The boys in Blaugrana are taking a deserved holiday after storming their way to another Liga and Champions League double. Pique is out shaking his hips, the Brazilian boys are playing volleyball on a beach, Busquets is playing peek-a-boo with infants for charity, Puyol is wrangling cattle in Texas, and Iniesta is blinding unsuspecting beach-goers. While they enjoy their well-deserved vacation, it is time for Rosell and co. to step up and do something other than sit in the president’s box with that ingratiating smile on his face.
Yes my friends, the silly season is upon us. The next several months will undoubtedly seem like eons. Prepare yourself – we will be linked with every player who has ever scored a goal, the Cesc transfer reporting machine in Britain has already started pumping out reports, and Bojan will probably cry at least once.
I could report on the players I want the club to sign, but I just took a bunch of Hector pills (warning: do not mix alcohol and Hector pills) and the club never signs the players I want anyways (most likely for the best). Given the incredible success the club has had lately it will be extremely difficult to replicate that success. Here are a few principles Rosell and co. need to keep in mind during silly season to maintain our club’s incredible success.
Keep Guardiola Happy
I confess. This point is stolen directly from Cruyff’s most recent periodical. Pep has a vision of how football should be played. His success so far has been due to his ability to translate that vision to the pitch. However, this wouldn’t have been possible without the right players. You can’t expect a conductor to put on a symphony without the strings, can you? Our transfer moves need to be based on filling the areas that Pep wants filled, strengthening where he sees a need for it. That doesn’t mean handing Pep a couple blank checks and telling him to go crazy signing players. It does mean that Pep has earned the right to build the team as he sees fit, and every effort should be made to sign players who fit the roles that Pep wants filled. On the flip side of the coin it’s not a good idea to sign any players Pep doesn’t want because – let’s be honest – they won’t play.
Utilize the Club’s Pulling Power
We may only be watching the spiritual successors to the ‘Dream Team,’ but this team has made Barcelona the dream club to play at for young footballers around the world (excluding the young Mourinho’s, Scrooge’s, and Sauron’s). But that’s not all! There are lots of quality players out there willing to come in and play whatever role Guardiola asks them to play. The reason? Trophies. Now is the time to take advantage of this sentiment and sign quality players who would start in most other teams across the continent. Mascherano is the perfect example – he would be an undisputed starter at 98.5% of the clubs out there, but he is happy to play a backup role because he knows he will win trophies at the club. We are in the position to sign players who should be starters as quality depth, and we need to take advantage of that position.
Sign Players on Low Wages
This is really a corollary of the last point. Our club currently boasts the highest wages of ANY professional club in any sport in the world. Our main draw to players now is that they have a good chance to win trophies on any given year, and we should take that into consideration when we are drawing up contracts for new players. I think when new signings come in to negotiate a contract the club should have Pep lounging around Rosell’s office with the two Champions League trophies. Rosell: “Ohh, Mr. Rossi” (totally hypothetical name) “What’s that? You want more money? Well, well, well…” (glances over at Pep and the trophies) “We can’t offer you a better contract, but let me make you an offer you can’t refuse.”
Keep the Brightest Youth In-house
There has been a lot of speculation about which youth players are going to leave on loan this summer, and it isn’t a surprise considering the B-team’s success this year. Despite Pique’s recent success history shows us that the surest path to the first team is to remain at the club. Puyol, Xavi, Valdes, Iniesta, Messi, Busquets, Pedro. Pique is the exception, not the rule. There are many reasons to keep the best youth players close by. Youth players receive better coaching if they stay with the club, and they are mentally stronger when they do break through to the first team. As alluring as the first team playing time argument is, the fact is that once a player leaves the club they rarely make the glorious return on a white stallion we all fantasize about (I do at least). Pep has proven he has the ability to successfully manage a players transition from the B-team to the first team, but he can’t do that if our most promising youth is loaned out across the continent.
Maintain the Family Spirit
One of the reasons this team is so phenomenal is that they are a single unit, through and through. The players are tightly knit off the field, and it shows in the way they play. They play for their teammates with trust and knowledge of each other that can’t just be created on the practice pitch. This spirit between the players is the glue that holds all of the individual pieces together, and makes the team greater than the sum of its players. Any signings we make have to be evaluated not just on their ability to fit in with the team tactically and technically, but also on their attitude and personality. Everything I’ve said above comes with one caveat – the players we sign have to buy into the spirit of the team.