It’s that time of year again….

Silly Season is upon us and I’ve compiled a quick list of people we are being linked to. The main aim this summer is strengthen the team in all areas (duh!), but we particularly need another CB and another forward. I’m not going to go in-depth on their abilities, that’s for you guys to discuss. I added in height for the forwards and defenders since I think that’s worth knowing.

It bears repeating that this is just list of players being linked to us, so take it with a pinch of salt. Also keep in mind we have a 50 million Euro transfer kitty (excluding sales) and all buyout clauses are in Euros.

Attack

Giuseppe Rossi
Age: 24
Height: 5’8”
Position: Centre-Forward
Can also play: Second Striker
Current Club: Villarreal
Buyout Clause: ~33 million
Interesting Tidbit: His name translated into English is Joe Red

It should be noted that he signed a contract extension with Villarreal until 2016.

Fernando Llorente
Age: 26
Height 6’5”
Position: Centre-Forward
Current Club: Athletic Bilbao
Buyout Clause: 35 million
Interesting Tidbit: His nickname is The Lion King (Spanish: El Rey Leon)

He’s also as tall as Ibra and his second last name is Torres. Just thought I’d point that out. *runs and hides*

Alexis Sanchez
Age: 22
Height: 5’6”
Position: Right Winger
Can also play: Centre forward, left wing, and attacking midfield
Current Club: Udinese
Buyout Clause: 17 million (apparently)
Interesting Tidbit: He was part of the Chilean “Golden Gerneration” of young players that placed third in the 2007 U-20 tournament.

According to Wikipedia, a worthy and trusted source, Udinese club owner Giampaulo Pozzo declared Sanchez untransferable until July 2011. Which is this summer. How ’bout that?

Sergio Aguero
Age: 22
Height: 5’9” (Note: this must be some kind of mistake….)
Position: Centre forward
Can also play: Second Striker
Current Club: Pathetico Atletico Madrid
Buyout Clause: 45 million
Interesting Tidbit: He has sung a song about himself before and he’s training his son to be a footballer. Aguero + Maradona genes = we have to sign them before Arsenal do. Ah, too late. That Dutch club is after him. 🙁

Interesting. When was the last time Kun was actually linked to us? He signed a contract extension with Atletico but said extension lowered his buyout clause from 60 million to 45 million.

Diego Forlan
Age: 31
Height: 5’10”
Position : Centre forward
Current Club: Pathetico Atletico Madrid
Buyout Clause: 36 million
Interesting Tidbit: His nickname in England during his Man Utd stint was Diego Forlorn

The resident misfit at Atletico. Don’t baulk at his buyout clause. I think we’d get a serious price cut if we took him off Pathetico’s hands…

Midfield

Cesc Fabregas
Age: 24
Position : Attacking Midfield/Central Midfield
Current Club: Arsenal
Buyout Clause: >35 million
Interesting Tidbit: In 2006, he signed a long term (read: 8 year) contract with Arsenal until 2014. (I’m not saying, I’m just saying)

It’s inevitable, really. Had to add him (although mehopes he stays at Arsenal).

Javier Pastore
Age: 21
Position: Attacking Midfield
Current Club: Palermo
Buyout Clause: Depends on who and when you ask. Palermo’s club owner Zamparini seems to think he’s either as much as Messi (ie. somewhere in the realm of infinity million) or 30-50 million on other days.
Interesting Tidbit: Every article you read about Pastore has the following words in them: Messi, Barcelona, 30/40/50 million, Happy, At, Palermo, But, Could, Leave, In, Summer, Zamparini, Says

I think I covered everything. Zamparini and his multiple personality disorder (credit: fcbfandrivel)? Check. 30/40/50 million price tag? Check. Reference to Messi and their supposedly deep friendship with bonding through PlayStation? Meh, close enough.

Defence

Alberto Botia
Age: 22
Height: 6’2”
Position: Centre back
Current Club: Sporting Gijon
Buyout Clause: We have a buy back option in the region of 2 million.
Interesting Tidbit: Former youth team player

He has a 4-year contract with Heehon and we have a buyback option for the first three.

Mamadou Sakho
Age: 21
Height: 6’2”
Position: Centre-back
Can also play: leftback
Current Club: Paris Saint-Germain (PSG)
Buyout Clause: 22 million
Interesting Tidbit: He’s the captain of PSG

On Twitter, James Dalton, a football journalist who follows French football, said there were many scouts at the Coupe de France final and Barcelona were the only ones to enquire directly about Mamdou Sakho. Trusty reader Jnice asked him if Barça interest was real and he said, “I think so. Seems it.”

And there you are. Feel free to go crazy talking about football.

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114 Comments

  1. Vj
    May 19, 2011

    Llorente(Goldie), Bastos(Sakho) and Botia for me..

  2. May 19, 2011

    Never paid attention to his Sakho fellow, if he does come I hope he gets a better reception then good ol’ Chygrynskiy did.
    Striker I’ve said many times, I see Forlan as still a very strong player, if he’s really cheap, I say buy him and Sanchez.
    Cesc is coming.

  3. Nav
    May 19, 2011

    Kari, just wanted to say that your writing is very entertaining. 😀

  4. Nav
    May 19, 2011

    Also, I guess the Neymar talks have died down…

    • May 19, 2011

      I think those were the days when the English press and Gazzetta dello Sport had nothing to write about.

    • Jnice
      May 19, 2011

      Apparently we had scouts watching him yesterday at Santos’ Copa Libertadores match versus Once Caldas.

  5. Lev
    May 19, 2011

    hi guys, off topic. i’m trying to find the short cartoon of Busi trying to get out of going out with his gf by holding his face. can anybody help me?

  6. Jnice
    May 19, 2011

    Ooh, I’m a trust reader. Thanks, Kari. 🙂 Though I should’ve said football writer who writes about french football. Anyway, based on the players we’re linked with and will realistically go for, I would like:

    Sakho
    Botia (At least give him preseason. We can always sell for more than 2m euros)
    Sanchez (Because I don’t think Llorente is someone we’ll go for.)

    And maybe one more, but I’m not sure who that is.

    I still think we won’t sign Cesc this summer. Wenger shouldn’t have to fight to hard to keep him.

    I want some concrete links to players already!

    • Gah! I knew he was a writer who writes about French football, not an actual French journalist. I mean, his name is James Dalton. Lazy coping and pasting from moi. 🙁

      😀

      • Jnice
        May 19, 2011

        😀

        BTW, who would you like us to sign? I know you LUVVVVVV Cesc 😆 but besides him.

        • Besides Cescy (geddit? 😛 ), I’d go for Botia, Forlan or Aguero, and…. someone else. I haven’t watch Sakho at all so I can’t make any judgements on him.

          Llorente is like the classic 9, which isn’t bad per se, but he doesn’t offer as much as Ibra, who admittedly would have done much better his second year if he was a perennial jackass. I also just don’t think we’ll go for him.

          Pep says he likes Forlan and with him falling out with Pathetico, I think we can get a good deal for him. Although, now that Kun is in the picture (speculation wise), I think he’d be a great signing as well. Can link up well with Messi and do damage on his own.

          Sanchez has been hyped for a while now. He’s some kind of beast it seems and I’ve watch Udinese a couple of times this season (they play the best football in Italy IMO) and he was killing it. Problem with him is that I don’t think the club will go for him either, especially now that we have Pedro! and Afellay… I wouldn’t be adverse to signing him though. Him and Vidal have been lighting the Chile NT up, and his nickname is Wonder Boy (Nino Maravilla). 😆

          And Botia for reasons stated on the threads previous.

          • Jnice
            May 19, 2011

            Bielsa needs to hit up his boy Pep and tell him to sign Sanchez (though I’m sure they spoken about him already).

            Besides his obviously skills on the ball, his off the ball work is great as well. He hustles nonstop and runs all over the pitch. He would fit in perfectly, IMO. I think Man City or Inter are favorites to land his signature, though if I’m him, I’d wait until it’s 100% clear Barça won’t make an offer.

            And have you seen how well Isla and him link up? Imagine what Dani and Sanchez on the right wing would do. :O

            I love Aguero, but I think he’s too expensive. Just hope he doesn’t go to Madrid.

            Besides Cescy? I don’t get it. My mind is broken. 🙁

          • G6O
            May 19, 2011

            Based on what I’ve seen from Alexis Sanchez, my impression is that he is actually not a good fit for Barcelona. Yes, he runs a lot, and yes, he has very good skills on the ball, but a lot of the time he doesn’t know what to do with it – his decision making and game intelligence are very suspect IMO.

            Neymar would a much better option because he has it all – he can dribble, he can shoot and he can give the killer, defense-splitting pass. He run less than Sanchez, but while he has attitude issues, he is by no means the primadona one would think; if you watch the Brazilian NT, he actually does a lot of pressing in the opponent’s half. Whether he would do it with the intensity required in the Barca system is an open question, but he is not a player who will not do it, and overall, his skill set is a lot more attractive than Alexis Sanchez IMO.

            Of course, whether that kind of forward is really needed right now is a whole different topic.

          • Jnice
            May 20, 2011

            Disagree. Sanchez is more ready for Barça and La Liga than Neymar is. Neymar might have more tricks in his locker, but Sanchez can beat a man just as well as Neymar can.

            Neymar has played what, 3 matches for the seleção? Yeah, he ran in those 3 matches, but what about the matches he plays regularly? What does he do then? I’d rather go by what he does week in, week out, than a couple of matches every few months.

          • G6O
            May 20, 2011

            Nobody in Brazil does that; you can not expect him to do it week in and week out given that it is simply never done on the club level there.

            Those 3 matches show that he can do it. Again, it doesn’t mean he will do it at the required level in Barca, but given that I have yet to see Sanchez produce the kind of passes that Neymar has, the whole package of Neymar fits Barca better than Sanchez

          • Jnice
            May 20, 2011

            I can only suggest you watch more of Sanchez. You’re selling him short. Sanchez does what he does in Italy. Very different from beating players and doing flicks and tricks in Brazil, where you’re allowed to do 10 stepovers before a challenge comes in.

          • Jim
            May 20, 2011

            Not sure Ibra would have done any better unless he was prepared to put a bit of effort into moving and defending. Still, we’ll never know.

    • Nav
      May 19, 2011

      > I want some concrete links to players already!

      Tell me about it. EE is buying up players left and right and we don’t even have a word from the club who they’d like. I mean I get it, it’s smart, but it’s also frustrating for us fans!

      • May 19, 2011

        I think its better if they buy early, means players we are interested in won suddenly cost 10-20M more than they ever should.

        • Jnice
          May 19, 2011

          I’m sure Zubi and co. are doing things behind the scenes. I just wish we had a little more to go on.

      • Jnice
        May 19, 2011

        Sigh, I knew City were favorites, but I read an article the other day that said we offered for Denis and he preferred to sign with us instead of City. The only hinderance was the fact that City was prepared to offer a lot more to Celta than we were.

        Shame, he’s La Masia to the tee, IMO. The boy can play. He reminds me of Javi Espinosa. City? I know it’s hard to break through at our club, but I doubt he and Gai will be breaking through at City any time soon. Good luck.

        • jordi™
          May 19, 2011

          Yea, he wanted Barca, his family wanted it too, but Celta needed the money and our offer seemingly wasnt as close to their valuation.City are paying 1 million up front that can rise to 3 and theres apparently some agreement where Celta have 1st priority on loan players. It would be funny if they loaned Gai out there 😆 . I bet our offer was 300 thousand euros :D.

          Tis a shame, because like you said he certainly had Barca DNA and even if he didn’t make it, playing in Barca B makes you marketable and some Primera team might take a chance.Stalling in City reserves= ticket to English Championship or Scotlannd.

  7. May 19, 2011

    http://www.thebesteleven.com/2011/05/possession-statistics-in-top-5-european.html

    Possession stats from Top 5 European Leagues

    Top 5

    72% – Barcelona
    61% – Bayern Munich
    59% – AC Milan
    59% – Arsenal
    58% – Chelsea

    Wow. I knew we were good at maintaining possession but I didn’t imagine we would be 11 percentage points better than the second team in all of Europe. Also surprising is that Arsenal, who is often compared to Barca, has a relatively low possession average of 59%. And Chelsea is up there in the top 5! Beyond those five, it’s pretty flat at mid-50s.

    • jaymin
      May 19, 2011

      i’m not being flippant here, but ‘low’, even when weakly qualified by ‘relatively’, being applied as an adjective to 59% possession, well…

      wider net, more carp in this silly season : )

      • Jnice
        May 19, 2011

        Look what he said before the relatively low:

        Arsenal, who is often compared to Barca

        That puts it into enough context, mate.

        • jaymin
          May 19, 2011

          if this were wikipedia, i’d flag it with a “by whom” tag. it’s not, so hack that straw man to pieces : )

          • jaymin
            May 19, 2011

            I have to reply to myself, as disqus (or whatever) forbids be from replying from the lady/man (janice?-J-Nice?) who ends up beneath me. I would but cannot utilize the fallacy you’ve smiled defending. I have asthma, am allergic to walnut bark, and have hay fever.

          • jaymin
            May 19, 2011

            it’s successive from the original. i see. well, you’ll get no hedging from me. i am an idiot.

    • stowe
      May 19, 2011

      I haven’t watched Arsenal much this year, but they seem to have a faster and more direct style this year than in the past few. I wouldn’t compare them to Barca much anymore (except they play pretty). When I watched them play I was amazed how often they gave away the ball with silly passes. They also have a terrible defense which doesn’t help with possession. Ours is so good because we get it back so fast.

    • May 20, 2011

      Yeah I haven’t watched Arsenal much this year, except for three EPL matches against top teams and our CL ties. I rather like them (or at least want them to do well), as I probably know their players better than any other EPL. They so often are spoken of as a possession oriented team, that I assumed they were bossing possession against the bottom 15 EPL teams. Meaning that in this list, I expected them to be up there with us in the mid 60s, not fourth behind Bayern and Milan.

    • jaymin
      May 19, 2011

      You should avoid Goal.com. It is an agrregator which fails to attribute original sources and violates even sketchy internet journalism norms. You can block it from you Google News. You’ll be happier when you do.

      • James08771
        May 19, 2011

        I’m more than aware of Goal.com’s ridiculous attempt at reputable journalism. No warning necessary. But this tabloid-like material can be food to the light-hearted. I actually laughed while reading it. So for that, I thank them for providing me with my first bit of entertainment for the evening.

        • May 19, 2011

          I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss everything that Goal.com does as crap. This is the second “sulky Messi” story that has surfaced in the past few months. Frankly, it wouldn’t surprise me at all. Superstars have colossal egos, even humble ones. Messi wants to play all the time, even if he shouldn’t.

          • You’re overestimating them Kxevin. They stole the first “sulky Messi” story, added in parts of another story and rehashed them into an “exclusive”.

          • James08771
            May 19, 2011

            Oh no, of course not. I didn’t necessarily dismiss all of their reporting. But I think we all generally realize that it’s best to look for similar ‘exclusives’ elsewhere when we do see breaking news from there. With regard to the Messi story, while his sulking surely isn’t out of the realm of possibility, the article definitely has over-embellished situations and even wrongly states that Messi was left out of last year’s 4-0 home win against Sevilla when he, in fact, started and scored 2 goals. Having said that, you could essentially write an article about any top professional athlete sulking based on a poorly-timed bad reaction in a match or expressing a similar level of zeal as his or her teammates.

          • Jnice
            May 20, 2011

            That sulky Messi story isn’t close to the truth. If you want to hear the real story, read this article by Graham Hunter: http://es.pn/lGmbCZ

            Or watch this week’s Revista. The goal.com makes it into Messi is sulky and upset Cristiano is scoring. There’s a different between Messi being down because he just loves to play and Messi being sulky because he isn’t getting his way and Cristiano keeps adding goals to his tally.

            Sorry, but goal haven’t earned the right not to be dismissed as crap.

          • Jnice
            May 20, 2011

            Also, if that Hayward guy was really paying attention, then he would have to note that against Espanyol, Messi tried to feed Villa the ball several times instead of going for goal. He had a couple of chances to score and he passed them away that game every time. He didn’t look frustrated or anything.

            Then we have the Levante match. If he was so pressed to match Cristiano, then why was he not pissed after he hit the post after that fabulous run. Look at it again, he wasn’t even fazed.

            Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story though, right?

    • Barcaleya
      May 20, 2011

      I would believe that Messi is “sulky” though. One of my good friends have the same birthday as him. And she sulks. A lot. Instead of coming out and telling us what she wants or what bothers her – she sulks. We either have to be mind readers or go up to her and baby her and ask her what her problem is.

      Messi might be a bit different cause he’s a guy – but I can imagine that he just sits there, very silent, and sulking. So people have to go up to him and ask and try to appease him.

      Conversely – he can be the most caring and nurturing person. Like my friend.

      It’s all in the birthday 😀

  8. Eduard
    May 19, 2011

    We’ve also been linked to Cavani from Napoli…This guy is a goal scoring machine. My top choice for forward if we choose to go away from the quarry.

  9. Dani_el
    May 19, 2011

    Thank you Kari! always nice and entertaining reading you.

    I think TIMING is really important in this kind of business, I was thinking that if we’re gonna sign Cesc, maybe it would be good to have already a negotiation with the other players, so we sign first the cheap ones so Arsenal could think we haven’t the kind of cash, they’d like, and then we could sign Cesc, I think last season (although it was a good signing in that price) Villa’s signing limited our options after the WC. I don’t know about Sanchez, he’s Barça material, but I dont think they’ll let him go for less than 25 – 30 million, and he would still have to adaptate to spanish football, some time ago I used to think a technical player in Italy, would have to be really awesome because of their catenaccio, but after Ibra (and I do know he had more problems because of his personality that his technical skills) he seemed to me really slow, I would hope someone like Llorente (but less expensive) a plan b for our offense you know, or a hell of a good wingman, strong, pacey, and maybe taller than our MVP…

  10. Diego
    May 19, 2011

    I don’t know whether it was Ramzi or Euler who said it but I agree, I want quality XI material players who will compete for places in the starting line-up not some decent or good player who will warm the bench. We have noone who can come off the bench and change the game except for Afellay.

    I want at least two of (Llorente, Rossi, Sanchez, Pastore, Cesc). All of these players will cost 25m or higher, I don’t know how will Barca do it but they should think that this could be for the next summer as will since we won’t need lots of changes.

    I hear Sakho is good but I never watched him play, I hear Botia is good so I watched seconds of the Gijon – Racing match, The minute I start watching, this happens *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhgDTrs7iQU .. So I don’t know but both or any of them would be good.

  11. Diego
    May 19, 2011

    Falcao or Cavani would be a great purchase but it’s Pep’s choice.

  12. just listenin
    May 19, 2011

    I can’t imagine Fabregas is not coming over – there must almost be some kind of handshake agreement behind the scenes by now. He’s staying away from the CL final to not confirm what everyone already suspects… I don’t know, I’d be surprised.

    I think I like Sanchez, good with the ball at his feet and can assist as well as finish. I agreed with a lot on the previous post about the Rossi = Villa-esque, go look at their highlight vids, both good on the break in space with time on the ball to make decisions, I think it would be the same compressed space high speed problem for Rossi that Villa has had.

    I think Sahko would be a great addition; can win the ball cleanly on aggressive challenges, good in the box on set pieces, sharp short passing, I interestingly stumbled across him some time ago on Fifa 11 in career mode trying to solve our CB issues.

    Iniesta/Villa Messi Sanchez/Pedro
    Iniesta/Keita Fabregas/Xavi
    Busquets/Mascherano
    Abidal/Adriano Puyi/Sakho Pique/Macherano Alves/Adriano
    Valdes/Pinto

    We’re carrying what? 21 now, that’s 18 above, plus 3?
    There are a lot of powerful combinations – I think the players that could get marginalized, or become question marked for a space in this, where some decisions would have to be made? Bojan/Thiago/Affelay/Jeffren/Fontas, others more likely on the outs in this scenario would be Maxwell?, Milito? With an additional keeper (Mino/other) and maybe another striker? you could keep a forward (Bojan), mid (Thiago) and Def (Fontas) to keep the youth system developing on the first team.
    Tough choices.

  13. Manish
    May 19, 2011

    Swap deal.. Ibra with tevez + cash..??

    • Nav
      May 19, 2011

      Only if Milan want to sell him, and considering they won Serie A with him I highly doubt they would.

      Although, where would Tevez fit in our system?

    • stowe
      May 20, 2011

      Tevez would not help our system. He is a good player and works hard, but I think he dwells on the ball too long and has too many turnovers. I was not impressed with how he linked with Messi during the world cup. for a player of that price I would rather get someone else

  14. Reaper
    May 20, 2011

    Does anyone know anything about the Ibra penalty clause? I remember something about Milan having to pay a penalty if they choose not to buy him in the second season? or vice versa?

    Secondly, the money we make off Ibra is part of our 50m transfer kitty?

    • Jnice
      May 20, 2011

      Not sure about the clause, but: Secondly, the money we make off Ibra is part of our 50m transfer kitty?

      I was wondering this as well. We are scheduled to get paid 8m a year for the next 3 years, starting this summer. Rosell has said that our transfer budget starts off at 50 and includes the money we make from player sales. Does that mean we have 58m to spend this summer?

    • G6O
      May 20, 2011

      I think the same objections apply as in the case of Alexis Sanchez – lots of skill and pace, but what about intelligence and the ability to read the game? Not exactly convinced by what I’ve seen from him.

  15. footballfan
    May 20, 2011

    oh by the way who have EE signed this summer? I only heard of Sahin and Altintop.

  16. Ryan
    May 20, 2011

    It pains me to say it, but I’ve recently been thinking more about Cesc joining us this summer. I think it might be because I was re-watching some highlights of Euro ’08 and WC ’10. Cesc in both tournies kept popping up as a super sub and making a nice impact. How many subs have you ever seen make the team of the tournament? It sure would be nice to have that kind of player waiting on the bench, but ++40 million is just way too expensive for someone not playing as a starter. Cesc hasn’t impressed as much as a starter for Spain (check out the Confederations Cup ’09 when Iniesta was injured) as he has as a sub…

    So I think I still don’t want him to come for the price we’re surely going to have to pay. But if he does come because of the whole Catalan connection, hooray for an impact sub!

  17. can_we_go_Xalvies
    May 20, 2011

    A lot of interesting talking points have been raised so far. Especially two main issues that our management are facing right now:

    -Following what Diego brought up, we definitely do need a forth attacking player that is good enough to be a consistent starter.

    -Secondly, Our biggest challenge right now is timing our purchases.

    With the first point I think we do not need to buy a ‘plan B’ tall striker to have a competent forward line. But we don’t need to spend a lot of money either. What is a problem is weighing Value and Certainty. We have to consider which potential signing is the MOST certain to be a starter. Neymar and Sanchez are great signings, but noone would have any real trust that they will fit into our team. Llorente is a great powerful forward, but we do not have trust that he will be a success in our system or that Pep will want to change the system to benefit Llorente. Rossi, Aguero and co. have talent and certainty, They’ve shown starting quality, but again their value is questionable.

    For the second point, No one has even brought up the issue of player bonuses, if we win the CL finals it could potentially have an affect on our transfer budget. We must focus on our simpler and smaller signings first before we go for our big money targets.

  18. Who is this Mario Götze from dortmund that we are supposed to be monitoring? From a vid I saw he seems to me the andresito type…but I don’t think he need more of this type with thiago and sergi roberto coming through…anyone seen complete matches with him?

    • Jnice
      May 20, 2011

      Yeah, he’s an exciting attacking midfielder. Skillful on the ball, has an eye for a pass and scores a few himself. He’s going to be a great player, but we won’t sign him. He’s only 18 and he’s staying with Dortmund for at least another year.

    • Helge
      May 20, 2011

      He’s a fantastic talent, could be the biggest talent in German football since (a) decade(s).

      But your observation is right, he’s a Don Andrés, Thiago and to some extent maybe even an Afellay-type of player, we really do not need him.

  19. Whatever
    May 20, 2011

    It all depends on what kind of playing system does Guardiola have in his mind. This season we basically played without a CF. He tried Ibrahimovic the season before, and it didn’t work out. Even Cruyff said that they (Laporta, Cruyff, Guardiola) made a mistake and that a system like that isn’t really what they expected it to be. So I’m pretty sure that we won’t be splashing a big amount of money to bring a CF. What I’d do instead is bring a Henrik Larsson kind of player — to sit on the bench, and when brought in, bring calmness and goals. We definitely need to bring in someone, because we’re too “thin” (player count) in attack. Buying Botia back would be great, along with buying Sakho.

    We’ll see what happens. Whatever Guardiola decides, I agree. 🙂

  20. Diego
    May 20, 2011

    Is poipoi and Jordi participating in the demonstrations ? 😀

    EEistas are now talking about how TB is a better and more complete player since he scored 9 goals after the league was over and will probably score 95 more against relegated, bottom table, Almeria, at home, with the whole team playing for him to score. Sigh

  21. Jnice
    May 20, 2011

    Messi, Xavi,Valdés, Iniesta, Puyol, Villa and Piqué all left off the squad list for tomorrow’s match against Malaga. They will train behind closed doors tomorrow.

    Oier, Thiago, Jonathan Dos Santos, Bartra and Sergi Roberto have been included.

    • Helge
      May 20, 2011

      Wow!
      Messi gets a rest for 2 times in a row ?!?

      That’s incredible, incredibly awesome. He’ll be pissed when he returns against ManUtd 😀

    • blitzen
      May 20, 2011

      Awesome! Pep obviously doesn’t give a crap about picking up any more points in the last game since the league is already won. First team gets to rest and (more importantly) not pick up any injuries. Kids get to play. I was hoping Deulofeu would be included again, but I guess not?

      Abidal will definitely play, and Alves likely come off the bench like in the last game.

    • soccermomof4
      May 20, 2011

      mad Messi= gameface Messi
      I pity Man U for having to face a pitch-starved Messi. Lean and hungry.

      I hope Leo stays above TB in total goals though. Impossible I know, because EE only exists right now to make sure TB puts eight zillion goals past poor Almeria (unless the coach de jour (they’re on their 3rd now. right?) of Almeria is channeling Preciado and a miracle occurs)

    • 145culegirl
      May 20, 2011

      My god!!.Messi is left out of the squad?.Now can we expect some fireworks?.I think Pep left him because of his sulking after the deportivo game.All I hope is this leaving out Messi does’nt create a rift between Pep and him.Especially when the most important game is round the corner.

      • Jnice
        May 20, 2011

        There’s no drama. There’s no rift. There’s nothing in it. He left Messi out for the same reason he left out Pique, Villa, Iniesta, etc. They will be playing in the Champions League final against Man United on May 28th.

  22. JoachimD
    May 20, 2011

    Ah silly season, love it. So lets see:

    Defence In = Botia & Sakho
    Midfielder In = Fabregas (unfortunately unevitable I think = Rosell agenda)
    Winger In = Sanchez/Neymar/Aguero/Tevez/Hulk.. take your pick
    Backup striker =Rossi/Falcao/Llorente/Drogba/Forlan/Kanoute/Trezeguet

    Defence Out = Maxwell, Milito, Caceres, Luis Enrique
    Midfielder Out = Hleb, VicSan,
    Winger Out = Jeffren (payback clause?)
    Backup striker Out = Keirisson

    Lineup 2011/2012

    Valdes/Pinto
    Alves/Puyol Pique/Fontas Sakho/Botia Abidal/Adriano
    Busquets/Mascherano
    Xavi/Fabregas Iniesta/Thiago
    Messi/Affelay Pedro/?
    Villa/ ? /Bojan

    Extend contracts for talents: JDS, Bartra, Sergi Roberto, Montoya, Muniesa, Defoleu etc.

    My personal picks?: no idea.. whoever is a teamplayer, less ego & super skillful .. lol.

  23. messi_fan
    May 20, 2011

    I don’t know why people are so certain we’ll get rid of Maxwell. I’m also doubtful that we’ll spend big money on a CB. We’ve been burned so many times in the last few years in that respect. I think we’re more likely to rely on the youth system for defensive players and spend on attacking players.

    As for strikers, I don’t know much about the others, but I wouldn’t mind Forlan at all. He gives us something we don’t currently have. Llorente as well, but he’ll be really expensive.

    And lastly. Do. Not. Want. Cesc. Not at the price we’d have to pay for him and not when you consider that most of our youth talent is in midfield.

    • blitzen
      May 20, 2011

      I’m willing to bet Maxwell will be staying. He’s performing well and getting a good amount of minutes. Why sell him? Now that Abidal is fit again, he goes back to his backup role, and he seems happy enough with that. Not every player is going to be an out-and-out star.

  24. soccermomof4
    May 20, 2011

    What little money we could have gotten for Hleb is now in doubt. Dude busted his knee.
    http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story/_/id/921536/knee-surgery-ends-alex-hleb's-birmingham-spell?cc=5901

    Never thought I’d say it but buy Cesc now. I don’t particularly want him right now, and he’s way too overpriced, and I have issues with setting a precedent that says to cantaranos “go ahead and leave, it’s all good, we’ll buy you and your Barca DNA back later”. But lets just get it over with. It’s inevitable anyway. Then silly season can proceed with just a little less silliness. The sooner we get him to our medical team the better, anyway.

    Botia- too cheap to pass up
    Sakho- 22M for a CB? Can he become a world-class LB?
    Pastore- in a heartbeat if the price isn’t awful
    El Kun- see above comment
    Rossi- see above comment
    Goldie- would rather have Kanoute
    Sanchez- don’t know enough about him so no comment

    Messi resting this weekend—priceless
    note to staff: remind Leo that the camera will pan to him in the stands at least a dozen times and he should try to look happy 🙂

    • JoachimD
      May 20, 2011

      Is Sakho rated at 22m! Ok. Forget that, too risky. What´s up with these prices.

      I like Kanoute too. He should be cheap and happy with a bench role. Just a question does Spain have that maximum X amount of non-EU player rule in a squad? Would this be a problem concerning new recruits?

      • Vj
        May 20, 2011

        Yes, 3 non-EU players are allowed. Keita is one. Yaya left so one spot is free. Dunno about that last spot..

        • JoachimD
          May 20, 2011

          Ah ok. Thanks. Apparently, Pep likes Antoine Griezmann of Real Sociedad as well. Another possible transfer rumor target.

        • blitzen
          May 20, 2011

          Keita holds a French passport and also Mali is an ACP country, so he is not counted as a non-EU player as far as I know. Our non-Eu players right now are Maxwell, Mascherano, and…? Milito?

          • Vj
            May 20, 2011

            Hmm. Thanks for that, usually these guys get a Spanish/EU passport or something after. Milito might’ve gotten it by now. Same goes for Masch/Maxi but I’m not sure..

    • blitzen
      May 20, 2011

      Hleb got Hlebbed? Never thought I’d say it, but I feel sorry the guy. Maybe it’s time he looked into getting a new career. He kind of looks like an insurance salesman to me….

    • Lev
      May 20, 2011

      ” The sooner we get him to our medical team the better, anyway.
      ” LOL that cracked me up!!!

      Btw soccermomo I think Troy Polamalu should replace Puyol!

      • stowe
        May 20, 2011

        that would be great! he would intercept everything and probably knock people’s heads off by mistake

      • soccermomof4
        May 20, 2011

        ED REED >>>>> Troy Polamalu

        70% of the Earth is covered by water; the rest of it is covered by Ed Reed!!!

        😈 Really, don’t make me put on my Ray Lewis jersey and come down there and kick your Steeler-loving bu.. Nah, had a taste of real morbo this past month. I can’t even muster up a bit of good old-fashoined hatred for Pittsburgh yet. We’ll fight again in the fall 🙂

        NFL strong safeties as CBs would be lots of fun!

        • Josep
          May 20, 2011

          get that shit OUTTA HERE

          Polamalu is the best player in the NFL. BAR NONE. And I absolutely hate USC. Btw dude is so down to earth. He drives a Kia Rio. And a lot of the time he picks up bills randomly for people at restaurants. legit ass dude. love him. ed reed is amazing but hes no T-Pain.

          • soccermomof4
            May 20, 2011

            👿 and I used to like Josep….

            I’m not gonna argue with you even though I’m right because you are obviously deluded a fellow cule and I owe it to you not to fight about American football with you. BUT I bleed purple as well as blaugrana (after all blau + grana makes purple 😆 ) and still stand by my statement. That being said, we are the “Italy” of the NFL and if the Ravens are to have any chance this year we had better get some younguns.

  25. Lev
    May 20, 2011

    To be fair to Rosel his agenda has so far been to be financially responsible. He has not in the least bit shown to have any “agenda” of getting players that Pep doesn’t want, so if Cesc comes it is because of Pep, Zubi and probably the Barça players who have all been campaigning for him to come home and not Rosell.

  26. Josep
    May 20, 2011

    G60 you seriously say Neymar has more game intelligence than Sanchez? Neymar hasn’t ever lead a team, not even Santos. Sanchez is ready and I’ve been begging for his transfer for 2-3 seasons now. You guys think Messi is fast..

    Anyways, with Almeria relegated why not holler at Piatti? If we can’t get Sanchez he’d be a nice baby up front and probably cheap.

    We’re linked with Cavani? Heard nothing of it at all, and I believe he just signed a new contract. Griezmann? Yes good player, but where are you guys hearing these rumors?

    Sakho 22m = too much? Go watch him play. World class LB? No, he’s already a world class CB. You want a great CB you have to pay and we should. Keita is a non-eu still? hmm.. I thought he was by now he’s been in Spain long enough.

    Sakho, Botia in. That’s my main two. In attack Sanchez is who we should go for. we’re not even linked with Aguero it’s just us fans want him haha. I still say no on Rossi as he’s completely overpriced.

    • G6O
      May 20, 2011

      Speed doesn’t really matter, that’s not what Barca’s attack is based on, and it isn’t of much use when you’re in the opponent’s third and have 8 men between the ball and the net to beat. The fundamental of the Barcelona system is passing, that’s why a player that can’t really pass the ball very well such as Sanchez doesn’t really fit. Neymar can do that very well in addition to beating his man (and not relying much on speed to do it).

      Messi isn’t really that fast in terms of linear speed, he accelerates very quickly and changes direction very fast but he is actually quite slow compared to Christiano for example.

      Right now the closes thing to Messi in the world is Neymar.

      • May 20, 2011

        Saying speed doesn’t matter to our attack is misguided. Speed gives us a Plan B. Recall the Henry years, and how many attacks were started with him busting up the wing and taking a long pass from someone, then outrunning the defense.

        At present, the closest that we have to that kind of a player is Afellay. Speed would be of immense value, particularly at those times when we stop an attack and steal the ball in our end. Right now, we have wait for the midgets to ooze up the pitch. With a fast player, you can just give the long outlet ball and watch him go.

        • messi_fan
          May 20, 2011

          I totally agree Kxevin. I personally feel that if we had more speed up front and in defense, we’d be unstoppable.

        • G6O
          May 20, 2011

          The important thing is beating your man, whether you do it by speed or by trickery, it doesn’t matter that much. Right now we only have Messi and Iniesta who can do that (which is a big problem), but they aren’t doing it using speed. It is very rare these days for our attack to even have opportunity to use speed even if it had it.

          Neymar isn’t slow BTW, all I was saying is that taken as a whole, he fits a lot better than Alexis Sanchez. Sanchez has a tendency to not exactly know what to do with the ball ending up taking the wrong decision and ruining the attack and I would be very worried if we get him because of that as it far outweighs his advantage in terms of linear speed. He’s 23 and he’s been playing professionally for 7 years, at this point it begins to get doubtful whether he can develop his game intelligence to the level needed to play for Barca

          • Josep
            May 20, 2011

            Sanchez has a tendency to not exactly know what to do? Neymar is quite the selfish player, especially with the Selecao. You’re 100% right though, a 23 year old can’t develop his game intelligence by moving to the best club in the world full of leaders.

            How do I do the rolleyes smilee? :rolleyes:

        • stowe
          May 20, 2011

          i concur. Speed adds another element. We always complained about Ibra being slow. Some of my favorite Barca goals are the quick counter attacks with messi etoo and henry. remember that one against Madrid where cannavaro about killed himself on the post?
          I think speed is important but a player that can’t think quickly and pass well might have trouble in our normal system. Thing is, do we need more players to make the killer passes? iniesta, messi, xavi, alves, pedro, pique, and just about everyone else already does

      • Josep
        May 20, 2011

        Sanchez doesn’t pass the ball well? So you’ve how many Udinese matches this year then? I’ve seen Neymar play a lot, he’s one of my favorites and I’m one of the few posters who wants him to come. But please tell me you’re trolling with Neymar is the closest thing to Messi. So G06 is Neymar’s agent, Jim is Maxwell’s..

        • May 20, 2011

          There is no need or cause to make ad hominem attacks. It’s really weak. Goal.com and soccernet have plenty of space for that.

          Disagree with someone’s opinion if you want and make a counter argument. But there is no need to belittle what their positions are through snark directed at them personally.

          • Josep
            May 20, 2011

            is thsi regarding the agents thing?

            geez you guys are all too damn sensitive.

  27. Megster
    May 20, 2011

    Nice article. Side comments are hilarious!

  28. K_legit
    May 20, 2011

    Question 1: Is Botia a pacy defender?

    Question 2: Trez/Forlan anyone?

  29. May 20, 2011

    – Messi is the Jewel of the squad crown. Pep no doubt had a talk with him, Xavi and Puyol before making his decision to give the key players some rest.

    It’s not about authority level, but wisdom. Yes you can force your players to do whatever you want. But you want them in their best moral while preparing for the biggest match in the season. Thats even more important than fitness level. Pep is experienced enough to know it. So if they are rested, its because they have no problem about it.

    Now was it the best decision to make? Debatable. I thought its better to take Messi and play him the second half when the opponents are exhausted. He will be aware not to take suicidal runs as he want to play the CL final after all. There are side effects of keeping a player like Messi on the bench for two weeks. Losing some of his game momentum is one. Hope the training sessions are planned in a special way to overcome such concerns.

    – Neymar may prove being 10 times better than Messi in the coming years. We will never know. So far, what I saw is just a skinnier Robinho who is destined to end up more like a flash in the pan. People are praising him like he already won everything. What I saw so far is a raw talent, skillful asif a Brazilian (or is he?) but easy to out muscle. Childish attitude, and tactical immaturity.

    The comparison with Sanchez is not even valid. A proven player in the league of “On my dead Body” defense. Not in “Oh look how skillful! Watch! Watch!” league.

    Any transfer can go both way. But if I have to make a bet, I will put on Sanchez twice the money I am willing to put on Neymar.

    Saying so, I still prefer Llorente over the two 🙂 But that’s more or less an impossible transfer so far. Take a Hector pill and wait…

    • Jnice
      May 20, 2011


      The comparison with Sanchez is not even valid. A proven player in the league of “On my dead Body” defense. Not in “Oh look how skillful! Watch! Watch!” league.

      Bingo!

      Take a Hector pill and wait…

      Those are still being sold? I thought Hector ate them all and that’s why he’s never returned…

  30. Humphrey Bogart
    May 20, 2011

    Neymar would be an absolute no go. We are a football club not a boot camp to teach spoilt prats some manners. I mean this guy tried to get his coach sacked, I can really see Pep pining for this type of player of all the Ibra drama. What we need last is an other drama queen, and if we want one, than try for Drogba, he is at least proven on top leve.

  31. Bill
    May 20, 2011

    The best signing of the season would be to put Pedro back on the left side of the pitch where he excels with his speed and more powerful right leg.

    Villa needs to be utilized closer to the center of the strike zones (slightly to the left) and Messi’s roaming to be a bit more concentrated on the right.

    My point is, you can’t sign new players unless you have figured out how to utilize the ones you already have to the maximum of their abilities. Pedro can handle the left side as good as, if not better than most of those guys mentioned, but he was moved to the right to accommodate Villa. Messi can handle the right attacking wing play better than anyone else in the world, and I believe Affelay is a great sub on the right.

    Because of the amount of running he has to do at Barcelona, Villa is now a 60 minute a game type player. At that point, messi can move to his false striker position and Affelay can then step in on the right.

    All Barcelona need is a cheap impact striker like Forlan and bring back Botia as a long term project. With Thiago’s emergence, we don’t need a midfielder.

    • JoachimD
      May 20, 2011

      I agree. The lineup I posted earlier is actually exactly like that, just that I think we need cover/competition for Pedro on the leftside (sanchez, griezmann whoever) since Jeffren doesn´t seem to have improved recently and a cheap backup striker that offers something different (forlan, kanoute, trezeguet etc.)

      I suppose Botia would be fine as he is cheap and would be fine for depth at defence. All these other players are seriously expensive and might not be special enough to take the risk or they have major ego problems.

  32. Nik
    May 20, 2011

    If we sign a Forlan or Drogba, I hope we sign them to a short, one-year deal. Playing for their contract will hopefully keep any potential attitude problems to a minimum.

  33. Zag
    May 20, 2011

    The word coming out just now is that Rossi is pretty much a done deal. I imagine that would rule out Sanchez and if this deal is real, I think there’s good chances that Bojan will be moving to Villarreal.

  34. Dani_el
    May 20, 2011

    According to Cadena Ser there’s already an agreement with Rossi, awaiting the negotiation with the club, for close to 30 million euros, I don’t know about this, I don’t think Barça would do anything before the london final…

  35. stowe
    May 20, 2011

    Yea Bill, that sounds like a good idea. Pedro on the left, Villa middle, Messi on the right. I think Affelay is a great impact sub on the right. We would need another back up striker like forlan. Thing is, if anyone gets hurt we immediately get thin and have to start playing Bojan. I just don’t think he’s completely there yet. I would love to send him on loan and get two guys like forlan.
    I was thinking, with villa on the left and pedro on the right, that’s where we get the most width. I wonder if Messi would stay out by the touchline.

  36. CuleFromLiveBlog
    May 20, 2011

    I really like both rossi and sanchez, which is why i can’t seem to decide on the matter.

    however, i completely agree with Bill.

    We just need someone who could turn things around when needed a la larsson v arsenal, an impact sub who’d be happy with this kinda role-and could of course get the nod if ,let’s say, villa or pedro are off.

    Forlan seems perfect to me, offers a lot. his movement of the ball is ok plus he’s ambidextrous which adds a LOT to our game, I believe.

    I’ve yet to see sakho in action -matter of fact thought u guys were talking about lyon’s left back who’s phenomenal too.

    Botia is an absolute steal. on a diff note, i believe maxwell is an EXCELLENT squad player and therefore i think he should stay.

    To conclude,

    2011-2012

    IN: Forlan, Rossi-sanchez-or kun, botia, and sakho.

    OUT: youngsters on loan? – bojan possibly? although id hate to let him go- jeffren?

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