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Barcelona Bide Time Before Making Real Response in Transfer Market

Real Madrid have stolen all the summer headlines, with Barcelona seemingly doing little more than watch on with interest. How will they respond to their rival’s moves?

David Villa might we join Iniesta and Xavi at the Nou Camp. Capdevila (l) will probably not...

David Villa might well join Iniesta and Xavi at the Nou Camp. Capdevila (left) will probably not...

Only Real Madrid.

Only Real Madrid could steal the spotlight so quickly from Barcelona.

Barely three weeks have passed since Barcelona’s historic triumph against Manchester United in Rome, a triumph that added the Champions League to the Spanish league and cup double the Catalan giants had already acquired. Yet already such triumphs feel like a distant memory.

Right now, the spotlight is only interested in Real Madrid.

Winning might be what professional football is all about, but during the summer months it is transfer activity that grabs the attention. With the expensive acquisition of Kaka already concluded, and the club just waiting to seal a world-record deal with world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo, Real have ensured they have comprehensively won the summer transfer battle.

“These are not the market prices. The reason they are doing this is that they have emergencies, so they have to take risks,” club chairman Joan Laporta told the New York Times this week. “Football Club Barcelona is their rival, and we won everything last season and that made them anxious.”

But amid such bullish statements, Barcelona’s response has been conspicuous in its absence. If, and when, will Josep Guardiola open the summer chequebook?

In many ways, the response of the Nou Camp outfit might be the most revealing of any transfer moves made by any club throughout the whole summer. Pundits will be looking on with interest to see how Guardiola handles himself in (thanks to Real) an intimidating transfer market.

Inspired by Guardiola’s on-the-field success, other prestigious European clubs have followed Barca’s lead in appointing a legendary former player. Juventus have looked to former defender Ciro Ferrara to lead them back to the top of Serie A, with AC Milan opting for Brazilian star Leonardo.

Yet, inevitably, after only one season at the helm, there are things Guardiola has still to do. He is yet to dip his toe with any conviction in the transfer market, for example. Last summer was more about clearing deadwood from the squad than adding quality.

This summer might prove a different matter.

Laporta doesn’t believe appointing Guardiola was any more of a risk than pursuing an established name.

“At the time, we were sure that this coach had a lot of experience at our club. Pep was a player. He was a reference. He was captain. He knew our club very well,” Laporta said.

“We knew him as a coach of our second team and we followed him for a season. So from our point of view, it was not as risky as people said. It is much riskier to create a team by paying a lot of money to buy names.”

Guardiola has already proven himself a great tactician, but how is he at purchasing talent?

Identifying suitable signings is a tough task at any club, but is made even harder by the tenets that Barcelona hold dear. The club’s 4-3-3 formation is sacrosanct, and players must fit in with the short, intricate passing game that the club has always propagated.

Unlike at Real, players will not be signed simply because they are among the best in the world. They must also fit the system.

“We already have the best player in the world, Lio Messi,” said Laporta. “But the most important thing that we have is a team that works. For our rivals, it’s normal that they do their best to be more competitive than they were last season. Like I told you, they sign names, and we have a team.”

Despite such words, it will be interesting to see whether Barca feel compelled to respond to the spending of their arch-rivals. Bids for players including Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Franck Ribery have already been mooted this summer, but nothing serious appears to have happened.

Club vice-president Rafael Yuste admitted this week that talks with Valencia over David Villa were “absolutely open”, but that is about as concrete as transfer news from the club has been.

Unsurprisingly, Laporta is remaining relatively coy: “It’s very important to work with secret. These journalists, they are professionals at this, and I’m surprised that they are able to guess a lot of things. But it is our secret.”

For all the speculation, the likelihood is that at least a couple of signings will be made. A left-back is a priority, with Eric Abidal failing to impress at the same level as his colleagues during his time at the Nou Camp.

A new goalkeeper might also be coveted — Victor Valdes is not an elite keeper, and is out of contract next summer — as well as a couple of attacking options to improve the squad’s depth.

Valencia’s two Davids — Villa and Silva — would seem the obvious targets here. Villa would fit in well with the mix of close control and clinical finishing that spearheads the team’s attacking intent, and Silva is perhaps the player most reminiscent of Iniesta or Xavi not currently plying his trade at the Nou Camp.

With the well-documented financial difficulties at the Mestalla, reaching an agreement for either — or both — players should not prove too arduous.

Of course, it is not out of the question that the club will not make any big moves in the transfer market at all. After all, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Whatever moves the club do eventually make, the unhurried approach they are taking should indicate they do not feel unduly threatened by Madrid’s blockbuster moves. They are happy to let Real pursue all their targets, and then assess their own options once the dust has settled.

It seems a sensible approach.

While the wider footballing world may believe that Kaka and Ronaldo’s arrivals have tipped the balance of power in Spanish football firmly towards the capital club, the European champions clearly remain quietly confident in their approach—the sort of confidence that can only be gained by winning things.

Real Madrid might be winning the summer battle, but, with or without new signings, Barca clearly still fully expect to win next season’s war.


This article was also featured on Fox Sports.

Only Real Madrid.
Only Real Madrid could steal the spotlight so quickly from Barcelona.
Barely three weeks have passed since Barcelona’s historic triumph against Manchester United in Rome, a triumph that added the Champions League to the Spanish league and cup double the Catalan giants had already acquired. Yet already such triumphs feel like a distant memory.
Right now, the spotlight is only interested in Real Madrid.
Winning might be what professional football is all about, but during the summer months it is transfer activity that grabs the attention. With the expensive acquisition of Kaka already concluded, and the club just waiting to seal a world-record deal with world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo, Real have ensured they have comprehensively won the summer transfer battle.
“These are not the market prices. The reason they are doing this is that they have emergencies, so they have to take risks,” club chairman Joan Laporta told the New York Times this week. “Football Club Barcelona is their rival, and we won everything last season and that made them anxious.”
But amid such bullish statements, Barcelona’s response has been conspicuous in its absence. If, and when, will Josep Guardiola open the summer chequebook?
In many ways, the response of the Nou Camp outfit might be the most revealing of any transfer moves made by any club throughout the whole summer. Pundits will be looking on with interest to see how Guardiola handles himself in (thanks to Real) an intimidating transfer market.
Inspired by Guardiola’s on-the-field success, other prestigious European clubs have followed Barca’s lead in appointing a legendary former player. Juventus have looked to former defender Ciro Ferrara to lead them back to the top of Serie A, with AC Milan opting for Brazilian star Leonardo.
Yet, inevitably, after only one season at the helm, there are things Guardiola has still to do. He is yet to dip his toe with any conviction in the transfer market, for example. Last summer was more about clearing deadwood from the squad than adding quality.
This summer might prove a different matter.
Laporta doesn’t believe appointing Guardiola was any more of a risk than pursuing an established name.
“At the time, we were sure that this coach had a lot of experience at our club. Pep was a player. He was a reference. He was captain. He knew our club very well,” Laporta said.
“We knew him as a coach of our second team and we followed him for a season. So from our point of view, it was not as risky as people said. It is much riskier to create a team by paying a lot of money to buy names.”
Guardiola has already proven himself a great tactician, but how is he at purchasing talent?
Identifying suitable signings is a tough task at any club, but is made even harder by the tenants that Barcelona hold dear. The club’s 4-3-3 formation is sacrosanct, and players must fit in with the short, intricate passing game that the club has always propagated.
Unlike at Real, players will not be signed simply because they are among the best in the world. They must also fit the system.
“We already have the best player in the world, Lio Messi,” said Laporta. “But the most important thing that we have is a team that works. For our rivals, it’s normal that they do their best to be more competitive than they were last season. Like I told you, they sign names, and we have a team.”
Despite such words, it will be interesting to see whether Barca feel compelled to respond to the spending of their arch-rivals. Bids for players including Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Franck Ribery have already been mooted this summer, but nothing serious appears to have happened.
Club vice-president Rafael Yuste admitted this week that talks with Valencia over David Villa were “absolutely open”, but that is about as concrete as transfer news from the club has been.
Unsurprisingly, Laporta is remaining relatively coy: “It’s very important to work with secret. These journalists, they are professionals at this, and I’m surprised that they are able to guess a lot of things. But it is our secret.”
For all the speculation, the likelihood is that at least a couple of signings will be made. A left-back is a priority, with Eric Abidal failing to impress at the same level as his colleagues during his time at the Nou Camp.
A new goalkeeper might also be coveted—Victor Valdes is not an elite keeper, and is out of contract next summer—as well as a couple of attacking options to improve the squad’s depth.
Valencia’s two Davids—Villa and Silva—would seem the obvious targets here. Villa would fit in well with the mix of close control and clinical finishing that spearheads the team’s attacking intent, and Silva is perhaps the player most reminiscent of Iniesta or Xavi not currently plying his trade at the Nou Camp.
With the well-documented financial difficulties at the Mestalla, reaching an agreement for either—or both—players should not prove too arduous.
Of course, it is not out of the question that the club will not make any big moves in the transfer market at all. After all, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?
Whatever moves the club do eventually make, the unhurried approach they are taking should indicate they do not feel unduly threatened by Madrid’s blockbuster moves. They are happy to let Real pursue all their targets, and then assess their own options once the dust has settled.
It seems a sensible approach.
While the wider footballing world may believe that Kaka and Ronaldo’s arrivals have tipped the balance of power in Spanish football firmly towards the capital club, the European champions clearly remain quietly confident in their approach—the sort of confidence that can only be gained by winning things.
Real Madrid might be winning the summer battle, but, with or without new signings, Barca clearly still fully expect to win next season’s war.
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June 17, 2009 - Posted by | Sport, World Football | ,

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