Tuesday, 24 March 2009

An evaluation of last year's transfer summer

author: Ewan MacDonald
source: Goal.com

date: 22 March 2009
editing: fcbtransfers.blogspot.com

Barcelona's summer was one of muted, yet extremely important transition. It was very much a case of quality over quantity - a set number of transfers, to repair a few positions, rather than a trolley-dash to land everyone on the market. Club president Joan Laporta, having just managed to weather a vote of confidence against his leadership, knew more than anyone that it was key to get it right. The amount spent in the summer - €88m for just a few first-teamers - bears testament to that.

Perhaps the best "signing" of all does not appear here, and thus he is not graded. Samuel Eto'o's decision to remain at the club has been rewarded as he storms towards the Pichichi award and Barcelona lead the Primera pack. Frank Rijkaard sauntered out of the Camp Nou dressing room for the last time; in his place strode the businesslike Pep Guardiola, who has certainly done the business so far.

IN: Martin Caceres (Villarreal); Dani Alves (Sevilla); Henrique (Palmeiras); Aliaksandr Hleb (Arsenal); Seydou Keita (Sevilla); Jose Manuel Pinto (Celta Vigo); Gerard Pique (Manchester United)

OUT: Marc Crosas (Celtic – loan); Deco (Chelsea); Edmilson (Villarreal); Santiago Ezquerro (Osasuna); Giovani Dos Santos (Tottenham Hotspur), Henrique (Bayer Leverkusen - loan); Oleguer Presas (Ajax); Ronaldinho (AC Milan); Lilian Thuram (retired); Gianluca Zambrotta (AC Milan).

Martin Caceres: D+
The idea was right. Carles Puyol, while rock-solid at the moment, won't be around forever; Rafael Marquez, meanwhile, is beginning to show his age. So, what better than a young-centre-back? Well, a young centre-back who doesn't cost €16.5m up front, and who will play something resembling a key role, that's what.

Caceres, a smouldering Uruguayan, has been unfortunate with injury, but even during periods of fitness he has hardly impressed. In other words we have an injury-prone, potentially unhappy, and very expensive youngster on the bench.

Dani Alves: A
Daniel Alves, accepted a move to Barcelona in 2008 in order to test his skills at the next level. Alves has delivered. Flying down the right wing in his trademark style, he is, the finest attacking wing-back in the world. That he plays for a side as forward-looking as Barcelona is simply grist for the mill, rather than a source of worry, for a man whose defensive prowess has been called into question.

In fact Dani is a perfectly reasonable right-back, being strong in the tackle and fast on the chase. It's just that in the attacking sense he goes above and beyond. Only his mammoth price tag - an inevitable one, admittedly - prevents him from picking up the A+ grade.

Aliaksandr Hleb: E
He was no Ronaldinho, sure, but had a proven track record on the left side of attack for a Premier League giant. Hleb has done precisely nothing to justify his massive price tag, scarcely making a league appearance and failing to justify his shirt when he does so. What's more, he's openly entertained the prospect of leaving: hardly the kind of attitude wanted from a man who must earn his place in the team, rather than simply be awarded it.

Well, we know he can be a valuable squad member, as he showed at Arsenal. The 27-year-old Belarussian is under contract for three more years but with Bayern Munich waiting in the wings at least Barcelona can recoup some of the wasted money this summer.

Seydou Keita: B-
The man looked at as the second 'Mr. Dependable', Seydou Keita arrived from Sevilla looking both to compete for Yaya Toure's defensive midfield slot, and also to augment it. So far his appearances have been limited in the Blaugrana shirt, but Keita has repaid the faith shown in him with confident, if largely, unspectacular showings.

Gerard Pique: C
While certainly providing more value-for-money than Caceres, the jury remains out on a local boy made good. Pique arrived this summer from Manchester United for a relatively low initial fee, having failed to make the breakthrough at Old Trafford. At Camp Nou, he's been something of a regular fixture. His earnestness cannot be denied, but occasionally he gives the impression of a great, loping St. Bernard when a sleek greyhound would do the trick.

Nonetheless he has time on his side and, as his loan spell at Zaragoza proves, he can operate as a defensive midfielder in a pinch.

The Blaugrana's transfer policy over the last few seasons has been one of iterative change, rather than wholesale alterations, and this has served them well. However, signings like Martin Caceres and Aliaksandr Hleb, seem like a lot of cash thrown away on very little.

In other words, in a summer in which Barca spent around twice as much as they brought in, the problem of the centre (and to a lesser extent, left side) of the defence remains unsolved.

read the full and original article here

Read more:
Barcelona involved in five summer top transfers
The complete Dani Alves transfer story
Henrique to return and Caceres to leave on loan


chris said...

"Caceres, a smouldering Uruguayan, has been unfortunate with injury"

I don't think he had any injury problems since he joined Barca.

tero said...

Caceres has a chance to finally prove his skills because of injury problems in our defense.Of course he could always go to other club for loan to gain some valuable starting-11 experience.Let's remember,he's only 22 years old,right?

krankuba said...

everyone, except hleb, has a place in the team right now... excellent signings, especially alves, caceres and pique :> :> :> it's impossible to be the best from the bench. just give them some time and love. peace!

JR said...

I think this is a pretty bad article. Alves is more than worth his price tag, and is one of the key reasons of our excellent season.

Pique deserves more than a C, he could be the leader of our defene for years to come.

And Caceres deserves more than a D+. Sure he hasn't featured much, but beside some bad displays he has also shown major promise. And even if we would sell, there would be enough teams willing to pay a fair amount for him.

Jacob said...

Txiki in the background with his eyes close, disappointed, dreaming of a better overall grade than B-


BA said...

yeah this guy has no idea what he's talking about. most writers at Goal.com have the same affliction.

Brandon FCB said...

Pique - A+

Caceres - B-

How can you say that Pique is a C? He has been great, and is getting into the national team. Caceres hasn't been bad, he just hasn't been good. But we can still see that he has potential, like he showed against Malaga.

Dimmu said...

Pique should get at least a B+... He have been playing very well and he already featured for Spain..

barca4life said...

I'd give pique a B and caceres a C. Caceres hasnt been as bad as people have made him out to be. And his last game have showed that he may finally be coming on. Hopefully he gets a few more mins in as there are many important games coming up and we will need all hands to the pump if we are going to do well at the end of the season

PerJun said...

A C for Piqué? That's just outrageous

Ramen said...

Pique deserves at least an A. He's that good, and he's been showing it at the international level, too.

Anonymous said...

Pique C? WTF?

Anonymous said...

pique deserves an F

Anonymous said...

all of that was bollocks
Martin Caceres potential A plus at the moment B-
Hleb i agree E
Dani gets an A plus dispite the price tag he is invaluable to us.
Pique gets at least a B c'mon hes done well.
Yeh keita get a B hes done also pretyy well.
All this is of course in my opinion but seriously these ratings done there were all wrong far to harsh

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