Forget the Arsenal model, the Everton model, the Aston Villa model or whatever our board have decided to call our business plan now. How about the Barcelona model
Ok, now while you are picking yourself off your chair laughing…
I know we are nowhere near their standard, and we have a long, long way to go before our style of play and quality of players even resembles their team. But I can see Alan Pardew trying to model us into say a lesser version of Barcelona. And a “poor man’s Barcelona” is certainly not disrespectful in my eyes – it would only set us up for further future growth.
Lets take a look at what I mean.
Keeper – Victor Valdez (aged 29) and Tim Krul (aged 23)
Both are acrobatic shot stoppers, but I think Krul has massive potential to even surpass Valdez as far as being a commanding keeper goes. He would need to greatly work on his distribution though, but he is still young.
Left back – Eric Abidal (aged 32) and Erik Pieters (aged 23)
Pieters was clearly our main left back target and is someone I really hope we pursue in the next window.
Both big strong, composed, and sound technically, can fill in at centre back and can get up and down the touchline if needed. They even have the same first name…
Right back – Dani Alves (aged 28) and Davide Santon (aged 20)
Both quick, technically gifted, both have a good engine and like to get forward. Santon has great potential and if he lives up to it there is no reason why he couldn’t get close to Alves’ standards.
Centre back – Carlos Puyol (aged 33) and Fabricio Coloccini (aged 29)
Both read the game brilliantly, smallish but strong and intelligent, and both captains. They even have the same hair style! Our very own Caveman, but just younger!
Centre back – Gerard Pique (aged 24) and Steven Taylor (aged 25)
Both big, strong, powerful in the air and dangerous in attacking set pieces. Both good foils to their more intelligent and more positionally aware centre back partners.
Defensive midfielder – Javier Mascherano (aged 27) and Cheik Tiote (aged 25)
Midfield enforcers, aggressive ball winners, don’t shy away from tackles and both possess a decent long range shot, Their main remit though is to protect the back four.
Midfield playmaker – Xavi (aged 31) and Yohan Cabaye (aged 25)
Both can pick a great pass, always look for the ball, calm and composed and are basically the midfield engine of the team.
Star attacking player – Lionel Messi (aged 22) and Hatem Ben Arfa (aged 24)
Whilst nobody on this planet can even be compared to the phenomenon that is Lionel Messi, I believe that Ben Arfa has more than enough technical ability and skill to perform that role in our team. Unfortunately we haven’t got to see much of it, and he would have to work massively on his work rate to even be considered a poor man’s Messi.
Creative wing/forward with pace #1 – Pedro (aged 24) and Gabriel Obertan (aged 22)
Both players have great technical skill, great pace, and a decent shot. Again, Obertan will have to work on his work rate, which he showed signs of against Fulham. And if he can gain confidence to take on defenders he could well prove to be a great talent out wide.
Creative wing/forward with pace #2 – Andres Iniesta (aged 27) and Jonas Gutierrez (aged 28)
Again, both players, can beat a man with ease, both have a fantastic work rate, but what Jonas clearly lacks is the killer final ball and power shot of Iniesta. We have seen very little of Sylvain Marvaeux but maybe he can prove to offer something here.
Striker – David Villa (aged 30) and Demba Ba (aged 26)
Both players have great goal scoring records, but Villa has done it at a much higher level and has been far more consistent. Both players can finish very well, and both like to try and break the offside trap and get into good scoring positions. Unfortunately, Villa has a whole heap of other attributes that I don’t see Ba ever replicating. Perhaps that is why Pardew has made it his priority, to look for a compact, strong, pacey, and technically gifted striker, in the mould of Villa, who can play up front or on the wing? Erdinc or Maiga anyone?
There are other similarities in versatile players that can play in various positions, like Seydou Keita (Dan Gosling), or young players coming from the youth system: Adriano (Ferguson), Afellay (Vuckic).
Although our attack is falling very, very short of that of Barca, I truly believe the comparisons in the first eight or nine (certainly with regards to potential) players I mentioned are clear to see.
I know the idea might seem a bit far fetched to some, and we can never realistically compare our squad to the best club team in perhaps the last 10 years. But I for one, certainly wouldn’t mind being a poor man’s Barcelona.
Even if we didn’t pick up trophies, if we could even come close to their playing style, with a younger squad, full of ability and allow them to grow together, it would be great to watch.
That of course is putting aside the unfortunate situation that are best players will in all likelihood be sold off. But I can certainly see the potential for something decent.
All it would take is a decent quick technical striker, a quality fullback and perhaps one more quality passing midfielder to have “the jigsaw” as Pardew referred to, completed.
Personally I prefer to refer to it at this stage as the “ingredients” for a bright future. The rest of the work could be done on the pitch and in the training ground over a couple seasons.
As much negativity as their is at our failure to bring in a quality striker this transfer window. Lets look back three seasons, and I think it is pretty clear we have grown, and by next year, most of the dead wood will have left.
To me Barcelona are the team that all teams should be aspiring to emulate. The are an example to all.
Do you think, we are on the verge of having a squad capable of being something decent?
A Barcelona, sort of?