Do Barcelona really need big name, expensive signings?
If the reports emanating from Spanish newspaper Sport are to be believed, Barcelona are now chasing Bayern Munich star Franck Ribery to go with their pursuit of Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas. Both are world class players and would undoubtedly improve any side, but are they really necessary acquisitions to a side which is currently the best in the world?
The Signing of Ibrahimovic
When I originally heard that Barcelona were interested in signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic, I feared that he could struggle to fit their style of play in a similar way to that of Dimitar Berbatov at Manchester United. The Swede had a field day in Italian football, particularly at Inter Milan where he banged in 66 goals in only 116 appearances. But one of the most important aspects of Barcelona’s play is their willingness to attack and defend as a team, something that the often egoistic Ibrahimovic would have to accept. Like Berbatov, he has been rightfully praised for his eye-catching skills and lethal finishing. However, both have also been considered lazy and can often give an impression of lack of interest in games which has frustrated fans. So, was he really worth a reported 40 million pounds and Samuel Eto’o - a hard-working and consistent goal-scorer for Barcelona over five years?
The Rise of Pedro
Although being currently played as an attacking winger, Pedro can also be used as central striker and is yet another example of the talent that is continuing to come through Barcelona’s youth ranks. Having struggled to break into the first team before this season, he has become an influential member of the side and has currently scored 15 goals in 31 games, which includes the record of scoring in six different club tournaments during the one season. Comparatively, Ibrahimovic has not scored since December 12 against Espanyol, almost two months ago. Another one to mention is young Bojan Krkic, but admittedly he is currently too young and inexperienced to lead the line for Barcelona on a consistent basis.
Partnership of Xavi and Iniesta
Where would Fabregas fit into a well-balanced and creative midfield that contains arguably the best passer of a ball in world football in Xavi, and the equally capable Andres Iniesta? Jonathan Dos Santos and Thiago Alcantara are just two promising youth products who may eventually lose patience in waiting for first team opportunities and choose to move elsewhere if Fabregas arrives. To complete the midfield, the ever-improving Sergio Busquests, Yaya Toure and Seydou Keita bring stability and physicality to the side as holding midfielders. Which means that Fabregas would surely be used as a substitute to Xavi and Iniesta, unless Barcelona want to break up the midfield partnership which helped them win everything last year. Or they could just change their highly successful 4-4-3 formation to accomodate Fabregas, which could disrupt the momentum and understanding of the team. Given the price tag Arsenal would be able to command for Fabregas, it just doesn’t make sense.
Plenty of attacking talent
Any side that has a group of strikers which include Thierry Henry, Pedro, Bojan and even Ibrahimovic if he returns to form, not to mention the best player in the world at the moment in Lionel Messi, does not need to spend extravagant amounts on more attacking talent. Granted, Henry is approaching the end of his career and has been disappointing this season. However, with future stars within their ranks such as Gai Assulin ready to replace him, it appears as though Barcelona have either forgotten what made them so successful over the last year, or they have caught Real Madrid’s spending fever. Though Ribery is an exceptional attacking winger, for the price that Barcelona would have to pay and their unrivalled depth of talent in the youth ranks, it seems incomprehensible to bring in such a player.
Barcelona has what Real Madrid currently lacks – quality young players in all departments. There is no need to resort to Madrid’s seemingly annual spending sprees and bring in high-profile and expensive players such as Fabregas and Ribery.