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Thread: Future of Barça's Midfield

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    Future of Barça's Midfield

    So I have been doing a lot of thinking regarding the state of our midfield and the depth we currently have coming through the ranks. All and all, I am going back and forth on whether or not we really need another MF signing. So hear me out on some of this...

    Rewind to 2012. At that point in time in the midfield we had:

    -Starters: Iniesta, Xavi, Busquets
    -Squad/Rotation: Fabregas, Keita, Thiago
    -Youth Prospects: Sergi Roberto, Rafinha, Jonathan dos Santos

    So at this point in time, we had six players (Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Keita, Thiago, Rafinha) competing for two spots as interiors and three players (Busquets, Roberto, dos Santos) competing for one spot as the pivot.

    It was clear that we were grooming Cesc, Thiago and Rafinha to be potential "Xavi/Iniesta replacements," yet due to the fierce competition and their inability to match the greatness of those two at that point in time, Cesc and Thiago ended up leaving and we lost a key style of player (controlling interior who can create penetrative passes from deep, press-proof, good in tight spaces, vision and positioning required to recycle possession etc.) that made our possession-heavy style flounder. This evolution in our squad was, at least for me, a key reason why Lucho made the tactical tweaks he did. The key point I am making here is that with too much depth, you lose players due to a lack of playing time and I'd argue, we'd be in a lot better position right now if we hadn't lost both Thiago and Cesc. One of the two leaving was okay but losing both was a huge blow to the efficacy of our style of play.

    So fast forward to now and our MF corps looks something like this:

    -Starters: Coutinho? (assuming he takes Iniesta's role and is not deployed as a FW, which imho, is his best position for us), Rakitic, Sergio Busquets
    -Squad/Rotation: Arthur, Sergi Roberto, Denis Suarez, Rafinha, Andre Gomes (assuming we cannot dump him this summer after this injury ), Samper
    -Youth Prospects: Alena, Riqui Puig, Monchu, Oriol Busquets (I am not including Collado because tbh, maybe I'm being a bit harsh, but I didn't see a lot from him against Tottenham that made me think he is someone to count on in the future)

    So currently, that is 8 players competing for the two interior spots (Coutinho, Rakitic, Arthur, Denis, Rafinha, Gomes, Alena, Puig) and 5 players competing for the sole pivot spot (Sergio Busquets, Sergi Roberto, Samper, Oriol Busquets, Monchu). Lets even assume we are able to sell the dead weight midfielders (Gomes, Denis, maybe Rafinha but I liked what I saw from him against Tottenham), we still have 5 players who could step into the interior role and that's assuming we keep Roberto strictly as a DM, which in this scenario, is not likely the case.

    In my opinion, having players like Arthur, Alena and in particular, Riqui Puig as very viable options changes a lot. I think its vitally important we leave room in the squad for Alena and Puig to be able to step up and get real minutes. So what I am afraid of is if we sign a world class midfielder like a Thiago (even though I am a big fan of his return), Eriksen, Rabiot (if you can even call him world class) or De Jong is that it will put us back into a similar situation we had in 2012: extremely talented prospects leaving due to a lack of playing time which is given to players we bought in the market. Less so than even Xavi, it was Cesc's presence in the team that drove Thiago away. Cesc was always going to get the nod over Thiago because of Cesc's reputation and the fact that we had to give him time as a reward for him making the jump to us from Arsenal. So if we sign another world class midfielder, I am afraid players like Alena, Arthur and Puig will be in a similar situation to Thiago.

    I get the logic in signing another midfielder. Arthur does not have European experience yet and the pressure of those big CL nights could get the best of him this season as he adjusts to playing in games of that magnitude. In response to this logic however:

    A) This is specifically why we have Rakitic. Stylistically, I'd rather us start Arthur over him but he does have that experience that is invaluable and he could be our go to option for CL games at least for the start of the season. We currently have a player who knows what it takes to win a CL and is one of the best midfielders in the world in Rakitic, even if his style isn't a perfect fit for our play

    B) This argument assumes Arthur will not be able to handle European games at all and while its still super early in his tenure here, based on what I saw from a pressing and difficult opponent in Tottenham, I really doubt the validity of that assumption. Time will tell but homie is taking to our squad like a fish to water and I think he will surprise a lot of people with how quickly he adapts and really starts to make an impact on the first team. More than anything, he is showing mental strength to adapt so quickly to our style and that is what you need to be able to handle those big CL nights. In sum, based on what I am seeing from Arthur, I actually think he can be someone we can rely on in the CL despite his lack of experience. For example, Kylian Mbappe didn't have any experience in Europe before playing against City when he was with Monaco and we all saw what he did then. Different player to Arthur I know and he was used to playing in Europe but the point is if you're good enough, it doesn't matter how old you are or where you came from last season, you're good enough.

    So all things considered, I actually think it could potentially be a mistake to sign another interior when we have solid depth already between signing Arthur and the sheer class of players like Roberto, Alena, Puig and Monchu. I'd rather us learn from our mistakes of the past and not block the path of progression for Alena and Puig in particular because both have shown that they could be truly world class midfielders in about two years time. It really makes more sense for us to be targeting a RB who could compete with Semedo so that way, Roberto can go back to his best position as either a pivot or interior midfielder.

    Just my two cents, curious what all of y'all think about this?
    Last edited by i_bleed_blaugrana; 30th July 2018 at 09:24 PM.

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    I totally agree with you. I said something like that in other topic but your analysis is superb.

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    Rafinha was nowhere near competing for a spot in 2012.

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    Good analysis, that’s why I think if we sign someone it should be a younger player with promise. That way they don’t have to be shoe horned into the starting lineup but if they prove to be good enough they’ll play. Rakitic and Busi are both 30 and we need replacements for them sooner than later.

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    There is plenty of enough talent on this squad now, as is without any more acquisitions. The only gap I see in the current roster is backup for Alba, since the two Masia candidates clearly are not viable for this season. I don't know if Valverde has a plan to use some midfielder or CB to backup at left fullback.

    It's just first impressions, but it looks like Barca has made three bargain, excellent acquisitions this summer. Real firepower will be available off the bench. Last season, outside of the first 11, poor Valverde had to give quite a succession of players their opportunities until most of them conclusively proved that they are just not Barca quality. Cillessen was fantastic, Vermaelen came through, and I think Dembele and Semedo showed enough to continue to get their chances. All the rest have left or should leave before this season starts.

    There is going to be tremendous competition for playing time this season, at quite a few positions. Coutinho, Dembele and Malcolm are my bets to be on the field at forward instead of Munir, whenever Messi or Suarez are out or the team plays 4-3-3. Both Arthur and Roberto must play most of the time, not quite sure where or who they will push to the bench.

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    I can partially agree with you but I would definitely go for De Jong. He is a young talented kid whose price could increase significantly. Raki and Busi are over 30 so if we sign him this year and loan him to Ajax for one more year he won’t block anyone and we could potentially get Busi replacement for the next 10 years. We don’t have simmilar player here and there is a minimal chance that all our youngsters (Alena, Arthur, Puig, Oriol) will become a world class players. For me signing De Jong is no brainer at all, only the matter of time since he clearly likes Barca and our management likes him.

    Another problem is that Coutinho is more LM/LW, he for sure isn’t Iniesta who was more CM/AM player so except Raki and Busi we don’t have other world class midfielders in our squad. If ONE of them gets injured (and that will happen) we could find ourselves in a BIG trouble. And if you aim to win CL than you don’t have that luxury. This is the main reason I am not against signing another experienced midfielder.
    Last edited by Raketa10; 2nd August 2018 at 12:49 PM.

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    Suddenly, midfield is our strongest line.

    Arthur is basically Xavi reincarnated, Vidal will add balls, Puig, Alena, Oriol are ones to look forward to.

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    the future IMO is

    .....Arthur.....De Jong....Puig

    Best midfield in the world
    FIFAPro 11 regulars
    Life changing this has been

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    The future Barca midfield starters will include Coutinho and Arthur, unless Coutinho starts at forward.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barcaman View Post
    Suddenly, midfield is our strongest line.

    Arthur is basically Xavi reincarnated, Vidal will add balls, Puig, Alena, Oriol are ones to look forward to.
    I'm not even sure it was our weakest last year. I think in the CL our attack was pathetic

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barcaman View Post
    Suddenly, midfield is our strongest line.

    Arthur is basically Xavi reincarnated, Vidal will add balls, Puig, Alena, Oriol are ones to look forward to.
    While it looks good in pre-season, I'd wait till the season starts and we're halfway through, maybe around December, to see if our midfield woes are truly behind us. Especially interesting to see how the midfield stacks up against quality opposition in CL.
    f. Signatures must not slow down the forum (no gifs, maximum size 30kb and 700 wide x 200 tall pixels for images OR 5 lines of text (in english/catalan/castellano)