After the unequivocal rejection of Barcelona’s opening Cesc bid, there was widespread pride at how forcefully we were dealing with a club that had treated us as if we were an unimportant third party. But even as the words ‘will not enter into any discussion’ were uttered, there was also acceptance that the Spaniards would not go away.
That we hold the cards in this affair is undeniable, but equally important to note is how desperate Laporta is to land his man before stepping down as Barcelona president. If he fails, it will be a major blight on his reign, at least in his own mind. Theoretically, his obsession is good news for us, because such a man is easy to extract an overblown price from, but with their financial situation far from healthy, his willingness to spend lavish sums is restricted by reality.
With the realisation that the money on the table will not be enough, coupled with the knowledge that they cannot afford to raise the stakes much higher, Laporta is becoming desperate, as shown by his latest comments:
“It’s a price that we consider to be his market value. Arsenal have rejected it. We have to do everything we can to convince them that the best thing for all is to reach an agreement”
“The club have full confidence that Arsenal will end up understanding the situation”
We have full confidence that Arsenal we end up understanding the situation? Thanks Joan, but we actually understand the situation quite well. You want a player who is tied into a long term contract, and isn’t the sort of player to put in a formal transfer request or agitate for a move. Therefore, you must pay us what we believe to be market value. What you consider to be a fair price is completely and utterly irrelevant.
The thing that gets me is this – up to this point all of Barca’s actions have had a carefully constructed ulterior motive. The words of the players and the staff have been aimed at doing two things: a) driving a wedge between Cesc and Arsenal and b) driving a wedge between the fans and Cesc.
Neither tactic is working. Cesc has handed control to the club, and by doing so has confirmed himself as the man of class we all believed him to be. He is still our captain, and we still want him to stay. Furthermore, if Barcelona fail to come up with the money being demanded, that is exactly what will happen. Everyone knows it.
So what exactly is the point of these comments? Does Laporta expect us to turn around and say “Oh, I see, we didn’t realise you wanted him so badly. Since you can’t afford the price we’re asking for, we’ll just sell him on the cheap. After all, he’s got that Barcelona DNA. And we’re just lovely giving people. After the respect you’ve given us, it’s the least we can do.”
Er, no. The club’s resolve will not weaken, and the likelihood of Cesc getting restless won’t grow – after all, they are valuing him lower than the 28 year old striker they bought two weeks ago. Doesn’t that just make you feel so…wanted?
To me, these are the words of a man who has decided to end his presidency with a grand gesture, but is rapidly discovering that the deal is not the surefire winner he believed it to be, as the other parties in the affair aren’t playing along. That Cesc will join Barcelona one day is irrelevant to him – he wants him to return under his watch, which ends on June 30. Don’t believe that his claim that the Cesc deal should be completed pre-World Cup is for the benefit of the player – it is purely because once the World Cup ends, someone else will be in power, and take the credit.
We have absolutely no reason to budge. If I were in the Arsenal boardroom, these quotes would be making me smile. As Laporta gets more desperate, it becomes ever more likely that Cesc will stay.