For the penultimate game of the 2012/13 season Barça face rivals Espanyol in the local derby at Cornellà-El Prat. However, with La Liga all wrapped up and celebrated and with all eyes on the seemingly imminent signing of Brazilian wonderboy Neymar it is difficult to focus too much on tomorrow’s game.
When Sandro Rosell replaced Joan Laporta as club president in the summer of 2010 I had little doubt about Rosell’s insider knowledge of the game or his abilities as a negotiator. He seems like a bright bloke with a genuine enthusiasm for the game and a love for the club. However, there was always a clear doubt for me about how the new president would get on in the job, which stems from his fall out and rivalry with Laporta.
Laporta had his faults but the reason he did so well was that he knew how to delegate and he wasn’t shy to ask for advice from Johan Cruyff on footballing matters. Laporta may know less about football than Rosell but he trusted Cruyff on the names of Frank Rijkaard and Txiki Beguiristain and later on Pep Guardiola when some would have preferred Mourinho.
When Rosell took over it was a no-brainer to leave Guardiola as coach, but Rosell made two decisions that worried me. Rosell’s removal of Cruyff as the club’s honorary president may have been correct as far as the club’s statutes are concerned but much more importantly it was a shoddy way to treat the man who more than anyone was responsible for installing a football philosophy that has put the club where it is today. Leaving Cruyff as honorary president would have been more noble and sensible whatever a few sticklers may say.
The other decision was the selling of Chygrynskiy to help balance the books. On the face of it the offloading of a player who had shown little to justify his high price tag in his one season at the club might have been seen as the intelligent thing to do. However, the decision worried me as it showed the interventionist nature of Rosell which we are seeing again with the signing of Neymar.
Signing a pre-agreement with Neymar in 2011 may still prove to be an excellent piece of business. Neymar has exceptional talent and youth on his side and seems sure to offer new options to the team. He is undoubtedly marketable and the club will almost certainly reap decent rewards on the economic side. However, he also comes with a huge chunk of hype and I wonder if we will be getting a Robinho-type player who shows plenty of fancy footwork with little effectiveness.
The other problem is how he will fit in with the present group of players and what effect his signing may have on the development of youngsters like Gerard Deulofeu. With this week’s worrying news about the future of Thiago Alcántara whose progress wasn’t particularly helped by the signing of Cesc Fabregas, we might do well to consider these aspects.
On tomorrow’s game we have Alves and Adriano fit again but Messi and Puyol are still out. Don’t ask me where the Barça B boys are!
Possible starting XIs:
Espanyol: Cristian Álvarez; Javi López, Forlín, Colotto, Capdevila; Víctor Sánchez, Baena; Stuani, Verdú, Wakaso, Sergio García.
Barça: Valdés; Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba; Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta; Alexis, Fabregas, Tello.
Prediction: Espanyol 2 Barça 2
Date: Sunday 25 May 2013. Kick off 8 pm local time.