Saturday, 18 July 2009

Defending Eto'o AND Barcelona. Part 2.

Defending Eto'o AND Barcelona. Part two.
By: Ramzi Tanani
Part One: Here

The Eto’o Case, what’s beyond the smoke?

The fake emotional battle:

Many emotional statements were thrown on the table by the player’s agent, Barcelona board, and the club fans.

For the fans, it is an emotional situation. Some fans worship Eto’o as the one and only. Without him Barcelona relegates. He loves the club and the club betrayed him. He has the right to be angry. The board just lost it! They made a huge mistake and now they are squeezed in the corner, fair enough! And what’s more to say about Barcelona board of directors? Racists!

Some other fans prefer to have other players in place. There is no way to promote a new name without damaging Eto’o image, right? He lacks quality and class. Barcelona made him and now the evil man is refusing to move to another club so Barcelona earns money to buy someone else. He just wants to ruin Barcelona! Want to go for free next season, Mercenary!

That’s the fans island. For Eto’o there is nothing emotional about it, neither for the club. It is business, pure business. He is seeking his own interest as a player, as any player. Knocking his 29th year’s door, he is aware that his following contract is the most important one in his career, and rightfully he is working for what suits him most. The board of directors is seeking their own interest for being responsible of the club by doing what they believe it’s the best for the future of the team.

If he will leave, he will not leave because he is angry (emotions). It will only happen if he finds a better contract that suits him more, somewhere else. Last season the Coach and the board boldly informed him that he is not wanted; he didn’t get angry, nor he left. There were some interested clubs, his contract demands were too high to meet, so he stayed. This season, no one announced that he is unwanted. Instead all the options were (and are) opened. So if he didn’t get angry back then, he won’t now.

Barcelona for him is a team he likes. But the team he loves is Mallorca. The moment he finds a better team to join, his heart's mood will switch. The same as I will not believe if Henry claims that he loves Barcelona, and that’s why he plays there. I am not even sure if Messi's first love is Barcelona or Newell’s Old Boys. Though, no one can doubt his commitment toward Barcelona. There is nothing insulting in that. It doesn’t damage the player value and contribution toward the club.

Next summer there is an election at Barcelona. The current board's popularity between the fans will decide the destiny of the following election. Eto’o agent is simply pressing that bottom, using the fans against the board to put some pressure. Dirty, but Fair game.

The Barcelona Board in return, holds nothing personal against Eto’o. In fact, Eto’o was always labelled a Laporta man, while Ronaldinho was the Sandro Rosell signing. Till this moment, Laporta has only made positive statements about Eto’o, as a player and as a person. At the same time, if they renew Eto’o deal it will not be because they like him (emotions), But because he ended up being the best option to take. Being a team legend or a key player guarantees you no contract, nor does it assure your survival with the team. Ronaldinho? You stay as long as you are the best alternative for the club. And that’s the right question to ask, is Eto’o the best forward for Barcelona? It’s an emotionless case-study to analyse.

Eto’o and Barcelona paths, where they concurred and where they clashed:

When Laporta era settled in place, there was a need to sign a new striker. The former cards (Kluivert and Saviola), though being popular to an extent, failed to convince the new regime. The board signed that guy from Mallorca, and the adventure began.

After a short slow start, Eto’o started to prove his worth. He dissolved in the team dynamic and became a must for the team machine to keep on going. That hungry talented group succeeded to create a golden era in the clubs history.

After the Champions league victory in Paris, the club was heading toward the following season with lot of hopes.

Eto’o's contract was secure back then, with three years to expire. The season turned to become a flop, the title was lost in the last moment.

The board of directors decided to stick to the old guns that brought success for the team. Eto’o had no intention to leave as well. At least he didn’t mention it. The following season started, and it was worse than the former. The dressing room collapsed. The team performance turned to be the shadow of the glorious days. And the season ended in the worst catastrophic way possible.

Pep Guardiola became the new coach. And he was clear about Eto’o, Ronaldinho, and Deco situation. He wanted them out. Deco became a clear liability, and so was Ronaldinho. Regarding Eto’o, there were a mix of tactical needs and personality concerns toward the player. Yet, selling Eto’o and buying a new striker had to go in parallel. That was the basic difficulty. After a year where Eto’o showed his ugliest face both on the pitch and outside, no team was willing to take the risk of spending lot of money on him. Neither to buy him, nor to offer him the contract he demanded. Barcelona were not willing to decrease the player price enough to encourage the other teams to make offers, specially when the transfer targets to substitute him became more and more expensive.

With no team willing to bid for him fairly, and when the hopes to sign a different striker started to fade, there was no other option for the team and the player but to stick together. Yet, it was impossible to start a renewal negotiation last summer. The board can’t make an attempt to renew a player contract if he wasn’t originally needed by the Coach. The Coach still had doubts about the player. And the player was not settling enough yet to accept an extension, Regardless of all the parties intentions back then.

The season kicked off, Impressively, Generating magic and charm week in week out. If we want to suppose that Barcelona wanted to renew Eto’o contract, that was the worst time to make the attempt. The player, as the whole team, was extremely motivated, focussed and in the mood. The last thing recommended is to interrupt his workflow by contracts and conditions that may end either way. Eto’o himself repeated again and again that he does not want to talk about renewal till the season ends. So there was no way to talk about it till the summer.

Here we are, summer 2009. Eto’o has one more year in his contract. He didn’t buy out the contract, so the first (and worst) threat vanished. If he did so, then we can talk about catastrophic condition. Imagine the team with no striker and ten millions in hand earned through Eto’o contract cancellation. The other teams will abuse our desperate need for a striker like never before, and we have no choice but to buy. He didn’t do it for a reason. It opposes his own interest. And it was for the best of the club as well.

Eto’o has all his options open now. The best scenario for him is actually to stay with the club till next summer, then go for free. He will get a decent amount of money to sign (for another club) and will earn a decent contract. It’s also for the best of the other teams to wait one more year. The accounting is simple:

At the moment any team interested in Eto’o need to pay an average of 30 M to Barcelona, and at least 8.5 M annually for Eto’o as a salary for, say five years.

The whole Eto’o deal will cost the team 72.5 M for five years.
Eto’o will earn 42.5 M for the following five years. He will be 33 years by then.

If the deal didn’t take place now, next summer any team will be willing to offer Eto’o 10 M to sign plus 10 M annual salary contract for the following four years.

This deal will cost the buying team 50 M during the following four years, saving 22.5 M by waiting one season. A season where Eto’o will get an international call for one and a half month anyways.

Eto’o will earn 50 M in four years plus the money he will earn at Barcelona playing with them one more season. All in all he will earn in the following five years 15 M more if he stayed with Barcelona for one more season than if he leaves right now.

That’s why, he is not in a hurry. He will only leave this season if he got a very attractive offer, both financially and as a sport project. If I will be in his place I will think the same, you?

Eto'o betrays Barcelona if he decided to stay next season before going for free. Wrong.

There is a contract. It says that Eto'o will play with Barcelona until the end of next season. To change the contract conditions both parties need to agree on that. It is as simple as that. Eto'o was even able to buy out his contract only by informing the club two weeks before the transfer period takes place. Even that wouldn't be considered a betray. That's the system and everyone is aware of it. He has the right to stay. It's more appropriate to say that Barcelona are betraying him by trying to offload him before the agreed date (next summer) than to say Eto'o is playing it bad. Eto'o is only committed to his contract conditions, without any further obligations.

Barcelona board, so stupid dealing with Eto’o case till it went that Far. Wrong.

First, as mentioned above, we reached this stage as a result of what happened during the previous two years. The board had to do more regarding some other issues surrounding the club in the past two years but they hesitated. The Eto’o mess is more a side effect of that. At the moment, the board will not sell Eto’o till they insure a secure transfer to fill his place. If we sell Eto’o fast, we will be in a weak negotiating position while shopping for a new striker, we can’t afford not buying. Inter and Valencia know that as well. That’s why they are demanding 35 M. No team will pay that amount of money for a player with an expiring contract. When we buy a new striker, Barcelona will drop a price gradually. The right price for Eto’o is the price that makes the transfer cost for the buyer sounds slightly higher than waiting till next season to get him.

But why are we going to offload a quality striker like Eto’o in the first place?

March 18, 2009, when Eto’o contract renewal was as certain as a done deal, while Henry future was in doubt, I wrote This Article Explaining why things may not be as certain as it may look. I recommend reading the reasons why I think Barcelona board hesitates to renew Eto’o's contract.

Any striker is a mixed dose of Finishing, decision making, strength, altitude, pace, positioning, Motivation (driven personality), techniques.

Eto’o is the dynamic type of forwards. He count mostly on his stamina, pace and physical strength. His finishing and positioning are good, but not first class. He scored lot of goals no doubt, but there is a reason why he did so, even though he is not the most lethal finisher. Lets compare him to the clinical type of Strikers (Klinsmann, Inzaghi, etc…) without considering the clinical as better, because definitely Eto’o is a better striker, at least compared to Inzaghi.

Yet, Inzaghi may vanish for the whole game. His contribution with his teammates building up offense may sound negligible, defensively he does not exist. Yet if he gets three scoring opportunities he will score two goals. Eto’o in the other hand is more a team contributor. His continuous runs and the way he links with his teammates generates him six scoring opportunities and he may score a hat rick. So in terms of finishing quality the clinical striker is better, but in terms of performance efficiency Eto’o is the leader.

Now that’s another prove that offloading Eto’o is stupid, right? Wrong. Because we need to install the most two crucial factors in this analysis, age and motivation. Finishing, positioning and decision making improves with age. In fact the clinical strikers hit their peak performance when they are between 30 and 33 years old. It’s not the same for dynamic strikers, when they approach their thirties, their offense dynamics start to fade gradually. Without his continuous runs, Eto’o loses a major slice of his quality. He can definitely keep being a quality striker for next season, but renewing his contract for four or five more years means that you will count on him till he run the down hill of his thirties.

Motivation wise, a very general question is appropriate in this analysis: How many strikers were able to keep their peak performance with their teams for ten years? For a player like Eto’o, Motivation and offense dynamics (runs and continuous pressure) are interrelated. When he is motivated he runs, when he feel fit he gets more motivated to push himself to the edge by applying mean, continuous pressure on the opponent. If his fitness level drops, his body will start giving warning calls and will have a huge mental impact on his motivation and over all quality as a striker. When he gets less motivated, his offense dynamics will automatically decline.

One of the reasons that motivated Eto’o to perform brilliantly last season was actually proving a point after last season chaos. Now the question is: What will motivate a 30 year old Eto’o with 2 CL or more in his first pocket, and 3 Ligas or more in his second pocket and some pichichi to push himself to offer more? Specially being settled by a lifetime contract with his team. Though he is a driven person by nature, but that’s not enough. This is why a new striker who needs to win the CL at least may prove a smart idea. If a new striker set an objective for himself to break Eto’o's scoring record with Barcelona, that will be more than enough to keep him motivated for at least four seasons.

Here we are definitely not recommending a pure clinical striker. That will not be a good option for Barcelona. But I used the Clinical striker argument to point out Eto’o's strength, and weaknesses.

Get me a new 22 years old Eto’o and forget about any other transfer target. The only concern will be then will be parked buses. But there is always a way to crush the bus without a tall striker. Eto’o's life cycle with Barcelona is heading to its end, better ends it at its peak than waiting till everything collapses then we try to fix. With another team he will have a new challenge to motivate him. He will do great to an extend that I hope we don’t meet him in CL.

Besides, Eto’o can’t finance any bit of his salary demand. He does not sell shirts. It may sound like a small detail, but it all counts when you make a decision.

There is a risk of course that a new striker may not raise to the expectations. That’s an ever existing risk. It was there when the team offloaded Kluivert and bought Eto’o. There were no guarantees. The risk of offloading Ronaldinho was huge as well. The guy kept being a scoring machine even during his worst season with Barcelona. He was a money generator as well. We took the risk, and no one can complain about the output now. You can’t demand perfectly secure decisions in management; risks are a part of the game. You take a risk, you may improve or fail. You don’t take risks, you will fail for sure.

Eto’o case is a crisis that may lead to catastrophic results. Wrong.

Having an Eto’o in his last year contract next season may bring on the table a better Eto’o like performance than a performance of an extended contract Eto’o. I believe a motivated Eto’o is always better than the settled one. Motivation is important for any player/person. But with Eto’o its something extra. When this guy is motivated, he is a monster!
Playing with an expiring contract will give him an added reason to prove himself. For the next employer, whom he will discuss with at the end of the season. But most importantly, he will be extra determined to prove that Barcelona was wrong (even stupid) not to renew his contract. Can you imagine what kind of Eto’o we will have then?

I am saying that just to point out that I am not over concerned by Eto’o's case. If he stays with expiring contract, he will perform next season. If he leaves, I don’t think the team will collapse because the board will have to buy another quality striker with pluses and minuses compared to Eto’o. If he extends his contract, it means both parties (club and Eto’o) turned the old page, there will be other challenges but we discuss it then, if it happens.

On the economic fold, I don’t think we will be losing a lot as well. With the current market inflation any player will cost 15 M more than his fair price. Next summer we will not have a similar craziness unless if Man City secure a spot for the CL. Even then I doubt they will automatically generate the image to sign big names. But it’s all unlikely.

So, if we failed to sell Eto’o for 25 M (Barcelona are demanding 35 M), we will simply lose him for free next summer and buy a new striker for almost a fair price. All in all, it will cost 10 M more than getting that new striker now and selling Eto’o straight forward. Now evaluating the two options of either buying a new striker next summer for 10 M more or making a panic desperate buy at the moment and offloading Eto’o makes the risk of both options too close to consider one of them as brilliance and the other as catastrophic. Really.

I believe the third option of extending Eto’o contract so he turns to become the long term option for Barcelona till he is over 32, with the type of strikers he is, is the more complicated option in its plus and minus than the first two alternatives.

That’s why, I understand continuous discussions about this matter, but I don’t see the catastrophic results both sides are panicking over, if he leaves, or stays.


As a person who doesn’t take any press speeches seriously, I think no one really knows how it went indoors. This man can only put himself in every party's shoes and try to predict. Laporta and co. joined Pep and co. to discuss this matter. Even if some of them are naïve (and I doubt that), it’s unlikely that they are all stupid. So, the output of their discussion was definitely based on reasonable bases. Agree on it or disagree, that’s a personal opinion; do not turn it to a permanent judgement.

Ramzi Tanani

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Surendra Chaplot said...

awesome do u do in day out u come up with mindblowing analysis...
u sure are a true genuis....
take a bow sir ....
take a bow

Anonymous said...

kudos to you Ramzi, we are all thumbs up for your fantastic analysis. you have given the cake and the knife to the Barca administration. they have a take it or leave it situation, yet they know the consequences.

M4V3R1K said...

Fantastic post Ramzi .. Keep up the good work.

jordy said...

nice post. I love eto'o but now i'm afraid he'll refuse inter's contract proposal. 2 months ago i would have liked eto'o to renew. but now i think to much has happened and a new striker would do well. zlatan is perfect for u, expensive but perfect. I only hope he will behave himself :)

trez said...

Despite you trying to crown yourself as "neutral", you're clearly in the camp of Laporta-worshipers and Eto'o-bashers, Ramzi.

Two quick examples:

"It will only happen if he finds a better contract that suits him more, somewhere else."

If that was the case, last year he would have been in Uzbekistan and this year in Manchester City.

"Till this moment, Laporta has only made positive statements"

In public. He has admitted to have said last year that he didn't want to see Eto'o ever again. And he has been lying about the offer of Man City. Laporta has shown his real face int he Eto'o case: sneaky and manipulative.

I didn't get passed the intro, I could guess what would folow... Nice try but you're too close-minded and don't get away from your prejudices.

Anonymous said...

"I didn't get passed the intro"
well that says it all.. ;)

Anonymous said...

eto please...stay!!!best striker in the world!visca barca!

Anonymous said...

Uzbekistan is a good opportunity for eto'o?

barca4life said...

It wouldnt be the worst thing in the world if etoo did stay. We get one of the best strikers in the world for another year. How he would react in the dressing room after all that has happened is a concern though.

blaugrana1 said...

The ibra deal is more or less a done deal..

On ibra's twitter he says "time to learn spanish"
and that he is finished with inter and wants the champions league

Anonymous said...

Great analysis! It settles me down a little. But I do want Ibra in Barca.

For I-didn't-pass-the-intro-trez, those 2 quick examples were never in the intro...

A better deal doesn't only mean money. Both money and prestige are required for a man with Eto's status. Uzbekistan and Manchester City certainly have the money, but they won't never have the prestige for Eto. Not yet anyway for Man City.

Rakshit said...

Great analysis

Anurag said...

well done ramzi, dont listen to the haters, you are the most practical guy to visit this blog.

Marc4barca said...

@anurag - you mean he has no choice but to be practical(whatever that means lol), cause if he was one sided no one will take his analysis seriously.

another great article ramzi especially the part with eto being a dynamic forward and they get worse by aging cause that is something i mentioned in another post to people who were complaining about zlatan being 27 going 28 this year.

Anonymous said...

Zlatan is a similar type as Kluivert though. Big, strong, good technique and passing. But where has Kluivert been in the last few years?

sashi said...

gr8 work Ramzi! u always reach new heights with each article!!! also, its oficial... cissokho joins Lyon. case closed.

Marc4barca said...

fc porto are making quite alot of money this transfer season, they sold lucho Gonzalez, lisandro Lopez and now aly cissokho.

in other news poulsen for caceres isn't that bad if you think about it, getting rid of caceres and getting a midfielder no cash involved and we will still have sufficient center backs, pique marquez, puyol, henrique and probably muniesa and milito. remember poulsen has played for sevilla in the past so la liga experience is there, he could be a good back up player.

ashu said...

its really ridiculos that Barca are swapping ETO for IBRA +40 Million + dolars.In dont agree the difference in quality etween those two is that much more over eto is a setteled player in the team and i am sure if they can offer inter this offer they could have sold Eto to man city and offered 50 million what Valencia demand for the amount they are signing Ibra they could have got Villa and Silva both from Valencia.central defender is not a problem.My dream Barca team for the season would have been


Alves Puyol Pique Santos/maxwell


Silva Ineista

Messi Henry/Ribery



JR said...

I find the last paragraph particularly interesting.

"As a person who doesn't take any press speaches seriously (...)" yet you write an article long enough to fill a magazine, based mostly on what has been said in the press (where else would a football fan get his information?).

Anonymous said...

ibrahimovic is top class striker,but he isnt team player like eto,if eto goes that would be the shame,eto is the best striker in the world and he must stay!visca barca!!!

Ramzi said...

All opinions are valid. and Appreciated.

Trez, thanx for passing by.
Jr, glad you passed the introduction and reached the last paragraph. now regarding:"based mostly on what has been said in the press". I dont agree.

If you are asking where else a football fan can get more football education/informations (which is the main reason I am commenting where it has to be the blog members stage to have their saying), I can recommend some books if you like to read. Thats of course if you are not planing to study football coaching. I can help in both cases, if needed.

But definitly I am reading all coments even without responding. I like to know the other opinion, if mine is not valid for some.

And I will do my best to be "open minded" enough :)

Anonymous said...

Another similarity Kluivert and Zlatan has are their lazyness and questionable personality.

Anonymous said...

The players Porto are selling are the only reason they gave teams like Man U and Atletico Madrid a challenge. If they sell Bruno Alves and the "Hulk", all their quality, star players will be gone. They will end up being less competitive in the CL then Sporting Lisbon.

Anonymous said...

Look at the players Porto have sold in the past. They always sell alot of players for great prices, but always come back.

BarcaFan(BiH) said...


Can you guys post a link that files all of the articles that the contributors have written.
For example, there should be a link (that gets updated with every article) for all of Kamikaze Konti's articles, Ramzi's articles, Samuel's articles, and so on
It would be a great idea, because I sometimes want to go back to these articles to read something that I had forgotten or just to enjoy a well written, insightful article. I'm sure many people do the same. that's how it makes it easier to refresh your memory or to learn something new about the beautiful game or our club. Thanks in advance.

Anonymous said...

Can someone who speaks Spanish translate this article?

The google translation is horrible. I can't understand what they are saying. Thanks in advance.

Jonathan said...

@BarcaFab(BiH): Ramzi Tatan and other contributors are trying their best to make sure they'r reachable even if you get past their previous articles like "Trex".

They use the labels system so that you can track their articles back at any time.

This is the link to all articles written by Ramzi Tatan (Atleast if he tagged all of his articles under this label):Contribution Ramzi You can find the rest under labels then scroll down to contributions.

BarcaFan(BiH) said...

Thanks Jonathan. I'll use your guide to find my way around.

All About FC Barcelona said...

Agree with most of the part of your write-up. But I firmly believe that Guardiola and Laporta acted without much of conviction here. Early in the transfer window they send all signals of not wanting Eto. And they made sure that they upset him at every juncture witout analysing what was the realistic chance to sign a back up. Now the ball is in Eto's court and we can only watch. I believe the desperation has led to Laporta agreeing to pay this big for Ibra.

Anonymous said...

Far too long and nothing that hasn't been said 100 times before.

TheGhost10 said...

I love the analysis, keep it up.

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