Neymar Jr.

I’d like to start off with my personal thoughts on the €222m deal for Neymar to join PSG. The transfer which was announced on Wednesday is now the most expensive transfer of all time, beating the previous record by a fair amount.
As an FC Barcelona fan I must say I’m very happy to see the deal go through. The money we received will help us  strengthen the positions that are needed to be strengthened and pay for the replacement of Neymar.
I’ve always enjoyed watching Neymar play and in general really liked him, both as a player and as a person. But with that there’s also been some doubt, I sometimes thought to myself that there must be another player out there who would fit the roll better and be more efficient than Neymar.
After all the rumours and speculation about him potentially wanting to leave for PSG and now also the confirmation of the transfer Neymar has proved me wrong and shown he isn’t really what I thought of him at first. Neymar himself explained his departure by saying he needed a new challenge as he’d already won everything with Barca but I’m not really having that. When Neymar joined he was meant to be the one to take over after Messi but the simple truth is that he wasn’t good enough to do so, and noone is. After this failure Neymar couldn’t deal with being second string to Leo. Neymar wanted to be the one in the spotlight and the easy decision for him was to move to a smaller club, and that’s exactly what he’s done.

Moving on to how I’d like us to spend the money there are a few different players I’d like us to purchase.
Starting off with the French gem Ousmane Dembélé. I think Ousmane is the perfect fit for the left-wing position currently open in our attack. His pace and ability to take on his man would complement our attack and free up space for the other two attackers, Leo and Luis. We would have to pay around €100m for the Frenchman but in today’s market I don’t think there should be any doubt whether it’s worth it or not.

The next player who has been rumoured to be everything but announced is Philippe Coutinho. Liverpool apparently want up to €120m for the Brazilian and that’s money we can spend to get a player who can play in both midfield and in the attack. He could be the player to complete our attack but personally I would prefer getting Ousmane in, getting both would be ideal!

There have also been some rumours that Valverde wanted to bring in Sociedad defender Iñigo Martínez and in return send Marlon out on loan to the Basque club.
These rumours have died down the past few days as Sociedad weren’t willing to negotiate the defender’s €32m release clause. Personally I think Marlon is perfect as backup for Umtiti, Pique and Mascherano and therefore I don’t find this transfer necessary.

In the end all parties have made a good deal out of it. Barcelona got a huge amount of money for an inconsistent player, PSG got their star man to lead their pursuit of winning the UCL and last but not least, Neymar left Messi’s shadow to “get a new challenge”.

Isak

Tedious friendlies and interesting transfers.

Monday, July 24th

The week started slowly in terms of games and the only one of importance for me was the International Champions Cup game between Inter and Lyon. Inter managed to draw the longer straw after a goal from Jovetic set up nicely by Joao Mario.

As the game department didn’t have much to offer we saw a few interesting transfers go through instead. Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez made his return to Premier League as he joined the Hammers in a £16m deal. Surprised to see him go to West Ham but from their point of view I think it’s a great show of intent. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him net 10+ goals next season. Another surprising transfer for me was Palace’s purchase of talented defender Jairo Riedewald from Ajax. Riedewald will have the chance to develop under manager Frank De Boer who also coached him at Ajax until the end of the 2015/16 season. Manchester City finally announced the signing of Benjamin Mendy who will fill the empty left-back spot caused by the departures of both Clichy and Kolarov. And finally Juventus continued to monopolize the Italian market with the signing of promising attacker and winger Federico Bernardeschi from Fiorentina, strengthening themselves and weakening their opponents, classic Juventus nowadays.

Tuesday, July 25th

Once again a slow day in terms of games. Chelsea played Bayern in a game which Bayern won with three goals to Chelsea’s two. Bayern made sure to get the win after their disappointing loss to Milan three days earlier, not much else to say really.

In the transfer department Burnley made the most Burnley-like signing ever as they signed Phil Bardsley from Stoke. Sean Dyche always going to be Sean Dyche, right?
Wolves, or ‘Jorge Mendes FC’, continued their trend of signing promising, Portugese youngsters as they loaned in Diogo Jota from Atletico. If they don’t get promoted now it’s gonna be fucking hilarious.

Wednesday, July 26th

Barcelona played Manchester United in a game which I’ve already written about in my last post, check it out if you haven’t already. Meanwhile Roma came out trumps in a 3-2 win over Spurs. Debutant Cengiz Under scored the second goal for Roma after signing from Basaksehir. He will be an interesting player to follow over the coming years for sure!

Thursday, July 27th

A couple of interesting games were played in the Europa League qualifiers on Thursday. Everton took on Slovakian team Ruzomberok at home and managed to win the game after Baines’s strike from outside the box took a deflection and found its way into the back of the net. Meanwhile Marseille played Belgian team Oostende and won the game
4-2 after a hat-trick by new signing Valere Germain.

In the International Champions Cup Inter managed to get the win over Bayern after two goals from Eder. And on the other side of the world in the same competition Manchester City played Real Madrid and PSG played Juventus. In the first one of those two City defeated Real after a very impressive performance. The final score was 4-1. Moving on to the second game Juventus defeated Paris in a very tight game which was finally decided by a penalty in the 88th minute.

Saturday, July 29th

Moving straight on to Saturday after a dead-stale Friday Manchester City came up with an impressive performance once again as they defeated Spurs 3-0. City lined up with a defence similar to Chelsea’s title-winning defence last season. New signings Kyle Walker and Danilo played the wing-back roles. Over in Asia Inter managed to get the win over Chelsea after Kondogbia scored the most ludicrous own goal I’ve ever seen.

 

Sunday, 30th July

Why are we playing a Clasico in America? That’s right, money. Not a big fan of it personally. However, the game was quite an entertaining one. Barca played wonderful football from start and didn’t give Real a chance to even breathe. Messi scored a wonderful goal with a tad bit of luck after a deflection of the defender and Rakitic followed that up with a well-struck shot in the bottom corner. Real got themselves back into the game after goals by Kovacic and Asensio. In the second half Pique scored a simple volley off of a set piece to give Blaugrana the lead again. That was also how the game ended and Barcelona won the second ever Clasico to be played outside of Spain, the first one was played in 1982 in Venezuela.

Isak

 

Promising pre-season, weak leadership.

After the pre-season in Europe last year, this year it was time for a trip to the States. The team travelled to New York on the 20th of July and received a warm welcome from the American fans.

Barcelona began their pre-season against a Juventus side who also played their first game of the season. Juventus who began the game without key players like Dybala, Pjanic and Alex Sandro seemed stunned by the high pressure and quick passing of the Barcelona players who didn’t seem to have done anything but play ball during their summer break.

And it didn’t take long for the Blaugrana to break the deadlock when Neymar received a pass from Messi in the 15th minute and then played a simple one-two with Paco, Neymar then held off Lichtsteiner as he controlled the ball once again and finished the move off brilliantly by putting the ball in the top corner.

But the Brazilian wasn’t done there as he seemed hungry to prove his worth after having been linked with a record-breaking move to PSG. He received another ball from the Argentinian magician and then took on FIVE players before smashing the ball past Gigi Buffon.

Ernesto Valverde who must have been pleased with what he saw during his first half of football in charge of Barcelona decided to field an entirely new eleven for the second half. That didn’t seem to change the momentum of the game as Barca played another solid half of football. But even though they played well they didn’t manage to score and instead they could see Giorgio Chiellini, who among other stars had been subbed on for the second half, rise up for a header and reduce the Catalans’ lead to one goal and that was also how the game ended.

Personally I was particularly impressed by youngsters Samper, Alena and Denis Suarez aswell as the more experienced Iniesta and Mascherano. Neymar was given the MVP award which was very deserved after his sparkling performance.

The pre-season was then continued with a game against Manchester United. The Red Devils lined up with a strong eleven after their penalty shootout victory over Real Madrid a few days ago.

However there were less talking points in this game compared to the one against Juventus as the first and only goal was scored by Neymar in the 31st minute after Valencia fell over in the box which allowed the Brazilian to controll the ball and calmly put the ball in De Gea’s bottom left. De Gea who stood for a few exceptional saves prevented the Catalans to score more than one.

For the second half Valverde decided to once again field an entirely new eleven, this time with the exception of Cillessen who protected the goal for the full 90 minutes. Samper was subbed on in the 85th minute and didn’t really have the time to show what he’s got.

From this game I’d say that Cillessen and Umtiti had particularly good performances while Turan stood for an absolutely awful performance, I actually struggle when trying to remember him make one successful pass.

In other news Bartomeu came out and said that it’s Neymar’s own decision whether he goes to PSG or not after he said not too long ago that Neymar 100% will stay at Barcelona. I mean times change quickly so that might explain his change in words, but if times change quickly I hope our president can do similarly, be exchanged quickly!

Isak

Introduction of myself

As this is my first post I thought the only right thing to do would be to introduce myself and tell you my thoughts about football.

Growing up I always used to watch Champions League on TV, and since the first time I saw Barcelona play it’s always been the team for me. I can’t remember specifically how old I was back then but I was around six or seven years of age. At that time I wasn’t interested in Finnish football at all and that meant I developed a greater and greater love for a team which is not a local team of mine. But that’s just the way things have panned out.

At the time of writing this I am 16 years of age and I’ve now watched football regularly for around 9 years, but the amount I watch has increased dramatically during the last four years. In around three of these years I’ve watched every Blaugrana game with the exception of around five games when I simply haven’t been able to due to different events.

I appreciate intelligent and beautiful football such as the football played during Pep’s years as manager of Barcelona. This kind of football, originally based on Johan Cruyff and his thoughts on how football should be played, is one of the reasons why I appreciate Cruyff and what he did for world football so highly. As quoted by Cruyff himself, “Playing football is very simple, but playing simple football is the hardest thing there is”.

After mentioning all this love for simple football I must also add that I’ve learnt to appreciate different kinds of football, for example route one football and football based on hard-work and tough play, therefore I’d personally say I have more than one perspective of football and can see why other people think differently compared to me.

As my final words I’d like to add that I’ll concentrate on whatever interests me, and that can vary from time to time, so expect different topics every single post.

Isak