It’s always the right time to write about this topic, right? Now that Barcelona games are only available for weekends, we have lot of days to wait and lot of time to kill. Nothing is better than some transfer temptations. We will have to live with all kind of rumors till the end of the season. Being a season of elections won’t make is better, pouring oil on the fire.
So let’s go straight to the market!
Alright, for once I doubt there will be any voices questioning Valdes as a first notch keeper. We need to buy a backup keeper. Pinto, for all his good (and bad) is aging. Barcelona Athletic keepers still untested and need at least three years to prove themselves for being reliable. The keeper we are seeking must not be a first class keeper who demands playing time, but still good enough to cover Valdes absence and with enough quality to keep Valdes alert to avoid competition threats. Claudio Bravo of Real Sociedad was mentioned for being the main target. I still think he is too good to be true. Twenty six years old Chilean international who will defend his nation in the following world cup may not find it a tempting opportunity to warm up Barcelona bench for the rest of his career. That’s ten years from now considering the Goal keepers football career. It will be an absolute craziness if it happens, in an absolutely fantastic way, for Barcelona.
On my short list -which has nothing to do with Barcelona targets- there is Daniel Fernandes for being one of the most realistic options. One older reliable -and may be cheap- option is Morgan De Sanctis who can serve for couple of years. Cedric Carrasso is a less realistic option, though not an impossible one. Federico Marchetti is an interesting option to scout, while Joe Hart is impossible to get though I want to list him here just to wonder why -OH WHY the hell!- did Manchester City loaned out such a quality talented youth and bought an aging Given?
I will make it short. I don’t want us to sign any defender this summer. I know the club is looking for a backup for Alves. But the same as I mentioned last summer, there is no better backup for Alves than Puyol. Yet, if we need more assurance, bring back Caceres, Henrique, or promote a Cantera. I am not sure who is under the scouting radars at the moment, but I will be so surprised if the targets have the quality of Caceres or Henrique. I watched them close this season, and I am more certain than before they can serve the team well.
Besides, there is a decision to be made regarding Botia who is having a very good season on loan. There is a decision to be made regarding Muniesa, Fontàs, Bartra and the rest of defenders we have at Barca Athletic who are looking forward to see the light out of the tunnel toward the first team. The decision may not be promoting them all next season, but at least sending a clear message that they are in our plans and will have a chance and space with time.
My opinion about signing Cesc Fabregas is still the same. What sounded as an odd argument once, is a belief for a decent sector of Barcelona fans now. It’s not right to pay the amount of cash needed to get Cesc back home, he found a new home for himself once, and he can find another home if he wanted. But the guy is most likely a Barcelona player next season. When he wears the Barcelona shirt, he is our kid again, and will get all the support required.
For fifty millions of cash you can buy Silva who can do everything Cesc does and more, and you will still have enough money to make an agreement with a hairdresser to take care of Iniesta’s hair for the rest of his career. It’s smarter to invest that amount of money on Silva and Iniesta’s hair than on Cesc, no offense.
But the guy is coming. If we succeeded to keep either Jonathan Dos Santos or Thiago Alcantara, fine! Hope they will still feel motivated enough to challenge for a future in the club. I think JDS will be the victim of signing Cesc as he plays almost an identical role, while Thiago has some other features that makes him a different kind of players than Cesc.
If Yaya stayed, then that’s all the changes to expect in the midfield. We will have an impossible challenge to find playing time for everyone anyway. So we won’t add more complications. If Yaya decided to leave, we will give it a second try to get Mascherano, who is closer to Barcelona than some may think. If I am reading Pep well (who does?), it seems he wants more agility and stamina in the holding midfield department than strength. With Busquets improving on weekly bases, a pure defensive midfielder who can create an extremely different option for Pep is reasonable. When you want a more dynamic midfield you get a Busquets. When you want a more static defensive midfielder covering behind the offense troops as a vacuum cleaner you use the alternative Holding midfielder (Yaya or Mascherano). Yaya -in the right mood and form- is better than Mascherano when it come to playmaking contribution. Busquets is better than them both. As a pure defensive midfielder, Mascherano heads the list. Added to the rumor that Mascherano is yet to renew his contract with Liverpool, it means that he will be more attainable next summer than he was last summer. But that will only happen if Yaya left. Buying Cesc means no more installments in the midfield if no one left.
First of all we need to sort out what we have. At the moment, we have Messi, Ibra, and Henry added to Pedro, Jeffren and Bojan with Iniesta being used when needed. I am not sure what the future plans of Henry are, but I will welcome keeping him. There are doubts if Henry can prove being useful for the club next season, which is valid. Yet, for a player who is already in your squad, the most important question is: how to benefit from his presence the longest period possible? As a key player and for the contract conditions he has now, it is not a very profitable situation for the club (If we are only evaluating next seasons’ costs Vs benefits, which is unfair as the contract worth must be evaluated by comparing the cost vs. the players’ contribution throughout the contract duration).
If Henry wants to stay till his contract run out, then he is more than welcomed. If he wants to move somewhere else, then I hope the club will release him for free so he can negotiate with any team he wants seeking his own interest. That’s the least we can do.
Yet, if he is willing to consider a new contract, I believe it’s for the best of the team to extend Henry contract for two additional years (Yea!!) while decreasing his annual earnings, and making it clear that he will be used more as a game changer than a key starter during his new contract duration. There is no better player Barcelona can sign as a game changer than Henry. I labeled him as the new Larsson once, and I am still hopeful that this wishful thinking will come true.
I have only two options to select from, if we decided to sign a new player: Silva, and Villa. All the other options are far behind.
If Henry leaves, then we need to sign a new player without any question:
1) If we sign Silva, the offense line will look like this:
Silva-Ibra-Messi as starters and Pedro- Bojan -Jeffren as backups. Not a bad structure, yet there is a huge defect in it, we’ll only have one striker -Ibra- to count on as an offense reference (9), considering that Bojan is still not ready for a key role. Imagine Ibra getting injured for few games, we will definitely be in a big trouble.
2) If we sign Villa, the offense line will look like this:
Villa-Ibra-Messi as starters and Pedro- Bojan -Jeffren as backups. That’s my favorite structure. Villa is a goal scoring forward who will be converted to a flank forward role (Henry), which will guarantee more goal scoring qualities than getting a pure wing. He is more compatible to Ibra and Messi style of play than any other option and he fits perfectly our tactical structure that is a mix of 4-3-3 and 4-4-2 diamond. Even for the youth, it’s better that the first team sign a 28 years old player than a 22 years old wing. Keeping in mind that so far we don’t really have a young striker whom we can put our bet on for the future (in the following 5 years), while on the flanks we have lot of Pedros and Jeffrens. Even Bojan is at the moment closer to a flanked forward/second striker than a nine.
If Henry stays:
It means having Pedro-Ibra-Messi as starters and Bojan-Henry-Jeffren as backups. Not a bad structure but we can improve it much more:
New signing- Ibra-Messi with Pedro-Henry-Jeffren/Bojan as back up. Meaning, we need to decide if we will keep Bojan or Jeffren. Keeping them both is so unpractical as they will eat each others’ playing time or the better will dominate the less qualified. At least a loan decision should be made in this case.
Even with Henry staying, I still favor Villa over Silva, especially if we signed Cesc. Silva is a great talent that any team would like to sign, but I can’t find anything Silva can do that Iniesta cant. Something we can’t say about Villa.
I won’t be the last time we make a virtual shopping tour, but this is how my transfers’ wish list looks so far.
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