If anyone thought that a minor event like the World Cup would overshadow Barcelona’s public pursuit of Cesc Fabregas, they were mistaken. Xavi, emblematic of Barcelona’s ethos, has again unequivocally stated where his compatriot’s future lies.
“Two years ago, I said that Cesc would end up playing for Barcelona and now it’s clearer than ever. In addition he has already expressed publicly that he wants to come to Barcelona. It is clear that Cesc will come to Barcelona.”
Last week I questioned if FIFA should adopt the NBA’s stance to tapping up players (see here) and, as the days roll by and Barcelona’s talk of ‘respect’ bears the veracity of a serial seducer preaching monogamy, I can only hope that new measures are drawn up. Whilst Xavi is a splendid player, without parallel in his position at present, his newest supplement to the Fabregas-Barcelona love affair is paradigmatic of the Catalan club’s only obvious shortcoming; arrogance.
Invariably Xavi handles himself, on and off the pitch, with the tenets of sportsmanship that La Masia instils in its youth: being prudent, humble, fair and – above all – respectful of your team mates and the opposition. The club have commendably produced an array of elite players who remain unaffected and grounded – Lionel Messi is without doubt the finest individual talent in the world but harbours none of the failings such talent usually begets. But, and this is a big but, their actions at moments which test these principles have left them wanting on more than one occasion.
The club’s fans derided Real Madrid for their players publicly psyching one another up prior to the second leg clash with Lyon in the Champions League. The consensus from Barcelona was supercilious; if Madrid were good enough, they wouldn’t need to announce their intentions publicly. Yet when Sergio Busquets, Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique publicly voiced their desire to make the Inter players ‘hate their profession for ninety minutes’ or the sweet joy that would accompany reaching a final being hosted at the Bernabeu no less, were they not guilty of the same crime? Valdes tried accosting Mourinho in his brazen celebratory pitch invasion but, though lacking class himself, it was an understandable retort to the local press’ haughty undercutting of the Portuguese’s achievements as a manager (continuously referring to him as ‘the translator’). When teams employ highly defensive tactics to counter Barcelona, especially in Europe, there is a tangible sense of being wronged that emanates from the Spanish giants if they don’t win – the fans resent the success that Manchester United and Chelsea had at the Nou Camp with their conservative approach.
In fairness to Barcelona however, a degree of arrogance is not only expected when you produce the football they do, but it is a prerequisite; to recognise how good you are is imperative in sustaining standards and attempting to improve. But that is on a footballing front whilst Xavi’s latest words are more to do with etiquette. If Barcelona genuinely respected Arsene Wenger and Arsenal they would not comment in the public sphere. It remains as simple as that. This is why Pep Guardiola’s silence on the issue underpins his dignity and just why it is he who fully encapsulates the best of Barcelona without a hint of their only shortcoming.
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