Tag Archives: Barcelona

Barcelona’s massive debt

Apparently, Barcelona’s debt is a staggering $563 million.

The soccer end-times are coming for the big teams that are drowning in debt. Mark my words.

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Ujfalusi gets 2 matches for Messi tackle

Atlético Madrid defender Tomás Ujfalusi has been suspended for two matches for his clumsy tackle on Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.

To be sure, it was a terrible tackle. Ujfalusi claims it wasn’t his intention to come in so hard, but the video evidence clearly shows that he stepped on Messi’s ankle. Yeah, both players were moving at high speed, but Ujfalusi’s job is to tackle the opponent. If he wanted to, he could have done it cleaner. Instead, he sent a message. Or tried to.

Here’s the video:

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Filed under La Liga, Lionel Messi

Transfer round-up

Rafael van der Vaart

In which I publish a list of notable transfers, in no particular order:

Rafael van der Vaart to Tottenham: For a measly £8 million, Spurs added an excellent player in Rafael van der Vaart. He’ll give the offense a bit of class and a lot of punch. I never understand why he didn’t feature prominently at Real Madrid, not do I understand why he doesn’t play more for the Dutch national team. And I don’t understand why Sir Alex Ferguson wasn’t all over this move, especially at only £8 million. Their loss is Tottenham’s gain.

Robinho to AC Milan: For €18 million, AC Milan added a supremely talented striker and malcontent. He’s one of those guys who needs constant attention, which must be exhausting, to be honest. However, I think he’ll provide a good return on the money because he’s motivated and he’s wanted at Milan.

Asamoah Gyan to Sunderland: Ambitious Sunderland added World Cup hero Gyan in a bid to give the offense a boost. I, for one, think it will work out just swimmingly.

Javier Mascherano to Barcelona: A terrible move for both club and player. Mascherano doesn’t fit Barcelona’s system at all. This is a vanity signing, pure and simple. And it’s destined for failure.

Raul Meireles to Liverpool: A good move for Liverpool because Meireles is a gifted player (despite his comically bad tattoos). I think he’ll work out fine.

Mario Balotelli to Manchester City: And City add another player. And overpay for the privilege, too. Of course, that’s been the story of the last couple of years. I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.

Ramires to Chelsea: A good move by Chelsea. And cheap-ish, too.

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Filed under La Liga, Premiership, Serie A

Whither Barcelona’s reputation

Could Barcelona really be just another club? Could it be that it’s being dragged into petty politics, just like other clubs, and tapping-up targeted players, just like other clubs? It’s sad, but that just might be happening.

I’m not sure what former Barcelona president Joan Gaspart was thinking when he revealed that he wanted either Arsène Wenger or Fabio Capello to manage the team in 2001. What difference could that make to Barcelona in 2010? Apparently, both Arsenal (Wenger) and Roma (Capello) refused to allow Gaspart to interview their managers. How is this news? So one of the big clubs in the world wanted to attract a highly-respected manager. That’s not a surprise. The only reason Gaspart would go public now is to embarrass Barcelona’s current leadership. And that’s just dumb (unless he wants to be president again). So, there’s no point to his revelations.

Cesc Fàbregas, Arsenal captain and Barcelona targer

Of more concern to Barcelona’s fans are the near-constant tapping-up of Fàbregas for the last two years. He’s from Barcelona, participated in the youth system, and he wants to play there again someday. But he’s 23 years old and he has a long career ahead of him. He’s also Arsenal’s captain, which raises another large problem.

Canadian basketball player Steve Nash could have done what so many did before him: demand a trade when it became clear, after the 2008-09 season that the Phoenix Suns were rebuilding. But he realized that he couldn’t lead if he did so, and signed a contract extension. As a result, the Suns had a good season and Nash remained in his leadership position. Which brings us to Fàbregas.

He needed to come out and say he was staying at Arsenal for the foreseeable future. That wouldn’t have ended the speculation (I’m certain Barcelona would have continued tapping him up) but it would have made his own position clear. And it would have ensured his leadership position in Arsenal’s locker room, especially important since he is the captain.

At the same time, Barcelona should have stopped its pursuit sooner (it has apparently conceded defeat, for now). First, they have two extraordinarily gifted midfielders in Xavi and Andrés Iniesta, neither of whom are retiring anytime soon. So, there is no place for Fàbregas on the pitch (witness the Spanish national team’s first XI). Second, he’ll cost a fortune (assuming he is actually available, which he’s not). Thus, it would be a vanity signing and nothing else.

Barcelona doesn’t have the financial resources to make vanity signings; it’s not Manchester City. Barcelona’s weaknesses (primarily depth and, perhaps, reliable scoring) need to be addressed more than adding another midfielder. That, combined with Gaspart’s ill-timed and ill-conceived revelation, make Barcelona just another club. It needs to be above the fray in order to be mes que un club.

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Márquez joins Red Bulls

Rafael Márquez joined the New York Red Bulls on 2 August 2010

Mexican captain Rafael Márquez officially signed with the New York Red Bulls on 2 August 2010, joining ex-Barcelona teammate Thierry Henry in the Big Apple. “Coming to New York and playing in Major League Soccer was a chance that I could not refuse. I am committed to doing my very best to help the Red Bulls in their playoff push this year and compete for championships in the years to come,” Márquez said.

This is good for both New York and MLS. For New York, it adds a defensive stalwart (Márquez is both a center back and a defensive midfielder) and a leader at the back to augment Henry and Juan Pablo Ángel up front. Hopefully, for Red Bull fans, Márquez can help the team into the playoffs and, more significantly, help turn around the club’s middling history. The key is that he needs to stay healthy, especially since MLS is notoriously rough. For MLS, attracting a star in his prime years is an excellent step. It’s especially interesting that he chose MLS over the Mexican league.

Henry is off to a nice start with his new team. Márquez must be hoping for a similarly good beginning.

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Márquez to join Thierry Henry in New York

Rafael Márquez scores v. South Africa (Getty Images)

Well, probably. If you believe the reports.

Though the man himself remained non-committal, it’s a rather poorly kept secret that the New York Red Bulls are interested in signing him, especially now that he won’t have a transfer fee.

Even though Márquez is 31 and has been hurt more or less all the time for the last two years, this is a good move for New York and for MLS. Márquez is by no means finished as a player and his quality and versatility will help the team. His name recognition and pedigree will help the league.

I think it speaks volumes that Márquez would rather go to New York than return to Mexico to play for Atlas (his original club) or, say, América. It says that MLS has to be taken seriously, at least by continental stars.

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Rafael Márquez to New York?

Rafael Márquez scores v. South Africa (Getty Images)

Mexico captain Rafael Márquez is on the verge of being released by Barcelona, according to reports.

I suppose that’s not really surprising since he’s been hurt a lot the last couple of years and both Puyol and Gerard Piqué are now entrenched in the first XI. That, combined with his relatively high wages and Barcelona’s worsening financial situation, means he could be on his way out.

The only problem is that Barcelona doesn’t have a lot of depth at center back. Perhaps there are a few prospects on the reserve or youth teams but the senior team will be somewhat short-staffed. Of course, just because Márquez might be leaving doesn’t mean the team won’t make other moves.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber has subtly suggested that the New York Red Bulls will offer Márquez a soft landing spot.

This is something to watch.

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Filed under La Liga, MLS