The stands at the Camp Nou proudly boast ‘Mes Que Un Club‘, highlighting CF Barcelona’s claim to represent the whole of Catalunya rather than just the postcode of the rundown district their stadium occupies. So, if Barcelona represents the ‘nation’, what does it say about the people? Well, clueless, classless and arrogant would probably be the answer if you do not know any better. As it happens, I can only base my views on that particular subject through meeting my wife’s family; some represent those characteristics, some do not which is true of all national caricatures with small groups used as a sample.
For years, Barcelona as a club have dismissed the regulations regarding ‘tapping up’ of players, seemingly safe in the knowledge that they will not be reported to the highest authorities of football by any club, probably for the most part because they know that they were bigger than the ‘selling’ club in terms of wealth. Those days are over as they are no longer substantially wealthier than any club in England, indeed it may well be that there are perhaps three clubs within 10% of the Catalans this past year, if not exceeding them.
Txiki Beguiristain yesterday was quoted, on the subject of Fabregas, as saying,
We cannot pay a great quantity for a homegrown player that decided to leave us. To start with, he would have to show his desire to return
In other words, they want him to come on the cheap and the only way that will happen is if the player agitates for a move. However, the statement shows two things. Firstly, Barcelona are encouraging the player to demand a transfer, thereby ‘tapping up’ a player under contract to another club, a clear breach of FIFA, UEFA, FA and probably RFEF regulations. Will anything happen about this? Probably not which begs the question as to why that should be the case? My guess is two-fold. Firstly, few if any clubs, want to be seen as ‘whisteblowers’ upsetting colleagues in the G-14 cartel and more importantly, risking upsetting a valued player in the process for they would presumably be required to give evidence at some point. The ethos behind it all seems to be ‘it’s not the done thing‘ yet other clubs, including Arsenal, have been reported by the Catalans albeit to no effect. Surely the ethos ought to be in a case such as this, ‘What’s good for the goose…‘? Secondly, having allowed Real Madrid to ‘get away with it’ last summer, is there any reason to believe that Arsenal have a strong enough will to complain? My belief is no, they do not.
The second point to come from the statement is that they want to humiliate Fabregas into returning to the Camp Nou. Such arrogance, and the dismissive attitude shown to Fran Merida, should serve as a salutory warning to Fabregas should he return under such circumstances. He will be welcomed with open arms but you can be sure that the current regime at that club will want him to confess he was wrong to leave, that his upbringing at Arsenal was nowhere near as good as he has previously said, it would have been far better had he stayed in Catalunya. Whether he would be able to resist such requests is unknown but it is all shaping up to be a modern-day Spanish Inquisition with Beguiristain playing the role of Tomás de Torquemada to a tee.
Problematically for Fabregas, all of this has stemmed from comments made by his loose cannon of an Agent, Joseba Diaz. Whilst you cannot blame the player for his representatives mouth, the utterances must surely be embarrassing for him? Cesc has worked hard to build goodwill through his performances yet I know of several who do not entirely trust the lad because of his admission that he met with Real Madrid last summer. It would be naive to expect him to stay for the full length of his contract and I believe he will return to his homeland in the next four years so personally, I will make the most of it whilst he is here.
Talking of Fran Merida, which I did vaguely earlier on, Arsenal.com carries a brief interview with a player rumoured by The People to be on his way out. Unsurprisingly, it did not ask his opinions on the recent court case which is a pity because they would be worth hearing; perhaps the club would be better served allowing more freedom of speech on their site rather than reverting to a Pravda-style of control?
The Sun meanwhile reports on two long standing ‘transfer’ rumours. Well, I say, two but one isn’t just yet. Juventus have apparently decided that they want Gilberto having failed to nab him in the summer and are willing to part with £5m to get their man. Apparently, they have sent a delegation to London in the past but this time are deadly serious about sealing the deal for January. I cannot see it happening then though with, hopefully, the Club still be involved in four competitions at that point. It would be little short of professional suicide on the part of Arsene unless of course, he believes that Diarra, Djourou and Flamini are capable of helping to deliver the silverware. Personally, I would like to see Gilberto stay until next summer – I think his departure is inevitable then – even if he is not in the first team every week, his experience in big games would be invaluable to the squad.
The other ‘news’ that they impart is that Manuel Almunia will start against Bolton. This is apparently the route that will allow the papers to speculate that Jens Lehmann will be sold in January to stop him becoming disruptive, a situation I find hard to believe…