Saturday, 6 June 2009

Picture of the day: Hamilton and Nakajima

Formula One racing drivers Lewis Hamilton and Kazumi Nakajima have received yesterday a personalized Barcelona shirt in Istanbul.

Hamilton, who has mentioned several times in the past that his favourite teams are Arsenal and Barcelona, said: "I'm delighted because I've always followed Barcelona." Nakajima, who has assisted several games at the Camp Nou, the last one last month against Villarreal, confessed that he's "crazy about Barça".

Quote of the day: Perez

There won't be a repeat of the Figo case.

Florentino Pérez, Real Madrid president

Inter asks record transfer fee for Ibrahimovic

Italian sports paper La Gazzetta dello Sport claims that Inter Milan is asking a record fee of 80 million euro° for Inter Milan forward and Swedish international Zlatan Ibrahimovic (27).

Because Barcelona president Joan Laporta couldn't offer more than 25 million euro° plus Barcelona forward Samuel Eto'o (28) for both Ibrahimovic ànd Inter left back defender Maxwell (27) during Thursday's meeting with Inter president Massimo Moratti, Barcelona's bid was soon rejected (read more

Inter could be willing to accept players in return, but the cash part of the deal cannot be less than 50 million euro. The transfer fee Real Madrid could have paid for Kakà makes Inter stand firm. Real Madrid and Chelsea would meanwhile be preparing to enter the race for Ibrahimovic.

Italian sports paper Il Corriere dello Sport claims that Inter prefers to be paid in cash, but could accept to include players in the deal. Inter Milan manager José Mourinho would prefer Barcelona attacker Andrés Iniesta (25) but realizes that it's highly unlikely Barcelona will let the former youth player go. Two other possibilities that are mentioned are: Eto'o plus 40 to 50 million euro or Barcelona defensive midfielder Yaya Touré (26) plus 60 million euro.

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Inter rejected a bid of 40 million euro plus Eto'o. Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Inter asked 40 million euro plus Eto'o, while Barcelona, that is not interested in Maxwell, offered 25 million euro plus Eto'o. Madrid sports tabloid As claims that Inter asks a transfer fee of 65 million euro.

Read more:
Meeting with Inter on Ibrahimovic: A reconstruction
1 Ibrahimovic - 2 Forlan - 3 Villa - 4 Benzema

Montolivo dismisses Barcelona rumours

Italian sports paper Tuttosport claims that Barcelona is strongly interested in Fiorentina midfielder Riccardo Montolivo (24).

Barcelona would already have contacted Fiorentina to ask for the Italian player.

Asked about the rumours, Montolivo said at a press conference that a transfer seems very unlikely to him: "I want to stay at Fiorentina. I want to keep on playing with this shirt. I've heard the talk about Barcelona but I saw them play in the final of the Champions league and it didn't look as if they need another midfielder... They have the strongest midfield in Europe."

Read more:
Fiorentina goalkeeper Frey has been offered
Offer for Fiorentina midfielder Felipe Melo

Watch a video of Montolivo here:

Barcelona treble celebrated in space

FC Barcelona's triumph in the Champions League final in Rome not only went round the world, it was also celebrated in space as the crew of the Columbus mission received a photo of the team and news about the win.

Barcelona fan Sergi Ginebrera is working as a telecommunications engineer for the project of the European Space Agency (ESA) in Munich is and he decided to include a report of the victory in the 'daily summary', a list of tasks and a news bulletin, that the astronauts are sent each morning from Houston.

The ESA director of communications accepted Ginebrera's proposal and the scoreline and report were included on the last page of the daily summary. Also included was a photo of the players receiving the Champions League trophy and that is now orbiting the earth inside the ship.

read the full story here

Hleb does not want to leave

Although Barcelona sports papers Sport and El Mundo Deportivo claim that Barcelona wants to sell Barcelona attacker and Belarusian international Alexander Hleb (28) this summer, representatives of the player have said this week that Hleb wants to continue next season.

Asked about the transfer rumours, Hleb's agent Uli Ferber said in an interview with British sports site Sky Sports that the player is not thinking of leaving: "Even though he is not playing regularly he is not thinking about changing teams. He wants to stay at Barcelona and fight for his place."

Oliver Mintzlaff, a collaborator of Ferber, had earlier said the same in an interview with Catalan sports paper Sport: "Hleb isn't satisfied with the chances he has got... He wanted to play more, but he's convinced that he can prove to Guardiola that he's a quality player. With Barça, he has found a club where he can win trophies and his only option is to continue. Despite that, I can confirm that several very important English and German club have asked for him."

British tabloid The Daily Star claims that Aston Villa is interested in bringing Hleb back to the English Premier League. Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill is believed to be interested in buying Hleb as a striker or wide midfielder, while Barcelona would be prepared to let the player go for a transfer fee of around 11,5 million euro°.

Ferber nevertheless denied the interest to Sky Sports: "We don't know anything about any requests from Aston Villa." And El Mundo Deportivo claims that Bayern Munich is no longer interested in Hleb after Louis van Gaal was appointed as the new coach of the German club.

Italian sports paper La Gazzetta dello Sport claims that Barcelona president Joan Laporta tried to include Hleb in a deal on Inter Milan striker Ibrahimovic (read more here). Olympique Lyon sports director Bernard Lacombe meanwhile confirmed in an interview with his club's official television channel that the French club is following Hleb: "Hleb is a good player, we'll see what we can do."

Read more:
Lyon interested in Hleb
Hleb will leave if asked by Barcelona
Possible pre-agreement between Hleb and Bayern

Barça B: Cristian (Coria) testing with Barcelona

Sevilla regional sports paper Estadio Deportivo reports that Barcelona is interested in Coria forward Cristian Terán Sáez (17).

Because of the good scouting reports Barcelona youth academy director Alexanko had received about the player, Cristian has been invited to take part in the U-18 World cup for clubs with Barcelona. Sevilla and Betis are also following the player from the Spanish fourth division club.

Coria commented on the interest of Barcelona in an interview with the paper: "This is really nice. It's the perfect end of the great season I've had. I'm feeling good. I've played the first game against Boca Juniors, but I couldn't play the second one against Beijing because I got hit in a calf. Today I could get another chance against Dinamo Kiev."

Read more:
Barcelona B captain could join Aris Saloniki
Deportivo interested in several Barcelona players
Botia happy with first team debut

Barcelona planning six transfers

Catalan newspaper Avui claims that Barcelona wants to sign six players during the coming transfer wiondow.

Goal. Third goalkeeper Albert Jorquera (30), whose contract expires in 2010, is seriously considering to leave this summer. If this happens, it's not yet sure how he will be replaced: either a new goalkeeper will be signed or Guardiola will count more on one of the Barcelona goalkeeepers, Oier Olazábal (19) or Rubén Miño (20).

Defense. Bayer Leverkusen central defender Henrique (22) will return from loan while central defender Martín Cáceres (22) could leave on loan for one season. It's not clear when central defender Gabriel Milito will have fully recovered from his knee injury.

Barcelona is looking at the option of signing a back-up for right back defender Daniel Alves and will certainly sign a left back to replace Sylvinho, whose contract expires and won't be renewed. Barcelona Juvenil A central defender Marc Muniesa (17), who can also act as left back, will start the pre-season with the first team and could stay afterwards.

Midfield. Attackers Eidur Gudjohnsen (30), whose contract expires in 2010, and Alexander Hleb (28) could be sold or included in a transfer deal. If one or both of them leave, a new midfielder will be signed, while Barcelona attacking midfielder Thiago (18) also has a chance of being promoted.

Attack. Barcelona will certainly buy a player for the left wing, with Bayern Munich attacker Franck Ribéry (26) being the main candidate. Valencia forward Juan Manuel Mata (21 - picture) would be another option. Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola wants to sign a centre forward. Three names would be on the list: Atlético Madrid forward Diego Forlán (29), Valencia forward David Villa (28) and Lyon forward Karim Benzema (21).

Read more:
Guardiola wants larger squad and new players
Barcelona plans few changes in the summer
Txiki talks about the summer transfer market

The final triplete dinner

by: al

There is no better way to end the best season in blaugrana history than with a final gathering of the players, staff, board of directors, and everybody involved in the successful season.

That is why a feast was arranged at the Gran Hotel La Florida, on the night before the final fixture against Deportivo La Coruna, to end the season on a good note.

La Rabassada turned from a simple street to a caravan of vehicles being transported one by one to hotel La Florida. One of the first appearances of the night was done by Joan Laporta. The president caused a bit of traffic in front of the hotel by refusing to leave the vehicle because he struggled to tie his tie.

After him, the most punctual guests were the homegrown players. Bojan, Puyol, Pedro and Victor Valdes were the first to arrive, same with Thierry Henry and Toure Yaya, who were in a great mood.

Pep Guardiola, alongside his wife, arrived in a casual white shirt. Director Albert Perrin, confused by many as the ex-president Josep Lluís Núñez, came with a group of board members and collaborators: Joan Franquesa, Doctor Pruna, Paco Seirullo, and Juanjo Brau who was accompanied by Emili Ricart, Magda Oranich, and Joan Olivé.

Everybody was practically there. Only a few, such as Samuel Eto'o, arrived late to the feast. The player, who had to drop off his son at the airport, arrived later than expected, to the point where the fans that waited at the hotel's doors thought he would never come.

The frenchman Eric Abidal was the person that stood out the most because of his vehicle, an orange Porsche Cayenne that looked like it was driven from a far away place. Lionel Messi was well-received as he exited his vehicle and was immediately surrounded by fans that took advantage of the chance to ask for an autograph and a photo. Manel Estiarte practically had to save him.

Many of the players arrived with their significant others, but all eyes were on Rafael Marquez's woman, model and actress Jaydy Mitchell. Only Hleb's woman, ex-pop star Anastasia Kosenkova, could compete with the beauty of the Mexican's girlfriend.

Dani Alves, whose woman is pregnant, attended alone but Sylvinho, Pedro, Iniesta, Víctor Sánchez, Gudjhonsen, Corbella, Tkiki Begiristain, and Tito Vilanova were complemented with their respective women.

The first to leave were Henry, Valdés and Touré Yaya, who left barely after eleven at night and didn’t even get to see Eto’o arrive. Many other players soon followed, as they had to rest up for the match at the Riazor the next day. The feast finally died down around 1:30 the next morning, as some players said their goodbyes and called it a night. A well deserved treat for a historical season.

see more pictures here

(sources: sport, el mundo deportivo)

Messi devastated by Sylvinho's exit

Many thanks to those who have supported me, I'll carry you in my heart. And please, take care of the boy, keep him on the right track, he'll continue to bring us joy

Many thanks and see you soon!

(click the cartoon to enlarge)


see more cartoons here

Three candidates to become back-up of Valdes

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Barcelona is looking to replace Barcelona third goalkeeper Albert Jorquera (30), who will most probably leave in the summer.

After having searched the market for several months, the possible candidates would have been reduced to a short-list of three: Real Valladolid goalkeeper and Spanish youth international Sergio Asenjo (19), Mallorca goalkeeper Miguel Àngel Moyà (25 - picture) and Recreativo Huelva goalkeeper and Real Sociedad loan out Asier Riesgo (25).

Asenjo was the main option but the player would want to become the first-choice goalkeeper at his new club and seems now very close to joining Atlético Madrid (read more here). Moyà and Riesgo would accept to be the back-up of Valdés and both are expected to leave their clubs during the transfer window.

Mallorca wants to sell one of their three goalkeepers and thinks Moya, who would be delighted to join Barcelona, could get them a higher fee than Dudu Aouate and Germán Lux. Moyà, whose contract expires in 2011, was last summer already close to an exit, and Mallorca president Mateo Alemany would now feel morally obliged to let him go if an offer from a big club comes in.

Because of the economic situation of the club, second division team Real Sociedad has informed Riesgo's agent that they plan to sell the goalkeeper this summer. Barcelona would already have asked for Riesgo and the transfer fee wouldn't be more than 1 million euro°. Villarreal would also be interested in the Basque goalkeeper.

Read more:
Who could replace Valdes?
Scouting report recommends transfer Asenjo
Barcelona managing list of four goalkeepers

[2008] Deal with Mancini

this post was published exactly one year ago:

Roma sports paper Il Romanista claims that Barcelona and AS Roma winger Amantino Mancini (27) have already closed a deal.

Gilmar Veloz, the agent of the player, would have reached an agreement on the personal terms of the contract, by which the Brazilian would earn 4 million euro plus incentives a year. Two months ago, around Easter, Mancini would already have visited Barcelona and he liked the city a lot.

With the contract of Mancini expiring next year and the plauer refusing to renew it, Roma is willing to sell him this summer. Italian player's agent Ernesto Bronzetti would act as go-between and was in Roma yesterday to discuss the transfer. A deal between the two clubs could be closed for a fee of little over 10 million euro°.

Asked about the rumours linking the club with Mancini, Barcelona economic vice preisdent Ferran Soriano is quoted by the paper as not denying the interest in Mancini: "I'm not saying that we are not interested in Mancini, I can only say that we haven't talked with the player, nor with Roma."

Read more 6 June 2008 news:
Official: Giovani to Tottenham
Barcelona interested in Pirlo
Principal agreement on Alves
Newcastle and West Ham have Gudjohnsen on list
Caceres signs his contract
Official: Sylvinho renewal

Barcelona could consider to sell Toure

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona could be ready to listen to offers for Barcelona defensive midfielder and Ivorian international Yaya Touré (26).

Although Barcelona will negotiate this summer with Touré about a pay rise (read more
here ), Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain has been contacted by several clubs to sound him out on the situation of the player.

Taking into account the progress made by Barcelona midfielder Busquets and the possible new signing of a midfielder during the summer transfer market, Barcelona could consider to let the Ivorian midfielder go if the club would receive a huge offer for Touré in the coming months.

British tabloid The Sun meanwhile claims that Arsenal is willing to push hard for Touré (read more
here). Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger would be preparing a 15 million euro° bid for the player but would accept he may have to improve on that following Touré's impressive performances in the Champions League last month. AC Milan would also be interested in Touré.

Read more:
Manchester City prepares summer bid for Toure
Mascherano ideal candidate to strengthen midfield
Barcelona wants to renew the contract of Toure

Jansen another option for the left back position

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Barcelona is interested in Hamburg left back defender and German international Marcell Jansen (23).

Jansen signed last summer a five-year contract with Hamburg after having played one year for Bayern Munich.

The other main names on the list to strengthen the left back position and to replace Sylvinho, whose expiring contract won't be renewed, are at this moment AS Roma left back defender and Norway international John Arne Riise (28) and Deportivo La Coruña left back defender Filipe Luís (23).

Read more:
Riise an option for the left back position
Abidal linked with Liverpool
First contact with Deportivo on left back Filipe

Wach a video of Jansen here:

Barcelona is still interested in Bruno Alves

Portuguese sports paper A Bola claims that Barcelona is still trying to sign Porto central defender and Portuguese international Bruno Alves (27).

It is generally believed that Alves, who has a buyout clause of 30 million euro°, will leave the Portuguese champions this summer, although the fact that he is represented by Jorge Mendes, who's also the agent of Inter Milan manager José Mourinho, makes it at this point more likely that he will end up in Italy.

Read more:
Bruno Alves reveals transfer to Barcelona
Txiki talks about the summer transfer market
Possible pre-agreement with Bruno Alves

Friday, 5 June 2009

Goals Messi 2008-2009 (part 6 - the end)

watch previous parts:

part 1
part 2
part 3
part 4
part 5

Barcelona interest leads to pay rise offer for Cole

British tabloid The Sun claims that Barcelona is interested in Chelsea left back defender and English international Ashley Cole (28) (read more here).

Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola likes the player and Barcelona would be preparing a 22,5 million euro° bid but Chelsea are confident Cole will stay at the club. The English defender, whose contract expires in 2011, will be offered a new four-year deal worth as much as the club's top earners Frank Lampard, John Terry and Michael Ballack.

A Chelsea source is quoted by the tabloid as saying that new Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti wants to hold on to Cole: "One of the first things Mr Ancelotti said when arriving at the club was not to allow Ashley to leave. He is aware that Barcelona rate him extremely highly and Guardiola sees the left-back position as the team's only weak link. We're extremely hopeful that Ashley will stay at Chelsea."

Read more:
Barcelona preparing bid for Chelsea left back Cole
Lahm offers himself to Barcelona
Chelsea will try to sign Alves this summer

Meeting with Inter on Ibrahimovic: A reconstruction

Barcelona president Joan Laporta met last night in Barcelona with Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti. Although both presidents didn't want to confirm the issues discussed, it is believed that a possible transfer of Inter forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (27) was the main reason for the meeting.

Nothing is certain but putting all pieces together, this blog can at least offer you this attempt to reconstruct the events.

el mundo deportivo, la gazzetta dello sport, rac 1, sport, reuters)

On Thursday morning, Moratti met in Milan with Inter manager José Mourinho. The Portuguese gave the green light for the transfer of Ibrahimovic under the condition that Inter would get in return Barcelona forward Samuel Eto'o (28) and a serious sum of cash, which would be used to sign Chelsea players Carvalho and Deco.

After the meeting with Mourinho, Moratti talked with Mino Raiola, the agent of Ibrahimovic, to explain him what had been decided in the meeting that had taken place. Raiola talked by phone with Ibrahimovic, who is preparing international games with Sweden, to inform him about the latest events.

Moratti decided to fly in the afternoon to Barcelona with his private jet. Barcelona president Joan Laporta cancelled a dinner in the Catalan town of Igualada, sixty kilometres to the east of Barcelona, and both presidents met at the Majestic hotel in the heart of Barcelona before heading to the Via Veneto restaurant where the two men arrived around 9.30-10 pm. Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain possible joined them there.

Moratti would have opened discussions by putting his offer on the table: Eto'o plus 30 to 40 million euro° for Ibrahimovic. Laporta had to admit that the Cameroonian striker at this moment doesn't seem very willing to leave the club this summer and tried to come up with alternatives.

Barcelona offered to include Barcelona attacker Alexander Hleb (28), whom Inter tried to sign last summer, in the deal, but this was rejected. Barcelona offered 40 million euro° plus one player, but Moratti returned to his initial asking price of 70 million euro° cash.

Inter would only be willing to change their minds and lower the amount to be paid in cash if one of the following three players is offered in exchange: Eto'o, Barcelona attacking midfielder Xavi (28) or Barcelona defensive midfielder Yaya Touré (26). Somewhere down the line, Inter left back Maxwell also appeared upon the table (27).

When the two president left the restaurant after midnight, Laporta said it had only been a dinner between friends: "We didn't profoundly discuss any issue. We just had a first contact, nothing has been decided." Moratti confirmed this and added that a swap deal including Ibrahimovic and Eto'o probably won't go through: "I don't think that's possible. I like Ibrahimovic a lot and Laporta likes Eto'o a lot."

Moratti returned this morning to Milan, while Raiola closed the debates for now telling reporters today that Ibrahimovic would welcome a move to Barcelona: "I only know that if the two clubs find an agreement we would not have trouble agreeing with Barcelona."

Read more:
1 Ibrahimovic - 2 Forlan - 3 Villa - 4 Benzema
Inter Milan interested in Hleb
Maxwell could be included in Eto'o deal

Medical: Milito underwent new surgery

Catalan radio station Ona FM claims that Barcelona central defender Gabriel Milito (28) underwent a new surgery.

Milito's right knee would have been operated in Argentina by doctors from the Argentinian football federation, lead by doctor Homero de Agostin, under the supervision of Ramon Canal, the head of Barcelona's medical services, and with the assistance of Catalan doctor Ramon Cugat.

The Argentinian underwent for the fourth time an arthroscopy trying to find out why the player is still feeling pain, which blocks his recovery. Although Barcelona's medicall staff is optimistic, it's certain that this new surgery will postpone the recovery of the player even more and it's almost impossible the defender will be ready to start the pre-season with the first team.

Milito suffered a right knee injury on 29 April 2008 during the second game of the Champions League semi-finals against Manchester United last season. The predicted recovery time was then being estimated between six and nine months.

Read more:
Independiente wants Milito on loan
Medical: Milito could undergo new surgery
Genoa interested in Milito

Goals Messi 2008-2009 (part 5)

watch previous parts:

part 1
part 2
part 3
part 4

Bojan will not leave on loan this summer

Catalan sports papers El Mundo Deportivo and Sport both claim that Barcelona forward and Spanish youth international Bojan Krkic (18) will not leave on loan in the summer.

With the permission of Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola and according to the wish of the player (read more
here), the club would have decided on Wednesday that Bojan will stay with the team next season. Barcelona would have informed the player's agent Ramón Sostres about the decision during a meeting yesterday.

Sport claims that Dutch champions AZ Alkmaar would have been the last club to have asked for the player, with new AZ manager Ronald Koeman having discussed a possible loan with Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain.

El Mundo Deportivo claimed earlier this week that Deportivo had given up on Bojan (read more
here) but that Barcelona was considering to include the loan of Bojan in an offer for Atlético Madrid striker Forlán.

Almería sports director Alberto Benito said two days ago in an interview with local televisión channel Interalmería Televisión that Almería would give a loan another try (read more here): "Our president is very interested in Bojan. We know it will be very difficult but the president has a great relationship with Joan Laporta and I can assure you that we will try to sign him."

But the sports director gave up on the player in an interview with Madrid sports tabloid As today: "Our interest in Bojan was real. It's a young and motivated player who could have fit in in the team. But if Barça doesn't want him to leave, we cannot do a lot about that. It's a shame, also because it's very hard to find born strikers."

Read more:
Bojan has received almost twenty loan offers
Chelsea considering Bojan transfer
Zaragoza and Shakhtar interested in Bojan

Medical: Iniesta out for six to eight weeks

The medical staff of the Spanish football federation has confirmed after new tests today that Barcelona player Andrés Iniesta (25) has torn a muscle in his thigh.

Iniesta is expected to be out for the next six to eight weeks, which means that he won't be able to take part in the friendly game against Azerbaijan on Tuesday 9 June and in the Confederations cup that will be played later this month.

Iniesta torn a quadriceps muscle on the front of his right thigh during the league game against Villarreal on Sunday 10 May and although he played the Champions League final against Manchester United on Wednesday 27 May, he has never fully recovered from that injury (read more here).

Read more:
Medical: Pique out for ten to fifteen days
Medical: Henry out for France friendlies
Medical: Season over for Dani Alves

Laporta worried about treble bonuses

* after the euphoria... *

Oh dear! Oh dear!!!

He's calculating how much he has to pay in variables, bonuses and incentives...

(click the cartoon to enlarge)


see more cartoons here

Riise flattered by Barcelona rumours

Asked about the rumours linking him with a move to Barcelona (read more here), AS Roma left back defender and Norway international John Arne Riise (28) has said in an interview with Norwegian tabloid Aftenbladet that he's flattered by it:

"It is flattering and great to see my name being linked with a club like Barcelona. I got a text message on my phone and I actually got some little ticklings in my stomach when I read it. Barcelona has been the best team this season. When the rumours would become reality, I guess we would have a chat but I am Roma player and so far this is only speculation."

Read more:
Riise an option for the left back position
Liverpool and Juventus interested in Abidal
Barcelona rejoins the race for Zhirkov

Ex-Barça: Rijkaard to Galatasary

Turkish club Galatasaray has today officially announced the appointment of former Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard (46) as their new manager.

Rijkaard had been away from coaching since he left Barcelona in the summer of 2008 and is expected to sign later today a two-year deal with Galatasaray.

After being dismissed by Dutch club Sparta Rotterdam in 2002, Rijkaard arrived in Barcelona in the summer of 2003. Rijkaard stayed five years at the club before leaving last year. With Barcelona, Frank Rijkaard won two Spanish leagues in 2005 and 2006, two Spanish super cups in 2005 and 2006 and one Champions League in 2006.

Read more:
Ex-Barça: Koeman to AZ Alkmaar
Ex-Barça: Stoichkov to Abu Moslem
Ex-Barça: Van Gaal to Bayern Munich

Two Shakhtar defenders will be scouted tomorrow

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Barcelona is interested in Shakhtar Donetsk right back defender and Croatian international Darijo Srna (27) and Shakhtar Donetsk central defender and Ukrainian international Dmytro Chygrynskiy (22 - picture).

A Barcelona scout will be present at the World cup qualifier Croata-Ukraine on Saturday to watch both players in action.

Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola would like both players after having seen them play during the Champions League games against Shakhtar last year.

Srna, whose contract with Shakhtar expires in 2011, would be delighted about the possibility to join Barcelona but despite the promise of Shaktar president Rinat Akhmetov to let the Croatian player go if a big club shows interest (read more here), the player's agent Damir Stimac thinks a transfer will be difficult, also because of the high salary Srna receives in Ukraine.

Read more:
Shakhtar defender Chygrynskiy being monitored
Deal with Shakhtar Donetsk winger Willian
Shakhtar Donetsk right back Srna is an option

Mascherano ideal candidate to strengthen midfield

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona is interested in Liverpool defensive midfielder and Argentine international Javier Mascherano (24).

Barcelona wants to strengthen the midfield because of the most probable exit of Barcelona attacker Gudjohnsen and the participation of Barcelona players Yaya Touré and Seydou Keita in the Africa cup at the beginning of next year.

Barcelona has been monitoring Mascherano for the last two years and the scouting and personality reports on the player are all excellent. Although the club realizes that a transfer will be very difficult, there's total unanimity on the qualities of the midfielder (read more here).

The first steps have been taken but Barcelona plans to move slowly. They have sounded out the entourage of the player, who wants to move to Spain and would be willing to force his departure. His agent is also rumoured to have offered him to Real Madrid.

Barcelona is nevertheless aware that it doesn't seem very likely that Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez will allow Mascherano to leave. Besides, Barcelona isn't ready to spend big for a midfielder this season, while the Argentinian midfielder would cost more than 25 million euro° if Liverpool would accept to negotiate a transfer, although Barcelona could also offer a swap deal including Barcelona left back Eric Abidal plus cash (read more here).

Read more:
Liverpool wants Eto'o in 2010
Mascherano offered
Torres first option to replace Eto'o

[Valiente] Sevilla B-Tenerife

Spanish second division team Sevilla Atlético, the second team of first division club Sevilla, played last weekend their 39th league game of the season. They lost 0-4 against Tenerife.

Former Barcelona Atlètic player Marc Valiente (21) was replaced by Cordero 20 minutes before the end of the game.

Because Barcelona has the right to buy Valiente back at the end of this season (read more here), this blog will follow the performances of the central defender during the season.

Sunday 31 August - League game 1: Albacete-Sevilla Atlético 2-1
Injured. Valiente has pubis problems.

Sunday 7 September - League game 2: Sevilla Atlético-Salamanca 1-1
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Central defender.

Sunday 14 September - League game 3: Córdoba-Sevilla Atlético 1-1
Injured. Valiente has an ankle injury.

Sunday 21 September - League game 4: Sevilla Atlético-Rayo Vallecano 0-0
Substitute. Valiente plays the second half. Defensive midfielder.

Sunday 28 September - League game 5: Levante-Sevilla Atlético 2-0
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Defensive midfielder.

Sunday 5 October - League game 6: Sevilla Atlético-Real Sociedad 1-0
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Central defender.

Saturday 11 October - League game 7: Las Palmas-Sevilla Atlético 2-0
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Defensive midfielder.

Saturday 18 October - League game 8: Sevilla Atlético-Zaragoza 0-4
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Central defender.

Sunday 26 October - League game 9: Murcia-Sevilla Atlético 2-0
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Defensive midfielder.

Sunday 2 November - League game 10: Sevilla Atlético-Hércules 1-2
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Central defender.

Sunday 9 November - League game 11: Alavés-Sevilla Atlético 2-2
Starter. Valiente starts the game and is excluded in the 87th minute (2-2). Central defender. Red card.

Sunday 2 November - League game 12: Sevilla Atlético-Elche 0-2
Suspended. Due to red card.

Saturday 22 November - League game 13: Sevilla Atlético-Xerez 1-2
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Central defender. Yellow card.

Saturday 29 November - League game 14: Girona-Sevilla Atlético 1-0
Injured. Valiente has an injury.

Sunday 7 December - League game 15: Sevilla Atlético-Castellón 1-0
Injured. Valiente has an injury.

Sunday 14 December - League game 16: Gimnástic-Sevilla Atlético 3-1
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Defensive midfielder.

Sunday 21 December - League game 17: Sevilla Atlético-Eibar 0-0
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Defensive midfielder.

Sunday 4 January - League game 18: Tenerife-Sevilla Atlético 2-1
Starter. Valiente starts the game and is replaced in the 65th minute. Defensive midfielder.

Saturday 10 January - League game 19: Sevilla Atlético-Huesca 1-1
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Defensive midfielder.

Saturday 17 January - League game 20: Celta Vigo-Sevilla Atlético 2-0
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Defensive midfielder.

Sunday 25 January - League game 21: Sevilla Atlético-Alicante 2-3
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Defensive midfielder. Yellow card.

Saturday 31 January - League game 22: Sevilla Atlético-Albacete 1-1
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Defensive midfielder.

Sunday 8 February - League game 23: Salamanca-Sevilla Atlético 6-0

Saturday 14 February - League game 24: Sevilla Atlético-Córdoba 0-2
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Defensive midfielder.

Saturday 21 February - League game 25: Rayo Vallecano-Sevilla Atlético 1-0
Injured. Valiente has an ankle injury.

Sunday 1 March - League game 26: Sevilla Atlético-Levante 1-2
Injured. Valiente has an ankle injury.

Sunday 8 March - League game 27: Real Sociedad-Sevilla Atlético 1-0
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Defensive midfielder. Yellow card.

Saturday 14 March - League game 28: Sevilla Atlético-Las Palmas 2-2
Substitute. Valiente replaces Cabral in the 56th minute (1-2). Defensive midfielder.

Saturday 21 March - League game 29: Zaragoza-Sevilla Atlético 4-0
Substitute. Valiente replaces José Carlos in the 52nd minute (2-0). Defensive midfielder.

Saturday 28 March - League game 30: Sevilla Atlético-Murcia 3-3
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Defensive midfielder. Yellow card.

Sunday 5 April - League game 31: Hércules-Sevilla Atlético 8-0
Suspended. Due to yellow cards.

Saturday 11 April - League game 32: Sevilla Atlético-Alavés 1-1
Starter. Valiente starts the game and is replaced in the 68th minute. Defensive midfielder. Yellow card.

Saturday 18 April - League game 33: Elche-Sevilla Atlético 2-0
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Defensive midfielder.

Saturday 25 April - League game 34: Xerez-Sevilla Atlético 2-0
Starter. Valiente starts the game and and is replaced in the 71st minute (2-0). Defensive midfielder.

Sunday 3 May - League game 35: Sevilla Atlético-Girona 2-1
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Defensive midfielder.

Sunday 10 May - League game 36: Castellón-Sevilla Atlético 3-0
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Defensive midfielder.

Sunday 17 May - League game 37: Sevilla Atlético-Nástic 1-3
Substitute. Valiente replaces Cabral in the 80th minute (1-3). Defensive midfielder.

Sunday 24 May - League game 38: Eibar-Sevilla Atlético 2-2
Starter. Valiente starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Defensive midfielder.

Saturday 30 May - League game 39: Sevilla Atlético-Tenerife 0-4
Starter. Valiente starts the game and is replaced in the 70th minute (0-4). Defensive midfielder. Yellow card.

1. Xerez 78
2. Tenerife 75
3. Zaragoza 74
4. Hércules 69
5. Rayo 65
6. Real Sociedad 63
7. Salamanca 60
8. Levante 59
9. Castellón 56
10. Gimnástic 54
11. Elche 53
12. Murcia 48
13. Girona 48
14. Córdoba 47
15. Huesca 47
16. Albacete 47
17. Las Palmas 45
18. Celta 43
19. Alavés 40
20. Alicante 34
21. Eibar 31
22. Sevilla Atlético 17

The top three are promoted to the Primera División. The bottom four are relegated to the Spanish third division.

[Henrique] Bayer Leverkusen-Werder Bremen

Bayer Leverkusen played lost last weekend the German cup final. Werder Bremen defeated Bayer 1-0.

Brazilian central defender and Barcelona loan out Henrique (22) wasn't available because of an injury.

Barcelona bought Henrique last summer and decided to loan him out to Bayer Leverkusen for one season (read more here). This blog follows Henrique's performances during this season.

Sunday 10 August - Cup round 1: Rot-Weiß Oberhausen-Bayer Leverkusen 2-3
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 120 minutes.

Saturday 16 August - Bundesliga game 1: Bayer Leverkusen-Borussia Dortmund 2-3
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 23 August - Bundesliga game 2: Vfb Stuttgart-Bayer Leverkusen 0-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 30 August - Bundesliga game 3: Bayer Leverkusen-Hoffenheim 5-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Right back.

Saturday 13 September - Bundesliga game 4: Hamburg-Bayer Leverkusen 3-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Right back.

Friday 19 September - Bundesliga game 5: Bayer Leverkusen-Hannover 4-0
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Tuesday 23 September - Cup round 2: Augsburg(2)-Bayer Leverkusen 0-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Yellow card.

Saturday 27 September - Bundesliga game 6: Bochum-Bayer Leverkusen 2-3
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 4 October - Bundesliga game 7: Bayer Leverkusen-Hertha Berlin 0-1
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Yellow card.

Saturday 18 October - Bundesliga game 8: Eintracht Frankfurt-Bayer Leverkusen 0-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Friday 24 October - Bundesliga game 9: Bayer Leverkusen-FC Köln 2-0
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Tuesday 29 October - Bundesliga game 10: Werder Bremen-Bayer Leverkusen 0-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Friday 31 October - Bundesliga game 11: Bayer Leverkusen-Wolfsburg 2-0
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 8 November - Bundesliga game 12: Karlsruhe-Bayer Leverkusen 3-3
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Yellow card.

Saturday 15 November - Bundesliga game 13: Bayer Leverkusen-Schalke 2-1
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 22 November - Bundesliga game 14: Bielefeld-Bayer Leverkusen 2-1
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 29 November - Bundesliga game 15: Bayer Leverkusen-Bayern Munich 0-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Yellow card.

Saturday 6 December - Bundesliga game 16: Borussia Mönchengladbach-Bayer Leverkusen 1-3
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 13 December - Bundesliga game 17: Bayer Leverkusen-Cottbus 1-1
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Wednesday 28 January - Cup 1/8 finals: Bayer Leverkusen-Cottbus 3-1

Saturday 31 January - Bundesliga game 18: Borussia Dortmund-Bayer Leverkusen 1-1

Saturday 7 February - Bundesliga game 19: Bayer Leverkusen-Stuttgart 2-4
Substitute. Henrique replaces Castro in the 66th minute (0-2). Assist.

Friday 13 February - Bundesliga game 20: Hoffenheim-Bayer Leverkusen 1-4
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Sunday 22 February - Bundesliga game 21: Bayer Leverkusen-Hamburg 1-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Yellow card.

Saturday 28 February - Bundesliga game 22: Hannover-Bayer Leverkusen 1-0
Suspended. Henrique cannot play because of five yellow cards.

Wednesday 5 March - Cup 1/4 finals: Bayer Leverkusen-Bayern Munich 4-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Sunday 8 March - Bundesliga game 23: Bayer Leverkusen-Bochum 1-1
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 14 March - Bundesliga game 24: Hertha Berlin-Bayer Leverkusen 1-0
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes.

Saturday 21 March - Bundesliga game 25: Bayer Leverkusen-Frankfurt 1-1
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Yellow card.

Sunday 5 April - Bundesliga game 26: FC Köln-Bayer Leverkusen 0-2
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Right back.

Sunday 12 April - Bundesliga game 27: Bayer Leverkusen-Werder Bremen 1-1
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Right back.

Saturday 18 April - Bundesliga game 28: Wolfsburg-Bayer Leverkusen 2-1
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Right back.

Wednesday 22 April - Cup 1/2 finals: Bayer Leverkusen-Mainz 4-1 (aet)
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 120 minutes. Right back. Yellow card.

Saturday 25 April - Bundesliga game 29: Bayer Leverkusen-Karlsruhe 0-1
Starter. Henrique starts the game and plays for 90 minutes. Right back.

Saturday 2 May - Bundesliga game 30: Schalke-Bayer Leverkusen 1-2
Injured. Henrique has a muscle injury in a knee.

Friday 8 May - Bundesliga game 31: Bayer Leverkusen-Bielefeld 2-2
Injured. Henrique has a muscle injury in a knee.

Tuesday 12 May - Bundesliga game 32: Bayern Munich-Bayer Leverkusen 3-0
Injured. Henrique has a muscle injury in a knee.

Saturday 16 May - Bundesliga game 33: Bayer Leverkusen-Borussia Mönchengladbach 5-0
Injured. Henrique has a muscle injury in a knee.

Saturday 23 May - Bundesliga game 34: Cottbus-Bayer Leverkusen 3-0
Injured. Henrique has a muscle injury in a knee.

Saturday 30 May - Cup final: Bayer Leverkusen-Werder Bremen 0-1
Injured. Henrique has a muscle injury in a knee.

1. Wolfsburg 69
2. Bayern Munich 67
3. Stuttgart 64
4. Hertha Berlin 63
5. Hamburg 61
6. Borussia Dortmund 59
7. Hoffenheim 55
8. Schalke 50
9. Bayer Leverkusen 49
10. Werder Bremen 45
11. Hannover 40
12. Köln 39
13. Frankfurt 33
14. Bochum 32
15. Borussia Mönchengladbach 31
16. Energie Cottbus 30
17. Karlsruhe 29
18. Bielefeld 28

1st and 2nd place: group phase of Champions League
3rd place: third qualifying round of Champions League, winner enters the group phase, losers enter the Uefa Cup
4th place: qualifies for 4th qualifying round of Uefa Cup
5th place: qualifies for 3rd qualifying round of Uefa Cup

Barcelona rejoins the race for Zhirkov

British tabloid The Daily Mail claims that Barcelona has picked up their interest in CSKA Moscow left winger and Russian international Yuri Zhirkov (25) after the player's transfer to Chelsea couldn't be finalized this week like had been expected.

Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola would have identified five areas to strenghten the team and would see the versatile Rusian as a two-in-one solution who could cover for Eric Abidal at left-back as well as providing an alternative for Thierry Henry on the left wing (read more

Chelsea would however still be favourites to complete a transfer. Barcelona would realise they are not in the lead to sign Zhirkov because of the close relationship between CSKA and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. The transfer fee asked by CSKA Moscow is believed to be around 21 million euro°.

Read more:
Zhirkov and Lahm on top of left back list
First contact with Deportivo on left back Filipe
Asenjo, Zhirkov and Silva main transfer targets

[2008] Boca president reveals contact with Palacio

this post was published exactly one year ago:

Asked about the rumours linking the player with a summer move to Barcelona (read more here), Boca Juniors president Pedro Pompilio said in an interview with Argentinian newspaper La Nación that there have been contacts between Barcelona and Boca Juniors forward and Argentinian international Rodrigo Palacio (26):

"His agent and his father told me that Barcelona has contacted the player. It's common that interested clubs first contact a player to know if he's willing to join them and how much he wants to earn. Thereafter they make a bid to his club.

Until now, we didn't receive an offer for him, so we didn't yet put a price on Palacio. But we all know that he's an irreplacable player and that he's unique on the international market. Boca will respect his decision, but if we sell him, it will be for a very high fee."

Read more 5 June 2008 news:
OFFICIAL: Martín Cáceres
Negotiations with Sporting on Moutinho
Sylvinho waiting to sign his renewal

Liverpool and Juventus interested in Abidal

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Liverpool and Arsenal have sounded out Barcelona on a transfer of Barcelona left back defender and French international Eric Abidal (29).

Especially Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez would be keen on signing the Frenchman. Abidal is said to be valued at 15 million euro° but after the exit of Sylvinho, Barcelona nevertheless doesn't seem willing at this point to let him go.

Asked about the rumours linking several left back defenders to Barcelona (read more here), Abidal has said in an interview with French sports paper L'Equipe that this doesn't worry him: "They can all come. I like competition. I still have two years left on my contract and I plan to stay at Barcelona."

Asked the same by French radio station Europe 1, Abidal said: "Personally, I'm happy here. I have been feeling good this season. I don't know if the club still counts on me, but I'm very comfortable here and I don't want to leave."

Read more:
Lahm offers himself to Barcelona
Juventus wants to include Trezeguet in Abidal deal
Zhirkov would consider offer by top club

Barcelona and Inter Milan presidents meet

Barcelona president Joan Laporta and Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti met yesterday in Barcelona.

(full story later today)

Thursday, 4 June 2009

The Aftermath Season Ramble

The aftermath Season Ramble
By: Ramzi Tanani

Preface: Glory!

Imagine yourself playing a football match, You receive a pass into the opponent box and you have two options: either to blast a shot or pass to a teammate who may have a better chance to score. What will you do?

No matter what option you take, it’s the good one! The most important thing is to decide, or else you will end up neither scoring nor passing. You will only look as funny as it looks when you get a tricky cross that makes you confused if you have to shoot it or head it! Just hope your knee do not kick your face while you shoot and head at the same time!

In such situations, You end up pulling your socks up, or sticking your boot in the grass, as if it’s not your fault that you flopped to create threat from that obvious opportunity, it’s your socks, the pitch, or wait! I forgot “tying the shoe” after flopping, it caused all the mess. Damn Luck!

I have been in a similar situation since “The glorious day of May”. Do I write about the achievement made by our heroes? But how can I do so if every time I think about it, the thrill blow me up on my feet so I start walking back and forth like a Drunk excited Messi!

Do I write about our magicians who kept on fighting till the last moment of the season Marathon? Even when they were labeled overrated. Even with the liga stupid schedule throwing a stone over a stone on the players shoulders. Even when they had to play out of position. Even when key players were suspended. Injured. Doubted. or criticized!

Or I just jump to the serious stuff. Pure football and season analysis?

It was a great season. Exceeded all expectations, and fulfilled the most unrealistic dreams we painted on the walls of our fantasies.

It is a bold fact that this team deserved this treble after being the football Ferrari this season, cruising the Competitions highways between the “Ugly but reliable” rusty vehicles of football.

This is a team owned by fans, plays attractive football, and promotes the idea that football players are artists, not soldiers. This is a unique delicious flavor in the world of nowadays football, something different. it’s more like being the spice of excitement.

Teams get honored when they win a title. Barcelona gives any title an added value when they win it. Because Barcelona is more than a Club, and Barcelona players are more than just some quality talents.

They are the knights of football passion!

The Squad. General overview:

The squad quality this season was out of question. Not only we had great players with world class potentials, but also –unlike the past few years- we had more diversity when it come to players attributes. A perfect mix of skillful players, tactical players, Strong ones, Versatile ones, youth, experienced, Veterans with dedication, New signings with hunger. That’s a perfect mix to win titles.

This squad succeeded to create the difficult balance between Offense and defense –to some extent. Even during the great 2005–06 season, that balance was not available. First because of the difference in tactics as we will discuss later. But most importantly because of mono-dimensional resources. Ronaldinho for instance had never been the Henry we’ve seen this season regarding defense contribution. Nor he was as involved in Offense build up –system wise- as Iniesta when he play on the flank. Deco with all his brilliance had never been as disciplined tactically as Keita, nor as energetic as Iniesta in the midfield. Compare Zambrotta or Oleguer impact to that of Alves. Add pique to the Mix, Busquets, and the other youth.

And its very, very...Very important to note that I am not talking about the quality of individuals. But more about the individuals contribution with in the system dynamics.

In the other hand, the old guards were customized this season in a way that helped them to serve the team much better, as we will discuss in Players evaluation.

During the intensive period where we had a tight fixture. There were lot of talks that we are suffering of fatigue because the squad lack depth. I always had the belief that this fatigue has other reasons related to football style and rotation, without denying that couple of signings may give us a further edge. In the Champions’ league final we played against the team that was considered as the team with best depth. That team collapsed- as they claim- because they missed one defensive midfielder. We had three defenders out. We had to pull our main defensive midfielder back to cover and used a second option in the midfield instead. And we still had a player on the bench who is much better than their suspended player (Keita).

Pep Contribution? Now, Thats another discussion!

The Squad, Players performance and future needs:

Victor Valdes Arribas

Some people just hate the guy. Others feel he is a ticking bomb. You never know when he flops and it happens at worst timings. And may be, it’s the memory of the times Valdes mistakes knocked us out of champions’ league competitions. Now let’s make this straight, He caused us lot of troubles before. But if the Champions' league destiny, for example, is hooked on a single moment or mistake rather than the over all team performance, then its safe to say that he won us two Champions’ leagues as well.

Season 2005–06, Against Arsenal when he made heroic saves (Interestingly against Henry) , and kept us in the game. As predicted, Belletti boot –deservedly-was immortalized after the game at the club museum. Valdes gloves? Don’t even ask.

Season 2008–09, Mainly against Chelsea. Iniesta was the Hero of the Champions’ league semi finals. Now everyone who follows my writings enough know that I have always been the eternal fan of Iniesta. But for me, the semi Final Hero was, again, Victor Valdes. Ask Drogba. In the Final he saved a “come back“ scoring opportunity for Man Utd after Messi's goal. Believe it or not, If Man Utd scored that goal, lot of "woulda"s could have happend. Manchester utd would have the felt the “Yes we can!” beam of hope for the rest of the game. Nothing guarantees that they would have won the title instead, but the opposite would have been far from certain as well.

Taking the two competitions he was involed in this season, He was the best keeper in Spain. No question. Now if you are wondering if I forgot Casillas, I know that guy. He is a better Keeper, much better. He had a great form at the end of the season. But in the first half of the season, he flopped, big time, he made lot of "Valdes-like" mistakes. To refresh our memories, I mentioned after the game against Madrid last December that Valdes was the most impressive Keeper so far in the league. No one argued back then. That was almost the midway of the season. Add that part to the last section of the season with Valdes performance in the Champions’ league, you get the unquestionable result. The guy was really good.

Taking the fact that there are no better alternative in the market. Taking the fact that the guy is improving his performance year after another . Taking the fact that the amount of pressure this thick-skinned guy can handle and keep performing decently. Taking the fact that Changing the first choice keeper will be risky, costly and may not even be a choice (Lack of options). I consider renewing Valdes Contract as a priority.

I know I will get whipped for this view the very first time Valdes makes a mistake, and he will. But thats my saying about it.

José Manuel Pinto Colorado

The Copa Del Rey hero. One thing I like most about this keeper is the way he command his area. For a second choice keeper to have the steel to boss his defense the way pinto does, is impressive by all means. I wish if Valdes learn that part. What will you demand when you look for a second option keeper?

1) A certain level of quality and games experience. Something Pinto proved he has. And his football profile prove it as well.

2) He does not nag to start games. Because unlike the common belief, the Head-to-Head competition between keepers for the first spot is never a good thing. The goal keeper is an exception in football when it comes to rotation and competition (May be the first striker is another exception as well, but for different reasons).

Goalkeeping is a huge responsibility. The keeper need to feel confident and settled to be able to perform well. If one mistake blow him to the bench, he will be so obsessed about it that he will flop in the very next match. There is a reason why you barely find two great keepers in one team. Now to Keep the keeper alerted, you need a keeper on the bench who can take his place if he collapsed completely game in game out. Pinto is actually good enough as an emergency option. While to motivate the Goalkeeper to improve his form and qualities, you need a young keeper who is not yet there to hack a starting role, but soon may turn to be a strong option. That situation keep your first option motivated to get better, to avoid the upcoming threat, not because one mistake may ruin his future.

3) Having the chemistry with the rest of the squad. And you can see it obviously when Pinto plays, or when the team scores. Besides, we all read Valdes argument that it won’t be fair to have anyone else for the cup Final beside Pinto. Now of course no one expects Valdes to say:”I am the first keeper and I want to start this game!”, But at least “It’s the coach decision and we are all motivated and will wish luck for the ones who will start this game” is a typical Cliché that will not show any signs about the dressing room harmony. Instead, Valdes comment was notably positive.

In the “Do we Buy? Keeper” we discussed Sergio Asenjo option as a backup for Valdes. His advantage over Pinto is age. But If Sergio Asenjo decided to move to Atletico Madrid, it means that he is not welling to be a second choice. Which means, he was not an option anyway.
So I think it’s smart to keep Pinto for one more season.

Albert Jorquera Fortia

It was a surprise that we extended his contract. I was expecting us to get a younger more promising keeper last summer. For his age, I think it’s time that he move seeking another challenge. He was one of our youth products, served his role as a supportive option, now he needs something different, so as the team.

New Blood:

Beside keeping Valdes and Pinto, we either need to promote one of Barcelona Athletic keepers, or seek a young talented keeper, as a prospect for the middle term future.

For Next Season: Valdes, Pinto, and a young keeper.

To be continued…

Quote of the day: Laporta

There won't be a repeat of the Figo case.

Joan Laporta, Barcelona president

Barcelona considering move for Jurado

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona is interested in Mallorca midfielder and Atlético Madrid loan out José Manuel Jurado (22).

Barcelona wants to add another midfielder to the squad. Jurado is in that perspective an option that is being looked at, although it hasn't yet been decided if they will move for the Spanish player this summer.

Read more:
Barcelona willing to pay Forlan's buyout clause
Eto'o wants to end career at Marseille and Mallorca
Jorquera is looking for an exit

Transfer Deals Explained

author: Gary Jacob
source: The Times Online

date: 1 June 2009

We are wading into another hotly debated transfer season. It seems to matter little whether our team wins or loses, new players always seems necessary to keep the team fresh and the extent to which they should be brought in, the current players whose deals should be renewed, the transfer fees, player salaries, etc are questions which fans will ponder, argue and agonise over. The following article published in the Times Online outlines some of the procedures, usual practices and events related to transfer deals and player contracts.

How are players transferred?

The permitted approach is for a club to contact a rival expressing interest in their player, but in practice the first contact is with the agent or player (which could be deemed tapping-up). The agent ascertains whether his player would be interested in a move, whether personal terms are acceptable, allowing the buying club to pursue their interest with better information. An agent may be asked to find a move for his player, who is surplus to requirements at his club.

What does a player receive in a transfer?

When a player changes club, he receives a signing-on fee, which could be several hundred thousand pounds in bigger transfers, but he waives that right if he has handed in a transfer request.

How is the salary calculated?

The player’s agent will know what similar players earn, especially at the buying club, and ask for a higher salary for international players. The salary should approximately move in line with a player’s valuation. So a player who moves for £50 million, for example, will not accept £20,000 a week, the average top-flight salary. The player may receive a yearly loyalty payment, possibly in recompense for ensuring that his salary does not exceed the club’s wage structure.

How is a contract structured?

A contract will include clauses to cover many eventualities. These cover points such as bonuses for loyalty, appearances, winning, drawing, goals scored, keeping clean sheets, finishing positions, qualification for Europe and winning trophies. A promotion bonus to the top flight could be about £100,000. A win bonus could vary between £1,000 for a lower club and £9,000 at a top club.

The contract may allow the player to renegotiate his salary if a new team-mate earns more, exercise an option for a new deal when he plays a defined number of matches and include an escape clause, above which a club are forced to inform a player of a bid for him. The contract may force a player to take a cut in salary if the club are relegated. However, clubs are often unable to insert this clause because the player would decline the move.

What could delay or break a transfer?

Being unable to agree personal terms, the length of contract, problems with a medical or the player has a change of heart.

Why do players often sign a new contract after intense speculation about their future?

If the player does not move, he will seek to match his salary with the transfer valuation placed on him when he was subject to interest. The longer contract protects the player’s value for the club, but equally the player’s salary will now be higher, so he can command more in future.

Why does information leak out about transfers or contract negotiations?

Agents and clubs want to steal an advantage. An agent could want to publicise interest in his player to obtain a better deal at his present club or to alert other sides that the player is looking for a move. Clubs may want to use publicity to inform other teams of their willingness to accept an offer for a player. A manager may talk about the transfer to put pressure on his chairman to complete the deal and prevent fans blaming him for a lack of buys or a player leaving.

Do players hold all the power?

It appears so. A club must balance up offering a lengthy contract, which protects the value of the player, but could become a burden if he flops and cannot be moved on. For example, Winston Bogarde sat out his four-year contract at Chelsea, where he earned £40,000 a week, after joining in 2000.

Can players buy out their contract to move?

Some players have threatened to use Fifa’s transfer regulations unless they are allowed to move. The rules state that if the player has signed a contract when aged under 28, he is entitled to buy himself out of the contract three years after the deal was signed. Andy Webster was the first player to invoke it, at Heart of Midlothian, but the rule has yet to be tested by a top player or a leading club through fear of the consequences of a legal ruling. For example, had Frank Lampard employed the rule to move to Inter Milan last summer, he would have almost certainly faced a lengthy legal battle with Chelsea, putting his career on hold. The fear for Inter would be that should Lampard win, it could open the floodgates for players from the Italian club to follow suit.

read the full and original article here

Graphic : Anatomy of a Transfer

Read more:
An evaluation of last year's transfer summer
2007-2008: The transfer fees
Proposal to limit spending on transfers and salaries

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