Barcelona is the world’s second team. They have a global fan base, and anybody who supports another team, still seems to have a soft spot for the Catalan giants. There is much to admire: the power it puts in its own fans and the way in which the club is governed, the fact that the only sponsor to ever go on their shirt is the charity UNICEF, their amphitheatre of a stadium, and of course, the players they’ve had. It is however difficult, to get anywhere in life simply by being nice, and this summer, Barca has shown their teeth with the aggressive pursuits of Cesc Fabregas and Javier Mascherano.
When Barcelona won the Champions League against Man Utd in 2009, it was seen as a victory for football: final justification for playing the game in such an attractive manner. Pep Guardiola’s team could only be admired for what they had achieved, and more impressively, the way that they had gone about it. One particular Norwegian referee was so in love with the club, that he put aside any understanding of the game’s rules, just so he could see his beloved team make it all the way to the final past Chelsea…(sorry, I’m getting side-tracked with past agendas). Compared to their garishly regal rivals in Madrid, Barca are considered the people’s club. Barca would never go and poach players in the way Real Madrid last summer, and yet here we are, still reading stories everyday of their attempts to lure a Premiership star away.
Barcelona failed in trying to persuade born again Gunner Cesc Fabregas to come home, but it is highly likely that come Summer 2011, the club will try their luck once again. Next up, the Argentinian captain at Anfield, who would be the perfect security blanket behind Xavi and Iniesta. ‘Unsettled’ in Liverpool and looking for somewhere his family will prefer, Mascherano had his head turned, and is subsequently now moving to Catalan as the clubs yesterday agreed a fee. Barca’s initial opening bid of £12m that started the ball rolling was at best a joke, and at worst, totally disrespectful. Part of the reason Real Madrid managed to secure the services of so many big players last summer was because they were prepared to pay what the players were worth (and maybe a bit more?) and so deals were completed relatively swiftly. Barca have made their interest known, put in a poor bid, and then hoped the player would engineer his way out.
The bottom line however, is that this is all irrelevant. Every major club has moments of aggression, and not winning the Champions League last year will have been hard to take. Barca want to show that there is a ruthless nature to go with the tica-taca football. Although the offers they made were derisory, hearing a club pursuing players that they know are interested in playing for them is nothing new, in fact it makes total sense. They already have one of best teams that I have ever seen, and so if they had failed in their bid, it isn’t the greatest of problems – no Mascherano, they would have had to make do with World Cup winning Sergio Busquets.
A few (partially) sunny months of attempts to coax players to join them is not going to have an effect on how a dynasty is perceived. When you want to buy the best players in the world, chances are that the club who owns them will probably want to keep them. Barcelona’s exploits in the transfer market this summer may not have covered them in glory, but the very real glories that they have achieved in their history will ensure that the affection with which they are held remains intact.
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