Wednesday 31 December 2008

Happy 2009!!!

Best wishes for the new year

to you, to all people who are near to you

and to the club that is near to you!!!

Do We Buy? Defender.

Related Posts about defenders on the blog:Barcelona plans to renew Marquez Contract(Click Here)....Talks with Uruguay left back Perez confirmed(Click here)....Barcelona wants portsmouth's Belhadj(Click Here)....Henrique Page on the blog (Click Here)

I thought it was important to introduce this part by the Above Image, it brief a lot of text, if the players distribution in that image is right (as positions and not as picking order), then I believe before wondering whom to buy, we need to decide whom to sell, because as I can see it, there are no more numbered T-shirts for more defenders. While if Caceres role will also be a central defender not a left back, then its confirmed that we need another left back WITH Abidal and selling Central defender”S” is no more a choice but a must, specially when Henrique join us next summer.

The easiest thing to think about is selling Milito, after all he is not available since a while and the team is doing well without him, but forgive me for not being so excited about this assumption, I see a player who is slightly younger (1980) than Marquez (1979)and Puyol(1978), he had a very strong understanding with pique guiding Zaragoza Defense in a very impressive way, a first option solid defender for his national team, a very lethal weapon in set pieces, and a player who master starting the attack from behind, all that makes him a perfect choice that fits and ticks all the needs of a Central defender for Barcelona. He started with Barcelona decently but then he had the drop in form as every single player last season. Will he bounce back to form after injury is something no one can predict, but we cant sell him now anyway while injured, so why excluding the possibility of his comeback and why not waiting till summer when we know his situation, Caseres situation and Henrique qualities then we make decisions? In the perfect world, Caseres will be the back up for Abidal, and Versatile Henrique can act as a back up for Alves (Don’t expect any talented Right back – like Rafinha- will dare to sign for Barcelona in the presence of Alves).

We played almost half our liga games –little less- Faced the strongest teams, with and without Abidal on the left back, with and without Marquez, or Pique, we won all the games and we have the best defense in the liga even though we play an attacking style. Now I am aware the lack of goals conceded is also a result of all players’ contribution from Eto’o to Valdes, but it’s also a sign that this defense line is working perfectly with the rest of the lines in front of Valdes, so the question is do we change things when we can or when we need? Because at the moment I don’t see that we need it, things can wait at least till the summer and we have the quality to cover the absence of any player in our defense aside of Alves offensively, but again don’t expect to buy a player to do so.

Till summer, Caceres will have a fair chance to prove himself, or else we can loan him out- may be switching him with Henrique if the Brazilian was ready, Milito will have his chance to test himself after injury, Marquez Contract situation will be clarified, then we can plan on more solid bases. Now it all seems like panic buys where there is no need to panic.

That’s one theory, but not the only valid one. If I neglected the number of defenders we already had, I am still looking for a player to buy with special qualities and till the moment I can’t find him between all the options I read about in the News/Rumors we read everyday. I am looking for a player who can play both as a Left back and Right back at the same time (kind of Zambrotta/ Maicon players), or a player who can play on the left flank as a left back and a left wing (like old Leonardo and Serginho for Brazil and Milan). Why?

Because we already have an almost complete squad, so a player who can play only in one position will not have enough opportunities and will cause more headache for Guardiola than he may heal.1) A player who can play as a RB/LB will click smoothly in the rotation process, resting Alves once and Abidal another. 2) A player who can play as a LB/LW will answer the question, how can we strengthen our leftwing by a player who can be a back up for Iniesta without effecting young players hopes to have their chances. I admit, even though Capel and Zhirkov are reasonable option for the second choice at least, but I still didn’t find a name that made me so excited to wish Barcelona to sign. First because I don’t really know Zhirkov qualities, he was good in euro 2008 but thats not enough-the “European” Roman Pavlyuchenko and Luka Modric are something, while the Tottenham duo are something else. I Also have doubts that Capel will be excited to play as a left back, and he already know he will not play as many games as he do with Sevilla, keeping in mind also that he cant play as a Left back while Alves is on the right.

In brief, we signed Milito again and he will be available soon, reports say that Henrique is a quality, while Caceres still has the right to take his chance on the left, nothing certain who will be the last man standing between Marquez and Milito, and who will not be the survival, so we evacuate a seat for a new comer. All that make me uninterested in any player to sign now – January- and make it impossible for me to guess what kind of signings we will need next summer.

But that’s only me.

Happy new year for you all, wish you the best years to come where you PASS all troubles, KICK any difficulty, SUBSTITUTE bad times with good ones and SHOOT your dreams high to SCORE ALL THE GOALS you set in your life, so non of you end up falling OFFSIDE in the course of life!
enjoy your time:)

Ramzi Tanani

Result - Rating the new guys: Martin Caceres

This is the final result of this blog's "Rating the new guys: Martin Caceres" poll:

10 --- 4%
9 --- 2%
8 --- 11%
7 --- 29%
6 --- 22%
5 --- 14%
4 --- 3%
3 --- 3%
2 --- 1%
1 --- 1%
0 --- 1%
Don't know --- 9%

Average score: 6,32

See other results:
Seydou Keita
Gerard Piqué
Dani Alves

Last training session of the year

The Barcelona squad held this morning the last training session of the year. The session started at 10:30 am and lasted for one hour and a half. Tomorrow the players will train at 6:30 pm.

Like Eto'o yesterday, Seydou Keita today joined the group earlier then he should have, since he had the authorization of the club to stay on holiday until Friday. Messi, Cáceres and Alves are expected to return on 2 January. Barcelona plays on Saturday against Mallorca.

Vilanova: "Iniesta is our best winter transfer"

Barcelona assistant coach Tito Vilanova gave an interview to Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo.

If we see how the team is doing now, can we demand at least one trophy?
I don't know. We feel the obligation to play every game in a way that brings joy to the people. If you keeping winning matches, trophies will follow.

But if you keep this rhythm, the Liga could be decided in March...
You hear a lot of comments. Some say we won't be able to keep this going. I think we can keep it up physically because the players are doing great and there have been some rotations. I don't know if we will have a drop-back, but I have the feeling that the players are feeling good both at training as during the games.

And you can again count on Iniesta.
For us, it's a very important player. He's excellent, very, very good. We are happy because the team did well during his absence, but on the other hand I think he'll be our best possible winter transfer. With the motivation with which he will return, he'll overshadow everyone else on the pitch.

What do you think about the changes in Madrid?
I think it's good. The same happened two years ago when they were going through problems, they were able to create a positive atmosphere and they ended up winning the league. I would hope that we could also be that united when the team isn't doing well.

How is it to work with Guardiola?
The fact that we understand each other on the training pitch or when preparing the games, makes everything easier. Because he's the first one who arrives and the last one who leaves, he forces us to reach a higher level.

You think he could be the Ferguson of Barcelona?
I don't know. But for the time he'll be here, he wants to do a good job. If not, he prefers not to do it at all.

You think Henry has already fully adapted?
He gets better every day that goes by. The fact that he scored three times against Valencia maybe set him free and he's making good progress. His last three games were the best I can remember since he's at Barça. I'm convinced that he will have scored a lot of goals at the end of the season and that he will be important for us.

Can you ask more from Messi?
He's a player who asks a lot from himself. I think he's still very young and that he has therefore still a margin to get better. I don't know if he will set one more step, but he's very young so it's possible.

What about Eto'o?
I had heard that it was a player with a character, but I can only talk about what I have seen and for us he has been a person with whom it's easy to work. He has always acted in an educated way and if there's something he wants to tell you, he comes down and talks about it with you face-to-face. His attitude couldn't be better.

You give priority to some competition?
No. We're involved in all three with the same desire and motivation. The club hasn't won anything for two years so the fans wouldn't allow something else. Although you should have some luck with injuries, you should try to win them all.

This was the second and last part of this interview. You can read the first part here:
Vilanova: "It's important to talk straight"

Read more:
The first impressions of assistant coach Vilanova
Guardiola has his team in place
Vilanova talks: "They should run or play tennis"

Transfer of Aguero is well underway

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona wants to sign Atlético Madrid forward and Argentinian international Sergio 'Kun' Agüero (20) next summer.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta, who will leave the club in 2010, would want to leave a heritage and thinks the best way to do this is buying someone who will be a key player for years to come.

The whole transfer operation would already be well underway and Barcelona could already have reached a personal agreement with the Argentinian striker (read more

Barcelona would pay the transfer of Agüero partly with cash and partly with a two-year loan of Coritiba forward and Brazilian youth international Keirrison de Souza Carneiro (20), whom Barcelona will sign in a few months time thanks to the good relations with his agency Traffic (read more here), to Atlético Madrid.

The arrival of Agüero could also lead to the exit of Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o in the summer of 2009 and to Barcelona switching to a 4-4-2 system as of next season.

Read more:
Verbal agreements on Aguero transfer
Possible deal on Brazilian striker Keirrison
Guardiola wants Aguero

Eto'o returns from holiday three days early

Barcelona held two training sessions yesterday. Yaya Touré, who was out with a soar throat on Monday, rejoined the group in the morning session.

Samuel Eto'o, who had - together with Messi, Keita, Alves and Cáceres - the authorization of the club to stay on holiday until 2 January, reappeared three days too early and took part in the evening session. Catalan radio station Catalunya Ràdio claims that Keita could also join in earlier than agreed.

Messi: "Guardiola understands us so well"

Barcelona player Lionel Messi gave an interview to Catalan sports paper Sport.

Did Guardiola surprise you as a manager?
The word isn't surprise, because everyone knows who Guardiola is, but I do believe that he understands us so well because in the inside it feels like he's playing alongside us.

How would you describe him?
Personally, he understands me well and he knows what each one of us can do. He's an extra player, aside from being the manager. He knows how to get across his experience and everything he went through as a player.

Are you awaiting to become the best in the world or will that arrive eventually?
In reality I've never worried about becoming that, I'm only interested in the best for my team, collecting titles as a team... The individual awards must come and they will. They don't worry me, because that's not what I look for.

How did you remain calm with everything revolving the Ballon d'Or, with the Barcelona supporters voting for you?
I never think about that. I don't lose sleep thinking about this prize, not because it's not important, it's actually one the best awards that a footballer can receive. But I only think about the prizes that my team wins and the titles that Barcelona wins. It would be great to be able to give something to the supporters to smile about at the end of this season, we always feel their support, we always have the culés at our side...

Are you anxious for the FIFA award?
No, not at all, it's the same answer as before, it's one of the most important prizes, individually speaking, but I don't even try to think about getting it. If we win awards as a team, maybe I'll get individual awards.

What do you expect from the Maradona cycle? What did you get out of the talks with him?
I hope that things go great for him. If things go great for Diego, things will go great for us Argentinians. The talks with Diego always leave you things.

Are the successes of Barcelona boosted when there's a crisis with the historic rival, in this case Real Madrid?
I don't think that it's that, because a crisis that the rival goes through doesn't help with defeating the rest of your rivals. Also, we know that this is temporary and that very soon Madrid will return to fight.

What will you have a toast to on midnight of December 31?
I'll keep that to myself, hah. But probably to a great year, with health, peace... and what I told you when we began to chat: that the suffering of every kid in the world ends.

Translated by: AL

This was the second and last part of this interview. You can read the first part here:
Messi: "I'm growing with every match"

Read more:
Messi dedicated second Sevilla goal to sister
Deco: "Every 20 years you have a player like Leo"
Messi will wear new boots on Sunday

Tuesday 30 December 2008

Rating the new guys: Martin Caceres

Eto'o: "I live to be happy"

Barcelona player Samuel Eto'o gave an interview to Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia.

After the Madrid game, you said: "If I fall, I stand up again" and "The best is yet to come".
Those are mottos that keep me going and that I try to transmit to those who are close to me. I'm 27 years old and I've had my problems in life, but life has also teached me to always look back and learn from the mistakes. I raise my head, although it hurts a lot sometimes, and I say to myself that I can achieve it. I live to be happy, whatever happens.

Success can disappear quickly. Rijkaard is an example of that. It seems he hasn't done anything.
No, that's not true. From our point of view, looking at how well the team is doing today, this is partly because of his work. Let's hope Pep will be here forever, but if he leaves one day, his successor will also take advantage of Pep's work. You should almost name a street after him if you see what Frank has achieved here. Barcelona has won two Champions Leagues and he won one of those... Two leagues, two super cups. The team hadn't won anything for five years. I hope this team will do the same. There has to be a lot of respect for Frank, he did great things for the club. If it was up to me, I'd name a street after him so this will not be forgotten and always remembered.

"I raise my head, although it hurts a lot sometimes". Is that what happened during the pre-season?
When I'm saying that, I'm not really refering to football issues. Football is my hobby. It's what I like most, but only behind my children and my wife. Football is something that goes by. I love the game and I live 2000 per cent for it. But I can deal with what comes. Whatever happens, it's a game. You have to be able to win and to loose, because if not, how can you be a great champion? I only dreamt about being a football player. Now they consider me to be a great player and the truth is that I never expected this.

A few months ago, you said that you didn't hold anything against anybody after you had to leave the club last summer. It's really that easy to deal with it?
When I got injured for the second time last season, I was disappointed. Even more because the team wasn't playing well. I decided not to recover on my own because I wanted to be with the others, so we could form a united group. And this summer, when the whole thing started, I knew that hard work was the key. I knew I would be there. I saw it as a natural thing. When I returned, I showed that I was still the player that Barça signed. Since the summer I have tried to be at my best level and my physical condition has permitted this because I didn't feel any more pain in my knee or anywhere else. It's easy to get injured, but recovering is something else. But I'm here, fighting and playing at the top.

What did you feel when the club decided to let you go?
In every big club, there's no time to wait. They have to build their squads. I was the first to recognize that I wasn't at my best level over the past two years, and if I can recognize this, the club has to look for others. I think it was a normal thing. Time wasn't in my favour and the club had to make a decision. Some people are immediately liked, but with others, like myself, you need time to get to know them. Sometimes people tell me that I give an antipathetic impression, but my problem is that since I was twelve I've had a lot of unpleasant surprises.

But are you resentful?
No, why would I hold anything against someone if God can call me tomorrow. I'm here on earth to enjoy and to be happy and I only ask to see my children turn eighteen years old and see that they can make their own decisions.

What about the critics...
They motivate me. I don't read them, but I always have someone who tells me what is being written. A journalist has an opinion but he's not someone from the world of footbal. He's a news professional, so I can't criticize him because I don't know a lot about his job. You have to understand that we all have our preferences. I try to give my best for Barça to play well. If along the riad I have hurt someone, I apologize for that.

Your six-years old son is very critical with you?
We're very close. For him, Messi, Xavi and I have always played fantastic. I'm his father, his idol, everything he says sounds nice.... He has a littel character though... He tells me everything what's on his mind. He resembles his father. It's great to experience something like that. He's hansom, intelligent, clever, passionate about football. The thing is that he has another idol who is pilot and from the other team (Formula 1 driver and Real Madrid fan Fernando Alonso). But Fernando has always acted very correct towards us.

This was the first part of this interview. You will be able to read the other parts on this blog in the coming days, with Eto'o talking -among other things- about his renewal and about Africa.

Read more:
Barcelona wants to renew Eto'o
Henry: "I'm a bit of a loner beause of my youth"
Eto'o confused by Madrid reactions

Laporta: "We want to be global to be stronger"

Barcelona president Joan Laporta gave an interview to the club's official media.

Did you imagine in August that everything would go so well?
We’d taken some decisions in the belief that things would turn out well, but what the football first team’s done is way beyond expectations.

Choosing Guardiola was risky but he seems to be on the right track.
It was an important decision because it meant changing the manager of the first team, and that’s one of the most important decisions you can take. It’s true it wasn’t supported by all, but nonetheless we chose Guardiola. We thought things would go well because he knows more about football and about the club than just about anyone. We believe things are on the right lines. However, I would repeat that we have to be cautious and calm about it and keep our feet on the ground.

Guardiola means Barça will keep the style that’s so admired around the world and maybe update it.
That’s right. Guardiola is keeping the essence and football philosophy of Barça with an attacking game, looking to win right from the kick-off and playing possession football as it’s taught in our academy, and above all with an intense commitment and a willingness to fight to the end. I think he's doing things that are appreciated all around the world.

It’s been a smooth changeover in terms of playing style.
I think it’s important to stress something here: we have to be grateful to the past. We have to be grateful to people like Frank Rijkaard and other players who have led this team and are now no longer here. They’ve also helped towards the good times we’re going through now. Some of our players have learnt a lot from others who’ve since left the club. Frank Rijkaard has given us a lot and laid the groundwork for what the team is doing now and how it’s playing. I know that Pep Guardiola is grateful to him as well because it’s been Frank and Txiki who’ve been building the squad over the last few years. Finding someone to take over from Frank Rijkaard was really hard. He’d done a really good job and built a positive image for Barcelona. Pep has his own style but one that’s comparable with Frank’s, two different ways of doing things but both equally valid for managing Barça’s first team.

What does the chairman of FC Barcelona feel when everyone is talking about Barça academy players as being crucial for Pep Guardiola’s side?
It’s the greatest feeling of pride a Barça chairman can have. It’s come about because of a number of different reasons: because the academy works well, because there’s a coach who knows what’s going on and is brave enough to pick home-grown players, and thirdly because we have a technical secretary in Txiki Begiristain who’s put together a competitive squad. I’ve always thought that clubs which are committed to their academy players have a style of play which is taught in their academy and are also financially much more viable and sustainable. And what’s most important, it keeps the core of the club’s identity alive.

People are now talking about two new pillars in the club’s management: solidarity and internationalisation. Is this part of a new policy at Barça?
Barça evolves and has to adapt to a changing world. Barça has always been more than a club, but this concept needs to be updated and renewed. The model is good but it needs to evolve all the time. If you like, Barça was a Formula 1 car with three wheels, sports, economics and the social aspect. Now it’s a Formula 1 car with these three wheels and two more, namely solidarity and the internationalisation of the club.

The club has made a lot of progress in these two areas.
We’ve been pioneers in solidarity and charity work. We are fully aware of the club’s corporate social responsibility; we have to give back to society part of what society has given us, because that’s why we are who we are. And hence Barça is more than a club in the world. At UNICEF, for example, they’ve recently presented us as an example of what a football club can do to combat a devastating disease like AIDS. Barça has partnered programmes in Swaziland and now we’re in Angola. Plus with our XICS programme we’re also helping kids in Catalonia.

And also over the last few weeks there’s been the MÉS project...
This project is especially important to me. We’ve done it with Nike and the UNHCR to help kids who are in refugee camps because of natural disasters or wars. This line of ecological clothing that Nike makes and which is branded MÉS is sold in all Nike’s stores worldwide. MÉS is a Catalan word which means ‘more’ and comes out of the phrase “more than a club”, so I’m especially pleased because it’s a way of promoting our language and our country with a charity project.

When talking about the new project for the club you always mention Norman Foster’s new Camp Nou. Why is that?
I want Barça members and fans to come to see this as a social project, because we want a stadium that’s more comfortable and safer and therefore better for Barcelona members. We want the members to get a more intense Barça experience through the use of new technology. Then it’s a social project because it’s a city project.

Does Barça see globalisation as an opportunity to be bigger around the world?
We want to be global to be stronger. That means that globalisation has to be an opportunity for Barça. So we have strategies in place to promote Barça’s image all around the world, and especially in the US because we think that it is a very important country in which to promote Barça’s image. Over there we have programmes such as the summer tour, charity projects with Malaria No More and so on. Recently we’ve also put in a bid with some investors for a franchise in Miami to play in the US’s professional soccer league. Barça’s responsibility and challenge with this team will be to make it competitive and that’ll help to promote Barça’s image in the US.

Is Barça ready to face the crisis that the whole world is experiencing?
Yes, fortunately we are because we’ve take the necessary precautionary measures. Financially we’ve reached an agreement with Nike which is perhaps the best contract on the market, and we also have one with Mediapro for Barça’s broadcasting rights. These two contracts mean we can face up to this crisis with a sense of security as they give us a cushion. Plus we also paid off all our bank debt last October. I feel that only companies which have been able to reduce their debts will be able to get through this crisis with the peace of mind you need.

What’s your wish for club members in 2009?
I would say to them that they should enjoy the good times Barça is going through now. Football teaches you a lot of things, and one of them is that you have to make the most of the good times, albeit with caution and humility. I’d also urge them to help make sure that between us we can make this a great season for Barça. I wish them all a Happy New Year and long live Barça!

read the full interview here

Barcelona considers offer for free agent Cruz

Italian sports paper La Gazzetta dello Sport unconfirmedly claims that Barcelona is interested in signing Inter Milan forward and Argentinian international Julio Ricardo Cruz (34) coming summer.

Because Cruz' contract at Inter expires at the end of this season and the player didn't yet sign a renewal with the Italian champions, the player is free to start talking with other clubs from January on. Barcelona would be considering to make the Argentinian striker a contract offer.

Read more:
Looking for a new Larsson
Txiki on Eto'o, Benzema, Henry and other strikers
Messi asks Barcelona to bid for Cruz

Medical: Green light for Iniesta

Barcelona attacker Andrés Iniesta (24) received yesterday the green light from the Barcelona medical staff.

The Spaniard, who has been training with the squad for three weeks, is therefore available for the league game against Mallorca on Saturday.

Iniesta suffered a right leg quadriceps injury during the Champions League game against Basel on Tuesday 4 November and was then expected to be out for six to eight weeks (read more

Read more:
Medical: Iniesta out for six to eight weeks
Medical: Milito eyes February return
Medical: Green light for Abidal

Crosas: "The Masia marks your life"

Former Barcelona player Marc Crosas gave an interview to Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo.

If I see your goalkeeper Boruc on the front page of all local tabloids, I don't think you can complain about the Spanish press.
Over here, the tabloid press chases you. But until now they are leaving me alone. But in general there's more respect for your private life here. The interest of the sports press is not as big as in Spain. It's more focused on the day of the match.

It's impressive to hear the chants.
That's true. When you enter the stadium and the fans are singing "You'll never walk alone", you get goosebumps. It's a proud nation. They wear a kilt during important games and even when it's freezing cold they keep on singing wearing short-sleeved shirts, or even no shirt at all. They don't stop encouraging the team, the atmosphere is phenomenal. It's mythical how they start with "Larsson is the king". They keep on adoring him here. That's also why they treat me that well. I come from Barcelona, they tell me that Celtic and Barça are connected.

They also sing for you?
Yes, but it's not really a big deal. They sing "Crosas is better than Cesc" but they already had the refrain before my debut so it's not that my performances impressed them. But it's very nice.

How did you adapt to live in Glasgow?
With ups and downs. Footballwise, they are treating me very well because they believed in me from the first day. The bad thing is that you cannot have a siesta here because at five o'clock it's already dark and one hour later everything is closed. A group of Spanish exchange students, that I got to know by accident in September, has saved my life.

Tell me that story...
I was at a pub watching a Barça game and I heard them talking Spanish. They also heard me talking by mobile phone and they presented themselves. At the start, they didn't recognize me until a Barça fan joined in. It's a group of thirty students and I've integrated. We organize dinners with tortillas and the food our mothers send us. One day we went to Loch Ness. But we didn't see the monster.

What do you always have in your fridge?
Frozen flesh that my mother Maria bought in the butcher shop of my hometown Bescanó, althought I was born in Sant Feliu de Guíxols, dry sausages, ham and cheese, all from Catalonia. My specialty is spaghetti carbonara but I prepare it that often that they start to detest it. I miss the meals prepared by my mother or my grandmother. And those of the Barcelona youth academy. How delicious was the food in Barça's Masia! I was there for five years. I'll never forget the plates prepared by Belén and Fernando, the chefs. The Masia marks your life.

And above all that you have to work these holidays...
Yes, the league doesn't stop here. We played last weekend and next weekend again. The only time I wasn't with my family these days was when we travelled to Australia with Barcelona's Juvenil B youth team. We celebrated the New Year at a temperature of 40 degrees. We all got sick when we returned. Maybe I can be at home on the day of Epiphany, 6 January, that would be great. I have two little brothers, Guillem and Josep, and I think that I maybe even could celebrate my birthday at home the 9th of January.

At least you have a direct flight Girona-Glasgow evey day.
And it's a low cost company. I miss everything of Girona, the beaches, the see, the city. The sun! I just don't see any sunshine here...

Marc Crosas joined Celtic Glasgow in 2008. Since Barcelona can buy Crosas back in the summer of 2010 for two million euro (read more here), this blog will follow the performances of the midfielder over the next two years.

Read more:
Barcelona could make Crosas return in 2010
Sylvinho can negotiate with Celtic
International: Four players called up for Catalonia

Marseille wants to sign Keita next summer

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that French club Marseille is interested in Barcelona midfielder and Mali international Seydou Keita (28).

Marseille wants to return to the top of European football and the transfer of Keita next summer would in that perspective be one of the priorities.

The Malian midfielder, who played for Marseille in the 1999-2000 season, should become one of the key players and leaders of the new project.

The French club would be willing to pay a considerable transfer fee and wants to make Keita, whose signed for Barcelona last summer and whose contract expires in 2012, an offer he could difficultly refuse.

Read more:
Already pre-agreement with Keita in December
Keita: "Every player should feel important"
Eto'o wants to end career at Marseille and Mallorca

Barcelona returns to training

Barcelona returned to training yesterday at 5.30 pm. Touré has a sore troat and returned home. Depending on the evolution, he could join the training today.

Alves, Eto'o, Keita, Messi, Cáceres and Milito are only expected back in Barcelona on Friday. Because they travelled to their home countries in Africa and South America, they got the permission of the club to stay away some more days.

Barcelona is on Ribery's list

Asked about the club he would want to play for one day, Bayern Munich attacker and French international Franck Ribéry (25) mentioned Barcelona among his dream clubs in an interview with German sports magazine Kicker:

"I don't have a special preference. Bayern is also among the biggest and best clubs of the world. Of course there are clubs every player dreams of: Real Madrid and Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester United. But at this moment I'm feeling good with Bayern, we'll se what will happen later."

Read more:
Ribery was on top of Guardiola's wish list
A goalkeeper, a left back and a left winger
Nani was on top of the transfer list

Monday 29 December 2008

Do We Buy? Goalkeeper.

Related Posts about Goalkeepers on the blog:Barcelona keeps on scouting Diego Lopez(Click Here)....Asenjo candidate to be back-up for Valdés(Click here)....Looking for a goal keeper(Click Here)....Jorquera looking for a club in Spain (Click Here)

This is one of the positions where we need to clear space before signing any. If we were now in June 2008, I may not dare to say “we are not in a hurry to sign a keeper”, I still have the taste of my blood in my mouth since last time I said Valdes is not THAT bad, but we are now in December, and everything is different, and the word “different” is always great to hear, but specially when it means “Better”.

It was a surprise for me when Barcelona extended the contracts of both Pinto and Jorquera. I expected one extension but not two. Maybe the Barcelona board didn’t want to leave an injured soldier behind, so they extended Jorquera contract knowing that he don’t complain anyway if he doesn't play games. But it seems like the guy wants a move, and I think the normal scenario is to give him a chance either now or next summer. But I wouldn’t mind to give a go to Pinto also, that’s if we signed a “Rank B” Keeper, based on the following ranking:

Rank A: Established keeper who will demand a starting position.
Rank B: Young talented keeper who will aim to challenge Valdes but still accepts being the number two keeper, at least for two more years.
Rank C: A young talented keeper who is not ready to play competitive games but whom certainly have the talent and potentials to be a great keeper.

My Ranks for our current Keepers are: Valdes (A), while both Pinto and Jorquera are (D), not good enough to challenge Valdes and too old to be useful on the long run. My best combination is to always have a structure of three keepers each belong to one of the previous Ranks (A), (B) and (C). This way you guarantee continuity and avoid clash-y competition on a position where rotation is not only not needed, but not even recommended.

Based on Pep effort in hunting the news for this blog, the following options are the most realistic ones for me:

In my opinion, Lopez is definitely a Rank (A) keeper. Meaning: if we buy him we need to sell Valdes. Having them together will cause the clash-y competition mentioned above. Lopez refused to be a back up for Casillas so don’t even imagine him warming the bench for Barcelona. One of the needs for a goalkeeper to perform well is to feel little secured, and having two Rank (A) keepers make each one of them feels that if he make just one mistake he will warm the bench for long, which is not the best environment for a keeper. And we don’t even need it, now. Will you recommend selling Valdes and buying Lopez?

Sergio Asenjo, Guillermo Ochoa and Akinfeyev are more a Rank (B) keepers. They have potential but will have more patience waiting for their chances. I mentioned that feeling little secure is good for the first option keeper, but feeling very secured and certain of having a guaranteed place in the selection no matter what, will back fire badly on the keeper performance. With a Rank (B) keeper - unlike Rank (D) - Valdes will feel calm but will stay alert. Now that’s what we need, and my favorite option here is Sergio Asenjo.

For the third spot, and based on the transfer criteria I posted in the previous part, I will turn my attention toward Barcelona Athletic first. If Miño is good enough to have a shot – or may be I have to say to block a shot – then he is my third keeper. If not, then I suggest scouting keepers like Alex Pena (Roma), Andrea Consigli (Atalanta) or Emiliano Viviano (Brescia). Last option, but also reasonable, is just to keep it void with Mino to fill if needed, may be in a year or two we get through our youth ranks a keeper to take that seat.

Do we buy now or next summer?

I don’t think next summer we will be able to buy Sergio Asenjo for less than his buyout clause (5,5 million euro), so I wouldn’t mind to make an attempt now. But again Valladolid are not that desperate nor in a hurry, so they will wait till summer, unless if we offered them the 5,5 millions plus Jorquera/Pinto, under a condition that either we get Asenjo now or at least we guarantee having him at the end of the season, I think this way we can avoid getting out-bidden by another club in the summer.

For the third option keeper, may be its better to delay that till summer giving Miño more time to show his potentials, and keeping Pinto in case Valdes get injured and the new B ranked keeper (if signed) needed time to settle.

If any of the mentioned scenarios happened in the following weeks, I will be glad, yet I will also sleep at night if not, as long as the change will come next summer because by then, it will become a must.

Ramzi Tanani

Barcelona wants to renew Marquez until 2012

Catalan sports paper Sport claims that Barcelona plans to offer Barcelona central defender and Mexican international Rafael Márquez (29) a contract renewal.

Barcelona manager Guardiola considers Márquez to be a key player, one of those who can replace the coach on the pitch, and thinks there are no defenders like him available on the market.

Barcelona would therefore be considering to offer Márquez, whose current contract expires in 2010, an extension for two more years, until the summer of 2012.

Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia and other media confirm the intention of Barcelona to renew the Mexican defender, who joined Barcelona in 2003 when current Barcelona president Joan Laporta came to power.

Madrid sport tabloid Marca claims that Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain plans to renew Márquez until 2014, and minimum until 2012, and wants to offer the player comparable contract conditions as those of his centre back companion Puyol.

Begiristain made already a first informal contact on the renewal and now wants to start negotiating with the player's agent from next week on. It's assumed that Márquez also has the intention to stay longer with the club (read more here).

Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that the wish of Márquez to end his career at Barcelona will make the renewal talks with the Mexican central defender easier.

Read more:
Marquez wants to renew until 2012
Marquez could move to Miami in 2010
Marquez wants renewal before returning home

Result - Rating the new guys: Dani Alves

This is the final result of this blog's "Rating the new guys: Dani Alves" poll:

10 --- 73%
9 --- 20%
8 --- 5%
7 --- 1%
6 --- 0%
5 --- 0%
4 --- 0%
3 --- 0%
2 --- 0%
1 --- 1%
0 --- 0%
Don't know --- 0%

Average score: 9,57

See other results:
Seydou Keita
Gerard Piqué

Medical: Overview 2008-2009

Out: 29 December 2007
Back: 29 September 2008
Recovery time: 275 days
Problem: ruptured ligament - right knee
read more

Out: 29 April 2008
Back: (February-March 2009)
Recovery time: (245 days and counting)
Problem: left and right knee
read more

Out: 13 September 2008
Back: 16 October 2008
Recovery time: 33 days
Problem: sprained ligament - left ankle
read more

Out: 8 October 2008
Back: 31 October 2008
Recovery time: 23 days
Problem: ruptured hamstring muscle - right thigh
read more

Out: 15 October 2008
Back: 31 October 2008
Recovery time: 16 days
Problem: torn hamstring muscle - left thigh
read more

Out: 19 October 2008
Back: 7 November 2008
Recovery time: 19 days
Problem: sprained muscles - left leg
read more

Out: 30 October 2008
Back: 4 December 2008
Recovery time: 35 days
Problem: meniscal cyst - right knee
read more

Out: 4 November 2008
Back: 29 December 2008
Recovery time: 55 days
Problem: ruptured quadriceps muscle - right thigh
read more

Only the most serious injuries since mid-September are taken into account.

Vilanova: "It's important to talk straight"

Barcelona assistant coach Tito Vilanova gave an interview to Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo.

With ten points ahead of Sevilla, 11 on Atlético Madrid and Valencia and 12 on Madrid and Villarreal, who do you consider to be the main rival for the Liga?
I don't know, honestly. For a start, I don't know if we will be able to keep this rhythm going, if we will have a dip or get even better. And then you should still wait and see what the others will do. We'll have to go day by day.

And maintaining the rhythm will depend on what?
This has never been an easy club. Sometimes in the world of football, and you don't know why, everything that seemed marvellous starts to get more complicated and in two weeks the situation can turn around. Although if we keep this commitment, both in defense as in attack, we will be a team that's difficult to beat.

Taking into account the complexity of this club, is it important to be a good psychologist?
The players are intelligent enough to know these things, although it's good that Pep reminds them every now and then. But even then, the majority of the players have come from some marvellous years and afterwards, without knowing how or why, everything went down. That makes things much easier for us now.

You have been surprised by the capacity to react the players are having?
Not surprised. Although it's true that we have won some games at the end and that's always a good sign. Maybe I was more surprised with the pre-season because despite us having introduced new concepts, the players adapted quickly to it and we played and won in a good way.

What's your evaluation of the team so far?
I don't know. I would give them an "excellent". I don't know if it should be a 9 or a 10, but excellent for sure.

There's more pressure than with the second team?
I actually think that last year with Barcelona B we had more pressure than we have now.

Why was that?
Because it was the first year of Pep as a coach and we had the obligation to promote the team back to the third division. I don't know if we will feel more pressure once we start to lose, but for now I only felt pressure last season.

Your dealing with the dressingroom changed a lot compared with last year?
It's different, but that doesn't mean it's more or less difficult. One person is already something complicated and when several persons come together, it gets a lot more complicated. With the second team you have more authority because the players are motivated to get to the first team, while first team players are already there. But like in most other working places, it's important to talk straight and face-to-face with the player. Pep is very direct. If you're honest and straightforward, you will solve or even avoid the majority of the problems.

Is that the key to success?
I don't know if that's the key, but I do think it's very important that we all know that there are some basic rules of living together and of respect towards everyone that is working with them: coaches, masseurs, handymen...

This was the first part of this interview. You will be able to read the second part here in the coming days with Vilanova talking -among other things- about the performances of Henry, Messi and Eto'o.

Read more:
Vilanova talks: "4-4-2 leads to more problems"
Guardiola has his team in place
Txiki: "This is the team we expected to see"

Talks with Uruguayan left back Perez confirmed

Asked about the rumours linking him with Barcelona (read more here), Danubio left back defender Matías Pérez (23) has said in an interview with Uruguayan sports paper Ovación that

"Others are taking care of it and they don't tell me a lot. I know they were interested but nothing more. My representatives have been talking and they are working on it. But I'm not aware on how things stand now. We know how this goes, sometimes something appears and you don't know where it's coming from.

But of course it's something spectacular. The sole fact that they are interested, that they are monitoring you, watching you, is incredible. But you have to take these things with a grain of salt, because you don't know what will come out of it. At this moment, my plan is to start again with Danubio next week."

The Uruguayan sports paper reports that Pérez, whose contract with Danubio expires in July, is represented by player's agency Pro Fútbol. A spokesperson of the latter confirmed to the paper that agency directors Paolo Montero y Gustavo Méndez are at this moment in Spain where they have been holding talks with Barcelona.

The player's agent Martín Guastadisegno is meanwhile quoted by Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo as saying that he has talked "over the last days" with Barcelona general director of football Raúl Sanllehí. The paper claims that Barcelona could be studying the option of buying the player and loaning him out afterwards (read more

Read more:
First contact with CSKA on left winger Zhirkov
Youth: Diego Polenta (Danubio)
Lyon wants to resign Abidal next summer

Watch Pérez score (third goal):

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