Thursday, 4 August 2011

Barcelona continue to evolve

Modern day football is very much based around having large squads where young players have to prove themselves in order to get regular football. In England we have become accustomed to players being sent on loan from Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United to lower league clubs but this summer Barcelona appear to have improved this method.

The deals struck with Chelsea and Roma for Oriol Romeu and Bojan Krkic respectively have caught the eye. Both deals have on the surface appeared to be regular transfers; however, when looking closely they appear to be loan deals based upon performance. In England we have seen a similar deal proposed for Scott Parker where West Ham are happy to loan the player for a one off fee whilst in the Championship but then want him to return if they win promotion to the Premier League.

The similarity in all of these deals is that Barcelona can buy the player back either at the end of this season or next for a fee slightly higher than the original fee paid. Both players have graduated the much lauded La Masia academy but seem to be surplus to requirement. However, it seems that Barcelona are trying to avoid a repeat of the biggest transfer saga of the modern age – Cesc Fabregas. Most of the players that emerge from Barcelona’s academy have incredible technical ability and seem to reach their peak in their mid-20s.

Although Fabregas’ case is slightly different it certainly appears that they are trying to prevent having to pay over the odds for a former player again. The deal for Romeu to Chelsea stipulates that Barca can buy the player back at the end of this season for €10 million and for €15 million at the end of the following season. It certainly makes sense to include clauses for young players when they leave, especially at such an influential academy. The only similarity in this country is at Arsenal where they often include sell on clauses for young player that they lose.

Similar to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution the football transfer system is learning and adapting as it progresses and this new method is one that will be replicated much more in the future. Whilst many of the current first team have come through the ranks players like Gerard Pique (and potentially Cesc Fabregas) have had to leave to gain the required experience to develop their education. The chance to represent this side will become even tougher in the coming years so they have taken measures to ensure they don’t lose out on players they have taught.

Whilst the plaudits continue for their on-field performances they are also adapting and adjusting to the demands of the modern game. As I have mentioned in many previous blogs sport is about innovation rather than imitation and the Catalans have devised a new model for honing their players, even if they have to go elsewhere for a period of time.

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