Yay or Ney? Barcelona should strive to become more than just MSN

Yay or Ney? Barcelona should strive to become more than just MSN

As a Barcelona fan who heard the recent rumours about Neymar’s possible return to La Liga, let me make this very clear: I don’t want Neymar to be back. It’s not about his attitude but a product of the realistic situation.

I’ll never deny that MSN, or the Messi-Suárez-Neymar trio amassed goals before the deal of the Brazilian to PSG materialised. I also recognise Neymar is the third-best player in the world, behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi.

Here’s the problem, though. A big one. If Barcelona decides to agree on a deal for Neymar, then it’s very likely that two young players will be affected. Ousmane Dembélé and Malcom Oliveria.


Without a doubt, Dembélé is a player with the pace to tear up the opposition defence. He also gives assists to his fellow teammates. Sadly, he doesn’t defend but the best thing ever?

He’s just 21, a month and eleven days younger than me.

However, there are transfer talks concerning the French player, stating that he has a problem with his attitude and isn’t happy under Ernesto Valverde.

While Arsenal can be one of the future destinations in his journey, I believe that he should stay. The reason? Neymar needs a backup and I see Dembélé as Barcelona’s “plan B”.

I get it, Neymar is a quality player who deserves to be in the starting lineup, but there’s no guarantee that he doesn’t get injured. Also, Valverde may want to rotate the squad for the Copa del Rey and give the youngsters playing time.

In this case, I’ll be more than happy if Dembélé stays.

Of course, no one wants to become a benchwarmer at Camp Nou if they have the quality to contribute as a regular. Yet, it’ll be foolish for Barcelona to sell Dembélé in the middle of Neymar’s deal.

The Barcelona board should remember themselves that “failing to plan is planning to fail”, as Benjamin Franklin said. Thus, provided that Neymar is back and Dembélé stays, the impact would be inflicted on the poor newbie.


And yes, I’m talking about Malcom Oliveria.

Malcom joined Barcelona this summer after a controversial move from Bordeaux, with the contract being snatched from Roma’s hands (something I, as a football fan, despise).

The miserable fact is that he’s not getting a lot of playing time. This is why it is also rumoured that he’s looking for a new club in the Janurary transfer window, having fed up with Valverde.

His performance was okay and scored the vital goal against Inter Milan in the Champions League, but it is yet to be seen if he can make an impact to the Barcelona first team.

In my opinion, loaning the Brazilian out would be the better option than selling – as you’ll never know what will happen to those “benchwarmers” when they’re playing for a new club.

Just look at Alcácer. If he can do it, why can’t Malcom do the same?

Yet, this is where it gets complicated. Considering Malcom, Dembélé and Malcom as a trio of attack. It’ll be best if they can play together, but if only two of them can stay, who should pack his luggage and find a new club?


Neymar’s possible return to Barcelona complicates matters to the team as it will relegate either Dembélé and Malcom to the bench. The worse case? Pushing one of them out of the club, which may result in a bad decision.

With the ample funds inside their bank account, I believe that Barça should sort out their priorities.

Signing a nice defender, whether from the other teams or have him promoted from La Masia, is always the better thing to do than getting Neymar back.

Neymar is an excellent player but the good old days will never be back. Deal with it, Culés. We’ll need to move on from the past. Just leave MSN behind in the history books at Camp Nou. We’re “more than a club”, aren’t we?

For Barça, losing Messi isn’t a problem because there’s a bigger one happening now…

For Barça, losing Messi isn’t a problem because there’s a bigger one happening now…

Without a doubt, the recent 4-3 win at Camp Nou will be a memorable night for Real Betis to savour for years. The home defeat, for Barcelona, will certainly give a lot for the team to think about during the international break.

Not to mention that Atlético Madrid will be their opponents after the players return from their international duties. If they can’t beat Real Betis, chances are Barcelona will be dropping points against their title rivals at Wanda Metropolitano.

So let’s be honest, Barcelona, despite being the first in La Liga, will need to do something in order to become greater in Europe.

There’s one thing that Barcelona supporters will all agree on: losing Leo Messi as their star player to retirement from football is a big deal for the Catalan club – unless they can sign a decent replacement for the Argentine.

However, as a Culé myself, I have an unpopular opinion on this. I believe that there is a huge assignment that Ernesto Valverde must finish before it’s too late to mend the damage caused. That is, fixing the defence of the squad.


If you know Barcelona well, you’ll know that the guy inside the featured image is Carles Puyol. Having played as a defender in his career, he’s the former captain of Barcelona before passing the armband to Andrés Iniesta.

In the meantime, Valverde loves to stick to his trustworthy four-man defence: Sergi Roberto (or Nélson Semedo), Gerard Piqué (or Thomas Vermaelen), Clément Lenglet (or Samuel Umtiti) and Jordi Alba.

The thing is, while Piqué is clearly the most experienced player in the back half, he himself is regressing.

At 31, Piqué is ageing and started to make mistakes which cost the squad the precious points. I could still remember how awful he was when his wrong pass gifted Leganès the winning goal.

The rest are, certainly, better but it’s still horrifying to contemplate.

Meanwhile, where are the La Masia defenders who only got chances in the Copa del Rey? Why aren’t the best performers given a chance to play in La Liga?

Also, Valverde tends to ask his players (defenders included) to push forward to create chances to score.

While it’s nice to feed the ball to the forwards (somehow accustomed to Messi’s needs), the midfield and defence become vulnerable at the back.

Without a doubt, when the opposition decided to launch a counter-attack, say, after a failed corner attempt, chances are the whole Barcelona defence will be caught off-guard and they’ll be able to find the back of the net.


Now you may ask, “what does it do with Puyol?”

I’d say, Barcelona must be in search for a leader who’ll be doing the stuff Puyol did in the past. The current XI tends to lose concentration when they take the lead, so there should be someone who’ll tell his teammates not to be too confident in winning.

This is also the reason Barcelona were eliminated from the Champions League last season.

The squad did win 4-1 at Camp Nou, but we know that the travelling squad lost 3-0 away with Manolas netting the decisive goal to knock the Catalan club out, owing to the away goal rule by the UEFA.

I’m not sure if it’ll help to turn the tide for Barcelona to advance to the semi-final but I certainly believe that if Puyol was in the team, they wouldn’t have lost badly and got beaten by the Italians.


“Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles” – Sir Alex Ferguson

It is one of my favourite quotes in football. Trophies may not matter but the performance of the team does. Unfortunately, Piqué may be the only current player who can do the job. Perhaps a new name in the dressing room needed at Camp Nou?

Be it a foreign player or a homegrown talent, Barcelona should be conscious about the development of the whole future lineup instead of just focusing on replacing Messi. If Bartomeu’s men in the transfer section don’t look into this issue, it’s going to be costly.

And I’m pretty glad that Barcelona lost to Betis. Why? It forces Valverde to rotate his squad to replace the suspended Rakitić so that either Denis Suárez or Carles Aleñá can get a berth in the starting eleven, even for just a few games.

Paco Alcácer – a clear solution and the dilemma in disguise

Paco Alcácer – a clear solution and the dilemma in disguise

Barcelona supporters may have trouble in believing this: Paco Alcácer, the fourth forward in their squad, can’t stop scoring after leaving Camp Nou on loan to Borussia Dortmund, a German Bundesliga giant.

Under Lucien Favre’s guidance, the Spaniard started to find his sense of scoring. And currently, with 10 goals from 10 shots on target, no one would have expected him to be in such a good form.

The 25-year-old used to be a player who lived under the shadows of the players, in the likes of the mighty Leo Messi, Luis Suárez, Neymar and later, Ousmane Dembélé.

But at Dortmund, he’s the star himself. Against Frankfurt, he scored. Against Leverkusen, he wrapped up the comeback all by himself. Against Augsburg, he scored a hat-trick to get all 3 points for his club.

Alcácer’s current situation is a blessing to the Dortmund squad. At the same time, Barcelona would be having a headache for the rest of the season in attracting him to be back to the Catalonian capital.

With an urge for Dortmund to activate the release clause of the loan contract, this is where it gets complicated for both clubs to handle.


To be honest, Alcácer is the solution to one of the problems of the Dortmund squad.

Dortmund may have quality players like Marco Reus, Jacob Bruun Larsen, Maximilian Philipp and Marius Wolf, but the lack of an in-form, traditional No. 9 player is what the BVB are yearning for.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did a great job when he donned the Borussen jersey. However, he decided to leave for Arsenal with the German club getting a whopping €63.75M fund in the process.

Michy Batshuayi joined the party on loan from Chelsea as a side-effect of Aubameyang’s transfer.

He did well in the Bundesliga by scoring goals in the last minute to save Peter Stöger’s job, only to have his career there marred by a sudden injury against old rivals Schalke 04 in the Revierderby.

Now, with Alcácer who’s on fire, it is almost certain to say that the whole BVB attack is complete. It’ll be the best if the Spaniard keeps up his form and call Westfalenstadion his “home” after the season.


For Barcelona, the primary objective for them is to take place of, if not replace, the currently misfiring Suárez, who has yet to score a goal after the away win against Real Sociedad.

Munir El Haddadi is, at present, Valverde’s first choice backup to the Uruguayan. Despite assisting the team in salvaging a point from Bilbao at home, the striker spends most of his time on the bench.

The 23-year-old may be the player for the future of Barcelona as Suárez is ageing. However, despite the loan experiences with Valencia and Alavés, he’s still not experienced enough to be a “super sub”.

With 10 goals in 10 appearances for club and country in the ongoing season, the Spanish club may regret in letting Alcácer go, especially if the player decides to make the move permanent.

At the same time, though, they understand that Dembélé was a transfer for the future. Alcácer may be a good player but for Barcelona, they may want to develop the young, French striker more.

So for Bartomeu and his men, here’s the question, “if you can keep only one player, would you rather keep Dembélé or Alcácer?” And the answer is, frankly, obvious.


In short, this deal of Paco Alcácer is complicated, provided that both clubs have contrasting interest in the deal. Dortmund would want to secure the player’s ownership rights while Barcelona are seeking for a “super sub” in hot form.

Dortmund would be more than happy to pay the cash if Alcácer continues to score, yet Barcelona won’t afford to lose him. Anyway, it may be too early to say, but only time will tell if the agreement is worth the transfer fee stated or not.

It’s the best time for Barcelona to start “Project Messi” now

It’s the best time for Barcelona to start “Project Messi” now

We all know how crucial Messi can be when he’s on the pitch with his fellow teammates, no matter which jersey he dons. He’s the kind of player who masters everything and works hard to perfect his skills, which makes him special.

For football fans, it is unarguably to say that Leo Messi is one of the players who deserve to be called the “greatest of all time”, or the G.O.A.T. as we call them. But the cruel truth is, Barcelona will experience a downfall if they don’t plan for life without him.


We all know what Real Madrid is experiencing after Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Juventus. With Los Blancos headed to the international break without winning any of the four games they’ve played, this could serve as a warning to their fierce rivals.

For Barcelona, Messi is more than just a legendary player. He’s the icon of the club and to be honest, as a player, it’ll certainly affect Barcelona if the Argentine decided to call it a day in his professional football career.

Without Messi, Barcelona won’t be a bigger club than we’ve possibly imagined. Without Barcelona, he wouldn’t be the superstar he is now. Barcelona gives Messi the resources for him to thrive while Messi returns goals and points for the team.

Now, here’s the question, “what may Barcelona experience when Messi retires?” I believe that there won’t be an absolute answer for it since the future is unpredictable in the football world.

However, there’s one thing for sure – without a suitable reinforcement to play in Messi’s position, Barcelona will struggle in finding the back of the net, just like what happened to Real Madrid these days without their Portuguese leading man.


Messi is irreplaceable and the only thing Barcelona can do is to find a player with identical, technical skills like him. It doesn’t matter if he’s from La Masia, other big clubs or somewhere else. The aim of the project is that they must find someone like Messi.

It doesn’t mean that Messi’s successor must shoot with his left foot and has a short height, though. For Barcelona, the most important quality of the “chosen one” is that he’ll need to consistently score a lot of goals to help the team to clinch the 3 points and secure the trophies they can get.

From the board’s perspective, they may want to seek help from the transfer market in order to get the proven talents outside. What matters to them is money. Hence, I won’t be surprised if one of the “big names” will be posing with the Blaugrana jersey soon.

However, let’s not forget that Barcelona has a lot of youngsters at their disposal, like Malcom, Munir, Ousmane Dembélé, Aleñá and Abel Ruiz. They may consider recalling Alcácer, who is currently on fire and started to score loads of goals in the Bundesliga. Still, he’s nowhere close to Messi.

As a Barcelona follower myself, other than buying players, I would want to see the local boys to take place of our Argentine hero. I wish the board can make good use of our very own “talent-based” La Masia to expand our brand of “més que un club” for a little bit.

Therefore, “Project Messi” may not be a problem in the long-term if it pays off eventually. But it all depends on the board (especially Josep Bartomeu himself) on the attitude of the matter and eventually, how they decide to execute the strategies.

The current Barcelona squad is good but they’ll need to stop relying heavily on Messi to become better. Barcelona aren’t a one-man team, after all. Thankfully, the future of Barça is in safe hands, so let’s see how Bartomeu will formulate a plan for them.

What would a Catalan national team look like?

What would a Catalan national team look like?

It’s the early hours of the first of October, 2018. One year ago, to this day, the Spanish region of Catalonia held an independence referendum of contentious legality. I won’t go too much into the detail – this is a place for football, not politics – but suffice it to say that Catalonia is still part of Spain.

But what if they weren’t? What would the national team of Catalonia look like? I’m gonna take a stab at a Hypothetical XI. Here goes.

In goal, it’s Real Madrid’s Kiko Casilla.

Image result for kiko casilla
Imagine making a living as a third-choice goalkeeper.

Casilla was born in Alcover, in Catalonia’s southernmost province, Tarragona. His career has seen him go from Real Madrid to Cadiz to Cartagena to Espanyol and back to Real Madrid, and he’s been capped once for Spain. However, it’s likely Casilla would take this chance if it arose to get back into playing international football. Competition for the Catalan gloves would mainly come from Jordi Masip and Pau Lopez.

Our wide defenders are Martin Montoya and Victor Alvarez.

Montoya is uncapped for Spain and would be eligible through his birth in Barcelona Province. His career’s seen him play for five teams in three countries and he’s still just 27, making him a good addition to this Catalan side. Victor Alvarez would take the spot on the left of defence, with the Arsenal Tula defender perhaps a little weaker than his counterpart. Whilst Jordi Alba would be eligible, it’s hard to see him changing allegiances to play for a weaker side he probably feels less connected to.

In the heart of defence, we’re playing Marc Bartra and captain Gerard Pique.

Image result for gerard pique catalonia
Yeah, THAT Gerard Pique.

One would be forgiven for thinking Pique’s in the same boat as Alba, but the Barcelona defender has made himself known as a vocal proponent of Catalan independence and you’d think he’d offer himself up straight away. With over a hundred international caps and four Champions Leagues, his experience would be vital for the side. We’ve paired him with former Barcelona teammate Marc Bartra, who has thirteen caps for his national side but hasn’t played since 2017 and would be forgiven for leaving the Spanish set-up for that of Catalonia. Backups include Jordi Amat and Marc Muniesa.

The midfield trio is – believe it or not – Cesc Fabregas, Sergi Roberto and Xavi.

Where’s it all gone wrong for Cesc Fabregas? He wasn’t picked for Spain’s World Cup squad for Russia and he’s still not played a minute in the Premier League this season. It’s looking increasingly unlikely that he’ll get into Luis Enrique’s Spain squads, and since he would be eligible for Catalonia, I’d hazard a guess he’d take the call-up. In Sergi Roberto’s case, he’s been on the outer of the Spain squad, with four caps and a goal to his name in two years. It’s difficult to tell how much quality he’s really got, but some international football is almost always better than no international football.

Image result for xavi
The Qatari money’s done wonders for him.

Yeah, Xavi is still playing at the age of 38. Whether or not he’d be willing to play international football again after a four-year absence is questionable, but we certainly hope so. After all, it’s the greatest midfielder of our generation, coming back (at least sometimes) to Europe. This is something we need to happen. In case it doesn’t for some incredibly disappointing reason, we have two options: tempt Sergio Busquets out of playing for Spain, or replace him with Victor Rodriguez or Gerard Deulofeu (although some structural changes may be needed for the latter).

Our two wingers are Cristian Tello and Aleix Vidal.

Looking at Vidal first: we’re going to play him on the right wing. Vidal’s now at Sevilla after three uneventful years at Barcelona, and he should be expecting more regular club football. Regular international football on the other hand isn’t happening for Spain, with Vidal picking up just one cap. Opposite him we’ve placed Cristian Tello, another one of the one-cap lot. Tello’s now at Real Betis alongside our centreback Marc Bartra, and he seems to be getting regular football there. International football would be a step up for him.

And banging in the goals, it’s none other than Jonathan Soriano.

Image result for jonathan soriano
No Red Bull logo? OK, we’ll use this one.

Yes, he plays in China. Yes, he hasn’t excelled in a “big” league. But his goalscoring record speaks for itself. In five years with Salzburg, Soriano scored 172 in 202, and now at Beijing Sinobo Guoan, he’s got thirty in thirty-four. Bear in mind that he hasn’t exactly got the greatest teammates in the world either, with only Renato Augusto and Cedric Bakambu that stick out. Soriano could do wonders for this Catalonia team.

And there you have it, folks. This could be a decent team with a couple of years of international football behind it. I’m almost disappointed I’ll never get to see it in action. But ultimately, it’s all Hypothetical.

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