—Cha-ching! Lionel Messi has warmed hearts and minds by saying that “I want to spend all my career here, in Barcelona.” Which, admittedly, is the right thing to say after a club has just decided to give you something around 12m per annum for kicking a football around better than anyone else on the planet. We’ve all applauded the new deal, and it would be the height of churlishness to even question whether it’s deserved right?
And that’s why we have Goal.com, kids. There’s a piece up there, speculating about whether Messi offers, or can offer, value sufficient to his immense wages. The writer, Anthony Wright, feels that it’s something of a publicity stunt by Laporta, just as it was when Flo-Flo was throwing money around like confetti.
My .02 is that it’s a statement by the club, a club which has a history of, many cules allege, not doing right by its superstars. Barca have said to Messi, “We want you for as long as you want to stay, signified by this pigpile of cash, and an absurd buyout clause.” Publicity stunt? Hardly. The man is the best player alive right now, and has made our club a global icon, caplitalizing on the work done by Ronaldinho beforehand. If you see a Barca shirt, and it has a player name/number, the odds that it will be that of Messi, these days, hovers around 90%. It’s marketing, but marketing backed up by phenomenal exploits on the pitch.
Now, I’m on the record as saying that some of those crowd-pleasing Messi runs are better served if they terminate in passes to open teammates, rather than a lost ball at the feet of one of the 47 defenders that have converged on Argy Bargy. But for every highlight reel run, another fan is born. Many of those fans remain fans, become socis and support the club in a meaningful way.
How in the hell can you ever put a value on that?
Yea, verily, say naysayers or doubters, Messi is one wrong foot plant away from making the club look like fools. That further, his style of play is not going to age well, that when he loses that magical first 4 steps that are as fast as anyone’s in the universe, what then? How, then, will the club feel about paying a guy who can’t cut it any longer, 12m per season?
I say we cross that bridge when we come to it, and pray that it never comes. And further, if it does, Messi has already done enough to deserve the benefit of the doubt.
And as for that crazy talk by attention-seeking Pele that Kaka is a more complete player than Messi or Thong Boy, even Kaka is calling bullshit on that one, saying in AS “At the moment, Messi is the best. It’s the truth.”
–New Barca signing and Hair Club for Catalans member Dimitro Txigrinski sure is saying the right things. When you hear words from Txignasty such as “For me Puyol is a symbol of Barcelona. For a long time whenever I thought of Barca I saw him and whenever I thought of Puyol, I saw Barcelona. He has incredible strength,” and then you hear him admit that he still has in his private museum a jersey that he swapped with Captain Caveman after a Champions League tie, it just makes you smile.
Word from on high is that he will play in the next three league matches. If he does as well as he did against Getafe, I’m all the way on board, kids. All. The. Way.
A bit more from Txignasty, courtesy of Sport:
Pep Guardiola announced today that you will play against Atletico. How do you feel?
It is a very special day and want it to be unforgettable. It will be my fourth visit to the Nou Camp….the first was last year in a match against Valencia (4-0), because we arrived a few days before the Barca-face Shakhtar in the Champions (2-3), which is the only time I’ve played in the Nou Camp. And the third was last month on the first day of League against Sporting (3-0).
Almost no one thought you would play against Getafe, but you started. Did you call your parents when you learned you would play?
No, no. When you approach a game, I do not like making calls or saying that I will play or not. The only thing that matters is that I approach the game as focused as possible and help the team.
You’ve been training for a short time with Barça. What has surprised you most?
I was very surprised by the environment and the excellent relationship that exists in the locker room. It’s great. Everyone smiles and makes jokes and that’s something that gives you great confidence.
Furthermore, Yaya Toure is able to speak fluent Russian….
Yes (laughs), he speaks pretty well, but I just want to learn to speak Castilian as quickly as I can. So I don’t talk to him in Russian. I prefer that all speak in Castilian to learn better.
Last season the Belarussian Aleksandr Hleb hardly learned Castilian and Catalan. I see that you are different.
I’m already seriously studying Castilian and I think that soon I will be able to express myself. I started my classes at Berlitz. I want to master it as quickly as possible and then I would add Catalan.
–Would-be Emperor of Catalunya Joan Laporta says not to anticipate any winter transfer period signings, barring any injuries or alien abductions. He believes that with the kids and B-teamers at our disposal, we can keep on keepin’ on. I applaud that decision, but would say that if somebody like Luis Suarez comes available for the right price, it’s Go Time. (That one’s for Hector.)
–There was a lot of huggin’ and a kissin’ in the tunnel, prior to the CL tie against Inter, but Gerard Pique was having none of it, preferring a very formal (and rather stiff, saith Sport) handshake to Eto’o. Right on, I say, because this is war.
–Would anyone like a little scandal with their breakfast? Felix Millet, whose affiliation with our beloved club dates back to Nunez, resigned his board post this week amid a controversy involving the embezzlement of almost 3m from foundation affiliated with the Palau de la Musica Catalana. Ick.
Speaking of, if you are ever in Barcelona and have the opportunity to hear a concert in one of the city’s gems, do so. We heard a Beethoven No. 9/Carmina Burana combo platter there last year, and say what you will about the performing ensemble (pedestrian, funky tempi, off-song brass), the hall was absolutely spectacular. The restoration is exquisite, and some slag the sound, though I am not quite sure why. Maybe now that all of those banknotes aren’t being hidden in its corners any longer, it will sound even better.