GoonerNews

Arsenal News
Arsenal News & Transfers
As featured on NewsNow: Arsenal newsArsenal News 24/7

Arsenal News, Only Arsenal, Blogs, Transfer News

Archives

July 2019
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  

What exactly is the thinking behind the transfer policy of Futbol Club Barcelona?

The club that changed football

Follow us on Twitter @UntoldArsenal

Making the Arsenal

By Tony Attwood

I know I know I know I have written about this so many times before.  But I still have this memory of seeing Hleb, Flamini and Fabregas sitting together in the stand all chatting away merrily, laughing and joking, presumably planning which club each of them was going to go to.

And for none did it work out like it should.  For Flamini, instead of his games per season rising, the number fell right back, with many of his games as a late sub.  At the end of his contract he was released as a free agent, and finding no one else wanted him, he signed a new one year contract, taking what is widely reported as “a significant cut in his wages”.

Hleb too ended up unwanted by the club that signed him (Barcelona) when his contract was cancelled by mutual consent during the January 2012.

By that time he’d been loaned to Stuttgard, Birmingham City and Wolfsburg beford signing for Krulia Sovetov and then most recently BATE.  He played 19 times for Barcelona.

And so the Flamini Fallacy was born, tracing the frustrations of each top player who leaves Arsenal to do other things, only to find the grass is not always as green as they thought.   I won’t repeat the whole thesis – the article is still on this site if you want to read it.

But I am still fascinated and puzzled by Barcelona.  A club that has bought so many players from Arsenal that they found they didn’t want.  And they still go on doing it, again and again and again.   They throw money at us.  We can’t say that they keep Arsenal afloat but they really are a great source of funds for Arsenal.  So why do they do it?

Put another way, “How can any club be as stupid as Barcelona?”

But it is quite clear that the driving force in Cesc returning to Barcelona was the Barce club itself who clearly see Arsenal as a source of wonder players.   Just look at some of the money they have sent our way:

  • Marc Overmars – €40m – 99 games in four years and then retirement
  • Thierry Henry – €24m – 80 games in three seasons and left with a year remaining on his contract
  • Alexander Hleb – €15m – 19 appearances in four seasons and contract cancelled
  • Cesc Fabregas  – €34m – still there after one year but getting fed up
  • Alex Song – €19m – five year contract signed 2012.

The Henry move to FCB regulsted in 80 games.  He was there for 3 years and the total cost to Barca was at the very least £35.8m.  I actually think it was more than this but that is the lowest figure quoted.  His goal account dropped to 0.43 per game. The cost to Barca was thus at least £447,000 per game, and considering that a number of these games were as sub, it doesn’t look like a great deal for them.  I doubt that it was that good for him either, although the bank balance would have looked good given Spain’s low level of tax for foreign players.

It is quite clear that the driving force in all of these transfers is Barcelona – they just keep doing it over and over again.  Cesc returning to Barcelona was as a result of the Barce club itself working for three years to get him back.

Remember all that stuff they churned out about Cesc being kidnapped by Arsenal?   The club was doing everything it could to get the young man “back home”.  The Catalan papers were running stories every day for about two years about how he was going back, how he had been spotted getting onto a plane etc etc.  Meanwhile the pro-Real Mad media were ramping up the story, laughing at how Barce couldn’t look after their own children.

Maybe it was that taunting that spurred them on.

Barce were not helped by the fact that just as they were losing the publicity war they were also losing the financial war.  They had that horror story of not paying their players on time one month, and then the crazy things with people saying “we are on an economy drive – I have banned my staff from doing colour photocopies.”

Barcelona have since cut their debt out of sheer necessity given the state of the local economy – but they achieved much of the most recent cut because they failed to win anything and so didn’t have to pay any player bonuses.   Had they won the league their bonus system would have kept their debt at the same level as before.

They can’t increase their income because they have maximised every possible outlet.  Even the shirt which was “sacred” has now got a sponsor’s logo on it.  Plus the financial crisis is so great in Spain that no bank wants to lend them any more money.

And to make matters so much worse for Barcelona Arsenal are still picking their young men off as and when we want.  Héctor Bellerin came for the standard £350,000 last year, as did Jon Toral.  In fact so screwed are things at Barcelona that we didn’t even have to get Ignasi Miquel from them, because after he spent 5 years at the La Masia academy he was released and went to play for UE Cornellà a club which plays in the fourth division in a home stadium which has a capacity of 1,500 spectators.

After so many expensive purchases from Arsenal surely Barcelona couldn’t have really wanted Fabregas for their squad.   Some argue that Barce were simply trying to exert their power in order to prove they could get their man just as Real Mad always got their man.  It is argued that Cesc was perceived as the man who would follow the footsteps of Xavi in Barcelona’s midfield.  But then they had Thiago Alcantara, so why bother?

Cesc Fabregas in 2006 signed an eight year contract with Arsenal.  Was it the sheer length of the deal that annoyed Barcelona?  Maybe. but the fee they played seems an awful lot for a player who hasn’t played a complete 90 minute game this season.  Against Real Mad last week he was, and oh how this must hurt, an unused substitute.

Fabregas joined Barcelona from Arsenal last summer for £30m deal, and looked happy at first, but less and less so as he realised he was playing in a team destined to come second in a two team league.  What’s more Tito Vilanova is not Pep Guardiola.

He did play in the 1-0 victory against Valencia.  In the live text commentary he got these comments:

25 minutes Fabregas chips the ball wide of goal from Messi’s pass. How did he miss that?

53 minutes  Fabregas lifts the ball over the bar from 12 yards out!

62 minutes Fabregas departs to be replaced by Iniesta. A disappointing night for the former Arsenal man.

So what has happened?  Is Arsenal hoodwinking Barce over and over again?  Maybe that is it, but then we have done it so often you’d think clubs and players would be aware now.   Did you know for example that Tottenham are still paying Bentley’s gloriously inflated salary, and that when they signed him  quite a chunk of the money that they paid to Blackburn went to Arsenal in the usual sell-on fee deal.  Even with such a modest talent Arsenal gain, others lose out.

So Cesc is 25, and should be approaching his peak.  But he isn’t.

Cesc’s first few months at Barcelona were probably everything he hoped they’d be: He won trophies, struck up a partnership with Lionel Messi and scored 15 goals.

But Fabregas struggled sometimes even under Guardiola last season.  He is no longer the focal point of the team, the player who can explore his talents as he wishes.  Barcelona’s game at the moment calls for discipline, focus and concentration within one position on the pitch.

The fact is that Barca didn’t need Cesc, because they have other players who can do the job he is best at.  Tres Iniesta, Xavi, Messi, Roberto  – why change that?

So the mystery remains.  Why did Barce buy him?  To annoy Arsenal?  Because they were taunted by Real Madrid?  Just to prove they could?  Because they forgot who else they had in the team?  Or was there something more mysterious?  Was he perhaps not quite as good as we thought, and Mr Wenger wanted to off-load him, but had to go through all the bit about not wanting him to go?

And then the question – with first option on Cesc if he does want to leave Barcelona again, would Arsenal want him back, knowing that he could be tempted away again by the next club making a huge fuss?  Would we play him?  Where would we play him and who would drop out?

Barcelona, after three games, are top of the league in Spain, and they are doing it largely without Cesc.

Makes you think.

————————————————————–

45 comments to What exactly is the thinking behind the transfer policy of Futbol Club Barcelona?

  • Amos

    Great Stuff. This is possibly the only Arsenal site, or certainly one of very few, capable of such a rational analysis of the club’s affairs and the environment it operates in.

  • Damien Luu

    I think they do it over and over again just to give their supporters something to brag about. You know, when you are in a two horse race, even if you win, there is not so much to brag.

    I just wonder how stupid the players could be. They fell to the trap one after another. Yes, they have talents, but how many other players also have? It is Arsene Wenger who makes them who and what they are, don’t they even know that?!

    But, what the heck, as long as Barca keep paying us big chunks of money, I won’t complain. 🙂 The AAA will, of course, but I just laugh at their face.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Another good article ,Tony .Barkalone -ah , continue to mystify me with their pursuit and purchases from us ,despite
    buying so many duds !Long may the “plunder “us !
    One more barren season and the bottom may really fall off .As for Cesc ,thanks ,but no thanks !
    As you mentioned Bently and having heard today that he ‘s off to Russia ,am hoping that we still be getting some money from said transfer !
    Squeezing blood from stone ?

  • GoonerPete

    “Was he perhaps not quite as good as we thought, and Mr Wenger wanted to off-load him, but had to go through all the bit about not wanting him to go?”

    Absolutely not, Cesc Fabregas is an amazing talent that is wasted at Barcelona due to their system and them putting a square peg in a round hole as it will.
    Of course Wenger didn’t want to lose him.

    We lost Cesc because
    a) He was the top assist leader in the whole of Europe at the time over the previous few seasons (yes, even more than that flat headed tw*t Xavi)
    b) They wanted to brag to their fans and the football world alike (my C**ks bigger than your c**k)
    c) They knew they could drive the price down with the ridiculous media campaign because they knew, being a young Catalan from their academy, that Cesc would only ever want to go back there to play with his friends.

    To now re-write history and suggest Wenger didn’t want him anymore is just wrong imo.

    I think Cesc realises he’s made a big mistake now.

    I, for one, would take him back in a heart beat, but I wouldn’t make him the teams heart beat. Arsenal will be much better off playing as a team collective rather than channelling everything through one star player.

  • createstrain

    did cesc ever say he wanted to end his career at arsenal?. maybe he’s waiting to see how we fair in may. Yes we might overtake manure and chelski hopefully but ffp may not curb the oily crawlers and that would mean joining a team that may have three in front as opposed to just the one. and lets not even start talking about wages, weather, family etc…
    but who knows.

    id have him back, as would wenger it would be silly not to if it came to that. but i would only play him in the centre if caz didnt mind shifting to the wing. cant see it happening ever, but what a story for history that would be, not to mention the line up.

    barca lite? more like the new younger version.

  • Neil Emery

    And now they’ve bought Song as well. What are the odds that his shirt number(25) will be higher than the number of appearances he makes this year?

  • goooner

    Hi tony,
    another great article. I did not know that we have 1st option on Cesc. Do you have a source?

  • GoonerPete, I don’t think that Tony was attempting to rewrite history. It was a light-hearted remark. We all know how much Wenger cherished Fabregas, and how much it hurt him when he left.

    The pattern of players leaving for Barcelona and then having an indifferent career is not because the players are not good, but because they flourish at Arsenal and not necessarily out of that environment. Hleb is the prime example. One of the most important components of the glorious 2007/08 team, he was utterly wasted at Barcelona, and soon regretted his move. We’ll never know of course, but I think it likely that he would have continued to play well for us for a few more years had he stayed.

    The problem is of course that of necessity Arsenal move on when a player leaves, and the team is structured differently now compared to two years ago when Fabregas left.

  • Jim

    My hats off. Great article. I don’t like (even hate) the pro-Wenger-at-all-cost stuff. But this article is exceptional.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    If you look at what Barca might have thought they were buying and what they actually got, the resulting mess is easy to understand.
    What they thought:
    Xavi Mk 2. Eight years first team experience at the highest level, still in his mid twenties. Familiar with the Xavi role from his days at the La Masia.

    What they bought:
    Cesc Fabregas Mk 1. Eight years first team experience as one of the first names on the team sheet in a radically different tactical system, really doesn’t have that much in common with Xavi.

    Barca have a very rigid team structure, and whilst Cesc is familiar with it (in a way that a player from another team wouldn’t be) he has spent his adult career playing an entirely different way. He was so devastating in the early months of his Barca career because he altered the way Barca played. Except that due to their inability to develop or buy any decent defenders, once the system broke down they started conceding too many goals. So the system was fixed, Fabregas became far less effective and he started trying too hard.

    The thing is, they do need to adapt and evolve their style of play, the top teams are getting very good at neutralising their offence because of it’s predictability.

  • Super Singh

    Apologies in advance, but I think Barcelona are a classless club. Seems that they have a god given right to behave the way they do. Some times It’s better the devil you know than the devil you don’t?
    So no sympathies to any player that wants an easy life at Barcelona, Fabregas could have been a legand.
    Btw I think the FFP rules is only the start of levelling the playing field, the rules like any law’s will be tweaked and tweaked again, might take five to ten years?

  • elkieno

    ‘Barca lite? Mote like younger version’. Isn’t that the same thing?
    I am Not saying we are or arent anything like them.
    I would take Cesc back in a heart beat too! Imagine out team with him in it? Dutch traitor would
    be spuen. Stranger things have happened in football that it’s not inconceivable I suppose. I think Cesc’s plan is to wait until Xavi retires then take over, he won’t give up yet. It would make him feel like he lost and failed. He is a competitor and won’t let this get him down. Although he did play with Arsenals first team since 16yo (I think) so might expect to start then fall out with manager etc.
    But if they sell him to a rich club for heaps then we get half dint we?
    Fine with me if outside of England otherwise no way!

  • “So the mystery remains. Why did Barce buy him?”

    No mystery, Tony.
    Michael Staley, 10.21 (second paragraph).

    Good post as always. Big thanks.

  • colario

    Don’t wish to spoil the party but if my memory serves me correct then there were 2 ex-Arsenal players in the Barca team that beat us in that final. I don’t know how many times they played for Barca but they have winners medal none of our players have one.
    Not withstanding a good article. Could it be that for the most part Arsenal players Barca’s then manager bought have turned out to be a mistake of the individual manager. All managers make mistakes when buying players.

    Cesc mentions on radio that he doesn’t like being on the bench. So whats knew? No player of ability wants to be on the bench.

    However there are those whose only hope of survival among the media is to take comments like the one Cesc made and make it into a mountain of ‘news’ which has no fabric.

  • Shakabula Gooner

    But Tony, it is not only with Barcelona that Wenger’s Arsenal is able to turn the tables on those who come for its key players. Real Madrid too bought Anelka at premium and then released unto his calling as the ultimate itenerant footballer.
    Man city took Adebayor away from us at premium and he became an Albatross on their neck.

    The key factors in favour of Arsenal are:

    1. Wengerball: because a player excels playing Wengerball in Arsenal doesn’t mean he will replicate the excellence instantly or consistently when he yanks himself off the Wengerball feed.

    2. Good timing/PR: Wenger has a way of bigging up old stars who have passed their zenith for top transfer dollar.

    3. Complimentarily, Wenger is less afraid than most coaches to give a younger player and a new playing system/personnel mix the chance to emerge. Thus, gracious departing stars never hesitate to say: Arsenal would manage fine without them and, consistently, it does. Of course, Wenger is among the best spotters and nurturers of raw talent ever to coach any football club.

    4. There are always lazy coaches with more money than sense wishing to buy our reputable players and there are enough players who for sundry reasons (namely: greed, greedy and more greed) are tempted to cash-in on their reputation playing or developing under Wenger.

    But alas, the down side is that the process has made Arsenal less stable as a football club than either the coach or the fans would have loved such that we are unable to consistently challenge for trophies for the entire duration of each season for the past 6-7seasons.

    Thus, while Arsenal ensures that it profits financially from the process, I believe it would have preferred to keep a number of the players for longer. That is, that it has ochestrated the sales with more convenient timing. To this end, the financial muscle of clubs willing to pay premium prices for players who look pretty playing Wengerball have been more a headache than a blessing to Arsenal…

  • Shakabula Gooner, a good analysis.

  • createstrain

    elkieno – i guess its open to interpretation. i’ve always found it used in a derogatory way as to suggest were not quite there in terms of quality regardless of the differences in tactics. maybe when jack is 100% and the team is familiar which each other we’ll be calling them Arsenal lite. age is on our side.

  • ARSENAL 13

    I wouldnt want Cesc back at ARSENAL. The main difference between Nasri and Cesc……Nasri opted for a rusted Iron sword BUT Cesc opted for a fine blade made of ice……

    Cesc has a bad attitude (Barca attitude). When things are not going as planned he is the worst player on the pitch. This season we are playing a more disciplined formation and Cesc would be a liability in such a formation. AND I dont think this new formation is worth tinkering with…..

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    Shakabula Gooner,
    It’s a self fulfilling prophecy though. Wengerball makes players look better in some ways than they might otherwise be.
    Mikel Arteta is a perfect example of this, his technical stats went from 50.8 passes per game at 86.9% success rate in his final season at Everton to 76.9 & 90.8% last season. A big part of that is having no weak links or at least disguising the weaknesses of some players. I imagine that can cause quite a shock when our former player turns up for his new team, starts spraying the ball around as he’s used to and finds either his team-mates misread or miscontrol his passes causing the team all sorts of defensive problems.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    Createstrain,
    Barca-lite is just a lazy way of saying “likes to keep the ball” for pundits and journalists. Swansea are Barca-lite, not us.
    We’ll keep the ball because we can but we don’t fetishise possession as they do. Xavi & Busquets, for all their quality wouldn’t get into this Arsenal side, Iniesta would have to slug it out with Cazorla for that spot.
    Dortmund-lite would be a better description but most people have never heard of the double winning multiple German champions…

  • Rob

    I always enjoy reading your posts Tony, with another well thought out one above, and yes you are right Tony, it does make you think… The only part where I believe you are perhaps a little wide of the mark, is the comment you made about Fabregas ‘was he perhaps not quite as good as we thought’.. Cesc Fabregas is a wonderfully gifted footballer, and had he stayed at Arsenal for his entire career (something that rarely happens in this modern era). I firmly believe he would have gone down as one of the greatest ever players to wear the red and white of Arsenal, maybe even the greatest of them all.. Where I do wholeheartedly agree with Tony, is the point you make about them being ‘taunted’ by Real Madrid, I believe this had a huge part to play in their dogged determination of getting their man, this coupled with the fact that Cesc was a boyhood fan, which made it easy for him to justify his departure on the pretence that he was returning ‘home’.. It’s a shame as I doubt Cesc will ever reach his full potential as a player at Barcelona, he would have achieved that if he had stayed at Arsenal. Also Tony in the list of Arsenal players you gave above who have left Arsenal for Barcelona, you failed to mention Emmanuel Petit, who left at the same time as Marc Overmars, he had a dreadful time at the Nou Camp making just 23 appearances for the club, and in his autobiography he devoted a whole chapter to his time at Barcelona, and revealed that their head coach at the time (Ferrer) didn’t even know what position he played in when he joined the club !!.. This startling revelation, just further confirms the article you wrote, and is strong evidence to support your claim that Barcelona have no real transfer policy whatsoever.

  • buj

    I don’t mean to crash on your hate party but as this site is listed on newsnow(dot)co(dot)uk I just have to read it, even though knowing full well it’ll be a one-sided piece.

    I am not a troll but for you guys to get a balanced view from both sides, I see the need to give a counter-argument.

    Have you guys ever thought your Arsenal players are not as highly talented (i.e. that good that they are guaranteed an automatic starter position in other teams)? Just because they are first-choice players in your team doesn’t make them one in any new teams they’ll move to later in their career. Jack Wilshere and that Oxlade kid are prime example. Arsenal fans place these as-yet-unproven players on a very high pedestal that it may have skewed their true talent-depth (when they choose to play with another team).

    Bear in mind that Arsenal, for years, have only been a top four EPL side. What that means to other clubs is that they have good players but are as yet unpolished to its fullest. If other clubs were to buy a Manchester United or Bayern Munich top player they know they’ll have to dish out more to get him, for that player is proven to be not just talented but also mentally tough, in other words, a proven title-winning player.

    Another argument that Barca, or any team, may use to answer this piece is this. Playing upwards of 60+ games a season (and that doesn’t include international matches for some), injuries and fatigue will hamper chances of securing titles, like last season. There is no better way than to have squad depth that’s brimming with talent to ensure consistency through out the season. And of course, competition for a starting, and subs, place can only be good for the team. It forces the player to prove his true worth, not something hyped up by the media or fans.

  • Persian gunner

    I would like to have cesc back at Arsenal
    We dont know if Mr Wenger is ready to spend that amount of money on him, or not?
    We don’t know even if there is any place left for him to play, by having Diaby on top form and Jack is coming back “as a leader”
    But, I would like him to be that “top top top” player Mr Wenger talked about
    As that would be the brightest message to the world: we are the club, that anybody regrets to leave!
    This is the picture that Cesc et all have distructed by their acts and comments these years!

  • DarthWenger

    Just to rub in some salt: Barce bought Emmanuel Petit for €14m (i think) and sold him after ONE season.

  • Doanythingformoney

    Has anyone ever considered that breaking up the Arsenal team-by taking their best players away- is the most effective way of keeping the lid on the Arsenal explosion. It just wouldn’t do for a club other than one owned lock stock by the Banking Elite to be winning everything–would it?

  • Persian gunner

    And I want to say
    Just imagine, if some of “our” players had mentioned this amount of anger and sadness about the team, how many of that so called “winner clubs” was now flirting with him by their comments!

    Remember Cesc and the dutch traitor?!
    Honestly, I would now enjoy hearing a player like TV5 or Sanga inviting Cesc back to his “home club”
    Even if he doesn’t, that would be fun!

  • buj

    Correction…It should have been “Have you guys ever thought your Arsenal players are not as ‘highly’ talented as you make them to be.”

    Yes, they are talented. But automatic first choice player for another team? They’ll have to fight for places just like any other player trying to break into a well established team.

    I’m sure you guys can see Cesc gets frustrated too easily. Missed one or two chances, he gets panicky. He needs to keep his focus better when facing adversity, a trait players like Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi and Villa have. They may miss sitters,lose a match or title, and be mad and sad about that, but what separates them from most is their determination to overturn that outcome the next chance they get to do it. And to do that they keep their calm, admit and learn from their mistake.

    Cesc, to me, is like Messi. He has the ability to drag defenders with his penetrating runs. He’s a lot more dangerous than Xavi when pushing forward, which the latter seldom do. He is a known goal-scoring player that not tracking his runs is suicidal for the opposition, thus he plays an important role different from what Xavi provides. For most Barca fans Thiago Alcantara, and more so the up-coming Sergi Roberto, are more Xavi-like players.

    Cesc will come good in the end just like Thierry Henry did with the Treble in his second season, I’m sure. What he doesn’t need to do is sulk like what Helb did. Helb didn’t even make an effort to learn the language, something Cesc has no problem with.

  • Johny

    “Barcelona, after three games, are top of the league in Spain, and they are doing it largely without Cesc.”

    Litte correction: Cesc started all 3 league games. Don’t let the truth come in the way of a nice story, eh.

  • Well Johny you see, if you look at it, what I actually said was that he was “a player who hasn’t played a complete 90 minute game this season.” That clause, combined with the short extracts from the text commentary I quoted, defines what I meant with “largely without”.

  • Stuart

    Someone asked for proof that Arsenal have a buy back option on Fabregas. Here are a couple of links, although not really conclusive, it is out there in the general market now:-

    http://www.mirrorfootball.co.uk/transfer-news/Arsenal-have-first-option-buy-Cesc-Fabregas-back-from-Barcelona-and-will-get-half-of-fee-if-he-moves-elsewhere-exclusive-story-article785934.html

    http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/344216/Cesc-Fabregas-to-return-to-Arsenal-

    Repeating what was mentioned above, I feel we couldn’t play to suit Fabregas this time around but I think the best thing if Fabregas were to come back is that it would stop the exodus of players instantly as proof that the grass is not greener.

  • Stuart

    Stange that I went into moderation

  • robl

    Regarding the question why Barca buy our players, the Barcelona presidential elections and associated posturing can never be ruled out – like politicians they will promise top players like Fab, Henry, Overmars/Petit just to get elected, regardless of whether the team needs them or not.

  • Stuart

    I’m in agreement with a few of the posters above in that what makes a player at Arsenal is not that they are necessarily a great player, it is more their ability to be disciplined and play the system we have. Believe it or not, the Arsenal style of play is not as freely creative as people would have you believe. The players are required to play the way Wenger tells them to play. When they play this system effectively, it makes them look good. Of course there will be exceptions to the rule where one of our players has exceptional individual flair and talent but most of the time it is the team fit.

  • team barca

    I can sence arseno fans were waiting for Cesc to complain and take out six seasons’ worth of frustration on barca,well we’ll see what you losers write after barca win the league and you see your ex-captain smile again.visca barca

  • team barca

    Admit it,Arsenal is no longer “world class” and have become losers,goodness what happened to you.Henry knew barca garanteed him a CL medal and Cesc,Song & Na$ri knew they weren’t winning the league anytime soon at arseno. Win something then you can start to question why other teams “snatch” your best players!

  • bob

    Tony,
    By way of critical commentary, here’s a few more untold mysteries to consider:

    What I find mysterious is why you don’t mention your last view that we are selling to Barfa to drive them toward bankruptcy.

    Now’s the mystery of our alleged misperception: that the Cesc we saw play at Arsenal was really not as good as we then thought and acclaimed.

    There’s also the mystery of the money we “reaped” in the final discount sale. In this piece, it’s that Arsene, seeing Cesc’s impending decline, really intended to dump him (at some unspecified moment during the 8 year contract), so it was really a shrewd piece of business to get him for far below market value? And Darren Damien Dein is really our secret agent by getting good money into AFC coffers for the sell off of damaged goods? Well, this mystery certainly thickens.

    And, for another mystery: that of the untold role of the Qatar Foundation – whose name adorns their jersey. Are they somehow keeping Barfa afloat? This is an x-factor that needs to be analyzed to provide a full picture. It at least ought to be acknowledged, not selectively omitted. (Maybe their role is to provide that unaffordable photo-copy machine which you often cite as proof of their bankrupt state, which I do appreciate.)

    To now argue that losing Cesc is (and has been part and parcel of a truly wondrous business strategy – and, by implication, that this is the final criteria for judging the impact of his loss on our side – is, imo, most Orwellian. Is it now time to add “Loss is Victory” to “Weakness is Strength” and the rest of Big Brother’s slogans?

    Curiouser and curiouser, said Alice.

  • bob

    p.s. sorry, meant to write “to get him out for far below market value” [not “get him for…”]

  • Stuart

    ha ha, says team barca who are falling far behind in a two horse race.

  • rantetta

    I love it.

  • americangooner

    its quite ridiculous for barca to think that cesc will be a better player at barcelona. there was no sense for barca to buy cesc when xavi, like a dracula, is willing and able to play at barcelona for 1000 years. were they trying to push xavi harder by bringing in some competetion? were they trying to try something ridiculous by playing two AMF? Or were they trying to say to cesc “Hey look, you’ve been playing as hard as a farmer from a third world country, come earn like a stay-at-home dad while warming our bench.” i genuinely think that its the last one. Fabregas would have been an arsenal legend but BARCELONA bought it.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Team barca: what happened?

    Well if you would have been looking a bit further than your own short nose you would have noticed that:
    1. Arsenal has built a new stadium all by ourselves
    2. Arsenal is a club with the only debt we have is from building the stadium
    3. Arsenal is a club that is living within its means, if we have 100£ we will not go out and spend 200£.
    4. Our board are behaving like careful and good fathers and mothers do for their child(Arsenal) in order to be sure that this club will be in a good financial state not just now but for the next 10 – 20 – 30 -50 years
    5. Our club is acting responsible in what we spend, what we buy and how we behave on and off the field. With class and respect for other teams. No press supported campaigns to turn players their heads to our team.
    6. Our club is the main victim of the insanity of clubs like Chelsea and City who can pay anything they want without making money. We have chosen another way. The way of making our own money in an honest way.

    I could go on for a while but if you didn’t understand it before, this might be too difficult for you also.

    I once felt a bit of sympathy for Barcelona (puke) but believe me the way they have behaved the last years and seasons has brought me that far that I was actually celebrating with Madrid when they won La Liga last season. And before Barcelona became what they became the persons I hated most are Diving CR and the Special One.

    What has become of your nice club I could ask? Arsenal has remained the same but we are hit hard by the oil barons who will beat even Barcelona if Uefa en Fifa let them do their thing.
    As said we are loyal to what we have been doing for a long time and which I explained. Barcelona has lost its soul as far as I can see. So maybe the question could be: what happened to Barcelona?

  • WalterBroeckx

    And finally if you say: but we win things. I say one word: Messi.
    Messi will not play for ever you know. Enjoy it, this is a once in a life time thing. Once he is old or gets a serious injury….then you will be turning to Arsenal once again I think.
    Football goes in cycles : good periods – bad periods. You are in a good period but if there is one thing for sure in football: nothing lasts forever. Once the good times are over.

  • Bon

    If you are Asernal fan where wining trophies is not 1st priority, It’s difficult to understand. In Spain, Barca and Real have to try to be ahead of each other, nothing else matters. Remember Real got interested in Fab as well whether they were playing mind games so that Barca can pay more or not I dont know but the two do that to each other. The case of Neymar is good example, remember Berckam before leaving Man U, both spanish clubs were interested. The big clubs which include Chelsea, Manchester City, Barca and Real have more than one good player for each position because they want trophies. Prove me wrong, all these clubs have frustrated players. Ask Sahin, Vander Vart, Snyder, Kaka what happened? When you join Real or Barca you have to perform or prepare to warm the bench. But again these clubs will not wait until Xavi retires to look for a replacement because they want continuity. They do this even to their coaches who fail to deliver. Their fans love it too. They dont want to lose out when the best players are available. Watch Real and see who will be next to be frustrated with the comming of Modric. It’s better to have him than him joining your opponent.

  • Rob

    @ Buj, I think you make a fair point, but I don’t think that Tony’s article (or the majority of replies) are what you term a “hate party” and I also think you’ve completely missed the real point of Tony’s post.. The subject of this thread was to question the transfer policy of FC Barcelona (FCB), and to look at how it has impacted Arsenal (AFC)… Over the past 10 years many of what can be termed as AFC’s ‘better’ players have moved on to FCB, but how many of them have been ‘value for money’ to FCB ?… In my opinion the only player that FCB have perhaps had any real payback from was Giovanni Van Bronkhorst who moved to FCB from AFC in 2003, all the others (Hleb,Henry,Petit,Overmars) have not been good purchases for them, which brings into question, why did FCB buy them in the first place ?… If current reports in the media are to be believed then is would appear that Cesc Fabregas (with his Barca DNA)is getting frustrated at the lack of playing time, and based on the previous history of other AFC players who have made the switch to FCB in recent years, it doesn’t look very promising for him… Time will tell but I’m sure the same thing is going to happen to Alex Song. It’s a well known fact that FCB are having financial difficulties, in fact Spain as a Country is broke.. FCB maybe the ‘best team’ in the World today, but I firmly believe their irresponsible spending and a total lack of any meaningful transfer policy (to which the AFC players purchased by FCB in recent years are quite conclusive evidence of) will lead to FCB’s final downfall. I wonder how many of these ‘super clubs’ whose spending on players is out of control, will still be around in 10 years time ?…Perhaps the Finanacial Fair Play rules that FIFA are introducing, could turn out to be the saviour of clubs like FCB… Personally, I’m glad I support Arsenal FC as I think our ‘long term’ future looks a lot more healthy than the likes of Futbol Club Barcelona.

  • buj

    I’ll admit using the word ‘hate’ after reading most of the comments here is excessive but ad hominem attacks on Barca are so prevalent these days a piece titled as such is bound to distort the truth of Barca’s intentions for buying Cesc, that paints the club as a predator out to consume everything it can to the the detriment of its own existence. To me this is more a ‘You throw enough shit at the wall, some of it is bound to stick’ campaign, and as such I feel the need to give a counter-argument to each one of yours.

    1) While I’m sure Barca (and now a lot of EPL clubs) see Arsenal as a stepping-stone club (no disrespect intended here) for many players due to their own self-imposed financial constraints (salary-cap), I doubt their sole intention is out to deplete Arsenal of its core players. The history of Arsenal players moving to Barca spans a 15-year period. A very long time considering only 7 players are involved, two of whom whose verdict are still pending. In that time about two dozen La Masia graduates made the step-up, and almost the same number came from other clubs, namely from South America and former Ajax graduates. In fact half of those Arsenal players bought by Barca were former Ajax players who had plied their trade with Arsenal, and we know the reason why – total football philosophy.

    Of the names you put forward as flops for Barca, only Helb and Petit are true. The former did not put in any effort to assimilate with his new teammates (that do happens with a small number of transfers for any club – which is always a gamble anyway), and the latter is a good skillful player but injury-prone (the same can be said of Ibrahim Afellay). Every club has to weigh-in whether to keep them, wait until they are fit, and in that time use up a limited number of squad slot, or let them go and give that slot to someone inexperienced but available. The rest – Henry and van Bronckhorst won one UCL each, while Overmars, was a massive player for Barca, unluckily missing out on the Double in 2004-05 having been advised to retire early due to injury.

    2) As for your argument that Barca is representative of the financial malaise that happens to the country now, the club is reducing its debt as we are speaking, with a predicted 39m profit at the end of their fiscal year. Not bad considering they are making money while winning trophies along the way. Of course there are hiccups in that time but more than half a decade now they are at the pinnacle of world football, and you know how that exposure can translate to better sponsorships, TV deals so on and so forth.

    Now think what Arsenal can do with winning trophies – new fan base, new and better sponsorships, bigger recognition worldwide etc. As it is now, they are running on fumes. They need to make more investments in the one business they are in, and that’s football, not real estate. Use whatever they make in procuring quality albeit expensive players, not use it to line the pockets of the club’s shareholders. As you said ‘Healthy’ yes, but is it worth it without ‘Glory’? Is Arsenal a football club or is it a PLC?