2017-18 Season Planning (Midfield, midfield, midfield)

unnamed.jpg

16-17 was one of our worst seasons since Lionel Messi has helmed the number 10 shirt.

We didn’t play well enough (far from it); got thrashed by 3 different teams in UCL (City, PSG and Juventus) and ended up watching RM retain the title; lost La Liga by playing awfully against midtable teams (didn’t lose a single match against the Top 5 opponents, even though Messi was there to save us on most of these clashes).

What I feared the most since 2014 has happened: the focus on results, while completely bypassing our midfield to solely rely on MSN would eventually cost us. And it did.

This summer is the most vital moment to our club’s future for the next few years.

Since this criminal board since 2012 only signed Song, Rakitic, Arda, Denis and Gomes to replace the likes of Xavi and Thiago (whom they PUSHED OUT OF THE CLUB FOR MONEY)… now it’s the moment to spend on our midfield with players that are good enough for us to compete again.

So, let’s take a look at our current squad, and talk about who should leave and who we need to sign.

 

GK – No problems whatsoever here

 

While Mundo Deportivo, the paper that kept pushing for us to sign PEPE REINA for several years, keep attacking Ter Stegen every single time we suffer or are defeated (even though the lack of control from the midfield makes us more susceptible in the defense and forced him to face over 120 shots this season…), we have one of the finest GKs in Europe, someone who will help us for the next decade.

Since we need the money, and to me our backup GK should always be a Masia player, we could consider selling Cillessen.

But since the club has let Jordi Masip leave for free… things will stay as they are.

 

DEFENSE – Remove the dead weight and sign fullbacks

 

RBs- Sergi Roberto, Aleix Vidal

Sergi Roberto may not have had a perfect season, but for a midfielder who hasn’t been gifted with a superb pace, he did what he could.

Aleix Vidal, WHO’S ACTUALLY A WINGER, was doing pretty well before getting injured, but, yet again, since we need money for our signings, I would consider selling him.

 

SUMMER MOVE:

Promote PALENCIA,

sell Aleix Vidal,

sign someone like SEMEDO, RICARDO PEREIRA OR SIDIBE;

send Sergi Roberto to midfield.

Other names: Fabinho, Aurier, Hysaj, Walker, Azpilicueta

 

 

 

CBs: Pique,Umtiti, Mascherano, Mathieu

Pique-Umtiti will be our starting CB duo at least for the next 4-5 years, when Pique retires. Even though Pique hasn’t had a superb season, Umtiti has proven to be THE CB SIGNING we’d been waiting since 2012, and will only get better and more confident on the next few years.

Mascherano has been at our club for 7 years, and formed a solid CB duo with Pique. The thing is: with Umtiti’s presence and the fact we can’t count on him to be a proper backup to Busquets (that night in Turin was the final proof of that), and given the fact he finally scored his first goal for us… it’s time for him to leave.

Mathieu should never have been signed on the first place. A smoking vagrant who’s hurt us badly time and time again.

Vermaelen still belongs to us.

 

SUMMER MOVE:

Promote MARLON

sell Mascherano, Mathieu and Vermaelen

sign someone like DAVINSON SANCHEZ, MAURICIO LEMOS OR JEMERSON

Alternative: promote both Marlon and Tarin and save money to invest on our midfield

Other names: Tah, Laporte, De Ligt, Manolas.

 

 

LBs: Alba and Digne

Alba, to me, is one of the best attacking LBs in the business, who due to his physical “flaws” (short and weak) relies basically on his insane pace to help us in the back.

As I’ve mentioned during my podcast to advocate Neymar’s sale, our left side has been very poorly orchestrated, and both Alba and Iniesta have been wasted so that Neymar gets to cut inside and tries to dribble past everyone… before being dispossessed.

Given his potential to attack and the fact we should spend heavily on our midfield this season, I’d give Alba another chance, but also sign someone who can actually compete with him. Digne didn’t do that.

 

Digne looks like a good kid. Tries hard, can handle himself in aerial duels. And that’s it.

While he’s and overall better defender than Alba, his associative game is just too poor for FCB, and he’s far from possessing the pace, vision and quickness of thought to ever be good for us upfront. That’s why I’d sell him as soon as possible.

 

SUMMER MOVE:

Sign someone like Grimaldo, Guerreiro or Marcos Alonso

Sell Digne

Alternative: Promote Cucurella

Other names: Ricardo Rodrigues, Alex Sandro, Gaya.

 

 

 


MIDFIELD- WE NEED TO COMPLETELY REBUILD IT TO BE ABLE TO COMPETE IN THE NEAR FUTURE

 

CDM: Busquets

While the complete chaos our team had become on the first half of the season made people start with the usual “Busquets is past it, we need someone who’s stronger” talk, Sergio has proven he’s still our finest and most regular midfield player on the second half of the season.

Busquets, to me, is our second most important player, after God.

But since Luis Enrique failed to do the obvious, we need to bring SAMPER back, so he gets to learn from our best ever CDM, and get the confidence and skills to start replacing him on the easiest matches, or when we are already winning at home.

SUMMER MOVE: Bring back SAMPER

 

 

 

CMs: Iniesta, Rakitic, Rafinha, Denis, Turan, Gomes

The backbone of our team, our style, and that is completely weakened nowadays. RM has never had an Academy so well run as ours, has never had a generation of homegrown players like Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets and Thiago, or a playing philosophy that has dominated Europe from 2008-2012.

But they still won 3 Champions League titles on the last 4 years. Even managed to retain their title yesterday, something that hasn’t happened since 1990.

And how did they do it?

By having signed players like Modric, Kroos, Isco and Kovacic on the last few years. When you have great midfielders to balance out whatever weaknesses you may have in defense or in attack, you’ll always have the advantage.

If we want to be able to compete on the Champions League today, and especially to regain our La Liga title, we need to do a complete overhaul in our midfield.

Iniesta is now 33 years old, and even though he’s always played way farther from the area in previous years under Luis Enrique, his body just isn’t taking it anymore. 4-5 considerable injuries during the 16-17 season, and Don Andres is seriously considering not renewing his contract, that runs out in June 2018.

We have no idea what Valverde’s plans are, but if Iniesta is to play his last season for us, besides using a style that actually profits from his gifts the most, instead of having him start plays in the halfway line, we should sign a younger, world class CM to play alongside him, so he could “teach” his would be replacement everything he could about our style.

Rakitic has been a loyal servant, and we’ll never forget his opener on the Berlin UCL final. But he represents the shift we’ve made since Lucho took over: from organizing controlling CMs that work hard physically but still make use of their combining and intelligence to put the team ahead… we now have a midfield player who’s focused on defending and filling the gaps left by Messi and our RB.

Ivan has always been a very direct, vertical player, and has helped us a lot to win the Treble in 2015. But since it’s now clear we must go back to our controlling and organizing ways to we can compete again… we need to make the hard choice and sell him, for whatever price.

Rafinha, to me, is a left footed version of Rakitic, with greater skill and a bigger eye for goal. But the same argument I’ve used to justify Ivan’s sale, I’d use for Rafinha.

He is not a controlling CM, and his style would fit like a glove in most Premier League teams. Since we can no longer take chances in our midfield set up, especially after the last two seasons, I would also sell him, for 25-30mi euros.

Denis is a very intelligent young man, who’s able to combine in small spaces, can dribble easily, and has the patience and vision to thrive as the kind of CM we need right now. If he has way more minutes than he did in 16-17, and is able to play close to Iniesta and learn from him, I’m confident we’ll have a player that’ll be able to helps us regain the traits that have taken us so far before.

Arda Turan. The most nonsensical signing our club made in the last two decades. Not even worth trying to describe all of his flaws. We need to sell him to whoever pays more.

Gomes. I know this board most likely won’t even consider selling Gomes, given we literally just signed him a year ago.

But they should. And do it fast and for whatever decent sum we get offered.

Gomes, just like Mathieu is very slow in his thought process. He cannot combine with our other midfielders with a single touch on the ball. He’s not able to turn his body when in possession, much less when defending. And besides being slow to think, he’s also slow in pretty much everything else he does in a football pitch.

After RM’s 12th UCL conquest, with such a vast and fitting midfield selection, we should not keep a player like Gomes because “he deserves more than just one season to prove his worth”. Midfield is the most crucial part of our team, and we cannot risk keeping a player that lacks the very basics traits we need in an organizing, intelligent CM.

 

SUMMER MOVE

Sell Rakitic, Rafinha, Arda and Gomes

Sign 2 players from: Verratti, Kimmich, Weigl, Eriksen, Seri, Jorginho, Trigueros or Roque Mesa.

Use Sergi Roberto as a CM as well.

 

ATTACK: MAKE THE TOUGH CHOICE BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE. OH, AND SELL ALCACER.

 

I will not even write about Messi. Just that we’re lucky he loves this club so much he’s going to renew even after our grotesque sporting planning only provided him with ONE UCL title during his peak physical years (2012-2017).

 

The same goes to Suarez. Even though he’s had a very irregular season, still scored 37 goals (5th best in Europe) and has kept his insane work rate and commitment to this team, and to opening spaces for Messi. He’s the best 9 in the world and we won’t find a better fit.

 

Alcacer  should have never been signed on the first place. This “we need a tall 9 to come in when we need to score/are facing a very defensive side” talk has been around our club since the 1980s.

But the fact is: HAVING A TALL BACKUP 9 ISN’T A PLAN.

IT’S LIMITED AND AMATEURISH.

WHEN YOU HAVE A PROPERLY SET MIDFIELD TO CREATE CHANCES AND HELP THE ATTACKERS COMBINE WELL, YOU DON’T NEED SOMEONE FROM THE BENCH TO SAVE THE DAY WITH A HEADER.

Alcacer lacks pace, can’t actually dribble, hides behind the CBs instead of pressing them and making smart runs inside the area, can’t combine with other players in small places, and has very limited vision/creativity.

It was very obvious we needed another winger, someone versatile enough to play on both sides, and smart enough to be able to create chances, give us width and bully defenders with pace. Yet, not only did we not sign one, but sent both Deulofeu and Adama packing… only to use ALCACER AS A WINGER DURING EL CLASICO.

 

Neymar  will never reach the heights people think he already did. He’s wasteful, does not care about combining with our midfielders to put us in a more advantageous situation, EVEN THOUGH HE’S SPENT 4 YEARS BY INIESTA’S SIDE. Not only does he not care about forming a partnership/relationship with our midfield, he never really formed a dangerous link with Alba, who’s been superb in overlaps.

Besides the fact he manages more dispossessions than dribbles per match, and only actually pulls his most outrageous skills when we are far ahead in the scoreboard, his lack of professionalism (leaving Spain and missing matches to attend both Carnaval and his sister’s birthday every single February), he’s Brazilian.

Every single Brazilian star has had a very short period as the best player in their respective period.

Pelé was only Pelé until 1962, which means he really dominated for… 5 years.
After that, he only managed to win ONE Brazilian League, never again became the League’s topscorer, never managed to win the Libertadores again, and won the WC in 1970 with the greatest XI a National Team has ever had.

Garrincha also shone the brightest for 5 years, then his knee deformation and love for booze and women did him in.

Zico was absolutely relentless from 1979 to 1983, but after Maradona moved to Naples, he was miles behind the Argentine’s brilliance.

Romário was absolutely ruthless from 1988 to 1994, where he was focused and destroying defenses first for PSV, than for Barcelona. After winning the 1994 WC, he achieved what he most wanted in life, and focused on what actually gave him pleasure: living in Rio de Janeiro, partying and womanizing. That’s why he never won a UCL or Libertadores, and has only 5 National League titles (only one after 1994).

Fat Ronaldo was completely dominant from 1994 to 1999 (2 great season for PSV, 1 superb seasons for us, and another 2 great ones for Inter), but after he ruptured his knee tendon playing for Inter, was never the same. He did win the 2002 WC with Rivaldo’s superb help, but only had a testimonial career since then, also never managing to win a Champions League or Libertadores title, and only won TWO National League titles during his whole career.

Rivaldo is the only exception here. While he was never considered the best player in the world for the 8 years he played at top level (1994-2002), he was always as professional as any European player from the same period, and, unlike other Brazilians, never really got involved in scandals, parties and overall excesses.

Ronaldinho wasted his skills so much it literally hurts to talk about it. From 2003 to 2006, he completely dominated world football, by bringing joy, brilliance and ruthlessness in the same package. But by the time he was 26 years old, with a World up and a Champions League title to his name… he retired. Instead of working hard to keep being the beast he was, he was literally sleeping in our massage tables to recover for the never ending nights of partying.

Kaká is another  wasteful example of a Brazilian star that reached the top and simply died down. Shone for São Paulo, stayed in Milan for 6 seasons, where he never scored more than 20 goals in a season. Did manage to win a Balon Dor in 2007, but soon after that moved to Real Madrid for money and accepted staying on the bench, even though he was told by Mourinho he wouldn’t be a starter.

That’s why, given the footballing reasons and the historical truth the Brazilian players burn through their potential way faster than they should, due to a lack of overall interest and a grotesque approach to being a top level athlete. Neymar doesn’t act like a professional, and we should sell him NOW, while we can still grab 140-180 mi euros for him.

All my case justifying Neymar’s sale is here: https://zcast.co/j/Zz4lgPS2zP

SUMMER MOVE

Sell Alcacer and Neymar

Sign a player such as: Ousmane Dembele or Dybala

Alternative: Bring back Deulofeu/Munir

 

 

 

 

OVERALL 17-18 SUMMER MOVES:

 

Promote PALENCIA,

Sell Aleix Vidal,

sign someone like SEMEDO, RICARDO PEREIRA OR SIDIBE;

send Sergi Roberto to midfield.

 

Promote MARLON

Sell Mascherano, Mathieu and Vermaelen

sign someone like DAVINSON SANCHEZ, MAURICIO LEMOS OR JEMERSON

Alternative: promote both Marlon and Tarin and save money to invest on our midfield

 

Sign someone like Grimaldo, Guerreiro or Marcos Alonso

Sell Digne

Alternative: Promote Cucurella to compete with Alba

 

SUMMER MOVE: Bring back SAMPER

Sell Rakitic, Rafinha, Arda and Gomes

Sign 2 players from: Verratti, Kimmich, Weigl, Eriksen, Seri, Jorginho, Trigueros or Roque Mesa.

Use Sergi Roberto as a CM as well.

 

Sell Alcacer and Neymar

Sign a player such as: Ousmane Dembele or Dybala

Alternative: Bring back Deulofeu/Munir

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “2017-18 Season Planning (Midfield, midfield, midfield)

  1. What do you think of this lineup;

    Neymar-Suarez-Dembele
    Messi
    Busquets-Verratti
    Alba-Umtiti-Pique-Semedo
    Ter Stegen

    Alba and Semedo will help in attack, Verratti playmaker, Busquets control, Messi gets a free role.

  2. Lets get a few things straight:
    You’re aware of the financials shortage at the moment, but you advocate for signing players like Marcus Alonso.

    You’d sell Rakitic at any price, a consistent performer and with a skillset unlike the rest.
    You compare Rafinha to Rakitic, and say he’s a better version, and even better at scoring despite the huge amounts of goals Rakitic has chipped in, in different forms, and his consistency. Let alone Rafinha’s non existent defensive traits and constant injuries.

    You solely blame the board for Thiago’s demands, for how the situation played out, and not that Bayern wanted him more or that he wasn’t being used enough.
    You also credit Thiago as part of a golden winning streak of La Masia players, but not Fabregas, who contributed so much with the national team too.

    Lets get this absolutely clear:
    YOU NEVER WATCH MUNIR AT VALENCIA. He’s been pretty awful. All he can do is finish. Technically terrible, turns like a bus, completely lost as a footballer, and terrible physically. I know Valencia fans, I watch him play, he’s scored a few nice goals, but he’s nowhere near our standard. You never watch him, but because it fits your agenda, you will continue to hype him up.

    NONE OF YOU CARED ABOUT SANDRO WHILE HE WAS AT THE CLUB. All you wanted to do was yap about your precious Munir. No one cared that Sandro’s skillset was clearly closer to Suarez, the wonder goal vs Chelsea proving as much. You were happy to see him shuttled to the wing as long as Munir was the CF. All you cared was that the club got some money for him

    ALCACER IS NOT A TALL FORWARD. Why would you even mention that. The whole point of bringing him in was that Suarez energy levels were depleted as the season went on. He scored 6 in 6, 3 winning goals in 4 starts, proving he had plenty to offer, but Lucho didn’t utilize him. When Suarez’ general contribution was poor (and make no mistake, sometimes it was flat out terrible, along with his attitude), he was given a free ride to do as he pleased. This is on Lucho entirely.

    Now, I agree, Alcacer’s money should have been spent on Dembele, that’s terrible planning. But don’t act like he’s an awful player with nothing to offer. You even proved you’ll hate him no matter what by saying he’s poor in tight spaces — tight spaces are what he’s best at, his first touch is very good. He even scored in a cup final.

    And lastly, you’re advocating selling Neymar, to sign players that don’t even play his position. Come on, dude. Neymar gave us some of our best moments, including 5 of the best in Barca history btw, which you don’t give him any credit for. He had most dribbles completed, most chances, most assists, most fouls won. His role is enormously important, and we have midfielders that can’t give him the ball, including Iniesta. Sorry to break this to you, but you can’t just complain about the midfield and not Iniesta. Even when he gets to the final 3rd, his end product and use of the ball is almost always terrible. Lofted balls 10 feet up in the air that are impossible to play, or distance shots so weak you’d think my grandmother did. This is the truth. He’ll have things to offer, and has been a great servant, but don’t dare act that he’s been shafted of late.

    You’ve also tried to shift the blame for Alba’s poor end product on….Neymar. What a surprise. Messi’s diagonal balls to Alba have always been spotless, no doubt, it’s then up to Alba to find the cut back or cross. His runs are great, his use of the ball frequently terrible. In no way is that on Neymar. If we had Marcelo, we’d have a huge surge in goals from those areas.

    It’s clear no matter what Neymar does, you’ll say he hasn’t improved and shout ‘THATS JUST MY OPINION OMG’ like a child. His finishing was poor this year, and it was unacceptable at times, but he gave moments, like Sociedad, like Leganes, where we were total shit and he pulled us out the gutter, even if it was Messi’s name on the score sheet.

    • Thank you for saying this, this guy has terrible thinking and we can’t even begin to remember that someone this was in part itoa Lucho’s obvious tactics.

  3. Great read. Interesting points, a lot of which has already started to take shape. I wonder what the guy that is defending Neymar has to say at this point with all the games taking place, making the club a public spectacle and not having the balls to make a proper statement regarding all the rumours surrounding him. Very selfish and not becoming of any player that loves FCBarcelona.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s