Wednesday, May 28, 2008

When it's over

All week I've been meaning to get into the end of season review but perhaps suffering from the same malaise that has enveloped the Camp Nou, it just wasn't happening. Mostly I didn't particularly feel like re-examining the car crash that was the 07/08 season, saying the same things I've said all year. That and there wasn't really anything new to report.

Well there's plenty to deal with now; two new signings, injury magnet Edmilson has left for the yellow submarines, Zambrotta is on his way to Milan and Gio is seemingly out the do' to Tottenham. So let's get to it shall we?


I gotta say I'm very happy with Barça's first two signings of the closed season. Neither is a flashy forward, a ropey full-back or a fancy Dan midfielder. No, both Keita and Pique are solid, consistent players who will be a real addition to the side.

Keita has been excellent in a Sevilla team that has had an awful lot to deal with (Antonio Puerta's death, Juande Ramos' leaving, the Dani Alves saga) and is a more than capable replacement for the permanently crocked Edmilson, who's off to Villarreal to share stories of horrific knee injuries with Robert Pires and Nihat. Edmilson is a decent player but got injured at the drop of a hat (or as a result of being hit by said hat). He won't be missed.

As for Gerard Pique, he's coming home, he's com-ing, Pique's coming home... and he's a very welcome addition to a defense that shipped gols last season like it was going out of fashion. Limited in his appearances at Old Trafford thanks to the form of Vidic and Ferdinand, the best index of Pique's ability was his season on loan at Saragossa where he played alongside Gaby Miltio. They were a super pairing and when Gaby recovers from his knee-op I'd expect to see the two of them as the first choice central defense for the blaugrana with Charly Puyol moving out to the right, a spot soon to be vacated by Gianluca Zambrotta, who seems ever closer to AC Milan.

According to Adriano Galliani the sides are "£1.5 million" away in their valuations of the Azzurri defender, something that I imagine will be resolved by the time the European Championships start next week. I'm a massive fan of Zambrotta but he was never particularly keen on signing for Barcelona in the first place (AC Milan tried to buy him when Juve were relegated but the bianconeri didn't want to sell him to another Italian club so he ended up at the Camp Nou) so to see him return to the peninsula is no great surprise.

Next up on Txiki Beguiristáin's list is former Barça forward Sergio Garcia, currently licking his wounds after Saragossa's fall from grace into the Segunda. I've seen a fair bit of Garcia and despite his recent call up to the Spanish squad for Euro 2008 (in place of Bojan), I don't rate him very highly at all. He didn't make a great deal of headway behind Diego Milito or Ewerthon (and this season Ricardo Olivera) and is hardly of the quality needed to replace either Ronaldinho or Samuel Eto'o should they leave. And then of course they're Dani Alves.

Barça and Sevilla are miles away at the moment on agreeing a price for Alves. Del Nido, who dug his heels in last season when Chelsea came in with a bid for £25 million, is not going to let him leave on the cheap. Expect this to run and run.

Get aut of it!

Still on transfer news ('cause there's nothing else goin' on), Deco has been given permission to "speak to other clubs." This is really disappointing. Barcelona are a different team when Deco plays, he's tough as nails and a fabulous passer of the ball. He's more direct and gutsy than Xavi or Iniesta and nasty when he needs to be. His signing from FC Porto was every bit as important as those of Ludovic Giuly and Samuel Eto'o in Barça's regaining La Liga and ultimately lifting the European Cup for a second time. I can't think of any player at the club who brings what he does to the midfield. Marc Crosas certainly won't be pulling on his number twenty shirt. *sigh* I just hope he doesn't go to Chelsea.

Someone who maybe on their way to Landan taawn though is Gio Dos Santos. Our friends at Sky Sports are reporting that he's on his way to Tottenham for about £11 million. For that much they can have him yo. And finally, ageless left-back Sylvinho looks like agreeing a new one year contract. Let's hope Abidal can both stay fit and stop making such stupid mistakes because I don't fancy seeing Sylvio Mendes Campos Junior huffing and puffing up and down the left wing too often next time out.

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