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.