22/23 Barcelona: Pull the Lever(s)

Jimy Hendrix

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English people/pundits in general have a weird thing about simply refusing to pronounce certain foreign names correctly.

The name Martínez is the one that always gets me. Over and over you here people pronouncing it Marten-ez, even Arsenal podcasters and broadcasters who were aware of Emi Martínez for like 10 years still did it. And then of course when were looking at Lisandro Martínez this summer it was the same thing. And we're not talking about a tricky name to pronounce here, like Cazorla.
Yet they love nothing in the world more than trying to really hit a Castilian lisp. Truly England is a land of contrasts.
 

Zososoxfan

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What a bizarre ending to this whole saga. Which isn't truly even done until Busi, Alba, and Roberto are gone too.

Pique was definitely in line to be President of the club one day, but I wonder if this will change that trajectory. All I can say is to the extent that the Nunez-Cruyff/Laporta camps still exist, I hope this doesn't push THE Barca golden era crew towards team Nunez.
 

rguilmar

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Barcelona have been accused of paying former VP of Technical Committee of Referees Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira somewhere in the range of $1.5 million during the Bartomeu presidency. The club claims it was for advisory work, which Negreira also states, but who really knows. If found guilty, I would expect a point deduction of some sort. They could be relegated too, but point deductions seem to be the more common punishment. In terms of entertainment for me, that might not be the worst thing in the world. For a couple of weeks now papers have been asking "Hay Liga?" which essentially is asking if there is any competition at the top of the table. Barca have an 8 point lead and look pretty much unstoppable at this point. I don't want to comment on it too much because so many details are unknown.

On the field, Xavi looks to have settled on a system. Sure, you can call it a 4-3-3 but it's not. The LB, either Balde or Alba, play so advanced that they're basically a winger. The space is cleared because Gavi (who is the "LW") is really playing as part of a four man midfield anchored by a dual pivot with Gavi and Pedri in front, essentially a midfield box. Kounde is the RB but not in the Dani Alves mold, holding back more often than not. So in attack they look more like a 3-2-4-1. The engines up front are really Pedri providing creativity and Gavi bringing an edge along with some guile. Kounde's versatility helps because he can provide help to Dembele or Raphina, but the whole thing is held together by Ronald Araujo (we have to use his first name now that Julian is on his way to the Nou Camp). Araujo has to play as the traditional Barca CB whenever Kounde goes forward ala Pique, as well as a central CB in a three man back line. Xavi as stuck with this system despite injuries to key players. It will be interesting to see if he continues when the team is invariably rotated in the next few weeks. The tie with Man U will be a great test just to see how the system holds up against a non-Spanish team.
 

Mighty Joe Young

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Barcelona have been accused of paying former VP of Technical Committee of Referees Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira somewhere in the range of $1.5 million during the Bartomeu presidency. The club claims it was for advisory work, which Negreira also states, but who really knows. If found guilty, I would expect a point deduction of some sort. They could be relegated too, but point deductions seem to be the more common punishment. In terms of entertainment for me, that might not be the worst thing in the world. For a couple of weeks now papers have been asking "Hay Liga?" which essentially is asking if there is any competition at the top of the table. Barca have an 8 point lead and look pretty much unstoppable at this point. I don't want to comment on it too much because so many details are unknown.

On the field, Xavi looks to have settled on a system. Sure, you can call it a 4-3-3 but it's not. The LB, either Balde or Alba, play so advanced that they're basically a winger. The space is cleared because Gavi (who is the "LW") is really playing as part of a four man midfield anchored by a dual pivot with Gavi and Pedri in front, essentially a midfield box. Kounde is the RB but not in the Dani Alves mold, holding back more often than not. So in attack they look more like a 3-2-4-1. The engines up front are really Pedri providing creativity and Gavi bringing an edge along with some guile. Kounde's versatility helps because he can provide help to Dembele or Raphina, but the whole thing is held together by Ronald Araujo (we have to use his first name now that Julian is on his way to the Nou Camp). Araujo has to play as the traditional Barca CB whenever Kounde goes forward ala Pique, as well as a central CB in a three man back line. Xavi as stuck with this system despite injuries to key players. It will be interesting to see if he continues when the team is invariably rotated in the next few weeks. The tie with Man U will be a great test just to see how the system holds up against a non-Spanish team.
From what I understand La Liga can‘t do anything about it due to statute of limitations issues. It’s strictly a legal matter now.

https://theathletic.com/4220645/2023/02/18/barcelona-payment-la-liga-tebas/?source=user_shared_article
 

OilCanMDS

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The second leg of Man U showed how much a team not having its best players impacts the entire squad. In my opinion, Pedri and Gavi have been the two best players in the team for about 3 months, and watching the backup midfield struggle to deal with Man U's press or get the ball to Lewandowski really illustrated how much those two impact the game. They are both so difficult to dispossess in the midfield and seem to always know where to pass to the ball or where to stand to best navigate through pressure. The team yesterday reminded me of the midfield 3 years ago when everybody looked old or out of position so the entire match was a struggle to keep possession and full of bad turnovers. The lack of a real midfield put a ton of pressure on the defense because the ball kept getting turned over in Barca's defensive third and then on top of that the service to the forwards seemed poor all game.

I'm not really sure what to take from the match yesterday since the squad was missing 3 of the 4 or 5 best players (Pedri, Gavi and Dembele), but it was definitely not fun watching that midfield play and then Raphinha and Fati were tough to watch as they struggled with decision making and ball control in the attacking third. I think it's pretty clear some of the forwards need to be sold because Ferran and Fati need minutes to get back into form and they just aren't going to get playing time on this team with Dembele, Raphinha, Gavi, Ferran and Fati competing for two spots. Hopefully, whatever sales end up happening bring in enough money to buy another midfielder that can play in the Gavi or Pedri role in front of Frenkie and the CDM because Roberto should not play there ever again. Kessie was decent in that role, but he seemed a little too eager to run forward when Barca had the ball, which hurt the team's ability to keep possession.
 

Zososoxfan

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I thought Lewa didn't play well at all in the UEL match against United. Mostly because getting a high quality chance from inside the box to try and draw level at the very end there needs to be paid off. If you're going to be the key central striker for Barca that needs to be in the back of the net.

The mini-slide continued as Barca lost 1-0 away @ Almeria. The team looked hungover from the bummer defeat @United, but I happen to think they were more guilty of looking ahead to the Copa match with Real midweek. Either way, the loss to lowly Almeria leaves Barca with a nice cushion (7 points) instead of a commanding lead in the Liga race.

Xavi did OK with the tactics against United--he "won" the first half, but Ten Hag outclassed him with adjustments in the second. Xavi's a young manager and the club need to be patient with him as he grows and gains experience. But I think the question is whether there's enough patience in Catalunya to let him see it out. He also ripped the players yesterday--I'm not sure whether that's the right man-management attitude. Time will tell. But it certainly feels like the outcome to the season hangs in the balance of the next month.

Lewa is also reported out for the next 2-3 weeks, including the Clasico, and league matches vs. Valencia (relegation candidate) and Bilbao (8th). After that, it's the Copa return leg against Real--EGADS! Lots of injuries (Pedri, Dembele) are piling up, and FDJ and Gavi are suspended for the Liga match against Valencia at week-end.
 

Zososoxfan

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Just caught highlights and what a match!

Busi got the highlights started with a beautifully lofted ball for Raphinha to run onto and "chip" the keeper with a header. Raph has done this a couple of times this season, and it's one of his best skills. It should be used as often as possible.

Ansu got the start at CF and didn't do so hot, as his finishing was lacking. Later in the match he was arguing with Ferran for the opportunity to take a pen, with Ferran taking the shot but missing wide. It was nice to see Ansu give him a pat on the back immediately after, showing some real maturity that even I would likely lack. Ansu did hit the post later on.

Araujo had an unusual flub leading to a well-deserved DOGSO roja directa.

MATS almost gave away a cheap goal trying to be a little too cute with his ball playing skills.
 

rguilmar

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Joan Laporta finally spoke to the media about the Negreira case and he brought props, namely four years worth of referee reports from Negreira’s company which he said were compiled by Negreira’s son. He also explained that any investigation is looking into the club as a victim of a crime.

He then went into his normal bit about La Liga President Tebas and launched into Real Madrid. Defiant as always.

Still unanswered is why Barcelona spent such an obscene amount of money, why the business stopped when Negreira no longer had a position at the referees’ association, and why the payments were so hidden (only uncovered because tax officials went through Negreira’s tax records).
 

rguilmar

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Busi has confirmed that he will be moving on from Barcelona after this season. This will free up some cash for Barca as he was on a high salary. I would think the smart thing for Barca to do is not replace Sergio, partially because he is irreplaceable, but part of me expects them to once again waste money they don’t have on a player they don’t need.

Hot rumor is that Busi, Messi, and possibly Alba reunite in Saudi Arabia next season. Barca would probably take that if it means from getting out from Alba’s contract too.
 

Zososoxfan

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Busi has confirmed that he will be moving on from Barcelona after this season. This will free up some cash for Barca as he was on a high salary. I would think the smart thing for Barca to do is not replace Sergio, partially because he is irreplaceable, but part of me expects them to once again waste money they don’t have on a player they don’t need.

Hot rumor is that Busi, Messi, and possibly Alba reunite in Saudi Arabia next season. Barca would probably take that if it means from getting out from Alba’s contract too.
Everyone is freaking out over Busi moving on, but I think it's overdue even if there is pain in the first couple of seasons. Moreover, I think there are some really good options in-house to move on. First and foremost, maybe it's time to consider the FDJ double pivot and build the team (or at least the MF) around him. Barca had some good success this season with a MF diamond featuring FDJ, Pedri, and Gavi. Kessie is a useful player even if it seems like he's going to be sold. The other idea that I'd like to see tried is Erick Garcia as a holding MF. Maybe Pep's use of Stones in a similar role will give Xavi the cover he needs to try it.
 

rguilmar

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Another excellent piece by the always excellent Sid Lowe, this time on Busquets.

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2023/may/10/sergio-busquets-the-unique-talent-who-changed-barcelona-and-football

Barcelona fans are in a meltdown and I imagine for any number of reasons:
1. He’s Catalan
2. He was the last remaining part of “The Team”- both for club and country (Xavi excluded). Nostalgia runs deep in both Spain and Catalunya.
3. He was so unique, and irreplaceable in that sense
4. Statistics could not measure him. He didn’t score or create goals, he didn’t win tackles or headers. He had a high passing percentage, but look at who he was passing to. Catalans have a degree of a superiority complex, especially in soccer, and Busi was the walking embodiment of “take that with your fancy statistics”
5. He could control and/or change a game with one touch.
6. Did I mention he’s Catalan?

I love this quote attributed to Del Bosque:
“Watch the game and you don’t see Busquets,” it goes, “watch Busquets and you see the game.”
 

Zososoxfan

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Picking up from my recent post in the La Liga thread, Barca likely have a lot of players to move out this summer.

The name leading that list is sadly Ansu. Both club and player need to move on. The problem is he's still owed €54M over the next 4 seasons. Raphinha and Ferran are similar, in that the club are probably considering moving on, but they owe these players €50M and €40M respectively for another 4 seasons. So while a pure sale is ideal, I think the likely result is one of them goes out on loan with subsidized wages while they chalk another year of the contract off.

I'm not sure if they renew Dembele but the club does seem interested in doing so. I'd keep Kessie around as you know Barca are gonna be stumbling through the proverbial wilderness trying to figure out the pivot situation post-Busi. I like the idea of trying Erick Garcia there, because he's not even close to the level of Araujo/Kounde/Christensen. On that note, I do hope the club bring in a starter-quality RB. I wonder if Cancelo is an option. Other players worth considering include Frimpong, Dalot, Pavard, and my dream choice--Molina from Atleti (sorry @bosox4283 ).

Messi is the elephant in the room. If he comes back, the best knock-on effect IMO is that he'll likely push Gavi back into the MF. I could absolutely get behind a 4-2-2-2 with a Kessie-FDJ double pivot, Gavi-Pedri ahead of them, and Messi-Lewa up top. It would require a lot of fluidity with Messi, Pedri, Gavi, and the FBs disciplined about spacing in possession, but this is Xavi and Barca--that's a reasonable ask. If Messi doesn't come, Barca should look to place a bet on one of their in-house options to cement themselves in the XI (Dembele, Raphinha, Ferran, etc.) or add an elite player to add to the core to build around. For example, if Gundogan comes, then a MF diamond (or 2-2 setup) with Gavi, Pedri, FDJ, and him is a solid option, and Kessie can probably fill a role if not 2 in that group.
 

tims4wins

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Getting ahead of things, but I'm headed to Barcelona in November, and hoping to go to a game if they're home. Any tips / tricks / suggestions?
 

rguilmar

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Getting ahead of things, but I'm headed to Barcelona in November, and hoping to go to a game if they're home. Any tips / tricks / suggestions?
Just a note, Barca will be playing at the old Olympic stadium on Montjuïc next season if you weren’t aware as the Nou Camp will be under renovations (I hate that I called it “old”). November is a great time to go imo as there won’t be as many tourists. Tickets might be harder to come by because Montjuïc has about half the seats and there are more socios than seats. I vaguely recall some accommodations made for this but I can’t really recall. Overall the game day experience will be very different. I would say that you don’t want to buy tickets from an online third party dealer as those will not be guaranteed. The day of the game will appear as a Sunday when the schedule first comes out, but could be Friday-Monday. The actual day/time is announced about three weeks beforehand. The actual tickets go on sale the Monday before the game (maybe it’s Sunday or Tuesday, but it’s only several days beforehand). The Barcelona website will be your best bet for tickets.

In terms of things to do generally, there are normal tourist things- Sagrada Familia, Las Ramblas (watch your wallet), Gaudi houses, Boqueria, Park Guell, Tibidabo etc. I still like the Barceloneta neighborhood for food even though it’s been “discovered” over time by the tourist crowd. Just a random spot in Gracia near the Sagrada Familia that I love, there’s a small place called Can Josep. It’s very a pro-Catalan, pro-independence spot and they don’t want you speaking Spanish (Catalan or English are preferred) but the food is unreal. It’s popular among the locals and they put out “reserved” signs on like 90% of the tables to save them for the regulars.
 

tims4wins

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Just a note, Barca will be playing at the old Olympic stadium on Montjuïc next season if you weren’t aware as the Nou Camp will be under renovations (I hate that I called it “old”). November is a great time to go imo as there won’t be as many tourists. Tickets might be harder to come by because Montjuïc has about half the seats and there are more socios than seats. I vaguely recall some accommodations made for this but I can’t really recall. Overall the game day experience will be very different. I would say that you don’t want to buy tickets from an online third party dealer as those will not be guaranteed. The day of the game will appear as a Sunday when the schedule first comes out, but could be Friday-Monday. The actual day/time is announced about three weeks beforehand. The actual tickets go on sale the Monday before the game (maybe it’s Sunday or Tuesday, but it’s only several days beforehand). The Barcelona website will be your best bet for tickets.

In terms of things to do generally, there are normal tourist things- Sagrada Familia, Las Ramblas (watch your wallet), Gaudi houses, Boqueria, Park Guell, Tibidabo etc. I still like the Barceloneta neighborhood for food even though it’s been “discovered” over time by the tourist crowd. Just a random spot in Gracia near the Sagrada Familia that I love, there’s a small place called Can Josep. It’s very a pro-Catalan, pro-independence spot and they don’t want you speaking Spanish (Catalan or English are preferred) but the food is unreal. It’s popular among the locals and they put out “reserved” signs on like 90% of the tables to save them for the regulars.
Thanks, this is helpful!
 

rguilmar

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Picking up from my recent post in the La Liga thread, Barca likely have a lot of players to move out this summer.

The name leading that list is sadly Ansu. Both club and player need to move on. The problem is he's still owed €54M over the next 4 seasons. Raphinha and Ferran are similar, in that the club are probably considering moving on, but they owe these players €50M and €40M respectively for another 4 seasons. So while a pure sale is ideal, I think the likely result is one of them goes out on loan with subsidized wages while they chalk another year of the contract off.

I'm not sure if they renew Dembele but the club does seem interested in doing so. I'd keep Kessie around as you know Barca are gonna be stumbling through the proverbial wilderness trying to figure out the pivot situation post-Busi. I like the idea of trying Erick Garcia there, because he's not even close to the level of Araujo/Kounde/Christensen. On that note, I do hope the club bring in a starter-quality RB. I wonder if Cancelo is an option. Other players worth considering include Frimpong, Dalot, Pavard, and my dream choice--Molina from Atleti (sorry @bosox4283 ).

Messi is the elephant in the room. If he comes back, the best knock-on effect IMO is that he'll likely push Gavi back into the MF. I could absolutely get behind a 4-2-2-2 with a Kessie-FDJ double pivot, Gavi-Pedri ahead of them, and Messi-Lewa up top. It would require a lot of fluidity with Messi, Pedri, Gavi, and the FBs disciplined about spacing in possession, but this is Xavi and Barca--that's a reasonable ask. If Messi doesn't come, Barca should look to place a bet on one of their in-house options to cement themselves in the XI (Dembele, Raphinha, Ferran, etc.) or add an elite player to add to the core to build around. For example, if Gundogan comes, then a MF diamond (or 2-2 setup) with Gavi, Pedri, FDJ, and him is a solid option, and Kessie can probably fill a role if not 2 in that group.
It’s going to be interesting to see how Barca continue their club construction going forward. If Xavi is set on a tactical setup similar to how they played this year, as you noted, several players seem like excess pieces. With Gavi playing more inside instead LW, Barcelona could probably offload some wingers and bring in more MFs and some hybrid Gavi-types. This opens Balde up to play “left”, as in the entire left flank ala Valverde on the right for Real Madrid a few seasons ago. I do think that they never intended to have both Dembele and Raphinha on the team together, that they assumed Dembele would elect to move on, but felt obligated to bring in Raphinha even though Dembele re-signed because they had made him and his agent certain promises. There are already rumors that EPL teams are interested in both Raphinha and Torres which seems all too convenient to me. I would expect one of them to move on along with Ansu. If Barca are smart, they’ll hold on to Abde as a depth piece, but they’re the ultimate “shiny object” club.

The front office is undergoing a huge turnover which will have massive implications. Mateu Alemany is off to Villa and Jordi Cruyff is leaving too, which is also of symbolic importance. The Cruyff name matters in Barcelona. Even his first name matters to Barca socios. Jordi (George) is the patron saint of Catalunya and naming a child with the Catalan spelling was illegal under the Franco regime. Johan did it anyways which forever endeared him to the Catalan people even though Cruyff claimed that he didn’t know why it was a big deal, that it was not a political act, and that he just liked the name Jordi. It’s an end of an era. Both men did a decent job rebuilding the team under some tough circumstances, especially when Barca literally had no money to spend on transfers. Difficult act to follow.
 

rguilmar

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Jordi Alba has announced that this season will be his last at Barcelona. Cue the Messi-Busi-Alba reunion tour in Saudi Arabia. More importantly, Barca are shedding huge salaries going into next season. Pique, Busi, Alba, Griezmann. If they can get a taker for Ferran along with the assumed Ansu sale, they should actually be in good shape financially.

Many are expecting them to make a run at Sociedad’s Zubimendi as a Busquets replacement, but he would come at a huge cost. The player has shown no desire to leave his hometown club and Sociedad would demand a king’s ransom for him with backup 6 Illiramendi announcing that he will not be returning next season.
 

Zososoxfan

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Jordi Alba has announced that this season will be his last at Barcelona. Cue the Messi-Busi-Alba reunion tour in Saudi Arabia. More importantly, Barca are shedding huge salaries going into next season. Pique, Busi, Alba, Griezmann. If they can get a taker for Ferran along with the assumed Ansu sale, they should actually be in good shape financially.

Many are expecting them to make a run at Sociedad’s Zubimendi as a Busquets replacement, but he would come at a huge cost. The player has shown no desire to leave his hometown club and Sociedad would demand a king’s ransom for him with backup 6 Illiramendi announcing that he will not be returning next season.
Iniesta just announced that he's not going to play in Kobe again next season, but he's not retiring [arches eyebrow].

Kounde also got into the news recently by saying that he wants to play CB or be sold next season. Personally, I think Kounde is world class and I would absolutely keep him, and play him at CB if that's his condition. Barca can buy another RB and then they have Araujo, Christensen, and Kounde to rotate at CB. That said, they could certainly sell him for a profit and if that's what Kounde wants, it wouldn't hurt for Barca's financial position.

I don't understand enough about La Liga's financial constraints, but even with all these wages coming off the books, I wonder how much they can spend on incoming transfers considering they likely have new deals for Araujo, Gavi, Pedri, and Balde coming up and need to register them with the league. Like, I don't understand why Gavi's contract can't be registered even though Barca moved heaven and earth to fit under the constraints to add incoming transfers over the summer.
 

rguilmar

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La Liga has approved Barca’s financial viability plan after the club shed some massive salaries- Pique, Busi, Griezmann, Alba etc. What this means is that they can now register the new contracts for a bunch of players, most important Gavi and Araujo, and that they can complete the rumored transfer of Iñigo Martínez from Athletic Club. Eric will probably move up to one of the dual pivots in the midfield. They still will likely unload Ansu, and I imagine they’ll take any offer for someone like Ferran or Raphinha. Abde just had a heck of a season on loan at Osasuna leaving Barcelona very winger heavy, especially if Xavi plans on keeping the midfield box he used most of this season.

What this does not mean is that the club can now bring back Messi. The books are balanced but given the loss of income by moving to Montjuïc for a season or two, they can’t afford Messi unless he takes a massive discount.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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It feels like the whole Messi thing is just an orchestrated charade to show how much everybody really wanted this reunion to happen even though it won't. Messi gets to pretend that what he really wanted was to come back to Barcelona, the club gets to pretend that they moved heaven and earth to make it happen but mean old Tebas wouldn't let them in the end, and then we get the outcome everybody knew we would get all along - Messi getting buried in money by the Saudis or MLS and Barcelona spending their scant resources on what they really need, a pivot defensive midfielder to replace Busquets.
 

rguilmar

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It feels like the whole Messi thing is just an orchestrated charade to show how much everybody really wanted this reunion to happen even though it won't. Messi gets to pretend that what he really wanted was to come back to Barcelona, the club gets to pretend that they moved heaven and earth to make it happen but mean old Tebas wouldn't let them in the end, and then we get the outcome everybody knew we would get all along - Messi getting buried in money by the Saudis or MLS and Barcelona spending their scant resources on what they really need, a pivot defensive midfielder to replace Busquets.
Yeah I agree with this, and I truly believe that the charade you mentioned also took place last time around when Messi left.

I am guessing Eric Garcia joins FDJ as part of the midfield pivot which @Zososoxfan has been mentioning but that they will be in the market for someone better. Martin Zubimendi is the rumored favorite but I’m not sure how easy it will be to pry him away from Real Sociedad.

It’s a really unbalanced squad but with some tweaking on the fringes should be a good team. A lot will hinge on keeping Pedri and Gavi healthy and finding goals from someone besides Lewa.
 

Zososoxfan

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Yeah I agree with this, and I truly believe that the charade you mentioned also took place last time around when Messi left.

I am guessing Eric Garcia joins FDJ as part of the midfield pivot which @Zososoxfan has been mentioning but that they will be in the market for someone better. Martin Zubimendi is the rumored favorite but I’m not sure how easy it will be to pry him away from Real Sociedad.

It’s a really unbalanced squad but with some tweaking on the fringes should be a good team. A lot will hinge on keeping Pedri and Gavi healthy and finding goals from someone besides Lewa.
I think the charade last time around was performed by the club, but not the player. I think Messi was ready to halve his wages (still astronomical) but the club knew all along they couldn't do it, and shouldn't do it. I do legitimately think Messi got blindsided by it.

The club will either sell Kounde or buy a RB so that Kounde can play CB again. They will roll the dice again on a DMF, and likely sell Kessie in the process. Erik will get a chance there too because he's a Catalan darling and they overpaid for him. Not sure what they will do with the FWDs, other than selling anyone not named Lewa if the price is right, although they're only 5 deep across the front 3 ATM, unless you count Abde and Collado (I don't).
 

rguilmar

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I think the charade last time around was performed by the club, but not the player. I think Messi was ready to halve his wages (still astronomical) but the club knew all along they couldn't do it, and shouldn't do it. I do legitimately think Messi got blindsided by it.

The club will either sell Kounde or buy a RB so that Kounde can play CB again. They will roll the dice again on a DMF, and likely sell Kessie in the process. Erik will get a chance there too because he's a Catalan darling and they overpaid for him. Not sure what they will do with the FWDs, other than selling anyone not named Lewa if the price is right, although they're only 5 deep across the front 3 ATM, unless you count Abde and Collado (I don't).
I agree on the charade here as well. I think the club knew that they couldn't sign Messi but had to save face by making it look like they were trying. Messi looked truly heartbroken when a deal could not come together.

I'm sure the club would be more willing to sell Christensen simply for accounting reasons because they got him on a free and can pocket any profits. Of course, in true Barca and Sevilla fashion, watch Kounde get loaned back to Sevilla at a discount instead.

I don't think Abde will be of use as an ATM unless it's to revert to a 4-3-3 whenever Gavi is hurt or suspended, and given the way he plays both of those are likely, but would necessitate changing Balde's role as well. Or bring in Alonso. I don't know. I do like Abde a lot, but again given Barca's history they will likely sell him at a discount. I had forgotten all about Collado. Is he still on the books? I liked him when he was at Granada (I think???) but he's nothing more than deep depth. Nico will be on the way back from Valencia as well, but he's more of a DM than ATM. They are rumored to be in on Gabri Veiga too. Ultimately it comes down to how Xavi envisions that team going forward. Does he want like-for-like replacements or does he want variety? Whatever the case, they need depth at CM.
 

Zososoxfan

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Jul 30, 2009
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I agree on the charade here as well. I think the club knew that they couldn't sign Messi but had to save face by making it look like they were trying. Messi looked truly heartbroken when a deal could not come together.

I'm sure the club would be more willing to sell Christensen simply for accounting reasons because they got him on a free and can pocket any profits. Of course, in true Barca and Sevilla fashion, watch Kounde get loaned back to Sevilla at a discount instead.

I don't think Abde will be of use as an ATM unless it's to revert to a 4-3-3 whenever Gavi is hurt or suspended, and given the way he plays both of those are likely, but would necessitate changing Balde's role as well. Or bring in Alonso. I don't know. I do like Abde a lot, but again given Barca's history they will likely sell him at a discount. I had forgotten all about Collado. Is he still on the books? I liked him when he was at Granada (I think???) but he's nothing more than deep depth. Nico will be on the way back from Valencia as well, but he's more of a DM than ATM. They are rumored to be in on Gabri Veiga too. Ultimately it comes down to how Xavi envisions that team going forward. Does he want like-for-like replacements or does he want variety? Whatever the case, they need depth at CM.
Re the bolded, I do respect the current Barca leadership that they put the football first. What I mean by that is they won't just sell Christensen instead of Kounde if Xavi believes he's really the better CB--they might insist on selling one or the other and do a cost-benefit analysis--but they really do care about the results. That doesn't feel like the case at other clubs (*cough Spurs *cough).
 

wonderland

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Jul 20, 2005
532
I think the charade last time around was performed by the club, but not the player. I think Messi was ready to halve his wages (still astronomical) but the club knew all along they couldn't do it, and shouldn't do it. I do legitimately think Messi got blindsided by it.

The club will either sell Kounde or buy a RB so that Kounde can play CB again. They will roll the dice again on a DMF, and likely sell Kessie in the process. Erik will get a chance there too because he's a Catalan darling and they overpaid for him. Not sure what they will do with the FWDs, other than selling anyone not named Lewa if the price is right, although they're only 5 deep across the front 3 ATM, unless you count Abde and Collado (I don't).
Didn’t they get Gracia on a free? Did they give him big wages?

It’s crazy they spent over $100 million on Torres and Raphina and looking to dump them both so quickly.
 

OilCanMDS

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Jan 29, 2007
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The team needs a wing/cam/second striker that can consistently help Lewa with the scoring, and I was really hoping Messi would fill that role. The goal scoring numbers for Raphinha and Fati ended up not being terrible for the season, but I think anybody that watched the games knew that those two are not really reliable in front of goal. They are both young enough that they can improve their shooting, however I think the best path to improving next season includes adding a better player to complement Lewa and Dembele up top (with Dembele primarily creating for the other two).

For the rest of the transfers, I don't think Kounde gets sold. He strongly denied the report that he wanted to leave if he had to keep playing RB and I think he's too valuable at CB and RB to give up after just one season. I do think they need a better backup RB, and maybe that's Julian Araujo if he can develop a bit more over the preseason. The most glaring hole is obviously CDM and I'm a little worried that they will miss out on Kimmich and Zubimendi. Both of those players don't seem to be pushing for a move and I don't think Barca has the money to throw at the clubs to put pressure on the player to accept a deal. I'm afraid that this summer will end with Nico Gonzalez, Eric Garcia and Ambrabat as the CDMs, which will cause that position to be an issue next season.

The Messi news sucks, but Barca just finished first and should have some money to throw around. I should probably be more optimistic about their prospects on the transfer market, however I can't think of who they will go after to make an improvement outside of Kimmich who I'm not expecting to be available. Maybe Fati, Ferran, Raphinha and Julian Araujo all improve enough that the roster needs outside of CDM get addressed internally.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Jul 2, 2006
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The team needs a wing/cam/second striker that can consistently help Lewa with the scoring, and I was really hoping Messi would fill that role. The goal scoring numbers for Raphinha and Fati ended up not being terrible for the season, but I think anybody that watched the games knew that those two are not really reliable in front of goal. They are both young enough that they can improve their shooting, however I think the best path to improving next season includes adding a better player to complement Lewa and Dembele up top (with Dembele primarily creating for the other two).

For the rest of the transfers, I don't think Kounde gets sold. He strongly denied the report that he wanted to leave if he had to keep playing RB and I think he's too valuable at CB and RB to give up after just one season. I do think they need a better backup RB, and maybe that's Julian Araujo if he can develop a bit more over the preseason. The most glaring hole is obviously CDM and I'm a little worried that they will miss out on Kimmich and Zubimendi. Both of those players don't seem to be pushing for a move and I don't think Barca has the money to throw at the clubs to put pressure on the player to accept a deal. I'm afraid that this summer will end with Nico Gonzalez, Eric Garcia and Ambrabat as the CDMs, which will cause that position to be an issue next season.

The Messi news sucks, but Barca just finished first and should have some money to throw around. I should probably be more optimistic about their prospects on the transfer market, however I can't think of who they will go after to make an improvement outside of Kimmich who I'm not expecting to be available. Maybe Fati, Ferran, Raphinha and Julian Araujo all improve enough that the roster needs outside of CDM get addressed internally.
Gundogan on a free seems like the sensible lower cost alternative for that CDM position if they can't get Zubimendi (I don't think Kimmich is a possibility at all). He has all the qualities for it, he has spelled Rodri there on occasion at City, he knows the kind of tactical system Xavi prefers like the back of his hand, and at 32/33 he is probably moving into a career stage where playing deeper and running less is a good idea anyway.
 

OilCanMDS

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Jan 29, 2007
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Gundogan on a free seems like the sensible lower cost alternative for that CDM position if they can't get Zubimendi (I don't think Kimmich is a possibility at all). He has all the qualities for it, he has spelled Rodri there on occasion at City, he knows the kind of tactical system Xavi prefers like the back of his hand, and at 32/33 he is probably moving into a career stage where playing deeper and running less is a good idea anyway.
Yeah, Gundogan would be great and I thought he was going to Barca a month ago. It seems like all of the news lately regarding his transfer have him leaning towards Arsenal or City. He would also be great to play CDM as well as give Pedri and Gavi more time off at CM because I think both have been playing too much, which is why Pedri keeps getting injured and Gavi seemed to have lost a step at the end of the season. Hopefully, Barca is still in the running and can get the deal done.
 
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rguilmar

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Jul 16, 2005
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I think that Barca will be limited to spending something like 40% of any money coming off the books. So to nab Zubimendi at €40 million (probably more tbh) they would need to clear €100 million in player sales not to mention offering wages high enough to tempt him to leave his boyhood club, a club that is also in the Champions League. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it doesn’t feel likely.

I’d be shocked if they moved Eric Garcia. For a club that identifies with being Catalan, selling Garcia after losing Alba, Piqué, and Busquets would leave the club pretty un-Catalan.

Gundogan on a free makes a ton of sense. Good call.