El Centrocampista

Unrealistic Barcelona supporters may be disappointed with summer signings

With only the dummy trophy left to play for, Barcelona’s season has undoubtedly been a disappointment, and if there’s one key reason for that it’s exhaustion. Over the last four years international tournaments have relentlessly led into fighting for three trophies, followed by another international tournament and the process continues. To make matters worse, Barça’s pre-season was catastrophic, and in the end the collapse which cost them two titles was almost inevitable.

The players themselves aren’t to blame: in a sense it was an impossible task to begin with. Even poor organisation over the summer pre-season doesn’t tell the whole story. Simply put, Barcelona didn’t have the squad to suffer major injuries and absences like those of Villa and Abidal then continue to compete with Real Madrid’s array of stars. Is there any other team in the world that could afford to leave someone as expensive as Kaka or someone as highly rated as Higuain on the bench? That says it all.

The aftermath has seen the Catalan media and Barcelona supporters alike go wild with speculation over who Barcelona will draft in this summer to solve the problem. Except the problem with that logic is, it’s vastly misleading.

Gareth Bale, Robin van Persie, Fernando Llorente, Javi Martinez, Tiago Silva and more have been linked as possible arrivals at the Camp Nou in the summer, with some even going so far as to suggest all could come. Wake up, guys. Barcelona just can’t afford that kind of expenditure.

Spain is crippled financially, and the kind of loans that would facilitate Barcelona to move for those stars in the past simply can’t be granted anymore. The papers know this too, and in an effort to try and provide some sort of rationale they argue that David Villa and Dani Alves will both be offloaded to bring in the money. Yet more flawed logic.

Taking David Villa first, Barcelona would be have to be fools of an Ibrahimovician proportion to sell Spain’s greatest ever striker at this stage. His absence was glaringly obvious in Barcelona’s failure to break down stubborn sides this year, and upon his return to fitness there won’t be a better person to step in and fill David Villa’s role than, well, David Villa.

Moreover, his lengthy injury ensures no club would pay his true worth at this moment, even if he has a brilliant Euro 2012, which in itself is asking a lot from a guy that hasn’t played for half a year. Barcelona have made some crazy transfer deals in the past, but Sandro Rossell has shown himself to be fairly astute in this area, to his credit. The prices he paid for Alexis Sanchez and even Cesc Fabregas last year were nothing short of miraculous.

Then there’s Dani Alves. It’s easy to forget, but Alves is as big a part of Barcelona’s success under Guardiola as was placing more responsibility on Messi, or making sure Xavi and Iniesta play together when possible. Alves gives Barcelona something extra, on his best he’s as good going forward as any winger, and, lest we forget, vastly underrated in terms of his positional sense which facilitates his attacking forays. The media insist on trying to crucify the Brazilian for his defensive ‘fallibility’, but how many times in the past have we seen him shackle someone like Cristiano Ronaldo when it counted?

For Barcelona to trade Dani Alves for Gareth Bale would be like swapping your Ferrari for a Porsche Boxster. Bale is a talent, there’s no doubt about it, but he’s nowhere near the level Alves is now, or even was when he left Sevilla for Barcelona. When Alves finally loses his engine (it will happen, one day), and Bale has continued to grow as a player as necessary, then, maybe then, will we see the Welshman better the Barcelona fullback, but it’s a long way off at the moment.

Without those two big-money sales Barcelona re-enter the world of reality when it comes to their summer options. The club has the money for perhaps one sizable deal, Thiago Silva of Milan remains priority number one in that regard. On top of that, funds will be limited, though the likely movement of Seidou Keita could free up some cash for one more decent arrival.

The most obvious other signing therefore is Jordi Alba from Valencia. Alba will never be a replacement Abidal, so important and irreplaceable is the Frenchman, but he does offer genuine attacking quality at a reasonable price and, crucially, he understands the club and the system. For those reasons he is so highly rated by his former club, but he’s hardly a super-star signing.

Perhaps I will be made to eat my words, but on the evidence of the past few years combined with the financial context within which Barcelona currently operate, anyone expecting a spate of Galactico style signings is living in a dream world. Barcelona can’t afford it and Barcelona won’t afford it, so don’t be disappointed when it comes.


  1. Haris

    11 May, 2012 at 11:39

    “With only the dummy trophy left to play for, Barcelona‘s season has undoubtedly been a disappointment,…”

    I stopped reading after that. What makes you think that Copa del Rey is a dummy trophy? How about FA Cup? is that a dummy trophy too?
    And what makes you wonder Barca has a disappointing season? In total 62 games they played this season they managed to won 46 drawn 12 and lost only 4 with blistering goal scoring value of 185 with only 46 goals scored against them. 31 players from their squad played all season. The style of football they play is admired by entire World and every single Football loving fan watch their game no matter who they are playing against. Every player in the World now wanted to be a part of the Team. They are competing in top flight Spanish football for remarkable 81st consecutive season.

    Yet this season only they won 3 trophies; SuperCopa against Real Madrid, Fifa Club World Cup by beating Santos in the Final and Uefa Super Cup by winning the final against FC Porto.

    I think these stats are more than enough to silence the critics!

    • FCB1899

      11 May, 2012 at 12:14

      It has been a very disappointing season The Supercopa and the Uefa Supercup do not hold any significant value – neither does the FIFA World Club Cup to European sides, so I don’t think they will in any negate the disappointment of losing the league title for the first time in four season or failing to get past an average Chelsea side in the Champions League.

      It is all very good to score a hatful of goals annd break records and play good football (although some of the displays away from home this year were far from impressive)but if you relinquish your title to your bitter rivals it surely has to be disappointing no?

      And the Copa del Rey also holds significantly less value than the league title – as the FA Cup does in England. Both trophies are at the bottom of the priority list for big clubs at the start of the season.

      • Chisbona

        11 May, 2012 at 21:39

        It may be a disappointing season but definately not ‘very disapointing’. My reason for not using the word ‘very’ is that dispite losing la liga and champions league Barca won super cups and club world cup. Secondly, is there a club in spain that would claim to have had a VERY successful season? Definately Madrid had their own disppointment as well despite winning la liga. What makes Madrid enjoy winning la liga more is that they won it after beating Barca at camp Nou. Similarly, I can not belittle winning Copa del rey this year because in the process Barca beat Real. If anything both teams used their best players in the copa crush with each other and Real would have loved to retain it. The other positive for Barca is Messi’s achievements even if they are not equivalent to winning la liga or champions league. Laslty, may be the writter called it very disappointing because of the high level of expectations placed on Barca were they were favourites to win every thing. Well, we all knew that with key players missing due to injuries, it was not easy to win everything. Therefore, finishing second in La liga, semi final champions league, final copa del rey, winners club world cup,spanish super cup, Euefa super cup plus Messi’s individual accolades may not be a very disappointing season.

  2. Lee Roden

    11 May, 2012 at 12:15

    How much do Barcelona celebrate their record number of Copas compared to every time they claim a Liga/European Cup, both of which is far inferior in numbers to Real Madrid’s wins?

    I think that tells you enough about which of the three is the least important, and how much FCB value it. It’s a nice consolation prize, just like it was for Madrid last year, but don’t kid yourself on that these kind of competitors will be happy with it.

  3. Babak Golriz

    11 May, 2012 at 12:29

    Good article. Agree with it generally but I do think Barcelona will make at least one 30-35m Euro player signing.

  4. Liam

    11 May, 2012 at 12:31

    Like it or not, Haris, the Copa del Rey is on a par with the Carling Cup in England – no one treats it that seriously in Spain. Certainly Barcelona’s season will not be considered a success if they win it – for many years in Spain, the ONLY measure of a successful campaign for the big two is winning the league or the Champions League.

    Even if Barca had not been so hugely successful in recent years, winning just the Copa Del Rey would not be deemed enough – and although as you say they have also won three other trophies, I would suggest that most connected with the club will not be thinking ‘it’s ok, we don’t need to be in the CL final, we won the Supercopa, Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup this year’ next Saturday night.

  5. Yury

    11 May, 2012 at 12:36

    They have been competing for all trophies until almost the end. They had the level to win all. With normal refereeing they win the league, and with a bit more luck they win the CL. So talking about a disappointing season is showing you’re just another journalist who goes for the easy analysis and doesn’t look further than the result.

    • FCB1899

      11 May, 2012 at 12:49

      But they DIDN’T win all the trophies and were fairly comprehensively beaten at the Camp Nou by Madrid. You cannot bring refereeing decisions into it as I am sure Real Madrid fans will say the same thing.

      I’m sure the fact that they were competing until the end of all the trophies, despite not winning them, will not stop Guardiola and the players believing it was a disappointing season – to suggest other wises is ridiculous.

      • Yury

        11 May, 2012 at 13:16

        Fairly comprehensively beaten, with a first goal in offside which allowed them to cruise and play their small-club ’10-men behind the ball’ game the rest of the match. Anyway, referees did their work before, that was just the cherry on the cake.

        Guardiola (who since 4 years says arriving in April competing for trophies is the main thing) also knows that, he has been referring to this since January, almost in every news conference. He might be a gentleman, but he’s not stupid.

      • Haris

        11 May, 2012 at 15:46

        “…were fairly comprehensively beaten at the Camp Nou by Madrid.”

        Comprehensively beaten! What?

        On head-to-head they are still above Real Madrid beating them comprehensively 3-1 at Bernabeu.

        To be fair to say People like you, only cares about winning and doesn’t even bother to appreciate how good a team is playing. With no offence, I wouldn’t appreciate Chelsea display in CL Semis, though they manage to go through the Finals.
        Being a Barca Fan, I would rather wish to see them without trophies at the end of the season instead of seeing them winning trophies after trophies by implying Negative or fair to say anti-footballing tactics. Though I am a Barca Fan but I love the game more than that.
        For me Football is a, “Beautiful game! and it doesn’t get more beautiful then, when played by FC Barcelona. STOP! and let me do my work.

        • FCB1899

          11 May, 2012 at 16:14

          So you think they played well against Madrid at the Camp Nou? What about away at Getafe or Athletic or Chelsea? You can keep the ball and pass it around for as long as you want, but if you can’t score then it is a pointless exercise.

          I have been a Barça fan for over 30 years and I have seen them win the European Cup in 92 and the 3 Champions League final triumphs. I have also seen the 5-0 in Madrid and I can assure you that for me, and most of my fellow culés – this has been a disappointing season. Take your blinkers off – I am a Barcelona fan but that does not mean I have to settle for nice football without winning – I want both.

          This team were more than capable of winning the league and the Champions League by playing beautiful football, but they didn’t – thus it was disappointing.
          Can you honestly tell me you weren’t disappointed when we lost to Madrid (who we were poor against) or could not break down an average Chelsea defence to go out of the Champions League?

          If not – you have a strange mentality.

  6. tom

    11 May, 2012 at 13:06

    hahah, Lee Roden, aka anti-barcelonista
    shitty article of the year

  7. Anu mayor

    11 May, 2012 at 18:04

    To be candid, as a Barca fan I agree that the season is nothing short of a disappointment to the cules in entirity. But saying that the team has totally failed is a little bit over-hyped, owing to the fact that the club’s failure has been on the account of bad officiation(domestically) and ill-luck in the most important stages in europe. I see no reason as to why the club should be entangled in a web of criticism for their undoings. The point here is that the club’s philosophy is still there with Tito at the helm, not to even mention that, the most important players are still around and I expect no changes in the team’s fooball system. Though the only area that needs amendment is the defence which the club is about to employ the best candidate in that position in the world for that role(I hope so) in Thiago Silva and maybe coupled with another most dangerous lefty in the world apart from Leo of course, in Gareth. My conclusion here is that Barca were only corrected to do more havock this year. Expect another post Guardiola version of Barcelona come next season, coz the cycle has not yet been complete.

  8. Barca_4ever

    11 May, 2012 at 20:44

    Over exaggeration when referring to this season as a disappointment.

  9. Babangida Othman,

    12 May, 2012 at 00:40

    No matter how insignificant copa del rey is, I witnessed when real madrid celebrate it for more than one month last year. May be to them is significant and to others is not.

  10. Leo

    12 May, 2012 at 07:13

    Good point Babangida! Madrid were all over town after winning the ‘now insignificant’ Copa last year. Mourinho was hailed as having won titles in four leagues. Ronaldo was praised for having scored that winning header, and was said to have repaid Perez’s millions that bought him. Messi cried in the dressing room. This year, madrid put out a strong team throughout the ‘small’ Copa until they were knocked out by who else? BARCA! Didnt morinho ambush the ref in the car park after that game? Didnt casillas insult the ref? Didnt pepe call him ‘son of a b…’? To these journalists, the copa is very important if its won by madrid, but if its barca playing for it, its a ‘dummy’ cup? Strange piece of journalism. Yes, being eliminated by chelsea was more stupid and out of logic, but like it or not, laliga was lost by barca rather than won by madrid. With Villa and Pedro fit, no doubt we would have retained it! Proof is that despite their absence, Madrid has scored ONLY six more goals than Barca! Madrid fans may argue all night but the truth is they got away with a lot of questionable refereeing decisions, a lot more than any team in europe!!

    • FCB1899

      12 May, 2012 at 09:57

      The Copa is the least important trophy (bar the meaningless Super Cups) no matter who wins it – although it is probably even less important to us and Madrid.

      It is no good saying ‘if Villa and Pedro were fit we would have won’ – they weren’t fit and we didn’t win the league. Football is about the whole squad and not just 11 players – especially with the UCL. I would also say both teams were afforded some ‘questionable’ refereeing decisions.

      It gets a bit tiresome when that is continually banded about as an excuse. It just makes you look ignorant. I was very disappointed this season but I’m not naive enough to think Madrid did not deserve the title over the course of the season – they were more consistent and won when it mattered – a season is 38 games not one or two.

      I’ll give Madrid praise for now, but they should not get used to it as we will be back next season for sure.

  11. Leo

    12 May, 2012 at 12:33

    Football may be about the whole squad but you cant deny the existence of KEY players. I cant imagine where madrid would be if Benzema was out the whole season and Higuain injured most of it, with ronaldo having to carry the team. At the same time, having Barca with a totally fit squad, who would win laliga? Dont deny the glaring reasons that contributed to Barca’s failure to retain laliga. Its Barca who lost it, not Madrid who won it. When Madrid gets away with handballs at valencia, strange decisions against betis, mallorca, atletico, while barca suffers at Getafe, Osasuna, Espanyol etc, why should I turn a blind eye. You may be priveleged to pen out your opinion here, but please remember we were also watching all season.

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