At the start of the season nobody would have expected Barcelona to end up with a defence reading: “Jordi Alba, Oscar Mingueza, Frenkie de Jong and Junior Firpo.”
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However, that’s how they ended their 4-0 win over Osasuna at Camp Nou. Firpo was at right back, Oscar Mingueza and De Jong in the middle and only Jordi Alba providing a sense of normality at left back.
Mingueza until a few days ago had not made his debut, De Jong usually operates in midfield and Junior is on his way out of the club.
Clement Lenglet suffered an ankle injury in the second half and had to go off, forcing De Jong into the back line. Gerard Pique is out, Ronald Araujo still has not recovered and Samuel Umtiti is permanently in the treatment room.
Ronald Koeman’s life as a coach chanted in August 2020. He came to a Barcelona side stinging from their 8-2 defeat by Bayern Munich and had a big job on his hands. He was asked about his first 100 days in charge ahead of the team’s clash with Osasuna on Sunday.
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“I won’t put a grade, I’ll leave that up to you,” said Koeman of his start. “It’s a delicate moment and we have to work hard, and change things when we have to. I’ve had 100 calmer days in other clubs as coach. Covid limits us, but I’m happy here, knowing that we have to win. We have seven games before the year ends and we have to react now.
“If we’re in a game with a lot of intensity and rhythm on the ball, we’re very good. Sometimes we dip, I don’t know if it’s because we’re taking things more calmly. The team needs to play at high intensity. In Kiev we were defending well and when you score, the opponent dips. We know it’s important to play with high rhythm from the start.”
Ronald Koeman, Barcelona coach, has given this Saturday the squad list of Barcelona for the game this Sunday against Osasuna at the Camp Nou (2:00 pm). A game in which the first team of Barcelona will try to transfer the good feelings they had in the Champions League against Dinamo Kiev to LaLiga, where lately the results have not accompanied the team. The Blaugrana need victory to change the dynamics and for this, having the casualties that are in the squad, Koeman has chosen his best men.
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In the list of summoned it appears as the main novelty midfielder Sergio Busquets, who was injured in the last FIFA break with the Spanish team. Busquets already has a medical discharge and Koeman can count on him for this match against Osasuna if he thinks fit. Also notable is the presence of Matheus Fernandes, who repeats after his debut in the Champions League. Dest, with physical problems, and Mingueza are also on the list.
We must not forget also that Messi and De Jong are high on this list, since both were left out of the call that Koeman gave for the Champions League. The Dutch coach gave them both rest due to the large number of accumulated matches in their legs. Instead they remain in the infirmary Piqué, Sergi Roberto, Ansu Fati, Araujo and Umtiti.
Let’s remember Osasuna’s last visit to the Camp Nou left a bad taste in the mouth of Barça fans. It was the prelude to what would later happen in the Champions League where the worst defeat in the history of Barcelona took place. Barcelona was thrashed by Bayern Munich 2-8 in Lisbon. An outcome that Leo Messi himself already warned, precisely after losing to Osasuna at the Camp Nou.
This is now Koeman’s list for this new duel against Osasuna:
Ter Stegen, Dest, Busquets, Aleñá, Griezmann, Pjanic, Braithwaite, Messi, Ousmane Dembélé, Neto, Riqui Puig, Coutinho, Lenglet, Pedri, Trincao, Jordi Alba, Matheus Fernandes, De Jong, Junior Firpo, Iñaki Peña y Óscar Mingueza .
The good relationship between Barcelona and Juventus may appear again in January. According to ‘calciomercato’, after the Arthur-Pjanic deal in the summer, the two clubs are now negotiating a possible transfer involving Philippe Coutinho.
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The report on the Italian website claims Barça have offered the Brazilian playmaker to Juve. The need to sell in order to sign has seen the Catalan club explore the option of moving on Coutinho, the club’s record signing.
Barça coach Ronald Koeman made it clear he wanted him to stay when he took over in August so it remains to be seen what he thinks of a possible sale in January.
However, Juve are not keen on Coutinho. The high cost of the deal rules out the signing, while coach Andrea Pirlo wants to place his trust in Dejan Kulusevski and not add competition in the form of Coutinho.
Max Aarons, the Norwich City right-back, was one of the options Barcelona contemplated to strengthen at right-back. The Catalan club ended up signing Sergiño Dest, from Ajax, who has started really strongly.
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Barça opened negotiations with Norwich when they closed a deal for Nelson Semedo to move to Wolverhampton Wanderers. But while he was a long-term club target, Barça ended up signing Dest, who Ronald Koeman was pushing for.
Two months have passed since then and Aarons, 20, has confirmed the interest from Barcelona and spoken about what happened for the first time.
“There was a lot of talk and that time period was a crazy few weeks when everything was going off,” he told the Pink Un podcast. “To be linked with the biggest club in the world, in my opinion, was amazing.
“There’s going to be a time where you can say more and speak about it in a bit more detail but as soon as it was over and everything was finished, I couldn’t be disheartened or down about anything.
I’ve got a job to do at Norwich and play the best I can. That’s what was important to me at the time.”
More economic problems for FC Barcelona. In the midst of the financial crisis due to the coronavirus hit, the Treasury has imposed a millionaire penalty to the Blaugrana entity.
The Central Delegation of Large Taxpayers of the Tax Agency claims almost nine million euros in withholdings for income from work / professional (January 2012-June 2015) not paid, to which adds a fine of another 14 million euros for this question: 23 million euros total.
This sanction was ratified by the Central Administrative Economic Court just before the summer, but the football club appealed to the National Court to have the payment suspended. The Catalan team has managed to get the contentious-administrative chamber of the high court to postpone this disbursement after alleging the damages and “its difficult repair” of the immediate payment of the same.
In order to defer the payment of taxes and achieve oxygen thanks to this precautionary measure, FC Barcelona highlights before the magistrates “the exceptional situation of the covid-19 pandemic, which has generated a substantial reduction in your income, by carrying out its activity in one of the sectors most affected by the economic crisis derived from the health crisis (public entertainment), which justifies, in its opinion, the adoption of exceptional measures “.
On the one hand, Barça alludes to the decrease in the market value of your players: “Covid-19 has not only affected the club’s income and expenses, but has also temporarily devalued your most precious intangible, that is, the value of its staff “, reads the judicial order consulted by El Confidencial.
“The compromised situation of the treasury and the refusal of various financial institutions to grant it a guarantee do not preclude providing a guarantee”
On the other hand, the team that today leads a management committee after the resignation of its former president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, highlights that the “significant decrease in its income has been reflected in the financial situation of the FCB”, and adds: “The decrease of the income and substantial maintenance of the FCB operating expenses [más de 16 millones de euros mensuales de media en el último semestre] have resulted in a pressing decrease in your result, which would prevent it from facing the amounts derived from the settlement and sanctioning agreements “.
For all the foregoing, the court that judges the case understands this precautionary measure to be appropriate, which was opposed by the State Bar. However, the magistrates do not grant him partial dispensation from guarantee that Barça also asked for. “The compromised situation of the club’s treasury, as well as the refusal of various financial entities to grant you a guarantee, it does not exclude the provision of a guarantee in any other of the forms admitted by law to respond, where appropriate, to the amount of the penalty “, explains the National Court.
Crisis at all levels
FC Barcelona is experiencing one of the worst crises in its history. To the economic problems must be added its difficult institutional situation (without a board in the absence of elections) and the bad sporting moment that the club is experiencing, twelfth in La Liga after only one victory in the last six games and with its franchise player, Lionel Messi, increasingly disenchanted.
As this media has advanced, the club barely has 30 million of its own funds to face its complicated day-to-day life, which places it increasingly close to bankruptcy (former suspension of payments). Against this background, the interim board led by Carles Tusquets He is trying to agree to a salary cut with his staff of 190 million euros, which would allow him to stay alive. Hence, the sanction imposed by the Treasury comes at the worst moment for the club, whose current financial crisis considers “conjunctural and exceptional”.
Barça only has 30 million to avoid bankruptcy
For this reason, Carles Tusquets, the current president of the management committee that presides over the club after the resignation of Josep Maria Bartomeu, has asked the players for a salary cut of close to 40%
This is not the first time that the club or its stars have had problems with the treasury. One of the tax controversies that persecute him comes from the tax treatment of agents and intermediaries who participate in the signings of footballers.
The Treasury detected that these agents billed the club for services rendered in the multimillion dollar transactions of football stars. However, since 2015, the Treasury has applied a criterion in which it understands that intermediaries do not provide these services to the club but to the player in question whom they represent.
This differentiation means that the agent’s fees have to be paid by the footballer, so if he wants to pass them on to the team, he has to do so by raising his income and later liquidating the services with the representative. TO tax effects, this represents a substantial change, since it goes from the agent billing the club with 21% VAT to the footballer paying a marginal rate of 52%.
The indelible memory of an interview with a 19-year-old Javier Mascherano when he appeared as the remarkable player he later became.
Years go by and one of the privileges, modest by the way, that the profession of journalist gives us is to see how much water ran under the bridge of certain notes. As time goes on, one reviews the joy of interviewing promising youngsters who later became world sports stars. Something like this happened with a 19-year-old I met who would later be an emblem for years of the Argentine national team and the star of one of the best teams in history: Guardiola’s Barcelona.
Read more: The retirement of a great Argentine football
A production in the newspaper Clarín was the bridge. The main referents of Argentine sport who would make up the large Albiceleste delegation at the Pan American Games in Santo Domingo 2003 had been invited.
The one chosen to represent football had been Maxi López, a star in the making at that time. But, as often happens, the guest ‘fell’ days before. So, what in newsroom jargon is called “plan B” was invited. And he gladly accepted.
Although he had already made his debut in the senior team (before his River team), he arrived by bus to the appointment but could not find the newspaper’s writing. A call alerted him to his confusion and so I went to look for him on the corner. The note talks about a crack pigeon, a quiet and serious player, who was already a leader in youth teams. The young man with few words imagined those Pan American Games as a “mini Olympic Games, a new and very interesting experience. And there will be Brazil, the tournament cannot be given to them … “
The author of that phrase would later be Olympic champion in 2004, an unprecedented gold medal in the history of Argentine football. He was not a champion once; it was twice. He repeated in Beijing 2008, already with Messi, Agüero, Di María and Riquelme in that team that beat Ronaldinho’s Brazil in the semis.
He would also be the protagonist of four World Cups, central figure of the 2014 Brazil finalist, the player who would wear the albiceleste shirt the most times in history.
Javier Mascherano announced his retirement after a match in the Professional Soccer League Cup playing for Pincha. Twitter photo of Estudiantes de La Plata
From that River in which he consolidated a couple of months after that interview and where the nickname of “Little Boss” was born (because he was the “5” that replaced the “Boss” Leo Astrada), he went to Corinthians. From there, to being a substitute at West Ham and a starter at Liverpool (yes, these things usually happen in football) until landing at Guardiola’s Barcelona. That coach who told him “You know you’re coming not to play, right?” upon his arrival at Barca and who later described him as “one of the smartest players I managed.” He finished his playing cycle last week at Estudiantes, el Pincha.
Looking at the video that was made to him by the Argentine National Team as a farewell (recommendation: look for it on the AFA networks # if you didn’t see it) I remembered that phrase, premonitory or commitment ?: “Have a good career, the football is usually ungrateful ”I told Javier Mascherano when I accompanied him to the bondi (bus) stop for his return home.
Interview with Javier Mascherano and other Argentine athletes in the Diario Clarín, in 2003. Photo EDH / Courtesy Clarín.
Gerard Pique is poised to miss around three months out with his knee injury. The club wouldn’t be allowed an emergency signing even if it was five months plus, as the rule was taken out in the summer. So Barcelona will be left short at the back until January, with currently only Clement Lenglet fit at centre back.
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Furthermore, if the Catalans decide to sign a player in January (Eric Garcia, for example), there are other issues. They currently have 24 of 25 places filled in the squad – that’s the maximum allowed in La Liga. They also have Ansu Fati out injured long term and want a forward to replace him, so they will on;y be able to get one, unless they can let another player go.
Money is also a problem; they don’t have any.
Another option exists, an unlikely one, which would be unregistering Pique if they think his knee injury is serious enough to make it feasible.
Ronald Koeman spoke to the media on Saturday after Barcelona suffered their third defeat of the La Liga season, losing 1-0 at Atletico Madrid.
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Barça have just 11 points from their first eight matches in the league this season having also drawn two games. They’ve won just three times.
“Like any coach, I am responsible. We know we have to improve results and grow in confidence. We are working hard, we have to improve things in defence and attack,” Koeman said.
“I try to put out the best team we have available. The players have done everything to get a result and we have to continue in that way. I am not worried about the league, although we know we need to win games.”
Yannick Carrasco scored the only goal of the game at the Wanda Metropolitano but it came after mistakes from Gerard Pique and Marc ter Stegen in first-half stoppage time.
“A team like Barcelona cannot concede a goal in the way we have done,” Koeman added. “We played well in the first half. We dominated without creating many chances against a team that defends well. If you commit errors, as we have done, it’s even harder to win the game.”
Finally, Koeman said: “I am happy with the players’ desire. I can’t criticise that. We didn’t create many chances but we tried. The players are working well, we want better results and we know we need to win games.”