Barring any unforeseen circumstances or a sudden change of heart from Alexandr Hleb, the proposed loan of the Belarusian to German Bundesliga side Wolfsburg should conclude FC Barcelona’s transfer activity for this year. After all, FC Barcelona isn’t known to announce deadline deals of any kind. For better or worse, the Blaugrana are lacking a deal-breaker in the mold of AC Milan’s Adriano Galliani. But in all fairness, Andoni Zubizaretta did a fine job enhancing an already competitive squad over the summer, though this team still lacks a back-up defender or two. To say I’m delighted that perennial underachievers Bojan and Jeffren have left the club is an understatement. I’m ecstatic. Although there is possibility that one of them or even both will return to FC Barcelona. While Jeffren’s return would vindicate his undoubted quality, Bojan’s return however is just a matter of a contractual obligation rather than the desire to bring him back. In one of the strangest loan-deals (it is a loan) the youngster left Catalunya for a reported €12 million but is poised to return in 2013 when FC Barcelona are obliged to buy him back for €13 million. Any potential transfer to FC Barcelona can be blocked by AS Rome should they be willing to fork out another €28 million to secure his services permanently, taking the total transfer value to €40 million. Who am I kidding; in 2013 Bojan will most likely return to FC Barcelona. He’s just not that good. I seriously doubt that AS Rome has that kind of funds available to them. The case of Jeffren on the other hand is much more interesting. Unlike crybaby Bojan, Jeffren was never afforded as many opportunities as the former no. 9, and more often than not, injured. Still, Jeffren has shown class and maturity beyond his age when he left the club in stark contrast to the complaining nature of Bojan. If there’s any ex-La Masia canterano I root for – it’s him and Oriol Romeu, perhaps even Nolito.
Sandwiched in between the departures of the former La Masia prospects was the arrival of Kiko Femenia from relegated Segunda side Hercules. At a €2 million price tag (potentially rising to €3.5 million), the youngster will learn the Blaugrana philosophy while honing his skills with Barca B. In a year or two he could be the next Pedro for all I know. If he really turns out to improve as many are expecting this could be the best mini-fee ever spent since the purchase of Gerard Pique in 2008. So far so good. What else happened in the summer of 2011? Yeah, Gabriel Milito left…for good. Words can’t describe how happy I am that the ex-Real Zaragoza man will never wear the shirt of FC Barcelona again. He’s probably a decent human being and an outstanding teammate but this is professional football, not a boy’s choir.
Which brings us to the next footballer on my personal you-need-to-go list, Alexandr Hleb. Apparently I have already devoted an editorial to him already, but how do we say in Germany "Einmal is keinmal". I’m just kidding, you can read my editorial here.
But the real highlight(s) of the 2011 transfer window were undoubtedly the signings of Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas – at prices below their true market value. Arguably the most coveted (available) players in their respective positions neither commanded an initial transfer fee in excess of €35 million. In a summer that saw Samir Nasri join Manchester City from Arsenal FC for a cool €27 million, despite being in his last year of his contract, FC Barcelona did indeed do exceptionally well. In an open market (read: with several interested parties) the price of Cesc Fabregas alone could’ve escalated into the stratosphere (above and beyond €50 million). Javier Pastore has cost newly rich Paris Saint Germain a reported €43 million – just to give you an idea of how absurd some fees are. I guess €50 million is the new €30 million (that’s how much Ronaldinho cost when he left PSG for FC Barcelona). Somehow I doubt Pastore will have the same impact as the bucktoothed Brazilian. But what do I care. As far as I am concerned FC Barcelona has already secured the mid- and long-term future of its midfield and attack. Just buy me a quality defender in the next transfer window, or the one after that and I’ll never complain again.
It’s good to be a Culé these days.
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