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Why Is Bojan’s Transfer to Roma Structured Through Such a Complex Agreement?

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As long anticipated, Barcelona has completed the transfer of Bojan Krkić to Roma. The transaction itself has been in the works for weeks and has been widely treated as essentially completed and pending only Barça concluding the Alexis Sanchez deal. As such the move was hardly unexpected. What is surprising about the deal, however, is it’s significant complexity.

Few transfers have been organized in the way Bojan’s has. The deal could have been structured in a much simpler fashion and achieved many of the same purposes for each team. So why the complex series of transactions to execute what is functionally a two year loan with an option for Roma to buy?

While we can’t have first hand knowledge of what went on in the negotiations, it stands to reason that the complexity of the deal was very intentional and set up to meet certain business and sporting needs. Trying to understand the reasons for why the deal may have been arranged the way it was will hopefully provide some insight into how the club may be approaching it’s strategic needs. In this post I’d like to explore this subject. (Please note – while much can be debated over whether or not it was the right thing to transfer Bojan, that is outside the scope of this post. I’m only trying to analyze the structure of the agreement and why it was so complex and doing so largely from Barcelona’s perspective.)

The Terms of the Transfer:

At the current time, no money is changing hands with Bojan’s transfer. Roma are getting the player but are not paying any money for him. In turn they are absorbing Bojan’s full wages (which are very large for a player with Bojan’s past level of production – he will be making 3.2M for Roma and was making a comparable sum for Barça in 10/11. In comparison, Alexis Sanchez will make 3.5M for Barça in 11/12).

One year from now in the summer of 2012 Barcelona has an option to buy Bojan back for 17M. This is relatively straight forward.

However, two years from now in the summer of 2013 the contract mandates a series of convoluted transactions and payments.

First, Roma is obligated to purchase Bojan for 12M. Barça, however, is then obligated to buy Bojan back from Roma for 13M (assuming Barça have not already repurchased Bojan in the summer of 2012 for 17M).

Second, Roma then has an option to buy Bojan outright for an additional 28M payment. In effect Roma has the option to buy Bojan in the summer of 2013 for a net amount of 27M (28M + 12M – 13M).

Finally, the transfer also specifies Bojan’s wages for the 4 years of the deal at Roma. He will make 3.2M for the next two years and 6.3M for the last two years and will also receive wage variables based on performance.

Why This Complex Structure?

The structure of this deal is extremely puzzling at face value. First, it seems unlikely that Roma will purchase Bojan outright for a net 27M and then on top of that pay him 6.3M + variables. For Roma to even consider this with their likely cash flow and team wage structure Bojan would literally have to transform himself into one of the single best players in Serie A, if not the world.

Further complicating Roma’s likelihood of exercising their option to acquire the player outright in 2013 is the length of the contract Bojan just signed. It’s only for 4 years. As such, were Roma to pay a large sum of money for Bojan in 2013 they would have paid dearly for a player with only two years left on his existing contract. That’s a huge amount of risk for Roma – they would be at risk for losing Bojan on a free shortly after paying a large sum for him. Bojan could return to Barcelona on a free only two years later, for example.

As such, the deal is set up for Bojan to most likely not stay with Roma in two years time under the contractual terms just negotiated. The total required for Roma to keep Bojan makes it less likely that he will fulfill all four years of this contract.

Nonetheless, even if Roma did want to purchase Bojan for a net 27M why structure this as a series of multiple transactions where Roma buys Bojan in two installments – 12M + 28M with a Barça repurchase in between for 13M?

Why obligate Roma to purchase Bojan and to only then also obligate Barça to buy Bojan in response? Why make this so complicated when the net amount required for Roma to keep the player outright is so prohibitive that it is unlikely for them to do so?

The likely reason for Roma being required to purchase Bojan for 12M only to have Barcelona purchase him back for 13M is that these two transactions help establish Bojan’s price in the open market for the summer of 2013. This is the advantage to Barcelona of doing the deal through a purchase-repurchase structure rather than a simple net 1M payment from Barça to Roma. They start building Bojan’s market value and facilitate the club being able to sell him for a definitive price after watching his development at Roma.

A primary purpose for the way the deal is structured is to look forward to 2013 when Barca will have a more definitive sense of whether or not Bojan fits into the team’s future. Structuring the deal through these complex transactions is a way for the club to balance risk. It provides Barcelona a foundation for selling Bojan in the open market during the summer of 2013 should they decide he is not in their long term plans.

Establishing a Foundation for Bojan’s Value in the Market:

This transfer could have been set up very simply – Bojan is loaned to Roma for two years and Barça pays Roma 1M. Barcelona have an option to repurchase Bojan in 2012. Roma in turn gets an option to buy Bojan for 27M in 2013 should Barça not take their option in 2012.

The deal isn’t structured as a simple 1M payment from Barça to Roma, however. I believe the reason why is so that precedents can be set for Bojan’s value in the market.

In the summer of 2013 Bojan will have been sold – not once – but twice for an amount of roughly 12-13M.

This gives Barça a price to point to in two years. Even though the only money changing hands is 1M net from Barça to Roma, Bojan will technically be part of two different sales – sales that will be booked for much larger amounts. The accounting for his sales will not be 1M.  It will be 12M and 13M.  That helps to establish a baseline value for him.  Roma will have valued and agree to purchase Bojan for 12M.  Barça will have agreed to value and buy Bojan for 13M.  This helps Barça point to a 12-13M valuation two years from now.

Now it doesn’t guarantee that 12-13M price nor does it even mean that Barça will decide to sell Bojan if he returns.   But it helps establish a foundation for his market worth should Barca decide that after watching Bojan for another two years at Roma he is not in their long term plans.  It develops an explicit valuation and will facilitate a sale in the open market should Barça chose to go that route two years from now.  If Bojan has a relatively good period with Roma but not good enough to be in the club’s long term plans, Barça can point to the sales of 12M/ 13M and use that as a foundation to try to get, say, 15M-20M.

Why would Roma agree to all of this?  Because they are getting a young, talented player that their new coach is interested in working with and doing so without paying out any upfront transfer fees.  Two years from now they could always return Bojan to Barça, net 1M in the transaction, and then renegotiate to purchase Bojan back.

Managing Risk:

It’s possible that Bojan will go to Roma and unequivocally develop into a world class player that Barça will be able to insert into their team rotation.  At the other extreme, it’s possible that Bojan will flop and prove to be completely inadequate for a major team.  What’s most likely however is a grey result.  Bojan will do well at Roma but with certain areas of limitation in his performance.  And it is this middle outcome that Barça is preparing for through this complex transaction structure of Bojan being purchased twice prior to his return.

By the summer of 2013, Barça may very well want to bring Bojan back and feel that they need to give him more time  in the system to see what he has become after two years away.  They may need more time to evaluate him given that he will only be 22.  They may not be ready to make a final determination until the summer of 2014.  Conversely, they may feel that in two years they have enough information to know that he will not fit.  In either case, Bojan may need to be sold two to three years from now.  The structure of this current deal with Roma establishes a track record of value for Bojan should he need to be placed on the market in the summer of 2013 or 2014 or even later.

The root cause of all of this complexity stems from the fact that Bojan is an extremely difficult player to valuate and assign risk to as an asset.  He was one of the most productive youth players in the history of what is arguably the best youth development system in the world.  He has clear talent that is very evident and had a number of standout moments with the first team at very young ages.  He is also one of the most popular players in Barcelona.  However, he also had the misfortune of trying to break into one of the great teams of all time and doing so after being rushed through the youth system.  He has enormous potential and talent but limited, perhaps even disappointing, production for a team that is suited to win now and needs depth.  As an asset he is very difficult to put a true worth on.

If a team were to offer Barça 20M for Bojan this summer they would perhaps take it.  But few, if any, teams were going to absorb that much risk now given his first team production.  At the same time, given his youth team performance and talent, Barça would be absorbing significant risk selling him for the amount he would likely go for on the market right now (say 8-10M).  They may come to regret it later.

The Roma deal, with it’s complex structure, sets a middle path.  It allows Barça to minimize it’s downside risk of losing Bojan for an inadequate sum should he develop his talents.  At the same time, through the transactions obligated, the deal looks forward to a future in which Bojan may not fit into Barça’s plans on a permanent basis.  Barça is hedging their longer term sporting and financial risk through this complex structure.

Now that said, at the same time, nothing is free.  Barça is clearly paying for the opportunity to hedge it’s risks with Bojan.  They are giving a player away now and getting no money in return for him during a period in which the club itself is saying that they need cash.

Barça’s decision to mitigate certain kinds of upside risk while also  keeping their  options open comes at a real immediate cost.  Barça are giving Roma an asset and getting no cash back for him now.  This could in theory cost them the opportunity to acquire another defender or even long sought after Cesc Fabregas.  And should Bojan get seriously injured and/or fail miserably in a very physical, tough Serie A, Barça will likely have squandered all of the player’s monetary value and get very little in return for an asset they have spent years developing.

Conclusions:

Barcelona is currently on a trajectory to produce more young players through La Masia than it will likely be able to utilize in meaningful ways on the first team in the short term. The level of play on the senior side is so high that the majority of young players are unlikely to stay with the team.

As such, one of the central aspects to the team’s future success is evaluating which players they should keep and then maximizing the value of the young players it cannot. Bojan represents a fascinating cross roads for how the team is going to need to steer between those two poles. The complex structure of the deal with Roma is due to the club trying to balance these two potentially divergent pathways within a single player.

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77 Responses to “Why Is Bojan’s Transfer to Roma Structured Through Such a Complex Agreement?”

  1. The__K__Man says:

    SPORT are reporting that Carles Puyol will most probably not make it to the Supercopa. I really do hope Pep realizes the problem we might be in if Carles struggles with his injury throughout this season.

    • blitzen says:

      He’s not “struggling with his injury”, he is recovering from surgery. Not the same thing at all. His recovery is well on track, and if he can’t play in the Supercopa, we have plenty of other CBs who can.

  2. tutomate says:

    I think you are right. It seems that FCB are not to sure of Bobo’s future on one side they see a lot of potential but on the the other they see a boy who has no matured like those around him. So this may be the middle road.

    I have one question though you said:
    “Nonetheless, even if Roma did want to purchase Bojan for a net 27M why structure this as a series of multiple transactions where Roma buys Bojan in two installments – 12M + 28M with a Barça repurchase in between for 13M?”

    I had understood that if Roma did purchase him it would be for a net amount circa 40M. Because at the time when Barca would buy him back for 13m the only way to block said buyback clause would be for Roma to invest an additional 28M in addition to the previous 12M.

    I might be wrong though.

    • Euler says:

      This is a very confusing point. Initially my understanding of the deal was the same as yours – net 40M for Roma to definitely acquire Bojan in 2013.

      But looking at the statement released by Roma I that doesn’t appear to be the case. I believe it’s gross 40M and net 27M.

      Under the current agreement there are two things that must happen as obligations:

      1. Roma must buy Bojan in 2013 for 12M.

      2. Barca must buy Bojan. Barca have an option to buy him for 17M in 2012. If they pass on that option they must buy him for 12M in 2013.

      3. Roma then has an option in 2013. If Barca buys him back for 13M Roma can over ride that and repurchase Bojan for an additional 28M.

      So on net Bojan would cost Roma 27M when all the transactions are completed.

      I could be wrong as well on this – but that’s my understanding from the press release Roma put on on the deal.

      What’s interesting is that if Barca buys Bojan in 2012 for 17M Roma are still obligated to “buy” him for 12M in 2013. I believe in this case however, Barca would keep him and Roma would not get a chance to buy him for 28M.

      Finally, if it is in fact 40M net rather than gross that only amplifies the point. Roma is extremely unlikely to consider keeping Bojan if it will cost them 40M net. Serie A teams just don’t have the cash flow to do that. Roma’s new owners would have to shell out large sums from his own pocket and he’s not that wealthy.

  3. barca96 says:

    I’m sorry to go off topic so early in the post but I just saw this a few minutes ago on tv and I just gotta share it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9VwVeCgcRs

    Balotelli tried to show boat instead of just finishing it off.
    It was a childish move. But it is an exhibition match.
    I don’t understand why they gotta be so mad at him.

    And I really don’t understand why Dzeko put his arms up and look around.
    Just talk to Balotelli directly and ask him what’s up.
    Acting like a little baby.

  4. Dani_el says:

    Excellent article Euler! as always, I know understand the complexity of the “transfer”.

    http://www.sport.es/es/noticias/barca/20110725/primer-crack-del-nuevo-barca-aterriza-gratis-hasta-2012/1092273.shtml

    This article says that the first payment for Sanchez would be in january of 2012, and the second in 2013 and the third one in 2014.
    This means that we still have 45M that Rosell said we had for signings. I think Cesc will come.

    • Euler says:

      Part of why the issue of the how payment would be structured and the variables was so important for Barca is due to how much cash on hand they would have.

      I figured that part of the Sanchez deal would have delayed payments on the 26M.

      The variables are not only critical to Barca because they decrease some risk, they are important because in general variables are going to get paid out over a potentially long time period. They get paid out in the future – that means you have more cash on hand now.

      For example, say that part of the variables are based on Barca winning the CL – that money can’t be due until next summer at the earliest. In fact it may not get paid out until 2013. Same thing for a clause like starting a certain percentage of games or even playing a certain percentage of games. Those criteria can’t even be calculated until the very end of 2011/2012.

      You have to put a discount rate on the variables because they aren’t up front money.

      Why is this especially important for Barca now?

      Cesc Fabregas.

      Arsenal are going to demand their money for Cesc in huge payments – possible all up front.

      Fronting all or most of the money now is going to be a requirement for Barca if they are not going to pay 50M or so for Cesc.

      Also, paying out money later at a future date helps Barca pay off their debt if they chose.

      Making future payments on a transfer is essentially an interest free loan.

      • Dani_el says:

        So do you think Cesc will come? that’s why we have a better payment schedule for Sanchez, so we can have cash for the one big payment for Cesc? And when Rosell says that we have 45 millions for signings, he means 45M to pay now, as a first inicial payment?

  5. Huckleberry says:

    The 12M sell /13M rebuy-clause gives Barça an asset of 12 M in the books by now. It could be added to the transfer kiddy (for Cecs) and helps the balance sheet for this year.
    For me it looks more like a bookkeeping trick than a valuesetting for Bojan.
    But “transparency” is something else….

  6. Olufestus says:

    Offtopic; dont call me a moron pals,as an african, am a tad superstitious about the number 9 jersey,i think samuel eto’o,a cameroun might have cast a merlin spell on the shirt…

  7. @Euler:

    “This transfer could have been set up very simply – Bojan is loaned to Roma for two years and Barça pays Roma 1M. Barcelona have an option to repurchase Bojan in 2012. Roma in turn gets an option to buy Bojan for 27M in 2013 should Barca not take their option in 2012.”

    I was surprised that we didn’t take thi route. I will explain why I thought the loan deal would have been the ideal one. Bojan currently(I mean before we sold him) had a deal which run upto 2015 or 2016(I am not sure). So if we had send him for loan for two years we coudl have got some money upfront and also would have the option to sell him or keep him after that because in effect we have a deal running through 2015.

    You have explained well about the dealings between Roma and Barca. – what each club needs to do after after completion of 2012-13 season. But you missed the main actor in the deal – Bojan Krkic. Is he obliged to sign for Barca when we present an offer? I mean I have no idea and there is no clarity on this.

    The problem for us arisies if he start to demonstrate his true potential(even half of it). This deal ideally put us at risk as far as I am concerned. Bojan looked pissed off to me and may not agree to a deal when we present him in 2013 or maybe ready to sign only a 1 year deal(which we will not agree). What happens then? If such a scenario is possible then we would have no option but allow Roma to keep the player, who inturn immediately would try to cash in on him. So in that scenario we would be ideally selling a player for 12 Million after two years(considering inflation this may not be that big a sum two years from now)

    If this was structured as a straight forward loan deal, we would have got the player after two years with two more year left in his contract. Even if the player is not interested we could place him on the market and could earn atleast more than 12 Million.

    I am no economist, hence have no idea about the prospect of these thing happening. Euler, may have written the post with a positive frame of mind. Mine is definitely a bit of pessimistic, but remember when it comes to money being a bit negative doesn’t hurt, atleast in the long run.

  8. can_we_go_Xalvies says:

    If we look at our past loan out deals during Pep’s regime we notice there is only two outcomes, the player ends up leaving elsewhere on a price that is close to nothing, or the player ends up in some limbo state where Pep does not want to take him back and we find it very difficult to find an alternative destination for that player. I won’t give examples because we all know who we loan out.

    The buy-back clause at least gives certainty to Bojan that we will look at him in one/two years time and we won’t run off and leave him in the cold, like other players, cough Hleb (not that he didn’t deserve it)…

  9. barca96 says:

    Just finished watching the friendly.
    The commentator said that the coach of the Hadjuk Split is Balakov.
    Sounds very familiar. If Im not mistaken a player in the Bundesliga in the 90′s.

    Thiago was such a BOSS!!
    So was Iniesta.

    When is the next Spain U19 match?
    Can’t wait to watch Deulofeu in action again and that Getafe bound kid.

  10. Kxevin says:

    First things first …. Yay, Euler! Nice piece. Hats off as well to the folks who are contributing to the analysis in the comments. We’ll make sense of this damned thing yet.

    –From the Twitters: Both Guardiola and B forward Soriano (25) are seriously considering that the player would stay and be promoted to the first team. [md]

    The interesting part here is that EMD is considered the club’s mouthpiece.

    • blitzen says:

      I’d be very happy to see Soriano get a shot with the first team. He’s never going to be a world-beater, but he is a solid player and a very hard worker. His attitude this summer has been incredible—he is happy to go wherever the team can find the best place for him. No sulks, no tantrums, no disgruntled quotes leaked to the media or from his agent. I think he would be quite happy to take a spot on the bench and fill in whenever he is needed. He will certainly never have a chance as good as this again. And he is free. We can always sell him next year if it doesn’t work out.

      Guardiola certainly doesn’t see him as a long-term solution for the team, but he may be willing to give him a chance based on recent form and good attitude. We’ll see.

      • Kxevin says:

        I know. You really want to see such loyalty rewarded. And as Guardiola says, 32 goals with B deserves a better look. Word is now that no decisions will be made on he and Dos Santos until after the U.S. tour.

        First match on the telly on Tuesday, by the by, that Audi Cup business.

        • sic says:

          I’m of the opinion that rewarding Soriano would be finding him a good deal so that he can play minutes and get exposure. He’s at an age that if his career doesn’t take off now, it never will and I doubt the minutes he would get as Barça’s 6th forward will help him in that area.

  11. can_we_go_Xalvies says:

    I thought Soriano played pretty well in the Hadjuk Split friendly, he wouldn’t offer any less than Bojan or Jeffren as a back-up(not that Im saying Bojan and Jeffren are terrible players, but from the continuous injuries and set backs those young’uns had over the past, Soriano would offer just as much too the team as a backup forward as those two young talents had).

  12. Kxevin says:

    Quotes from the Sanchez presser:

    Bartomeu (vice-president): “It wasn’t easy to sign Alexis but we had the help from the player. He rejected far better offers.”

    “The deal also includes Udinese taking part in a Gamper game in the future, as well as another friendly game.”

    Zubizarreta (sports director): “Alexis can play at the 3 forward positions which gives us more options. He also helps in defense.”

    Sanchez: “I’m not a guy of many words. I just want to say I’m happy to be at the best club in the world.”

    Guardiola called me, it’s important to feel the coach believes in you.”

    Bartomeu: “The variables depend on trophies won by the team, minutes played by Alexis, and Barcelona qualifying for 1/8 finals CL.”

    Sanchez: “My idola s a kid was (Right) Ronaldo. Beign a starter? As this is the best club in the world, that will be difficult.”

    Bartomeu: “Cesc? Things are how they are, and go their way.”

    Sanchez: “My family, especially my father, always wanted me to play for Barcelona one day. The important thing now is to adapt to the group.”

    “I joined Barcelona because I want to tell my grandchildren about the trophies I won, not about the money I gained.”

    “Arriving at the airport was like a movie… I want to thank all the people who welcomed me.”

    “Im here to learn from Messi, Xavi and the other players. Cristiano? I respect him, but I’m Alexis, Barcelona player and Chilean.”

    “The curse of the number 9? Didn’t hear about that, I was always told it’s a lucky number.”

    “Today I’ll have a meeting with Guardiola and we’ll decide then when I will start training.”

    “I feel as if I didn’t do anything yet. I never feel satisfied, always hope to give more.”

    “Would I like to play with Cesc? Of course.”

    Zubizarreta: “We made an analysis of all positions and in February we decided that Alexis would be our main target this summer.”

    Sanchez: “I decided I wanted to go to Barcelona when my brother told me my father would have liked me to join Barça”

    –So, Sanchez says all the right things, and is already tapping up the Prodigal, the bastid. And yes, I know the club will number him 9 and name him Alexis, but he’s Sanchez to me, cuz I’m just difficult that way.

  13. hammeronmessi says:

    So, humble sanchez already learned from xavipiquepuyol how to tap up the gone one.

    this is a f……ing disgrace.
    he is classless just like the other barca players.

    why arent we buying a pacy CB?fontas is solid but he lacks what the teams defence most need when abiyol are out.PACE

  14. hammeronmessi says:

    Rumour bout soriano?
    is he good enough?or just to make up the numbers?

    it startles me that we r still not looking for a real 9?

    • sic says:

      He’s probably good enough, he scored over 50 goals in two seasons with Barça B, which is no joke in a very tough Segunda División, but I doubt that being the 6th forward on the first team would be a good option for a player who at 25 is probably at a make or break moment in terms of building his career. He needs minutes to grow as a player (and earn a higher salary), I hope they find a deal for him.

  15. sic says:

    Interesting article Euler, thank you. There are a couple of things that I’d like to add: one problem with the managing risk aspect of this analysis is the fact that Bojan’s salary doubles in the years that he most likely returns to Barça’s account sheet. That huge salary will make it very hard indeed to move him at €13m or 12m or even for free as the buying team would be on the hook for over €12m in salary. There could be a political aspect to this as for some people Bojan is the poster boy for the “catalanidad” of the club and so although the player had to go, they wanted to make sure he also had to come back… Maybe.

    Looking at the Sanchez deal and it’s delayed payment structure (first payment in 2012, with two more in 2013 and 2014)leaves cash available for Cesc and other signings (I still suspect that we will bring in 1 or 2 more players: a LB and a low cost forward, like Borges, Trezeguet or Kanoute), but more importantly it allows Rosell to presume to be following his “austerity” measures which I think are largely illusory (between cutting the baseball section and cutting back on toners how much money has been saved? Probably less than €1m).

    Which brings me back to the Bojan deal. I think that Rosell and his board are very creative accountants who are using complex deals as a way to save money to certain degree, but mostly to create an image of a board that is “saving” the club from a mostly fabricated economic disaster.

    • Kxevin says:

      Not to mention that it makes me call B.S. on their whole “transparency” business.

    • jsfrancis says:

      The accounting part is that selling him for 12m will allow the club to book the entire amount as profit for that fiscal year, but they will be able to amortize the 13m purchase price over the length of whatever contract they give him at that time. So if they keep him on the two years remaining of his deal at that point, the club will be able to book a profit on the transfer of 5.5m (12-13/2). But if they resign him to a longer deal at that point, let’s say a four year deal, Barca will be able to book an accounting profit of 8.75m (12-13/4). It’s pure bookkeeping tricks.

  16. Josep says:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2011/jul/25/patrice-evra-manchester-united-samir-nasri

    Just making sure this isn’t tapping up, right? I mean he’s saying nothing completely out of the line here right?

    Oh.

  17. hammeronmessi says:

    So messi xavi cr to battle for the uefa award?why did uefa bother bout this award?its messi.how the hell ini wasnt in the top 3 ?who r these 53 journalists?oh ozil was not even in the top 10.

  18. hammeronmessi says:

    cause its an english team.they search young talents,offer players of clubs to play for them.but never ever they tap up

  19. outerspacedout says:

    Messi, Ronaldo and Xavi to battle for top three,
    4 Andrés Iniesta (ESP) – FC Barcelona (33 points)
    5 Falcao (COL) – FC Porto (17)
    6 Wayne Rooney (ENG) – Manchester United FC (15)
    7 Nemanja Vidić (SRB) – Manchester United FC (5)
    8 Zlatan Ibrahimović (SWE) – AC Milan (4)
    Gerard Piqué (ESP) – FC Barcelona (4)
    10 Manuel Neuer (GER) – FC Schalke 04* (3)
    * has since joined FC Bayern München

    I thought Iniesta was better than Xavi this season, he was mesmerizing at times. But I came here mostly to giggle at Zlatan and Pique sharing a spot.

    • outerspacedout says:

      Also, Rooney way overrated here. I don’t subscribe to the view some people on Soccernet etc have that he is a poor player, I think he is very very good. But while he was very good in the last few months he was shockingly bad for two-thirds of the campaign and is definitely getting some bias by name. I’d have put Tevez or Thiago Silva etc above Rooney.

      And to be completely fair Pique wasn’t one of the top ten players in the world last season either, he’s getting some bias by name and reputation too. The others in our defense were better, and I would have put the aforementioned Tevez and Thiago Silva above him too.

  20. Ahsan says:

    “He said he was not aware of a similar deal and essentially what the two clubs had agreed was a bank loan from Roma to Barcelona of 12 million euros.”

    Some thoughts on this deal and what it means as a precedent for other top clubs.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/feedarticle/9763248

    • Kxevin says:

      Excellent find. Thanks very much. So essentially, Krkic is like the bauble you leave at the pawn shop to secure your loan. Dang….

      • Miguel says:

        Except no money is being exchanged, at least not until 2013. But Rosell can say that he stuck to his guns and only spent the alloted 45 mil + monies from player transfers(12 mil from Bojan & what are you still doing here, Jeffren?) to pick up Sanchez & Fabregas. That’s just my opinion, and I’m currently in a conspiracy theory hatching mood. It’s all Laporta’s fault.

        I’m pretty sure the Faberglass deal gets done this week. There’s no way Barca let go of a Catalan wonder kid without having a replacement at the ready.

        P.S. Geeked to finally get to see some Blaugrana on the boob-tube again on Tuesday. I can not deal with streams anymore.

    • dennise says:

      “Whether Barca can convince Chelsea to sign up to a similar deal for their 19-year-old midfielder Oriol Romeu, another youth school product whom the English Premier League club have said is set to move to London, remains to be seen.”

      hmmm…

  21. Miguel says:

    There was grinning and gushing, shrieking and spurting in the Catalan capital last weekend, as there was finally something for Barça fans to talk about aside from how stupendously superior they are to every other side on the planet and how much they hate those dastardly dastards over at the Bernabeu.
    Alexis Sánchez and Udinese finally came to an agreement with Barcelona in a deal worth €26 million up front, €11.5 million in variable fees and an odd little clause relating to friendlies worth €6 million that nobody in Spain is really that sure about…
    However, Serie A’s balance with Barcelona remains equal, as the Italian league is gaining bowl-haired Bojan, with the little forward being flogged to Roma for not being particularly good over the past couple of seasons.
    However, the wee nipper sees things slightly differently, and blames Pep Guardiola for his exit. Coming over all Samuel Eto’o/Zlatan Ibrahimovic, he whinged: “[Guardiola has] not been fair to me many times and that’s one of the reasons I’ve decided to go.”

    http://fourfourtwo.com/blogs/laligaloca/archive/2011/07/25/alexis-arrives-bojan-blubs-amp-kak-225-runs-out-of-credit.aspx

    • If you look away from a Barca fan perspective, I would say Guardiola has not been entirely fair to Bojan. Guardiola never considered him as a true enough option in his three year stint. That was made clear when he brought Pedro in place of Bojan in Rome. Yes, there is no denying that Bojan should have made good use of the limited oppurtunity given to him. But considering the number of matches he played to rate him could be very unfair. I always thought whenever he played with the usual eleven(in place of Villa or Pedro), he always did well. He may not have done anything extra-ordinary but still he was pretty decent. But unluckily for Bojan those opportunities came in very few numbers. Whenever he got a start or sufficient playing time, most of the usual eleven is missing. We have seen in many matches(especially Copa) that even Pedro struggled missing messi, Villa, Xavi and Iniesta. Actually i don’t think Pedro has done anything special when most of these guys are missing, but it’s another matter that he has done more than special things along with him(which Bojan could not). So when Bojan says Guardiola wasn’t totally fair to him, I think he means those kind of opportunities. Even Messi in his beginning years, Rijkaard made sure that he played regularly with the likes of Ronnies, Deco, Eto’o etc. If we asked him to win matches alone at that time, even he would have struggled. So instead of getting pissed off and shouting out that the player has been disloyal, a bit of empathy would help us understand those situations.

      • Kxevin says:

        Sorry to quibble, but Krkic got chance after chance after chance and did nothing. Guardiola was more than fair to him. He ended the previous season strongly, filling in for a clunky Ibrahimovic. Last season was supposed to be his year, but he went from bad to worse. He was never considered a true option because he never delivered like a true option. He could have played his way past Pedro, but he didn’t. Pedro left him in the shade.

        It’s true that Pedro wasn’t a world-beater without being part of the MVP front line. But when Krkic was part of that attack, he did even less than Pedro.

        Guardiola’s job is to win matches, not make Masia graduates happy. Krkic got chances in the Copa, he got chances in Champions League, he got chances galore. ESPN Classic just showed the Ceuta Copa del Rey match, in which Krkic was decidedly mediocre. Pedro wasn’t, banging in two goals of surpassing quality. Krkic did score, a simple tap-in off a bit of Messi brilliance.

        I believe that he got more chances than he would have had he not been everybody’s favorite, with the attendant pressure. It’s the same thing that got him promoted too early.

        And for me, this worldview is coming from someone who evaluates matches and doesn’t care a whit about players. I took a lot of stick for hating Krkic. This isn’t the case at all. I believe that his performance this past season and for the Spain U21s is atypical, but nonetheless mediocre.

        Is he talented? For sure. But right now, he just doesn’t seem to understand that he doesn’t have the body to be a 9, which is why he’s always left sitting on the pitch, when he confronts a full-sized defender. If he learns to play to what he is, rather than what he thinks he is, he could start to realize his talent.

        Until them, he’s just going to be a glittering almost. The change of scenery might do him good, and we should hope that it does. Otherwise, in two years we get a very expensive albatross.

        • BarcaGirl_Indo says:

          I must agree with Kxevin.

          as much as I love Bojan, our cuddly toy, to me last season he was not convincing everytime he had the chance to prove himself. I can’t blame Pep for not trusting him.

          Look, in Spain NT U-21 he got benched for Adrian! two strikers from the best club in the world, Bojan and Jeffren, can’t get into the starting XI in Spain NT U-21.
          for me that says a lot.

        • You are straying away from the main point I emphasised.

          “Guardiola’s job is to win matches, not make Masia graduates happy. Krkic got chances in the Copa, he got chances in Champions League, he got chances galore. ”

          - How many of those were with the first eleven? That’s all I wanted to point out. I never said that he was terrific or did gave his 100%. Why did Bojan started to do well when Guardiola prefferred him for Ibra. Simple reason is that he was getting more playing time with the best eleven we had. I am not saying that he should have started with Bojan but instead on bringing him on the 80th minute(which is basically senseless), he should have given him a chance to play atleast 25 minutes with the best eleven, atleast once in three or four matches.

  22. Cule_less says:

    To honor Amy Winehouse……

    We wanted Messi on the American tour he said no…no …no

  23. outerspacedout says:

    Someone’s comment:

    Guardiola has said that he wants him because he believes in cycles for players. He said that if you look at the ages of Xavi, Iniesta and Thiago their ages are 31,27 & 20 respectively. So he says that he wants Fabregas to come in to fill in between the ages of Iniesta and Thiago and it will therefore be 27,24,20. He says that there is too much of an age gap and difference in experience between Iniesta and Thiago so he wants Fabregas. Also he says that he does not want to rush Thiago because he saw what happened to Bojan and Giovani dos Santos when they were rushed into the 1st team.

    If it’d been just the admin I’d have thought of it as just vanity, but if Pep thinks so and Pep says we need him I trust Pep’s judgement.

  24. mega_tajh says:

    Looks Like Malaga have all but signed up Santi Cazorla from Villarreal. Strong this team is becoming and we open La Liga away to them.

  25. Ryan says:

    All right, Batista has been fired. Let’s hope whoever next coaches Argentina brings in some new defenders (I think almost any pair would be an improvement), works in Pastore into the starting 11, and gets to work on fashioning a team that Messi can lead to Brazil 2014.

    • culegirl3 says:

      A whole new team needs to be put together..and it starts with getting rid of milito, cambiasso, lavezzi, tevez, and all the other dead weights. IMO the only player who has done his job and done it well has been Zanetti.

    • outerspacedout says:

      YES. I didn’t know this. Garay, Otamendi, Mussachio, any of them would be better than Milito and Burdisso.

      Or best of all, put Mascherano into centre-back so the defense is secure and there is no need of playing such a defensive midfield. With a more solid defense they could play a more creative line-up with Banega as a holding mid, and Pastore and someone else in centre midfield. Pastore needs to start.

      And the forward line should always be Aguero, Messi, someone. Much as I hate Di Maria, probably him because he’s fast and plays out wide.

      They really really should look into putting Mascherano and someone else not old and extremely slow in defense though.

    • So after Maradona it Batista’s time. Every Barca fan complained that Maradona never knew how to use Messi and said he should be used the same way as Barca. Batista followed it and ended also getting fired. Atleast no we knew Maradona was right in how to use Messi in the AArgentinian setup.

      • mei says:

        Just because Batista was wrong doesnt make maradona look any better than he was.
        Maradona ‘s ignorance was such that he did even not want to use fullbacks up the field.
        Also be cautious about using strong words like , every , never etc.
        Barcelona fans(or their majority that writes on this blog more precisely,anyway) never said that argentina should (or most importantly could) play like barcelona .
        They cant do that , they lack the attributes , the time to blend in together and most importantly the coach to do so.

        Whats obvious is that messi is a lethal finisher and that requires him occupying space near the goal line to take advantage of his skills.
        You cant have him both being the creative force and expecting him to produce goals gallore while your rest team is built around covering its defensive flaws and having no other creator in the same time.
        Thats what maradona and batista had in common btw.

        • I only said that Mardona knew better how to use Messi in the Argentinian set up. You look at the Argentinian side and you will see that the majority of the their top players play upfront and only good in that. That’s why I think the way Maradona used him was ideal for Argentina. Pastore is good but he cannot spearhead the creative midfielder. if Messi want o shine in Argentinian setup he better get ready to play the traditional number 10 role. Otherwise he would feel like a lonely figure fruther upfront of the pitch waiting for some service, which will never happen.

          “Also be cautious about using strong words like , every , never etc.
          Barcelona fans(or their majority that writes on this blog more precisely,anyway) never said that argentina should (or most importantly could) play like barcelona .”
          I never said that Barca fans want Argentina to play the same way like barca. But there was a major outcry here, to have Messi play as teh false number 9, which actually backfired big time.

          I don’t know about Batista, but it was clear in World Cup that Maradona saw Messi primarly as a creative force than a goal scoring threat. Messi may the the most lethal finisher in the world at present, but to finish he needs the service to start with. That will never happen in Argentina side. For me if Messi has to make a big impact in National side, he has to start accepting the fact that the traditional No.10 route is the best for him in current situation.

  26. Dani_el says:

    I saw this about Abi and Pep, it’s mostly nothing, but it’s interesting how the deal with each other, and how the press wants some negative news about the team.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yierB6_zcxA&feature=related

  27. ElJefe says:

    Sanchez unveiling post please!

    I may be shortsighted here, and I love the notion of what both Sanchez & Cesc will bring to our squads for depth and long term quality, but my concerns this year never had to do with our midfield drying up (Xavi, Iniesta, Busi when playing up, [Affelay waiting in the wings], or with our attacking forwards (Messi, Pedro, Jeffren off the bench), or wings once we had flanking Brazilians, but rather closeing at Striker. When Villa was off form, we were at our weakest without a doubt, and put even more pressure on Messi which he tended to react to with over-trying on the ball.

    Focusing purely on 2011-2012, I’d much rather add some security up front. Falcao at Porto has ability in the air and hits the box at pace somewhere between Eto’o and Superman. Am I missing something here, particularly with Bojan gone? What do we do if Villa is injured?

    • outerspacedout says:

      Messi plays in the centre and does so extremely well as a false 9, so getting an outright centre-forward would ruin our plan A. So we get a talented wide forward who can rest Pedro so we have Villa-Messi-Sanchez, rest Villa so we have Pedro-Messi-Sanchez, or rest Messi so we have Pedro-Villa-Sanchez. Or vice versa on the flanks. Since Villa can also play in the centre.

      Whereas if we get a brilliant centre-forward who can’t play naturally out wide, then he has to sit unless we either rest Messi or move him from his current free central position, both less than optimal situations. If we’re gonna get a big centre-forward it has to be someone who doesn’t mind a lot of bench time (I would love Kanoute, I like the guy a lot too) or someone who can play naturally out wide (like, dunno, Hulk played on the right for Porto last season and Cavani used to be a wide-forward before last season, right? Both are big and strong, but waaaaaay too expensive just like Falcao would be for a plan B only role).

      • blitzen says:

        Whereas if we get a brilliant centre-forward who can’t play naturally out wide, then he has to sit

        Which was of course one of Bojan’s major problems. He plays best in the centre, always has. That’s Messi’s spot, or Villa’s (he never did learn how to play off Villa, no connection there at all). The way the team is currently set up just didn’t suit his needs.

    • blitzen says:

      We also have Afellay, who can play on either wing, and of course Iniesta in a pinch. Barring major calamities, I think we are covered up front pretty well.

  28. Huckleberry says:

    Our “Plan B” striker is Piqué.

  29. blitzen says:

    laugh of the day:

    Tottenham Hotspur are planning a £22m double swoop on La Liga by looking to purchase 25-year-old striker Alvaro Negredo from Sevilla for £18m and Barcelona winger Ibrahim Afellay for £4m.
    Full story: footybunker.com

    No idea about Negredo, but Flyboy’s not going anywhere, and definitely not for 4M.

  30. can_we_go_Xalvies says:

    After Pep spoke out that he is satisfied with only one single signing this summer, Im curious to find out what Pep may be thinking of in terms of our defence for next season.

    as any crazy fan would I went forth and collected the number of appearances in all competitions for each member of our squad. I split our squad up into two groups based on position and number of appearances, So kind of an A team and a B team. What I’ve noticed was that in both the past two seasons on average our most played LB surprisingly is Maxwell. In 09/10 Maxwell appeared in 36 games and started 32, while in 10/11 he app’d 41 and started in 31 of those. In 09/10 Maxwell appeared in more games than Abidal at LB, and in 10/11 Maxwell appeared in more games than Adriano.

    IM NOT SAYING THAT MAXWELL IS OUR FIRST CHOICE LB. But I’m actually astonished at how key Maxwell has been at LB.

    I now realize why Pep does not prefer to sell Maxwell, Maxwell on average makes more than 38 appearances as season. That is a lot for a player of his status in our squad.

    I also noticed that in 09/10 we only had 3 true fullbacks, yet in 10/11 we had 4 true fullbacks. It hasn’t been proven and I can’t really prove it but I believe that in 09/10 our biggest set back was our lack of fullbacks.

    I also believe that eventhough our 10/11 campaign showed how our team really suffered depth wise in the later part of the season. I do not believe that we suffered considerably at our fullback positions. I do believe that one key problem Pep faced was that Maxwell at one point suffered an injury and Adriano admirably took over. But bar the injury Maxwell adequately covered the LB position throughout the season, especially during the earlier part of the season, plus I felt he was one of the few players in the squad that was in good form during that crucial month of February. Adraino was sparingly used by Pep through the former parts of the season, maybe due to the fact that Pep wanted to slowly integrate him into the team, rather than just shove him in. In a way Maxwell had a very poor finish to last season mainly due to an injury, but you could also argue that he had a pretty decent season bar the end where he suffered from long term fatigue etc. Pep used Adriano sparingly but he probably had predicted that Maxwell at some point would start to drop off and Pep utilized a fresh and ready Adriano at the right time. In the end, it payed off.

    Loooking at our coming season, I believe Pep will have a better chance to utilise both Maxwell and Adriano, both players are fresh and fully integrated (adriano), while Puyol is back (hopefully) at CB Abidal will probably feature more often at LB from now on. This means Pep can probably use a more balanced rotation policy for our fullbacks, rather than having to overplay one player and then use the next.

    So I’ll ask everyone else, Do we really need another LB?

    IMO I think we don’t, I used to think we do, but I see that now we finally have 4 fully integrated fullbacks to work with, and for 3 of those the minutes can be properly spread among them. Bar any serious injuries I feel we have enough cover. Eventually Adriano will take over 2nd choice LB and RB, while Maxwell will remain 3rd choice, and considering his history he is more than capable of handling 35+ appearances a season.

    • blitzen says:

      So I’ll ask everyone else, Do we really need another LB?

      I’ve been saying for ages that we don’t. We have three fully functional ones right now, including Maxwell, who doesn’t seem to be going anywhere in a hurry. We also have Fontas capable of filling in if necessary, although he is a bit slow for the position, and we can call on Muniesa as well. We were shorthanded in this position in the spring, but only because a perfect storm of injuries took out Abidal, Adriano, and Maxwell at the same time. I doubt very much that would ever happen again. Maxwell may not be everyone’s favourite on this board, and he was definitely surpassed last season by Adriano, but he has been very reliable, solid defensively, knows the system, and shows great attitude whether on the bench or not. I never saw what the big fuss was about Jose Angel in the first place. Good player, but we didn’t need him.

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