With the addition of only two players, I believe Barcelona could finally put to rest the debate that has been going around (and even graced the cover of Newsweek) of whether they are the best team ever. The two additions, with one or two more for the subs bench (I would personally keep Bojan), are both defenders, but absolutely dynamic ones and they would help Barca immeasurably to become as close to perfect as a football team can become.
Fábio Coentrão from Benfica would finally deliver the full attacking potential from Left Back that Barca have only flirted with with the players at their disposal, while his addition and the width it would create will push Villa slightly more inward toward a more, natural central position. Villa would still have space to cut in with his left foot but he wouldn’t be so far left as to be in no man’s land essentially, where he has found himself for most of the season and that has made his game a lot more predictable than it ought to be.
Messi will of course resume his incredibly successful false nine role, linking up with Xavi and Iniesta and helping to maintain position, but with Villa playing a little more centrally, the Argentinean would be even more potent with his little slide-rule passes that should find Villa in the space where he is likely to do more damage. As Villa has unselfishly shown all season, he wouldn’t be in Messi’s way if the latter partakes in his mazy dribbles towards the goal area, even if the Spaniard was more centrally placed. As we know, Villa can play wide left, and will still help out Coentrão on that side if defensive cover is needed, but having him stationed too wide, as if that is his nominal position, became a weakness for Barca later on in the season, especially as fatigue became a factor and Villa couldn’t move centrally quick enough, or beat the one or two players he’d need to from his position as effectively as he had earlier in the season. That’s why Guardiola alternated him in a right-wing/central position in the final. Villa looked far more dangerous. For me Villa remains a fundamental cog in the machine of Barca because of his work ethic and team spirit, and would definitely remain in Barca if you wanted a fantasy Barca XI. For me he is even more fundamental than Eto’o was, even if his job has been more difficult and thankless due to Messi’s full transition to a central role.
Thiago Silva would be perfect for Barca because he can patrol one or two players’ zones almost on his own, and the cover he provides would give the full back on his side far more peace of mind when they bomb forward, as they would for most of the game. He is a high intensity player and would relish this almost unfair amount of responsibility tasked on him. Of course, he would have two immense players in Busquets and Pique to sweep along with at the back. Busquets in particular might have to play slightly deeper so that he becomes part of what would look like a de facto back three at most times, but that could also help him because he would be even more difficult to mark by the trequartistas in the 4-2-3-1’s that opposing teams would inevitably have to play against Barca to mark him.
People keep talking about Guiseppe Rossi and Alexis Sanchez as the players Barca would require to become even more formidable, but for my money, these defenders, who just so happen to be out there and probably in their prime at the moment when Barca are flirting with this “Best Of All Time” mantle, would be perfect compliments to this difficult-to-assimilate-to system.
I’d reckon you’d get Silva for about €50 million from AC Milan, and that would almost be a bargain for a player that Goal.com has called the best defender since Franco Baresi, whereas Coentrão would cost maybe half that and I believe would prefer to play for Barca rather than Real Madrid, who are targeting him at the moment. Perhaps Bojan might have to be sold after all. My belief is that Madrid, despite having the ever-improving Marcelo in their squad, are only going after Coentrão to keep him out of Barca’s hands, because Mourinho knows what it would mean if Barca actually caught a clue and went out for Coentrão. Alves and Coentrão in the same team would be an impossible nightmare for most teams to cope with, before even thinking about the Messi/Iniesta/Xavia triumvirate.
These two players would ensure that the Catalans finally have the players to fulfil Gaurdiola’s vision to its absolute completion.
nvrSubmit button stuck?
RavenbarberSo sorry for the multiple entries of the same topic. Completely thought my postings weren't being submitted. Any ideas on how to delete the superfluous entries? Would really appreciate the assist.
nvrDon't know. I don't think you can delete anything on this site.
Back to topic, I guess you are right about Barca getting a new left back. They had some problems last year with that spot when injury and illness struck.
I can't see them dishing out EUR 50M for a defender.
ars4nalI agree, I can understand Barca might want another striker and midfielder (Rossi and Fabregas) for depth, but when they have known financial issues, I think they need to concentrate more on suring up the defence, whose failings are often masked by the brilliance of the midfield who keep the ball for so long the opponents often haven't got enough possession to create many chances.
With a budget, I would agree with your idea then, although I agree with nvr that Thiago Silva would seem very ambitious a target.
If this was an entirely hypotheical money-is-no-object scenario, then I would also replace Pedro with someone like Rossi or Aguero.
Hi all, and thanks for your comments so far. My hypothesis rests on if Barca were really seriously intent on continuing to be the best. Their top competition will come from Real Madrid again, and we know what their strategy is gonna be: get two players for every position so that when fatigue inevitably catches up with Barca’s bunch of players, we are poised to take advantage. The main reason I believe Real Madrid closed the gap on Barcelona towards the end of the season was because of fatigue. It is actually quite miraculous that none of Pep’s main men were injured for any lengthy period of time, with the exception of Puyol, considering that most of these guys had represented Spain in the World Cup and the Confederations Cup (the previous year) in South Africa (where I’m from),
Anyways, I think the Barca board expects Pep to continue to perform miracles with a minimum budget. I am not qualified to really speak on the issue, as I don’t have all of the info, but that is tantamount to exploitation. No wonder people continue to talk about Pep’d deteriorating physical state.
If Barca wanted to improve, tangibly, they have two players out there that would ensure they would and all they have to do is go and get them, if they really wanted to. I think Pep is the opposite of Wenger: willing to spend, but not really allowed to. All I wanted to portray with my team selection is to prove that for Barca to achieve perfection, theoretically speaking of course, where there are no weak spots at all in the team, doesn’t actually require that much. With the additions I spoke of, I believe Barca would actually achieve that rarest of thing: they could actually become invincible, unstoppable, and without question the best ever.
ars4nalPep has been allowed to spend 40 odd million on Villa, 25 on Alves and 40 + Eto'o for Ibrahimovic, so he hasn't been totally hamstrung
Of course you're right, ars4nal. But there's no question that he doesn't have the nearly unlimited kitty of Mourinho, and I'm convinced the Portuguese is buying Coentrão purely to keep him out of the hands of Guardiola. The latter usually has money for one class player, with one or two being brought in to pluck the gaps.
I'm surprised that so many mistook Pep's statement at around the El Clasico nastiness about Mourinho being only a trophy winning coach as jealousy, erratic or something akin. Mourinho wins his trophies, cements his legend but then moves the fuck on, neglecting to leave a lasting legacy. For instance, he has one of Spain’s brightest prospects in Sergio Canalez at his disposal, who is just right for the picking to be turned into a false nine, being adaptable and young etc., but Mourinho only likes completed players, bought at great expense.
If only Guardiola could splash a bit, then we could have our football wet dream (or my wet dream, at least) of a perfect football side, without any weaknesses, materialising. It’s only a fantasy, but as my diagram shows, you only need two players for the final two pieces of the jigsaw falling into place. You could argue that Pedro is replaceable, but I don’t think so. His ability to press non-stop throughout the game is incredibly vital to Barca’s overall team structure. There is little guarantee that Rossi and especially Sanchez would be able to come close to matching that, however “better” they may than Pedro in the attacking sense. Also, Pedro can play centrally (although we are yet to see that at Barca), on the left, on the right - his versatility makes him a wonderful player to have. Perhaps he doesn’t have the fear factor of someone like Sanchez, but he is proven and tested and can only improve.
Anyways, I slipped a long way from your original point, ars4nal.
Jaap StamI remember reading Barca's narrow squad is by design rather than necessity. Guardiala believes that a small, coherent squad is better. I couldn't find where I saw this, maybe someone with better Google-fu can help me.
RavenbarberYou're not wrong, Jaap Stam. I remember reading the same thing somewhere. That said, I think Pep knows he can't replicate last season's successes with the same approach of a lean but harmonious squad. Fatigue will play too big a role this time, because the likes of Xavi, Puyol and Abidal aren't getting any younger. He will need reinforcements and back-ups if he is to counter Real Madrid's strategy of two players for every position.
Jaap StamI think that's why they are trying to get Fabregas. They can use him in Busquets' and Xavi's place. Busquets then can be more frequently used in defense. Mind you, neither Puyol nor Xavi hasn't shown any signs of aging yet. It's not an immediate problem. They can make do with other players if they can't get Fabregas for the right price.
They need to find a replacement for Abidal pretty quickly though.