Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Milan's new number 80

They really ought install a revolving door at the Camp Nou. In the past week one of the finest players ever to wear the blaugrana shirt has been given the heave ho, Arsenal lay about Alex Hleb has passed him the way in and today it was announced that rabid Catalan nationalist and ropey defender Oleguer has left the club to sign for Ajax (where he will link up with another ex-blaugrana, Gabri). Also, Palmerias defender Henrique has signed for the club, only to be shipped out immediately on loan to Leverkusen in the Bundesliga.

Crikey as James Richardson would say. Of course 'dinho's departure is far and away the biggest news. His departure, along with that of Deco to Chelsea and Ludovic Giuly last season to AS Roma, means that Samuel Eto'o is the only member of that incredible front four (and it was a front four, Deco's role was easily as important as the three that played ahead of him) who remains at the Camp Nou. I've waxed about 'dinho before so I shan't rehash the same old shit again. The short of it is that when he was on point he was quite simply incredible. We will probably never see his like again.

Moving on to the signing of Alex Hleb from Arsenal *sigh* I don't know about this at all. Certainly he's very talented, a superb passer of the ball and pretty tricky but christ if he doesn't faff about a lot, rarely shooting when given the chance and not really offering anything different to Xavi and Iniesta. I suppose he can play out wide upfront but surely the prefered forward line for next season is Henry, Eto'o (if he stays) and Messi. I don't think he's any addition but until the pre-season starts and we begin to get an idea of how the team will line out, it's hard to judge where he'll fit in.

Catalunya is not Spain

I was a little suprised to read about Oleguer joining Ajax today. It would seem that Ajax have been transformed from the club that produced players like Marc Overmars, Jan Wouters, Johan Cruyff, Denis Bergkamp and current coach Marco van Basten. Now they buy up muckers like Urzaiz, Albert Luque, Dennis Rommedahl and now, Oleguer. Joining for a fee of €3 million, with another 2.25 million linked to appearences, he has yet to agree terms or have a medical (watch that finger!) but the blaugrana wouldn't splash this on their website were it not going ahead.

Like Phil Babb to Carles Puyol's Paul McGrath, Oleguer always looked better alongside the captain than he really was. Dodgy both at centreback and out on the right, were it not for the fact he was a local and such a vocal Catalan nationalist, I think he would have been shipped a long time ago. He's hardly featured in the past two seasons since Gianluca Zambrotta was signed and with Dani Alves joining from Sevilla, he was unlikely to enjoy a renaissance this time around. He'll probably do alright at Ajax given that he'll be facing hopeless forwards week in, week out in the Eredivise and the fact that (yet again) the Amsterdam side have missed out on the Champions League.

Also worth a mention, though he won't be pitching up until the 09/10 season is Palmeiras defender, Henrique, who arrives for a medical today. His fee is €8 million. I know absolutely nothing about this guy, only that he won the Sao Paolo State Championship with Palmeiras this season and that Ajax were in for him too (because like I mentioned, Ajax don't seem to grow players anymore, they just buy them in).

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