‘He will. He won’t. He will. He won’t. He will, won’t he?’
This is the story of almost every high-profile transfer saga we can remember in recent times. Thiago Alcantara’s tryst with Manchester United is no different. Heck, even father Mazinho visited Manchester to sort some stuff out, but couldn’t trigger signs of anything concrete between the two parties.
Thiago, of course, is a well-known name in most households where European/Spanish football is keenly followed. Notice how I mentioned ‘keenly’. Those who don’t know Barcelona beyond Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and maybe Valdes and Busquets (courtesy the loathe-worthy Troll Football), wouldn’t know too much about this diminutive Spaniard who has now bagged MoTM awards in consecutive UEFA U-21 Euro finals. In style, might I add. Which brings me to the basis of this article.
A month ago, an average football aficionado would’ve been marveling at Barcelona’s vast pool of talented midfielders. Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas and Thiago were fighting for two spots in the lineup. Err … sorry for that. Allow me to rephrase. Fabregas and Thiago were trying to give the fixtures at central-midfield a run for their money. One fine morning, Thiago wants to leave. Reason: first team football. He realizes he’s too talented to be warming the bench for 60 minutes per week on an average, and wants to leverage that to trigger a move to a club where he doesn’t have to stand in line behind three colossal midfielders.
Whatever happened to “Barcelona’s youth system is very strong. They’ll have most of their lineup from La Masia for years to come?” Here’s what happened: The kids have realized that their beloved club is no exception to harboring a desire of buying the world’s best players. It’s to Barcelona’s huge fortune, and of course credit, that a whole generation of La Masia graduates turned out to be absolutely exceptional. The next few generations might not exactly be world beaters.
It’s unfair to expect them to be. I don’t think Sandro Rossell is in any way wrong in securing the hottest property in world football right now: Neymar. Why should he wait for Cristian Tello to mature and become what Pedro did? Similarly, Xavi isn’t getting younger. I refuse to believe Barcelona won’t be looking at David Silva within the next couple of seasons. To drive the point home, Barcelona did not win ANYTHING between 2000-2005. You know what was happening in those five years? The Barcelona of now was being created. Yes, the club went after success, but the kids were patient. They all wanted to wear the red and blue kit and walk out at Camp Nou in front of 80,000 people. Look what that patience did. You think any player, or even club, would be fine with that kind of a wait anymore? No, right? (Okay Gunners, I get your point).
The days of the ‘Class of ’92’ are long gone. Complete dependence on a club’s youth setup isn’t a trait many owners like to have. Oh hello, Barcelona fan, you bother to disagree? Please explain to me the decision behind buying Ludovic Guily, Alexander Hleb, Dmytro Chygrynskiy (THIRTY FIVE MILLION DOLLARS!), Ibrahim Afellay and to some extent, exchanging Eto’o for Ibrahimovic?
Does this remind some of our Manchester United-supporting readers of a certain talent called Paul Pogba? I have news. The club have just lost another supremely talented youngster in Mats Daehli to Norwegian club Molde FC. Why? You guessed it, first team football. There’s also this player called Juan Mata, who plays for some club called Chelsea FC. Apparently, he’s quite good. The internet tells me he grew up at Real Madrid’s youth academy. Why did he leave, what happened? Robben, Sneijder and Van der Vaart under Bernd Schuster happened. As we speak, Barca kid Marc Muniesa is exploring housing complexes in Staffordshire. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gerard Deulofeu goes down the same route and chooses to get some good first team football at a lesser club, than warming benches at Camp Nou.
This however, doesn’t mean that the trend set by Maldini, Del Piero, Giggs, Scholes and Totti won’t be seen anymore. Of course it will be. Bring any kid that talented to any big club, and they’ll stick to him. You get them a kid with talent that needs polish, don’t expect him to retire there. Players want to play and clubs want to win. Ruthlessly. Nothing wrong with that, or is there?