FC Barcelona seem to be inspiring a touch of the green-eyed monster in people of late. Anywhere one looks on social media, fans of other clubs are griping about Barca’s ability to splash the cash despite their recent financial difficulties. What is it that bothers these people? Is it because they and their clubs would profit from a weakened Barcelona? Undoubtedly. What do they care how the club conducts its business? What matter of theirs is it if the ‘activating of economic levers’ is seen as a potentially massive gamble? Everyone seems invested in seeing Blaugranes beaten down, and most of them are lining up with bats in order to do the beating. The latest of these attackers is none other than Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel.
The German coach has apparently seen fit to throw his toys out of the pram regarding Barca’s persistent pursuit of Chelsea right back Cesar Azpilicueta. As far back as last year November Barca had enquired about the 32-year-old Spanish international. Back then he had just 6 months left to run on his contract. However, an appearance-related clause triggered an automatic one-year extension at the end of the season, forcing Barca to negotiate a fee with Chelsea. For his part, Azpilicueta is apparently keen on coming to the Camp Nou. Not that any of this holds any truck with Tuchel. While recently visiting Orlando as part of the Blues’ preseason tour, Tuchel admitted to being ’a little annoyed’ about the Catalan club’s repeated approaches to his player.
‘’It is a tough question because I am not sure if I want to give Azpi what he wants,” Tuchel said. “At some point, it is about what we want… We don’t think so much about other clubs. The focus is on us and what we need. I said that to him, and I say it to you that I understand on a personal and a career level. But I am not only in this role to give him what he wants. I am a manager for Chelsea who wants to do what’s best for Chelsea. He doesn’t like it, but he understands. It is tough for him because the other club is permanently on him.’’
Strong stuff. Hang on, though. Isn’t the German forgetting something? What about his teams recent signing of defender Kalidou Koulibaly from Serie A side Napoli? Ah, he hasn’t forgotten. Here’s what he said regarding that little move.
‘I just made the comparison about how much we fought for Koulibaly, who is a national team player and roughly the same age. He is a hugely important player for Napoli, but we have a Spanish international who is the captain at Chelsea. I see him maybe at the same level, but Barcelona don’t see him on that level. So, I am not sure if I want to give him what he wants as he is a huge player.’
Apparently, then, it is perfectly fine for Chelsea to poach a prized asset from another team, but not ok for Barcelona to come and try to buy one of theirs. What rank hypocrisy! As for ‘the other club being permanently on him’, Barcelona are not some hormonal 14 year old boy constantly begging the girl next door to ‘come over and study.’ Weren’t Chelsea ‘permanently on’ Koulibaly? Perhaps all this is simply sour grapes. Barca beat Chelsea to the signing of mercurial winger Raphinha from Leeds United, after all. The two clubs are also currently locked in a race to sign Jules Kounde from Sevilla. So, there is intense competition and rivalry, there. That’s before the two clubs may potentially cross paths once again in next season’s Champions League. Expect fireworks if that one eventually comes to pass.
Tuchel’s whine comes just days after his compatriot, Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann, took a shot at the Catalan club for what he perceived to be ‘weird’ transfers. Asked about the sale of all time great Bayern goal scorer Robert Lewandowski to Barcelona, the German coach pouted something about Barcelona being treated differently from everybody else.
‘It is the only club in the world that have no money, but then buy all the players they want. I don’t know how they do it. It’s a bit strange, a bit crazy.’’
Well, Julian, if you want to give me a call sometime, I’ll tell you how they do it. Google it, if you prefer. As for being treated differently to the rest, that’s because, well, we are different from the rest. We are Barcelona. We are Culers. We are Més que un club. As Mike Lowry memorably retorts in Bad Boys II, don’t hate the player, hate the game. Good luck in your pursuit of world class Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane, by the way. Hope that works out for you.
People can stick their noses into the Blaugranes business all they like. They can pout and preen and get riled up. So, nobody likes us now? Big deal. As Tony Soprano once told his wayward son A.J, ‘you may not like me, but you will respect me’. Barca doesn’t need everyone to love them. We’ll do our talking on the pitch. In the end, that’s what it all comes down to. That’s what everyone is secretly scared of. Barca are building a team set to dominate, and it is nobody else’s business how they do it, so long as they abide by the rules. Which they are. It won’t be long now until the season starts, and then we’ll see what’s what. Until then, keep sniping.
Barcelona are back.
And there’s nothing you can do about it.