When Arsenal skipper Cesc Fabregas committed his immediate future to the London club last week, it was seen as a significant blow to Spanish giants Barcelona, who wanted to reunite with the player they let go for nothing as a 16-year-old raw talent in 2003.
Barcelona’s failure to take back what they believe ‘rightly belongs to them’ in the form of Fabregas this summer has turned out to be just that, as the club are now reportedly close to signing Argentina captain Javier Mascherano from Liverpool.
The midfield spoiler is the type of player that the Spanish champions undoubtedly need more than Frabregas, especially after selling Yaya Toure to money bags Manchester City.
So, if Pep Guardiola adds Mascherano to his already midfield-rich squad, it will be the ultimate blessing in disguise as he’s the type of player he needed or needs to add to his team. Not Fabregas or Mesut Oezil.
For fantasy football, it’s more captivating to the wider audience to pull together a team with an endless collection of the world’s best attacking talent, but ideally, it’s not always the most practical way of winning football matches.
Having the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Ibrahimovic, Dani Alves, Pedro and David Villa in the starting XI is a good way to send fear into the opposition (and by the way they’re all match winners), and if you add (as Guardiola wished) Mesut Oezil or Fabregas, it would make for a horribly imbalanced team in real world.
However, if it’s indeed true that the 2009 Champions League winners have already agreed a fee with Liverpool for Mascherano, it will or should be music to the ears for their fans, especially having to swallow the bitter news that Fabregas has delayed his move back to the Camp Nou.
The news of Masch’s forthcoming arrival will definitely send a few shivers down the spine of Barcelona’s main rivals in Spain and across Europe because, while many Catalans would have loved to see their ‘own’ (Fabregas) wearing their club jersey again, but many including myself would argue that it’s a player like Mascherano that Guardiola needs more in his team.
The Argentina captain is a force in midfield for both club and country, a no-nonsense tackler who will chase down every opponent and spoil every opposing side’s forward move.
His critics will argue that he occupies the same position as Sergio Busquets, who right now appears to be Barcelona’s only experienced defensive midfielder, but from what I have seen of the two players, Mascherano seems to be a different type of destroyer compared to the Barca academy graduate.
We should remember that Barcelona didn’t run into much trouble in La Liga last season en route to retaining their crown, although some times they did look less secure defensively compared to the previous campaign when Yaya Toure was still anchoring the midfield.
But now, with Toure gone to England and only Busquets available for the defensive midfield role, Barcelona will be a better team having a machine like Mascherano cover that gap in the defensive duty than with an attack-minded Fabregas.
Imagine the gap between their potent attacking force at its full strength being protected by Mascherano and Busquets; will anyone be able to stop them? After Masch signs, it will be a case of ‘bring on Real Madrid and the Special One’ for the La Liga champions. I can’t wait for the season to start!