Friday, June 01, 2007

Barca news round-up: good news and bad news

So, good news first. Ronaldinho's had his two-match ban reduced to one, which means he could appear in Barca's last game of the season against 'Nastic.

Moving on to some transfer news, which is either good or bad depending on your perspective, everyone and their dog wants to leave. Edmilson has reportedly issued a come-and-get-me to AC Milan, and Belletti has done the same to anyone who would listen, both citing a lack of playing time. (Have to say, I'm a bit puzzled in Edmilson's case, as he's either been injured or horribly off form this season, with the honourable exception of the last few matches.) Added to other pretty much certain departures like Ezquerro and Saviola, Barca probably need to get a move on in the transfer market in terms of purchases.

Eto'o and Ronaldinho have also been linked with moves incessantly this season, but it's hard for me to see either of them going. Perhaps my judgement of tabloid gossip is biased because of my desire to see the awesome frontline of Messi-Eto'o-Ronnie playing together for at least a couple more seasons, but I have yet to see a rumour with some proper evidence backing it.

There is some concrete evidence that the long-rumoured Eric Abidal move may finally be on, that is if Barca can agree on a price with Lyon. If we're going to buy an expensive full-back I'd much rather have Dani Alves, but apparently the price that Sevilla want for him is pretty astronomical.

Two pieces of bad news. The first concerns the timing of the game this weekend. In their infinite wisdom, the Spanish FA have decided to play almost all the games at the same time, to avoid accusations of match fixing and so on. While this is no doubt a good idea, the time they have chosen is Saturday night. The internationals only get back to their clubs on Thursday. You may begin to see where the problem is for the club with the most internationals on duty. Barca may be the most affected club, but Sevilla and Real also have a considerable portion of their first team away doing the same thing, and I doubt they're happy about it.

Now, so far all the news items I've mentioned will only have short to medium term impact. This next bit of bad news, however, is going to haunt Barca for years to come. You ready?

Barca B have been relegated to the Spanish fourth division. First of all, I have to say that I don't understand how this happened, given the fact that they have some very decent players.

Second, this is absolutely awful news for Barca's youth development program, which has been very successful over the years but is increasingly losing the talent they unearth to other teams more ready to offer these young players first team opportunities. (E.g. Cesc Fabregas, Gerard Pique and so on.)

But it has happened, so the club has to deal with it. The plan right now seems to be sorting through the players and sending the bulk of the decent ones off on loan where they'd be playing at a slightly higher level than that of the Spanish fourth division, to be bought back if and when the rest of Barca B claw themselves back up. The two stars of the team Giovani Dos Santos (18) and Bojan Krkic (16) will probably be integrated into the first team squad next season despite their youth, as they are both very talented and the club doesn't want to lose them.

The likes of Xavi, Puyol and Luis Garcia (the Liverpool player, not the Espanyol forward) once made up an excellent Barca B team which won promotion to the Spanish second division back in the 90s. Ah, how the mighty have fallen.

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