Alexis Sanchez: The view from the cheap(skate) seats

So depending upon who you read and believe, we’re going to buy Alexis Sanchez, or not, for some sum of money that again, dependent upon who you read and believe, will come out in total to anything from 38 to 40 million Euros. But as we wait for news, the debate has been going on, and I’ve suddenly realized that we’ve not yet had a public airing on this matter, just snippets within various posts, so ….

To start with, before the season starts and the accusations of me hating Sanchez and wanting him to fail start, I don’t. I, like everyone else, think that he is an immensely talented player with gobs and gobs of potential. The question, for me, is what is potential worth?

We can discuss Sanchez’ potential until we’re blue. Fact of the matter is that to me, that potential isn’t worth a prospective 40m. Potential is worth 20m, tops. Because it’s a risk. And whether it’s a skewed market, sunspots or the price of squirrel carcasses doesn’t negate the fact that it’s an incredibly risky deal. Euler says that it’s also a risk for Udinese, but I don’t agree. They’re still getting 26-28m cash money for a player they bought for 2m.

Does Sanchez have talent? Absolutely. Oozing from every pore. So does Krkic, who has many, if not all of the attributes that Sanchez has, yet we’re giggling as we pawn him off to Roma for 12m. Is talent alone enough to play and succeed for FC Barcelona? Ask Zlatan Ibrahimovic, or Bojan Krkic, or Gio Dos Santos, or Dmitri Txigrinski, and they will tell you “No.” You need a head, a heart and thick, spiny skin to deflect all of the crap that, at some point or another, is going to head your way. “The next Messi.” Some have brought up Ronaldinho comparisons. That’s a heavy load to carry.

No, Sanchez isn’t Krkic, so put those “You’re comparing a bright, shining star to a player we’re unloading” notions out of your head. Sanchez popped in 12 goals in the land of catenaccio, a higher annual total than Krkic has ever done in the first team for us. But Krkic wasn’t a regular starter, either. Could he have had similar totals in the same number of matches? Fair question.

We don’t know what Sanchez is going to develop into, but he is descending into a cauldron of pressure that is completely different from anything he will have experienced. Ever. So potentially we get to see how his head and talent are because if he doesn’t meet expectations, as we all know, Camp Nou denizens will turn on a player in a heartbeat — particularly an expensive one. And no, they won’t parse it by “Well, it’s only 26m in cash, etc, etc,” just as Ibrahimovic’s price was his sum total of money + Eto’o.

Talent isn’t enough, and the price that we’re paying is a hell of a risk, is my point. It isn’t an argument against the player, it’s a quibble about the price.

Mind you, there are also the attendant issues of playing time and development, as in what happens when the (widely rumored to happen at the end of this season) departure of Guardiola comes? Another good question. By rights, Sanchez should work his way into the lineup in Copa matches, early-season Champions League matches and Liga matches that are already decided, so that he can get a feel for the lineup, the way the club plays and a different level of competition in a different league. Immense patience will be required as the player develops.

Sometimes, a purchase price argues against patience, even if it shouldn’t. Yes, Guardiola is immune to such things. We’ve seen it time and again. Let’s hope he doesn’t leave. If he does, will his successor be as stalwart?

To me, we’re in the same boat as whoever will be stupid enough to pony up 45m for Neymar: taking an immense fiscal risk, based on hype and talent. We know that Neymar is a character risk while Sanchez has been a model citizen. Absolutely. Does the character difference make Neymar even more of a risk than Sanchez, for 5m more? Arguably. But from the view of pure talent and hype, there isn’t a ton of difference.

In 2005, EE bought Robinho for about 24m. Then in a bit of alchemy, three years later, they sold him to Citeh for 42m, a truly amazing bit of business. Precious little that Robinho has done has justified the size of either fiscal outlay, but boy, was his talent and hype colossal as he came out of Brazil. And no, I don’t mean to ignore the possibility that Sanchez might turn out to be the next Messi, in which case 40m will seem the bargain of the millennium.

But at the end of it all, we are playing in a stupid market that forces teams to overpay for players. That is the reality of which we are all too keenly aware. And it’s worse for us, because a signing that another team would crow about, we’d be considering for the Segunda side. Our minimum quality level is very, very expensive.

Another reality is that if this acquisition happens, we will have signed a deal that, on paper if variables are met, values a 22-year-old player who is still developing, the same as a 20+goal per season, World Cup winner. We’re paying more cash for Sanchez than we did for Mascherano.

To my own personal worldview, that is madness, irrespective of the conditions that force said actions.

By Kxevin

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


    1. That it is, but friendlies and trips to other countries during pre-season allow players to gel quicker with their new teammates. It allows for more bonding, it gives Pep a chance to try different things with tactics and players, and it also gives the new players a chance to get fit along the same time frame as the other players.

    2. Our first team hasn’t even started preseason training yet. My assumption is that a lot of Barca B players will play this game. Possibly including Kiko.

    3. I know, but they’re still going to travel and spend a few days in Croatia. For me, the big miss is if we don’t sign someone in time for the US tour. 3 games in the United States plus several intense training sessions. New players will miss out on a lot.

    1. I’ll assume she wasn’t hurt because they didn’t go back to check on her after they stopped. In that case: LOL 😀

  1. I don’t know if anyone’s realized this, but we’ve signed Sanchez. We couldn’t get it done before the Copa so it’s gonna be announced after for obvious reasons (so Sanchez and Chile can focus on the Copa and not have the journos asking about Barca and all that jazz. Not mention Sanchez can’t sign the contract right now).

    At least, that’s what I think.

    1. That might be the case, yet I’ll wait till his mug is splashed in the jersey. Pozzo might yet raise his price..

  2. i cant believe no one has posted this…FCB official site says that the Gamper match will be played august 22 against NAPOLI

    1. Yes – let’s hope that they remember to take Lavezzi home with them when they depart, and don’t leave him behind. 🙁

    2. Way too many matches in the pre-season (and at the beginning of the official season this year): 11 games in 30 days.

      And 7 B players are not available for tje majority of these matches, due to the U20 WC.

      I think they should have thought about dropping the Gamper match this year. And also the Copa Catalunya.

  3. @Euler:
    “And on top of that I’d fairly certain that Villa’s contract has larger lump sum payments than Sanchez’s will, especially given how much is locked up in variables for Sanchez. That means Barca pays more up front. That means Villa’s “40M” is much more costly to Barca than Sanchez’s “40M.” The net present values are not the same in any way. ”

    Nonsense analysis. In Villa you had teh world’s best striker, who could easily integrate into this Barca side better than anyone else. So it was a sure bet. 40 Million is the price you pay for the guy’s quality which was proven over the years. Villa was a safe bet when we signed him and was sure to be the one of the pillars on which were looking to build teh team’s success.

    Sanchez at the moment is a fringe player. He could work well or he could just fizzle. Look at our recent history all our big money signings baring Villa and Alves has been risky. Villa may not have been on fire last season, but he linked well with his team mates and scored some crucial goals. Alves was the perfect signing at that cash because we badly needed a Right back at that point. With Sanchez coming in 27 Million+ I would expect Pedro getting less time. If that doesn’t happen and we once again emerge lucky with injuries, then he will not even get much playing time.

    “Thats an insane analysis. sanchez’s transfer is a bargain compared to the monstrous blunder we would be making purchasing cesc/kun given the mode of payments, as you so wonderfully help me understand. ”

    Could you explain why paying Sanchez 27+ Million is a bargain compared to paying 40 Million to ACesc. Cesc is once again a proven player. Eventhough I am dead against Cesc transfer it is ridiculous to consider that Cesc is not a great prospect.

    1. 1. my name is gogah.
      2. answer already there in the copy/paste piece. bargain because of the MODE OF PAYMENTS barca need to make (given our poor financial position).
      3. Cesc is a great prospect, only if he doesn’t end up costing his parent club 40M. only if he proves his toughness and professionalism.
      4. nobody is saying fab isnt a good prospect. What is ridiculous is a club as big as barca chasing a player who does not have the b***s to openly admit his desires.

      on another note, if you guys like good artwork and barca players, look at the posters in my blog :

    2. what? you dont like it? whats your problem man?
      i am just a fan sitting somewhere in india unable to connect and speak with other like minded fans, trying to reach out to the BFB audience, who i hold in high regard, in my own way. I am not some sports journalist trying some cheap tricks to get more views. So what exactly is your problem? and how is a few characters in a link troubling you

    3. Cesc is a great prospect alright. An injury prospect. To pay over the odds for an MF who can’t last a season without 2-3 lengthy spells of absence makes the Sanchez deal a bargain. Not to mention his salary, his reluctance to fight for a spot and the massive fee that Arsenal will demand upfront for his signature versus the staggered payment for Alexis.

      Besides Cesc is the one who’ll warm the bench more. How many times this season did you see Xavi/Iniesta being subbed off than Villa?

  4. @gogah

    Cesc has to prove his toughness?

    Blasting in an equalizing penalty a couple of minutes before time with a broken leg isn’t tough enough for you?

    1. lol “blasting” “broken” lol.

      Come on, if what you’re saying were true maybe he’s too tough. maybe his toughness gets him hurt. maybe he’s too tough a guy! too tough to come out and clear the air about what he wants.

      yeah, he’s a fucking tough dude!

    2. ” “broken” “?
      mmm…you are making me doubt. his leg was in fact broken when he scored 2-2 after getting a penalty by kicking Puyol’s leg instead of the ball, right?
      All I am saying is that this should prove to all that on the field at least he is tough.
      I wasn’t commenting about his attitude with regards to wanting to leave Arsenal.

    3. Well, he did score the winning penalty in the shootout vs. Italy in Euro08, finally breaking Spain’s horrible, horrible record in international tournaments and especially in quarterfinals. Maybe not a definition of toughness, but it’s a pretty nice tidbit I think! (Unless you’re an Italy fan 😉 )

  5. In Villa you had teh world’s best striker, who could easily integrate into this Barca side better than anyone else.

    My comment was not related to sporting issues or quality. My comment was for the most part simply a statement about finance and accounting.

    It was specifically related to net present value and discount rates.

    If I give you 40M right now in one payment that is much more “valuable” in financial terms than if I give you 8M this year and then 8M for the next 4 years after. If I give you 40M in one payment that is much more “valuable” in financial terms that If I say, I’ll give you 27M now but in order to get anymore of the 40M I may give you you have to meet certain conditions.

    That’s a very simple example of the kind of argument I was making. Now that is only an example – that’s not how the payments are structured in Villa and Sanchez’s cases. It’s just an example of the principle involved

    I’m not making a comment on whether Villa was “worth” his 40M or if Sanchez is “worth” his “27M +variables.” I’m just explaining that the “40M” Barca paid for Villa is not the same value as the “40M” they could pay for Sanchez due to the structure of the payment and the time frame they will be made over.

    Because the deal for Sanchez is getting reported as “40M” it’s confusing people. That’s why some people are arguing well if we can get Sanchez for 40M let’s pay another 5M and get Aguero. That’s just not the right way to think about the finances. Aguero could cost Barca 60-70% more than Sanchez due to his wages and the structure of the transfer fee.

    Now it’s very possible that one can feel that Aguero is “worth” 70% more than Sanchez. That’s involves making a sporting argument. But that’s an issues outside of what I’m saying. I’m only making a financial comment. Aguero is not 5M more than Sanchez. In terms of finance, Aguero is an asset that is far more costly than Sanchez. It is not simply a matter of “40M” vs. “45M.”

    It’s the same issue with my comments on Cesc. His transfer will not simply cost “40M.” His wages are enormous. He will walk onto the club as the teams 4th highest player. Now you may feel that he’s “worth” those wages but that’s outside of what I’m commenting on.

    The transfers of Villa, Aguero, Cesc, and Sanchez are all being described as being similar in cost. That’s just not true from the perspective of finance and accounting. They are wildly different costs with each transfer. Again, that’s not saying anything on the “value” of each deal or the “worth” of any of those players individually or in comparison. It’s just the financing of the deals.

    But unless you can accurately characterize the true total “cost” of the player it’s difficult to say whether or not any of the transfers are appropriate in terms of value.

    1. Financially , and thats what euler mostly focused on here, its a good enough way to put it. I must underline that his view doesnt represent fancy accounting , but real risks and value of money.

      Being a proven player doesnt say that much because you are not proven in barcelona unless you meet expectations in this team.
      Fabregas has “proved” himself in arsenal.And has proved himself in a big club that has won nothing while he was in charge.

      It must be underlined also that barcelona isnt looking primarily for proven players , because it has a quite different and demanding system that would take any player however great his is some time to adapt(and anyone can fail during that process for many reasons).

      We are looking for players that can enhance our options, especially in the attack department.
      Fabregas ,sadly for me , seems to fit that description yet his price is too high for me to overlook the field of the team that gets less rest than them all : attack.
      Our attack has only had 3 real and performing options for two years in a row. The players that were supposed to share time with our front three were either injured or incapable of being considered first team options throughout each of those seasons.
      We need a player that both can take games off our front 3 hands and help in rotation while he can also provide a different option in the attack department.
      The only name that i can think of that seems to have these characteristics is Sanchez. Not aguero or another experienced striker that will cost less(an experienced striker would play some games but would never be a first team choice).

    2. Agreed on the Total Salary part. But here is my point.

      Take Villa’s case : he came at 40 Million + 7 Million in salary into a position where we had no one. That means the salary didn’t increase by 7 Million but got reduced by some 2 million, considering that Ibra was making close to 9 million(I am not sure how much of Ibra’s salary we are paying, but atleast from this season we don’t have to pay him). As you pointed out Villa may have cost us 40 + till date(plus the incentives), with Ibra being send off we needed him. From that perspective for me we actually are saving 2 Million per year from his signing.

      Villa made 50 appearance in all last season and that would make we are paying him 140,000 per match and the main part is that he started in most of that. Now in Sanchez case 3.5 Million salary, if we assume that he plays 25 matches where he at least get 30 minutes of playing time, we most probably would be paying him similar 140,000. If we start looking at salary per playing minute Villa could come much cheaper. I know these statistics are nonsense, but still we can use that to scale the deal. My point is that at 40 Million and 7 Million salary, we had to sign Villa because we needed a player at that position. And the best thing was that he was cheaper than Ibrahimovic in terms of Salary. The chances of success was also great with his signing as I pointed earlier.

      I do agree completely with the cesc evaluation.

    3. if you bring in sanchez and he works , you could take games off messi,villa and pedro and making them a little bit costlier while having the potential of a fresh attack throughout the year.
      The thing is not that villa played 50 games last season and worked more for his salary. The thing is that he shouldnt. Nor should messi or pedro.

    4. The thing is that he shouldnt. Nor should messi or pedro.

      You tryin’ to take games away from Messi? Gonna break the kid’s heart! 🙁

      Totally agree, btw

  6. Btw, after the long hiatus, finally the games for the team are on horizon. And it is going to get busy. Potentially we have 10 games in one month starting from first friendly. I have missed to see our team play.

    1. wow. To be fair they also got Luis Suarez for I believe 27 mil (?) and that was a good buy imo. Can’t say I have seen Downing and Caroll play all that much and I haven’t seen Henderson at all but 85 million would have been better spent on sooo many other players. King Kenny, huh?

    2. yes but there english, that means they have the ruggedness and toughness to compete in the best league in the world

    3. The thing you have to remember about the Carroll deal is that it was both forced by, and coupled with, the Torres deal. Liverpool paid a ridiculous sum for Carroll, but they have come right out and admitted they would never have paid it if they weren’t getting a ridiculous sum from Chelsea. So Liverpool in the end swapped Torres (who was unhappy, underperforming and had demanded a transfer) for Carroll and £15M, which is not unreasonable, especially considering the short amount of time they had to work with. It’s Newcastle who really won big, and Chelsea who got really shafted.

  7. An English translation of Menotti’s interview with El Pais:

    Wonderful interview, really insightful. He says interesting things about Pep and Mourinho as well.

    1. What a great interview! Thanks for the link, Jnice.

      In Argentina, isn’t there anyone like Guardiola?

      No, there’s just one Guardiola, but given the case, people wouldn’t let him exist. He would get murdered first. Here we just have Mourinhos or people like him, who just think in winning and, when they lose, it’s not their fault; we know them since long ago.

      I agree with his thoughts about Guardiola. How instrumental he is in forming the squad and its philosophy. That we don’t have this incredible team because of it’s extant incredible players. Else, Argentina NT wouldn’t be this crappy, right?

    2. Or rather “That we don’t have this incredible team JUST AND SOLELY because of it’s extant incredible players.”

      It definitely needed an even more incredible coach in the mold of Guardiola.

      Indeed, who was Pique before he worked with Guardiola? And as Maradona said – Valdes used to score goals for the opposing teams. Now, he’s as solid a goalie as one can ask for. Pedro and Busquets -they were about to be thrown to second tier teams if not for Pep’s discerning eye. Iniesta’s potential would not have been this realized. And everyone being able to work in the places best for them, playing to their potential, resulting in an amazing well-drilled team has really got to be credited to the genius of Pep.

    3. Hey now, Valdes has always had incredible talent. Yes, he went through a period of making huge mistakes, but it was Rijkaard who believed in him first and gave him the confidence to be the world-class keeper he is now. Guardiola helped him improve his team play and other skills, but you can’t say he was solely responsible for what Valdes has become.

    4. Oh, I’m not saying that.

      He’s always been good (and I’ve loved him since he started playing for the first team) but not as solid as he is now. That’s why people have never placed him higher in their estimation cause he’s prone to making terrible mistakes as well.

      Besides – I just paraphrased what Maradona said in his interview about Valdes.

      And obviously – nowhere did I say or mean that Guardiola is responsible for ALL that they are or become.

      They’re all talented to begin with. [This is pretty obvious] It’s just about making them better as individuals and as a team. And believing in them. Giving them more chances and finding the optimal use for them. Though Valdes cannot be other than a goalie, perhaps he became more of a defender as well because he distributes the ball to the back four and not just hoof it to the middle of the field. With Guardiola, our attack and our play really starts from the Valdes. So that might be an additional dimension given to him through Pep.

      The point of what the interviewee was saying was that people tend to discount Guardiola’s contribution and attribute this team’s greatness to the already great skill and talent of the players. And I’m just agreeing with him.

  8. Full-time: L’Escala (5th div) – Barcelona B 0-8. Goals: Tello (3), Sergi Roberto, Riverola, Kiko Femenia, Bartra, Soriano

    Wow. I know nothing about L’Escala, so maybe they completely suck, but that’s a very impressive tally for a preseason game. And Kiko scored in his very first game!!!!! No panic attacks for him now. 😀

    1. Wish there had been a link. Hungry for some real football. Wanna see dudes in blaugrana kicking a football. Dear God in heaven please let the season start before I go apesh*t from silly season and lack of decent footy!

    2. Most of the WWC has shown quite a lot of decent soccer though… hopefully we can say the same of the Copa America’s elimination rounds. 🙂

    3. I’ve been enjoying the last two US games of the WWC and I have to say I’m impressed with Japan. But it’s not the same.
      I enjoyed the most recent Arg. game. But it’s not the same.
      I want my Barca back! Hope some preseason is televised or streamed.
      Can’t wait ’til the game in DC even if we are missing our Brazilians and Argentines!

    4. Well yes, they aren’t the same, but I’d say they’ve been at least decent! Plus there’s a refreshing lack of diving/playacting (besides Brazil, hehe).

  9. The interview of Menotti from El Pais that JNice linked to above is really wonderful. He’s just a genius of the game.

    Here’s another link for those having trouble with the one above. It probably is the same translation (though I was also having trouble with JNice’s link so I can’t be certain – the one below was another link i’d seen elsewhere).

    1. After that game, you said that he [Mourinho] shit himself

      In my neighborhood, we call it shit onelself down the legs. He shit himself. I watched the next game of [Barcelona against] Madrid, with Higuain, Adebayor, Benzema and Kaka on the bench and I thought: He shit on himself again. It was the biggest signal of cowardice I ever saw in a big team. And, in Madrid, it is outrageous.

      Best. Interview. Ever. <3

      The accompanying picture is kind of frightening. @@

  10. barcastuff:
    Lionel Messi has set up more shots (15) and completed more dribbles (21) than any other player in the Copa America so far. [via @optajose]

    It’s such a shame that the kid’s game totally falls apart when he plays for his NT. 🙄

    1. But in the end, he could only achieve two out of a possible 15 assists. That’s a very bad quota, and it’s only his fault, because he didn’t set up his team-mates well enough!
      Plus, he didn’t score a goal so far.

      Conclusion: Messi sucks, Neymar is the king of the Copa.

    2. Yeah I know. And he didn’t have any saves in the goal either. Think maybe he can get a job in Iniesta’s winery since he obviously isn’t cut out for this football thing? 😉

    1. VDB’s interview is also pure class. Just goes to show the mentality of a world cup winning coach

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