The Silly Season Begins: Maintaining Hegemony

The boys in Blaugrana are taking a deserved holiday after storming their way to another Liga and Champions League double. Pique is out shaking his hips, the Brazilian boys are playing volleyball on a beach, Busquets is playing peek-a-boo with infants for charity, Puyol is wrangling cattle in Texas, and Iniesta is blinding unsuspecting beach-goers. While they enjoy their well-deserved vacation, it is time for Rosell and co. to step up and do something other than sit in the president’s box with that ingratiating smile on his face.

Iniesta Last Summer... Like a Boss
Iniesta Last Summer... Like a Boss

Yes my friends, the silly season is upon us. The next several months will undoubtedly seem like eons. Prepare yourself – we will be linked with every player who has ever scored a goal, the Cesc transfer reporting machine in Britain has already started pumping out reports, and Bojan will probably cry at least once.

I could report on the players I want the club to sign, but I just took a bunch of Hector pills (warning: do not mix alcohol and Hector pills) and the club never signs the players I want anyways (most likely for the best). Given the incredible success the club has had lately it will be extremely difficult to replicate that success. Here are a few principles Rosell and co. need to keep in mind during silly season to maintain our club’s incredible success.

Keep Guardiola Happy

I confess. This point is stolen directly from Cruyff’s most recent periodical. Pep has a vision of how football should be played. His success so far has been due to his ability to translate that vision to the pitch. However, this wouldn’t have been possible without the right players. You can’t expect a conductor to put on a symphony without the strings, can you? Our transfer moves need to be based on filling the areas that Pep wants filled, strengthening where he sees a need for it. That doesn’t mean handing Pep a couple blank checks and telling him to go crazy signing players. It does mean that Pep has earned the right to build the team as he sees fit, and every effort should be made to sign players who fit the roles that Pep wants filled. On the flip side of the coin it’s not a good idea to sign any players Pep doesn’t want because – let’s be honest – they won’t play.

You Signed WHO?!?!

Utilize the Club’s Pulling Power

We may only be watching the spiritual successors to the ‘Dream Team,’ but this team has made Barcelona the dream club to play at for young footballers around the world (excluding the young Mourinho’s, Scrooge’s, and Sauron’s). But that’s not all! There are lots of quality players out there willing to come in and play whatever role Guardiola asks them to play. The reason? Trophies. Now is the time to take advantage of this sentiment and sign quality players who would start in most other teams across the continent. Mascherano is the perfect example – he would be an undisputed starter at 98.5% of the clubs out there, but he is happy to play a backup role because he knows he will win trophies at the club. We are in the position to sign players who should be starters as quality depth, and we need to take advantage of that position.

Sign Players on Low Wages

This is really a corollary of the last point. Our club currently boasts the highest wages of ANY professional club in any sport in the world. Our main draw to players now is that they have a good chance to win trophies on any given year, and we should take that into consideration when we are drawing up contracts for new players. I think when new signings come in to negotiate a contract the club should have Pep lounging around Rosell’s office with the two Champions League trophies. Rosell: “Ohh, Mr. Rossi” (totally hypothetical name) “What’s that? You want more money? Well, well, well…” (glances over at Pep and the trophies) “We can’t offer you a better contract, but let me make you an offer you can’t refuse.”

Do I have your loyalty?

Keep the Brightest Youth In-house

There has been a lot of speculation about which youth players are going to leave on loan this summer, and it isn’t a surprise considering the B-team’s success this year. Despite Pique’s recent success history shows us that the surest path to the first team is to remain at the club. Puyol, Xavi, Valdes, Iniesta, Messi, Busquets, Pedro. Pique is the exception, not the rule. There are many reasons to keep the best youth players close by. Youth players receive better coaching if they stay with the club, and they are mentally stronger when they do break through to the first team. As alluring as the first team playing time argument is, the fact is that once a player leaves the club they rarely make the glorious return on a white stallion we all fantasize about (I do at least). Pep has proven he has the ability to successfully manage a players transition from the B-team to the first team, but he can’t do that if our most promising youth is loaned out across the continent.

Maintain the Family Spirit

One of the reasons this team is so phenomenal is that they are a single unit, through and through. The players are tightly knit off the field, and it shows in the way they play. They play for their teammates with trust and knowledge of each other that can’t just be created on the practice pitch. This spirit between the players is the glue that holds all of the individual pieces together, and makes the team greater than the sum of its players. Any signings we make have to be evaluated not just on their ability to fit in with the team tactically and technically, but also on their attitude and personality. Everything I’ve said above comes with one caveat – the players we sign have to buy into the spirit of the team.

244 comments

  1. “Mascherano is the perfect example – he would be an undisputed starter at 98.5% of the clubs out there, but he is happy to play a backup role because he knows he will win trophies at the club.”

    And look how well that strategy worked out for him: Mascherano started the Champions League final as well as quite a few key games throughout the year. He may not have been a regular starter, but I don’t think he would trade away the games he played for more starts.

    Since Barcelona seems to always have a short squad (at least in the Guardiola era) being a bench player is not a risky move. With a roughly 50 game season and a short squad, there are going to be injuries. Any incoming player should see plenty of opportunities on this team. Add some patience, and you might follow Busquets’ and Pedro!’s trajectory: from almost unheard of to regular starters in a year.

  2. I think the budget pressures will be the greatest risk to keeping the brightest youth in house. There must be teams out there hoping to emulate Barcelona, and what better way than to stock up on some talent fresh out of the La Masia factory?

    We’ll see if, amidst the Cesc frenzy, Rosell can restrain himself long enough to hold on to our future talent.

  3. The point on players wanting to come here is a critical one. Masch and Afellay are just great examples.

    To be honest – both of them would have been walk on, no-question starters for in the CL finals for United.

    Afellay really could have gone to almost any club in the world because his transfer fee was nominal. United desperately could have used Afellay as an attacking midfielder.

    But in the end he wanted to come to Barca.

    I think the attraction goes even past wanting to win trophies. Obviously trophies are a huge factor.

    But even more than that I’d have to think players feel that they could be part of something truly historic. It’s not just the silverware.

    It’s the opportunity to be part of the history of the game every time you step out on the pitch.

    There’s no way to reproduce that elsewhere.

    And Barca should utilize that intangible factor to create value for itself in the marketplace.

    What’s just so exciting about this team is that it’s biggest weakness is depth.

    Usually when teams achieve tremendous success they are done in by age.

    Age you really can’t fix easily.

    But outside of Puyol (who they had to start to learn how to play without this season), Xavi and Abidal, the nucleus of the team is just so young. And Xavi and Abidal aren’t “old” per se and should be fine for at least next season.

    Depth you can fix directly. It’s one of those factors that you can actively take control of and rectify.

    That’s the opportunity the club has this summer.

    Now that they’ve won it’s easy to forget the hard times. But there really were stretches of this season in the second half where the team looked exhausted. They had to pull out one trick after another to make things work just to get to the CL finals.

    Next year they can be even better. But they must fix the issue of depth.

    And that is going to require them finding a young CB with pace who can pair with Pique moving into the future.

    1. Oh Euler, you are so wrong about the age issue. You see, I have invented a youth-ening (yes, youth-ening) machine strictly to de-age Puyol, Xavi, and Abidal.

      I would elaborate, but I must finish it before pre-season.

    2. The only problem is that I think all three of those players got better with age – I’d take 31 year-old Puyi/Xavi/Abi over their 25 year-old versions! How about an anti-injury machine? 🙂

    3. Darn it, you are correct. I shall make the necessary adjustments, and instead of it being de-aging, it shall be anti-aging. Suspension at the ages of 33/31/31, respectively?

  4. O.K here we go!!!

    IN

    1. Douglas Costa or Adam Johnson
    2. Kun, Rossi or Sanchez
    3. Fabio Coentaro

    1. A natural winger to come off the bench opposite 3M.
    2. Another option that can fill in for Villa/Messi. We all saw how good Villa was on 2 weeks rest, so imagine him playing 12-15 more games next year (same as Pedro), We can get a good 25-30 starts for an exceptional striker.
    3. Screw it, if he is the one we want, get him, even if it’s a year or two early. He can play 60% of the games at LB, with Abidal playing in the middle at CB (Puyol having knee surgery). I know that puts Adriano on the margins, but thats what the cup is for. And I dont think the guy is as good as Coentaro.

    Out

    Maxwell, Milito, Jefferen and JDS.

    I know the last one is crazy, but here is why it may be feasable. In America, all our big 4 leagues are what we call copy cay leagues. My feeling is that Soccer in Europe is becoming that way. Everyone wants to play like us and it takes so long to build the infostructure that we have. From La Masia up to the A team, people like Roman Abromavich and that Sheik dude in Man city will spend the money to get players that they “hope” will be another Xavi or Iniesta. We have the best “second team” in the world, period. And they will not all make it to the Camp Nou, so lets take our high value “B” teamers and make a big profit on them.

    *Also the reason I dont think we don’t absolutley need a CB is because Masch, Abidal and Busquets can all partner with Pique, allowing us to have as many of our best players on the field at one time as possible. Having said that, if Puyol only plays 50% of the matches next year, what actual CB, currently on our roster, do you trust to start 25 games next to Pique? It is kinda sad that our first choice CB, after a healthy Puyol is either a LB or a DM. So yeah Maybe we need to spend on a solid CB.

    **Does anyone have any info on how much money we made this season, winning the league and CL? And what is the difference between that number and what we would have gotten if we were EE, second in the league and out in semi-finals?

    1. Unfortunately Fabio Coentrao is going to Real Madrid this summer. He wants to play for them only and says it’s up to Madrid and Benfica to discuss the fee. Looks like a done deal to me.

  5. Sorry, when I was talking about Villa above, I meant “imagine Villa playing 12-15 games less than he did this year. AN ACTUAL ROTATION!!!!!

  6. It’s Officially 1st of June In Egypt.

    It’s my Birthday .. Any advices on what should I do in my twenties ? 😀

    1. well, happy birthday fellow Egyptian Culé..never would’ve guessed Diego to be a fellow Egyptian 😛

    2. Somehow missed this earlier. Happy Birthday dude!

      I’m 80 and I don’t really remember what I did in my twenties, so I don’t really have much advice, but I hope you’ve enjoyed your day. 🙂

    3. Ahh, to be twenty again. You young’uns better enjoy your youth as much as possible. Carpe diem! Seize the day!

    4. Diego, I advise you to play a game of soccer, and keep moving and providing an outlet for the other players on the pitch with your off the ball movement. Remember to run all 90 minutes.

  7. Word on Da Skreet is dat badass man Jerome Boetang is avaliable for 20 mil. He is big, bulky and skilled. Laks pace and prolly wont fit in the tiki taka game we play!!!!! Thoughts?

    1. Absolutely right, Jerome Boateng is a nobody.

      I had to giggle when ManCity tagged him as “priceless” 😀
      This club spent hundreds of million of euros on several, actually good players, but of all their players, they claim Boateng is intransferable. Maybe it was because Bayern Munich was interested in him.

      But anyway, Jerome Boateng, with all due respect, is nowhere near the quality that this club expects from its players.

  8. This is a fantastic interview with Luis Enrique:

    http://www.fcbarcelona.com/web/english/noticies/futbol_b/temporada10-11/05/31/n110531117806.html

    How have you made the players put the team before individual interests?
    “That’s football, it is a team sport, no player can worry about themselves more than the group. That chance doesn’t exist. You have to play well as part of the team, to add to things, to organise, if you want to express yourself, you have to do so as the coach says, in the way that most helps the team. A coach is not after personal objectives, he wants to win. But as well as trying to win, my job here also meant training players to be ready to move up to the first team whenever Pep needs them. We did that to perfection. Imagine ten men thinking: ‘I want to shine; I don’t care about the score’. No, thankfully Pep doesn’t go in for that philosophy”.

    This. Right here. Is the Barca way.

    I’m going to miss Lucho so much. 🙁

  9. Re-Posting since I got a bit late:

    Legendary post Euler! A post worthy of superlatives that will embarrass even Ray Ray. All I will say is this: In the past three years of reading the Sublime Hector, the Superlative Ramzi, The man who started it all Jonathan Wilson and the best works of ZM (even though his best works seems behind him) This article is the best I’ve ever read.
    In a mail to a friend (Chelsea fan) I wrote similar ideas (though distinctly pedestrian compared to yours, obviously) before reading your review :

    “Rooney was to cover Busquets and pressure him without possession and exploit the hole behind him with it, to drag the CB shape to create spaces for Chicharito. Park (and Valencia to an extent) were to push inwards to overload the midfield and gain a numerical advantage and support Carrick and Giggs. But Park had to track Dani’s runs as well. And so was the case was Evra and CB paring as well. When Pedro was between him and Vidic it was Vidic’s responsibility and Evra was to Cover Dani’s outer run or track Messi if he drifted wide. All in all a little too much to expect out of his players but the logic was sound. Against a 4/5 in mid of Barca -Busquets, Xavi Iniesta, Messi and Dani he could out-man them with Giggs, Carrick, Rooney, Park, Valencia and Evra. And still maintain his offensive threat to keep Barca on the backfoot (I admit using Giggs was not the best idea but who was there? An injured Fletcher, a risky tackling Scholes who would, despite his tremendous heart, tire out or an Anderson who was shown up to be the true “rabbit in headlights” that you used last time round? And can you really drop someone like Giggs after the season he had and the legend that he is?)

    And guess what for a period it worked! But this is Barca that moves better than any other team. And in ways I’m sure you never noticed, busquets went deeper and deeper upfront while Xavi took his place for a deep playmaker. But Rooney tracked Busquets all the way, the reason why SAF was scolding him, and then could not pressure properly and could not provide the threat in the hole either. Messi, Perdo and Dani overloaded United’s left and that what caused the first goal- you can see Evra lose pedro to get inwards for Messi but Vidic didn’t track him. That goal was as much Vidic’s fault as much as Evra’s. More importantly it was what Barca regularly do, overlaod an area of the pitch, switch positions frequently to cause chaos and to break the shape of the defense to make the very space which was afforded to Pedro and pin point perfectly picked up by Xavi. The CB’s had to come more forward because this time Xavi and Iniesta were taking hard well placed shots infront of the box and they had to be closed down. Distorting the shape to afford space. And Villa’s goal, as spectacular and unsavable it was -just like Rooney’s- It was because Messi dragged defenders around him to afford Villa the time and space to make that shot.

    And so it was throughout the match. Barca were on a different level yesterday, point me anyone who sees Barca regularly who had ever seen Messi so serious and intense when celebrating. He had his game on a different high yesterday and so did Masch and Busquets had the game of his life (MOTM for me) and Xavi and Iniesta and Pique and Villa has NEVER worked so hard yet effectively and efficiently. Not to mention Abidal who completely removed Valencia’s threat. The one which everyone was talking about before the match. Barca played one of their best matches yesterday and in those times even chicken shit Mourinho teams who hide under their mommy’s skirt lose 5-0.

    PS Barca used offside traps, their main defensive weapon with unbelievable precision to neutralise Hernandez. And ultimately SAF’s zona mista combined with pressing with narrowing wide and forward players -as good an idea as it was- fell apart due to Pep out-thinking his tactics.”

    I felt a sense of affirmation and pride that I atleast somewhat got it.

  10. I agree…if you can’t get players for reasonable fees and wages now, then when?
    The reverse certainly seems to be true. By that I mean, everybody knows that the guys on loan have no shot and are unwanted so…caceres goes for 3+…henry and marquez for free…milito for free? ibra for loan + ? chiggy for 10…please don’t tell me max is gonna go to milan for 2 next.
    anyway, just saying that I hope there is some kind of balance found.
    and…unlike some i like the idea of rossi. Can’t see how there won’t be a need for more rotation next year, imposed or otherwise. that said i can see how attractive the cesc idea is, but really would prefer to give thiago his shot next year in rotation. cause don’t tell me after watching the final that busquets couldn’t rotate into the xavi roll too.
    if they don’t exercise the option on botia, regardless of whether they keep him or ship him as a part in a deal then heads need to be examined.
    regardless, I would echo what everyone is saying, there is a need for a young quick CB and an outside back. otherwise you have adriano as cover on both sides and then you are calling up montoya and muniesa…

  11. I told myself I wasn’t going to play football manager in my mind, but what the heck. This is what I would do this summer:

    In:
    Sakho, Willian, Rossi, Botia

    Out:
    Milito, Maxwell, Jeffren, Fontas (loan)

    I feel like the outs explain themselves except Fontas. I’d send Fontas on loan because keeping both him and Botia seems like overkill, and I think Botia is the better of the two.

    Sakho makes my list purely due to what I’ve heard about him around these parts. I haven’t watched him play but if he’s half the player people have built him up to be he would be a great long term addition to the squad.

    Willian plays as a left winger for Shakhtar, and he would provide an explosiveness on the wing that we don’t currently have. More importantly – I think his skill set would be perfectly suited to playing as a full back in our system. I could see him getting playing time at both positions depending on the match and being very successful.

    Rossi makes the list because we need a forward and all signs point towards Rossi being the forward we sign. Botia is good backup at CB for cheap, what more can you ask for?

    Overall that leaves us with a 22-man squad. Hardly an increase in numbers, but the team looks balanced and every player can contribute substantially, which is an improvement from this season.

  12. I’ve always found this WIlshere kid a bit too in your face for such a young age.
    Now he says this;

    Jack Wilshere has urged his Arsenal team-mates to copy Manchester United by harassing referees more in order to gain an upper hand in next year’s Premier League title race.

    “Scholes is undoubtedly the best midfielder of his generation” – Zidane….enough said! in repsonse to Ferdinand.

    Guys, there is a trend.
    THe team that Ibra leaves will win the CL.
    Inter in 2010 and now us in 2011.
    He really brings bad luck eh? 😆

  13. Evra and Vds almost did a Ramos
    http://img339.imageshack.us/img339/5870/u2035p6t12d5599904f44dt.jpg

    Speaking of Evra, I remember days ago I read that Pep wanted Evra.
    Why sign an aging LB? We should get Coentrao for Pete’s sake!
    I like Evra though but look what Messi did to him…

    With Saturday’s Champions League final defeat still fresh in everyone’s minds, Sir Alex spoke of the “wonderful challenge” he now faces as the Reds bid to match Barcelona on the European stage.

    “People have to understand the mechanics of the industry we’re working in,” said Sir Alex.

    “We are only allowed to coach youngsters for an hour and a half, they [Barcelona] can coach every hour of the day if they want to. That’s the great advantage they’ve got and they have a fantastic philosophy.

    “We hope that in years to come our coaches will be able to spend more time with young kids, to teach them the basics, the technical abilities and the confidence to keep the ball all the time.

    “We’re good at it but we’re not as good as Barcelona at this moment in time. It’s a wonderful challenge. We should always accept a challenge.”

    1. I understand what Ferguson’s saying with regards to English laws/restrictions, and how they do limit the amount of time they get with youth, but don’t the kids at La Masia only get football coaching for something like less than two hours a day? I remember reading an article that outlined their ‘typical day’ so to speak, and I’m sure it was around an hour and a half of training.

    2. You are right, Para. Up to the age of 16 (?) the canteranos only get a couple of hours a day of training. The difference is that the style and philosophy is the same across all levels, so the kids can move easily from one level to another and fit right in with a new team. The training focuses mainly on the ball itself, keeping it, passing it. Remember Sid Lowe’s excellent interview with Xavi where he said they do rondos every single day? Until the ball skills become second nature. Strength and endurance training come much later.

  14. If Luis Enrique goes to Roma or another team that would probably emulate our style I think it would be a great advantage to both clubs if we loaned players to his club. Our players would get more experience at an A-team level while still playing in our system while Luis would keep players with him that know his system and he can trust.
    If we got both Willian and Rossi, wouldn’t that be redundant? or can Rossi play across the front line?
    If Willian (is this the dutch player?) can play left back that would be helpful, but would it be the same as playing Adriano?
    I think our biggest need is a pacey young CB. That is what we really lack in the squad. It would be even better if it was a player like Puyol who can play both CB and RB.
    If we get Cesc I wonder if it would keep us from signing a forward. I think more than Iniesta he plays high up the pitch. He has played in the 10 spot for Spain and he often plays there for Arsenal. I think he would be a more talented, if less speedy version of 3M.

  15. I was looking at a few videos of Rossi’s goals on this season, and he looks more like Pedro than Villa TBH, Just like Pedro’s goal in the CL final, Rossi is really good at drifting away from his marker and creating gaps for passes. He likes to use his speed and tends to run the ball out wide rather than through the middle. But I havent seen how he defends or how he presses.

    Willian is very fast and he isn’t afraid to take on defenders and cut in, his shooting is surprisingly accurate. In the first leg of the quarter finals at the camp nou he took a shot from the edge of the box and if it wasn’t for Valdez having to tip away the shot it would of gone in otherwise. He seems like a very effective wide player, kind of like Afellay

  16. Continuing a bit from whether we’ll be able to continue our success in the future, of Dynasty or Decline, Pep continuing and what will happen post-Pep, Cruyff had an amazing article you can read here: http://www.totalbarca.com/2011/opinion-pieces/cruyffs-corner-of-football-and-gestures/

    Similar to what I said it will be how the president or the board reacts post-Pep in its managerial selection and how strongly it will stick or rather how readily they will abandon The Philosophy for hopes of change and success in dire times.

    Whether promoting the youth to maintain a backbone built on The Philosophy, to keep the foreign players grounded and a sense of togetherness fighting for a common cause will be maintained or whether it will be abandoned for a quick fix, a coach like Mourinho to get titles any way possible along with his horde of mercenaries to crowd out the Masia?

    These are the very tough questions before us. With the firing of Cruyff, relegation of the youth to benchwarming positions at best at the cost of the dutch brigade brought in by Van Gaal. Van Gaal who imposed his own style rather than perpetuating our greatest tradition, who fought with many players while himself being the “black sheep” of the dressing room. Caused, along with Nunez the departures of our legends and most loved. And as if to show that Nunez wasn’t so bad after all, his heir Gaspart, did even worse. Stockpiling the club with very expensive but very average cast of mercenaries. All the while, overseeing (some would say nurturing) the growth of the violent, fascist support group: Boixos Nois.
    And who knows what would’ve happened had we hired the translator Porquenho. And the little said about piggy the better.

    So what hope do we have then? Is it inevitable that we would regress once more, specially with Rosell on board who is hardly the risk taker and completely opposed to Cruyff and Laporta, so much so perhaps that he will undermine the work done and has already shown to sell Chimichurri supposedly going against Pep. The man who has defied a century old tradition to sell our shirt and pride to the highest bidder. What hope may cling upon?

    Well there is the fact that when Nunez had started to undermine all the work done by Cruyff and publically spew bile upon him at every moment, a group of young enthusiastic cules joined hands in 2000 to oppose him, to protect what was built. You may remember them as the “Elefant Blau”. The very same group who, went from 2003 from being underdogs to win the next two elections and give us our most successful era. There is the fact that Porquenho was refused as he could not fit the style and promote the youth, over a coach with the most supposedly insignificant experience. And then Porquenho was humiliated by him.

    But most of all we may take heart in the fact that this Philosophy has been so clearly vindicated that there will always always be cules to stand up for it no matter what.

  17. Shakhtar has said that they’d sell Willian for 12-15m. Buy, buy, buy, buy! No wonder his agent was in town talking. Willian would walk into the starting lineup of any big side in Europe (except ours, maybe EE). He’s for sale because he simply wants the next level, and who can blame him. Dude’s a complete package.

    1. He’s for sale because his contract expires in one year which strangely hasn’t been reported regarding his rumour with us. And I agree with you about the rest.

  18. You guys should check out this short video of Craig Foster going through examples from the CL final of how Barcelona’s attack functions but more focused on the trio Xavi, iniesta and Messi.

    This is from an Australian football show ‘The World Game’ its actually off their website. I love watching and listening to Craig Foster, he is very enthusiastic and passionate about attacking football and football in general, but he always loves the way Barcelona plays. I really recommend people to watch this video:

    http://theworldgame.sbs.com.au/video/470551/Fozz-talks-tactics

  19. 12-15 million for Willian sounds intriguing although I must admit I have only seen him play against Barça.

    I do wonder if Rossi is actually worth 25 million – a striker who has scored 10 league goals for one of the liga’s top teams…hmmm…

    I am thinking Alexis Sanchez could be the best of the three.

    1. Rossi scored 18 goals in La Liga. He was the 4th highest goal scorer in the league, I believe. He and Villa were tied just behind Aguero.

      He scored 10 goals in the Europa league and 3 in the Copa.

      31 goals in total.

      There’s a good argument for getting Sanchez.

      But Rossi is an outstanding player. I think he could be very good at Barca.

    2. 18? Aha, it was 10 goals last season. I stand corrected, thank you Euler. 25 million does not sound as crazy as I first thought, then.

      Any idea how much Sanchez would cost?

    3. Lev,

      I think Sanchez is going to be expensive. 35M? Something like that. Man City and Inter are both very interested in him. He’s got a ton of interest. He’ll be more than Rossi.

      Also, speaking of goals – Sanchez had 11 in Serie A this season. I don’t think goals are a good way of assessing a player like that but Sanchez just didn’t score very much.

      Its somewhat difficult to project how a player from Udineses will scope to other leagues as Udinese played so differently from other teams in Italy.

      That said – Sanchez is very good. He’s worth 30M or so. Not sure if he’s worth more than that. But he’s an excellent all around footballer.

  20. No one has a single thing to say about the FIFA scandal and the fact that this farce of an “election” is still happening today?

    1. Yes,no one’s paying heed to it.It’s really sad to see FIFA in that condition.I felt more sad when this corruption scandal loomed over our CL win.

      Blatter has been in the positon since 1994 if I’m not wrong.FIFA IS corrupted but Blatter is not admitting it.Otherwise like in a democracy,the presidents should change.He seemed as a dictator in his press conferences.It did’nt seem like a people’s game.It seemed more like whatever he(Blatter) is saying it’s the law and everyone SHOULD follow him.

  21. It’s FIFA – one of the most corrupt organizations in the world. What else is there to say?

    1. It is still a kind of democracy, based on delegates of national football associations, most of them not as democratic… Blatter, when he started working for Fifa, had no power base and no means to bribe or to buy votes. But he is a master in balancing all the interests of this heterogenious organisation.
      Perhaps he is still the best of all bad guys..

  22. Willian is very talented. I think the key question with him is how he would fit in at LB for Barca.

    I think that’s the position he would be most suited for in the system. And I think he would likely fit in there well, especially given the nature of how Pep wants his full backs to play.

    Willian is a good defender. He has experience playing on the press. He has a good work rate. And he’s stronger than he looks.

    His speed would be a huge asset at LB and his ball playing skills would be a significant plus.

    The only downside to him at LB is that it would give us another midget at the back. It’s not a major deal – it’s just that it’s so nice to have a lock down player who has height like Abidal at the wide position. Those kinds of defenders are just very difficult to find.

    The question I would have with Willian in a more advance wing position is that at Shakhtar he often had quite a bit of space in front of him.

    All that said – he’s an excellent footballer. He would be a significant plus in terms of depth and I think he has the potential to make an excellent LB at Barca.

    I think 15M would be a bit too high with him. Last summer Ozil was arguably the top player in the Bundesliga and coming off a fantastic WC cost 15M. This year Sahin was the Bundesliga player of the season and he cost 10M. Both had one year left on their contracts.

    12M sound much more reasonable but he should probably cost 10M at most. But Shakhtar doesn’t sell easily either.

    Adding Rossi, Willian and a CB would be an outstanding summer.

    1. Is a Willian an LB? Yikes, did not pay attention enough in the barca x shaktar match. lol… I thought he was a left winger. Geez.

    2. Joachim,

      He is a left winger at Shakhtar. But there are many LB who had once been LW. For example, Coentrao was once a LW and converted to LB.

      In the Barca system it’s somewhat of a changing line. The LB basically function as modified wing backs.

      I believe Willian has played some at LB – but I’m mostly judging him based on skill set.

    3. A good example would be my friend who was a winger during our youth days but transformed into an RB. Gianni Zuiverloon of WBA. Boateng (Dutch) was another one like many others.

    4. Hey I met Bang Bang once in a barbershop in Spangen. Cool guy.

      It is very common that professional footballers play as forward in the youth teams and are later converted to defensive mids or defenders.

      Attacking players are more talented than defenders.

    5. @Euler

      Willian is right-fooed… So I don’t understand your logic of making him a LB.

  23. It seems we are seriously interested in Rossi and an experienced back-up player.

    http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story/_/id/925065/agent-claims-barcelona-are-in-talks-to-sign-giuseppe-rossi?cc=3888

    Any thoughts? I have not seen too much of him (seriously lol)so I don´t know if he is worth it, fits the system etc. etc.

    Worth splashing the cash for Rossi if we could get Willian for half the price? Kanoute or Forlan as the backup player? Kanoute seems to be a real relaxed, go-with-the-flow type of guy so perhaps he is a better fit personality wise?

    Hope we can lower that wage bill (maxwell, hleb, luis enrique, milito etc.)

    I hope Aguero does not go to EE but to Chelsea or something.

    1. It seems Nasri is stalling on a contract at Arsenal. His contract ends in 2012. Would this be interesting for a reasonable price?

    2. 1. i don’t think Nasri will ever really fulfill his potential.
      2. apart from, eventually, Cesc, I don’t want us to buy anyone from Arsenal. We have bought enough of their players in the last ten years. Let Arsenal be.

  24. Look what the cursed one said;
    “I am not sure if players like Iniesta, Pedro, Messi or Xavi would have had any chance of making it to the top in England.”

    The player who left Inter and they won the CL and then left us and we won the CL.

    How come only now someone has mentioned Nasri? I really like him but we are stacked in that department. That boy has a good control and ball skills. He looks like a La Masia graduate. And please don’t deny it just because he is from Arsenal.

    1. Far be it from me to defend the Big Angry No-Good Swede, but that comment doesn’t mean he thinks those players aren’t good enough for the EPL. He means that small technical players like that would never have been given a chance on an English team. No coach would have looked twice at them. Paul Scholes (a small technical player) is a rare exception, and even he had to prove he was “hard enough” to give and receive tackles.

  25. Latest rumor has us interested in Thiago Motta from Milan, willing to throw in Maxwell to “sweeten” the deal.

    I used to hate the Silly Season, but then I realized that it was only the Fabregas part of the Silly Season that I hated.

    1. There’s no way Milan would give up Silva – but if he could every be had….

      He is a truly great CB. He is the best CB in the world. He would be the absolute perfect partner for Pique.

      I just can’t imagine it happening. Crazy rumor. But he would look great on the team.

    2. yeah, its far-fetched. I remembered him playing for fluminense here in Brazil and thought this kid will be a great ball-playing CB. Hoping Barca would pick him up, oh well. Still the best team on the planet.. 😉

    3. silva is real fast, can push foward better than pique, is an excellent defender and none to shabby on a dead ball. If there was a deal possible to get him, i would snatch it up in a heartbeat

    4. Motta is a Cantero. I believe he has the right DNA, and will have few problems fitting into the Barca system. He could also improve his game a lot with Pep coaching him. That would be a good fit. But he is a midfielder, and we do have a lot of those – Keita, sMash, Busi, Xavi, Iniesta vying for the 3 existing spots. In the games that I watched in which Motta played, he is mostly a good player, but he tends to have lapses of concentration which could cost the team.
      One instance I can clearly remember was a game against Chelsea, in which he was the holding midfielder, and he had this tussle with Drogba, in which he tripped Drogba, and Drogba in turn elbowed him and all kinds of shit like that. So in essence, Motta would be like a Busi, when he started with the first team, with whom Pep would have to put in a lot of TLC to nurture him and make him fit into our system.

    5. When Motta was with us I didn’t think he was good enough, and I still don’t think he’s good enough, no matter what Inter fans might say, but Kxevin was referring to Thiago Silva.

  26. completely unrelated.

    kudos to euler.just finished your post again for the 5th time.

    absolute messi.thats the biggest compliment one can give now adays.

  27. I know wat u mean euler.
    Ive been dreaming of T.Silva and the only reason i made no mention of him when people were talking up Sakho was because he only recently signed a contract renewal.

    Talk about pace, power, ball skills and anticipation. Hes totally worth 25mill+

    I would swap ibra for him in a flash esp after we sold Chiggy.

    1. Thiago Silva is the ideal CB, but I’ve never mentioned him because it’s impossible. He’s MIan’s defensive rock-their new Nesta, if you will. They could never live down selling Thiago Silva unless they received 70 million euros or something.

    2. He’s arguably the single best player in Serie A. Top 3 at least.

      It would take an outrageous amount to get him – and justifiably so. He’s just so good.

  28. It just makes you wonder doesnt it.
    We have thrown away some big money in that position with zero return (ok maybe pique).

    We just make too many demands on our Cbs.

    Maybe its time to ease up a bit and not focus too much on a Cbs footwork, esp if hes going to be partnered by pique.

  29. From totalBarca:

    As Mundo Deportivo reports, defender and Barça captain Carles Puyol has been operated on successfully and will be able to play in 2 or 3 months time.

    FC Barcelona player, Carles Puyol, has had surgery this afternoon on his left knee at the Quirón Hospital of Barcelona.

    Puyol will be discharged from the hospital on Thursday and will begin specific recovery exercises as soon as possible with club physical therapist Juanjo Brau after an operation in which they removed all the torn cartilage from his knee.

    Read more: http://www.totalbarca.com/#ixzz1O2nezkyW

  30. lolol I’ve read some of the whackest posts ever in this thread

    Can we stopped being linked to a 15m Willian? 8m topz. Puyol out 2-3 months, buy Sakho. Now.

    as JCrew mentioned Thiago Silva is perfect for our system, but he’s Milan’s next Nesta. That kid is gonna retire in Milan, and I’m sure he’ll be captain next year. He’s even moved into midfield a lot this year.

    sanchez is worth the 30m that Rossi isn’t worth. I’ve been watching him for years and he fits the system perfectly. but since we’re all being whack today I’ll listen

    which reminds me I heard we won the champions trophy versus manchester city saturday. thats awesome guys!

    1. That’s what makes silly season so fun, we can let our imainations run wild but we don’t have to suffer any consequences because what we say has absolutely no bearing on who the club signs

    2. Unbecoming ridicule aside, you can’t get near Willian for 8 million. If he were bopping about the B team, people would be screaming about why hasn’t he been promoted yet. He’s about as close as you can come to a left-side Alves, for less than half the price. Pace, ball skills, excellent crosser and passer of the ball, and scores goals if you give him a sliver of opportunity.

      He kicked our butts up and down the pitch when we played them, and ask Roma about his capabilities. Over on a Chelsea board, they were over the moon about the possibility of their club acquiring him. Simply put, he has every last one of the skills to excel in our system, and he meets a need of that system, namely a player to roll up the wing on the break, take a pass and either hold up play, or attack the goal. He’s an immensely talented player who is ready for the next level.

      The Afellays at 3 million are rare.

      As far as Sakho, the only CB I have seen who would drop right into our system is David Luiz, and we didn’t want to pay the price. Now we see who’s available. I view CB as the least of our worries, frankly. Buy back Botia, Fontas has been promoted, Pique, Abidal, Mascherano, Puyol when he returns. That’s 6 players (7 if you count Busquets) capable of playing at CB, which is plenty.

      On a more serious note, I’m not a fan of the derisive, dismissive tone that you use to belittle people in this space, and the thoughts they have.

      The reason it’s called Silly Season is because it’s rife with rumors, innuendo, gossip and nonsense. Newspapers make stuff up, fans talk about it, and some of it even comes to pass. It’s part of the annual game. If you aren’t a fan, that’s fine. Opt out. Crapping on people doesn’t help anything. Anything at all.

  31. Messi wins the Trofeo Di Stefano as Marca’s player of the league 8)

    40 goals plus one from Pepe’s arse and still not even Marca could deny the truth.

  32. From Sid Lowe’s twitter:

    Dr Cugat says Puyol has a “lovely cartilage, and shiny too. He’s like a 15 year old lad”

    I assume that’s from the press conference. 😆

    Good to hear everything went well.

  33. the might be the first time something that i like could legitimately be referred to as “hegemonic” … ay ay ay

  34. Take with as much of a grain of salt as you like, but here’s our for-sale list, according to Sport:

    Milito, Maxwell, Jeffren, Krkic, Keirrison, Henrique, Hleb, Botia, VícSán, Cáceres (already sold to Sevilla).

    None of the names are at all surprising. Krkic isn’t going to make it in Barcelona. He needs space to grow and get playing time. I see a loan as more probable for him. The rest? Make perfect sense.

    A Twitterverse person also heard rumblings of complexities between Guardiola and Thiago/his entourage as regards guarantees, etc, for the coming season. Which explains the sudden emergence of the “We’ll sell Thiago” rumors. Probably as credible as anything else in this crazy time of the year.

    1. hey if thiago wants guarantees then maybe we should get Cesc this summer. I would prefer us to keep thiago, but his heart has to be in it.

    2. Guarantees of what? Playing time? No way, no how. Talented as Thiago is, no one at Barcelona gets guaranteed minutes. Not with Pep in charge, anyway. Thiago was very good about going back to the B team when Pep asked him to earlier in the season. I suspect any rumbling is on his father’s part, not his.

    3. Putting my Football Manager pure fantast jacket on:

      IN: Aguero (Jeffren, Bojan + 20m), Thiago Silva (Ibra + 20m), Angel 5m?, Willian 8m? and Kanoute (discount price)

      OUT: Jeffren + Bojan (a madrid), Ibra (ac milan), Maxwell (some serie A team), Milito (seria A team), Keirrison (brazilian team), Henrique (bundesliga team), Hleb (anybody who wants him), VicSan (la liga team), Caceres (sevilla – what no kanoute in the deal? darn!).

      In other words, highly unlikely but still fun to speculate.

  35. apparently alexis sanchez is going to inter for 25 million and 3 players 🙁 (not confirmed though)

    1. He stays in Serie A. I’m okay with that. I watched Udinese matches when his name came up, and wasn’t all that blown away. And for 25m and 3 players? Dayum!

      I know that others who I respect the opinions of like him a lot. I go back and forth. I’d rather see, if I had to choose, Rossi rather than Sanchez.

    2. Idk. Admittedly Rossi would fit in well with Barça due to his movement. I also suspect he has a great attitude – American athletes often do, even though he has lived in Italy since he was twelve.

      From the little that I have seen what I like about Sanchez is that he seems the kind of player who can get by his man and make things happen.

      I’d be happy with Rossi though. I’d better be, since reportedly we have pretty much made the deal already.

      Rossi for 25 (?) and Willian for 12 (?) makes 37 million. Still leaves us with 20 million for a 3rd (or 3rd and 4th) player.

    3. You should have watched him with Chili during the world cup. He was in the same group as Spain and Switzerland afterall.

    4. Oh, I watched Chile, but admit to being too entertained by their overall attacking flair to focus on individual players. “Everybody, forward! Now!” Brilliant stuff.

    5. Yeah Chili really did come out to play during the WC. Delight to watch. The won 2 games only 1-0 when it should have around 5-0s or so.

    6. Yea, sad that I was on vacation at the beach during that game. I freaked out when i called to check the score. They were definitely an entertaining squad

  36. My wish list for the Silly Season:

    1. Get the “will we, won’t we?” Cesc situation resolved within the first two weeks. I would love to have him for a reasonable price (I’d pay up to 35 mill plus a player NOT named Thiago or Afellay. Throw in Hleb for free.). If that’s not enough, try again next year.
    2. AC Milan to confirm they will purchase Ibra. BANGS weeps gently in the knowledge that he will never ever win a CL.
    3. No Forlan, no Neymar, no Aguero, no Llorente.
    4. Milito to Espanyol? Why not?
    5. Mourinho/Perez buy 5 new midfielders, still can’t win anything.
    6. “We can rebuild him.”- team of doctors/engineers give Jeffren a complete overhaul and cybernetic refit. Faster, stronger, better! He stays.

    😀

    1. 1. what if Thiago or his dad keep throwing fits this summer about playing time demanding guarantees?
      2. Ibra would be perfect for Madrid. I would hate to see him there.
      (suspect they will get Tevez or Kun or both plus Drogba)
      3. agree with the no’s.
      4. I guess. That way Messi will still have his homeboy around.
      5. see 2.
      6. I can’t think of Jeffren without imagining that photo of him on his bed holding his cat. Get rid of him asap please

    2. 1. Sell Thiago’s dad to Arsenal. Keep Thiago. Any more trouble and we threaten to sell Rafinha too. (Seriously, if this really becomes an issue I would say goodbye to Thiago with thanks. NO ONE is bigger than this team.)
      6. It wasn’t a cat, it was two chihuahuas.

    3. 1. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
      6. even worse. at this point i would even trade him for hleb

    4. I wasn’t aware of Thiago’s father throwing any fits recently about playing time… in fact I was under the impression that he had been a whole lot more subdued over the last 6 months.

    5. Too tall. We only employ midgets, unless you are like Pique or Busquets and related to someone in the organization. 😛

      (I’ve said about a million times that Llorente is not suited to our system. Half the goals he scored this year were with his head. He is used to being a lone striker. We don’t, and won’t, play that way.)

    6. “Half the goals he scored this year were with his head.”

      And the other half with his feet, so whats wrong about that?:D

      He is not coming, so won’t repeat how perfect he is for us.

    7. I think Llorente would be a delight in our system. I just don’t know, barring a big ol’ passel of patience, how he would take to sitting on our bench. Unless the front line is he, Messi and Villa, which would kinda be badass. Recall how much hell he raised on the wing of our attack, skinning Alves and Pique.

    8. Is it too wrong to yearn for someone like Kluivert?

      He’s even used to take a backseat for someone like Torres, so no doubt he’ll have no worries sitting on the bench 😛
      Seriously, people thought Masch was gonna have a problem with playing time and look how that turned out.

      But, as Alan Hanssen pointed out, we play without a ‘striker’ and I don’t think that’ll change, especially after the Ibra fiasco..

  37. Thiago Motta? HA!

    Geez its just a couple of days after we won and I see people getting affected by silly season. I hope I can stay sane till the next season.

    *Pops Hector pill* Guess I can!

  38. In response to ooga aga:

    I agree. When I started following this team it was easily the “underdog” compared to Madrid, and to be honest that played a small part in me becoming a fan of the team. If you had told me then that the team would win 3 CL’s in 6 seasons there is no way I would have believed it.

    “Hegemony” is a word I’ve often felt has a negative connotation, and I was initially using it in a tongue-in-cheek way. As I think about it, it is perfectly appropriate here. Not only is the team dominant when it comes to winning trophies, but they have defined a philosophy which is changing the game.

    But I still agree, it feels weird to be a fan of a hegemonic force.

  39. Nothing to do with silly season, sorry.

    Just wanted to mention this quote from Graham Hunter:

    “But the orchestra leader this time might have to be Xavi rather than Casillas. Xavi is the outgoing one, the great one. The greatest footballer Spain has ever produced.

    I kinda choke up reading these things about our boys. It could be true. And if so, I cannot get over how privileged we are to be watching them week in week out.

    I really hope we buy well this summer and have an even better team this coming season.

    (http://espn.go.com/sports/soccer/news/_/columnist/hunter_graham/id/6614419/is-spanish-national-team-house-divided-graham-hunter-soccer)

    1. Oh gosh, thanks for that, Barcaleya. Reading that post, though, and I can’t help but feel some resentment towards Spain and Casillas. The magic’s gone for me. I only supported Spain because of the Barca players…

      I <3 Xavi more and more every day. He's so awesome. Ahhhh.

    2. Oops, Graham Hunter didn’t consider that Xavi wasn’t even called up for the USA game. Might be hard for the two captains to reconcile when neither Xavi or Puyi are going!

      And what’s wrong with la Roja? Sure, there’s always the risk of the many cultural identities clashing when they all meet up to play, but that’s part of the beauty when it all comes together!

    3. Hi Kari – yes, I’ve been really angry with the RM players lately as well. I’ve always supported Spain (for some crazy reason) even when it did not have as many Barca players in it. So I’m sad at what’s going on now.

      Unbelievable what Mou has done to what I thought were the most gentlemanly of players – Alonso and Iker. Now, Iker is bloody irritating. He just won’t shut up. He just had to say that had they not lost the semis (in dubious circumstance) – they would have won the final, etc. Just shut up please. I seriously don’t care for them anymore. I’m sure La Roja will survive without any of the RM players.

      Ryan – it’s not just incompatible cultural identities, I think it’s become personal. I really think that RM players hate/envy Barca players now. Which doesn’t bode well for unity of the team.

      Anyway – I think del Bosque is wise enough to see problems and strong enough to do what must be done to solve them.

  40. Soccernet are reporting contact w/ Rossi & his agent, sounds promising. The question is, what is his value. He is young, fast, has a killer shot and seems willing to learn. I also love the fact that he is obviously familiar with La Liga. I see him as a long term replacement for Villa. I figure that he can play everywhere on the front line. We know Villa plays better on rest (see Wembley), so lets have him float between the wings. He can start 10 games on the right, 10 on the left, be the first sub up front and start next to Bojan in Copa games.

    Inter is also reportedly interested in Rossi, as Eto’o may be on his way to England. That’s kind of scary, cause he his an Italian international (which is B.S, he was born in Jersey).

    Another good thing about Rossi is that his stats have steadily progressed upward since he has been at Villarreal, 13, 15, 17 & 32 goals in the last four years, with the big jump coming last year. He also scored 11 goals in Europe last year in 16 games, albeit in the Europa league. (Messi scored 12 in Europe last year). If the front office was super bold, they could make a double swoop trying to get Nilmar (who is a beast!!!!!) as well. If this crazy idea came to fruition, we could give them Bojan on loan, and put JDS in the deal as a make weight. Cash Value is like 45m euros for both 20m for Nilmar and 25m Euuros for Rossi. If we tossed in Bojan on loan and sold them JDS, we may get it dropped from 45m to 30-35m, which would be sweet!!!!!

    1. Nilmar and Rossi together would be amazing, they were one of the most feared striking duo in Europe/la liga this season, they work so well togther its amazing to watch.

      But Villarreal are more than happy to keep Rossi, and I think Rossi is the same with staying at the yellow subs. The only thing I see Villareal being able to listen to offers for Rossi is because they still have Nilmar. Its one or the other for me.

      The good thing about Rossi is that he has played against us and has been very deadly. Alexis Sanchez has never played against us and really we don’t know what he is like and whether or not he will fit into this squad.

      I think in regard to our CB position, Assuming we will buy a new LB/LM, I think we either will opt for another Centre midfielder and rely on Masch/Abidal to replace Puyol, or we will go for a new CB eg(Sakho, Thiago Silva). IMO Botia isn’t ready to come back yet, I don’t have full confidence in him.

    2. I would not like us getting both Nilmar and Rossi.

      1. we are Barça, not Villareal.
      2. it would very much limit the development of both to integrate in our squad and to improve as footballers.
      If Rossi comes he will have to share minutes with Afellay and Bojan meaning 2 out of those 3 might not be happy with becoming 5th choice. Adding Nilmar would be one of those 2+2=3 situations.

  41. In case you missed this on barcastuff. “Barcelona’s top 20 goals of 2010/11”:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GksXnffW3c0&feature=youtu.be

    You can argue with several of the choices, some of them seem more sentimental picks than technically superior ones. Where is Keita’s immense header? Pedro’s goal from that brilliant Fontas pass? Xavi’s distance shot through the tiniest slot past three defenders (damn, what was that game again?).

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