Even though the playing season is off this time of the year, there is what I like to call the “behind the desk season” with club managers faxing and calling each other to close transfers. To me, this is the stepping-stone of a successful season. Players transfer is an art in which success depends not only on the players’ name but also in the economic contribution to the club, the quality and skills that he brings to the team and, of course, its effect on the moral of the team.
Tito’s Barcelona has started on the right foot with the signing of Jordi Alba but there are still some questions that must be answered. For instance, who will the club sign for the center-back position? All signs point at Javi Matinez but if that’s the case I don’t expect to see him signing until mid August. Why? His club does not want to negotiate and expect any buyer to pay them the exit clause price. This means that any buyer would need to spend 57 millions (40 for the clause, 17 in taxes) unless they convince Athletic to negotiate.
Barcelona has already made it clear that they have 26 millions available for the transfer of the center back but they also will go a bit further if necessary. A believe the idea is to reach a similar deal to the one for Alexis Sanchez a year ago. That is, a deal that have a significant amount of hard cash right in front an some easy to reach variables like making it to the champions league, the amount of minutes played in the season etc. It’s a win-win situation as the selling club gets a total amount close to what they wanted originally while Barcelona gets to write on their books just the cash part of the deal. That’s the beauty of finance.
I do think it is possible to reach such deal but it will require some heavy negotiations along with the help of the player. He would probably have to forgive part of his salary in the same way Mascherano and Fabregas did. The question is: is Javi Martinez worth so much trouble? In the current market I’d say yes. He’s young; he’s definitely a good center back though originally he is a defensive midfielder; and best of all he’s teammate with several members of the Barcelona squad who are also in the Spanish national team. Valuation of players is a misguided practice because it’s based on the past but it’s evaluated on the future. Alves’s cost was 35 millions but it almost seems like a steal based on his performance. Ibrahimovic cost 65 millions and it couldn’t have been a worse deal.
But signings aside there is still one name that seems to come back to the rumors: Ibrahim Afellay. His situation is complicated because he was in the injured list for the entire season. Just when he was starting to adapt to the team and show his talent he injured his knee ligaments. He’s back and he’s still got a good reputation behind his name, which means there are some big teams interested in singing him.
But this is when I ask: should Barcelona sell him? Don’t get me wrong; from a financial point of view any transfer operation will give us a large margin. Thanks to the expiring day of his contract with PSV, Barcelona was able to buy him for 3 millions euros and his exit price would not be less than 8. But to me, it feels rather cheap to sell him without giving him a good opportunity first. After all, he was the man behind Messi’s first goal at the Bernabeu in the Champions League semifinal in 2011. I think the right thing to do would be to give him a year to test how can he contributes. It’s not every day that you find a good player, with a good attitude. He can also play in the midfield as well as the wings. Barcelona gave Henrik Larsson an opportunity after missing his debut season thanks to a similar injury and the results were more than positive.
If there is an important lesson that Barcelona should take from the past season is that there is no such thing as too much talent. Injuries occur throughout the season and it’s important to have players that can contribute to the team.