FC Barcelona completed the signing of Arturo Vidal, a veteran midfielder from Bayern Munich. The response from fans has been polarized, with reactions essentially split down the middle. We analyze the pros and cons of the signing:
PRO: Arturo Vidal has had world class seasons
Some fans have gone too far in underestimating Vidal’s quality. At Bayern and at Juventus, Vidal has produced some amazing moments. He’s won leagues for both teams, not to mention international trophies with Chile. Known for his tenacity in defense, Vidal is also capable of scoring or being involved in build-up. Even last season, he was brilliant for Bayern when fit. But...
CON: He’s coming off a knee injury
Vidal is not injury prone per se, but he did suffer a bad knee injury last April that put him out of action for the remainder of the season. He’s apparently still not fully fit, though he’s very much heading that way. Still, there’s simply no way to know to what extent that injury is in the past. Some players’ careers get derailed by injuries such as these, while others come back just as strong. However, one issue with his case is...
CON: He’s 31 years old
Vidal turned 31 in May, and while several players can retain world class status past that time, there are no guarantees. Bodies can start healing slower as they age, which makes the concern above his knee all the worse. Also, he won’t have much resale value (unless it’s to China, but you can’t always rely on that) and he is bound to decline at some point. But then again...
PRO: He’s relatively cheap
The fee was not officially announced, but it’s been reported that he cost only 19 million euros, plus a couple more in bonuses. In this crazy market, that constitutes a pittance. It’s unlikely that Barça could have landed another player of his caliber at that price. Yes, his salary will be relatively high, but overall, the financial risk is low.
PRO: But that means he won’t block the youngsters
Had Barcelona opted for a player in his prime, that player could conceivably start for the next three, four, five, or even more, years. Can someone like Arthur, who is 21, wait that long? What about prospective signings like Frenkie De Jong (21) and Adrien Rabiot (23)? Vidal is expected to make a push for three more years maximum, but it easily could be one or two. That would allow some of these youngsters a year or two to improve and/or adapt to Barcelona, and happily, he’d be on his way out quickly after. If it it works, he would bridge two generations, bowing out just in time to let the young blood take over. But there are other concerns...
CON: He has had off-the-pitch incidents
Vidal has something of a bad reputation outside the pitch, and it’s in large part due to a drunk driving charge he was hit with in 2015 during the Copa América. He lost his license after crashing a Ferrari that had his wife as a passenger. The player expressed remorse later, saying he was ashamed to have put people in danger. He can’t be accused of letting it affect him, though, as he still won the competition. In fact...
PRO: He’s not as reckless while playing as advertised
Despite his reputation as a madman, Vidal is relatively disciplined on the pitch. He’s only been sent off five times in his career, as many as Neymar and half as many as Cristiano Ronaldo. Additionally, he’s only gotten a straight red once. He will dive in when necessary, but like the best tacklers in the game, he knows how to play on the edge of the cliff without falling over. And of those five, at least one he considers unjust, one that came against Real Madrid. Speaking of which...
PRO: He hates Real Madrid
Vidal must relish signing for Barcelona and having the chance to exact vengeance upon Real Madrid. He was sent off for this against them in 2017:
Without Vidal, Bayern would go onto lose in extra time. “This robbery can’t happen in the Champions League,” he said after the match. “We felt it a lot and you start to wonder a bit.”
Then, the Chilean missed both legs of their UEFA Champions League tie the next season with that knee injury. He was furious, going so far as to call the Madrid players “mice” after publishing images in which Bayern’s penalty claims were turned down. “Once again,” he wrote, incredulously, followed by a flurry of angry-faced emojis.
“Revenge is a dish best served cold,” he had once said about facing Madrid. Here’s his chance to serve it.