The News, Saturday edition, a.k.a. “All about the Benjamins?”


Cha-ching! Lionel Messi has warmed hearts and minds by saying that “I want to spend all my career here, in Barcelona.” Which, admittedly, is the right thing to say after a club has just decided to give you something around 12m per annum for kicking a football around better than anyone else on the planet. We’ve all applauded the new deal, and it would be the height of churlishness to even question whether it’s deserved right?

And that’s why we have, kids. There’s a piece up there, speculating about whether Messi offers, or can offer, value sufficient to his immense wages. The writer, Anthony Wright, feels that it’s something of a publicity stunt by Laporta, just as it was when Flo-Flo was throwing money around like confetti.

My .02 is that it’s a statement by the club, a club which has a history of, many cules allege, not doing right by its superstars. Barca have said to Messi, “We want you for as long as you want to stay, signified by this pigpile of cash, and an absurd buyout clause.” Publicity stunt? Hardly. The man is the best player alive right now, and has made our club a global icon, caplitalizing on the work done by Ronaldinho beforehand. If you see a Barca shirt, and it has a player name/number, the odds that it will be that of Messi, these days, hovers around 90%. It’s marketing, but marketing backed up by phenomenal exploits on the pitch.

Now, I’m on the record as saying that some of those crowd-pleasing Messi runs are better served if they terminate in passes to open teammates, rather than a lost ball at the feet of one of the 47 defenders that have converged on Argy Bargy. But for every highlight reel run, another fan is born. Many of those fans remain fans, become socis and support the club in a meaningful way.

How in the hell can you ever put a value on that?

Yea, verily, say naysayers or doubters, Messi is one wrong foot plant away from making the club look like fools. That further, his style of play is not going to age well, that when he loses that magical first 4 steps that are as fast as anyone’s in the universe, what then? How, then, will the club feel about paying a guy who can’t cut it any longer, 12m per season?

I say we cross that bridge when we come to it, and pray that it never comes. And further, if it does, Messi has already done enough to deserve the benefit of the doubt.

And as for that crazy talk by attention-seeking Pele that Kaka is a more complete player than Messi or Thong Boy, even Kaka is calling bullshit on that one, saying in AS “At the moment, Messi is the best. It’s the truth.”

–New Barca signing and Hair Club for Catalans member Dimitro Txigrinski sure is saying the right things. When you hear words from Txignasty such as “For me Puyol is a symbol of Barcelona. For a long time whenever I thought of Barca I saw him and whenever I thought of Puyol, I saw Barcelona. He has incredible strength,” and then you hear him admit that he still has in his private museum a jersey that he swapped with Captain Caveman after a Champions League tie, it just makes you smile.

Word from on high is that he will play in the next three league matches. If he does as well as he did against Getafe, I’m all the way on board, kids. All. The. Way.

A bit more from Txignasty, courtesy of Sport:

Pep Guardiola announced today that you will play against Atletico. How do you feel?

It is a very special day and want it to be unforgettable. It will be my fourth visit to the Nou Camp….the first was last year in a match against Valencia (4-0), because we arrived a few days before the Barca-face Shakhtar in the Champions (2-3), which is the only time I’ve played in the Nou Camp. And the third was last month on the first day of League against Sporting (3-0).

Almost no one thought you would play against Getafe, but you started. Did you call your parents when you learned you would play?

No, no. When you approach a game, I do not like making calls or saying that I will play or not. The only thing that matters is that I approach the game as focused as possible and help the team.

You’ve been training for a short time with Barça. What has surprised you most?

I was very surprised by the environment and the excellent relationship that exists in the locker room. It’s great. Everyone smiles and makes jokes and that’s something that gives you great confidence.

Furthermore, Yaya Toure is able to speak fluent Russian….

Yes (laughs), he speaks pretty well, but I just want to learn to speak Castilian as quickly as I can. So I don’t talk to him in Russian. I prefer that all speak in Castilian to learn better.

Last season the Belarussian Aleksandr Hleb hardly learned Castilian and Catalan. I see that you are different.

I’m already seriously studying Castilian and I think that soon I will be able to express myself. I started my classes at Berlitz. I want to master it as quickly as possible and then I would add Catalan.

–Would-be Emperor of Catalunya Joan Laporta says not to anticipate any winter transfer period signings, barring any injuries or alien abductions. He believes that with the kids and B-teamers at our disposal, we can keep on keepin’ on. I applaud that decision, but would say that if somebody like Luis Suarez comes available for the right price, it’s Go Time. (That one’s for Hector.)

–There was a lot of huggin’ and a kissin’ in the tunnel, prior to the CL tie against Inter, but Gerard Pique was having none of it, preferring a very formal (and rather stiff, saith Sport) handshake to Eto’o. Right on, I say, because this is war.

–Would anyone like a little scandal with their breakfast? Felix Millet, whose affiliation with our beloved club dates back to Nunez, resigned his board post this week amid a controversy involving the embezzlement of almost 3m from foundation affiliated with the Palau de la Musica Catalana. Ick.

Speaking of, if you are ever in Barcelona and have the opportunity to hear a concert in one of the city’s gems, do so. We heard a Beethoven No. 9/Carmina Burana combo platter there last year, and say what you will about the performing ensemble (pedestrian, funky tempi, off-song brass), the hall was absolutely spectacular. The restoration is exquisite, and some slag the sound, though I am not quite sure why. Maybe now that all of those banknotes aren’t being hidden in its corners any longer, it will sound even better.


By Kxevin

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


  1. Thanks for the update, Kexvin.

    Txigrinski seems to be the perfect player for us, very humble and serious about the game. I can see Piqué and Txigrinski as the best CB duo in the world, dominating for quite some years (starting in one, or maybe two years).

    By the way, tonight I’ve had a crazy dream. I’ve met Laporta and Pep in a big hotel foyer with a fountain in the middle. Laporta asked to do some photos with me, in front of the fountain, playing several scenes from great movies. And I don’t know why, but some minutes later I ended up with Pep in a hotel room playing Super Mario Kart on SNES 😀
    Now, is there anyone with a degree in psychology who could analyze this dream?

    1. Um, based on my extensive clinical research into such cases, I’d say the simple diagnosis is that you love you some Barca. 😀

      That will be $1,200, please.

    2. Mmmmhhh! I don’t know why but I have always related Mario Bros to the EE and Sonic the hedgehog to Barça…mmmhhh…and you were playing with Super Mario….mmhhhh….ooops! Time’s up! Come back next week. 🙂

  2. The YAYA speaks Russian, English, and Catalan?! Interesting. He can destroyed you with his bind just as well with his cosmos smashing body. Cool.

    1. Don’t think he speaks Catalan, but he speaks Castillian. Don’t forget French and an Ivory Coast dialect many members of that team speaks.

    2. i thought you guys were bullshitting about toure speaking russian? i thought it was all part of your unhealthy man-crush on him. wow. metalurh donetsk he played for.

      so pumped! i don’t have to shlep over to san diego to kick it w/shamu & his penguin friends. i get to watch barca v atleti yay!

    3. It’s amazing how some people just learn languages. Txignasty just seems like he’ll have it down in a few months. I’ve been trying to learn Spanish (informally) for years and Paradigma Guardiola is still hardly navigable.

    4. Yeah, but are you living in a Spanish speaking country where the only way to communicate with colleagues, friends, waiters, and clerks is in Spanish? Because being immersed is the best way to learn and nothing else comes close. Chigrinskyy has plenty of incentives to learn, including the success of his career.

      An excerpt from Fernando Torres’ recent book explains how his language tutors would have him call up listings of things for sale, not because he needed anything but because talking to someone on the phone in English was the best way for him to learn English. So these guys are getting plenty of professional help in learning these new languages. (. . . which only makes Hleb’s inability to do so even more of an outright insult.)

  3. is so anti-barca it’s not even funny!! I always comment there and i’m very critical of their “exclusives” and the like, and anytime I question their articles and say anything remotely critical of, my comments somehow don’t make it. Guess isn’t too fond of the free speech principle.

  4. Guys, is not only anti-Barca (didn’t notice that much though) but also very anti-Inter and especially anti-Mourinho. So, you’re not alone, if it’s any consolation. I get the feeling they’re very staunchly Italian, and most likely supporters of AC Milan and Juve. That website has credibility issues, if anyone noticed. And you’re right about the free speech thing, too.

    1. is completely pro-English. All the other leagues to them are worth nil. Their articles are meant for 2 things: 1)To appease their fan base (Premier League) and 2)To drive traffic. Hence, 1) leads to opportune bashing and criticism of non English teams such as Barca and Inter and 2) copy and pasting of portions of tabloid fodder= EMD, SPORT, MIRROR, etc…Since the capital publications often favor Milan and EE, they are usually spared in this category, but not from point 1. You’d think Spanish media would have high standards of truth, I mean how many absurd rumors do you ever hear about trades and acquisitions of players from American sports in the top American publications? Good to see you visiting again Inter Inter.

    2.’s Ligue 1 coverage is awful. They have this one robin bairner dude who writes all the articles. He doesn’t know the difference between Yohann Gourcuff and Yoan Gouffran. Grr.

  5. Its not just, I have found a lot of publications/websites hate on Barca. Its a little weird considering the fact that we play such nice football, you would think they would appreciate it!! We are by far the most entertaining team so I really don’t see why we got so much BS.

  6. Pique did not just shake and had as stiff moment with Etoó like sport says on there daily paper… guess they did not catch when Pique was talkin, laughin makin jokes while holdin on to Etoó neck before the game…..

    Look far from stiff to me…

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