It seems that, along with teaching exemplary ball control and a mastery of intricate passing triangles, Barcelona’s La Masia youth academy runs weekly ‘The Futility Of Contracts’ and ‘Barca – Your Self-Entitlement Complex Explained’ seminars to run alongside their fastidious footballing workshops.
You only have to go back a couple of weeks to see when this ingrained sense of aloof superiority last reared it’s ugly head, with midfielder string-puller Xavi‘s arrogant insistence that Cesc Fabregas was just ‘delaying the inevitable’ by eschewing Barca’s advances for at least another season.
Along with Xavi’s presumptuous utterances, many more of the Catalan giant’s current roster (Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique etc.) did there utmost over the summer to try and undermine Fabregas’ relationship with Arsenal.
Whether it be by forcibly pulling a blaugrana shirt over his head during Spain’s post-World Cup win celebrations, or by repeatedly telling all and sundry of the Arsenal midfielder’s various homesick confidences, the non-too-subtle engineering in progress was fairly blatant to all but the most myopic of onlookers.
Fabregas’ much-vaunted return to the Camp Nou singularly failed to materialise, but Barcelona put some serious man hours into trying to ensure that it would with a near-constant torrent of mostly vapid bullshit.
So here we are, a month or so down the line and it is another Premier League-based player that is receiving the ‘Fabregas treatment’ from Barcelona’s stars – in the sullen guise of one Javier Mascherano, currently of Liverpool but not, one imagines, for much longer.
It is widely accepted that Mascherano is desperate to leave Liverpool for sunnier climes (i.e. a certain autonomous community in southern Spain) before the transfer window closes next week because, chiefly, his wife is a wee bit glum at having to slum it alone in a £multi-million penthouse all day until her husband returns home at just-gone noon.
She is also said to be struggling with the English language which, you’d have thought, would have helped her settle pretty snugly on Merseyside, but hey-ho.
Mascherano is currently firmly under contract at Liverpool but that didn’t stop Barcelona submitting a derisory £12 million offer for the Argentinian midfielder, an approach that was swiftly and rightfully rebuffed. Liverpool payed £18 million for Mascherano’s services just two-and-a-half seasons ago. Have his performances since been so poor to have shaved £5 million off his asking price? I think not.
After seeing their fairly insulting bid turned down, Barca have now seen fit to roll out there big guns (or ‘borderline dwarf’ guns in Lionel Messi‘s case) and give Liverpool a short, sharp taste of the ‘Fabregas treatment’.
Messi has been quoted in this morning’s Daily Express, pleading with Liverpool to treat Mascherano ‘humanely’, as if manager Roy Hodgson has been applying the thumb-screws to his compatriot until he agrees to co-operate.
So said the diminutive Barca star;
“Javier won’t play for the club again, I can assure you of that, and I think the Liverpool coach knows that now.
Javier’s family are unhappy and the pressure of seeing that is making him depressed. Liverpool must act humanely and let him go.”
Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but there was a time when statements like that could have been filed loosely under the ‘tapping up’ header. Barca are clearly using Mascherano’s personal problems as leverage to conclude a deal as cheaply as possible.
Of course, the details of Mascherano’s prospective move to Barcelona are slightly different to that of the Fabregas ordeal, mainly due to the fact that the player actually wants to leave this time around, but the principles surrounding Barca’s outstanding arrogance remain the same.
In Messi’s imposed terms of humanity and fairness, would it not be more agreeable for Barcelona to simply up their offer, meet (or at least come somewhere close to) Liverpool’s £20 million valuation and a deal be struck, therefore sating all three parties respective needs?
Of course it would, but that’s just not good business.