As most of you know FC Barcelona were hit with a transfer ban and Gooner hearts were crushed when the likes of Pedro, Fabregas and Alexis wouldn’t have had the opportunity to leave since Barcelona couldn’t replace them. Let’s look at the realities of these moves now that FIFA has deemed to grant a suspension of the ban pending an appeal. Will this benefit Arsenal? Will FCB actually sell any of these players?
Pedro was not happy with his role in the team this year, but everyone fails to mention that unhappiness was at the start of the season! He has contributed more and more and that talk has since quieted for the most part.
Pedro so far in 2013/2014:
Appearances: 33 – 1st in the team.
Minutes: 2048 – 8th
Goals: 15 – 3rd
Assists: 9 – 6th
Alexis, along with Pedro, where two names being thrown about last summer as possible departures, but both have done their part this year, despite the team in general being less than their usual selves.
Alexis so far in 2013/2014:
Appearances: 30 – 4th in the team.
Minutes: 2043 – 9th
Goals: 17 – 2nd
Assists: 12 – 2nd
Last and not least, Cesc. Cesc is supposedly unhappy with his playing time and role in the team. Add that he was booed (shocker in Spain!!) and the press is having a field day with exit rumors. Do the numbers back this up?
Cesc so far in 2013/2014:
Appearances: 32 – 2nd in the team.
Minutes: 2253 – 3rd
Goals: 8 – 4th
Assists: 18 – 1st
Analysis & Conclusion So, if media reports are to be believed, one or more of these players are on their way out from FCB. This makes no sense, one may leave, but never two or less likely three. Xavi is getting up in years and his minutes and influence are going down. Iniesta is playing more centrally after playing more on the left of midfield earlier in his career. The arrival of Neymar hasn’t proven to live up to the hype. Busquets has lost a step and isn’t as effective as he once was. The over-dependence on Messi has led to more injuries for him and less effective results for the club, although he still leads the team in goals. The strength and reason why FCB are still able to go deep into the CL and maintain a title challenge is the role the three players mentioned above have had.
These players constitute three of the four appearance leaders. The minutes are a bit vague, as attackers Pedro and Alexis split time with each other and Neymar, but it is clear where Cesc is in that regard, with only Valdes and Busquets topping him there. As far as goals, these three account for the second, third and fourth spots on the team behind Messi. Finally, Cesc is the top assist provider at the club, Alexis second and Pedro sixth.
Part of this argument are stats and stats only account for so much. But stats that are this evident in conjunction with the reality of the situations of Xavi, Neymar, Messi and Busquets leads one to dismiss the exaggerated media reports.
How can Cesc be unhappy with playing time? Simply put, he isn’t. He has said time and again he is still adjusting to his role here. He has also said he wants to retire here, AT HOME. But let’s not believe him, let’s believe a reporter. Some will point to the boos heard last week. Guess what? He was booed his first year and his second year here as well. It means NOTHING. Supporters here often boo players. They did it to Ronaldo and many others as well. The next week they cheer him just as easily. The fans here are fickle from result to result, don’t read too much into it. There will be another player booed next week but it doesn’t mean he’ll be sold. Cesc isn’t going anywhere unless something drastic happens between now and the end of the season.
Pedro was unhappy at the beginning of the season, but as the season progressed, he proved to be an integral part of the system and team. With Neymar being injured often and when healthy not producing as expected, it has allowed for Pedro to have what he wanted, time on the pitch to prove his worth. He has done so with flying colors. Even though that situation has been rectified to some degree by his playing time there is no denying that last summer, with Neymar’s arrival imminent, Pedro’s name along with Alexis were thrown out as players that might be sold. Given his contribution, it is less likely this summer than last, but let’s play Devil’s Advocate, and say he is to be sold. Does Arsenal need another small, technical player? Do the Injury Table Champions need to step up and get a more physical player? Absolutely they do. I like Pedro, but I would like a more physical winger at Arsenal, one that can handle the schedule and physicality that has broken down so many at the club before. Also keep in mind that Pedro has a ridiculous release clause of 150m€. He’s not worth that obviously, but he won’t be cheap either.
Alexis has been very clear to come out and state he is happy at the club. Although his name was thrown around as a possible departure last year, the Chile forward took the opportunity this year to show what he’s capable of. He came out when the opportunity presented itself and has scored goals and provided assists placing him firmly second at the club in both categories. Alexis has a release clause of 65m€ at last check after signing for Barcelona from Udinese in a deal worth up to 37.5m€. This season has done nothing to subtract from his value. I personally like the player, he is strong, quick and has shown he can score and assist. The only setback for me is the price. For the amount of money FCB will likely want, I would prefer Arsenal sign someone like Reus. Will Barcelona be willing to part with their second highest scorer and assist provider? Yes, if media reports are to be believed.
I find it hard to believe any of these players will move easily. I know Cesc will likely be at FCB at the start of next season, with him I have little doubt. I also think one of Pedro or Alexis will also be there. If someone told me I HAD to choose one to sign for Arsenal, it would be Alexis. Apart from that scenario, I don’t see any of these players donning an Arsenal shirt next year. The media need readers and listeners and clicks for their sites. Grasping at straws and making sensational headlines is their business now.When you look at the fine print and do a little bit of research and actually understand what’s going on, in this instance at Barcelona, then you will see the serious cracks in their “reports”.
So, does the delay in Barcelona’s transfer ban help Arsenal? Nope, not even a little bit.