Tito Vilanova bravely accepted the very challenging task of succeeding Pep Guardiola, the most successful manager in over 110 years of FC Barcelona history. His experience as Pep's highly-involved assistant coach means that he doesn't need to waste time getting to know the squad, only recruit the right players to improve the team we already have.
Once left-back Jordi Alba signed his contract with the Camp Nou giants, Tito Vilanova chose Javi Martinez as his next priority as he needed to cover the gap that Seydou Keita left when he decided to swap the chance to win European titles for vast amounts of Chinese money. Athletic Bilbao then valued their young star at an unrealistic €40 million, making it impossible for Barcelona to even make a serious attempt for him. To be honest, Javi Martinez himself hasn't publicly hinted a move away from San Mames anyway so Tito Vilanova is right to look elsewhere - at least for now.
Thomas Vermaelen, Neven Subotic, Jan Vertonghen, Daniel Agger... The list of candidates for the job is endless and changes on a daily basis. The latest rumors seem to focus on the possibility of Barcelona offering Arsenal around €15 million for Alex Song. The Cameroon international has been known for his versatility, good passing ability and high intensity during his 204 appearances for The Gunners in just 5 seasons.
Sergio Busquets recently explained: "Another player in my position would be welcome. Alex Song is a very good player - young, a hard worker, with lots of physical power." Andres Iniesta also praised Arsenal's 24 year-old, adding: "Technically, Alex Song is a very good player and is also very strong physically too. If he comes to Barcelona would be because he has the qualities to play here and we'd welcome him."
As you know, Barcelona are incredibly proud of our La Masia academy, an unparalleled youth system able to produce players such as Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez or Carles Puyol in recent years. As a result, it's easy to understand that many Blaugrana fans would much rather trust upcoming talents such as Sergi Roberto, Marc Barta or even Jonathan Dos Santos to cover our defensive vacancy rather than splashing unnecessary cash on a player who would need to adapt to the Barcelona system and may turn out to be worse than the youngsters which we already have here anyway.
While I am incredibly pleased with the fact that our Barcelona first team is constantly refreshed by the arrival of fresh La Masia blood, the truth is an all-Catalan squad would struggle to compete at the highest European level with the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United or Chelsea. Football is a global sport and, as such, it is impossible to know whether the next big player will be Brazilian, Korean or Indonesian. Teams who manage to snatch these upcoming global stars will obviously be stronger than their opposition.
Johan Cruyff's iconic Dream Team in the early 1990s was built around world-class signings (Hristo Stoichkov, Ronald Koeman, Romario) and completed with the best Spanish players of that era. As a firm follower of the Dutch Master's philosophy, Tito Vilanova is fully aware that foreign players are essential to add an extra dimension to his squad.
Would Barcelona have achieved their recent success without Dani Alves, Eric Abidal or Javier Mascherano? Of course not. What's more: Without their influence, players such as Martín Montoya, Gerard Piqué or Sergio Busquets wouldn't have developed into what they are today.
Barcelona must make use of the €26 million that we reportedly have left in our budget and give Tito Vilanova the defensive-minded player he asked for.
Since his debut as coach, the board always granted Pep Guardiola all of his transfer wishes - whether they were proven stars such as Cesc Fabregas or unknown experiments such as Dmytro Chygrynskiy.
Tito Vilanova must be given the same respect and support his predecessor had if we want Barcelona to continue to be as successful as we have been in recent seasons.
Is Alex Song the right man for Barcelona this summer? Well, if that is what Tito Vilanova believes, then let the negotiations begin!
Have your say
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I welcome and appreciate all respectful feedback.
Posted by: Francesc Tomàs.
Founder and columnist at www.barcablog.com and ESPN Soccernet.
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