Barcelona: Thiago Alcantara – An Own Goal

For the first time since 2008 things are not looking positive. A feeling of uncertainty has crept to the hearts and minds of many cules. The much-needed stability is fading away bit by bit.

Tactical matters aside, Rosell and Co are unintentionally dragging the club into controversy, which will eventually affect the team’s performance on the pitch. Running a club of Barcelona’s stature is never easy, and gaining everybody’s contentment is almost impossible, but when voices of concern reach unprecedented heights then surely something wrong is happening.

From Tito Vilanova’s expected absence from our first four league games (again), to Thiago’s mishandling and probable departure, to Zubizaretta’s alleged resignation out of solidarity with the dismissals of Technical Secretary Narcís Julià and Scouting Coordinator Albert Valentina, to the entorno’s split between Rosell, Laporta, Cruyff, and Guardiola, to Rosell’s tinkering in the statutes to change the number of needed votes it would take to have him removed from office, to Leo’s tax problems, to Rosell’s obsession with Laporta’s return, to our failure to capture a reliable defender, to Abidal’s mistreatment , to the mismanagement of the 6-7 players who are unwanted by the club, to Eusebio’s Barca B problems and decline in the performance of his team, to our soon-to-be mishandling of Deulofeu, to Emili Ricarts’ puzzling departure.

Things are definitely not looking as rosy as they were a couple of years ago.

Thiago Alcantara is a La Masia graduate. The son of Mazinho awed all cules as he made his way to the first team. La Masia graduate’s importance to Barcelona’s way of playing is something indubitable, due to the fact that they start grasping this philosophy from day one. When Pere Guardiola sat with Rosell, Zubizaretta, Mazinho, and Thiago to discuss the latter’s contract last year, Pep’s clever brother insisted on including a section in the contract that clearly states that Thiago’s release clause would decrease from 90 million to just 18 million Euros if he was not played in a minimum of 30 minutes in at least 60% of Barcelona’s games.

Now, when asked about this issue, Jordi Roura said:” it is not the coaching staff’s job to know about such clauses in player’s contracts, we only decide who plays based on sporting reasons”. If that is the case, then whose job is it to be aware of such clauses? Zubizaretta’s? If he knew but did not inform the coaching staff then it is a disaster, and if he informed the coaching staff but they did not act accordingly to solve this problem, then it’s a bigger disaster. Either way, the club put itself in a critical situation. One might argue that Thiago was not played frequently because Xavi’s presence is more influential in big games such as Milan, PSG, and Bayern’s matches. But didn’t we have a 15 point advantage in La Liga since December 2012? Thiago surely deserved to play on merit of his qualities, let alone to rotate the squad and avoid fatigue.

Whatever the reasons, and whatever the outcome, this clearly is a massive administrative and technical blunder that could have been avoided. A manager should possess good management skills in addition to being a good tactician, and Thiago’s case shows that Tito is severely lacking in the management department. Either someone is insincere, or there is an apparent lack of communication between the board, its staff members and the players, regarding contract extensions.

Zubizaretta should have been informed that Alberto Aquilani was not played in the last several games of the 2011-12 season with Milan in order not to activate the clause that obliges Milan to buy him. This is how such clauses are handled.

Although this whole situation is the club’s responsibility, Thiago should be more attached to the crest and colors of the club. He is only 22; Xavi and Iniesta were patient before becoming first choice Barca players. What differentiates this Barcelona generation of players from other players is that they are attached to the club; they are not mercenaries following a financial gain or a personal glory. They eat, drink, live, and breathe Barcelona. What makes Thiago think he is better that this? It’s only fair to assume that Thiago is seeking a move abroad in order to gain more minutes on the pitches before Del Bosque makes his mind about who he will be taking to Brazil next summer. But is that really the case?

It’s almost formal that Manchester are ready to trigger the 18 million release clause in Thiago’s contract. So now it’s a matter of yes or no from the player. Cruyff clearly said:

”Thiago should be careful in making his choice. If Barcelona can guarantee him more playing time then he should stay, if not then he should leave. It is as simple as that”.

So is Thiago really considering staying? Isn’t the 6 million per year more appealing than anything Barca can guarantee? Is Thiago more of a mercenary than a Blaugrana faithful?

Gerard Piqué recently said on Thiago:

There is a possibility that he could leave but we have to convince him that the best place for him is Barcelona. Players in his position, like Xavi, were patient and they ended up defining an era”. It should be noted that Xavi had nobody in his way, except incompetent managers, while Thiago at 22 could realistically only truly become a Barca fixture after at least two more seasons. But is the alternative much better?

The Red Devils are in a precarious situation where they will be trying to fill the void left by Alex Ferguson’s departure. So David Moyes for one, has a lot on his mind, and Thiago’s world cup aspirations surely are not one of them. So If Thiago doesn’t adapt instantly to the English style of play there is a big chance he won’t be a regular starter. Thus being in a situation close to the one he was in at Barcelona.

In addition to that, Man Utd have had a bad history when it comes to handling young starlets. Just ask Giuseppe Rossi, Gerard Pique, Paul Pogba, Ravel Morrison, and Mame Biram Diouf. So unlike what many think, staying at Barcelona might boost his national team chances more than moving abroad. By looking at Vicente Del Bosque’s squads ever since he took over the national team, it is quite obvious that the vast majority of his selections are players from Barcelona and Real Madrid. At Barcelona, Thiago’s quality is known, he show cased his skills since day one, and every single one in Barcelona is convinced that he will reach great heights in the near future, that’s why he will be able to build a connection with Spanish players at Barcelona, which will positively affect the national team and support his cause of representing “La Roja”.

Currently, Thiago is unhappy at Barcelona, but he would be smart to carefully assess things and avoid making a hasty decision. An excellent player will always shine no matter which colors he is wearing, and how many minutes he is getting. And although he is concerned with his 2014 FIFA World Cup, his protracted move to Manchester doesn’t guarantee regular starts and successive success.

As for Barcelona, It’s a case of you don’t know what you got till it’s gone.

Written by Dinesh V

Co-founder of Soccersouls. Living a start-up life 24/7
Follow @dineshintwit

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