Archive | Transfers/Transfer Rumors

Twisting in the wind, aka “Love, respect and legends”


When a player outlives his usefulness, it’s brutal. And nasty. An exceptionally useful part of a championship team is not any longer and a club has to manage what to do.

And that’s just the club. Supporters also come in to add many additional layers of nasty to the aging process.

There are three kinds of old players:

— Legends, of whom supporters deny any frailty. A 5-minute run of good play against an easy opponent brings the “See? Told you he still has it.”
— Undesirables, who nobody really wanted anyhow so there’s just an odd sort of indifference about that player’s continued presence.
— Damn Shames, players who should be legends but aren’t, and are treated shabbily by club and supporters.

Xavi is an example of a Legend, while Thierry Henry was the most recent example of an Undesirable. Unfortunately, Dani Alves is a Damn Shame.

At present, Alves is dangling in the wind. Barça apparently don’t want him, even though Enrique is on the record as saying he would like to keep him another year. Rumors fly about hither and yon about potential destinations, and many culers bemoan the fact that he’s still with the club even though he is still playing RB better than any other choices available. Every error is a capital crime, every good play a “Hmph! It’s about time!” moment. Jibes about crosses abound and too damned many culers can’t wait for the day that Alves leaves the club, so that someone “better” can take his slot..

For me, Dani Alves is a legend. This status isn’t because he came up through La Masia, or scored eleventy bajillion goals. He’s a legend because he has been an integral part of an excellent football club for an inordinately long time, and gives his absolute best each and every time that he pulls on the shirt. When a player does the best that he can, a coach doesn’t have the right … can’t, really … ask for anything more. “Best” in 2015 might not be the same as the “best” of 2008, but it is what it is.

Dani Alves deserves better than what he’s getting, from club and supporters. Seydou Keita was allowed to leave on a free so that he could have his pick of destinations. That was a lovely gesture that showed how much respect Guardiola had for the player. Meanwhile, rumors about Alves abound, gossip that forced him to take to Instagram to deny. And the rumors are present in part because as far as anyone knows, Barça has done nothing. And that sucks. Don’t leave him hanging. Not cool.

It’s business. Sure it is. But even in business there should be some humanity for a player who has done nothing except play the best that he could, match in and match out, rarely injured or even seemingly tired. Dani Alves, just running from endline to endline. He isn’t the best Dani Alves. But for a time, a LONG time he was, though underappreciated by too many culers, the best right back in the world. He was so good that he was overlooked almost because of that absurd quality. He made it look so effortless and simple, patrolling that side with a ease and grace that made him indispensable to Messi, Busquets AND Puyol.

He became trendy when he began to decline, like that performer whose absolute best work is in the past winning a major award. He became an automatic starter for the Selecao, a long-overdue honor that had as much to do with the quality of and comfort with Maicon as anything else. Detractors focused on his crosses, bits of ambition which even at their best were never paragons of accurate effectiveness. So what. A favorite Alves moment – the match escapes me – was when a loose ball was banged toward the sideline. Most players would have let it go out for the throw. Alves ran it down, turned and started a play that resulted in a goal. Effort. Always effort.

If someone wants to point out that a player isn’t what he once was, cool. But if that player has done what legends do for their teams, respect is still due. Xavi isn’t what he once was, but if the heavens don’t part and angels sing every time you type his name, there is something wrong with your worldview. Iniesta is no longer Ghostface Killah, but he’s still Andres MFing Iniesta. The game and time don’t care, but teams and the people who love them should.

Players sacrifice for the team. We begrudge them coach-approved trips to various places, vacations and the like but we forget how much they sacrifice. Yes, they are richly compensated for their efforts, but they sacrifice. When fathers are at family events, players are at training. Pregancies? They might be able to flit away by quick plane flight for the birth. It isn’t a normal life, and will never be for as long as they are doing what they do.

All that sacrifice, all that playing hurt, and limping around after matches, and recovering from injuries and dealing with stuff that, like Puyol, will affect the quality of the rest of a player’s life and at the end of it all is usually indifference and scorn. And that ain’t right.

“It’s ridiculous that the team still has to rely on Alves. Stupid board.” Okay. Find somebody, even now, who could be dropped in and be a big improvement over Alves. Danilo? Maybe. Eventually. Possibly. Lots of other names are out there, but there are none who do what Alves, when he was rockin’ it, did. So when it came time to think about players, and transfers, the first thing teams do is look at what they have from the context of can that person be improved upon, and how much of a row would it cause with supporters if that person was deemed “surplus to requirements.”

That’s the difficulty of having a collection of icons. For a period, FC Barcelona played the best football that anyone has ever seen. This wasn’t magic. It was hard work in the hands of an excellent coach and a top-quality group of players, every last one of whom would be considered the best or among the best at his position. As people sit, snuffle and deem this or that inadequate, hurl bricks at effigies of sporting directors past and present, the thing worth considering is, simply enough, who in the hell do you replace legends with?

Victor Valdes
Dani Alves
Gerard Pique
Carles Puyol
Eric Abidal

This game hangs onto old players like favored sweatshirts, except when that old player becomes somehow unfavored. Then he is deemed irredeemable, a mess who should have been gone eons ago so what the hell. But the rush to replace icons makes us forget just how brilliant the players whose heads on the block were. If you go down the above XI, is there a player of whom culers would NOT say, “There will never be another … “ Pique for now, but if he keeps on playing the way that he is these days, add him to the roster.

How easy is it to replace a player, and what is the price of an effort to do so? Name a right back that in the upcoming Classic you would be more comfortable with than Alves. Pique is excellent, but there is only one Puyol. The defense hasn’t been the same since Abidal took ill and then left. Xaviniesta isn’t any longer, Henry and Eto’o are long gone. Valdes blew his knee out, left on a free. There will be a time, very soon, when the only players left from the Treble side will be Messi, Busquets and Pique. And that will be weird, but it will also be what happens in the game.

The fate of Alves is unknown, but it should have been decided by now. There shouldn’t be stories about “The club will consider his future soon.” For me, that just isn’t how you treat a legend.

Posted in Thoughts, Transfers/Transfer Rumors48 Comments

Team vs club, aka “A chicken in every pot”

Well, this is weird. Somehow, FC Barcelona has gone from a team that was a clueless, rambling mess that didn’t stand a chance against the Liga champions Atletico de Madrid, to being a goal up (should have been more) and with a leg in the semifinals.

At the same time, an administration is flailing during the run-ups to elections, promising the equivalent of a chicken in every pot. The situation creates a “Yay!” “Boooo!” sort of quandary that needs a little bit of sorting out.

For many culers who disagree with this board and its tenure, a quandary presents itself. Sporting success tends to always buttress the claim of the incumbent. After all, Barça is a sporting project and all the rest is … well … the rest for many culers. Laporta didn’t get in trouble with socis and face a censure vote because of any of his peccadilloes — he got in trouble because of two silverless seasons, and barely survived the vote.

Yes, it’s politics and mes que un club, but the reality is that as long as that club is winning, socis have little interest in upsetting the apple cart that sits at the head of any victory parade.

So way deep down in the hearts of many a culer and soci lurks an awful feeling, too deep and dark to even face the light of day or utter even to themselves … it would be pretty good if Atleti mounted a remuntada, if the club went silverless because then that would mean that when elections are convened this summer, they would be gone for sure.

It is really a situation that, just as we separate the team from the club in thinking about who and what to support, flips itself in that many are wondering if some short-term pain for the team wouldn’t be worth it, for the good of the club.

It’s difficult.

The team has come together, and is playing wonderful football right now. Analyze all anyone likes, but I have just about zero interest in whether it is the team against its coach, the team and its coach against the board, us against them, them against the others, somebody against somebody. All I know is that the team is playing great football right now.

The board, in specific Bartomeu and Cardoner, have taken this opportunity to offer up some nifty keen stuff:

— More than 1k socis who have been on the season ticket waitlist, will get their precious ducats.
— Socis past the age of 70 and below the age of 14 get into home matches free.
— We have a foot powder sponsor! Yay, and phew!

When asked at the press event whether the ticketing stuff was part of the incumbent board’s election campaign, Cardoner (naturally) said “Why no, this is just part of our benevolent social strategy for the club.”

And to cap it all off, Bartomeu is adding fuel to the fire by saying that mean ol’ FIFA is unfair, and he doesn’t think that RM should be punished for their youth player transgressions, because Article 19 is just silly anyhow. And further, there is a transfer ban, but of course we can buy players. We just have to find somewhere to park them until January 2016. So … what transfer ban?

And to cap it all off, like Rip Van Winkle emerging, bleary-eyed from his slumber, Bartomeu is suggesting that hey, there just might be some complexities with the club’s title sponsor, that the situation with Qatar has changed recently, bla bla bla.

Don’t be fooled. I don’t have to go into what this board has done over the course of its four-year demolition project and frankly, I don’t feel like it anyhow, because I don’t want to get mad. But any, every and all things that they have done, from tickets and “Hey, Qatar might be naughty after all,” to appointing Jordi Roura as head of youth football and the latest bit, filling ZubiZa’s job with FOUR dudes, is an effort to say, “Vote for us. A chicken in every pot,” as the Depression-era politicians used to say. Promise everything, and let’s wait to see what we can deliver. Most important is to get re-elected.

Meanwhile the football team stands 90 minutes away from having an excellent chance at winning silver this season. Even though there is no sense counting chickens before any hatching, etc, it’s a pretty safe bet that the winner of this tie will be expecting to make the Copa final.

For me that is a blessing and a curse, and all that I can say is don’t be fooled. We know what was done and how they did it. We know. The real question is whether some benevolence and magic from the football team can be enough to keep a horrific board in power for another six-year term.

I’m confident about the football team, but less so about the board’s chances and the conservatism of older socis, who believe that this board is actually saving the club, but from a business worldview. And even as I will never, ever worry enough about this board to wish failure on the football club, it’s a struggle, a pitched battle between heart and mind, body and soul. Somebody has to win, and somebody has to lose. The problem is that it’s possible for different people to profit from different things.

But. Whatever happens, don’t be fooled.

Posted in Copa del Rey, Elections, Messi, Neymar, Thoughts, Transfers/Transfer Rumors67 Comments

Strange days, aka “Legends goin’ cheap. Get yours today.”


These days, the State of Messi is absurd. It is the worst part of the entorno as a player becomes, depending on who the person blabbing:

— Someone headed to England, just you wait …
— Like a bauble nobody deserves, so everyone worries about losing it
— An avatar for the Revolution
— A self-centered brat

Every statement is parsed. The day after … the VERY day after he said on Barça TV that he has no interest or intention of leaving Barcelona, he responded to a question posed at a Ballon d’Or event, a query about his eventual future with a reply that featured some existential uncertainty … and it started all over again, most dimwittedly of all, from many of the same culers who breathed sighs of relief after his Barça TV declarations.

Meanwhile the player himself, fresh off a performance that should have left precisely zero doubt about his happiness and commitment to the team and city, had to again explain what he meant. All Messi wants to do what he always does, which is strive to play the game of football better than anyone else alive, even better than himself.
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Posted in La Liga, Messi, Thoughts, Transfers/Transfer Rumors65 Comments

CAS appeal denied, so now what, aka “No shopping for you!”


To start, there’s this:

I don’t care about the transfer ban.

Sorry, but I don’t. I can’t get mad about it, I won’t stomp my feet and talk about how heads must roll, junta dimissio etc, etc, ad infinitum. It’s because this board has been on bad paper with me since it took office and has only gone downhill from there. After someone kicks you in the gut, it’s pretty hard to decide that stepping on your toe is the intolerable act. So let’s deal with the transfer ban reality:

The club earned it by not having its business in order. It doesn’t matter that other clubs do it, it doesn’t matter all the good that La Masia does in shaping young talents to be rounded human beings, it doesn’t matter that it’s a silly rule. The fact of the matter is as with any other sanction, from that speeding ticket you got when “I was just staying with traffic,” to an offense on a larger scale, guilt is without question. Does the punishment fit the crime? Debatable, but it is what it is.

It doesn’t matter how the club came to the attention of the authorities because if you’re going to grab a coveted talent then say “Neener, neener,” the residual rancor makes it triply essential that your ducks are in a row. They weren’t, and Barça got popped.
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Posted in Analysis, La Liga, Supposition, Team News, Transfers/Transfer Rumors15 Comments

Douglas, scouting and risk, aka “The parade of incompetents”

"Wait ... what ... really?! So happy right now!"

“Wait … what … really?! So happy right now!”

It is safe to say that few transfer rumors in recent history have caused a greater stir than that involving Douglas Pereira dos Santos, aka just call me Douglas.

After a season of Cuadrado, and this spendy player and that spendy player, and what is Enrique planning, all of a sudden the name Douglas popped up and the reaction was “Who? What?”

Then frantic research began as well as anecdotal commentary, and the general consensus is that he sucks, and would need GPS and a telescope to even get within taxicab distance of Barça quality.

The player’s eventual fate is unknown, but this situation does spark some rather interesting thoughts about the transfer market, rumors and how supporters deal with them.
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Posted in Thoughts, Transfers/Transfer Rumors32 Comments

And here we go again … Gamper Trophy time, aka “Much ado about … what”


Is it that time already? The Gamper Trophy match, the traditional festivity that is also a Friendly That Matters, is a herald for a new season at FC Barcelona. Liga starts next week, but the Gamper shows off the squad and its new signings, sets up a festive atmosphere and has, of late, rolled out a patsy for the boys to beat up on.

This year, it is expected that Leon, a club out of Mexico, won’t put up too much of a fuss. Nobody is expecting the 8-0 that Santos took last year, but let’s be serious about this whole friendly business — what team wants a friendly in their home stadium that has the potential of leaving egg on faces?

It also gets away from the point of the Gamper, which is a celebration. At this time of the season, right before footballs are kicked in anger, it seems a perfect time to take stock of what has happened.
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Posted in Gamper Trophy, Match comments post, Preseason, Thoughts, Transfers/Transfer Rumors54 Comments

Mmmm, so satisfying, aka “A look back at transfer history”


This will be a short one, in part because chocolate donuts await, but with the news of Thomas Vermaelen being all but done and the attendant wailing and rending of garments, I racked my brain to think of the last Barça transfer that satisfied everyone, and you know what? I came up with two, possibly: Toure Yaya and Henrik Larsson.

The former was because he was young, a giant who doth bestride the earth, and the price was right. Larsson came to us on a free, so that price was definitely right.

Let’s run down just a sampling of some, to give everyone a picture:
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Posted in Team News, Thoughts, Transfers, Transfers/Transfer Rumors80 Comments

McKuler is not impressed, aka “The summer of our discontent”


Whatevs …

Summer is here, and after years of neglect of the sporting project, transfers are being made, players coming in that people — most notably the folks whose asses are on the line — hope will improve the team. Finally!

Whatevs … not good enough.
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Posted in Thoughts, Transfers, Transfers/Transfer Rumors357 Comments

The value of something worthless, aka “The Cesc Fabregas saga continues”


1. the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.
1. estimate the monetary worth of (something).

Value is a fun notion to contemplate. I like to think of it as two cars that passed through my possession. One was a big ol’ red sedan that looked really cool, but had … erm … mechanical complexities. It stranded me once, and I drove from the mechanic’s about a half-mile to the local Subaru dealer to trade that thing the hell in. Didn’t get max value, but part of that value was in having that thing GONE.

The other car, a hotted-up Subaru, I sold for something around 2k over its value, a price I could demand and hold out for because really, I didn’t want to sell it. It was one of those, “If you want to give me this much for it, okay.” And someone did.

Which brings us to players, transfers and in particular, Cesc Fabregas.
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Posted in La Liga, Thoughts, Transfers, Transfers/Transfer Rumors179 Comments

I want one of those, and two of those, and a chicken, aka “Transfer talk rocks”


What if dating was like silly season?

Newly single Biff Majestic is in the market. Rumor is that he has a pre-contract with the barista at the town coffee shop but when pressed for details, Mr. Majestic said no comment. The barista has been scouted by Majestic’s mother, who has glowing reports of her calmness under pressure and ability to “Bang out a perfect latte in 3 minutes.”

Majestic linked to co-worker! The previously reported barista signing is still a possibility, but there have been new developments. Majestic was spotted at lunch with an assistant vice president at his firm. Sources say there were smiles, and the VP was spotted at the coffee shop that Majestic is said to favor. Majestic’s Mom says, “We can’t say anything at this time, but I can report that Biff and I love our lattes.”

There are few things in football more irrational than transfer talk, where people are idiots not because of what they do, but because they won’t do what supporters WANT them to.
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Posted in Team News, Thoughts, Transfers, Transfers/Transfer Rumors123 Comments

Lost Ballons and departures, aka “Ain’t the vicarious life grand?”


Football is us. It explains so much, really … the passion, the way we defend our teams and players, our views of those teams and players. It’s a game that we carry in our hearts and minds. It’s pure.

And because it is us, it makes us feel things that are in many ways, irrational. We take a player to heart so that when things happen, it feels like they happen to us, in a strange way. “How DARE they not give Messi the Ballon d’Or?! He is the best!”

It also makes us feel it more acutely when players we lionize are suddenly not those players any longer and sometimes stuff starts to make sense, even as you don’t really believe that it does, as you grasp for tenuous links to make seeming crazy talk make just a shard of sense.

What is the job of a football club? It depends on who you ask. To win? Okay. To make money? Sure. To provide a gentle place for its iconic players to be put out to pasture?

Hang on there, ace. Surely even the most devoted supporter of a player can see how that last isn’t even remotely compatible with that whole winning business.

On yet another level, a football club and the team that represents us, exists to meet a need that so many of us have — to feel something. We don the replica kit, find our way to a gathering place, or hunch over a laptop and a fuzzy stream that gets Whack-A-Moled by those pesky rights managers, and we are united in that one thing … Barça.
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Posted in Messi, Thoughts, Transfers/Transfer Rumors115 Comments

Ones that got away, aka “I love him so much! How can he DO that to me!?”


Just had an interesting discussion on Twitter that, of course, became the seed for a post, on the ones that got away and the reactions of supporters.

These days, no word can spark a spirited discussion like “Thiago.” Culers are never on the fence with this one, be it that Vilanova and the board cast him to the waves in a little papyrus basket, or he’s a little ingrate. After all the club did for him … .

There are many ways to look at the situation, but let’s take a broader view, for all the exes out there.
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Posted in Soap Box, Thoughts, Transfers/Transfer Rumors125 Comments

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