– Anustup Sikdar
This is probably the time when ‘football’ is played off the pitch too. Indeed in this inflated market, transfer is as much a game as is football on the pitch. Sandro Rosell may say that the club is going through a financial crisis but that doesn’t discourage them from chasing the elusive dream to capture the signature of Cesc Fabregas.
The club has had a metamorphosis when it comes to their management. Joan Laporta and Txiki Begiristain made way for Sandro Rosell and Andoni Zubizarreta as the new President and Director of football respectively. Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola and Tito Vilanova have been retained. Josep Guardiola signed a contract extension which keeps him with the club till June 2011.
Joan Laporta came to power in 2003 and since then the Catalan club has seen a curve which has only gone up. Along with Txiki Begiristain (the ex-Director of football), Laporta transformed a distraught FCB of the early 2000’s to an all conquering unit by the turn of the decade. Influx of extremely talented individuals from other clubs along with constant supply of spectacular talents from the La Masia worked in favour of the club. Frank Rijkaard took over from where Luis Van Gaal left in 2003 and contributed to the club’s cause. Txiki Begiristain is rumoured to be courted by Chelsea, who wants to sign him as their Technical Secretary. Indeed an extremely prudent move by the English club who are yet to make their mark in UEFA Champions League, despite all their Premier League exploits. Rosell surely has large shoes to fill.
Confirmed Player Transfers:
David Villa (From Valencia): Quite surprisingly FCB snapped the Spanish superstar who was being courted by many top clubs in Europe. The first signing of the season and the last for Joan Laporta and Txiki Begiristain. After having a fabulous world cup it seems a shrewd piece of business. Expected to fill up the void left by Thierry Henry, Villa might be incorporated on the left side. Vincente Del Bosque showed that Villa can be quite lethal when playing on the left. And with Leo Messi to his right and Xavi and Iniesta behind him, amalgamation might not be a problem for our new no.7. As of now, a fabulous signing for €40 million.
Adriano (From Sevilla): A 25 year old full-back who can play in 3 to 4 other positions sounds like a very good deal. The deal looks even better when the price is revealed. €9million (£7.6m) to land the player, with that figure set to rise to a possible €13.5million (£11.4m) should certain criteria be met. By nature a left sided full-back, the Brazilian can also play as a right back, centre half and also as an attacking mid-fielder. Adriano has what it takes to be a perfect utility player. He has been awarded with the no.21 which has been vacated by Dmytro Chygrynskiy.
Dmytro Chygrynskiy (To Shakhtar Donetsk): A highly rated centre-half somehow who could not recapture his form at Shakhtar Donetsk which made FCB pay €25 million for the services of the 23 year old. A few bad performances coupled with a horrendous one against Xerez in his last outing for Barca paved his way to return to the Ukrainian giant. He was bought at €25m and sold for €15m which seems like a decent business. Many believe, he should have been given at least one more year to prove himself at The Camp Nou.
Yaya Toure (To Manchester City): This is probably the most sensational transfer of the season for the Catalan club. The Ivorian is surely an intimidating figure in the middle of the pitch. He has a good defensive ability coupled with thunderous shooting. Th Ivory Coast man was bought for €9million from Monaco and sold for £24million to Manchester City, and that is certainly a good investment for Barcelona. The BPL will be the perfect place for him given the fact that he’s a phenomenal athlete.
Thierry Henry (To New York Red Bulls): King Henry bids adieu to European Football. After 3 seasons at FCB, Titi was in the twilight of his career. Arriving to FCB with the desire to lay his hands on the elusive UEFA Champions League in his otherwise illustrious career, Henry has played a pivotal role in Barcelona’s all conquering campaign. Along with Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi, Henry shared 72 goals between them earning themselves the distinction of being the most devastating trio in La Liga, surpassing the previous record held by Real Madrid’s Puscas, di Stefano and Luis de Sol.
Rafael Marquez (To New York Red Bulls): Following the footsteps of his club team mate the Mexican International too has made his foray into the MLS. Seven seasons at the Catalan Club, Marquez has won everything he could with Barcelona. A versatile player who could contribute equally to defense and attack. Recurrent injuries towards the end of his tenure at FCB hurt his chances of making it into the first eleven, more so with the coming of age of Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets.
Miguel Luque (To Almeria): Promising Barcelona B midfielder (19) has joined the Andulasian side UD Almeria. Luque was the product of Villareal’s youth set up; was bought by Barcelona B by Luis Enrique. Despite a few good performances, he could not hold on to his place in the first XI.
Alberto Botia (To Sporting Gijon): The centre half spent a season at Sporting Gijon on loan after making his debut for Barcelona senior team. Unwilling to give up his regular first team spot at Gijon, the youngster decided to extend his stay and penned a 4 year contract. Barcelona has a buy-back clause for the first 3 years.
Gai Assulin (Free Agent): The gifted Israeli winger is currently a Free Agent as FC Barcelona, chose not to renew his contract.
FC Barcelona has revealed a transfer kitty of around €50million. David Villa’s transfer fee was practically negated by the departure of Yaya Toure and Dmytro Chygrynskiy. So Barcelona still has around €40million. The Cesc-saga has been going on for quite some time now. It should take some more time for FCB to lay their hands on the coveted no.4.
Cesc Fabregas to FC Barcelona: Had Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique not done what they did, I think things wouldn’t have blown out of proportion. Cesc is still an Arsenal player who supposedly has his heart at the Catalan Club. How much of it is true, your guess is as good as mine. Barcelona may have pursued the gifted midfielder, but had to retract because of Arsenal’s hefty financial demands.
Ibrahimovic moving out of FC Barcelona: The towering Swede seems to be unsettled here in FCB. Although scoring at a decent rate of 20 goals in 41 matches, Ibra has done quite well and if persisted, he might just be the missing piece (Read PLAN B) in the Barcelona puzzle. Manchester City, Real Madrid (in lieu of Kaka) & AC Milan are rumoured to be frontrunners in securing the hit man’s signature.
Fernando Torres, replacement for Cesc: Rumours have it that if FCB fails in capturing Fabregas’ signature they might just shift their focus on the Spaniard who is supposedly not being able to cope with the brusque English League.
Marcos Senna as a possible replacement for Yaya Toure: With the departure of Yaya Toure, Pep Guardiola is reported to be on the lookout for someone who could act as a possible replacement for the Ivorian and yet wouldn’t mind being the backup for the more preferred Sergio Busquets. Villareal values the 34-year old Brazil-born Spanish footballer somewhere around €4million.
There’s still some time left before the transfer window closes. What will happen to the likes of Hleb, Martin Caceres and Henrique is yet to be seen. Josep Guardiola has always been an admirer of talents from the La Masia. We would thank him for persisting with an exceptionally talented Pedro and Sergio Busquets. Seventeen B squad players were called up for pre-season training predominantly because only 10 members from the senior roster were available as the rest are yet to come back from post World Cup vacation.
Amongst the 17 players called up, the ones most likely to make the cut will be from amongst: Marc Muniesa (defender), Andrue Fontas (defender), Oier Olazabal (goalkeeper), Victor Vazquez (midfielder), Jonathan Dos Santos (midfielder), and Edu Oriol (forward). Jeffren Suarez (winger) and Victor Sanchez (defender) aren’t amongst the 17 Barca B players but are amongst the 10 Barcelona senior team players. The duo has been impressive. Jeffren made 14 appearances for FCB and scored twice whereas Sanchez made 8 appearances for Barcelona before going to Xerez on a season-long loan (2009-10). He made 25 appearances for Xerez while notching up a couple of goals.
Notable absentees are Thiago Alcantara (midfielder), Marc Bartra (defender) & Ruben Rochina (striker) as they were with the Spanish U19 National team for the ongoing UEFA U19 European Championship. Special mention must be made of Thiago Alcantara, as he has not only made his debut for the senior team like most of the others (from the B team) mentioned but also scored for them.
How many of these young guns make the cut is yet to be seen, but given Barcelona’s reputation of unearthing fabulous footballers, a lot is expected from them.