For the first time since 2008 things are not looking positive. A feeling of uncertainty has crept to the hearts and minds of many cules. The much-needed stability is fading away bit by bit. Tactical matters aside, Rosell and co. are unintentionally dragging the club into controversy, which will eventually affect the team’s performance on the pitch. Running a club of Barcelona’s stature is never easy, and gaining everybody’s contentment is almost impossible, but when voices of concern reach unprecedented heights then surely something wrong is happening.
Tito Vilanova is once again expected to be absent from our first four league games, while Thiago’s mishandling led to his departure to Bayern Munich. Meanwhile, Rosell is tinkering in the statutes to change the number of needed votes it would take to have him removed from office, while Lionel Messi faces tax problems.
The failure to capture a reliable defender is yet another problem facing Barcelona, and Abidal’s mistreatment led to release and a move to Ligue 1 side AS Monaco. Looking into the future, Eusebio’s Barca B are facing problems and a decline their performance, while star striker Gerard Deulofeu will surely be mishandled by the club in the future.
The list of problems facing Barcelona, both in the present and in the future, goes on and on. Things are definitely not looking as rosy as they were couple of years ago, and the dominance of the La Liga Champions may be slowly fading away.
Thiago Alcantara is a La Masia graduate. The son of Mazinho awed all cules as he made his way to the first team. La Masia graduatess importance to Barcelona’s way of playing is something indubitable, due to the fact that they start grasping this philosophy from day one.
When Pere Guardiola sat with Rosell, Zubizaretta, Mazinho, and Thiago to discuss the latter’s contract last year, Pep’s clever brother insisted on including a section in the contract that clearly states that Thiago’s release clause would decrease from 90 million to just 18 million Euros if he was not played in a minimum of 30 minutes in at least 60% of Barcelona’s games. When asked about this issue, Jordi Roura said:
“It is not the coaching staff’s job to know about such clauses in player’s contracts, we only decide who plays based on sporting reasons.”
If that is the case, then whose job is it to be aware of such clauses? Zubizaretta’s? If he knew but did not inform the coaching staff then it is a disaster, and if he informed the coaching staff but they did not act accordingly to solve this problem, then it’s a bigger disaster.
Either way, the club put itself in a critical situation. One might argue that Thiago was not played frequently because Xavi’s presence is more influential in big games such as Milan, PSG, and Bayern’s matches. But didn’t Barcelona have a 15 point advantage in La Liga since December 2012? Thiago surely deserved to play on merit of his qualities, let alone to rotate the squad and avoid fatigue.
Whatever the reasons, and whatever the outcome, this clearly is a massive administrative and technical blunder that could have been avoided. A manager should possess good management skills in addition to being a good tactician, and Thiago’s case shows that Tito is severely lacking in the management department. Either someone is insincere, or there is an apparent lack of communication between the board, its staff members, and the players regarding contract extensions.
Zubizaretta should have been informed that Alberto Aquilani was not played in the last several games of the 2011-12 season with AC Milan in order not to activate the clause that obliges the Serie A side to buy him. This is how such clauses are handled.
Although this whole situation is the club’s responsibility, Thiago should have been more attached to the crest and colors of the club. He is only 22; Xavi and Iniesta were patient before becoming first choice Barca players. What differentiates this Barcelona generation of players from other players is that they are attached to the club; they are not mercenaries following financial gain or a personal glory.
They eat, drink, live, and breathe Barcelona. What makes Thiago think he is better than this? It’s only fair to assume that Thiago is seeking a move abroad in order to gain more minutes on the pitches before Del Bosque makes his mind about who he will be taking to Brazil next summer. But is that really the case?
It’s official now, Bayern and Barcelona agreed on a 25 million deal that sees Thiago ply his trade at the Allianz Arena. Earlier this month Cruyff clearly said:
“Thiago should be careful in making his choice. If Barcelona can guarantee him more playing time then he should stay, if not then he should leave. It is as simple as that.”
So was Thiago really considering staying? Was the allure of playing under Guardiola’s management more appealing than anything Barca can guarantee? Was Thiago more of a mercenary than a Blaugrana faithful? Before Thiago’s imminent transfer, Gerard Piqué also had an opinion concerning this matter:
“There is a possibility that he could leave but we have to convince him that the best place for him is Barcelona. Players in his position, like Xavi, were patient and they ended up defining an era.”
It should be noted that Xavi had nobody in his way, except incompetent managers, while Thiago at 22 could’ve realistically only truly become a Barca fixture after at least two more season. But is the alternative much better?
Bayern Munich are coming out of the most successful season in the club’s history. Having won an unprecedented treble, with a midfield which was second to none, not only in Germany, but in the entire European continent. So altering an already majestic midfield would be an act of foolishness, and Thiago’s World Cup aspirations surely are not one of Pep’s concerns in the upcoming campaign. So If Thiago doesn’t adapt instantly to the German style of play there is a big chance he won’t be a regular starter. Thus being in a situation close to the one he was in at Barcelona.
In addition to that, Bayern already have an abundance of talent when it comes to the middle of the field. Martinez, Kroos, Schweinsteiger, Gustavo, Gotze, and Emre Can all can play in Thiago’s position. Even with a proper rotation he would not end up playing a sufficient number of minutes to enable him to surpass Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Cesc, and Alonso in the national team.
So unlike what many think, staying at Barcelona might have boosted his national team chances more than moving abroad. By looking at Vicente Del Bosque’s squads ever since he took over the national team, it is quite obvious that the vast majority of his selections are players from Barcelona and Real Madrid.
At Barcelona, Thiago’s quality was known, he show cased his skills since day one, and every single one in Barcelona was convinced that he was going to reach great heights in the near future, that’s why he would have been able to build a connection with Spanish players at Barcelona, which will positively affect the national team and support his cause of representing La Roja.
Currently, Thiago is a Bayern Munich player, but he would have been smart to carefully assess things and avoid making a hasty decision. An excellent player would have always shined no matter which colors he is wearing, and how many minutes he is getting.
Although he is concerned with the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, his move to Bayern doesn’t guarantee regular starts and successive success. As for Barcelona, it’s a case of you don’t know what you got until it’s gone, and now, it is officially gone.
Written by Hassan Chakroun