When Txiki Begiristain left Barcelona alongside former President Joan Laporta, there were naturally a number of Premier League clubs alerted to his availability. The former Barcelona Director of Football had played a big part in transforming the Catalan club from the disappointments of the last few Ronaldinho years and towards the dominance of Pep Guardiola and Lionel Messi. But is Begiristain the right man for a number of Premier League clubs looking for a similar continental theme and a Director of Football?
Of course Chelsea were one of the first to sound out Begiristain about a possible role at Stamford Bridge. Roman Abramovich has made no secret of his desire for the attractive football that’s on display at the Nou Camp. However, Abramovich doesn’t share the same patience with those who have succeeded at Barcelona.
It’s important to understand that Begiristain’s work was not simply advising Guardiola, and previously Frank Rijkaard, how to go about their transfer business; it all started with Johan Cruyff’s vision for the club. As Director of Football, Begiristain was entrusted to oversee and ensure the club’s youth academy became a prominent part of the first team. In doing so, there is an absolute necessity for the Director of Football, manager and President or owner to have the same vision for the club.
Begiristain would bring with him a great deal of expertise to any football club. Barcelona’s style of play is put into motion by individuals who were brought to the Nou Camp under Begiristain’s watch. Dani Alves and David Villa are integral to Barcelona’s current success, as well as those promoted from La Masia.
There is also a real sense that Begiristain conducts his work in a meticulous way, helping to shape Barcelona’s squad where it’s needed, rather than simply buying for the sake of luxury. However, the club’s move for Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a sobering reminder that even the very best can fluff their lines.
The real question with regards to Premier League clubs and the potential desire for Begiristain is whether success is a given. There was a lot in place at Barcelona that didn’t happen by accident, such as the appointment of Pep Guardiola and the decision to move on players like Deco and Ronaldinho. Again, Begiristain had to ensure the club were doing everything to be successful on the pitch, but his role shouldn’t take away what managers like Guardiola and Rijkaard have done. Can people like Begiristain succeed in football without the right people around them?
Chelsea, perhaps not surprisingly, have opted against offering Begiristain a role at the club and buying into his and Barcelona’s ideals. Abramovich is of course in favour of similarly entertaining football, but he wants it done now. With Directors of Football such as Begiristain, there is a need to look ahead long term and make good use of youth.
Would he be better suited at a club like Tottenham? Perhaps. The football ideals are in place and there is a desire from the club to build long term and sustainable success. But the club would need to accept that Begiristain would take a prominent role in shaping the club and working alongside whomever the manager may be. Patience and understanding would be key.
Is Begiristain the ideal candidate to help revolutionise a Premier League club? One side of the coin would suggest that if he were he’d be working with one now. Maybe clubs aren’t buying into the idea of patient and careful thinking towards success in the future. The Premier League is an environment greatly different to that of La Liga; club’s are not given countless opportunities to achieve a top four finish and build from there. While at the same time, Begiristain’s success came with a club who already knew how it wanted to operate following the work of Cruyff. Yes he’s good at what he does, but it still remains to be seen whether that role of a Director of Football can become as prominent in the Premier League as it is on the continent.