel my anger!

    In the end, the ref Duhamel could still cancel the match tomorrow, but I doubt it very much. It’s a shame – or even a insert Drogba’s famous rant 🙁

    • Josep
      March 28, 2011

      I hope no one gets hurt. 🙁
      I’m Lithuanian so, of course I think we’ll beat Spain.

      I mean we should’ve last match in the 2-0!

  19. Josep
    March 28, 2011

    BarcaTheOffside Offside Barcelona @
    @JuventusOffside Barça have the right to intervene and sell to a third party too, though. Maybe if you ask nicely…

    So apparently we can sell Caceres for me. Maybe we have the same option with Zlatan?

  20. Ezequiel
    March 28, 2011

    “Trim the fat (Maxwell, Bojan, Jeffren, and even Keita) for €20M+ in transfer fees and salary savings”
    -> Disagree. Releasing those 4 players would create the necessity to bring in replacement. New players are going to cost much more than those €20M+ generated by the sales. Besides, they’ll need some time to adapt to Pep’s system

    When it comes down to the CF debate, i think it has to be an experienced striker who does not only offer aerial threat but is also quick with his feet and his mind. The likes of Forlan, Kanoute, Shevchenko, van Nistelrooy. Another point is the left wing: LWs touching the sideline and sending crosses in would require a classic #9 in the box. Right now, I don’t see how this could work out with the current squad.

    I also do not rate Bastos highly as a left-back. It is not his natural position and I also thought that he looked kinda uncomfortable while playing there for Brazil in the WC.

    • Josep
      March 28, 2011

      Well in 03 when they had the big club turnover they let go old names with inflated salaries and brought in newer players.. Of those only Jeffren should leave, and Maxwell if we get that 12m price rumored.

      I believe Sheva is retiring in 2012 and seeing out his club contract, the others were mentioned before. RVN I don’t see happening.

    • Ezequiel
      March 28, 2011

      If I was to name the in/out players, my list would look something like this:

      In: Thiago, Fontas, Nolito, Caceres, Lichtsteiner, Kanoute
      Out: Ibrahimovic, Hleb, Keirisson, Henrique, Victor Sanchez,
      Jeffren, Milito, Maxwell/Adriano

      This way we could ensure the depth in the squad and still have the money to spend on a high-profile player if needed

  21. can_we_go_Xalvies
    March 28, 2011

    I woke up this morning and I realized that if we lose our next liga game against Villarreal we are down to two points behind Madrid (given they don’t drop points) and then the league goes down to who wins the classico. :S scary thought

    But if we beat Villarreal, the season becomes a whole different story, not only do Madrid have to beat Barcelona in the clasico, they have to beat every other spanish team and few are easy ones. They will probably end up focusing on the cup and CL if it comes to this situation.

    the latter effect will give us a better opportunity to focus on CL and the cup much easier, unless we come across mourinho who gets potentially four tries to save his job and talk his team out of the slumps.

    • Para
      March 28, 2011

      Hang on, two points behind? Barca’s five points up right now, right? Doesn’t that mean Madrid will be two points behind? My math is often a fail, but I’m pretty sure it’s correct to that extent. 🙂

  22. Cesc Pistol
    March 28, 2011

    I honestly find it had to agree with most of what Tom says. The thought that he doesn’t really understand football comes up with every suggestion. The criteria are not those I agree with or atleast not in the weight assigned to them.

    Anyways, If Abi shifts to LB we should focus on getting someone who matches up to our starting XI. Villa HAS to be our starting LW. Ridiculous to say anything else. The options suggested are quite sad considering the well thought opinions of the rest of the BFB team. The supposed “failures” don’t seem failures at all and despite Zlatan’s success on the field, the transfer as a whole was a BIG failure. On the CF issue, Forlan and Trez had poor seasons/form, Llorente might be expensive, similar with Nilmar, though overall good suggestions here and the general criteria is the correct one (Larsson type). Disagree strongly with the players to sell as well, reducing adapted depth for less money than we’ll have to pay for unadapted replacements. And really, Keita? Are you serious?

    Clichy is a big no-no for me. Can’t even begin to detail why. Caceres should be a good option, hope Pep decides to try him out. Don’t want Cesc on what Josep said. Only if we’re desperate for a Xavi replacement should he come.

  23. Lev
    March 28, 2011

    ” “Trim the fat (Maxwell, Bojan, Jeffren, and even Keita) for €20M+ in transfer fees and salary savings”
    -> Disagree. Releasing those 4 players would create the necessity to bring in replacement. New players are going to cost much more than those €20M+ generated by the sales. Besides, they’ll need some time to adapt to Pep’s system ”

    very good point. If we get a LB Maxwell would be surplus. Reportedly Liverpool want to bid 8+ million euro for Jeffren.. Wow. Wouldn’t believe it if it weren’t Liverpool, lol. But other than those two I am not in favor of getting rid of anyone else.

    On Bojan the opinions diverse and have been discussed over and over again, so I won’t, but what is sure is that we won’t (and shouldn’t) outright sell him.

    You’d be crazy to wanna get rid of Keite. Squad players are very, very important. Especially if they a) are HAPPY to be part of the squad and ready to contribute whether when called upon or in training and b) bring something different to the squad. I’d say Keita is very important for us.

    • mega_tajh
      March 28, 2011

      ^Agreed, after seeing how will Keita played against Mallorcca away,with his fantastic looping ball assist to Messi, I refuse to sell him.

      Maxwell has been replaced by Adriano and although being very good squad player I am swayed in if Barca should sell him or keep him….Considering his loyalty to us and never giving any trouble he can become our new Sylvinho in doing what is needed for the team.

  24. March 28, 2011

    I can understand where you are going with this post. I will probably do something similar to this towards the end of the season. I know I am a Real Madrid fan, but i watch most Barca games so i do have an idea of what i think you guys need.

    What strikes me with the post is the Football Manager Mentality. You are calling for a “Larrson” but at the same time you suggest players like Higuain, Nilmar, Kanoute and Forlan as options. Those are all players playing for the top teams in their division and starting day in day out. The only person that i seem close to a larrson is Kanoute due to his age. Larrson joined from Celtic at the age of 33 years old. He was near the end of his career and was content with playing 10 minutes every few games. The idea that your team needs an experienced striker like Larrson is a right one, but your choices are wrong. Plus, why buy a young striker if you already have Bojan who is 20 years old. Now the question is, are there any good and experienced strikers that are near the end of their career and want to win something before they end it? I can’t really think of anyone right now, but it doesn’t have to be a La Liga based footballer. Larrson was playing at Celtics before he joined Barcelona.

    As for the LW position, i also think your targets are really unrealistic, except for Nolito. Aguero is not a LW. If anything, he likes to drift to the right more so than the left. He also has the same problem that you mentioned about Villa in which he is not going to cross. Rossi plays more of a second striker and enjoys playing more central than Villa would. If you are looking for a player that would not take time to adjust, why pick two players that are naturally central players. Not only that, but they are unrealistic targets for bench players. Navas is also just breaking into the spanish NT, and will be reluctant to go to Barcelona and warm the bench. Mata would be the most realistic target, but let me tell you this. Mata left Real Madrid because he wanted to be in the first team. He left because at 19 years old, he wanted a starting spot in the first team at the squad. Although i do agree that he should have been promoted from the youth ranks, it tells you about how the player feels about being on the bench. Plus, do you really want a Real Madrid youth product running the left wing of your beloved club?

    Once again, just like i mentioned for the striker position, why not choose a more realistic target? For that position i would go with a young player rather than an experienced one since Villa is experienced. Why not go with a a Higuain type of purchase. Higuain came to Madrid having only had half a season under his belt and being only 18 years old. He then got to do substitute appearances till he became the talent he is today. This is why he looks and many consider him a product of the Madrid academy. Right now, there are many promising up and coming left wingers that would love to learn under David Villa and Pep. Those would be a more realistic targets than the very expensive and high in demand players you mentioned.

    you mention that you want these players gone: Maxwell, Bojan, Jeffren, and even Keita.

    Aside from Jeffren, you are taking out the first three players that usually come off the bench this season. Keita in particular is a player that should never leave Barcelona. Some one that can come on and run his socks off and run after opposition players is something that is hard to find. Bojan is 20 years old, and even if his performances are not good enough right now, lets not be delusional and expect every 20 year old is going to rock the big scene. Have players like Messi and Ronaldo made us forget how the game has been running for the past 100 years. Yes Bojan is not ready to be first choice, but then again, what 20 year old in the world right now is ready to be a starter for Barcelona at that age?

    The general idea that you have going on is the correct one, but the specific choices that you have made for the players and positions seem unrealistic, FM-like and pertains to the recent trend in Spanish football. If teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona expect starters for CL teams like Valencia and Villareal to come and warm the bench for them, then i wouldn’t be surprised by the huge gap that the other teams have to Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    Only in the last few years has it become that teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona have to have a world class bench that can go out and compete and beat the 3rd and 4th placed teams in La Liga. Yes Real Madrid are more of guilt at doing that, but Barcelona have also played a part. Anyways, i want the days were 6 or 7 losses a season meant that you are having a great season to be back. Today its nicer for the fans of the team but routine for a fan of football.

    Anyways, great topic and very well written. Keep up the good work.

    • mega_tajh
      March 28, 2011

      Bassam, I agree with you on certain extents but he clearly states “It is always fun to fantasize. Life, however, is not a video game. Higuain and Llorente are too young and too good to have limited minutes.

      To everyone….
      Regarding getting a player to fill the Larrson role, I certainly agree with Tom in players like Forlan and Kanoute( or anyone else along those lines) as both are approaching the end of their careers but still have alot to add. Some are saying Forlan is having a crap season, I say it is rightly so as what is motivating him to keep playing at his best after such a brilliant WC? His time to move to a bigger club passed last summer when teams from all over where interested him.

      I agree with you however when Tom mentions selling Keita or Bojan. Both Maxwell and Jeffren will be sold this summer but Keita never, Bojan a loan deal yes.

      Also to note every year Barca has signed a Marquee player and I strongly believe this summer will be Cesc regardless of who we have right now. Afellay will be used on the wing for a Pedro sub, and Cesc will be used variously. Pep has to be thinking long term as maybe he sees Xavi wouldn’t be able to play as much next season. What if Xavi was out like how Puyol is now?

      In our treble season we had a 25 man-squad if I remember correctly. With players like Gudjohnsen, Sylvinho and Hleb( he did started games and played alrightish ie-Henry hat-trick against Valencia). Those players regardless of where they ended up now were players who added to the team, especially in the CDR. This season however we run our best lineup for games in which we should be resting certain players. I am starting to believe that our specific system right now can only fully be used by our strongest starting 11 and thats it. Players like Bojan,and Affelay are having a hard time fitting in at the moment so I see Tom reasoning to add players who have La liga seasoning in them and who are mentally capable of learning the system.

      Most of our signings in the past hasn’t quite work out and in a time like this were every penny counts we need to start signing wisely and not just looking at “hype” or highlight videos. With that said I want our future signings to be in the mode of Affelay as he seems to have both the talent and mental & personal strength to eventually succeed with us.

      • March 28, 2011

        Yes i did see what he wrote. I was commenting on the whole LW situation and choices there.

        Btw, buying Cesc will mean that Kieta will leave and Thiago will probably go on loan somewhere. Or if Thiago is going to stay, then he will be ala Canales with us. Getting very few minutes to play.

        • barca96
          March 28, 2011

          I agree that we don’t need a young striker/attacker. Been saying that since yesterday, not!

          he likes to drift to the right more so than the left
          So it’s good that he plays at LW and drifts to the right( middle) right? :p

        • mega_tajh
          March 28, 2011

          Cesc arriving to me signals a plan to slowly realize a Barca midfield without Xavi not halt players like JDS or Thiago. Thiago is a special player who when promoted next season will get his chances like all youth products before him. Fighting for your spot is part of football our very own Bojan knows this all to well as every summer we have went out and bought a 40mil+ striker ahead of him.

          Same goes for Pedro and same goes for Busquets and same goes for whoever gets promoted.Both these players worked hard to get were there are.Pedro replaced Henry and Busquets replaced a very good Toure Yaya. For Thiago to become successful in this team he just has to follow in his mentors footsteps and work hard, not just relying on his god-given talent. If he does that then he will surly become a starter for us along with Cesc,Inesita,Busquets or whoever starts in our midfield when that time comes.

    • Para
      March 28, 2011

      I was listening to some questions posed to management and pundits in the EPL, and someone asked ‘who would you sign if money was no object.’ After a brief discussion, one of men (a scout, I believe) talked about the value in not signing big names, but rather creating big names. To my understanding, he wasn’t referring to players coming up from academy levels, but rather the signing of younger players (kind of like the way you mention Higuain).

      Is that becoming more difficult nowadays though, with the hype that tends to surround younger players as soon as anyone outside the youth setup catches a whiff of their talent?

      I also thought it was interesting that he talked about turning 16/18 year olds into stars as a badge of pride almost, whereas in an interview with a dutch footballer (I think at/formerly at Ajax) he discussed how frustrating it was that big european clubs were signing all the promising 16/18 year olds…but then that opens up a whole toral-fabregas can of worms.

  25. Lev
    March 28, 2011

    Some people have mentioned Rondon as an option for striker.

    I haven’t seen him play all that much, but my biased self thinks he might be a good option. Opinions?

    • Lev
      March 28, 2011

      lol, yeah I read that. I have actually visited Cucuta a couple of times. It is not that big, but like a lot of border towns it is not the safest. Some FARC presence. A lot of MISSING PERSON posters on walls and street light posts. I saw two dudes getting dragged out of a bar in handcuffs and put into a police van and when I asked two middle aged woman standing next to me what happened, they glared at me and moved 15 yards away from me.

      Cucuta. Where no questions are asked 😉

      • Miguel
        March 28, 2011

        yeah, my parents are from a rural part of central mexico & i hear stories from family members who currently live there about drug traffickers and shoot outs and shit, which is far from the picture i had of that place as a kid. it’s nuts. apparently taking out kingpins doesn’t quell violence and mayhem.

        • Lev
          March 28, 2011

          I hear the stories too, shit is crazy. Mind you where I live is no joke and our murder rate owns mexico’s :p
          pero oye guey todos los mexicanos que conozco son muy padres. I have never been to Mexico but I would LOVE to know the country. The only thing I possibly wouldn’t like is the constant Norteño music. Horrible, I tell you, horrible! jajaja

          • Lev
            March 28, 2011

            ¡no jodas chamo! (translation: ¡no mames guey!)

        • Miguel
          March 28, 2011

          *i meant to say crime, not violence.

  26. barca96
    March 28, 2011

    Guys, why is everything zoomed out in the BFB page?
    I accidently laid my hands on my keyboard and everything is zoomed out. Only this page.
    I can barely read anything. My poor ol’ eyes are squinching.

  27. Luke
    March 28, 2011

    Zlatan, Hleb and Chygrynskiy have Eastern European mentalities

    Odd. I did not know Sweden was Eastern European now. Or that Zlatan, who has played in Sweden, Italy, and Spain, has significantly Eastern European ties. Or that people from specific parts of the world have certain mentalities. Question of how we came to know this about Chygy anyway, since from all accounts Pep loved him and his biggest problem was a change of scheme’s and the language barrier.

    • barca96
      March 28, 2011

      To be fair, Ibra is half Swedish and half Bosnian, and Bosnian could be counted as Eastern Europe.

    • Lev
      March 28, 2011

      Well Zlatan’s parents are Bosnian, I believe?

      But anyway the funniest thing about the Eastern European mentalities remark is that the three players mentioned, Hleb, Chiggy, and Zlatan, could not be more different, personality and mentality wise…

      • Luke
        March 29, 2011

        I thought this was hilarious as well. Chygy was apparently like a big puppy dog trying to keep around Pep at all times. Zlatan is an amazing player who did not get along with Pep. Hleb thinks he’s great but is in fact, just, well, not very good.

        All have severely different personality factors and were at different parts in their careers and lives when they came in. But of course we should compare a Belorussian, a Swede, and a Ukrainian because of their geography. People do not have different personalities, they are totally controlled by where they are born, or apparently in Zlatan’s case, where one of his parents was born.

    • Miguel
      March 28, 2011

      yeah, i didn’t like that part either but to be fair zlatan has a bosnian pops and a croatian moms. i remember something about ibra’s father being a musician and playing traditional bosnian tunes. i may be wrong about that, though.

  28. Lev
    March 28, 2011

    whoooooah i turn on the TV to find a repeat of LA MANITA! awesome! life is beautiful 🙂

  29. Jnice
    March 28, 2011

    Watched the first half of the Spain U17 against Northern Ireland, and apart from Gerard killing it once again, the other player that’s caught my eye in both the U17 matches I’ve watched, is the kid Denis Suarez from Celta Vigo. He’s an intelligent midfielder. One to look out for.

    • mega_tajh
      March 28, 2011

      Man Jnice how do you get time to watch so much football!! Unless you make money off it then yay you!! lol

      • Jnice
        March 28, 2011

        LOL, like I said before, I don’t watch that much football. Rather than watch a lot, I read a lot of stuff/listen to a lot of podcasts.

  30. Tom, Dick and Harry
    March 28, 2011


    Thanks for the contribution. This being an open place, you are free to interpret it any way you like and voice your opinion as long as it doesn’t contain foul language and neglects the facts.

    “You are calling for a “Larrson” but at the same time you suggest players like Higuain, Nilmar, Kanoute and Forlan as options.”

    There is the reason I used roman numerals. To highlight what would be the best and what more realistic option. An older player with “some gas left in the tank” looking to win before retirement that can be acquired at the discount.

    “If you are looking for a player that would not take time to adjust, why pick two players that are naturally central players.”

    There are two options in regard to LW:
    1. A lefty who would have to cut to his right and shoot
    2. A right footed player who needs to dribble and cross with his left

    There are no ideal solutions. I feel Kun’s and Navas’ weaker foot would be an upgrade. Kun has better touch and vision, Navas is faster and cheaper. Both are about the same height but younger than Villa.

    “you are taking out the first three players that usually come off the bench this season.”

    And that exactly is the problem. When Pep looked at the bench in London it wasn’t a pleasant site. Not for a club of our stature at least.

    I want people on the bench who can make an impact not a damage control. Assuming present starting 11, the bench needs to look something like Forlan/Kanoute (long distance shot, height), Navas/Mata (speed), Cesc/developed Thiago (creativity), Adriano and Puyol to cover for each wing and the middle of defense.

    “Bojan is 20 years old, and even if his performances are not good enough right now, lets not be delusional and expect every 20 year old is going to rock the big scene.”

    It is about his confidence. Once a striker loses it, it is very hard to recover. Ex. Torres, Raul. I’ll be the first one to eat my hat if Bojan succeeds.

    “then i wouldn’t be surprised by the huge gap that the other teams have to Real Madrid and Barcelona.”

    What I care about is Barca. Everything else is secondary.

    What “we” have here is the unique opportunity to achieve the level previously unseen. More so considering the level of competition (more money and more games required to win the CL) and the fact that there is no figure of Franco’s stature to cast shadow over Barca’s most fierce competitors.

    Thanks for the compliment. If time allows me to, I will take a look at your writing effort and am hoping to be able to return the kind words.

    • Ryan
      March 29, 2011

      I think Navas’ buyout clause is equal or even higher than Kun’s, as I’ve read reports between 35m to 60m(!) Euros. Sevilla’s offside links to a Tribal Football page though, so perhaps it isn’t that high.

      • barca96
        March 29, 2011

        I agree with TOm that. Our bench is simply not good enough.
        Now that every has Kanoute’s attention, remember the kind of impact he had on Seville? We were bossing them until he came on.
        Bojan is unable to do this.

        Klose, Kanoute and Forlan will strike a fear in the opponents.

        I also don’t really care if we weaken the other team. I mean, I’m a fan of Barca, not the La Liga. If I wanted to become a fan of La Liga teams, I’d better stick to being a neutral.

        But it’s too late now. I shouldn’t have watched them regularly when I first started watching football in 1995. Damn you NOS( Dutch TV)!

    • March 29, 2011

      Oh man, you ruined it with the Franco comment. The Franco helping Real Madrid is a Myth. It was mostly generated by basque supporters to damper the success that Real Madrid had during that era. If you read into history, you will notice that Franco was an Atletico Madrid supporter. The board of Real Madrid was actually against Franco during the war, and at the end of it, most of them were murdered or executed by Franco and his army. One of the few survivors, Santiago Bernabeau found the club missing 80% of its board after the war and started assembling a new board of old players. With this newly formed board, the team started building again. At the same time, Atletico Madrid was being aided by Franco and supported all the time.

      There is a very well written article on this by a spanish history fanatic. As soon as i find it, i will link it to you to read. But this whole Franco business is very untrue.

    • March 29, 2011

      As for the fact that you are a fan of Barcelona and everything else is secondary. Well I’m a fan of Real Madrid and everything else is secondary as well. But you have to admit, there is no pride in winning against a very weak side. Does that Lion brag about killing a squirrel or about killing another lion? There is no thrill in not having competition. But thats just my personal opinion. If i don’t feel challenged, then i don’t enjoy what I’m doing.

      • barca96
        March 29, 2011

        Re: competing with the best;
        They have CL to worry about.

        This is not just a sport Bassam and the rest of you guys that worry about weakening other teams. If that is the main problem, then I guess they should turn football into something like the NBA (which I love). Football is a business now. It’s all about money and power.

        What the UEFA should’ve done over 10 years ago was to go ahead with the G14, a super league. Then my other beloved club, Ajax would still be an attractive club.sigh

        • March 29, 2011

          Thats not particularly the case. 3 years ago Sevilla was still competing to win the League. 8 years ago Valencia, Deportivo and even Celta Vigo were a force to be reckoned with in the CL. I do see a change in that though. With foreign investors taking advantage of dying clubs to buy them for cheap and with club forcing the whole equal TV rights, then spanish teams will have more power to keep hold of its top assets.

          Once again, i grew up watching the football that was not a business. And again, i preface competitive games than 5-0 drubbings game after game. 5 goals are nice, but nothing beats the thrill of winning a tight game.

          • Jose
            March 29, 2011

            “I do see a change in that though. With foreign investors taking advantage of dying clubs to buy them for cheap and with club forcing the whole equal TV rights, then spanish teams will have more power to keep hold of its top assets.”

            We’ll see. The new TV rights deal isn’t going to solve the problem much… RM and Barca are still getting a big piece of the pie, but more importantly, there is no merit-based incentive–the same clubs get the same deal no matter how well they do, which is why the third-tier (in the new money pyramid) Villareal and Sevilla are against it, while the second-tier ATM and Valencia are not. I do think that the issue will one day be truly addressed, but not for the next five years. Once La Liga and its clubs settle into sharing TV rights (as opposed to every club for itself, as it is now), there’ll be a more concerted push to change the allotment scheme into something more incentives-based than it is now… and that won’t happen as long as the bottom half of the clubs aren’t guaranteed to keep the same minimum share, which will only happen if the TV rights pie as a whole gets bigger.

            And there’s the rub. The TV rights campaign, while important, glosses over one major facet of the problem. That, that La Liga is incompetently run. Seriously, I’ve seen Caribbean baseball leagues with more serious management. They have done a fairly terrible job of marketing the league as a whole, to the detriment of all its teams. Things like not scheduling match dates more than a week before or playing so late that the Asian market is not tapped are just examples of what is generally La Liga’s distinct knack at missing every opportunity to build the La Liga brand. This points to a leadership that can’t see past the next fiscal year. That does seem to be changing, as they’ve started to get more organized about extracting the most money from the product (as in the upcoming strike), but signs are not that encouraging.

            Bassam, coincidentally, you say that the football you grew up with wasn’t a business, or at least the business aspect wasn’t emphasized as much. Yet, for La Liga to really become competitive again, that is exactly what it needs: to start being managed like the serious, powerful business that it is supposed to be.

  31. ooga aga
    March 29, 2011

    thanks tom johnson for the good read

  32. xavi
    March 29, 2011

    First of all, for all those saying ‘I’m Barca fan and won’t give a rat’s ass about the Liga’ you guys have to understand that without fierce competition you can’t maintain your own ability forever… Look no further than the top two of SPL! As bassam puts it, you kill a mouse week in week out and think you are being the deadliest but you’ll fall fairly short when you face the other lions out there in Europe because you forgot how strong you need to be against lions!!

    And as for the back up striker/CF, I think Valencia’s Aduriz would be an awesome shout too. He will cost around 10m though but he’s got good amount of years in him. He’s also not the main starter for Valencia anyway. And they would love it if they get Milito or Henrique in return, because mind you their defence let them down big time this season.

    See I give a Godawesome solution to ‘do not kill our friends but snatch a player from them’ problem;)

    • barca96
      March 29, 2011

      Actually, I’m the only who holds that view xavi. Everyone here wants competition. I’m the guilty one here.

      Not to say that I don’t care about competition, but the other clubs have their own ways to become competitive. That is their job. We ourselves had a tough time. Heck, ever since I became a fan, the only silverware we had was that short spell with Sir Robson, then Van Gaal and then we had a dry period until the arrival of Rijkaard. So I had to deal with competition for quite a long time. It’s only recently that we have been beating teams 5-0.

      Like I said to Bassam, there is CL for them to go against the best of the best. That’s the whole point of the competition.

      If you think that the best competition might win you the trophies, how come we won it twice? How come a competitive league like the EPL only have two champions in the past decade? Ligue 1? Bundesliga?

      I really think we should care about our club first before wanting to look into other clubs. Fix our problems first. It’s not like we are perfect and winning every match comfortably.

      It’s a different story if we have a Sheikh on board and building a “dream team” like Man City and Chelsea are doing. What we are doing, is nowhere near as bad as what they are doing. Even the Galactico project wasn’t as bad as that one.

      By us being very good, other teams will try harder to improve.

    • Jose
      March 29, 2011

      Personally, I may be a Barca fan, but, if you’ll forgive the self-righteousness, I am also a fan of futbol. And the direction La Liga is headed toward isn’t promising.

  33. xavi
    March 29, 2011


    There’s a reason the big two expressed their concern about the falling standards of the Liga very recently man. They did sit down to listen to their problems about the TV deals, although since neither Barca nor Madrid wanted their counterpart to get the advantage of it they agreed to only a bit part of the plan.

    I really do get what you say, the EPL clubs and ourselves didn’t win many CLs because it is never easy to concentrate on both the league as well as CL…it gets even tougher if the competition in league is even higher. But we are a very rich club and can work out on that problem without killing the midtable teams too. I still reckon the only way we maintain our high standards is if there’s fierce competition in the league.

    You ask what are we to do for the cause. I’ll tell you an example. Jesus Navas was ready to quit the Sevilla ship once he overcame his nervousness problems. So he waited for Madrid to come for him, and once it became clear to him that it’s not going to happen he went on and signed the renewal. He didn’t wait for any of the foreign clubs! The loyalty that he felt when there was the option to go to a foreign club was no where to be seen when there was option to sign for Madrid!! Why!? Because there’s huge chance for silverware if he signed for Madrid than say if he signed for Liverpool! Also there are always the doubts in players’ minds whether they would be able to adjust with the different style in the foreign country, whether they would be able to adjust to the new place etc.
    Same with Mata… he waited for us, but when we didn’t opt to sign him he moved on and signed a contract renewal with Valencia ignoring the English clubs. Now if the big two can control themselves from the temptation to snatch every up and coming talent in the league the other clubs’ chances in retaining their top talents increase drastically. When Tottenham tabled a huge bid for Rossi, Nilmar, Llorente, etc., their respective clubs were able to convince their players to stay very easily, but would it be the case had we or Madrid put the same bid!? I think we should ask the question ourselves and work for the cause.

  34. Sheena
    March 29, 2011

    Is anyone else panicking over the prospect of our Spaniards playing on a potato pitch?

    I know that Del Bosque said he’d rest some of our players, but he can’t do that without resting Madrid’s players, and possibly Villareal’s. That leaves him with practically no one to field. I’m still hopeful that the game will be called off, though. It’s unethical to put players at risk like that.

    If I had to pick, the players I want to see rested are Villa and Iniesta. And Busi. And Xavi. And Pique. What? Oh.

    • Jose
      March 29, 2011

      According to MARCA, the game is on. Apparently, the final decision according to FIFA regulations is down to the ref, and the ref (Frenchman by the name of Duhamel) has approved the field.

      • Sheena
        March 29, 2011

        But it barely even qualifies as grass ffs! 🙁

        • Jose
          March 29, 2011


          According to a Spanish farmer that traveled to Lithuania for the match, the field is not fit for growing melons, but it could suit artichokes.

          I don’t even know what to make of that.

          • blitzen
            March 29, 2011

            It means it is extremely sandy and dry. Apart from the injury concerns, this will affect Spain’s passing game. They will have to rely more on long balls instead of short passes. Lithuania could very well win this game, which I guess may be the reason they chose this field?

            Frankly, if Lithuania can’t provide a decent field for a game like this, they shouldn’t even be allowed to compete internationally. It’s a (Drogba-style) disgrace!

  35. Cesc Pistol
    March 29, 2011

    Another thing, concerning youth players since the buzz around Gerard seems to be growing, is that when evaluating a youth player’s game the things to keep in mind are:

    1. Pressing ability
    2. First touch or Controlling a hard/fast pass.
    3. Ball control
    4. Ability to rotate possession/passing skills
    5. Reading of the game
    6. Handling the physical aspect

    And then their individual skillsets which suit the position they play in.

    If you look at those who have been successful: Messi/Pedro/Busquets
    they had the above 6 factors. Perhaps Messi had a bit less but hell, he’s Messi. While look at all those who didn’t succeed well: They all had high individual talent which would suit their positions very well. In a sense you could look at point 1 & 4/5 and see that they point to a more humble/hardworking attitude.

    Gerard is quite similar to how Messi was at 16. Actually he seems like a young Messi on the right, except that he’s got Crynaldo’s attitude instead of Messi’s shyness Remember Bojan tore up the youth leagues EVERYWHERE but he lacked in quite a few areas of the six points. Same was with Gio, Gai, Iago etc. Gerard has similar problems and that is what he must develop in the coming years if he wishes to reach the first team.

    What you can never judge fully is how good their individual skills are until they try them at the top level. That is simply because defenses are not as tight, there is far more space and mostly inexperienced players playing against them. Space, time and ability to fool defenders are greatly limited at the senior level comparatively. Take that into account before hyping them up.

    • barca96
      March 29, 2011

      Thiago & JDS certainly have those abilities.
      I’m not really positive about Gerard though.
      Judging from Youtube videos, he doesn’t have a close control, so I dont really understand why the comparison with Messi.

  36. March 29, 2011

    Man…I’m struggling to find one detail to agree on…

    The fact that you dont trust Villa on the left (for irrelevant reasons IMO)and want to buy Aguero (your personal favorite) instead to do it right, sums it all.

    Selling Keita, buying Higuain, Clichy,…

    A respond will be longer than the post itself. So I will make it short and agree to -really- disagree.

    No offense.

  37. MoSSi
    March 29, 2011

    This was retweeted by honigstein on twitter, Honigstein is in Germany what Sid Lowe is in Spain:

    The transfer of Benfica’s Fabio Coentrao to Bayern München is nearly done, according to “O Jogo”. About 25m € fee.

    • Helge
      March 29, 2011

      Bad for him, and bad for us.

      But apparently, our club has not shown interest in him so far – what a shame!

    • barca96
      March 29, 2011

      Oh man. That’s a disappointment. Now we will never get a chance of landing him. Look what happened to Ribery.

  38. barca96
    March 29, 2011

    Hahahaha is this an early April Fool’s joke or what?
    Keita missing the plane and training on his own.
    It must be a joke cause the B-team players trained with the 1st team today.

  39. barca96
    March 29, 2011

    But I take this piece of news really seriously, really seriously;

    “Batista (coach ARG): “Mascherano and Messi will play against Costa Rica. Barcelona should understand this is the national team.”

    • Jose
      March 29, 2011

      That strike for the Villareal game is looking better and better now…

      At least it won’t be in some “patatal”… Costa Rica is dropping the cement field that was the Ricardo Saprissa Stadium for a new, shiny National Stadium, which uses grass. Playing against Argentina is kind of their way of inaugurating it.

  40. Camero
    March 29, 2011

    I’m still in disbelief as to why Tom wants to sell Keita. He is the perfect player off the bench as he understands the system and is as consistent as any player on our first team.

  41. Camero
    March 29, 2011

    Nd out of interest, what specifically are you studying Tom?

  42. Lev
    March 29, 2011

    Completely off topic. El Salvador is currently in Holland trying to take over Ajax from the suits. They are probably going to vote for the directors to be fired so that a Cruijff-led consortium of ex Ajax players can take over the technical aspects of running the club. Lots of mud being slung back and forth. Quite interesting to see what will happen there, actually.

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