Jun 27, 2009

There were some tricky contract negotiations to be done for Barca this summer. Luckily they have concluded the most important one of all. Yaya Toure has signed a new deal which will keep him at the club till 2012. This one deal extension wwas shrudded in mystery for sometime. Especially with reports emerging about Guardiola's new found likeness for Mascherano. He was linked with a move out of the club and I have earlier written against any such move by the club - Guardiola Prefers Mascherano to Toure.The details of the new deal is not clear but he is sure to get a much better pay scale with this deal. The buyout clause has been raised from 66 million Euros to 100 million Euros. It is a great relief to fans like myself to see Toure extending the deal. He has been the most consistent performer in the last two seasons apart from Iniesta and Xavi. He compliment Barca's atatcking talent too well, you just have to watch that wonder goal against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa Del Rey final for a testimony.

Meanwhile there is not much clarity about the big signings in the transfer market. But as I said in my last post, most probably Filippe will be our first official signing of this summer. Mean while there are reports that Valdes will be signing a new deal very soon.

Jun 26, 2009

If all negotiations goes fine, Filipe Luis, the Brazilian left back who is currently with Deportivo could become Barca's first official signing this summer. Luis Filippe has been one of the major players in a good season for Deportivo in which they finished seventh. Sport.es has reported that the negotiations are still in advance stage. Deportivo is asking for 10 million for the left-back, who can also play in midfield. FC Barcelona currently is trying to lower the price by two million. With the departure of Sylvinho, Barca definitely needs more cover in the left-back position. The player has publicly stated his dream of playing in the Barcelona stripes, and the club also stated the same. So if everyting goes according to plan we should be able to sign him within the coming two weeks. But the biggest story right now circulating in transfer market is that - Barca has offered David Villa a four year contract. FC Barcelona also seems ti have made an offer of around 45 million for the Spanish Striker.

That big amount definitely means that Eto will be moving out to raise the money and it looks like Manchester City is well placed to grab the Cameroonian striker. Meanwhile Manchester United has also is reported to have tabled an offer of 47 million for David Villa, but the player for now has ruled out a move to England. Meanwhile with the days passing it looks like Ribery is interested more in a move to Real Madrid than Madrid. That makes it important for us to sign a guy who is good on the left side. we also would love to have an attacking midfielder as a cover to Iniesta and Xavi.

Jun 16, 2009

I couldn't update regularly in last couple of days. But it looks like there was not much of development about Barca in Transfer Market. But the biggest news in Transfer Market as today is a reported 50 million bid for Valencia striker Villa. Valencia is reported to be asking for more but there is a high chance of Barca beating Real madrid to his signature. If that happens we will see Eto moving to Manchester City, most probably. But there were reports from England suggesting that Ferguson might be interested in the Cameroonian striker. But I doubt the credibility of that news and expects Manchester City to sign him as they will be the only one willing to pay his demanded salary. Meanwhile Villa and Barca has kept silence on all these rumours. Villa will be the perfect person to replace Eto as he can easily fit into Barca's style of play. Meanwhile the negotiations between Valdes and FC Barcelona has broken down for the n-th time. Valdes is looking for an improved contract which will put him on par with other stars in the team. Mean while Barca is reported to be keeping their plan B open, if Valdes leaves. Pepe Reina, Asenjo all are reported to be in Barca's radar.

Meanwhile it is expected that Barca will finally present Yaya Toure with a improved contract. After being told by Benitez that Mascherano is not up for sale, Barca looks like have decided to extend the contract of the best defensive midfielder in the world. Meanwhile Barca looks like to be in prime position to land Deprtivo La Coruna's Luis Fillipe. Juventus and Atletico Madrid are also in the race but Barca definitely has the advantage.

Jun 10, 2009

If reports by El Mundo Deportivo is to be believed then the deal to swap FC Barcdelona striker with Eto with Inter striker Ibrahmovic is all done. The daily reports that Barca will offer an additional 10 million plus the service of their star centre forward for the service of the swede. Guardiola rates Ibrahmovic high and believes that he is more suited to his plans than Eto. But Ibrahmovic always was considered a big match flop, his performance with Sweden in major competition does make that belief firm. Whatever, there is no doubt about the fact that he is more talented than Samuel Eto. But is he the kind of striker who we need upfront? I am not sure, someone like Villa would have been perfect. But then Madrid is reported to have almost got hold of his signature. Zlatan Ibrahimović along with Kaka is the highest paid footballer in Europe and that could be another problem for Barca. FC Barcelona could easily match his salary but then have to raise the salaries of Messi, Xavi and Iniesta to match Ibra's. At 27 he has some playing time left and that could be good for Barca. Meanwhile El Mundo Deportivo reports that Ibra is desperate for a switch as he believes he can win the Champions League with FC Barcelona.

The early negotiation with Inter were reported to have broken down as the Inter president was first demanding the service of Eto plus 40 million. Then there were reports that he was looking for a swap between Iniesta and Ibra, but Laporta would be killed if that happens. Meanwhile Sport.es looks like have picked the star they want in Barca this season - David Silva. They have run a story describing that how he loves Barca style and the club. There is no doubt that he is the perfect signing for Barca but we have to fight heavily with Madrid for his service. Laporta in the mean time looked to have taken a dig at the high price transfer of Kaka to Madrid, he is probably right in pointing out. But I am tempted to ask this - Where is Platini? He made so much noise when Manchester City almost signed Kaka, why is he silent now?

Jun 9, 2009

It was never a secret that Guardiola preferred Busquets and Keita to Toure when he started his reign at Barca. He entered into compromise with Eto early on the season but convincingly overlooked Toure many times during the start of season. But there are some talents you can't keep on bench, and Toure proved to be one of them. He made the likes of Keita and Busquets looked amateur in the defensive midfielder role. There was a contract negotiation to happen in the end of season and every Barca fan expected to finish off woth relative ease. But now it looks like Guardiola is holding to his belief that Toure is not suitable for his team. Laporta recently hailed Valdes (a player who is already doing his contract negotiations) a great Goal Keeper and hoped that Barca can retain the service of Eto. But he very casually forgot to mention anything about the big Ivory Coast player. Guardiola is rumoured to have contacted Argentinian captain Mascherano and sees him as the ideal choice for our midfield. It doesn't come as any surprise as Guardiola always goes ahead with his stupid thinkings.

Toure has been one of the major stars of Barca's treble winning season but is one of the least paid stars. In normal circumstances Barca management would have increased his pay scale as he along with Iniesta were our two consistent players for last two season. But they are hesitating to do so this time and there could be only one reason to it - Guardiola does not see in his future plans. Mascherano on the other hand has been excellent this season. But everyone forgets the fact that he plays in a midfield with Gerrad and Alonso along with him. How he will fare in a three men attacking midfield is yet to be seen, ofcourse if he makes the switch. When Machesrano's name started getting linked with Barca, I thought Guardiola wanted him as a back up to Toure as Toure and Keita would be away for some time due to African Nations cup. But the idea of him replacing Toure baffles me. But anyway Toure has enough interest with the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City and Italian giants in his hunt. But agains Toure's stupid decision to sign a low salary pay with a 90 million buy-out clause could do more harm to Toure than the Club.

Meanwhile Sport.es reported that Ribery is more close to signing for Barca at this moment. Sport also reports that Barca is close to finalising a deal with Luis Fillipe. Meanwhile the Galactico ero has restarted at Real Madrid with record signing of Kaka today. Next could be Ronaldo and Ribery in their sights.

Jun 7, 2009

The initial impression from the transfer market gives us an impression fo a lack of direction from FC Barcelona mangement. Eto looks like is out of Guardiola's plans and now there is rumours that Yaya Toure has rejected a improved deal. Yaya Toure has been one of our best players from the last two season, but he still earns much less than his team mates. Guardiola in the begining of season was not much fond of this great Ivorian - Is It Good-Bye Yaya, but he simply proved Guardiola wrong by being a colossal in that attacking midfielder. Guardiola constantly preferred Busquests and Keita in the defensive midfielder role in the begining but later he gave an impression of admitting the fact that Toure Yaya was leaps and bounds above the two in that position. But when you analyse this new problem with the deal and the constant linking of Mascherano to Barca, you have to admit whetehr Guardiola runs the team with some preconceived notion. Couple this with the rumours of Eto moving out of the team this season, you seriously doubt Guardiola. Guardiola seems to prefer Ibrahmovic to Eto and in most probability we will see him leave this season. I am not a big fan of Eto's behaviour but I believe he is the best center-forward which complements Barca's style of play. And unsettle him without clear back-up plans is suicidal.

Barca's initial attempt to lure Ibrahmovic looks to have back-fired. There is no clarity about Benzema. Again there is no proof that both will do well at Barca. Ibrahmovic plays in a team whose playing style is completely different from what Barca follows. In that sense Benzema could be a better choice. Same issue is there with Mascherano; I seriously don't think he can play the way Toure plays for Barca. If we are going to have both of them it could be good. But leaving Toure out for Mascherano could backfire spectacularly. Barca is still in hunt for the left-back position but again there is no clarity of whom we are targetting. Eevryone wants Lahm to be there but till now in this transfer window, we haven't hear Barca making any approach for him. Ashley Cole and Riise both have been linked, but will be very difficult to sign. Diego Forlan's signing also could be tough as Real Madrid with all their riches is supposed to be behind him. The biggest trouble could be in midfield - Silva is negotiating with Madrid and Fabregas is in everybodies radar. There is a high chance that Barca management will unsettle the likes of Eto and Toure; and maybe in the end has to still retain their service. That could potentially seed troubles in the dressing room. Guardiola's preconceptiona and Iron-hand approach are not making life easy either.

Jun 5, 2009

Another season got over and the transfer window has been thrown open. This is the time when half-truths and total lies rule the world of football. I will try to brief all the latest transfer rumours about Barca here. But I can't guarantee anyone about the amount in truth in these rumours. If it was all true, there would have been no fun in it. The first news which has caught my attention is that Barca is keen on extending Valdes' service till 2014. Now that does not surprise anyone, does it? He had a great series of showing and was expecte dto be rewarded for that. Meanwhile sylvinho has been released by the club. He has not yet found a club to get in, but it is more or less clear that Barca is not keen on extending his contract. Today Sport.es has reported that the club has decided against loaning out Bojan next season. There were earlier reports of Bojan being loaned out for a year, so that he can get more playing time. But it seems Barca will be able to give him decent amount of playing time next season.

Samuel Eto has been linked left, right and centre with a host of clubs. Eto has re-iterated his intentions to remain in Barca. But the club looks like have decided to cash on him, if they can find a replacement. Manchester City is supposed to be ready to splash cash get him, there was another rumour suggesting a possible exchange between Ibrahmovic and Eto. Let's wait and watch what comes out of this saga. Meanwhile Real Madrid transfer saga is going in full flow. It looks like they have almost grabbed Kaka and is looking to sign Ronaldo, Ribery, Silva and Villa. Silva and Ribery has been our target and the interest shown by a host of clubs will inflate their respective prices. Another strange rumour is the possibility of John Arne Riise joining Barca. Fc Barcelona has been looking someone to strengthen the left back side. Riise's name has suddenly got into the scheme of things.

Jun 2, 2009

FC Barcelona will be having a along and much tougher next season. We will be fighting for six trophies altogether as I explained in my previous post. Guardiola has already asked for a larger squad that means we will be going to the market looking to buy good re-inforcement. Guardiola has also said that he don't want injuries to hamper his team selection like the way it did in Rome. More over Gudjohnsen and Hleb will be moving out this summer and you need decent cover-up for them also. Now to make things more complicated for him, there is a bunch of youngsters who are knocking on the doors. Bojan case could be tricky but I expect him to stay as there are more matches next season for him. Then there are the likes of Pedro, Jeffren, Muniesa, Sanchez etc who all has to be given decent time with first team. Otherwise we might see many moving out in coming summers. Now this could be a real nightmare for Guardiola.But every pundit agree on one fact that FC Barceloan has to buy big this season. Injuries to some stars put us in some serious pressure recently and we don't want a repeat of the same.

When we say about a re-inforcement we most probably has to look in a position by position basis. So I will start from the back. Victor Valdes has been fighting for a contract on par with the big guns in the side for sometime. FC Barcelona recently has sounded positive in handing him a contract which is agreeable to both the parties. And his recent performance in League and Europe do merit a new contract. But FC Barcelona should definitely try to sign a better goal keeper if available like the likes of Cech, Buffon etc. If they are not available, Valdes will remain our first choice but we have to bring a decent back up for him, as a second choice. Jorquerra should be allowed to leave and should be replaced by a young goal keeper. Oier Olazabal did impress me but may need more time to be competitive in the premier league. Now comes the centre back position; if people thinks we need reinforcement there, they should be crazy. Puyol, Marquez, Milito, Caceres, Pique and most probably Henrique to choose from; I don't think we need anymore there. Next is the full-backs; we definitely need re-inforcement there. Someone like Lahm would be ideal as he can play as both full-backs and we already have Puyol who can play in both position. There are reports of Barca going for Lahm, let's hope all of these work-out.

Now we come to the engine of Barca - the midfield. We have the best trio in there with Iniesta, Xavi and Toure. the likes of Busquest and Keita can cover for them. But we saw this season what happens when we miss either of Iniesta and Xavi from the middle. So we need a real creative head as a cover for any injuries to the wonderful duo. Valencia's Silva will be the most ideal choice as he can play in the front left also. That means he will be the perfect choice for two positions. The name of Fabregas is also heard for that positionl; eventhough he would be great, he will be more costlier than Silva. Upfront also we need some re-inforcement. First we have to tie Eto to a new contract. Then we should buy a decent striker who will have no problem in starting from the bench. Someone like Martins of Newcastle could be a good choice as he is surely talented and will add a bit for threat in air also. We also need to have a cover for the aging Henry and who else sould be perfect than another French Man - Frank Ribery. The most ideal choice for that left position would be Kaka and Ribery but we will have to fight really hard with Real Madrid for one of them. Barca has never shown any intereste in Kaka, so we can discard him from the list. But there is a host of clubs which are after Ribery. So we have to wait and watch, how these story develops.

It will be difficult for Guardiola to look back into history and draw his plans for the future; because he stands alone in this wonderful juncture of footballing history. No coach has achieved the coveted treble in his opening season and Guardiola understands the significance of the same more than anyone. After the match in Rome, he said "I have achieved everything and I will be leaving tomorrow". That was just meant as a joke, but it also revealed that Guardiola understand the magnitude of his achievement. Guardiola has more trophies to look forward for next season but he needs to keep himself and his players firmly rooted to ground. There is a high chance that the players could be a bit complacent on the wake of the biggest achievement in La Liga history. FC Barcelona would be competing for six trophies next season. The two super cups, the World Club Championship, the La Liga, the Copa Del Rey and the UEFA Champions League. That means that is going to be another lengthy and tougher season and any complacency from his or his players part will be scrutinised heavily by media.

Guardiola has to be the most well-equipped manager to handle complacency. He has brought in discipline and accountability to this Barca side and has never deviated from for whole of the season. The fining players for being late by a minute after the League triumph serves the best example for that. But the extend of challenge that lie ahead for him is enormous. We have a high chance of ending trophyless next season, but then again we have a chance to end next season with half a dozen trophies. The first two trophies are the Supercopa de España and the UEFA Super Cup both will be held in August. Since Barca were the winners of both La Liga and Copa Del Rey, Atletic Bilbao will be our opponent in Spanish Super Cup. FC Barcelona will be playing Shaktar Donetsk in teh UEFA Super Cup which will be held on the 28th of August at Louis 2 Stadium in Monaco. Victories in these trophies will not be highlighted by the media but failure will surely be. Then the League will start and then Champions League and Copa Del Rey.

Guardiola has rightly emphasized on the need to have a larger squad next season. We will be playing constantly next season and we should definitely have re-inforcements ready for critical position. I will highlight those in my next post. Guardiola's advantage of coaching Barca B should also come into picture as we should be able to see new talents emerge from the youth structure. Guardiola and Txiki Begiristain quest in Transfer Market would be made difficult by the presence of Real Madrid and Manchester City, both of them reportedly have a 250 million tranfer kitty available. Add the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and the newly rich Portsmouth, Barca will have some tough time ahead in the market. FC Barcelona will definitely have the advantage in signing players because of his history and recent success, but the presence of so much rival clubs will simply hike the price.

Another matter which will require immediate attaenction from Guardiola will be about negotiating the contracts about key players. The most important will be Eto, Valdes and Toure. In Eto's case both parties involved has expressed their interest in penning a long lasting deal. Valdes also for me will be given a deal which is wort his stature as his recent exploits have been good fro Barca. There is no doubt that Toure is the best defensive midfielder in the world right now and Guardiola has to be a fool to let him go. He also needs to find proper clubs for Hleb and Gudjohnsen and seriously has to come out in open with what he plans to do with Bojan. Bojan is a huge talent and he has to decide whether he will be able to give him enough playing time or has to find a club to loan him out. Tha fans and players can take some rest after a gruelling and delightful season but sadly not GUardiola.

Jun 1, 2009

FC Barcelona's triumph in Rome did shatter some firm belief held by English media and English clubs. The biggest has to be the "English Clubs" claim to be the most potent attacking force in the world. That belief was shattered rather brilliantly by one of the most attacking team in the history of the game. FC Barcelona vs Manchester United was supposed to be a mis-match, according to some English media. They said the same last season also. FC Barcelona was having all kind of defensive worries and their attack was considered impotent to break a defense which kept clean sheets for eternity. This precise thinking for me led to Manchester United's downfall as I pointed out in my previous post Why Manchester United were Stunned by FC Barcelona in the Final?. But this victory also destroys the usual claim by English clubs, fans and media to ridicule Barca's style of playing. According to English media, FC Barcelona play a brand of football which looks good for viewing but is deemed to be incappable in winning titles. And even if they do, then could only do in a league where even the bottom placed team come out to attack the champions. But then you will be compelled to ask, how else should the beautiful game be played? I recently came adcross an article by Richard Williams of Guardian - Barcelona's triumph holds hope for Arsène Wenger's brand of football. That article precisely points out the state of English football. English Premier League is indeed the most toughest league in world right now; but I haven't heard someone calling it as the most brilliant or exciting league in the world. How can someone call this league an exciting one when Ballack who was supposed to be the most exciting Genrman midfielder plays like a defensive midfielder in Chelsea and still gets payed more than 100,000 pounds per week. My room-mate(who is a Chelsea fan) still don't understand why they extended his deal.

But if you have thought the brilliant display by Barca in Rome could make the Big four of English League to be more attacking, then you are wrong. The early indication is that pundits are calling for a Chelsea like approach against Barca as they have finally agreed that Barca are the masters in their own style of playing. They also seemed to be agreeing and appreciating the fact that they are the only team capable of playing an attacking brand of football and still winning. Only Chelsea fans and pundits seems to differ. I have agreed earlier that FC Barcelona was indeed lucky to get past Chelsea. But then to an extend you can say that Chelsea digged their own grave by the wasy they played football. Atleast after Barca were reduced to ten men they could have sealed the match, but they will hardly leave their box and in a cruel turn of fate they were eliminated by an Iniesta screamer. But I have read some Chelsea fans comments that FC Barcelona's triumph over Manchester United is equal to Chelsea winning the Champions League. I have only one answer to that - dream on. Shaktar Donetsk has beaten us at our home does that make the reigning UEFA cup winner good for the title of UEFA Champions League winner?

But in between all these triump, everyone forgot a bigger fact. A fact which became existent in England. The fact that a good youth system can bring success for the club. English clubs have long abandoned the youth academies which once made them proud. The new owners does not find any merit in investing in young talents. The Manchester side which achieved the treble prior to this Barcelona side had a bunch of recruits honned and nurtured by the club. The success of that Manchester United side has to be associated to that philosophy as it becomes difficult for rival clubs to grab these talents. Just look at the continuing Ronaldo saga. The FC Barcelona side which triumphed at Rome had six home-grown players which started the match and seven altogether who played in the match. Iniesta, Xavi, Messi, Puyol, Pique and Valdes are one of the best in their respective departments at this moment. THe second line of supply is already there with Bojan, Pedro, Jeffren, Muniesa, Sanches, etc. Some may part ways but still will dream about a day of returning back. The big four in English football and Italian football would do a world of good for them and the nation by getting their focus back to Youth structure.

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