Barcelona’s key summer signing Ousmane Dembélé is up for the 2017 Golden Boy award. The award is given out by the Italian newspaper Tuttosport and is given annually to Europe’s best footballer in a calendar year under the age of 21.
Tuttosport have some of the largest newspapers in Europe vote on the award, including Marca and Mundo Deportivo in Spain. This is the 15th iteration of the award that was founded in 2003. The last and only Barcelona player to win the award was Lionel Messi in 2005.
If you’re interested in the entire list of nominees, you can find them here:
Juventus; Steven Bergwijn, PSV Eindhoven; Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Everton; Federico Chiesa, Fiorentina; Ousmane Dembélé, Barcelona; Amadou Diawara, Napoli; Kasper Dolberg, Ajax; Gianluigi Donnarumma, Milan; Kylian Mbappé, Paris Saint-Germain; Emre Mor, Celta Vigo; Reece Oxford, Borussia Mönchengladbach; Christian Pulisic, Borussia Dortmund; Marcus Rashford, Manchester United; Gabriel Jesus, Manchester City; Joe Gomez, Liverpool; Benjamin Henrichs, Bayer Leverkusen; Borja Mayoral, Real Madrid; Allan Saint-Maximim, Nice; Dominic Solanke, Liverpool; Theo Hernandez, Real Madrid; Aarón Martin, Espanyol; Jean-Kévin Augustin, RB Leipzig; Rodrigo Bentacur, Youri Tielemans, Monaco; Enes Ünal, Villarreal; Kyle Walker-Peters, Tottenham.
What the absence of the news signing could mean for their best player
When Ousmane Dembele went down in the first half of Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Getafeon Saturday, hearts were in mouths all around Spain. The newly signed Dembele had looked bright, athletic, and everything that Barcelona fans would want from a newly signed youngster in his first few games.
Dembele is expected to miss “between three and a half months and four months.” It’s difficult to gauge just how much it will impact Barcelona from a wins and loss perspective. Over the next few months they’ll likely be able to stay close to the top in La Liga without much of a struggle. It’s tough to see much happening in the Champions League group stages that Dembele’s injury alters all that much. Beating Juventus in match day one is a massive milestone, and now they should be able to compete and go through to the group stage despite Dembele’s absence.
The first thing that popped into my head when Dembele went down wasn’t the next few months, because as I outlined above, I believe Barcelona will be fine until he returns. But when the news of Dembele’s extended absence was released, all I could think about was how it could impact Lionel Messi’s contract situation.
Much has been made in tabloids around the world of Messi’s contract situation. Rumors of his interest in certain clubs, or lack of interest in certain clubs. Stories written about tense situations with the club’s hierarchy. Not much of this is incredibly verifiable, because Messi has been involved in ridiculous transfer rumors each year. But what makes this year a bit different, and concerning from the Barcelona perspective, is the odd actions that Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has taken this summer.
Bartomeu amid transfer discussions with other players, as well as attempting to re-sign Messi and Andres Iniesta, has been criticized widely for his inability to get things done. In fact, even though Messi hasn’t officially been re-signed, Bartomeu for some reason is insisting that the deal is already done. Just as he did with Andres Iniesta.
“We will take the photo with Messi’s signature, hopefully before the end of the year, but the contract has been signed by his father, who has the power of his image rights,”
“This contract is signed until 2021 and he is already playing under it.”
For Bartomeu’s sake, hopefully Messi doesn’t come out and refute the claim as Iniesta did. Iniesta refuting the claim was a pretty odd and surprising outcome. If Messi came out and did the same thing, it would probably create a series of heart attacks in the Spanish and English tabloid offices.
The Messi situation has already been made weary by Bartomeu and his odd behavior over the summer. But what makes Messi’s situation so interesting is how the on field play and Barcelona roster impacts the entire ordeal.
Once Neymar left and Barcelona were in a perceived and somewhat real crisis of confidence, the roster was left in a fascinating situation. Barcelona had to figure out how to bring younger players in to attempt to match the production that they would miss from Neymar, but also bolster their roster from front to back.
Adding Dembele was a fantastic move for Barcelona. Although they didn’t get the multiple young stars they wanted this summer, he adds a level of athleticism and youth that Barcelona needed in the absence of Neymar. At the very least, Dembele provided Messi with the ability to back off being the sole creative force on the wing. Part of Barcelona’s problem moving forward is that Messi isn’t getting any younger, and needing him to drop back to the midfield to provide creativity going forward, as well as the attacking element, isn’t the best option for him or the club.
Dembele was going to take weight off Messi in Barcelona’s offensive scheme. His absence puts Messi back as really one of only creative forces for Barcelona that can drive the attack. As Messi continues to try and spur Argentine towards the World Cup, and drive Barcelona towards La Liga and Champions League glory, he needs help.
It would be irresponsible and ludicrous to suggest that Dembele’s absence is a direct positive or negative for Messi to sign a new contract with Barcelona. Unless Messi came out and said something, we have no way of knowing if he really does make a difference in Messi’s overall perception of life at Barcelona and if he wants to stay.
However, should things continue to become precarious in the coming months in Messi’s relationship with Bartomeu and Barcelona, it’ll be interesting to look back and speculate how Dembele’s injury impacts the situation. If things break bad, and Messi ends being difficult or possibly even leaving, Barcelona fans will have to wonder how things may have been different if Dembele had been around to take more of the load off of Messi.
At the very least, Dembele’s injury will have to be considered next year should things go sour between Messi and Barcelona.
Real Madrid midfielder Isco, who has just signed a massive contract extension, says that he had “contact” with Barcelona before signing a new contract with Real Madrid.
Before this recent run of fantastic success at Real Madrid, there was a stretch where Isco was rumored to be potentially ready to leave the club.
He was receiving limited playing time and hadn’t had a great shot at proving his value to the club. That was before getting more time under Zinedine Zidane this year and showing his incredible skill.
Despite locking himself in at Real Madrid, the player’s comments are fascinating. He was asked if ever could have made a move to Barcelona:
“Like I’ve said, my idea was always to be a success at Madrid. It’s true I’ve had some bad moments, but that makes the good moments last so much better. I don’t regret anything.
“There was some contact [with Barça], but I never listened to them. My intention was to be a success here with the team that took a chance on me. I want to consolidate my place in the team and win a lot of trophies.”
Despite Barcelona having an interest in Isco, he has locked up a new contract with the club and it has a hefty release clause, reportedly of €700m – which should be more than enough to put even the richest clubs off.
Marotta’s comments are in support of his star, as they should be. Keeping Dybala is a key part of the future success of Juventus. Given Gonzalo Higuaín’s experience and the amount of pressure he takes off Dybala, the Argentine has a great opportunity to star at Juventus for years to come.
Dybala signed a new deal with Juventus in April that keeps him in Italy till 2022. Although, who really cares about a new contract. Football is a player first sport when it comes to the stars, and Dybala is a budding one. Most players get their way in terms of who they want to play for, except Philippe Coutinho. Should he desire a move to Barcelona, he’ll get a move to Barcelona.
If Marotta isn’t playing games, and Barcelona never made a formal offer for Dybala, I’m frankly stunned. Dybala is one of the best young players in the world. A creative force who has the attacking mindset and team-first mentality that I believe make him a perfect player for Barcelona.
Dybala will only get better, and more expensive as his career progresses. Barcelona will never sell a player who brings in as much funds as Neymar, I really hope. This summer seemed like the perfect opportunity to give Juventus their best bid for Dybala.
Let me be clear, this has no impact on the signing of Ousmane Dembélé. I think he is a separate player positionally and in his skills. Dybala would fit differently then Dembélé and neither would negatively impact the other in my opinion.
Marotta’s quotes are quite stunning if true. It doesn’t make much strategic sense for Barcelona not to have thrown the suitcase at Dybala. Either there is some funny business and Juventus are tying to play down the rumors before next summer, or Barcelona really didn’t take a shot at Dybala. Either way, not pursuing Dybala to some extent would be a mistake for Barcelona.
Supported the attack well down the left and was frequently the furthest forward. Gave the ball away, which allowed Juve a shot on the hour mark, and was caught offside when putting in a nice cross for Suarez but otherwise looked good.
Community Rating: 8
Made a great block to deny Gonzalo Higuain in the first half but was perhaps fortunate to escape a handball shout late on. Otherwise a strong showing from the centre-back.
Community Rating: 8
Did a good job keeping Higuain fairly quiet and also did well to snuff out an attempt by Dybala on the hour mark. More good stuff from the France international.
Community Rating: 8
Another impressive outing, defended well and got forward to support Dembele in attack. Booked for a foul on Costa, but did well covering for Pique at times.
Kept it nice and simple and moved the ball around well. Made a great interception to stop a counter-attack in the second half.
Community Rating: 8
Got on the scoresheet by following up Messi’s effort and firing home Barcelona’s second goal of the night. Was replaced by Paulinho in the second half.
Community Rating: 8
Lovely feet, great vision, his change of pace and direction were a joy to watch all night long as he put in a great performance. Hopefully he’s finally shrugged off his injury troubles.
Community Rating: 9
Still doesn’t look quite right, with his first touch continuing to let him down. Missed a good chance from an Alba cross and did manage to get the ball in the net only for it to be chalked off for offside.
Scored a brilliant first goal, played a huge part in the second after a brilliant run, hit the post and then added the third. Simply sensational. Loses a point for a picking up a stupid yellow card though.
Community Rating: 10
Made his full debut for Barcelona and had some good moments. Was beaten to a glorious through ball from Busi by Buffon. Made some good runs throughout, but misplaced his passes. Tired as the game wore on and was replaced by Sergi Roberto.
Community Rating: 7
Came on late in the second half but the game was already won.
Community Rating: 6
Given the last 10 minutes.
Community Rating: 6
Played Messi in with a lovely through ball in stoppage time, but was unfortunately ruled out for offside.
Community Rating: 7
Has made an absolutely flawless start to the season and this was another great result. Got his team selection spot on, had the players motivated and focused and while Messi will take the headlines, he deserves a lot of credit too.
Community Rating: 9
The perfect start to the Champions League, a great win, a great display and gives huge optimism for the campaign ahead.
He will rely on his “head, heart and body” to decide his future
Andres Iniesta talked about his contract situation and the talks that are ongoing with Barcelona on Saturday. The interview came after Barcelona trounced Espanyol 5-0 to continue their perfect start to the La Liga season.
“Talks have been underway for a while, things are going as they’re going and my only desire is to have a great season, to be at my best and to win things with the club.”
“This is my home and whether I continue or not, it’s not something which is distracting me.”
Asked why he’d denied a pre-agreement was in place, he continued: “[Because] that would suggest everything is done and that’s not the case. The case is a little particular at the moment.
“It wasn’t a reaction to contradict the president. I told the truth about the situation and that’s all. Whether I continue or not, there will never be any problems. I wouldn’t be capable of a personal situation becoming any type of war.
“It’s normal in [my] situation to assess things, but we will see. I’m focused more than ever on my work. As for my personal future, we will see. The most important thing is on the pitch, like today.
“I’m thinking about doing well, performing, and my head, heart and body will decide [what comes next].”
If you’re getting tired of Barcelona players’ fathers getting involved in Barcelona business, I suggest reading this post quickly. José Antonio Iniesta, Andrés Iniesta’s dad, went on Cuatro, the Spanish TV channel, to talk about his son’s situation with Barcelona.
“I know that we talk every day with my son and he’s never going to say anything that’s not true”. When asked if he would put money on his son renewing his Barça contract, he said “I never bet, I don’t like to because always lose,” he commented ironically, before adding “at a professional level, Andrés is never going to wear another shirt other than Barça’s so that he doesn’t have to compete against Barça”.
“With the way he looks after himself, he could play an important role at Barça for another two or three years”.
Perhaps Andrés’ father can help to calm the fears that Andrés is leaving upon his expired contract next summer. Or maybe his involvement will just make things worse. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens between Andrés and Barcelona management.
A look at whether the club should return for the Brazilian
The transfer window this summer was a spectacle for Barcelona, in a very special and different way. Barcelona usually make the summer interesting, but it’s mostly in a positive way. They’re on the forefront of getting hot new prospects and finding out ways to improve their squad. This summer was a bit different in both feel and results.
It obviously started with the sale of Neymar to PSG, and the entire aftermath that came with it. But the second key storyline to Barcelona’s summer was the attempted purchase of Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool. Attempted is the key word here, because the somewhat unimaginable happened. Liverpool kept resisting Barcelona’s offers of Coutinho that ended up getting near 150 million. It was stunning to see happening on two levels.
The first was that Liverpool were able to keep saying no to that money. It just made sense for them to sell Coutinho at that number. He’s a valuable player for their squad, but how Liverpool would be able to re-invest 150 million into their organization was unimaginable. Yet, they kept Barcelona at bay.
The second reason it was stunning, was that Barcelona were pretty clearly wanting to overpay for Coutinho. In a summer where everyone was overpaying for players, it never sat right that Barcelona were willing to climb that high for Coutinho. His talent and skill were amazing, but the injury history, age, and future development all screamed that Barcelona were overpaying for his services.
From the Barcelona side, I believe it will end up being a good thing that they weren’t able to get Coutinho for that absurd amount. But as the transfer window closed, business finally died down, and for some reason the Coutinho rumors continued on.
There were reports that Liverpool wanted €200 million for Coutinho, then they denied the claim. The drama continued with reports that Coutinho was in “anguish” over the lack of a transfer. All of this after Barcelona had reportedly four bids turned down by Liverpool over the summer.
Needless to say, it was all a bit dramatic and odd for a transfer. Usually the smaller club acts like they won’t give in, and then once the money is outrageous it happens. Liverpool did what most other clubs wouldn’t have done in that situation. Wise or not, they stood strong on keeping Coutinho, and for some reason Barcelona are standing strong on still wanting him according to reports.
The club isn’t being helped by the fact that outside parties keep up the chatter around Coutinho’s seemingly imminent Barcelona arrival. Brazilian and Barcelona legend Ronaldinho chimed in with his two cents on the matter, and he thinks that Coutinho will end up on Barcelona.
“He made it clear that he wanted to join Barcelona this summer – he will be disappointed as it is a dream for players to want to play for Barcelona – but I am sure he will still get that chance.”
“They made it clear how much they wanted him and I am sure they will come back for him.”
“This season they will see him give everything for the club – that is the sort of player he is.”
“Also no player is going to refuse to play when it’s the World Cup at the end of the season.”
“The Liverpool fans have nothing to worry about – I do not believe any of the stories about him refusing to play for the club. I know him and that is not his way.”
So perhaps I’m alone on the island of believing that Barcelona shouldn’t continue to pursue Philippe Coutinho. Age, injury history, the player’s fit in Barcelona’s squad moving forward are all reasons I believe Barcelona should set their sights elsewhere this January and next summer. They’re a team in a precarious situation with Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta not signing contract extensions yet, and they need to be wise with the moves they make.
Iniesta’s deal runs out next summer and reality has set in at the Camp Nou that he is reportedly open to a move away from Barcelona. He’s also the second legendary Barcelona player, along with Lionel Messi, to not sign a contract extension as of yet.
The fire behind the smoke of Iniesta’s rumored openness to moving from Barcelona is the odd relationship that is developing publicly with Bartomeu.
What an odd series of events, either Bartomeu has no clue about the processes that take place with contract renewals, or he was trying to call Iniesta’s bluff.
Either way, the entire thing is utterly ridiculous.