Money, intent and a Barca Tag Day? Not likely, kids!

We’ve seen the joyous news in the English footy press, that we have about a zillion dollars in debt, and will probably have to turn to the Camp Nou travestis for some sort of revenue sharing plan, anything to make the bills, because Barca is busted! Yay!

Um, not so fast.

They won’t be needing to hold tag days for us any time soon, which must frost some people’s bacon.

To recap, for those who have been sleeping through all of this. When Joan Laporta and his administration left office, they said we had an 11m profit. When Sandro Rosell and his administration took office, they said “Not so fast, that’s actually a 400m+ deficit.”

Now, I’m not big on man crushes, but as a journalist, numbers terrify me. It’s why I chose to make my living at words. So it must now be revealed that I have a full-on man crush on the blogger who is Swiss Ramble, for the most excellent financial analysis that lays bare any and most of the high-and-mightiness that big-time footy sides bring to the table.

The latest post, titled “What’s Happening With Barcelona’s Finances,” is here. Clink the link for the full glory. It’s a delightful read, and says what we pretty much all knew: Laporta was trying to make himself look good as he scuttled down the rat lines, and Rosell was trying to make Laporta look bad, to derail the ambitions of the would-be King of Catalunya.

And the truth is somewhere in the middle. I’ll just clip some interesting tidbits then natter about them, but you should visit the Swiss Ramble site, for the full monty. Give ’em some clicks. Anybody who does work that excellent deserves them.

even in an age where we have International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), accounting is not quite as black-and-white as people might imagine. There is a considerable degree of judgment applied over which revenue and costs should be recognised in the accounts. Even Faus admitted that the old accounts were not “fixed”, but the new board had simply taken a far more conservative approach, “We opted for caution.”

Translation: Sure, we jiggered the numbers to make Laporta look like a bigger git than he is. So?

This is certainly their right, as to the victor goeth the spoils, right?

One of the fundamental accounting conventions is prudence and it does look like Laporta had a tendency to count his chickens before they hatched. On the other hand, you can be too careful. As an analogy, if you believe that it’s going to rain, you might take an umbrella with you when you go out, but you probably wouldn’t refuse to leave the house just in case you get wet.

Translation: The truth is somewhere in the middle.

you have to ask whether Barcelona set a completely unrealistic budget for 2009/10.

On the face of it, looking at the projected growth from the 2008/09 results, you would have to say no. Revenue was only budgeted to increase by €20 million from €385 million to €405 million and almost all of that growth was due to €40 million profit on sales of assets (players €25 million, land €15 million). All other revenue streams were largely unchanged with marketing revenue actually forecast to decline, as they did not anticipate a repeat of the previous season’s spectacular trophy wins.

They also forecast €13 million cost growth from €362 million to €375 million, but this looks less reasonable. Player amortisation was budgeted to increase by almost 30% (€16 million), reflecting the impact of new players, but salaries were hardly increased at all. This never made sense to me and, as we shall see, this proved to be hopelessly optimistic.

Translation: Hang on there, Joan. Talent costs money, and a lot of it.

So how did the actual 2009/10 results compare to this budget?

Using the figures after the audit adjustments, we can see that the revenue was pretty much in line. In fact, it was actually €4 million better than budget, as the negative variance due to the non-booked profit from the land sale was more than compensated by the core revenue. Marketing revenue was €7m above budget, thanks to more royalties from Nike and higher merchandise sales, while television revenue, the source of so much concern, ended up €16 million better than budget (11% higher than last year), mainly due to more money from the Champions League, following the 30% increase in the total pool. Although match day income was slightly lower than budget, it rose by 3%, helped by a 7% increase in the number of members.

However, the stand-out variances against budget were in the costs, which were an awful €103 million worse, coming in at a grand total of nearly half a billion Euros. The audit provisions are the reason for the €66 million adverse variance in other expenses, but the real damage is done in salaries. Adding together all staff (sports and administration) produces a jaw-dropping figure of €263 million, which is €36 million worse than budget. Put another way, the budget was out by 16%, which is a hell of a lot in just 12 months. It’s not as if they’re trying to forecast the lottery numbers, for heaven’s sake.

In fact, after all the audit adjustments, the total shortfall against budget is a round €100 million. Ouch. The solid revenue growth of 6% has been obliterated by terrifying cost growth of 32%. Granted, a considerable chunk of this is the result of once-off provisions, but much of it is down to player expenses – amortisation and salaries.

The wages were already very high, but €263 million is a scary figure. To place that in context, big-spending Real Madrid “only” paid out €187 million in staff costs last year (though it may have increased since then). The club identifies three reasons for the increase: new signings, contract improvements and variable compensation. The bonus payments were worth around €40 million, so Barcelona are, to some extent, victims of their own success.

Translation: Talent costs money, and boy have we been generous with the incentives and contract sweetenings.

Some have speculated that Laporta only left Rosell enough funds to either make the payroll or buy new players, but not both, thus forcing the new president to not make any marquee signings in his first summer. Others have attributed the shortfall to the purchase of David Villa, when Barcelona for once had to pay the entire transfer fee upfront, due to Valencia’s own financial travails. On the other hand, some have claimed that the liquidity crisis was caused by Rosell’s decision to cancel the scheduled price rise in season tickets, as the previous board’s (unpublicised) request for a bank loan had assumed this additional revenue as part of their business plan. This meant that Rosell had to re-submit a modified loan request.

It has surely become obvious by now that there is more than a hint of politics in this whole mess with FC Barcelona caught in the middle of a deeply personal battle between the incoming and outgoing presidents. Although Laporta and Rosell were colleagues on the board between 2003 and 2005, they have famously fallen out and now only communicate through lawyers. Rosell was elected on a platform of sorting out the financials, so he is hardly going to say that everything is “hunky dory” once he’s put his feet under the desk. Having said that, it is equally clear that Laporta would like to go out with a bang: financial stability as well as sporting success.

Translation: I told you so.

n fact, there have been so many contradictory statements coming out of Barcelona, that it’s almost impossible to distinguish the wheat from the chaff. How can a club need a €150 million loan to pay its wages, but the next minute also have a transfer budget of €50 million (sorry, €89 million after player sales)? That’s some transfer pot for a club with cash flow problems. Until we can examine the comprehensive financial statements, it’s difficult to get to the bottom of this, but something doesn’t add up.

What is clear is that Barcelona need to somehow improve their financials. The most immediate action should be to cut costs and they have plenty of scope to do this with a couple of obvious targets. They have already started the process of reducing the enormous wage bill by offloading Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez to the New York Red Bulls and selling Chygrynskiy to Shakhtar and Yaya Toure to Manchester City. The latter two sales also provided the double whammy of bringing in €39 million of sale proceeds. There may be more to come here with Alex Hleb and Martin Caceres likely to go on loan, though it now seems unlikely that the high-earning Ibra will leave this summer.

Translation: Yes, we have debt and we need to do something about it. The easiest short-term thing is offloading some stuff. Hey, looka that.

I could go on and on with a not-so-detailed analysis of the excellent analysis over at Swiss Ramble. But do yourselves a favor, and go read it. Then come back here and discuss. And I’ve even reached out to the post’s author with an invite, sort of a “Hey, we’re over here” in case they’d like to pay us a visit, and clear up any questions that haven’t been answered by a tip-top effort.

My bottom line is that we’ve all suspected that the truth is somewhere in the middle. Rosell isn’t entirely evil, Laporta isn’t entirely good. Both are self-aggrandizing, ruthless businessmen. This is good. The latter has lorded over a staggering period of sporting success, from hoops to football. What will the former do? Only time will tell, but it looks as though they are taking the right steps to address the club’s balance sheet (never mind the skullduggery), and not just because of the looming FIFA financial strictures governing European competition.

As a soci, it worries me that at the end of our deal with UNICEF (2011), that will be well within Rosell’s tenure and he might look at selling the shirt as a way to raise quick cash. As we see, however, that isn’t the only way, so it is my sincerest hope that should such a thing arise, common sense will prevail.

And that’s what I (sort of) know. What say ye?

P.S. The “translations,” such as they are, are mine. Word.

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Written by:

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.

234 Comments

  1. CLUEless(John)
    August 9, 2010

    Wow, great read and super in depth as well.

  2. vicsoc8
    August 9, 2010

    An excellent, excellent article by Swiss Rambler.

    This also presents the only valid argument I can think of for selling Ibra: his wages are just too damn high.

    • Kxevin
      August 9, 2010

      But Messi makes more than Ibrahimovic, and would command an immense transfer fee, yes? 😀

    • vicsoc8
      August 9, 2010

      Hahaha, yes.

      But when you take into account value vs. cost I just don’t think there can be any comparison.

    • mei
      August 10, 2010

      ibrahimovic is paid too much , and thats one of the reasons his transfer seemed not so favourable after the end of his so-so season(by his and ours standards).
      This would have been prevented if things went according to plan and he became a blockbuster after his transfer along with messi ; but after he started declining in form ,during the time messi skyrocketed,and ibra’ marketablility just dropped .He ended up looking pale in comparison to messi when it comes to advertisement purposes.

    • jaime
      August 10, 2010

      many would argue there are also sporting reasons to get rid of ibra

    • Kxevin
      August 10, 2010

      And “many” would be misguided. Anybody who wants to slag him after a full season and offseason with the club, be my guest. I’ll be right there with you if he doesn’t meet expectations. But anybody who expects a player who showed up out of shape with a broken hand to set the world afire needs to reevaluate their standards of judgment. He did a lot better than I expected, and scored some HUGE goals for us.

      His transfer fee wasn’t our fault. That’s what the market called for, and we paid it. His salary is attendant to a player of his stature.

    • poipoi
      August 10, 2010

      apart from the sporting seasons which are still debatable (old amount of goals argument, old not-running argument) what matters me is his personality or feeling with the team, that could be another reason. Villa is sure a different character he enjoys playing soccer, or at leaast looks like it. Well, Ibra hasn’t smiled a single time after scoring, that bothers me seriously. It’s like he just killed a cat with the car or someting when he scores… with everyone coming to tap his shoulder and ibra looking down mayeb even a little pissed. It’s 1- either condolences/hugs or 2- ibra goes berzerk and shows his muscles and bad ass attitude. I only saw him smile when keita gave him a goal pass or two in this one game.

    • Luke
      August 10, 2010

      Listen, if we’re going to analyze how players react when others score, then Eto’o was the best teammate ever, cause that motherfucker smiled from ear-to-ear every goal. That doesn’t mean anything really at all, it’s just something pundits and sportswriters use as useless tropes to say a player “isn’t a team player” or some such meaningless BS.

      Ibra provides a number of excellent characteristics on the field including: holding the ball up nicely up front, height, on-field rage, skill and goal-scoring ability, etc. The only reason to sell him were if he were becoming a clubhouse problem or we got a shockingly good $40M+ deal. Neither seems to be have happened.

    • Kxevin
      August 10, 2010

      And the idea that he doesn’t celebrate goals in the “right way” is a point of contention. Look at his early-season goals. It’s a group hug, with big ol’ grins for everyone. As the season progressed and the pressure built, the celebrations became more “Thank the heavens!” The same thing happened to Messi, and nobody is slagging him for his goal celebrations.

      I’ve said it before and I will say it again: Ibrahimovic has a different standard that people apply to him, solely because of his salary and transfer fee. And it isn’t fair. Not even close.

    • poipoi
      August 10, 2010

      ok ok, sorry I guess. I know it sounds stupid even coming from me but please, it’s just an impression from a long time FCB follower, I’ve seen many players come but none with that attitude. It’s not only the celebrations it’s the constant complains (at least titi aplauded their teammates all the time) 😀 and well… just the way he looks pissed with his face red during the whole game even after scoring, you cannot play like that!!! Specially in a latino country… hello??? Plus there’s the way he confronted his supporters in earlier teams come on dude you work for them. I look very closely at players’ personalities to me it matters a lot that’s why I love Iniesta so much, he is a football freak and only smiles or shows empathy in the field, outside from it he’s only a boring ghost. I love it, sorta like messi but andres is even weirder and cooler, a true genious. Remember when he bitchslapped Thong Boy, oh lord was it great.

      I guess you have played some footy in your lives… maybe not professionally but competing whole seasons in football eleven. To me it is key the feeling that you have with your teammates, the rage/joy you share when you score, the words of your teammates to cheer you up, to ask for the ball, to ask for apologies, to ask for some hustle, etc… that you have “buen rollito” good vibes going on and in the blink of an eye you understand what the other is thinking and about to do. Etoo cheered his partners and demanded hustle when necessary like no-one in the pitch. (like when he told ronnie before playing EE: nigga are you fit? you betta be ready!) just guessing but I don’t see ibra doing any of that. I don’t see ibra saying anything to anyone and that’s what makes a dressing room the best. Many people say footy is the most psichological of sports (I’m a player, follower and a psicologo) Ibra is always pissed but not in good way like hristo was, in a way that it feels like he has to prove something and when he does prove it it’s like: “there you go suckas, who doubted about this piece of player that happens to be me. Look at me, I’m The player formerly know as Ibracadabra”. I would not like to play in his side trust me I would end up arguing with a dude like that as I ussusally do. Don’t complain think about the next play already! And cheer people up!!

      on the other hand if you played football specially as striker you’ll recognise that last goal from ibra he shot from out of the box ’cause he just could not go past the defenders or he didn’t want to try or run, I do it all the time but I don’t get paid for it, more like get shouted at. Shooting instead of running when it’s a one-on-one or one-on-two. Any other 9 would have run, you can say he has the skill to score from there as he did but the ball was suited to let it run a little im my opinion, or make a long control of the ball but no he controlled walked looked and shot.

      can’t wait for ibra to shut my mouth and see him enjoy himself!!!

      btw… what is wrong with ozil? (young, fast, left footed, great dribble, great vision, great touch, great shot….) I’d love for him to come. Last year pep did not make the youngsters play a single game me thinks (muniesa, fontas, thiago and JDS) I thought he was gonna start last year already 😉 We need a player like that, with the progression he seems to have left. The only problem would be how he handles to sit on the bench, or how ibra handles that a 20 year old sits him… well he’ll look exactly as pissed as always in the bench that’s all.

      ———valdes———–
      alves—puyi—pique—abi
      —-badia’s octopussy—–
      —–xavi——-iniesta—
      —messi—villa—özil—

      pedro! ibra? bojan keita JDS and Thiago for the mid and offense

      …. can’t JDS be a good DM??

    • Kxevin
      August 10, 2010

      It’s still an unmeetable, nebulous standard, poipoi. Eto’o, too, would look angry/exultant after some goals. Is he as wrong as Ibrahimovic, who doesn’t strike the “Gaze in wonder” pose after every goal, just the absurd ones. And you know what? He should. Look at the goal vs EE, by way of example. That is a dude on FIRE!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHA0xplG4JY

      And after the goal, how he screams “Vamos!”

      You don’t see him complain any more than Messi does about pass placement, service, etc. And he should. A striker is only as good as his service. Further, Ibrahimovic has ego. A huge one. Find me a striker who doesn’t have a huge ego and I’ll show you a bad striker.

      I haven’t played football, but I used to be a track cycling match sprinter. Talk about mano y mano action. And we were the same as Ibrahimovic: strutting, thick-thighed balls of ego. We were always happy when we won, but your ego makes you expect to win every time you lace up the straps. An example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNeUs1QKrSY

      I wouldn’t want an Ibrahimovic with the personality of Iniesta. He would have scored about as many goals last season as Iniesta. A player like Ibrahimovic needs that kind of an ego, or he just doesn’t go. It’s the same ego that makes Eto’o warn Benitez about playing him in the “wrong” position. Every striker has it.

    • Diabolics
      August 10, 2010

      First time I post on here, so be gentle ok…. 😉

      Poipoi, I think you have a very biased view of this particular player and his abilities as a team player and about his role in the locker room. Of this you surely now as little as I, and perhaps even less. As far as I can remember, there has never been a lot of criticism reported of Ibra for his locker room role from fellow team players, past or present. On the contrary, the reports I have read show a very strong bond between some of the stars from, at least, his time in Italy. He even seem to maintain good contact with previous coaches. Mourinho for example.
      Why would Viera and Figo behave as they do in this documentary (@ around 3:45)?

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

      That whole documentary, all 4 episodes or so, show a very different picture compared what you try to paint.

      I’ve read every (close too at least) comment made, in every post, for more than a year, and it is pretty obvious how some of you have painted yourself into the corner of strong emotional bias towards some of the players here. I refrain from making a list of who is on what players back 😉

      My take on the “lack of” positive body language that you, and other see is spelled: confirmation bias. It happens to all of us in some regard.
      I see A do X good thing during one game, but also Y bad things. I report the X good things, you report the bad Y.

      Anyway, thanks everyone for entertaining me for more than a year, I really appreciate it.

    • August 10, 2010

      Welcome, Diabolics, and please hang around. We’re a pretty cool place, and I’m a big fan of people who come in and support their contention with data. It’s how we roll around here. The season is about to get started, and I suspect it’s going to be a wild one.

  3. aULD sUPER
    August 9, 2010

    Yes as I thought, as we all thought I suppose but nice to have the facts. Ibra is paid way too much alright but you can’t blame him for that. This thing about wanting to put a sponsor on the shirt just can’t happen without a vote by the members and will never be passed. ( If it does Rosell will be about as popular as Franco in Barcelona ).

  4. Kari
    August 9, 2010

    I love Swiss Rambler. He/she always posts top notch stuff–and without biases. Broke a lotta hearts 😀 Now if only SR could somehow stop the incessant natterings of the English and Italian press… And the annoying “exclusive stories” of the idiotic Spanish/Catalan media.

    Sigh. But that’s as good as impossible.

    –Does anyone know the times of the Spain-Mexico; Argentina-Ireland; Spain U-21-Finland U-21 matches? I’d like to know and it’s not like I’ll plan my day around those times. Nope, not at all. Not even a little bit *shifty eyes*

    –If we’re going to talk about wages and the cost/benefit of things: we all know that Xavi should be the second highest player 😀 Some would argue that he deserves as much as Messi.

    Then again, Iniesta, Pique, Alves, Valdes, Busi, Abidal could all make a case that they need pay raises too. Personally, I don’t care how much they make as long as they “earn” it on the pitch.

  5. GREECE BARCA
    August 9, 2010

    you can.t blame ibra for what we pay him.you can blame laporta for the most stupid transfer in barca.s history(overmars was the 2nd).so from 90mil budget now we are in 80.5(after adriano transfer).i am just don.t believe we made any offer for cesc.no money no honey folks.let s hope the youths be a miracle this season.

  6. GREECE BARCA
    August 9, 2010

    i can live one and two and three years without trophies.for me first is to make our dept as small as we can.that matters now.and the sunday i saw united be very good without any transfes in the team.so we will be fine without anyone else.and about berbatov.he is not a flop.

    • Kxevin
      August 9, 2010

      In fact, United signed a U-21 defender, Chris Smalling, for 12m. They also signed Mexican attacker Javier Hernandez for an undisclosed fee, both this season.

      We in fact made two offers for Fabregas. Arsenal did not want to do business, so nothing happened. Again, that’s fact. We enter the realm of conjecture when you suggest that we should pay more than a sensible price for a squad player, and who “the most stupid transfer in Barca’s history” was. Everyone who has followed this club for a while has a candidate.

      But before presenting facts, please do your research, and mind the tone of your posts. Two were deleted from the previous thread because of tone.

      We are a civil space here. Debate and argument is fine, but it should be done with respect. This is not a message board. We are all passionate about Barca, but there is a tone in Isaiah’s (and tangentially, ALL of our) house.

    • aULD sUPER
      August 10, 2010

      Hernandez was 7m english pounds.

  7. Philo Barca
    August 9, 2010

    Even with all the bonuses, the 263 million Euro figure for salaries is impossible to understand. Either we pay our janitors six figures or there is a lot of mystery “staff” on that payroll.

    • Kari
      August 9, 2010

      Remember that we’re not just a football team.

      There’s also a basketball team that won the basketball version of the CL, a handball team that also won 2 titles, a futsal team, ice and roller hockey team, rugby team, track and field team, not to mention women’s teams…

      Yeah, and there’s bonuses to account for too, which we seem to be very generous in giving. And the staff of all those teams, and the office workers.

    • Luke
      August 9, 2010

      Good call Kari. Just so we’re clear, Barça has the best basketball team not playing in the US and has Ricky Rubio as a bench player. I’m just saying.

    • Kxevin
      August 9, 2010

      Right. It’s important to remember that the number is for everybody, not just the football club.

  8. GREECE BARCA
    August 9, 2010

    and a line-up for saturday:pinto,bartra,milito,muniesa,adriano,keita,dos santos,iniesta,maxwell,bojan(he can play i think)soriano..i think it s good!and a prediction:2-1win!yeah!

  9. Kxevin
    August 9, 2010

    In the “more nonsense” category, both Sport and EMD are “reporting” that we have a deal with Werder Bremen for Ozil. One rag says 10m+variables, the other says 13-15, and that the deal is just waiting for Guardiola’s approval.

    Sighhhh

    In the words of Ozil: “For now, my situation for the next 12 months is clear. Only the facts count and the fact is, I am under contract with Werder. I cannot know what comes after that.”

    Yes, Werder would be crazy to let him play this season without a renewal, this much is true. If they play him in the Champions League match that is looming for them, then in effect they have said they are fine with him leaving on a free, because no way that club keeps him. Not after the World Cup he had.

    But for us? Can anyone see us doing that deal, given the Fabregas lust that Rosell seems to have?

    Just checking.

    Meanwhile, we know that Iniesta passed his physical today.

    http://www.fcbarcelona.cat/web/english/noticies/futbol/temporada10-11/08/09/n100809112358.html

    Just walk gingerly around the Camp, Ghostface. We need you this season.

    • Kxevin
      August 9, 2010

      RAC-1 and Cadena Ser are saying that Guardiola has rejected the Ozil transfer, saying that he prefers our youth products. Yay!

  10. GREECE BARCA
    August 9, 2010

    ok.i will ask sorry from all of you for my tone.i will try to write without passion but with logic.cu.

    • August 9, 2010

      We all have passion, and passion often makes logic go out the window. That’s cool, as long as respect doesn’t.

  11. Simon Says
    August 9, 2010

    I saw the link to this site from the Swiss Rambler’s site and i have question that you addressed to a degree saying that the soci’s would reject any vote for a shirt sponsor.
    Why is Barca so reluctant to have a shirt sponsor?
    A sponsorship in the €25-30 range is conceivable. UNICEF is already on the shirt, so why not a paid sponsor?

    The Rambler by the way is a he and an Arsenal supporter.

    • jaime
      August 10, 2010

      why not a sponsor on the shirt??!? sorry, but it gets me worked up when people ask that. The reason FCB doesn’t have a corporate sponsor on the shirt is because we are “more than a club”,because the colors and crest on that shirt mean something,because it would be to deface the blaugrana putting a corporate sponsor on the shirt,etc

      in our long history (and considering our success) it makes me very proud that FCB kept corporate sponsoships off the shirt, even longer than Athletic Club Bilbao and specially considering how much money it could bring in to the club. I was even against putting Unicef on the shirt.We could have have had the same deal and put their logo all over the Camp Nou…but it shouldn’t have gone on the shirt.

      Unfortunately I think we will have corporate sponsorship on the shirt before Rosell’s presidency is over…I think the socis will fight it as long as we can, but eventually there’ll be too much pressure and we’ll cave.

      as a matter of fact I don’t know if anybody noticed that the Herbalife logo was featured on the right side sleeve of the shirt during the preseason.In all fairness that sponsor was picked up during the Laporta regime, but I think it’s a sign of things to come.

  12. ML
    August 9, 2010

    My lineup for this saturday, and yes, i do expect ibrahimovic, bojan, milito and messi to be fit 🙂

    Pinto
    Adriano – Milito – Muniesa – Abidal
    Dos Santos – Sergi Roberto – Keita
    Messi – Ibrahimovic – Bojan

    If the selected players are available, then im predicting a 1-3 victory. Visca el Barca!

  13. August 10, 2010

    Hi, I’m the guy who wrote the article, “What’s Happening With Barcelona’s Finances?”

    Kxevin invited me to this site and I would be happy to answer any questions you might have. As “Simon Says” above, I am indeed an Arsenal supporter, but I like to think that my articles are balanced.

    I have worked in the world of finance for over 20 years in a number of roles, though they usually involved simplifying financial issues for board directors and executive management. On my blog, I’m just applying those skills to the far more interesting world of football, as fans are normally presented with misleading, if not incorrect, analysis of their club’s finances.

    • Kari
      August 10, 2010

      Well, I think you are relatively balanced–as sure as heck couldn’t tell you were an Arsenal supporter until maybe the end of the article, but I wasn’t sure.

      Regardless, nice job!

  14. Hannibal
    August 10, 2010

    @Swissrambler, I’ve read most of your articles and have sent various links of them to friends of mine (be them Barcelona or PL-fans). I see your work as ‘the’ reference for people trying to understand the financials behind football clubs. Thanks very much.

    And no no no to shirtsponsors, I wouldn’t buy the whole marketing aspect of more than a club, but its just too nice to say to madridistas that they had to sell their virginal white shirties to some commercial conglomerate because in effect they were broke.

  15. GoonerInBarça
    August 10, 2010

    Very good point above about the Basketball section of Barça. The football club essentially subsidises the basketball (and all the other sporting sections).

    To be completely honest although the financial situation isn’t fantastic, it’s by no means critical. The only thing that would worry me from that side would be the fact you are at the very top of your game and there’s not much scope for improvement as far as sporting success (and therefore prize money) goes. If the success disappears would it cause big problems to the bank balance? Who knows (other than Rosell)?!

    What would really worry me is what Rosell could do to the club. As mostly foreign supporters here you don’t have the Catalan mentality as far as emotion goes so see things more logically. Rosell was voted in partly on the fact he was promoting Catalan values at a time of emotion (the new constitution, protest march etc.) and so scooped up the votes. What he seems to be doing is going against that. Even going as far as interfering with the sporting side of things. If I were a Barça fan the thing that would worry me most is if he began to drive Pep out of the club. It’s not impossible that he could leave next summer especially as he’s already won everything here.

    I’m going to speculate wildly but what would you say the chances are of a “Wenger-Pep manager swap”? Both contracts run out this year and both could leave for differing reasons (Wenger’s lack of success, Rosell intefering). However both would bring something desired to the each of the clubs: Wenger would bring great financial control (one of his undoubted talents) and Pep would be a young successful manager who could win things. Very hypothetical but by know means impossible…

    • barca96
      August 10, 2010

      Oh yes Sir…
      I have been longing to see Wenger at Barca since they sacked Van Gaal(2nd time).. He is perfect for us in many ways.

      p.s.Thank God the thumbs up/down is gone 🙂
      Otherwise I would be the record holder for the most thumbs down for this post 😆

    • August 10, 2010

      Always quality contributions. even for an Arsenal fan in the season of insanity 😀

      – Regarding Sandro: He is doing exactly what we thought he will do. I’ve been voicing my concerns about him since years now (when he was labeled as the father of all success). I can see a vote of no confidence waved in the air within two years if he keep riding this dragon.

      – Wenger-Pep swap will not work, if we judge based on the current performance of the two coaches (though things change with changing clubs). Wenger will not survive in Barcelona if his titles records will be even two times better than it is with Arsenal. At Barcelona there is no tolerance that “We were ok”, or that “We are second”. There are complains already because last season we only won the liga and reached CL semi finals. So you can imagine. Pep in the second hand is a bid too demanding in the transfer market for Arsenal. Even with the quality of the squad available we saw lot of transfers adventures. No offense for Arsenals squad, but i can imagine the demands of this perfectionist if he coach in London.

      Besides, I am not sure if Arsene -after being the king of London- will accept anything less than being the one who decides at Barcelona. With Sandro on board? I dont think so.

  16. barca96
    August 10, 2010

    Is the amount that we pay for staffs the highest in the world?
    Anybody knows the exact amount for the football team alone?
    How about the amounts paid by Man U, Inter, Bayern, Chelsea, Liverpool etc.
    I really don’t believe that we are the highest payers.

    • GoonerInBarça
      August 10, 2010

      I think it’s fair to say that Barça and Madrid are in a league of their own when it comes to salaries.

      This is a good recent article:

      http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/post/The-10-highest-paid-sports-teams-in-the-world?urn=top-230688

      What it shows is that there are only 3 football teams in the top 10 best paid sports teams in the world. Also that Barça and Real are pretty similar with Chelsea next in line but still a way back (700k dollars less per year on average compared to Barça).

      They’re quite astonishing figures when you consider that it’s just an average and that includes some of the canteranos. Messi & Ibra must be washing themselves in their Euros! Also bear in mind that the tax is lower in Spain compared to other countries (at least for now). This doesn’t affect Barça but it does mean the players are getting even more money than elsewhere.

    • August 10, 2010

      This club is probable the club with the highest number of teams in different sports. From Basketball, to Ice Hockey, field hockey, Baseball, skating, volleyball, rugby, wheelchair Basketball and Athletics with the same demand for titles as in football.

      Add the social area where we have lot of administrative positions as a result of being extremely integrated with the fan base in general
      and Catalonia in specific.

      No doubt there were some mess that should be fixed. But if even with all that mess added to the demanding environment of the club we are still close or better than most of the big clubs in the world in that matter (Salaries), then we can hope for better without complaining much:)

      As for the football team, we have at least 5 to 7 of the best players in their positions in a best 11 worldwide selection. We have -to keep it humble- one of the best youth academies and -my friend- that cost cash.

    • August 10, 2010

      The total Barcelona salaries for 2009/10 were €263m, split between sporting activities €235m and administration €28m. We won’t have any more detail for the sporting break-down until the full annual report is published.

      For other clubs, Real Madrid’s staff costs last year (2008/09) were €187m, though the chances are that they have also significantly increased following last summer’s purchases of Ronaldo, Kaka, Xabi Alonso, etc.

      The salaries for English clubs are considerably lower (though these almost always only cover football). Taking an exchange rate of €1.20 to the £1, these were the salary costs for 2008/09: Chelsea €185m, Manchester United €148m, Arsenal €125m, Liverpool €123m and Manchester City €99m. Again, these are likely to have increased over the last 12 months.

      Bayern’s wage bill is only €139m, which is to be expected, given the Bundesliga’s focus on controlling costs.

    • barca96
      August 10, 2010

      thanks swiss and ramzi.

  17. August 10, 2010

    Welcome on board, Swiss Rambler. I will certainly post my 5 cents on your article later today.

    —————A Ramble On Shirts and Sponsorship———–

    I already posted a comment about it on the previous post but I will rephrase it here again.

    First lets -for a moment- avoid riding the high horse of “more than a club” slogan because 1) It sounds as if its just a blind emotional statement when it turn to be the absolute reason. And I don’t like radical absolute “facts” no matter what. 2) Because it damage the reality that such slogans is not just a passionate statement but also a business motto that bring real cash and financial success.

    – The “More than a club” radical approach Vs short sighted shirt sponsorship reminds me of the endless struggle between Romantic Marketing and aggressive sales in business. Trust me its not fun at all. Romantic Marketing is when the marketers focus so much on branding and image that they avoid anything which may scratch the holly reputation of the business so they end up in that delusional cycle of absolute quality without keeping their feet on the ground humbling their means to meet the market demands. They live in their own orbit far from the Market and the sales automatically decline enough to make those same Marketers lose their jobs. Thats not a theoretical fairy tale, its a common case that I personally witnessed from the small business of my neighbor who seek perfection when he offers you to paint your house and is so quality-oriented that the price he demands is sometimes 3 times thats of the market, and the case strike up to some of the biggest companies and brands in the world like the Mackintosh of the nineties.

    In the other hand, you have the aggressive sales who are only interested in straight short-term cash generating that they may sell bibles in a nightclub if they can guarantee one extra dollar in the account. Such sales you need to keep out of your firm regardless of the promising return because they will burn your brand into ashes and soon you will be booted permanently out of any market.

    I am not a big fan of previous board business model (as a whole). They were able to structure the basics but failed to bring the best out of it. Though, its important to give them the credit that they created an interesting business model based on productive branding. Its true that Barcelona Pays UNICEF for having it on the shirt. But it is also true that Shirt sales increased BECAUSE of that agreement. This is a club owned by the fans and totally financed by the fans either directly or indirectly. The more fans the club generate the better return it gets. There is the short sighted version of Sandro: Just stamp a Spaghetti picture on the shirt and count the money earned. The other version is to be more focused on the values that make people care more. Create an engagement with global cases and people will buy the shirt more to finance their two passions: The club and the moral causes it represents. The more you enhance the brand, the more fans you attract, the more merchandise you sell. Simple math, challenging science. Its not easy to progress based on such strategy but it is the one with the best potentials compared to the limited -already exposed- strategy of commercial sponsorships. Moreover, there is more immunity in this one if you take the crisis that pop out of domestic economies in the world of business. Commercial sponsorships rely too much on a handful amount of big brands that is usually located (originally) in some specific markets. Any collapse in that market and voila! Merchandise sales based on branding and fans base is a wider umbrella where it may decline but never collapse because it is based on numerous entities.

    Regardless of all the propaganda of Anti-Barcelona that stormed in this club face since its new successful cycle, the club is still expanding like fire in ashes. Its not only because of the titles won, but because of the whole model with the engagement created with moral values and fair cases. That must not be subject to any compromise. Defensibly its stupid to put it for sale with a price tag of 30 M. That’s the value of 3 Hlebs packed in one. Now how ugly is that?

    There is more awareness toward the importance of the engagement between business and moral values as a key method for branding and creating business image. Nowadays you barely find a company that is not involved in some none business related causes from Global warming to charity activities to social events, etc… It all cost money and take some of the cash from the bank but is it really a cost (or less return)? Not on the long term. Barcelona after being one of the pioneers in that matter, cant retreat now that the rest are following.

    Besides, I dont understand the need to have a sponsor. It was always a subject on the table. every time the team faced a financial problem that was the first suggestion. It was always declined at the last moment, and guess what! The club survived and only got better. The club now is in a better financial situation than in 2003. If we evaluate achievements Vs costs it is still without any doubt the most successful model. Even if we consider Shirt sponsorship as the last insurance shot, obviously we are far from needing that pang already.

    • poipoi
      August 10, 2010

      The club is only of the socis… so referendum to the socis no big deal. don’t think he can do that unilaterally. whatever they vote it shall be. wasn’t sandro the one so concerned about the soci??

    • August 10, 2010

      True, but the socis gave him the highest voting basket for a president in the history of the club. Between the panic attack resulting from Sandro’s acrobatic accounting, and the “Give me a Sponsor, I give you a Cesc”, one has to admit that Alexandre is playing dirty, but smart.

    • poipoi
      August 10, 2010

      I sure don’t know but maybe you do… any other team without commercial publicity in the shirt? If we are the only ones, even though Unicef is there I’d like it to stay that way… but I’m not a soci just a die hard supporter.

      my opinion: THEY SHOULD WEAR “FUENTEALBILLA” LIKE ATLETI DID WITH “MARBELLA” lol … or maybe “bodegas iniesta”… or even better, imagine a private entrepenour that founds an enterprise called “give me 10 euros each one of you and we’ll get cesc”, aimed only to gather money and bring the kid home, that slogan could be in the shirt… like those ones with “My boyfriend is out this weekend” …nonsense…

    • August 10, 2010

      “any other team without commercial publicity in the shirt?” I can safely confirm that all the big clubs I know, are struggling financially more than Barca, though they have commercials on their shirts.

  18. GREECE BARCA
    August 10, 2010

    guys what do you think about ozil?can he play as a LW?for me if we buy him is one great signing!and for 10m??i want him now!

  19. GREECE BARCA
    August 10, 2010

    i just read that in last decade we were the 2nd in transfers spending!!first madrid with 1billion!!we spend 713millions!that means 71.3m every summer!!

    • August 10, 2010

      Regardless of how accurate the numbers are (And obviously I have my questions there), do they mention how many titles we won in that period? How much of that transfer spending is a debt?

      And, GREECE BARCA, are you the one responsible of bringing exclusively the passive news? 😀

      I dont mind it, but its just interesting…Why dont we make an agreement? Bring one positive for every 10 negatives you post. It doesnt matter, you can post 10 negatives for Laporta and one positive for Rosell. Just for the fun of it 😉

      Cheers!

  20. Jake
    August 10, 2010

    Getting Ozil really brings us to the delicate argument of how much we should rely on our youth system. One could argue that we don’t need him, as we have Pedro, and although it isn’t his natural position, Thiago for subs on the wings. We also just signed Villa. However, the counter argument is that putting too much pressure on youth players at such a young age can be detrimental to their development (see Bojan).

    10m is an absolute steal for any club who needs, or can even fit in a player such as Ozil. He is without a doubt one of the brightest young talents around, and if we don’t sign him chances are he’ll come back to haunt us with another club once he is in his prime.

    Our youth players are still at the club to benefit us in the long term, becoming players who can contribute to the first team. If we don’t have the faith that Thiago, JDS and Pedro are, or will be more valuable to the first team than Ozil can be, than we should sign him up ASAP.

    Thiago, JDS and Pedro have been loyal to the club and can certainly be better players (or more valuable players to our system) than Ozil. With this in mind, there is absolutely no need for him. We have just signed Villa who will be a definite starter this season, bar some unforeseeable problems. If he or Messi is out, Pedro, Thiago and Iniesta can cover the wings. We required one attacker for this season, and we have him. Let’s focus on a DM, as well as a CB (unless we choose to rely on youth here, but Senna would’ve been perfect).

  21. GREECE BARCA
    August 10, 2010

    jake i am the first who i don.t want any transfer now and i believe in our boys!but if there is the chance to take him for that money i say yes without second thought!!he will be our LW for many many years!tiago and dos santos are midfield players and they will have their chances!don.t forget that last summer we paid 25m for a defender and with fontas,botia,muniesa in that position!

  22. Flippy
    August 10, 2010

    eeerrr özil wouldn’t play in the front line if he came to Barça, he would play in either of the two attacking midfielders position, where Xavi and Iniesta play. Besides he is most likely staying at Werder Bremen this year and going somewhere else next year for free. And frankly, with JDS and Thiago, I don’t see any room for özil, who is the same age as JDS. Yes, he’s shown immense potential at the WC (which are the only games I’ve seen him play), but signing him bring many complications.

  23. Kxevin
    August 10, 2010

    Question for Swiss Ramble:

    Regarding the looming UEFA fiscal strictures, how likely is any big club to meet those guidelines? 2013 is not that far off. Clubs have always played it rather fast and loose fiscally, with big clubs being faster and looser than most.

    • August 10, 2010

      That’s true, but UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules focus more on a club’s profitability, rather than debt. Taking Barcelona as an example, until this year’s big loss, they reported profits 6 years in a row, so they should be OK. Real Madrid made a profit last year, as did Bayern Munich.

      What will be interesting is that there are a number of adjustments/exceptions allowed, so it will be interesting to see how firm UEFA are in practice. The intent is clear, but do UEFA really want to kill the geese that lay the golden eggs? In other words, would they really want to exclude the big clubs from the Champions League?

      I wrote about this, focusing on English clubs, a while ago:

      http://swissramble.blogspot.com/2010/05/uefa-say-fair-play-to-arsenal.html

    • August 10, 2010

      Kinda what I was thinking. Thanks so much, and by the by, though this goes without saying, stop by anytime. I know that this whole Fabregas business has riven two clubs who are fans of the other. We’re all hoping the Gunners can get it done this season. Pretty football should always win, IMHO.

  24. Jnice
    August 10, 2010

    All the Ozil talk is really pointless, considering he just said he is going to fulfill his contract and that he hasn’t heard anything about an agreement with Barça. His manager has also said there is no agreement, nor have they received an offer. That news is dead.

  25. Hilal
    August 10, 2010

    We dont really need Ozil, just like we dont really need Cesc. Ozil it too good a player to spend most of his time on the bench, even if he is only 15m. He is at an age where he should be playing a lot of games. I would much, much rather give JDS and Thiago more time on the pitch, either of them could end up better than Ozil anyways.

    A much more interesting swap/transfer deal that seems to be on the cards is Hleb+10m for Macherano. I know a lot of ppl dont like Mascherano here (not sure why though) but I think that would be a great deal. Not only that but his agent has already stated that Mascherano understands that he would be competing with Sergio for DM and is not guaranteed a starting spot. We need a proper destroyer now that Yaya has gone and while he may not be the most technically gifted Mascherano is one of the best (if not the best) midfield destroyers in the game. To land him for 10m + a player we dont even want would be an amazing deal..

    • Jnice
      August 10, 2010

      Wouldn’t it be like 15m + Hleb? Even though his agent said Mascherano could be bought for half of what Liverpool were asking last year, I have my doubts when push comes to shove. I think they will end up wanting about 20m+.

    • Kxevin
      August 10, 2010

      Interesting, though I would say, jackass qualities notwithstanding, that we need Hleb more than Mascherano. Keita or Correia can stand in at DM. But we still lack proven, high-quality midfield depth. As a ball holder and distributor, Hleb would be excellent. He isn’t a winger, and never will be. All the skills that I have seen him evince, and the reason I was so pleased when we signed him, is dude can take a beating and retain possession, while making the right pass.

      But he killed his chances with us with his mouth and attitude.

    • Jnice
      August 10, 2010

      I would disagree that we need Hleb more than a proper DM. I like you (I don’t know if you remember), was one of the biggest supporters of the Hleb to Barça deal. I love him at Arsenal and I thought he was crucial for them, but most of the credit went to Cesc. I actually used to LOVE watching Hleb dribble and weave past everyone. Sure the old Hleb would be great, but that is clearly not going to happen. I think Thiago/JDS could do a good job filling in there and I don’t think current Hleb would do much better and it doesn’t seem like he is going to get that chance anyway.

      As for Keita or Adriano playing DM, for me, that weakens our team. Keita is not a pure DM and you can see it when he plays in that position. It just doesn’t seem like he’s comfortable and the ball movement isn’t the same. I’m willing to bet that Adriano in that position would be worse than Keita.

      I don’t like Mascherano much, but if we can get him on the cheap, we need to think about seriously doing the deal. We need a proper DM to rotate or backup Busquets. Options like Keita and Adriano should only be for when we are in a serious pinch and have our backs to the wall. If we go into the season without one, I fear there will be some problems.

    • Kxevin
      August 10, 2010

      Foe me, it’s proritizing. I would love both, but if we have one key injury in midfield attack, we’re screwed.

    • Jnice
      August 10, 2010

      But can’t we say the same about the DM position?

      You figure if we have an injury to one of our midfielders, we put in Thiago or JDS.

      If we have an injury to Busi, we play Keita or Adriano. From what I’ve seen of Keita in that position, I seriously don’t think the performance of the kids would be worse than the performance of Keita or Adriano.

      Maybe I’m putting too much fait in the kids, but I’m not worried if Thiago is alonside at least one of Xavi or Iniesta. If both get hurt then, okay, we have a problem.

      But that’s why I have been advocating for an attacking midfielder and DM since the end of the season. We have 40m euros left, no? Two players can’t be bought with that?

    • Hilal
      August 10, 2010

      Hmmm, I think we are more screwed if Busquets is injured than if we have one key injury to attacking mid. Iniesta was injured for a lot of last season and we did ok. Keita is much better as a backup for Iniesta than as a backup for Sergio.. We have JDS and Thiago now who will be there to take the pressure off Xavi/Iniesta so hopefully this will lead to less injuries. On top of that, MEssi can fill that role if its really needed.

      DM on the other hand, well, if Sergio picks up a long term injury we are in trouble. Keita is okay as DM, but I would no way feel comfortable going for a long stretch with him as the DM. Adriano we have yet to see in that role so who knows; could be decent, could be awful.

      For $10-15m + Hleb I would take Mascherano in a hearbeat. He can be a little rough around the edges but he is an excpetional DM on his day and gives Pep something we lack completely. HE also seems willing to accept that he has to fight for his spot, which is great. Sergio definitely needs REAL competition. The last thing we need is for him to get comfortable and revert back to his bad habits. I really, really dont see a downside to this deal..

    • Kxevin
      August 10, 2010

      Dunno, I’d be more confident rolling into a key match with Keita at DM than Dos Santos in an AM role.

  26. GREECE BARCA
    August 10, 2010

    ramzi i don.t write that for bad!we won 4 ligas 2 cl played in 6 cl semifinals 4 spain super cups 1 eupope and 1 world cup!!
    it s numbers of last decade(gaspart+laporta)!i will not defend rosell again here cause i am the only one!

  27. Kxevin
    August 10, 2010

    Three comments in one:

    –Shirt sponsorship is, while fiscally expedient, also philosophically vile. UNICEF I like on the front, because of what it represents. The payoff for the meager cost to us (1.5m per annum) is huge.

    Commercial sponsors, on the other hand, corrupt a shirt front. I am not a fan. I’d rather see one less signing than a shirt sponsor.

    –Ozil says that he has talked to no one, so reports of any deal are nonsense. Werder is saying that the possibility of a deal this summer is becoming more likely. In club speak, that means “Come and get him!”

    –The Mascherano rumors have resurfaced. For the record, it will not happen. The age and quality of Busquets argues against spending what Mascherano costs, never mind the necessity of playing him an amount attendant to his transfer fee.

    • Jnice
      August 10, 2010

      I agree with you about the Mascherano thing, but if what his agent is saying about his transfer fee being half of what Liverpool was asking last summer is true (30m, I think), then maybe we should really look into that. I don’t know, I mean, what are our options at this point? Finding players in this market is tough, especially when teams want more money because you are FC Barcelona.

    • Bundy
      August 10, 2010

      nah, I there is no way liverpool will agree to what ever Mascherano’s agent claims.

      Kxevin put it the right way,

      as for the sponsors, giving into profitable shirt sponsors just makes us more dependable rather than keeping a mindset that will drive us to become more self sustainable and self driven.

    • Kxevin
      August 10, 2010

      But if the 30m brings with it headaches (cost, playing time, etc.), how good of a deal is it? How long will it be, if we pop 30m for Mascherano and he doesn’t play that much because Busquets is the starter, before the voices of discontent about our business practices and transfer policies start cropping up in this space? “Hmph! 30m for a squad player? We could have gotten (insert name here) for a fraction of the cost. Guardiola is stupid!”

      We have two significant needs: DM and midfield depth. I prioritize, as noted above, midfield depth. Xavi is irreplacable, Iniesta isn’t, nor is Busquets. Xavi has a lotta, lotta miles on his legs. He’s basically played non-stop for almost the past three seasons. You can only ride a horse so long before it pulls up lame.

    • Jnice
      August 10, 2010

      I meant half of 30m, so 15m. No way would I want Mascherano for 30m.

    • August 10, 2010

      Oh, hellz yeah! A 15m Mascherano? I’m in!

    • Jnice
      August 10, 2010

      Um, I just reread his agent’s quotes, and I was wrong, lol. He said a transfer fee “half of what Cesc would cost.” That means he would still be expensive, so buh-bye Mascherano.

    • mei
      August 10, 2010

      Nobody is irreplacable , not even xavi or messi.We have won championships(and lost) with them not featuring always , we have gone through some very tough games with them on the sideline or with them going trough a rough patch.
      I know xavi is THE reference in our current squad but even without him we have coped , and we can cope again.
      The fact is that all of these players(xavi iniesta messi AND busquets) are automatic starters in our squad. Replacement for busquets cant be a highly promising foreign talent brought for good money(10-15 million isnt exactly peanuts) or ,even worse, a world class destroyer.
      That would either disrupt our squad harmony or invite the papers for screaming against our transfer dealings ,selection policy, agent talking etc.

    • August 10, 2010

      For me, Xavi is irreplacable. Nobody else is.

      Your note about automatic starters is the big problem with any squad additions, despite people clamoring for them. Our starting XI is etched in stone: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Messi, Villa, Ibrahimovic.

      (Let’s pause for a second and say a collective “Dayum!”)

      These players are, with the exception of one, durable. So then what? Good question. It’s why Guardiola will almost certainly opt to campaign with the kids this season. Who else will be happy playing as a Copa/blue moon sub?

  28. Lou
    August 10, 2010

    Wouldn’t getting an excellent DM help with attacking depth? Then if necessary we could play Busi as an attacking midfielder. He did very well there when playing with Toure, and I think he has the potential to do even better if given time.

    • Kxevin
      August 10, 2010

      Good point, but what I’m thinking Guardiola is envisioning is, if preseason is any indication, Ibrahimovic dropping back into more of that attacking midfielder zone, to assist with playmaking and possession. Obviously we won’t know until the full squad lines up, though.

  29. Jnice
    August 10, 2010

    It’s funny when Sport claims to know more than the player and club itself. They are still insisting on the Ozil rumors and claiming that Ozil and Bremen know more than they are letting on. I really would like to be in the Sport offices and watch how they work.

    • barca96
      August 10, 2010

      When they don’t have anything to write about Ibra or Cesc, they will choose Ozil 🙂

  30. GREECE BARCA
    August 10, 2010

    hahahaha!the joke of the year by steven gerrard!joe cole is better than messi!what do you drink stevie??

    • mei
      August 10, 2010

      Theres nothing wrong with praising a newly signed player for your team, especially when you happen to be the captain of the club.Its not as if players are demanded to be objective .
      Plus his actual quote , if the guardian is to be believed(no paper seems remotely close to trustworthy these days) is that “joe cole is a player of the highest quality , and he can do some amazing things like messi , IF not better.”

  31. Kxevin
    August 10, 2010

    A giggle, and a smile:

    First, the smile. You can leave a message for your favorite Barca player, and the best ones will be posted on his locker:

    http://www.fcbgamper2010.com/eng/index.html

    (No, I don’t have a favorite player. But if I did, the message would be “Watch out for squirrels.” That would win. For sure.

    Now, the giggle:

    “Messi can do some amazing things, but anything he can do Joe can do as well, if not better. He used to shock us in training by doing footy tricks with a golf ball that most players can’t even do with a football.

    “I really fancy Joe for the [player of the year] award this season.”

    As mei notes above, a captain is supposed to say stuff like that. And the context is clear that he means ball tricks and other cool stuff, rather than global player pre-eminence.

    • barca96
      August 10, 2010

      Haha poor EPL players think that doing tricks with a golf ball automatically means a good player 😆

    • Jnice
      August 10, 2010

      Ronaldinho would laugh at Joe Cole’s “tricks.”

    • poipoi
      August 10, 2010

      robinho can do those tricks also… and who envys his game?

      pep guardiola could not do three touches in a row without letting the ball fall to the ground… many envied his game.

  32. Luke
    August 10, 2010

    I am serious about this: If Barca signs Mascherano, I may quit on the team. Seriously, $30M+ for a guy who hasn’t been good in 1.5 years when we could pay $25M for Javi Martinez if we need depth so bad? Argh

    • August 10, 2010

      Don’t make me come over there, Luke! 😀

      We are about as likely to sign me as to sign Mascherano. Relax.

    • barca96
      August 10, 2010

      To be fair, he was OK during the WC.
      Can’t really comment on his club form as I never watch Liverpool play.
      But no matter what, it would be a blow to Busi. He needs to play and be our #1 DM for many years to come. I don’t want anyone to threat his future with us.

  33. mei
    August 10, 2010

    I will jump on that wagon that most most managers do when one of their players comes back from a long term injury, and say that iniesta will be our best(along with villa!speed and scoring from the wing yay!!) signing this season , and will make us forget the words about midfield cover .They young ones will get time for rotation purposes and things are gonna be smoooooth 😀

    • Kari
      August 10, 2010

      Another plus for Villa: Iniesta won’t be playing LW (at least, not when Villa’s available).

      Now, he can finally form the Xaviniesta midfield that we so sorely missed that season. Say what people want about Yaya-Busi DM thing, but the reason we didn’t win the CL was because Andres was injured.

      We had long term injuries to both Abidal and Iniesta and some people were still complaining we weren’t good enough last season. Damn, spoiled are we? 😀

    • Kari
      August 10, 2010

      *last season

  34. Kxevin
    August 10, 2010

    As a reminder to newcomers, comments that include URLs are placed in the moderation queue. If you have a URL, paste it into the comment, and put a backslash or asterisk (or something) in front of it. Then your comment will still be visible until your hard-working moderators can go in and make the link live. Word.

  35. Kari
    August 10, 2010

    No way to Mascherano. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: he’s pure destroyer. His style of football, IMO, is perfect in the EPL. At Barca, or in Spain, no way he’d get away with some of the crap he gets away with in England.

    I’m not convinced at his passing abilities. At Barca, you’re not just a destroyer, you have to be able to pass from the back and be a link between the midfield and the defense. I wouldn’t trust Mascherano with this job. And for 20-30m, that deal would suck

    Luckily, it’s only rumors and won’t be happening.

  36. August 10, 2010

    @ Kxevin:

    “we need Hleb more than Mascherano. Keita or Correia can stand in at DM. But we still lack proven, high-quality midfield depth.”

    Regardless of where we actually lack more depth, and the fact that I am usually Hleb’s defensive minister, I believe in Busquets as a center midfielder more than Hleb. So if I had to choose between Mascherano-Busquets-Iniesta or Keita-Hleb-Iniesta for example in the absence of Xavi, it won’t take me long to pick my choice.

    Even with the absence of both Xavi and Iniesta I still can make a better argument for Mascherano-Keita-Busquets (Even Mascherano-Maxwell-Busquets) over Busquets-Keita-Hleb. All that without taking the Messi option as a CM in consediration where needed.

    Not sure how keeping a CM like hleb (even if he exeeded all expectations) and using Keita in a position he is not used to (though he can do well) is better than signing a holding midfielder and if needed using Busquets where I believe it’s his natural position (CM).

    The basic stereotype people lock Mascherano in is that he is not a good distributor. In the recent world cup his passing average was even better than players like Gerrard, Shwansteiger(you know who I mean!), and almost any holding midfielder we’ve seen in that tournament. Statistically speaking.

    • Kari
      August 10, 2010

      “The basic stereotype people lock Mascherano in is that he is not a good distributor”

      You’re talking about me, aren’t you?!

      Yeah, well, in the–wait, one, two, three, four– four games I’ve seen him play at Liverpool, he looked pure destroyer to me, so you and your fancy stats can take that! 😀

      Saying his passing average is better than Gerrard isn’t saying much–in fact, considering that England squad in general, it could be detrimental to your argument 😀 . Better than Schweinsteiger, though, is more impressive.

      It’s just that he seems like a reckless player. I don’t like how he flies into tackles sometimes. But just like how some people inexplicably (or maybe not) dislike Busi, I don’t like Mascherano.

    • Hilal
      August 10, 2010

      I agree. Not sure why so many people dislike Mascherano. I have always been a huge fan of his. He is definitely more of a destroyer than any other player we have, but he can certainly pass the ball as well. Lets not forget that he plays a key role for Argentina who, on their day, can keep the ball extremely well.

      I think he gets a bad rep because he has a bit of a “dirty” side, in that he can be overly agressive at times. Well, sometimes you need a player like that. I also think it is vital that Sergio has some REAL competition and the current options do not provide that. Plus, he seems to have a real desire to play for Barca and understands his role will not be that of an automatic starter, something that most players of his stature and in his position would not accept.

      Also, I dont see why price is such a big issue. $25-30m is the right price for somebody of Macherano’s quality. We sold Yaya for 30m so we would essentially be replacing him with a player of similar quality – one who is actually willing to fight for a spot.

    • Jim
      August 10, 2010

      Not sure if his desire is to play for Barca or get out of Liverpool.

      I watch the EPL every week and have to say he strikes me as a player who is lucky if he escapes a yellow card most weeks flying into tackles ( and in La Liga players might well make more of his challenges) but also one whose passing is not great and ball retention no better than average. That is not what is needed at Barcelona imo.

    • barca96
      August 10, 2010

      Yup. He really impressed me during the WC2010 as I watched him closely since he was our target last year.

      p.s. Happy fasting month

    • poipoi
      August 10, 2010

      pedro! is so damn good he can do interior (OM) also… in emergencies

  37. y2k156
    August 10, 2010

    Even i find it difficult to understand what others are saying about Masch. I would be surprised if he comes here but otherwise i shall be delighted if he joins us. He is a fantastic player in his position. I guess his abilities as destroyer are well known but in all the matches i have seen, i have rarely had to question his passing. This is a guy who has played quite a important role for Argentina team in last five years and though he was not the most eye catching, he surely contributed to their pleasing style.

    When people question his passing abilities, i have to say that i am scratching my head. Can they please elaborate on what basis do they make the claim.

    • Kari
      August 10, 2010

      I meant passing abilities a la Xabi Alonso. Liverpool’s midfield flourished, in ’07?–the year they almost won the EPL title–because they had a destroyer in Mascherano and a passer in Xabi Alonso working in tandem. Gerrard most likely benefited from that as well, giving him freedom to move forward and supply Torres.

      Mascherano hasn’t been impressive in the four matches I’ve seen him play. I don’t like the way he tackles. It’s all reckless and stuff.

      I also just don’t like Mascherano, so it could also be my bias talking. 😛

    • Hilal
      August 10, 2010

      Are you seriously basing your opinion on 4 games? I thought you were joking in your previous post. All due respect, but you cannot judge a player on 4 games, or 10 games for that matter. Can you imagine what some people might think of Sergio if they watched the wrong 4 games. lol

      As somebody who has seen him play dozens of times over the last few years I can assure you he can pass the ball. HE is also not as reckless as you think. He is an extremely good tackler and reads the game very well, breaking up attacks before they even happen. Personally I think he would do very well in our midfield, especially against the more aggressive teams.

    • Kari
      August 10, 2010

      I was joking in my previous post. Don’t get me wrong. 😀

      You’re right in saying I shouldn’t base my opinion on a few games. Honestly, I haven’t seen Mascherano play (see the aforementioned 4 games) and when I watch Argentina, I’m usually watching Messi 😀 , so I do like your (and Ramzi’s and y2k’s) input on him. I’m open to different players, but let’s just say my first impression of Mascherano isn’t the greatest.

      *shrug* I guess I should watch him more, but watching Liverpool play right now–with all due respect– is as appealing as watching Thong Boy and Guti on a Boy-Night-Out in Madrid.

    • Hilal
      August 10, 2010

      I am not sure why people get that impression either. Living in the UK and watching most EPL games I have seen Liverpool play dozens of times in the last few years and not once have I looked at Mascherano and thought – “that guy cannot pass”. Fine, he is not Xavi, but he is more than capable of holding his own in a midfield that is dependent on passing. More importantly he is one of the best pure destroyers in the game and that is valuable to ANY team. It gives Pep yet another tactical option as well as depth and competition.

    • Benj
      August 10, 2010

      Ive been following Liverpool for the last 10 years (Dad is from there, so I watch them in the EPL) and I’d say Masch is a great player to have on your side as a defensive player (destroyer if you will) but will not contribute to an attack.

      He has a great pass completion rate, but that is because he always plays the little square ball or back pass, never a defense splitting xavi-esque pass or a lofted through ball. He never had to worry about that before last season because he had Xabi Alonso to do that for him, hence the success of the 08/09 season with Xabi and Masch anchoring with Gerrard in front, one of the best midfield combos ive seen in a while.

      When they got rid of Xabi and got Lucas and player the same formation, it showed that they had 2 players on the pitch that loved short passes and playing defensively, hence a 7th place finish.

      My point is, if we need to close up a game, he would be ideal, but not for the sort of money they are asking. Not for someone who should be a squad player at Barca…

  38. August 10, 2010

    idk. 15 mil + Hleb for Mascherano? I’m in! If Xavi or Iniesta get injured we have adequate cover with Keita and Busi (who can move forward a position) or Messi (who can drop back to MF if need be). Plus we have Thiago and JDS, one of whom we should expect to make the step to squad member.

  39. Blow-Grenade
    August 10, 2010

    Excellent Article by the Swiss Rambler. Thanks for bringing it to us Kxevin.

  40. August 10, 2010

    I didnt mean you, Kari. Well, not just you 🙂 its a common belief here. You mentioned an interesting name: Xabi alonso. You know what…Here you can make your comparisons Mascherano Vs whatever:

    /http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/statistics/players/compare/index.html#tA=43860&tB=43948&pA=249462&pB=191178

    Keep in mind that Argentina was a big mess in the midfield which is not easy for a Holding midfielder seeking outlets. If Passing is not Masche’s strong point but he still manage such stat. How can I complain?

    • Kari
      August 10, 2010

      It looks like Fontas is going to be our back-up DM though–if Pep’s comments are anything to go by.

      Oh, and I did use that stats comparasion thing. If we go by that thing, we should all buy Felipe Melo–who has a 90% completion rate with basically the same number of total passes as Mascherano. Wonder how much Juve will sell him for… 😀

      In the end though, the moral of my story is: those who no nothing should keep their mouths shut until they learn the material they need to start blabbing. I don’t know much about Mascherano, bar the stereotypes I read and the matches I see (which, as I said, wasn’t much).

    • August 10, 2010

      That Melo thing is a good one. I’ll give you that 😀

      I for once, hope we don’t sign him. I want a season vacation from defending players. If the player who benched Yaya generated all that anger, you can imagine what will happen to the player who will replace him!

    • Kxevin
      August 10, 2010

      All of the Mascherano talk is pointless. He isn’t going to come, because he won’t cost a price that will suit what we are willing to pay for a squad player. Simple as that. I like what he does. It’s just too expensive, in terms of Euros and potential discord when the press/fans start whining about why isn’t he playing more?

  41. Blow-Grenade
    August 10, 2010

    Since the discussion has ventured towards Difensive Mid, I want to put in my choice for signing – MARCO SENNA!!!!

    • BA
      August 10, 2010

      thank you. Senna is the only real option here. Mascherano is looking for any point in a storm; we’re the second club he’s offered himself to behind Inter. if for that reason alone, no thanks.

  42. y2k156
    August 10, 2010

    I like Senna and have been advocate of him being our reserve since beginning of this discussion.

    I think Masch is not a passer who controls the game or who can spot runs ala Xavi. He is neat passer who can keep the game ticking but needs more creatives around him who can make things happen. Without going into stats and based on more than few matches i have seen, he rarely makes stupid passes. As for defending, he is a good reader of game and excellent tackler.

    All said though, I do not think we need him.

  43. GREECE BARCA
    August 10, 2010

    i put a name too!simao!he play here in panathinaikos from mozabiki he is young and in few years will be one of the best dm in the world!remember that name!(don.t forget yaya played here in olympiakos!)watch
    him
    in C.L this season!also sotiris ninis is a great talent!i hope barca and panathinaikos be in the same group!

  44. Kxevin
    August 10, 2010

    Read where the first-teamers are going to play only 15 minutes in the Mexico friendly. Pardon me for asking, but why in the hell would you take someone to Mexico to only play 15 minutes? What is point of that?

    • mei
      August 10, 2010

      I read that somewhere too and didnt believe it because it came along with the quote : barca players travelled 20.000 miles only to play 15 minutes , attributed to VDB.
      What is he gonna sub them all in on the 75th minute??its ridiculous!

    • jordi™
      August 10, 2010

      I can think of a few million reasons *http://www.topnews.in/files/euro-notes.jpg

      I’d bet spain hardly plays a friendly at home in the next few years.You know, so Villar and his muppets can line their pockets.

    • poipoi
      August 10, 2010

      money?

  45. Diego S.
    August 10, 2010

    I think we should buy Yaya Toure .. He’s a very good player .. And can play in the AM position .. Fast, Strong, and a good passer .. He’ll be great cover for Busi

    • Kxevin
      August 10, 2010

      Too spendy. Some crazy club set the price at 30m for him.

  46. Kxevin
    August 10, 2010

    Called up for the SuperCopa (complete with nicknames, when they look to be first-teamers):

    Jonathan Dos Santos (Johnny Two-Time)

    Thiago Alcantara (ShamWow …. okay, pay attention here. I have some cycling shorts, where the seat padding is made of alcantra. The padding is called a chamois, and that fake chamois on TV is called ShamWow! So there you go.)

    Sergi Roberto

    Oriol Romeu

    Sergi Gomez

    Andreu Fontas

    Marc Bartra

    –More Xavi quotes, as reported in the Small Heath Shopping Gazette:

    “Fabregas will come. He has the Barca DNA. He even has some of MY DNA, because …. never mind. Besides, we will use magic to turn Arsene Wenger into a newt. Yes.

    “We have talked, and he is already unhappy, after just one visit to the Emirates toilet. He misses that 1,000-year-old aroma that you can only get in the Camp Nou loo.

    “So he will come in January.”

    • Kari
      August 10, 2010

      Xavi is making people say weird things:

      *http://www.7amkickoff.com/2010/could-someone-junk-shot-xavis-gaping-maw/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+7amkickoff+(7amkickoff)

      Do Americans really use the terms “junk shot”and “maw”?

    • mei
      August 10, 2010

      I still dont get how some people believe that xavi actually said these things.
      And that “some” is actually a pretty wild number of supporters , of whatever club.
      Still its obvious that everybody waited for the chance to jump on the hatewagon anyway.Its the price of our recent success.

    • DontPanic
      August 10, 2010

      Easily, because Xavi was running his mouth all summer. I love the guy, he’s my favorite Barca player but goddamn man shut the hell up.

    • Kari
      August 10, 2010

      “Running his mouth all summer”

      Kinda hard to do that when you’re at the WC for half of it and on vacation for the other half.

      Funny, they also had people believe Messi had a creepy obsession with Oasis; something that, surprise surprise, turned out to be fake.

      I love Xavi, but I doubt he’d spend most of his time talking to a third-rate English tabloid and Italian rags.

      The reason they always link to Xavi is because he’s honest and sincere in his interviews. If people were to apply logic–a rare things these days–, no matter how close they are, I doubt Xavi would say anything like “Arsenal will be out of the race by January so he’ll join us then”, especially to the English press.

      I hate how “journalists” are making up stuff and people are lapping it up like a cat to milk.

    • BA
      August 10, 2010

      that Shamwow analogy is a bit of a stretch, Kxevin….

  47. CLUEless(John)
    August 10, 2010

    Oh boyyyyyyy this ozil shit is getting serious!!! Leading Soccernet and reports from el pais!! If we get Masc & ozil for 20-25 mil + hleb, I’m in.

    • Kxevin
      August 10, 2010

      Yes, but the reports are all Werder rubbishing the “news” from the Catalan sporting press. I repeat: Ozil is not coming. Not to us. What would be the point? I would love it if he was, as I think his up side is tremendous. But Rosell has Fabregas lust pretty bad.

    • jordi™
      August 10, 2010

      I get the feeling Sandro still wants to sign *someone* sparkly and shiny.I dont think he’ll want his only singing to be Adriano.Whether pep wants the player is another thing.

    • poipoi
      August 10, 2010

      true, if yaya+titi+marquez+chigro (4) leave, we only sign adriano+villa (2) and don’t win any major trophy people will blame sandrusco (he only signed adriano) and the few signings for sure. The midfield has to be reinforced with either canteranos or a good skilled offensive player like özil, we shouldn’t rely on keita much me thinks… I don’t like to see keita there in a game in which we are supposed to rule and score many goals, like the ones vs inter. Our problem last year wasn’t the DM or the offense it’s that the difference between xaviniesta and keita is too big. We don’t play as nice and fast according to my eyes with keita, I’d like to see a player that can actually dribble and touch the ball way better than the average player.

      I wanna see milito one full year!!

  48. Jnice
    August 10, 2010

    I just hate that the squad is short just like last summer. Pep was agitated the squad wasn’t deep enough last summer, yet we are kind of at a worse place this summer. What are we doing with the 40m?

    In other news, Madrid has signed Ricky Carvalho for somewhere around 8m euros. Not a bad buy, I don’t think.

    • Diego S.
      August 10, 2010

      I guess it’s not a bad buy .. but the guy is 32

      On another note .. I still believe we should buy a DM and keep either Hleb or VicSan and sell the other .. Busi/New Buy as DM .. Xaviniesta as first choice with Hleb and Keita as a first cover .. and JDS/ Alcantra to acquire experience .. The year after that we sell Hleb and Keita .. Fabregas comes depending on the condition of Xavi ..

    • poipoi
      August 10, 2010

      I remember when that carvalho was younger, in chelsea, and played against us. I’ve never see anyone fear etoo so much, I remember his face like it was yesterday. I fear pepe more than him. He is supposed to be good but defending in madrid is not the same as chelsea … on the other hand defending in Mourinho’s madrid won’t be as in Pellegrini’s I think. Besides as said above he’s 32!! 8 millions+high salary for a guy who’s 32?? I think they just signed him to be Thong Boy’s room mate 😉

      hope he does “a cannavaro” this year 😀

    • Dave
      August 10, 2010

      I share your anger Jnice, its ridiculous. Injury to Iniesta or Xavi (heaven forbid) and we’re screwed.

    • jordi™
      August 10, 2010

      Atleast they arent trying to sign Mata.I might break something if we sign Mata.

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