We argue why Alex Song can never be the solution to the current problem areas at FC Barcelona that need attention.

Obviously Barcelona are a very entertaining side to watch. The recent addition of Brazilian superstar Neymar has fans salivating at the prospect of the former Santos Boy Wonder lining up with arguably the worldai??i??s finest, Lionel Messi, week in and week out. On paper at least this duo promises to produce goals and YouTube-ready highlight reels en masse. However, Barcelonaai??i??s attack has never given any reason for concern. While players such as Alexis and Pedro have performed below their capabilities in recent seasons, itai??i??s probable that their sub-par showings in a Barcelona shirt can be traced back to tactics that are specifically designed to exert the maximum from Lionel Messi and not his cohorts.

Though this may appear insensitive, Tito Vilanovaai??i??s resignation is probably in the best interest of all parties involved. Granted, Vilanova did guide Barcelona to the summit of La Liga, with a whopping 15 point advantage on top of equaling Real Madridai??i??s record. But then again, Los Blancos didnai??i??t have the best of starts and add to that an atmosphere at the Santiago Bernabeu that can only be described as toxic towards the end of Jose Mourinhoai??i??s tenure in Madrid. The Champions League has showcased Vilanovaai??i??s limitations as a tactician. Save for the return fixture against AC Milan, Vilanovaai??i??s Barcelona have not convinced against European (top class) opponents. La Blaugrana stumbled to the semi-finals of Europeai??i??s marquee club competition.

One of the main reasons – in addition to a predictable game plan and Vilanovaai??i??s inaptitude during big matches – why Barcelona didnai??i??t have a chance against Bayern Munich (or any big side during the 2012-13 campaign for that matter) is the lack of additional out and out defensive personnel in midfield as well as central defense beside the ones that were already part of the Pep squad.

Though admirable, Barcelonaai??i??s decision to preliminarily extend both Xaviai??i??s and Carles Puyolai??i??s contracts has been misguided, their new ones are set to expire at the end of June 2016. It’s clear the contract extension was more of symbolic nature than realistic expectation, at least in Puyolai??i??s case. But even Xavi, whoai??i??ll turn 34 next year, cannot be expected to cope with rigors of 50-plus games season anymore.

Frankly, a lot of things donai??i??t add up in Barcelona. On one hand Barcelonaai??i??s administration offers contract extensions to two loyal but old players who are on the tail end of very successful careers, but expect a player who has been molded to play for the Catalan side from his youth (Thiago) to just bide his time and not only accept a bit-part role but to consider it a privilege. To add insult to injury, Barcelona acquired Alex Song from Arsenal last year who’s nowhere near world-class nor has the potential to become one of the best in his position.

One year into his Barcelona career and the Cameroonian international still doesnai??i??t look like heai??i??s going to offer Barcelona any kind of value. Heai??i??s too undisciplined to anchor Barcelonaai??i??s midfield in big games, where his physical presence would be an advantage and, well, not suitable to play in central defense. Since heai??i??s likely to earn much more following his transfer from London to Barcelona itai??i??s hard to comprehend Barcelonaai??i??s stance in Thiagoai??i??s case. Offering an improved contract for a player who all but wouldai??i??ve secured La Blaugranaai??i??s dominance in the middle of the park hardly sounds unreasonable.

Song also holds the distinction of being voted the 2nd worst signing of the season by the readers of MARCA, just behind Real Madridai??i??s Luka Modric. But unlike the Croatian international, who was at times forced to play out of position and didnai??i??t take part in Madridai??i??s pre-season, thereai??i??s very little hope that Song will ever justify his ai??i??19 million price tag.

Even the things Song supposedly is good at, he does not do to a standard that is worthy of a Barcelona player. Of course, Sergio Busquets’ supreme tactical understanding is the perfect foil for his more creative colleagues in Barcelonaai??i??s midfield like Xavi, Iniesta or Cesc Fabregas. Naturally, replacing him becomes a though undertaking. Thereai??i??s no like-for-like replacement for Busquets.

Still, though one cannot expect Song to be as proficient in the art of one-touch football, the very least Song could do is curbing his urges to venture forward. Barcelonaai??i??s playing philosophy is already adventurous as it is, thereai??i??s no need for Song to channel his inner Yaya Toure. Speaking of the former Blaugrana, Song is inferior in every aspect to the Manchester City midfielder.

Song may have featured in quite a few games for Barcelona last season, but hardly any of those were against high caliber opponents and none in central defense after a horror show one too many towards the end of 2012. Honestly, itai??i??s quite irritating how an above average player like Song is still with Barcelona, earning a higher salary than he did at Arsenal (he reportedly earned around A?60,000/week or around ai??i??3,5 million annually) is still with the Catalan club and Thiago wasnai??i??t even offered an improved deal because it would send the wrong message to the next generation of players groomed at La Masia.

Bayern Munich, a club whose most expensive acquisition Javi Martinez at ai??i??40 million wouldnai??i??t even crack top 3 of Barcelona, Madrid, Chelsea or even Paris Saint-Germain, were willing to pay as much as ai??i??25 million (though ai??i??5 million are covered by Thiago who agreed to relinquish on part of his wage), suggesting that they consider the youngster to be a worthwhile investment. Meanwhile Song isnai??i??t even remotely linked to a big club, much less is he likely to ever command the ai??i??19 million Barcelona paid for him, and heai??i??ll just turn 26 in September.

If the former Arsenal midfielder is just good enough to feature against the minnows of La Liga and Europe then he wasnai??i??t good enough to join Barcelona to begin with. Based on the few pre-season games thus far thereai??i??s little to suggest that Jonathan Dos Santos couldnai??i??t have done a better job than Alex Song.

Entering the final four weeks of the summer window itai??i??s clear that Song doesnai??i??t have any suitors and that Barcelona have to accommodate him for at least one more season while a new world-class centre-back is out of the Catalanai??i??s price-range (ai??i??30-plus million). The ai??i??19 million La Blaugrana wasted on Alex Song wouldai??i??ve quite come in handy right now.

Bottom line: Alex Song isnai??i??t a bad player heai??i??s just not good enough for Barcelona. Furthermore, none of his strengths is superior to that of the players heai??i??s trying to dislodge. He’s not a problem, but not a solution either.

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